Tag Archives: Yahoo

Yahoo’s HackU Event at the University of Michigan


I sorta participated in the HackU event that Yahoo sponsored at my school. I say sorta because I got back in from SXSW on Tuesday night (post about that forthcoming) and missed the kick-off. First off, I gotta say something about the name. HackU. Is that like a pun on something?

Anyway, on Wednesday the Yahoo guys went over some stuff on semantic web, search monkey and BOSS. Apparently, the customized search results are the “carrot” on the stick for content producers to markup their content semantically. The Yahoos noted that the customized results provide better click-through rate. While that’s a nice way to think about incentivizing the semantic web, I see a few flaws.

First off, the increased click-throughs are probably due to the pretty graphics and stuff. What happens when everyone has customized search results? The search results page gets cluttered and looks like crap. Furthermore, an increase of click-through in a search engine that has 20% of the search engine market (says Comscore… the numbers for my sites are more like 2-3%) is not much. In my case I’d probably be better off spending my time doing other SEO stuff for Google. Yeah, this is kind of harsh to say (I didn’t say it to the Yahoo guys’ faces) but it’s also realistic. Honestly, I do hope search monkey and BOSS end up being successful, for Yahoo’s sake. As far as swag goes, I picked up a brown Search Monkey shirt on the way out. Oh, and they served some tasty Indian food.

Anyway, I missed the Yahoo events on Thursday. Apparently they did some presentations, then went to a bar. Instead, I had fun at the video game archive and my student org, SCSI. Then on Friday, the 24-hour hackathon thing started. I got there at 4pm and ate some food (it came in waves, burritos, pizza, snacks, Red Bull, soda, etc). They had a different shirt this time, a black one with a wizard on it!

I started trying to figure out what to hack on and came up with an addition to a site that I’ve slowly been working on, What is Hung Doing? Note to self: I think I need to write a blog post on WiHD as well. Basically, I thought it’d be cool to add my location to the site (I was hoping that Google Latitude would be able to do this but I guess it doesn’t offer an API). I used Fire Eagle and the iPhone app called Sparrow to update my location. To grab the location I just made a new application on my server. I dunno the best way to present this info. I’ll fix it up later.

I got the location stuff working and promptly decided to go home around 2am. No 24-hour hacking for me. On Saturday (today), I got up and ran some errands. I bought groceries and got a haircut, then raced back to the CS building on North Campus to do my presentation for WiHD. There were some really neat hacks that were shown off today. One of my friends from the School of Information even won 3rd place. I ended up with a novelty award: “Wannabee Internet Stalkee” or something like that, because WiHD basically enables stalkers. But hey, if it keeps them online instead of around me, then it’s okay, right? Finally, I picked up my final shirt (It has a dragon and a kung-fu guy on it) and went home, along with my award:


Not too bad for just hacking away at my own project. It’s nice to see Yahoo come and show some goodwill to our school, especially since they skipped out on the career fairs this year. I wonder if they’re even hiring. Either way, I got three shirts, an official Yahoo Faceball, a random puzzle ball and an award, so I’m pretty happy.

Yahoo’s Job Site == Fail

So I’m looking at jobs and stuff, and I’m also applying for something at Yahoo.

Most employers’ job sites are pretty bad. I’m not sure why, but it seems that companies think that if the company is good enough, people will try to apply for jobs no matter how bad the actual process is. I’ve seen good implementations in the past as well as horrible ones. Google’s is actually not too bad (upload your resume and transcript, pdf is okay) while Yahoo’s is probably the worst.

First off, when I talked to a recruiter from Yahoo at Michigan, I was told that as a “green” measure, Yahoo wasn’t taking paper resumes. Okay, that’s pretty cool, I guess. Power to the Purple. But then I attempted to actually apply online.

The Yahoo careers site doesn’t take pdfs. It doesn’t take .pages either (which makes sense because those are actually directories!). So I convert the .pages to .doc and upload it. For some reason, the random filler stuff from the template (latin words, etc) makes it into the parser and pre-fills my resume with junk. Also, I found it very funny that the Yahoo resume parser thinks “Ann Arbor” is my name, and not my city!

Another thing I noticed is that there’s a list of universities, but for some reason, it’s only the big ones. University of New Mexico is not on there. Luckily for me, I’m going to a big-name school now! There’s also a field for “Other University.” Way to make community college kids feel good, Yahoo.

Finally, in order to get my resume in there, I have to copy and paste. That’s right, COPY AND PASTE. All the formatting I did to make my resume easy to read and cool-looking has gone down the drain. Getting resumes that are easy to read is apparently not important to Yahoo.

You might think that I would hold my tongue since I’m applying at Yahoo. But seriously, the Yahoo Careers Site is horrible. It needs work. I’m sure Yahoo is a fine place for a career; I’m also sure that Yahoo would be happy that its (prospective) employees would call a spade a spade, and recognize when there’s a problem with the site.

