Wednesday, April 22, 2015

10 questions you should always ask before accepting a job offer

When you interview for a new position, much of the conversation focuses on you and how you'd fill the given role and meet the expected qualifications. As a result, you spend a lot of time selling yourself and your skills.
But choosing to take a new job isn't just about what you will do for the company — it's also about whether the company is a good fit for your professional goals and day-to-day happiness. You'll spend roughly 40 hours a week at work, so you need to make sure this job is one in which you'll flourish.
To find out if a company or role is the right fit, ask these 10 questions.

1. What Are Your Expectations for This Role?

You need to get a sense of what you're in for with this new position, particularly what will be expected of you during the first three months on the job. "Asking about quarterly goals for the position is key to setting yourself up for success before you even accept an offer," says Lindsay Shoemake, founder of career lifestyle site That Working Girl. "If your interviewer or potential manager doesn’t seem to provide a clear answer, that might be a red flag that they haven’t set clear expectations for the position."
A related follow-up: "What is the biggest challenge I would face in this position?"
"Many interviewers will respond to this question by providing you with an honest overview of company politics that will help you to evaluate whether you can succeed," says Joe Weinlick, senior vice president of marketing for "If the answer is, 'You won't have any challenges,' beware! There are always challenges, and you may want to dig deeper before accepting a position."

2. What Personalities Flourish Here?

This question is a must. Most managers can easily identify the type of person who would be successful in their organizations. Their answer will give you a better sense of whether you would be a good fit within the organization, says Jenn DeWall, a certified career and life coach. "It's best to know this early on versus fighting to fit in and be the type of personality you're not," she says.

3. What Personal or Professional Development Opportunities Exist?

Learning about a company's commitment to development can signal how much the organization values its employees, says Maria Katrien Heslin, founder of Business Boostcamp. "For example, there are some organizations that do not provide training or time off for professional development. Some have overly strict policies on employees being able to attend conferences," she explains. "Organizations like this most often are pretty old-school in their management approach."

4. What's the Typical Career Path for This Position?

"For those who are goal oriented, it's important to know up front what you're working toward," DeWall says. "If you are eager to climb the corporate ladder and develop your resume and an employer indicates there aren't career advancement opportunities, the position may be a dead end for you and your career goals."
Definitely something you'd want to know before taking a position that could lead you nowhere — and back on the job hunt in a couple of years.

5. What's the Company Culture Like?

Whether you're interested in a job that allows for flextime or you'd like to be able to bring your dog into the office, you need to find out what the company culture is like before you're hired. DeWall advises asking about the organization's take on work/life balance and what a typical workday looks like.
Of course, you don't want to come off as unprofessional, so you might not want to ask straight up about working remotely and whether you’re allowed to dress casually in your first interview, but these key elements might be important to find out if you have an offer in hand.
"By asking about office culture you should get the answers to your questions," says Erik Bowitz, senior resume expert at Resume Genius. "The ability to dress down and work remotely are valuable benefits for today's graduates entering the workforce," and companies are trying to entice the best and brightest with more modern policies.

6. Do You Have a Bonus Program?

"Don't be bashful about asking about compensation," Bowitz says. He advises job hunters to get all the details on their pay — from base salary to bonus programs and equity — before accepting an offer, even unofficially or verbally. "Remember you both are bringing value to the table, and so you should never feel lower or disadvantaged being the interviewee."
Joseph Terach, founder and CEO of Resume Deli, also advises not being shy when asking about benefits, especially how much you'll have to contribute to medical and dental coverage per month and how the 401(k) vesting and matching programs work. At the end of the day, you're working to get paid, so you need to be sure the compensation is adequate.

7. Why Do You Like Working Here?

The answer to this question can be quite telling. "This is a good question to ask the interviewer because it’s unexpected and the response can be revealing," says career consultant Melissa Cooley, founder of The Job Quest. "While most folks will pause before answering because they aren’t anticipating the question — which is a normal reaction — others may stumble all over their words. If an interviewer has a challenging time forming an answer, that’s worth noting."
Some interviewers may give a boilerplate response when asked about company culture, says Weinlick says. But with this question, you'll get an immediate emotional and verbal reaction. "If the response tells you the person isn't excited to go to work, then ask yourself if you are likely to be any different," he adds. "Ideally, the interviewer will paint a picture of why you would want to work at the company."

