The e-commerce expert



  • I worked at a small startup in Los Angeles several years ago, right about the time people were still trying to figure out how to do e-commerce "right".  At the time, there still wasn't a great way to hook your back-end ERP system up with your shopping cart.  JSP and Classic ASP were about your only options for creating an ecommerce site at the time.

    This company had some components that, in theory, could be used with some e-commerce software.  I did a few prototypes where this company's software and a few other third party pieces could be hooked together to create a passable e-commerce site.  I, however, was still tasked with taking care of their other software offerings on top of new development, so it was obvious that I needed help.  The problem was that hiring competent developers was (and still is) kind of a challenge.  It takes a long time and usually a few bad choices before you can get someone that actually knows what they are doing.

    The company was actually a good place to work.  It was smll (< 20 people), had better health benefits than the larger company I currently work for, and was very family oriented.  It was owned by an orthodox Jewish couple where the husband stayed at home and the wife was the CEO.  Making time for your family and personal-empowerment (education, personal growth, etc) were encouraged.  You don't find that in many places.  Anyhow....

    The 2nd in charge was also an orthodox Jewish woman.  She comes to me one day and says, "I met a guy at the synagogue that has done his own e-commerce site.  He said he did all the work from A-Z.  I had him talk to the CEO, and we both like him.  It looks like we can finally get some help."  I looked at the site, and it was fairly decent.  Hey, if he can do ALL that, he has to be good....

    So this guy shows up the next Monday.  I don't think there was even an interview beyond what had been done at synagogue.  They sit him with the support people with the idea that he'll learn our products for the first month by working with support, then he'll move into development to start working on our e-commerce products.

    I remember walking over a few times to talk with him and talk to him about his e-commerce site.  He would frequently remind me that, "I did it all from A-Z." with the typical body language of "oh-that-was-so-much-work-and-so-difficult-but-I'm-a-badass-and-did-it-all-myself"  where the eyes roll back into the head, the head tilts back and swings from left to right, while the palms are face-out like you're pushing a heavy weight.  

    So, after looking at his site, and as a developer, I'm thinking:

    1. He implemented (or integrated) shopping cart, user security, and database back-end.

    2.  Wrote a lot of code.

    3. Did the graphics.

    4. Hooked it to some back-end accounting system where the beans were counted.

    5. Integrated to some e-payment platform.

    6. Found somewhere to host it, possibly even installed the machine(s) for it 

    7. By himself.

     

    So I would talk to him about this-and-that related to our products.  I would also say things like, "....but you've probably already done something like this when you did your e-commerce site," and get a smile and an affirmative nod.  Keep in mind this was developer-to-developer talk here.  I was talking mainly about coding and integration of the various components.  Nothing high-level enough to be miscontrued as anything other than hardcore development.

    So as the first month progresses, I start noticing that this guy (working in support) is asking some really odd questions for someone who has developed an e-commerce site.  Things like "Where do you change the IIS configurations?  What is regsvr32?  How do I install printer drivers and share a printer?" and so on.  

    So I started drilling down into what exactly he meant by implementing an e-commerce site "from A-Z".

     

    It turns out that "from A-Z" meant that he had picked products with names starting from A-Z to sell on his site.  The site was apparently some pre-made "e-vendor" site that only required a subscription and some configuration.  He may have been storing inventory in his garage for all I know. No code, no DB work, nothing even remotely considered "software development."

    Needless to say, he quit after a few months.  I think he was pissed that he never got moved into development.

     



  • So you didn't think to ask him some technical questions during his interview? 



  • I don't think there was even an interview beyond what had been done at synagogue.

     Oh snap..



  • @Sunday Ironfoot said:

    So you didn't think to ask him some technical questions during his interview? 

     

    So I'm guessing you didn't actually read the post, then.




  •  Let this be a lesson...religion is bad!



  • <I> What is regsvr32?</I>

     That's where my alarm bells rang.



  • @Ren said:

    <I> What is regsvr32?</I>

     That's where my alarm bells rang.

    I've done some reasonably high-end web programming over the last 10 years and I don't know what regsvr32 is (nice name!) and I don't know anything about IIS configuration.

     Maybe he's an Orthodox Linux guru. Now there is a religion I can subscribe to.



  • @shakin said:

    @Ren said:

    <I> What is regsvr32?</I>

     That's where my alarm bells rang.

    I've done some reasonably high-end web programming over the last 10 years and I don't know what regsvr32 is (nice name!) and I don't know anything about IIS configuration.

    ... SNIP ..

     

    You don't need to unless you are a windows sysadmin ...



  • @cklam said:

    You don't need to unless you are a windows sysadmin ...

    Obviously.  What is your point? 



  • @Ren said:

    <I> What is regsvr32?</I>

     That's where my alarm bells rang.

     

    I know what regsvr32 is/does, but I don't think I've ever had to use it in the context of an IIS/ASP.NET or even classic ASP stack.  Maybe way back in the day it was more important?

    Of course, it would be hard to make it through one week of web development without knowing where the IIS configuration is.  Even if your experience is entirely on LAMP, there's no excuse for not being able to at least figure that out after a few minutes of clicking around.



  • Occupational specialization. For example: Not all metalworkers are blacksmiths, anymore. Not all IT People are jack-of-all-trade, anymore.



  • @cklam said:

    Occupational specialization. For example: Not all metalworkers are blacksmiths, anymore. Not all IT People are jack-of-all-trade, anymore.

    I guess shakin was really the one who made the original pointless comment, so I probably should have been replying to him.  Nevermind. 


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