Who knows, I might even end up fixing the Careers site as my first gig at Yahoo. That is, if they’re willing to hire someone who can see problems and is not afraid to point them out.

University of Michigan Job Fair ’08 + Facebook!

Today and Yesterday were fun days since the engineering career fair was going on at north campus. Having started my own company (I’m the President!), I might not need to be looking at jobs this very moment. But I’m also looking at PhD programs and other stuff to do after I graduate, so I figured I should scope out the job scene as well.

You’re already familiar with my past job hunting experiences, I wager. Or if you aren’t check out some posts here in the archives. I stuck to the engineering fair this time (there’s also a normal career fair going on at central campus). The experience seems to be more of the same for me this year.

The thing I noticed is that there’s a large number of smaller, lesser-known companies who don’t have many people talking to them. Then there’s the big guys: MSFT, Apple, Intel who get huge ass lines of people waiting to talk. I kinda feel bad for the smaller guys, but don’t talk to them anyway since they seem pathetic. I mean that in a sympathetic way. I’m sure they’re great companies though.

The first day, I went to talk to Microsoft, Apple, Expedia, Amazon and a few others. A brother of a friend did an internship at Microsoft, and so I have a higher opinion of them than I had before. They seem pretty into the whole student life thing. In the evening, they had this experimental tech fiesta thing. Basically a bunch of newer products with the people working on them, explaining how cool the stuff is. There was stuff like: Zune (the software, very cool), Startup Labs (which I am definitely applying to), Silverlight (which I’m still not convinced will be good) and a random dude playing Halo for what seemed like hours. Yeah, he basically just sat there the whole time. The startup labs thing seems to be a incubating thingy based in Cambridge. Way cool.

Apple was pretty standard. I talked to them, explained I made a company that did iPhone apps, etc. They seemed to just want me to do an online resume or something. And this time I didn’t get a free song or any shwag at all!

Amazon was probably the worst of them all. Every time I talk to people from Amazon, they just don’t get me. I wanted to talk about cool stuff, but they got wrapped up by testing my “engineerness.” Like, they asked me how I would sort a large array of numbers that wouldn’t fit into a single computer. “Well,” I said, “the answer you’re looking for is probably distributing the work to multiple computers and merging the lists back together after each computer is done with its share.” I seriously was just patronizing the person. Then they threw the “How do you find a loop in a linked list?” Actually, first they asked me if I knew what a linked list was. I wanted to say something like “DUDE, I HAVE A DEGREE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE! PLUS NO ONE USES LINKED LISTS IN REAL LIFE!” But basically I was happy to finally leave. Amazon might be a sweet company, but their recruiters blow hard.

I also talked to a dude from Expedia who worked in their labs. He was really funny and really cool. I think he enjoys his job a lot. He was trying hard to see if there was a spot I could fill in the org, but it looks like their labs department is too small right now to hire on a random generalist. Which is kind of what I love to do. He was super cool though, seemed kind of crazy in a good way.

I also noticed one of the most exorbitant career fair booths I have ever seen in my life. It’s the one in the picture at the top of this post. I should’ve taken more pics. I don’t know what ArcelorMittal does, but they can afford fucking plasmas in their brushed steel pagodas! It was like an experimental Ikea home or something, seriously!

The second day of the career fair (today) was much quieter. I talked to Yahoo, imo.im and Arbor Networks. A classmate of mine did an internship at Yahoo this summer and turned me onto their stuff. The guy I talked to happened to be working in the mobile dept at Yahoo and dug my iPhone app that I demo’ed for him. But I said that I wanted to do more project lead stuff like product management. Unfortunately, it seems like business people do the PMing at Yahoo, which is totally different from most orgs. I think Microsoft and Google both hire PMs with engineering backgrounds. Anyway, the dude said to apply anyway and my resume could find its way into the right hands somehow.

imo.im is the company I blogged about previously. They sent me a t-shirt! The recruiter, Marissa, remembered me and basically reiterated stuff from last time. I also did a raffle and ended up winning a shirt again. She’ll mail it to me. Honestly, imo.im seems like a pretty sweet startup gig, but the recruiter explained that they’re looking for extremely talented coders and algorithmers. I imagine the interview process would be grueling. It makes sense, though, since they’re a startup and need to have as much manpower for their size as possible.

Arbor Networks is a network security company here in town. I talked to the guy, thanking them for giving me a shirt the last time I talked to them. I didn’t think there’d be much overlap between my interests and theirs, but we started talking about network visualizations. I wonder if we were on the same page. Either way, I’ll check out their company again since their recruiters seem cool.

Finally, Facebook had an info session tonight. The dude who interviewed me last year was here again. This time the presentation seemed really too technical and boring versus the one last year which was more fun and about the company itself. They gave a lot of code examples, but I’ve developed FB apps before so it was old news to me. I’d be more interested in hearing about FB’s future plans, but I doubt they would reveal stuff like that.

