I am a pebble!

My life is that of a pebble – The pebble dances to the tune of the waves. It cannot do otherwise. With every movement, it rubs against hard surfaces and loses part of itself. As the river continues to flow, the pebble becomes smooth. Throw it at someone and it will hurt but hold it delicately in your hands and you can feel its gentleness. Nature wants the pebble to stay immersed in the river so it doesn’t harm and looks beautiful from the outside. And that’s where I belong, out of reach.

~AS

C# Interview Questions Based on Actual Experiences When I Was Looking for a Job

This is the process I went through whilst looking for a new Senior Developer position in London. I hope this helps other job seekers better prepare themselves.

Company A

1st Stage – Telephone Interview (30 mins)
General chat with the director about what the company does and where it’s headed. Looking to see I thought I would be a good fit.

2nd Stage – Practical Test (3-4hrs)
Create a basic web application using web forms, linq to sql and jquery ui. This assignment was sent by email and could be completed at home, so no time limit really. The project requirements was to create a page with a text field (Name of company) and 3 dropdowns (Speciality, Category and Location). When users type a name in the textbox, jquery autocomplete should be leveraged to suggest names of companies already in the database. Results should be displayed filtered by all 4 fields if specified. A sample data in spreadsheet format was sent but it was not normalised and a either a backup of the database or script to recreate it was asked.

Here the employer is looking for good coding skills and a layered project solution (Web, Data and Business layers).

Third Stage – Face to Face Interview (1hr30)
This was done at their office in Chiswick. I met the IT Director who asked a couple of questions about the things I’ve put on my CV and what I thought about the project I had to do, then was questioned by a Senior Dev about these:

1. Whether I’ve created a jQuery plugin before (and how)
2. My experience with Unit Testing
3. A couple of other technical questions which didn’t require much thought

Then I met the CTO again for a brief talk and the most important question there was what I would bring to the company.

Result
I didn’t get the job. They said I had strong technical skills but didn’t show much interest in the company.

Company B

1st Stage – Technical Test (1hr23)
I was asked to do an IKM (International Knowledge Measurement) .NET WEB DEV test. To be considered for the role, you need to get 90% and above. IKM tests are multiple choice questions with 1 or more correct answers. You cannot skip a question and come back to it and for each wrong answer, you are penalised more than if you don’t answer it (this is to prevent guesses I think). There were 33 questions to be answered in 83 minutes and before the test, it mentioned that on average people take 39 minutes to complete this.

Some of the questions which were asked are:

1. Which attribute flag to use for bitwise operator (i didn’t know, never used it in my life!)
2. try catch block code segments, which were correct
3. MVC routing
4. Code segments containing interfaces and classes, find out the output
5. Custom exceptions in .net

Although I scored 86%, the company still wanted to see me.

2nd Stage – Technical Interview with Technical Architect and Product Manager (1hr30)
I was asked 2 main technical questions – my understanding of SOLID principles and how I would go about designing a system. The requirements were that a short blog post (140 characters) will be submitted by multiple registered users of the company and this had to be displayed back to on the front end bearing in mind this is a high traffic website.

What was important here is to mention that the first time the page is requested, it will be cached until another post is submitted by someone else. Then on the front end, to use something like SignalR or another polling method to update the post widget with the latest items.

Result
I didn’t get this one either because they didn’t think I would be a good fit for their company and I didn’t know much about their products and services. They said I had strong technical skills though.

