andreas.com FAQ: Newsletter
- Newsletter Archive: 2004
- Newsletter Archive: 2003
- Newsletter Archive: 2002
- Newsletter Archive: 2001
- Newsletter Archive: 2000
It’s winter, and it’s time for Mayan Hot Chocolate. If you saw the movie Chocolat, well, you can make the hot cocoa. Last year I experimented for a while and wrote the recipe. faq-hotcocoa.html
Here’s a bunch of new FAQs about web stuff.
You can revisit the web from 1996, or any date. Use archive.org
A month ago, I discovered a minor bug in Internet Explorer. I send a bug report to Microsoft and since I discovered it, I named it the Bush Bug. More are faq-bushbug.html
The real key to finding a job is to develop your social networks. Ah, so how to find a network? See faq-networks.html
A client isn’t paying your invoices? Get the Small Claims Court FAQ at www.dca.ca.gov/smallclaims/sclfunct.htm
If you’re not getting any interviews, maybe take a paid vacation. You can teach English in China. The salaries vary from $400/month to $4,000/month, but you don’t need much money, since you can live on about a dollar per day, and housing is included. They also pay your roundtrip airplane ticket. People who’ve done this tell me that Chinese are crazy about foreigners. Just go to google or yahoo and search for .
Check out hotjobs.com for leads to more jobs.
What else is going on in Palo Alto? The dotcom crash is devastating in Silicon Valley (SV.) Well, this was pretty much a one-dog town, since everything was based on just one industry, computering. But now the dog got sick and died. A recent SV joke: What’s the latest status symbol in SV? A job.
I’ve been reading Manuel Castells’ Network Society, who points out that every new cycle of technology happens twice as fast as the previous cycle. Each new cycle builds on the infrastructure of the previous cycle. It took 60-70 years for radio to become widespread; television reached market saturation in only 30 years. The desktop computer boom in the early 80s took about 15 years. The web boom took only five years. So the next technology cycle could start extremely fast and grow much bigger than the web boom in only two years? Not a safe thought.
It’s the start of the holiday season: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. So grab some pie and sit back; this will be a long FAQ. Lots of stuff here.
As I wrote in early September, I was working at a dotcom startup, but it ran into “money issues” and most of us were laid off. I started my job hunt and found a new job four weeks later, at a “stealth startup.” That means the company is working on a secret project and we can’t tell anyone about it. We even have a fake cover story to tell our mom (“Mom, we’re working on storage systems technologies.”) Too bad it’s not a juicy secret. Just more technology. It’s a great job, only nine blocks from home, so I ride my bicycle to work. A number of people asked me about the job market and how I found a job, so at the end of this email, I added my group email about the job market.
One of the things I can say about my job is that I’m developing XSL. Part of this includes CSS, and in passing, I learned how to make web layout that doesn’t use tables. It’s an interesting idea. If you do HTML (or know what CSS is,) see Two Columns CSS.
Free Weather Reports
A neat webservice is my-cast.com, which offers free emails with local weather information for your neighborhood. It’s more accurate than the US Weather Service. They also include weather alerts. Thanks to Kimberly, who told me about this.
If you own your home, Allen Greenspan keeps cutting interest rates, and it’s the best time to refinance in more than thirty years. But the best mortgage for you would mean a low fee for a mortgage broker, so your interests are in conflict with their interests. A professor of economics has a web site at mtgprofessort.com about mortgages, refinancing, and so on. He also lists some forty mortgage brokers who disclose their fixed fees upfront, and thus offer the best deal in your advantage.
More Hard Disk Space
Stephen in Holland asks “I’m running out of room on my laptop. What can I do to get more space?“
- Delete whatever you’re not using. Move old or unused files to diskettes and store them in your closet. Diskettes and Zip disks have a reliable life of about two years. If you can, copy them onto CDs. This last somewhat longer. Handle recordable CDs gently and store them in CD cases (I’ve found that the gold backing will flake off from a recorded CD and data will be lost.) The most reliable storage is hard disks (these are enclosed metal plates) and will last probably your lifetime, so if you have an extra computer with lots of space, you can use it for storage.
- Delete unused software as well. Go to Menu | Settings | Control Panel | Add/Remove Programs. Scroll through the list. As they say, “If in doubt, throw it out.” Delete old games, demos, unused software, etc.
