Being Creative with Job Applications

Written on September 29, 2009 – 2:54 pm by Ding

I’m constantly fascinated by the paradox that sits at the heart of job hunting. We are encouraged to make our CV and covering letter stand out from the crowd and display unique qualities, but in the process make sure it looks the same as all the others and follows a certain convention. Maybe it’s not as dramatic as I’m alluding to, but regardless, there is a certain procedure that one follows for applying for new jobs.

Sometimes however, it appears that you just need to forget about everything you’ve been told and wing it a little.Image borrowed from Doublefine's website

Tim Schafer, the absolute hero of a game developer for many ordinary geeks such as myself has posted his application to the Lucasfilm games division on his website to celebrate his twenty years in the games development industry and it’s really worth a read, if only for the realisation that this actually worked.

Tim Schafer, for those who would know the work but not the name, was the mastermind behind Grim Fandango, an adventure game taking the afterlife equivalent of a travel agent on a sprawling journey through the land of the dead, Psychonauts, a platform game where you controlled a boy who ran away from the circus to attend a summer camp for psychics, and the upcoming Brutal Legend starring a roadie trapped in a heavy metal themed fantasy world. He is nothing short of an inspirational genius. Had he not taken an oddball approach to applying to Lucasfilm, the gaming world would have been a somewhat duller place.

What I find interesting is that he considers himself to have been massively under qualified for the job that he was offered.  This strikes a chord with me as I am constantly driven to a state of melancholy when job descriptions for things that I would love to do seem incredibly far away from my actual abilities.

I should really have learnt this lesson long ago when I applied for my current job and was informed by the job listing that I needed to be “fully literate in Microsoft Excel”. What that actually translated to was to know what the icon looked like.

But Wait, Where’s My Update?

Written on September 29, 2009 – 12:53 am by Ding

Considering I’ve spent a fair amount of time tinkering again today, I’m a little perplexed as to where the actual post is for this evening.  It’s at this point that I realise I didn’t write anything today and have instead just messed around with code (as well as de-grease an oven and launch a polar expedition into the freezer) and make some very small, yet significant to me, changes to this site.

I still need to alter a few things.  A bit more space between lines of text would be quite nice, and maybe a slightly larger font wouldn’t go amiss either.  Details, details.

Learning New Things

Written on September 27, 2009 – 12:01 pm by Ding

I remember reading somewhere that you never really finish fiddling with WordPress, you just sometimes need to eat drink and sleep, thus necessitating a departure from messing around with themes, widgets and settings.  Whilst you’re away from your computer, I can understand how some people might consider that you’re happy with how it looks and have therefore finished, but this is far from the case.  I can certainly see why this is.  I’ve just poured another morning into trying to get Comicpress, a webcomic-based theme for WordPress, up and running for my comics website.  I’m not ready to share the link for it, but with some creative guesswork you could probably find it.  Sometimes the phrase “Under Construction” just doesn’t quite convey how much of a building site the whole thing is.

I think that I’ve been feeling a little sorry for myself lately because it has come around to September once again and I’m not embarking on a new academic year, as I have long ago flown the fluffy comfy nest of university and I’m not taking the next course required for the legal training that I started two years ago due to feet encased in ice-blocks concerning my future in the legal profession.  As a result, I don’t have a new exciting course to throw my efforts in to and I’m starting to think that September causes some sort of Pavlovian conditioned reaction in me to start working on something.

I’m sure I’m not the only one, but every year that I started at university, I’d say to myself that I’d get all my work done as soon as possible, that I’d do all my forty hours of recommended reading each week and that this time I would scrutinise my Latin vocabulary from day one.  This all lasted for about a week, two if I was lucky, but for those first weeks in September and October, I was an astonishingly conscientious worker.

Finally getting around to sorting out this webspace and domain name has happened at the perfect time, because it has given me a real outlet for this weird conditioned response I have at this time of the year.  Besides, it feels great to scribble something out and find that you’ve left a mostly coherent lasting digital impression of some kind on the internet.  If you’re in the mood for learning something new, I can highly recommend this as a course of action.

Fussy Blog

Written on September 26, 2009 – 3:32 pm by Ding

This little WordPress experiment ate a morning and spat some of it back out again in the process.

What we have learnt today:
The Chaotic Tortoise does not like widgets.
The Chaotic Tortoise is somewhat undecided on plugins.
The Chaotic Tortoise feasts on time.

Programming as Modern Day Sorcery

Written on September 26, 2009 – 11:51 am by Ding

My background in programming is limited by professional standards.  This is something that has always baffled me as I have always remembered considering programming to be a kind of wizardry, and who wouldn’t train to use magic if they were given the option?

I think part of the reason I’ve never sunk a massive amount of time into the venture is that it can be fairly tedious.  There is however something highly satisfying about tinkering away and finding something slowly emerge from the metric ton of bugs inherent to any program.  This is something I’ve been experiencing whilst setting up this blog.

I’ve been putting off doing this properly for quite a long time.  I’m not saying that anyone hosting a blog on blogger.com isn’t doing it properly, but WordPress is a lot more customisable.  With just my basic programming skill set, I’ve managed to tweak this theme into something that I’m quite happy with in a relatively short space of time and now I appear to have the bug for doing more.

There’s a real temptation to just accept the default on what we’re given with computers, but the truth is that they will do anything we tell them to do.  Of course, the problem is that they do exactly what we tell them to, like a bloody minded child following instructions to the letter, but so long as there’s a full proof wording behind your instructions, the only limitation on all of this seems to be hours one has to sink into the project.

I do believe this morning that I have managed to become a level 1 programmer with some minor cantrips in PHP and HTML.

Additional Notes:

If anyone would like to use the original theme for this site, it can be found here.  I especially like that it has been designed by someone called “techgremlin”.  It’s true, all the best blogging handles have been taken.