Company C

1st Stage – Telephone Interview (30 mins)
Basic introduction to the company and lots of technical questions as follows:

1. Choose two programming languages and talk about the differences – they wanted a client side scripting language like JavaScript and server side language like C#
2. What does .net code get compile to and what is used at runtime (code gets compiled to MSIL and at runtime it’s machine language)
3. What is a transaction in database terms? (going from one consistent state to another)
4. Properties of database transactions (ACID properties)

2nd Stage – Face to Face Technical Interview (1hr)
This was meant to be 1hr but lasted for 3hrs!!! There was a 15 mins presentation of the company, what it does etc. Then oral questions:

1. Explain the Garbage Collector (you should talk about Generation 0/1/2 and that it is non-deterministic)
2. What is IDisposable and what pattern uses this (when using the “using” keyword)
3. What is multi-threading
4. How to avoid a deadlock
5. Difference between the out and ref parameters when passing a value/reference type

Then technical exercises:

1. A program was written on paper that does string manipulation (tokenisation) and you had to tell the output. It was using indexOf and SubString but since there was a do-while loop, you had to calculate values of all local variables on paper. It turned out the interviewer had an initial string of “This is Value1” and you were looking for the word “is” and you would miss out that the first occurrence of “is” would be in “This”.
2. Following on the previous exercise, I was asked how I was going to rewrite the program by using recursive calls to the method and I was only allowed to modify certain sections of the code, not everything.
3. On paper, a set of tables was shown and I was asked how to make it better (had to normalise them)
4. A database schema was shown and i was asked to write SQL queries for inner joins, left joins, group by on paper.
5. There was also a Psychometric test (aptitude) where I was given increasing levels of difficulty to solving a certain mechanism they use for their product.

This was followed by a chat with one of the managers, whereby he wanted me to talk more about the technical stuff I’ve done in my previous jobs (technology used, why and how) and then questions about why I wanted to join their company.

Result
This was one of the hardest interviews I’ve had and I thought it was going to be just 1hr, not 3hrs!!! It was absolute torture and I wanted to just leave in the middle of the interview but I gave it my best shot anyway. I know I didn’t do well but if the interview was that hard, I don’t think I want to work there and have my stress levels jump through the roof everyday. I also have a life outside work and I’d rather take a pay cut than become a zombie. I was later informed I didn’t get the job.

Good luck if you’re seeking a new opportunity!

UPDATE

I had two other interviews after those and got job offers for both. I took up one of them and I’m very happy with the salary and the job I’m doing ūüôā

That’s it – I’ve gone vegetarian now!

I woke up yesterday (26 December 2014) and I felt it was high time I stopped eating meat. I’ve wanted to do this since a long time but there were 2 reasons which¬†prevented me from doing it.

First, it was more convenient – if I’m hungry, I can just make a chicken burger and have that with bread and I’m all sorted. If I’m out and about, I can always get a Zinger burger at KFC. If I wanted to cook a nice meal, you can’t go wrong with chicken which is what I’m used to anyway.

Secondly, I want to put on some more muscle mass and meat is an easy source of protein which is crucial in bodybuilding. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to bulk up if I stop eating meat but the truth is I wasn’t gaining lean muscle mass anyway because I don’t train as hard as I need to (I hardly exercise btw :D).

I guess when I woke up, I thought enough was enough and I could go on procrastinating about this and never get it done. It is boxing day and the Christmas and 2015 New Year celebrations are still intense and in my mind, I’m thinking maybe I should wait till January and have this as a New Year Resolution instead. However I know deep down it’s an excuse and if I put it off for another day, then I’ll never be able to do it.

I just bought 36 chicken burgers, chicken sausages and still have some chicken breasts in the fridge and tuna cans in the cupboard and I’m thinking I should probably get through these first otherwise it’s going to waste. But then I know myself too well now and decided to just go with the flow, so let’s see what happens next.

Tere Dard Se Dil Aabaad Raha English Translation

This is a lovely song from the movie Deewana starring Divya Bharti, Shah Rukh Khan and Rishi Kapoor.

