Strange Copy Pasta in Developer Resumes

A sample of some UIViews
A sample of some UIViews that are basic “functionalities” in a “Multi-view Application”

So for the past few weeks we’ve been trying to hire for a contractor position to work on our iOS app. Along with the rest of the team, I’ve been reviewing resumes on a really corporate looking website that have been submitted by recruiters on behalf of candidates. It’s an interesting exercise because the resumes are almost all in the same exact format and after a while, they really start to look the same. In some cases, this is because a candidate has been rejected and resubmitted accidentally.

While scanning through a bunch of resumes, my coworker Will noticed a bullet point that actually appeared in more than one person’s resume:

Experienced in creating and custom UIViews, Table Views, Tab Bars and Navigation Bar, which are some basic functionalities in a Multi-view Application.

There are a few things that stand out about this. The sentence itself runs on and on, and the grammar used is pretty dubious. Also, the inclusion of this into an iOS developer’s resume tells you nothing because every iOS developer should have experience with these elementary UI elements, and the sentence even sort of explains that at the end. The fact that it appears in more than one resume is surprising, since it’s such a stupid thing to include in your resume to begin with.

I was curious about this bullet point, so I suggested that Will paste the phrase into Google. Here’s an interesting slice of the results:

While there’s not a direct match, there are links to resumes which have slightly altered versions of the same phrase. The part that is mostly shared is the “…which are some basic functionality in a Multi view Application.” If you google for that, you will find pages and pages of resumes with a bullet point similar to the original. Will even started a tally of “mutations” of the phrase with added embellishments at the end, or with slightly better grammar.

I was curious which other phrases in these resumes were common, so I tried googling some of them. Some that I found that had become memes were:

  • Strong Knowledge of Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) with strategically designing and implementing the software, debugging, fixing and maintaining the software.
  • Developed apps using various iOS design patterns (MVC, Delegation, Target-action and Slide-out Navigation).
  • Proficient in Memory Management: Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) and Manual Reference Counting (MRC).
  • Mobile Application Development (iPhone/iPad) using objective-C, UIKit, Core Location, MapKit, Cocoa Touch and Cocoa Service Frameworks.

I have a few guesses as to why these are in so many resumes verbatim. It could be that the candidate simply copied and pasted the bullet points from a friend’s resume and hopefully actually has those skills. Another could be that the recruiting firm offered to touch up their resume for them and did so lazily. While it’s easy to attribute this to malice, it’s probably just good old fashioned laziness. After all, if it works for so many developers, it should work for you! Either way it looks terrible for the candidate and it’s frustrating for people doing the hiring to see such a lack of originality. I already have to go through more than 30 resumes; I don’t want to think I’m going crazy with all the feelings of Deja Vu.

My recommendation to developers would be to write, in your own words, what you’ve actually accomplished. Resume writing is annoying, and no one likes doing it, but the downside to plagiarism is that I toss your resume out and assume you’re a terrible person. Also, I’m secretly hoping that this blog post becomes the top Google result for all of these copied bullet points so any curious resume-reviewers realize they’re not going insane. Also, feel free to nitpick my own outdated resume which you can find here on my (way outdated) portfolio site.

I haven’t gone in depth at all to discover more of these copied phrases, but I’m willing to bet that a big percentage of bullet points in resumes are simply ripped off from other resumes.

WWDC 2016 Recap

wwdc badge

As a beginning iOS developer, I remember learning a lot of the craft by trial and error, paired with many of the WWDC videos of years’ past. I was very lucky this year to 1) get chosen for the WWDC lottery and 2) work for a company that would support my trip to San Francisco. The week flew by and I went to some really interesting sessions. Here’s the things I found most interesting.

Accessibility

I’ve been developing some accessibility features since starting at Starbucks, and so I went to the What’s New in Accessibility session. The most interesting developer facing features are the improved Accessibility Inspector (which lets you quickly run accessibility audits, even in the simulator) and custom rotors for secondary actions. I’m still pretty new to accessibility but I imagine enabling custom rotors will be nice since I just used a hack with the headers rotor to enable skipping between content.

Swift APIs

Although I haven’t been writing much Swift at work (we’re just starting to adopt it), I went to the Swift API Design Guidelines session. It was interesting to note the conscious decisions to make Swift read grammatically, and how developers are reconciling that with the ways that Swift needs to be compatible with Objective-c APIs. The talk itself was really interesting and worth watching in full, because I’m not going to try to summarize it here!