- Go through your email and delete old emails. Delete any attachments (they really take up space.) Clear out your Deleted email folder.
- Get rid of temp files, browser images, empty the wastebasket, and so on. Every time you look at a web page, all of the images are stored in a folder. This includes thousands of buttons and icons. Use Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Cleanup.
- Compress the drive. Open the file manager (Windows Explorer. Go to Start menu | Run and then type Explorer and press Enter.) In the left column, select your drive icon (click once) and then rightclick the drive icon. This brings up a popup menu. At the bottom, select Properties. This opens a new window. At the bottom, click “Compress drive to save space” (or similar.) This uses FAT32, which compresses your files. You’ll be able to use your files in the same way after they’ve been compressed. This will free up about 30% or more. I’ve used this for three years and it works well.
- Finally, use Defrag. This speeds up your hard disk by consolidating your files and removing empty spaces. Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Defrag. If you’re doing this for the first time, it can take several hours (or all night…) Just let it run. Afterwards, do this monthly.
If you do all of this on your desktop computer and you still need more space, you can add a new hard disk. You can get 40 Gigabytes for about $100. Your local computer dudette can install this in a few minutes.
More Cute Windows Tricks
Here’s a cute trick that improves Explorer (the file manager.) Normally, when you start it, it opens in C drive and you then have to click several times to get to your favorite folder. You can set it so that it’ll open in a particular folder or drive.
First, put a copy of Explorer on your desktop. The program usually lives in your C:Windows folder. Find it there, rightclick it, select Create Shortcut, and drag the shortcut onto your desktop. Rightclick the shortcut icon. In the text box for TARGET, there will be something such as C:WINDOWSEXPLORER.EXE (this points to the original file.) Add the following to the end of the line: /n,/e,D: so that the whole line reads C:WINDOWSEXPLORER.EXE /n,/e,D: where D: is the target where you want Explorer to open. If you want Explorer to open in your C: drive in your My Documents folder, then the line should be C:WINDOWSEXPLORER.EXE /n,/e,C:my documents If you want it open in D: drive in your Work folder (or whatever,) then C:WINDOWSEXPLORER.EXE /n,/e,D:work Just edit the last item to suit your workstyle. If you mess up, just delete the shortcut, blame Microsoft, and start over.
That’s all for October. It’s a really beautiful Indian Summer in Palo Alto. I’ve had dinner outside on the deck for the last few nights.
Eurydice, my cat, finally caught her first mouse, and for the next five days, she caught a mouse every day. She also caught a huge lizard, but I got him away from her and released him into the woodpile, where he lives now. Whenever I’m chopping wood for the fireplace, I see him.
I also got a fish vase for the front porch. Go to Home Depot and buy the largest flower pot they have (30 inches, for $50 or so) plus some swimming pool sealer. Paint the inside of the vase with two coats of sealer, let it dry for about a week, and fill it up with water, water plants, a few snails, and feeder goldfish (15 for a dollar) or mosquito fish (20 for a dollar, at any pet store.) Feed them fish food every few days. They’ll live outside year-around. Totally cool.
My Report on Job Hunting
Elena asked: “I was just wondering what you thought about the current job market, since you’ve had some experience in looking. Thanks!“
(Several people asked the same question, so here’s the long reply. –andreas)
I was laid off in a round of downsizing in mid-August. I found a new job in mid-September. Here’s an overview of what the job market is like and how I looked for a job.
After being laid off, I spent a week preparing for a job hunt and then three weeks doing a job hunt. I was hired about 30 days after I was laid off. In contrast, I never went more than a week without work for the last seven years. I know many tech writers who have not had an interview in six months.
I followed several strategies: job boards and personal contacts.
- I rewrote my resume. I put it on my website in various formats at andreas.com/resume.) (My resume is different: it doesn’t follow the standard. If you read the Corcodillo book carefully, you’ll see why it is written like this.)
- I sent my resume plus a personal cover letter to some ten recruiters whom I’ve known for many years.
- I sent my resume and a generic cover letter to some 330 Silicon Valley recruiting agencies.
- I registered at dice.com, brassring.com, craigslist.org, and monster.com. I added my resume to these sites, I did job searches, and I signed up for automated email notification of openings. I used the NWU’s job hotline (www.nwu.org) for jobs in technical writing.