Last year I had interviewed for an engineering gig. I think I was a bit too rusty for that. This time, I hope I can prove my worth in more than just coding, but in analysis, business stuff, and creativity too.

Overall, the career fair was pretty fun. It’s too bad that some recruiters are completely clueless, but the good ones are really good. It seems a bit silly sometimes for recruiters to show up all the way in Ann Arbor just to say “email us your resume,” but I guess the impression is what counts.

Yahoo Guest Speaker: Bradley Horowitz

Today there was a guest talk by one Bradley Horowitz over at the Computer Science building on North Campus. The title, “Innovation and Evolution -How Search, Social Media, and New Ideas can Shape the Next Web,” intrigued me enough to compel me to check it out.

Much of the talk was devoted to Flickr, and how lots of useful information can be extracted from the inherent metadata of tags, traffic, and geodata of the photos on the site. For example, Flickr can make a list of “interesting” photos, figure out correlations between tags and photos (it can semi-distinguish between photos of love between two people, love as a symbol, and love as puppies), and figure out the location of Route 66.

I was vehemently unimpressed by an earlier Yahoo talk this year, but today’s was neat. Probably because the speaker knew what he was talking about. Fun fact: the speaker is VP of the Advanced Development Division at Yahoo. Or ADD. Apparently the name was not an accident. He mentioned quite a few interesting things like their “Brick House” incubator, and a few products of it like Pipes and something called Kickstart.

Kickstart seems to be something of a mix between Facebook and LinkedIn. Or something. I had to sign up for a Yahoo account to use it. Minor tangent: I hate Yahoo because I can’t get the login info for all of my old usernames (because I don’t use them anymore) so whenever I want to use something Yahoo, I have to sign up for a new account. And since Yahoo has so many users, no sane usernames exist anymore. It took me like 30 minutes to come up with escargoal (like a cross between escargot and goal)!

I’m not sure how many social networks Yahoo wants… They’ve got that Yahoo 360, Mash, Kickstart… I guess an alternate strategy to buying Facebook could be diluting the social network market…

But anyway, the talk was pretty cool, though somewhat high level for a crowd of CS kids (and SI kids, I suppose). Where was the talk of computational complexity and algorithms in Flickr!? The talk has at least rewarmed my interest in looking for a Summer internship at Yahoo, possibly in the ADD…

Recruiting Day: Google and Yahoo

So in a strange turn of events, both Google and Yahoo were at the University of Michigan today, trying to get engineers to apply for jobs and internships. This is in addition to the Google talk I went to yesterday.

The Google thing was sort of a meet and greet type of deal. I talked to a few people about getting internships. They gave me a tip: find someone on the inside to search for internships in a particular group, and have then forward your resume. Luckily, I have a pal from my undergrad years that will probably be willing to do this.

To make up for me not getting a real prize last night, I got a $50 gift certificate for the Google Store. NICE! As usual, Google had some free food, so I got a bagel and orange juice.

I sorta stayed at the Google thing for too long (The Google thing started at 12 and Yahoo at 1) so I basically missed all of Yahoo’s thing. I did ask a question, though! I asked the dude to describe the sort of hierarchy at Yahoo, as a bottom-up or top-down organization, and specifically what they do to encourage creativity.

What I got was quite a bit of skirting around the issues, and not an answer to my actual question. Basically, I wanted to know if Yahoo has the same kind of culture that nurtures creativity like Google. And apparently they don’t. To be fair, the person I asked was a director of search and engineering. Way too high up to really understand what the code monkeys think. But in not answering my question, I think he answered it.

Oh, and I got a notebook and pen from the Yahoo thing. That was like the most impressive thing about Yahoo. I mean, I’d still consider interning there. But their recruiting efforts need to be a lot better than this. They did give away two iPod Nanos in the course of today, but I got neither. Maybe that’s why I’m unimpressed…

After that, I had a few classes. But I semi-reluctantly decided to go to a Google talk at 4: instead of my Networks lab. I know, ditching class to see a lecture… But the lecture hall was too full! So I just sat outside and tried listening to the lecture from outside the hall (there was a tv and the sound inside was being fed out with speakers). It didn’t work too well, though.

Then, I was really hungry. And ready for more free food. So I went to the Yahoo thing (a sort of repeat) at 5:30. This one had free pizza. The actual presentation was quite boring (by the same dude), but the end had free shirts and I also got a rubik’s cube.

So in the end, my opinion of Google is about the same, and my opinion of Yahoo is actually slightly lower. I don’t have a thing against the underdog, but they’re the underdog for a reason. Yahoo had tons of market share before Google even existed. And after Google, Yahoo’s been embarrassed on many, many fronts.

Oh, and the final shwag talley for the past 2 days is: Many Google pins (some say “I’m Feeling Lucky” and some say “Google” among other things), a white Google shirt, a $50 gift certificate for the Google Store, a notepad and pen from Yahoo, another light up pen from Yahoo, a Yahoo Rubik’s cube, and a Yahoo shirt. Not too bad if you ask me.