Legacy Post

I’ve decided to call time on this blog site. It was a great ride while it lasted but it’s time to move on.

I want to thank everyone who has visited and left comments over the years (especially Abi Kolapo, Marcie Hill and Tykeene Jenkins) and I will remember the support you all gave me for when I decide to make a return elsewhere.

Thank you all for the memories.

This blog will be left undeleted for posterity. I’ll be keeping it available for anyone who wants to browse through the archives and, hopefully, for my kids to see when they are old enough to read and cringe at the sight of baby photos and my rare rants.

Goodbye, everyone. And happy reading.

“I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar”

Sourced from HBR Blog Network

I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.

by Kyle Wiens | 8:02 AM July 20, 2012

If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me. If you think a semicolon is a regular colon with an identity crisis, I will not hire you. If you scatter commas into a sentence with all the discrimination of a shotgun, you might make it to the foyer before we politely escort you from the building.

Some might call my approach to grammar extreme, but I prefer Lynne Truss’s more cuddly phraseology: I am a grammar “stickler.” And, like Truss —author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves —I have a “zero tolerance approach” to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.

Now, Truss and I disagree on what it means to have “zero tolerance.” She thinks that people who mix up their itses “deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave,” while I just think they deserve to be passed over for a job —even if they are otherwise qualified for the position.

Everyone who applies for a position at either of my companies, iFixit or Dozuki, takes a mandatory grammar test. Extenuating circumstances aside (dyslexia, English language learners, etc.), if job hopefuls can’t distinguish between “to” and “too,” their applications go into the bin.

Of course, we write for a living. iFixit.com is the world’s largest online repair manual, and Dozuki helps companies write their own technical documentation, like paperless work instructions and step-by-step user manuals. So, it makes sense that we’ve made a preemptive strike against groan-worthy grammar errors.

But grammar is relevant for all companies. Yes, language is constantly changing, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant. Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in e-mails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And, for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.

Good grammar makes good business sense —and not just when it comes to hiring writers. Writing isn’t in the official job description of most people in our office. Still, we give our grammar test to everybody, including our salespeople, our operations staff, and our programmers.

On the face of it, my zero tolerance approach to grammar errors might seem a little unfair. After all, grammar has nothing to do with job performance, or creativity, or intelligence, right?

Wrong. If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with. So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.

Grammar signifies more than just a person’s ability to remember high school English. I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing —like stocking shelves or labeling parts.

In the same vein, programmers who pay attention to how they construct written language also tend to pay a lot more attention to how they code. You see, at its core, code is prose. Great programmers are more than just code monkeys; according to Stanford programming legend Donald Knuth they are “essayists who work with traditional aesthetic and literary forms.” The point: programming should be easily understood by real human beings —not just computers.

And just like good writing and good grammar, when it comes to programming, the devil’s in the details. In fact, when it comes to my whole business, details are everything.

I hire people who care about those details. Applicants who don’t think writing is important are likely to think lots of other (important) things also aren’t important. And I guarantee that even if other companies aren’t issuing grammar tests, they pay attention to sloppy mistakes on résumés. After all, sloppy is as sloppy does.

That’s why I grammar test people who walk in the door looking for a job. Grammar is my litmus test. All applicants say they’re detail-oriented; I just make my employees prove it.

___

I was directed to Wiens’ blog post via LinkedIn and was immediately entertained by his thoughts; so much so that I found myself agreeing with him. His methods may seem a little brash and extreme but I think, in practice, that it’s a pretty good exercise. If a person can not be bothered to at least proofread their CV/résumé before applying for a job, then it stands to reason that it could be a potential indicator of a sloppy working attitude. This isn’t always the case and Wiens’ does explain that he makes concessions for those who are new to English or have learning difficulties like dyslexia. However, that one line where he says, “if it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s”, then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with,” is pure dynamite.

I’ve always been known to be a little fussy about poor grammar and spelling but I am generally okay with it provided that I understand the gist of what a person is driving at. In my time, though, I have been forced to read some shocking work from people at work, university and amongst friends, and have wondered just how they managed to make it through school to adulthood without realising their problem. I’m not implying that I’m a grammar prodigy because I make mistakes like anyone else, but I have enough pride in myself, and in the work that represents me, to at least attempt to practice what I preach.

Busted Laptop Charger

I haven’t been able to keep you updated because of a fault with my laptop’s charging unit. There was quite a lot that I wanted to share over the last few weeks but I really can’t be bothered to get into it right now because of time constraints that I don’t want to explain.

Rude!

I know, but let me explain myself once I can gather the relevant combination of letters, words and paragraphs. All you need to know is that it’s been an emotional ride.

I’m not sure if whatever I will tell you has anything to do with my charger exploding but, in time, you will see that the metaphor is quite apt.

Maiya’s First Birthday

Today is my daughter’s first birthday and yet she is blissfully unaware of this little milestone. Her mother has gone nuts trying to create something that should be recognised by all cultures the world over to commemorate the seventh day of the sixth month, but, as usual, I’ve been the voice of sensible reason. I’m not going to go into the specifics of the grandiose plans she had but I will tell you that my idea pretty much won out as it is affordable, fun and appropriate.