- I sent an email to all of my friends, work acquaintances, and email lists, to say that I was available and my resume was on the web.
Every Monday, I revisited the job sites (dice.com, brassring.com, craigslist.org, monster.com, and the NWU job hotline) and updated my information. A recruiter told me that dice.com resumes are ranked by most recent first, so if you update your resume every week, you will be at the top of the list.
Every morning, I replied to the automated emails of job openings.
The majority of jobs are never listed. They are available through informal social networks. So I took the opportunity to have lunch or coffee with different people nearly every day.
Finding the Job…
After two weeks, I began to get interviews. These came from different sources:
- One company found my resume on dice.com.
- I found another company at craigslist.org
- A recruiter whom I know found an opening for me
- I had coffee with a friend, and she remembered an opening. The fourth one led to the job, since the manager and I had a common friend whom we both trusted.
During interviews, I asked directors about the job market. They said they got hundreds and hundreds of resumes. However, 90% of these were worthless resumes because people were broadcasting wildly for any kind of job.
I also learned from both recruiters and companies that companies are avoiding recruiters. Since so many recruiting agencies have fired their recruiters, companies have hired those recruiters as internal recruiters and they do their own job search. This saves the company the $20-30,000 recruiting fee per position. So you should approach companies directly and not rely exclusively on recruiters. Craigslist.org is a very popular place for companies to find workers directly.
(Another tip: Craigslist.org has local versions: Craigslist for SF, for the Peninsula, and for the South Bay. Check the one that is closest to you.)
I strongly recommend Corcodillo’s book This has to be read several times and you must practise interviewing. I’ve spent hours (in some cases, an entire day til midnight) preparing friends for interviews. I took extensive notes, worked through the book, and prepared a five-page script with notes and bullet points to use in interviews.
Researching the Company
You’ve heard the theory, but you must learn how to research companies. You don’t want to get aboard a sinking ship. If you don’t know how to do the following, find someone who does and have them teach you how to do this. Use Yahoo Finance and look up the company’s ticker symbol. Look at the 1-year and 2-year charts of the stock price to get an idea of how the company is doing. See News to read recent articles about the company. Use Profile to read about the company’s mission statement and their financial situation. There is more detailed descriptions in those as well, such as their competitors, their market cap, info about the directors, and so on. Use Insider to see whether the directors are dumping their stock. Use all of this until you are comfortable with the information and understand what it means. You should also look at the company’s competitors and see how they are doing.
The job market is extremely bad. On the bright side, it can’t get much worse. In mid-September, during the worst week in the US economy since the Great Depression, with New York City in flames, NASDAQ in freefall to to 1400, and the stock market closed for three days, I did interviews at four different companies and get hired.
Based on historical trends, recessions only last twelve months, and we’ve been in recession for at least six months. So the recovery should begin by late Spring 2002. You only have to survive until then.
More new FAQs (FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions…) at andreas.com
This month: Food, jobs, housing, and mouse tricks.
The web funeral for the web was quite fun. We buried the Pets.com sock puppet in a Webvan box in my backyard in Palo Alto. The Mercury News newspaper, AdWeek, Salon.com, and Media Times wrote about it; 15,000 people per hour were visiting the website to see the Web’s obituary. It’s at Web Obit.
I added a long list of recipes to the front page of my site. It was on the site before, but buried under several links. Try the Goat Cheese Torta; it’s great for parties.
So… still have a job? Silicon Valley these days is more like Death Valley. The next company to be voted off the island will be Excite. On Monday, one of their investors realized their mistake and they wanted their $50 million investment back by Friday. In cash. Excite thought about this for a few days and finally said “you can’t make us and we’re not going to.”
If you’ve been laid off (or you work for Excite, which means you’ll soon be laid off,) I added a long list of pro-worker attorneys and an article by Joyce Slaton on your legal rights in a layoff.