WatchOS 3

 

As a person who actually bought an Apple Watch and still wears it every day, I would really like developers to take advantage of the performance gains in WatchOS 3, least of which is leaving apps in memory so they can load much faster! I was also really mesmerized by the power of rich notifications on the watch using SpriteKit and/or SceneKit. I’m worried that the watch is in a catch-22 right now where it’s not really worth the work to develop for it because there aren’t enough users, which aren’t using the watch because of the lack of good apps. Or it could be that the watch really just needs a good weather app and that’s it. Oh well.

Search APIs

I also went to a session about using search APIs like NSUserActivity and CoreSpotlight. I largely ignored these features in the past, but it would be pretty interesting to hook into the system in order to provide phone numbers or addresses to hand off to maps or some other apps that the user is switching to.

Other Stuff

I went to quite a few other sessions on things like iOS Photography (which I sort of just went to accidentally and stayed for) and iMessage integration and On-Demand Resources. Overall, the sessions were really great and I found it really nice to be able to attend a talk in person and absorb the knowledge without distractions. It’s true that the sessions are all available either streaming or online shortly after happening, but too often I’m watching a video while also working against some work deadline or only paying half attention. It’s also pretty neat to be among other iOS developers, and it’s kind of hard to believe that companies have a hard time hiring when you can see so many developers in one room!

Hair Force One

hair force one

Craig Federighi has become one of the best parts of Apple Keynotes as he’s equal parts funny and informative. Whenever he showed up in the conference center, huge lines of people would gather to take a photo with him. He’s a really tall dude and it’s really nice of him to put up with random iOS developer who want to take a photo with him.

The Jacket

wwdc jacket

I received what is apparently a tradition at WWDC; a jacket with the year on it. I immediately felt weird about getting a nice jacket that basically screams “I am the most elite of the elite, because either I or my company can pay $1600 for me to go to a developer conference!” I spotted a few jackets from earlier years in the conference center, as though it’s a way to show that you’ve been in this game for longer and you’re much cooler than people who just got their first jacket this year. I am in the process of de-labeling my jacket with nail polish remover (ask me about it if you’re interested!) and I’ll hopefully get to wear the jacket embarrassment free once the weather gets cooler (it’s a really nice jacket!). I am hoping that Apple stops giving these jackets out at some point and does something like, I dunno, plants a tree for each attendee? Then again, we are talking about a company that makes objects that people literally worship.

The Company Store

the company store

Speaking of products, there’s a company store set up in the conference center where you can buy shirts and baby stuff and hats with Apple logos on them. I was going to buy something but I realized that you’re literally paying $40 for the logo as the shirt itself is a fairly standard bella canvas tee. Plus I already have a WWDC jacket that asserts my dominance as an iOS developer!

In Closing

Again, I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to go to WWDC this year, for the first time ever. The keynote and sessions were really great and I got at least 3 ideas for future apps, which is a lot more than I’ve had in the past year or two. Hopefully I can go next year do it all over again.

Collecting Wedding Photos with Twilio MMS

Last Saturday I got married to my longtime pal Emily. Emily handled a lot of the wedding planning and she did a really great job. I wanted to do some fun things for the wedding and reception and thought it would be fun to make a way for friends to share their photos of our day with us.

I was thinking that it would be easy enough to give people an Instagram hashtag and be done with it, but I wanted to make sure all (or at least most) of our guests would be able to participate. I figured that Twilio’s MMS would be a pretty straightforward way for our guests to share photos throughout the day without having to remember a hashtag or use a specific app.

I set up a Twilio phone number to receive and send text messages. Actually, I just re-used an old one that I still had enabled since I used it for voice only. Because I wanted to write as little boilerplate as possible, I decided on using the Django web framework which I’m already really familiar with. The Django admin panel was incredibly useful for debugging and made it dead simple to view photos that were sent. I used the django-twilio library which also uses the twilio-python library. I’ve been on a Heroku app hosting streak lately so I made sure the app could be easily deployable on Heroku for free.

Since I didn’t have a whole lot of time to build this app (wedding planning takes a lot of attention), I limited my scope to a few goals:

  1. Be able to broadcast messages to guests throughout the day.
  2. Accept messages that contain MMS images (one or more) and save them to a database.
  3. Allow guests to “unsubscribe” to messages in case they didn’t want them.

I ended up using Ngrok to test the app locally, then threw Runscope in front of it for good measure (yo dawg, I heard you like proxies). Runscope was pretty useful in that I didn’t have to keep sending test SMS and MMS messages to my app; I could just replay ones that I had sent previously. It probably saved me ~$1 in fees!

It was pretty straightforward to implement all three of these using the Django library I mentioned earlier. Because all Twilio text messages hit just one endpoint, I had to design around different use cases which made my code a bit messy. It was fine for an app I’m only going to use once, though. The code is gross but it worked and I’m glad I didn’t make it more complicated than it needed to be. I was originally going to use the broadcasting feature more than I ended up using it (I wanted to do something like cat facts) which added a bit to the codebase.