I decided that a barbecue and having some friends and family over would be more than enough, considering we have a wedding to pay for next month and will be almost stress-free (provided the British weather plays its part). It may seem a little mundane but seriously, what more do you need for a one year old’s birthday before it starts being less about the child and more about the mother? As far as I’m concerned, just having a small gathering of loved ones together in a chilled environment with food, music and company is all you need. When Maiya looks back on the pictures in the future hopefully she will see images of people enjoying themselves and celebrating her instead of a whole bunch of strangers who turned up just to get down.

The BBQ is set for this Saturday and I’m really hoping that it is remembered for the smiles, the fun and the atmosphere and not the potential salmonella and E. coli outbreaks that could occur with me on the grill.

Wish me luck.

Growing up fast

#Sixseasonsandamovie

Last week the third season of Community ended on a high and I thought I’d just let the Americans amongst you know that you are killing my favourite US comedy too soon.

NBC commissioned just THIRTEEN more episodes for the fourth series before announcing that that would be the end of the Greendale Seven on our screens (save for possible re-runs). I honestly don’t understand why the show didn’t get the viewership it clearly deserved because everyone I introduced to the show is just as enamoured as I am. I knew that it was probably a little too “out there” for some, but with shows like Scrubs and even The Big Bang Theory getting ratings, I thought the least America could do would be to recognise and celebrate creativity when it’s displayed in the form of such an awesome show.

But these things happen. I forgive you, America. You could always make it up to us in Britain by watching the final series zealously in a last-ditch attempt to get the show back, or at least a spinoff, on the air.

Just to let you know what we’re fighting for, these are a couple of videos that may spur you to action.

 

New Arsenal Home Kit for 2012-2013

Arsenal launched their new home kit with a very interesting video. They showcase a little humour and a lot of set-piece skill (both rarely on display in must-win matches) and I thought I’d share this with you all.

Arsène Wenger and Wojciech Szczesny are gems at the end. Fantastic double act.

Bad Habits

The guys from PacifistFilms have just delivered another gem to the YouTube generation for us all to absorb and share. Be warned , though, this one is not a comedic short like some of their more recent fare, this is sixteen minutes and twenty-six seconds of seriousness.

I’m really liking the change of direction guys and I’m looking forward to seeing more of what the Pacifists have to offer.

PS – Guys, I’m still waiting on my invite to be in an upcoming feature, call my agent to set up a meeting.

Lent

Hi guys,

I had a couple of people think that I was either angry at them or had just disappeared because they hadn’t heard from me in a while. Just to be clear, I haven’t been avoiding anyone I just decided back on February 22nd to give up social media for lent.

Actually, I decided to test myself to see if I could last without keeping up with the three major networks, i.e. Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. I mean, I’m not even a catholic. I suppose I could have dropped any number of things for 40 days but I decided to challenge myself with this as it would make an impact on friends and family.

So far, so good.

I haven’t cracked or even faltered yet. This may be down to the fact that I use these networks differently to the majority of subscribers. I never post about inane and pointlessly trivial things like,

My cat just guffed, lolz!

I don’t retweet the latest quote from celebrities in order to feel important in the hope that someone might “follow” me as well; and I also fail to see why I should care about blurry nightclub pictures taken on crappy Blackberry cameraphones.

It’s all just a waste of my time.

I prefer to use these networks to connect with long-lost friends or family who are in different countries. If I’ve added someone on Facebook, then chances are that I know the person well enough to have their phone number or email address, which I believe to be better forms of communication. I own a smartphone so I can receive calls, text messages and emails at any time of the day or night. Provided you have a phone as well and my phone number, there should be absolutely no difficulty in maintaining a dialogue.

Or so I thought.

It has turned out that some people believe that if you stop using these “social media” that you may have actually died. Queue the onslaught of “R.I.P.” messages on your wall or in your Twitter feed. It’s all just ridiculous.

I suppose in a roundabout way, maybe people like me are what’s wrong with society because we don’t feel that urgency to share with the world every fleeting thought or emotion. Sharing is caring, after all.

Abi’s Naan Bread Recipe

My fiancée has gotten serious about healthy eating and cooking and recently mastered naan bread. I stole her recipe and have decided to share it with everyone. (Robin Hood complex, possibly.)

Makes 4 naan breads

2 teaspoons yeast (or 1 sachet)
1 teaspoon sugar
A few drops of olive oil or good quality vegetable oil.
Warm water – 50ml
Plain flour – 440 grams flour
Salt to taste
Chopped herbs (optional) Continue reading

Having a Go

Instagram hasn’t arrived on Android yet but I thought I’d try an alternative just to see what all the fuss is about.

I can’t say I’m disappointed. I’m actually rather impressed. This is a semi-recent picture of my daughter who has been the perfect model for my sporadic photography. The app I used is called Photofunia and is available for free on the Google Play store.