The dotcom where I was working was doing well. On Monday we were very busy and on Friday, quite a few people were let go. The company ran into funding “issues.” Oh, well. So I’ve been laid off too. It turned out to be quite a relief, after months of anticipation. I cleaned up my resume (if you want to see, my resume,) signed up at various job boards, and had lunch with a number of recruiters. For those who have lots of skills and experience, there are a few jobs. For the rest, well… Mercury is in retrograde, so explore other avenues. It’s my first real vacation in many years. I fixed the garage door, got the dishwasher finally installed (yes, I had it for two years, but I never got around to installing it,) planted many more WebVan tulips (see Web Obit for the story,) and am enjoying the summer. I’ve also finally had time to catch up on old emails, a number of which went back to 1998…
Anyway, I’ve freshened up my job resources page . Over the next few weeks, I’d add more things as I explore the job market.
The collapse of the valley also means lots of available apartments. There are hundreds of listings on Craig’s List every day. Apartment complexes have begun dropping their rents by as much as $500 to keep people from leaving. So… if your rent is high, look at Rents and Housing.
It’s a great time to go shopping. Companies are dumping their inventory to raise cash. Handspring Visors (deluxe model, in various translucent colors) are only $99 at Fry’s. Eye modules (the digital camera for the Visor) is only $30 at various office supply stores. A few days ago, I bought a 1200×1200 color inkjet printer for $39.
But the web’s not over. The mega sites, such as Yahoo and AOL, will survive, along with the micro business sites. Small business sites can keep their costs low and make a profit. My brother’s clogs site in Palm Springs continues to grow; he is the largest distributor now for Bastad Swedish clogs.
Late-night Restaurants in Silicon Valley: a number of people sent me reports on various restaurants (Andreas, that place has the BIGGEST roaches I’ve ever seen…”,) so I removed a few and added many more. There are twice as many restaurants now, plus Morgan Hill, Los Gatos, Saratoga, and so on. Taquerias at 3 am! Late Night Restaurants.
Finally, here’s a great tip. If you have Windows and a wheel mouse (the kind that lets you scroll by spinning the little wheel between the two buttons,) then try this: Open up the browser, look at a web page, hold down the Control key (Ctrl,) and spin the wheel. Yes, it zooms the page in and out. Once you try this, you’ll be hooked.
Have you heard of the “invisible web”? Or… how big is the web? About twice as large as the Library of Congress. And how big is the invisible web? 750 times larger than the Library of Congress. It holds 550 billion files. And yes, you can use it. A few days ago, TechTV.com interviewed me about this, so I wrote up the material and put it at the Invisible Web.
Finally, for something fun, I’m holding a funeral this Saturday. The Web is dead. So let’s bury it! See The Death of the Web.
- Web, age 5, of Silicon Valley. Born August 9th, 1995, Mountain View, California and died penniless in an empty dotcom loft, abandoned by his former friends. Cause of death: lack of VC funding. Private burial and funeral service 3.00 pm. Saturday, July 28th, 2001. Burial in a Palo Alto backyard. Make donations to a web-centric non-profit, such as amazon.com. That’s all for July! Enjoy your summer,
So far, it’s been a cool summer in Palo Alto. The days are barely warm, and it’s chilly at night.
What is it with Hawaii? Suddenly, everyone is wearing Hawaiian shirts and there’s Hawaiian theme parties. Just down the street here in Palo Alto, Trader Vic’s opened their first new restaurant in 25 years.
Whatever. I’ve been busy with my computer. I took my old machine, removed a number of parts from it, and built a new machine, with 1.7 GHz and 500 MB of RAM. It’s plenty fast for a while. It also has Windows XP. XP is cute, but best of all, you can turn off most of the XP stuff and get the classic Windows interface. The old machine will rise again; it’s being turned into a LINUX machine with a server. Soon, it may be delivering your webpages.
Ever wondered about computer keyboards? andreas.com/faq-keys.html
Oh, while I was upgrading, I found out where Windows stores the email. It’s hidden deep inside a bunch of folders. Your email is saved as a bunch of files. You can drag and copy these files into a folder or onto a Zip disk, so you can backup your email. The email files are at windows/application data/microsoft/outlook express/mail/ and the files have the dbx extension. When you upgrade, just copy these files onto the new machine, open Outlook, and use Import. It’ll bring the email right into your new email program.
It’s pretty dismal in Silicon Valley. Palo Alto has 48% office space vacancy. There’s office complexes that are entirely empty. VC funding continues to slide down. Oh, well.
The startup where I’m working just got more funding. Our CEO spent several months talking to VCs. He said that a large VC company had 4,000 business proposals this year, and they are going to fund only eight.
