December 29, 2007

The Interview

A man with unshakable integrity and an inherent reservoir of talent will seek out a place of work that recognizes his capabilities and hires him on the basis of his education, past experiences, and potential for growth with no trace of favoritism bestowed upon him. To level the playing field, I chose to apply for new positions through the Internet using job sites such as and I also skimmed through emails sent to the SFU Computing Science jobs list for any interesting opportunities. A few hours were spent applying to a handful of companies with positions meeting my criteria. Within days of my return from my Indian odyssey, I secured an interview with a Vancouver-based firm known as ResponseTek.

My last job interview had taken place over a year ago so I was a little rusty. To regain entry into the working world I would have to rely on my solid credentials and understated charm rather than on providing eloquent and long winded answers to inquiries of my activities, challenges, goals, and other topics frequented by interviewers. A shining example of nature's splendour, I bathed, trimmed the ARNABeard, combed my hair, and dressed myself in business casual attire. I took a cursory glance at the mirror before heading off towards the unknown. After taking public transportation to downtown Vancouver, I wandered the streets until I located the building that contained the head office of ResponseTek Networks.

After being granted entrance into the secure facilities by the receptionist, I was told to have a seat until my interviewer arrived. I composed myself and waited. Minutes later a man introduced himself to me as the Director of Engineering and asked me to accompany him. The interview took place, the details of which I do not remember very clearly apart from the fact that I summed up my educational history and Indian experience to him and other members of his team. After getting a brief tour of the working premises, I gave my customary limp handshake and was guided out.

When I taste some food, I can immediately determine how savoury it is. When I watch a movie, I know when it is engaging and when it is boring. Whenever I view my countenance in the reflective surface of an ARNABabe's dilating pupil as she briefly makes eye contact with me, I can feel the passion erupting in her veins. But when it comes to interviews, I have never been able to accurately judge whether it has been a success or not. As such, I left the ResponseTek premises with no expectations either way.

Days later I received a phone call notifying me that they were ready to offer me a position as a software engineer. The opportunity to join a small but fast growing company where I would play a starring role was quite tempting, and after some deliberation I decided to accept the offer. My job hunting expedition lasted a little over a week, having the good sense to end not long after it had started.

December 14, 2007

SkyTrain Switch

There is usually a 2 to 1 ratio between Expo and Millennium Line SkyTrains leaving from Waterfront Station in Vancouver. An Expo Line train terminates in Surrey while a Millennium Line train does a partial loop through the suburbs before returning to Vancouver. Even though I am hoping for a Millennium Line train to saunter down the tracks, usual an Expo Line train comes my way. As there is a distinctly small chance of a Millennium Line train overtaking the Expo Line trains that have preceded it on the same track, there are two temporally equivalent actions I can take:
  • Get on the present train and switch to my desired one at a later point in time
  • Let this train leave without placing myself within its welcoming interior and wait for the correct one to arrive eventually
One of these two options allows me to reduce my overall risk of being stuck in transit limbo. I want to be as close to my final destination as possible before there is a delay inducing incident aboard a train, at a station, or on the tracks itself. Any or all of these events will happen at least once a week to a daily commuter. My decision then becomes easy. I will get on the Expo Line train and ride it until Columbia Station, after which it will veer off towards Surrey, while I will await a Millennium Line train once more.

One winter evening, I nonchalantly boarded an Expo Line SkyTrain departing from Waterfront Station. I knew it was an Expo Line train since I required a Millennium Line one and I always check the display to see where the train is heading. This information is reconfirmed aboard the train when a soothing female voice announces which line the train is operating on. Usually I power down and go on standby mode until Columbia Station arrives, but on this enchanted night I became aware of my surroundings at an earlier stop as an ARNABabe was standing at the gates of my train compartment in anticipation of going to Surrey. The soothing female voice once again spoke, but this time she mentioned that the train was a Millennium Line one. I was still groggy at the time so the impact of the announcement had not yet dawned on me. The ARNABabe frowned and decided not to embark (having not spotted me). The sliding doors slowly closed and my train sped up, leaving her but a memory.

I was not completely disheartened though as I had discovered I was on a Millennium Line train and would not have to switch trains again. My journey continued, with each successive stop being accompanied by the announcement that this was a Millennium Line train. All was well, until Columbia Station. Now the voice said that this was an Expo Line train. Befuddled, I exited the train and saw others hastily do so as well with sheepish looks on their faces. I decided that I had been right all along in my perception that I was traveling on board an Expo Line train. My conviction was weakened though as two successive Expo Line trains came within the next ten minutes. According to my carefully observed 2:1 Expo to Millennium ratio this should not have occurred as that would mean there were 3 Expo Line trains in a row. The first of the two Expo line trains contained the ARNABabe seated inside, which provided further proof that at some point in the past my train had definitely been a Millennium Line train as the only reason she did not get on was because she wanted to take a ride on the Expo Line. Several minutes later a real Millennium Line came and took me home, but the mystery of the switching SkyTrain was never solved. To this day I wonder where those fateful souls aboard the Millennium/Expo Line train eventually ended up.

December 02, 2007

Back to School

Sixteen long months had passed since I last graced the halls of academia. A firm believer in lifelong learning, I decided to reenter the educational arena upon my return to Canada. I would not return to the atmosphere of excellence provided by my alma mater Simon Fraser University though, as I chose to continue my scholarly endeavours at Kwantlen University College. Taking classes part time would allow me to concentrate on finding a job without the burden of a full course load. In the sinister scenario that my superior skill set was not being adequately appreciated by the marketplace I would have the freedom to scale up on the number of courses I planned to take or scale down if I had become gainfully employed. For the technically inclined, here is the pseudocode for my continuing education algorithm:

Let x = number of courses Arnab is taking

If employed
x = 1

If unemployed but still actively seeking employment
x = 2

x = 4