8. What Values Are Important to Your Company?

Getting a sense of the company's values is extremely important, says Ethan Austin, co-founder of GiveForward: You want to find out whether there’s a common mission or goal that employees collectively work toward — and whether it matches your own values. "If different interviewers give different answers to this question, it's a red flag to the interviewee that the company is not aligned around a clear mission," he explains.
John Fleischauer, senior talent attraction manager for Halogen Software, agrees. "What you're looking for is a response where the interviewer can explicitly communicate, with examples, how the organizational culture is intentionally reinforced across the employee life cycle," he says. "In other words, if exceptional customer service is a cultural value, the importance of wanting to help or serve clients and meet their needs should be included in all job descriptions as a core competency."

9. What Do You Think Are the Top 5 Assets of This Company?

This is a bit of a trick question, but the answer will give you further insight about what it might be like to work at the organization and how the company values its personnel.
"One of the responses should be, 'Employees,'" Cooley says. "If the people who make the products or provide the service are mentioned as an afterthought, or not at all, a candidate should really wonder how that would impact the way the company treats them."

10. Where Will I Sit?

It might sound silly, but literally seeing the office or cubicle in which you'd spend five days each week is very important for assessing your quality of life at the company. "It's a mistake not to ask to see where you'll be sitting: Imagine taking a job only to find out on day one that you're in a windowless basement," Terach says. Not the kind of surprise you want, right?

Read more:

Working at tiny scales, scientists transform gold into something even more incredible

When you zoom into something to a super small scale, really surprising things can happen.

Take gold. We like it because it lasts a lifetime (and longer)! It makes good watches, rings, and coins because it doesn't react with oxygen and become tarnished or corroded. It just sits there, a gleaming symbol of never-ending love and power.

But if you zoom in much, much more closely to a tiny particle of gold, it transforms to something very different!

One of your grandparents can wear a gold ring that doesn't change in a lifetime. But up close, gold becomes a much more exciting scene.
Scientists have been able to attach molecules of drugs to surfaces of gold at this scale anduse gold as a delivery vehicle to take medicines to particular sites in the body. Vroom!
Rod-shaped nano gold particles can be loaded up with antibodies that bond only to cancer cells. The nano gold can by made to oscillate via infrared light until — boom! Bad day for cancer cell.

Zoom in even farther, and things get really weird.

Super tiny pieces of gold can be used to change carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. That kind of magic suggests that maybe we can use gold to make better breathing apparatus for fire fighters, for example, or to purify water.
We're already surrounded by products using nanotech. Nano silver in clothing and packaging fights bacteria that makes things stinky. Nano titanium dioxide makes sunscreens, paints, and other coatings more reflective, helping shield your body and your house from the sun.
These wondrous tiny things can also easily pass through cell membranes, taking new materials where they've never gone before. So, like with all new technologies, we do want to be careful to research the risks as well as the benefits as we develop and deploy it.

That said, the future looks pretty sparkly for nano gold!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why 'C' is the Default Hard Drive Letter in So Many Computers