There’s a page that lets you make PDFs for free. pdf995.com
Finally, there’s a way to get rid of a lot of spam. A fellow in New Zealand wrote a program that returns spam to its sender by bouncing it. To the spam sender, it appears as if your email account doesn’t exist. If the spam sender’s computer will delete your email address from their computer. Bingo. No more spam from them.
Spam is unsolicited email. The junk emails that offer porn, Nigerian money scams, get-rich-quick schemes, and so on. I was getting 100-200 spam per day. With Mailwasher, it’s down to 25 per day.
MailWasher is an email previewer. You can see what emails you have before you download them. It identifies spam and viruses and let you bounce the email back to the spam sender. After you’ve previewed your emails, it downloads your emails into your email program.
It’s easy to install and set up. A dialog box will ask you for your pop and smtp info. For example: Laura at Microsoft’s email info is… user = firstname.lastname@example.org, pop = pop.microsoft.com, and smtp = smtp.microsoft.com. (These are examples.) Substitute your name and ISP and try that. If it doesn’t work, check your ISP’s help pages and search for “smtp.”
Fetch MailWasher at mailwasher.net (1.5 MB download) It’s free to use. If you like, you can send him a small donation ($3-20) to help him with his cat’s catfood.
Send this email to your friends and lists. Tell everyone about MailWasher. The more we use this, the less spam there will be. Kill spam!
I’ve added a few more FAQs. (FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions…)
Adobe Acrobat PDF
Wanna use Adobe Acrobat to make PDFs? Do you know what PDFs are? I once wrote the complete guide to Adobe Acrobat (no, it’s not Adobe Aerobic Reader.)
Add Low-cost Credit Card Transactions to Your Web Site
If you have a website and want to do credit card transactions, there’s a really easy way to do this. With paypal.com, you can add secure server ecommerce to your website and accept credit card payments: no setup fees, no monthly fees, and only 30 cents per transaction. More at Paypal for your website.
HTML Cheat Sheet
When I’m writing HTML, I often refer to my HTML cheat sheet. One of you asked me for this, so it’s at Andreas’ HTML Cheat Sheet.
I added a few more useful links.
A discussion of Douglas Rushkoff’s book on Coercion.
And a few more poems. Thanks to the fellow who told me about William Stafford’s poems. Copy, distribute, whatever.
Not much else. It’s a beautiful mild summer in Palo Alto. That means no rolling blackouts. And I have a new cat, named Eurydice. Some sort of Greek demi-goddess.
It’s April already? It’s time for new FAQs at andreas.com!
Secrets of the Search Engine Gods…
I promised back in January to write about search engines. You forgot that I promised? Good. Because it took me until now to get around to doing this. In March, I was part of a web technology panel presentation in Silicon Valley. I presented a paper on SEO. What’s SEO? When somebody says SEO, you’re probably paying $5,000. SEO (search engine optimization) is how you get listed at the top in a search engine. If you get your company at the top of a search engine listing, you get practically all of the sales for that category. Get a free copy of my white paper on SEO. Over 300 people fetched this on the first day it was up. Get your copy before your competitors get it.
Clogwild: Nr. 1 at Yahoo
My brother has a clog store in Palm Springs. Palm Springs has 93 golf courses, a bunch of movie stars, and it’s summer every day. I run a bunch of web sites, so I built a web site (clogwild.com) for his store. His site is now the most popular web site for clogs at Yahoo. In only six months, he’s one of the top sellers for clogs in the USA. I also manage another web site for a therapist in San Francisco. She got her own category at Yahoo and she is booked out with clients for several months in advance. How did I do that? Oh, so maybe now you’re interested in my paper on SEO? Go back and read about search engines.
Okay, so most of you live outside of California. Heck, many of you live all over the world. Here’s a list: Austria, Australia, Belize, Canada, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Egypt, Denmark, Germany, Korea, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, PT, Rumania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. There’s even a few of you at the CIA, the US Navy, and the State Department. Maybe the Mars Rover is in here somewhere. Howdy to all of you. Anyway. Here’s a list of radio stations in the Bay Area. So maybe this won’t help you very much. But the next time you’re in Silicon Valley and you’re stuck in traffic, well, now you know what radio to listen to. Bay Area Radio.
Back to Engineering?