As far as final statistics, I received 70 images from guests during and after the event. Some of them are pretty awesome. In case anyone is interested in how the app works/worked, I posted the source code with my hardcoded phone numbers removed and turned into environmental variables. You can check it out here.

I am not posting any photos that my guests sent here since they were meant to be private, but here’s a photo I took with my selfie stick of us and the cake!

Cake Selfie

 

List of Possible Apple Watch “Gates”

Everyone I know loves a good Apple product-based trivial controversy. There was Antenna-gate, and Bend-gate which happened just last year. Back when the first iPhone came out, Apple dropped the price a few months after release and early adopters were pissed. No one can say if there will be a real issue with the watch, butI figure it would be fun to make a list of potential ones.

  • Battery-gate (the battery doesn’t last long enough! I can’t wear it to bed!)
  • Bend-gate 2 (the wristband bends too much! It doesn’t bend enough!)
  • Snap-gate (the wristband cracks and snaps! WTF is fluoroelastomer anyway?)
  • Crown-gate (the digital crown breaks off! It spins too fast!)
  • Siri-gate (random people shouting “Hey Siri!” can control my watch!)
  • Shave-gate (The Milanese Loop is shaving my wrist hair off!)

Edit: Thought of a couple more this morning:

  • Left-handed-gate (can’t wear watch on right hand, digital crown doesn’t spin right!)
  • Sunglass-gate (can’t see the screen while wearing polarized sunglasses at a certain angle!)
  • White-band-gate (white sport band gets dirty too easily!)

I doubt any of these will happen, though Battery-gate seems most likely. Maybe something completely trivial and impossible to predict will ruin the watch launch. What sort of non-issue do you think will fill up the news cycles?

Side Project: Audubon

The Idea

A few weeks ago, I noticed a tweet from John Sheehan asking if there was an automated tweet -> screenshot tool:

Anyone know of a browser extension or something else that can turn a tweet into a single image for presentations, etc?I thought it was a pretty interesting concept that would be fairly easy to implement and had a small enough scope that I could use it to learn some more Javascript. After playing around with Ghost Inspector, I knew it would be possible to render a screen capture of a webpage. I just needed to implement the logic for figuring out what area of a page to render, rather than the whole page.

The Solution

I played around with CasperJS before finding a StackOverflow post that described that I could do all that I wanted in PhantomJS, which CasperJS is built on. I wrote a script that would take a url as an input and spit a png out to stdout. Then I wrote a node web app in Express that could take the url as a parameter and run the script through the child_process.spawn command. I had the express app write the stdout of the child process to a buffer and send it once the script was finished. Done!

Heroku

I ran into a problem when I wanted to host my app on Heroku. Heroku apparently does not support writing to /dev/stdout, and I only found out about this when my images were being sent as empty files. I looked at some solutions that involved writing to an Amazon S3 bucket, but I didn’t want to incur that much of an operations overhead for something so lightweight.

As a workaround, I found that Heroku does allow writing to /tmp, though any files you throw in there are not guaranteed to remain there after the request is over. For me that’s perfect, since the file only needs to exist as long as the request lasts.

Finally, I threw together an index view with a form and a button that takes a Twitter URL and loads the image into the same view when you click on “OK.” I got a nice theme from here and hardly customized it.

Screenshot in a screenshot inception.
Screenshot in a screenshot inception.

I also figured out how to use the “Deploy to Heroku” feature by adding an app.json file to my git project.

There were a couple of other issues I ran into that I didn’t describe yet, mostly getting PhantomJS 2.0 to run on Heroku (because previous versions don’t render webfonts correctly) and setting up the multiple buildpacks on Heroku. You can see what I ended up using by inspecting the Github project here.

I called the project Audubon after the Audubon Society which is really into birds (get it? birds, tweets?). You can deploy it yourself with this button:

Deploy

TODO

There’s a couple of things I need to wrap up in this project. If anyone wants to they could also fork the project and throw a pull request at me, but I’m planning on doing these eventually:

  • Make the command line tool better for generating images (right now it just writes to /tmp so I should make that configurable).
  • Make a bookmarklet so it’s easy to create images from the Twitter website.
  • Make the web index page look a little nicer
  • Maybe provide image format and quality options

Overall I think this was a really good side project in terms of scope and complete-ability. I learned a lot about Node.js, ExpressJS and PhantomJS. I’ve been meaning to level up my Javascript web game, and this project has been a useful exercise.