For nearly as long as hard disk drives have been placed in personal computers running certain popular operating systems (notably MS-DOS/Windows), the primary hard disk has been designated with the letter “C”. But why?
The idea for designating different storage devices with simple letters is generally attributed to IBM’s virtual machine operating systems developed in the 1960s, starting with their CP-40 and CP/CMS systems, and later very notably, among others, copied by the CP/M operating system created by the company Digital Research, Inc. In the early systems (CP/CMS) the letters were used mostly to designated logical drives, although later (such as with CP/M), they were used to specify physical storage devices.
This all brings us to 1980 when IBM attempted to use the relatively popular CP/M operating system on the IBM Personal Computer. Talks broke down between IBM and Digital Research, Inc, for reasons not totally clear today. The trouble is rumored to have started when Dorothy Kildall, the wife of CP/M creator Gary Kildall, refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement with IBM at the start of the negotiations. She supposedly told them she would not sign such a document without speaking with her husband first, who was out of town on business. This was a somewhat unusual move as Gary often left such business negotiations to her anyway.
This refusal to sign the non-disclosure agreement, which purportedly greatly annoyed the IBM representatives, was all supposedly at the advice of Gerry Davis, Digital Research’s attorney. But given this sort of thing is standard practice for many business negotiations, the whole thing seems decidedly odd looking back, with those involved not helping with their conflicting accounts.
What happened after isn’t any clearer. Gary Kildall later claimed, upon returning from his little business trip, he and his wife reached a handshake agreement with IBM’s representative, Jack Sams, while aboard a flight to a vacation the couple were taking. He claimed IBM didn’t honor that agreement. Sams said that none of that ever happened.
Whatever the case, what we do know for sure is that IBM moved on from the then relatively popular CP/M to instead dealing with Microsoft, who in turn purchased a license to a CP/M clone called 86-DOS. They then adapted 86-DOS for IBM’s new PC, with a few significant changes thrown in, and branded it MS-DOS, though called PC DOS by IBM.
Being based on a CP/M clone, among other things, MS-DOS borrowed the disk drive lettering schema from CP/M, which had borrowed it from the aforementioned previous IBM systems. By copying many elements of the CP/M system, it allowed popular software packages that could run on CP/M to be relatively easily ported over to MS-DOS and used on the new IBM PC.
This all brings us back to the specific drive lettering schema. Early PCs didn’t usually come with internal mass-storage devices due to the expense (though HDDs had been around since the 1950s). Instead, they generally had some form of a “floppy” disk reader, such as those used to read 5 1/4″ floppy disks, initially labeled as “A” in MS-DOS and certain other operating systems. Some systems came with two such floppy disk drives necessitating the need for a “B”. When the 3.5″ floppy disk (which wasn’t actually floppy at all unless you took it apart to get at its innards) was commonly added, using both “A” and “B” for floppy drives was firmly entrenched.
When hard disk drives became standard in most PCs in the later 1980s, since the first two letters were already commonly used for these floppy drives, they logically labeled the third storage device “C”, even though it now tended to be the main storage medium for the computer, including usually containing the operating system.
Despite that exceptionally few systems today still contain floppy disk drives, this schema of drive designation has stuck around anyway, with “A” and “B” often still by default reserved for floppy drives. Of course, these letters aren’t set in stone on modern systems and you can easily change, remove or add drive letters (representing both physical and logical drives) if you have administrative rights.
    Bonus Facts:
    • Notably, UNIX based systems (and similar, such as Linux-based) do not use drive letters, but rather a single hierarchical setup. So, for example, the root of the hierarchy is simply “/” instead of “C:”. “/home” might really be its own separate physical disk (or logical) drive mounted to that point in the hierarchy or might not. Similarly, any physical or logical drive can be mounted just about anywhere on this hierarchy.
    • MS-DOS didn’t always use “C” as the default for the hard drive on every system. For instance, on the Apricot PC released in 1983, “A” and “B” were reserved for hard drives and “C” and “D” for floppy drives.
    • Bill Gates tops Forbes’ list of billionaires with a net worth as of March 2015 of $78.1 billion. His former partner in crime, Paul Allen, languishes at #51 with a paltry $17.4 billion. Steve Ballmer, who joined the company as an employee in 1980 and became its largest single shareholder in 2014, sits between them at #35 with $20.6 billion. Despite still topping the Forbes’ list, as of 2013, Bill Gates had given away about $28 billion through the Gates Foundation, which today has a total grants payment of $32.9 billion. These grants have included paying for expanding childhood immunizations, college scholarships, work toward a malaria vaccine and the eradication of polio, among many other things. The Gates Foundation Trust Endowment is now at $43.5 billion, which includes $15 billion in gifts from Warren Buffett, himself #3 on Forbes list.
    Melissa writes for the wildly popular interesting fact website To subscribe to Today I Found Out’s “Daily Knowledge” newsletter, click here or like them on Facebook here.

    The mourning is over... What's next?

    I guess it's time for us to grow up and move on... #RememberingLKY

    Let me post something lighthearted later.  :)

    Wednesday, April 1, 2015

    A stradivarius leader

    "A stradivarius leader - On the passing of His Excellency Lee Kuan Yew, one of the most extraordinary and visionary leaders of our time, I convey my deepest condolences and those of the people of Bhutan."

    His Majesty The King, accompanied by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, paid personal respects to His Excellency Late Lee Kuan Yew at the Parliament House in Singapore, where the former Prime Minister of Singapore lies in state.

    Their Majesties travelled to Singapore to pay respects to the country's founding father, who passed away on March 23rd, and offer condolences to the people of Singapore.

    His Excellency Late Lee Kuan Yew was the first Prime Minister of Singapore, and is credited for bringing the entire country from third-world to first-world status in a single generation. He has been widely admired by leaders across the world, and his policies studied and emulated. His Majesty The King had personally known His Excellency Late Lee Kuan Yew, having met the leader on several occasions.

    In a message, His Majesty described His Excellency Lee Kuan Yew as a stradivarius leader- a leader who has set the bar of excellence, and conveyed condolences and prayers on behalf of the people of Bhutan for the extraordinary and visionary leader.

    His Majesty The King, accompanied by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, will attend His Excellency Late Lee Kuan Yew's state funeral tomorrow, along with other world leaders, upon the special invitation of the Prime Minister of Singapore.