Skip to main content

Reference checking

I'm not a dishonest person, in reality or by reputation. But I do have the occasional dishonest inkling. For instance, a former co-worker, sometimes friend of mine is being considered for a job in the armed forces which requires a security clearance. Part of getting this clearance involves someone from the DoD interviewing references.

As I said, I'm not dishonest, but seriously, if anyone has ever been denied clearance or a position through the interviewing process, who are they and what, exactly, kind of idiot are they? I'm not following the thought process that makes someone provide the name of a potential deal-breaker in a list of people they know is going to be asked about the candidate's past.

Candidate: "I know, I'll tell them to talk to Ryan."

DoD Badge-Flasher: "Ryan, is Candidate trustworthy?"

Ryan: "Oh, hell yeah. Candidate's been holding my stash for a while, you know, until the heat dies down. Wait, if you're asking, does that mean Candidate's not? That's what you think, right? Damn it! I knew it! What happened to my stash?!?"

Not that I sunk my former co-worker, sometimes friend. For what I knew, a stand-up all-around All-American kid. But the process itself makes you wonder how someone, somewhere justified this.

Of course, I'm probably missing some depressingly simple aspect (like body language, eye movements and the like) that are "tells". If that's the case then I probably blew it. I long ago stopped reacting like I'm supposed to to questions. It really throws people off. Tell them the truth but then look all around. Really throws off people who have read certain books.


Popular posts from this blog

Google Inbox: A classic Google product

My work domain (an EDU) recently had Google Inbox enabled so I had a good chance to try it out. My personal email is relatively quiet and, I believe, doesn't provide a good Inbox experience. Work is more active and requires actual management, something I've tossed many a tool at over the years. As part of my work life, I supported the Google Apps for EDU installation here and took a pretty extensive presentation to campus about how to manage large amounts of email.

Inbox is a classic Google product: the distillation of a number of excellent ideas into a set of half-complete features built for a use case most people don't meet. We've seen this in the past in products like ChromeVox, Google's Chrome extension for accessibility. ChromeVox works great on ChromeOS devices, but completely ignores the point that most users of accessibility tech (AT) don't have or want ChromeOS devices and come to services with their AT in tow. ChromeVox also ignores decades of convent…


Evernote, for better or worse, is the best note-taking service for my needs. It works across all my devices/computers/modes. It's fairly easy to get stuff into it. Hell, they even have 2-Factor authentication. The Windows app is a little clunky and my girlfriend and I have never been able to get shared notes to work properly (conflicted note! three times in the same grocery trip!), but what service is perfect? At least they have nice socks.

Everything, in fact, is pretty good as long as you don't screw up. And screw up I did. I'm not very regular about making backups, but I do make them every month or so. Once you figure out how to create a backup, that is.

There's a helpful Export Note option (which turns into Export Notes when you select multiple notes HINT). The export process is essentially opening All Notes, selecting every note, and then choosing Export Notes. Or something like that; Evernote never tells you, you're left to figure it out on your own. The file…

Happy Retirement Pat Sweeny!

In a previous life, I was an active member of the West Michigan Shores Chapter of the STC. I met a lot of really cool people there and learned a lot about what it meant to be not just a technical writer, but more about how technical writers can break out of the mold and accomplish things.

One of the people who did that was Pat Sweeny. Pat is (or was, by this point) the President and owner of The Bishop Company, a contract do-it-all house; they document, streamline and illustrate your process, and they do it damn well. Pat was one of the first people in that chapter to "get it", which is to say, he and his company understand that technical writing isn't going to be a department for very much longer, it's going to be a business.

He had the foresight to actually make it a business, but he also had something else. Pat was forever trying to better those around him. He would come to meetings (which was a big step beyond most people) and teach you things. Or he would come to …