The New Yorker’s financial pages has an interesting comment a few weeks ago. The Internet and computers in general were once only for engineers. In the 80s and early 90s, Silicon Valley companies were run by engineers for engineers. Marketing meant that you stamped the specs on a brown carton box and sent it out.
At the beginning of the web boom , marketing took over the web. Most dotcoms were basically MBA marketing projects: throw enough money at a project until it turned into a brand and a customer base. They spent perhaps $500 billion of VC money to prove their point. And the result… well, 80% will close and the remainder barely survive. The New Yorker concludes it’s back to engineering. Companies run by engineers are still getting funding.
So we learned something. Okay, we paid $500 billion to learn it, so we better learn it right: Marketing doesn’t sell a product. The product sells the product.
Looking for a job? Or maybe soon you’ll be looking for a job? So what goes on at a job fair? What are companies looking for? Are they really hiring? Yep, I was the one of the people to whom you handed your resume. I’m a manager at a top Silicon Valley company. Actually, people often yelped, threw their resume at me, and ran away. Find out more at Job Fair Insider.
Mayan Hot Cocoa from Chocolat…
And in closing, as promised, something really useful. Did you see the movie Chocolat? Wanna know how to make hot cocoa that’s so aromatic it’s like rich perfume? It took a bit of experimenting, and I came up with the recipe for Mayan Hot Cocoa
Let me know what you think of these newsletters, the web site, the FAQs, and so on. Are there things I should write about? Secrets of Silicon Valley that you want to know? Drop me a note.
Happy Bunny Day, — andreas
Okay, so it’s been a few months since my last newsletter. I’m at yet another Palo Alto startup and we’ve been busy. The company is only nine blocks from home, so after it stopped raining this winter, I’ve started again to bicycle to work.
This month’s stuff: job searching, CSS, how to back up email, how to publish your book, wireless PDAs, craigslist, making wine, and a few more things.
Working in Silicon Valley is somewhat like working on the starship Enterprise: it seems that every race and species can get a job, even Ferengi. Everyone here believe that skills matter, not your race, age, or sex. Well… not quite. In the rest of the world, the more experience, the higher the income. But in SV, salaries tend to fall with experience. Race is possibly the most important issue. Just as Star Trek’s Ferengi tend to cluster together, the races here also cluster together. Members help other members of the same race, and regrettably, they continue with their prejudices from their native country against other races. For example, Japanese men earn much more than Southeast Asian men or women. See the charts at faq-income.html
The web craze is over and the web is beginning to shrink. Up to this winter, there were some 30 million domain names. Since December, millions of names have expired. People are not paying the renewal fees on their registrations. See deleteddomains.com for a list of expired domain names.
Easy Computer Stuff
Mary asks if there’s a way to backup emails. If you’re using Microsoft Outlook, here’s how. Open your Outlook, so you see your emails. Open your file manager (or click Start, click Run, type Explorer, and press Enter.) You file manager shows you the files on your hard disk. Navigate to a folder where you want to put the emails. For example, if you’re looking for work, you probably have a folder named Job Search. Now select the emails that you want to save (such as the ones that contain job offers) and drag-and-drop them into the Job Search folder. See? The emails are saved as files. You can save them, copy them, open them, move them, and make backups. Mary definitely owes me some chocolate cake for this tip.
Wanna Publish Your Book?
With computers and the web, you can write and publish books yourself. In May, we’re going to hold a seminar in Oakland on how to self-publish. We’ve invited major speakers and panelists for the event. I’m the coordinator for the seminar. Stephanie Cota (stephaniecota.com) and I built the website. Writer as Publisher: Independent Publishing Seminar, by the National Writers Union (NWU.) An all-day seminar, Saturday, May 18, 2002 at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center in downtown Oakland. Get published! writeraspublisher.com.
Craig’s List is one of the best secrets on the web. Craig Newmark is a Java developer in San Francisco who created a website for sharing info and events; it has grown into the main community site for events, jobs, housing, and other services in many different cities. With the dotcom crash, companies are avoiding recruiters and they’ve turned to announcing jobs on Craig’s List. (By the way, I worked with Craig four years ago at a dotcom. A few months ago, I bought a great sofa for only $200 through Craig’s List.) There’s the main site at craigslist.org, and there are local versions for the Peninsula, South Bay, and other cities, incl. LA, NYC, and so on. Pass this on to friends, other lists, and so on. Bay Area craigslist.org, Peninsula craigslist.org/sfo/pen, South Bay craigslist.org/sfo/sby and see the sites for NYC, LA, and other cities.
I bought a VisorPhone for my Handspring Visor PDA. I can use my PDA as a cell phone. I used it for a month or two. It can send and receive email. Oh, great, now I can get spam wherever I go. After I tried a few emails, I gave that up. The VisorPhone can browse the web. You first have to sign up for wireless access (the scoundrels at the phone company charges an extra $5 for this.) I spent easily five hours with tech support, both at the ISP, Handspring, and the telephone company, trying to get this to work. One of the engineers at the phone company said to me “Is anyone really using this?” We never got it to work. The device is well-designed, but the result just isn’t that useful. It’s easier to use the PDA in one hand and make a call on a separate device. Combining the two is too much like a Swiss Army knife. I doubt I use even 20% of my cell phone’s features. Wireless PDAs sound good, but it’s not here yet. Maybe in a few years, I’ll try again.
Anyone want to buy my VisorPhone? (It requires a PCS cell phone and a Handspring Visor.) I paid $100 at Handspring for it. In perfect condition. Send me an email.
Speaking of wireless spam, I got my first spam on my regular cell phone a few weeks ago. Someone sent me six text messages, all promising Get Rich Quick, if I only called back to a telephone in Nigeria.
Yet More Stuff
I started a list for people in SV to talk about jobs, billing rates, companies, and technical stuff. To join, visit faq-svweb.html
What else is going on in Palo Alto? After the crash, there’s lots of available apartments. In six months, rents dropped from $1,700 to around $950 for a 1-bedroom apartment. Practically every apartment complex has For-Rent signs and there’s all sorts of move-in offers. But all the cats who had their paws burnt aren’t coming back so soon. Many of my friends have moved away to other cities or they’ve taken up other professions.
For the last six months of 2001, I got about 10% “no longer works at this company” automatic replies every month. All of those people were losing their jobs. In the last three months, however, I’ve seen a big increase in subscriptions, and amusingly, many of these are now at yahoo or hotmail accounts. They’ve learned not to rely on company email services.
The latest Silicon Valley joke? There’s good news and bad news about your stock portfolio. The good news: your stock is doing great! The bad news: Arthur Andersen is the accountant.
But things really are picking up again. Last week, a house for sale in Palo Alto had 30 offers.
This past winter, I’ve also been making wine. A friend bought a wine-making kit and we’ve made several batches. It’s very easy; just buy some grape juice, throw in some yeast, let it sit on top of the fridge for a few weeks, and pour. It’s quite drinkable. It comes to less than fifty cents per bottle. You can find wine-making supply stores in most cities, and they’ll sell you the whole kit. If you like wine, maybe look into this.
As for me, I’m working at the startup (we’re creating software that manages massive storage systems,) working on the self-publishing seminar website, and a few other projects. I’ve also been working on my house. This winter, the pipes broke and I to replace the plumbing. It also turned out the oak trees in the front yard had gotten their roots into the drain pipes. So I hired a few Mexican fellows and we dug those up and replaced them. If you have trees in your yard, you can buy root killer at any hardware supply store. Pour it into the toilet and it removes any roots in your drain pipes. (Hey, it’s either root killer in the pipes or a chain saw.)
PDAs: If you don’t yet have a Palm Pilot or Handspring, read a comparison.
Once you get your PDA, you can fetch thousands of free books (actually, over 40,000…) You can also create books and texts that others can read on their PDAs. This is very easy to do. Full details and lots of links.
And yes, you can cruise the web on your PDA. Fetch a free browser for your PDA and start reading the New York Times, Salon, and other newspapers and magazines for free on your PDA. Plus, you can visit my PDA website design site and learn how to make web sites for PDAs.
Wanna job in PR? I added a list of the top twenty-five PR agencies in Silicon Valley.
The Next Newsletter…
Every month or so, or when I get around to it, I send out a newsletter with FAQs, tips, info, stories, poems, and whatever to some 3,000 subscribers. If you want to join, add your email below. You’re welcomed to write, ask questions, and send poems. — yrs, andreas