Lyrics

Tere dard se dil aabaad raha
From your pain, my heart was prosperous/affluent
Kuch bhool gaye, Kuch yaad raha
I forgot some, remembered some
Naseeba bhi kya rang laya
Faith/luck too, has brought its different colours
Kaha laake hum ko milaya
Where has it brought us to meet
Apni wafaa ke gul khil na paaye
The flowers of our trust did not flourish
Milke bhi tujhse hum mil na paye
Even after meeting you, we didn’t really meet
Darde dil hum kaise sahen
How can I stand this heartache
Door bhi hum kaise rahen
How can I stay far away too
Tera gham tere jaane ke baad raha
Your sorrow was there after you left
Kuch bhool gaye, kuch yaad raha
I forgot some, remembered some
Jaane wafa tujhko kya de
My life, my faith, what can I give you
Dil Keh raha hai dua de
Heart tells me to give blessings
Armaan bujhe hain sapne duaan sa
Desires are extinguished, dreams are broken
Mar mar ke hum to zinda yaha hai
I am still here alive after dying over and over
Bekhudi main hum ko gaye
I had lost all conscious/senses
Phir juda tujhse ho gaye
Then I was separated from you
Chahat ka jahaan barbaad raha
The universe of love was destroyed
Kuch bhool gaye, kuch yaad raha
I forgot some, remembered some

Conversation of my Mind to my Heart

Mind : I know you’re hurting badly but that’s affecting me a lot now and I cannot function properly

Heart : I’m sorry but I can’t help myself

Mind : For our sake, forget her and move on

Heart : I’ve tried to but it’s out of my control

Mind : Just do what it takes to stop this madness

Heart : Alright, I’ll have to stop beating then

Mind : No, you know I cannot exist without you

Heart : …and I cannot live without her

Mind : We’re both screwed then!
.
.
.
Soul : Don’t worry guys, when the two of you are long gone, I’ll use the memories of the Mind to cherish the love of the Heart and immortalise your existence¬†

Going to the gym after 10 years!!!

Honestly, you shouldn’t wait that long but for me it must have been more than 10 years since I last did any kind of exercise. I was quite active before but since I’ve come to the UK, the cold weather has made me a couch potato and it doesn’t help that I work in an office and sit all day long staring at the computer.

Anyway, I thought a decade was quite a long time and something needed to be done. I’m not getting any younger and I’ve started to feel my body is not as flexible and strong as before. So I signed up for a gym membership with Fitness First (1 month just in case, lol). Since it was a short term contract, it’s ¬£62 but if you go for 4 months contract then it’s ¬£52 and your yearly membership, it’s ¬£42. I’d rather pay a bit more expensive but have the option to cancel within 30 days as I’m still not sure of my commitment as I’ve got loads of things going on as well.

Few things I didn’t think ¬†about were joining fee for the club (¬£20, but they forgot to include that in my bill, yay!), appropriate clothing and footwear when exercising in the gym and parking which fortunately is not far from the club and members get 2hrs free. I’ve also been persuaded to take a personal trainer as well – 4 sessions for ¬£15 instead of ¬†¬£30, I just thought why not ūüėÄ

And on my first day in the gym, the personal trainer was talking to me about posture and correct way to do things which was all good up until he asked me to do 10 press ups. I could hardly manage 4! I still did 10 though but they were not press ups, after 5 they were more like trying to get your body up any way you can using your hand, lol.

We did some bench press as well with little weights, well he thought they were little but I thought he was trying to kill me, haha. Yes, I know, my body is used to laziness and intermittent smoking hasn’t done me any favours too. We got through some rowing, arm curl for bicep and tricep and finished with lunges. I thought he said lunch btw.

By the end of the session (about 1hr) which to me felt like an eternity, my arms and legs were aching. I was glad I survived and I’m sure I’m going to build up the resistance if I persist. I must admit, I always thought I was a handsome guy until I saw myself in a gym mirror which made me looked too skinny. But then again handsomeness is to do with the face, right?

Now I need to plan my diet better because training without proper nutrition is stupid. However I’m planning to become vegetarian as well, so I’m not sure how that’s going to work out.

Inspired by pain, driven by will and created with hope

She tells me to get a tattoo of her name but doesn’t realise her name is already engraved on my heart.
She believes it’s all over, however what awaits is still togetherness.
She thinks what was, isn’t anymore, yet what remains, is stronger than before.
She sees what everyone else does, although what truly is stays unbeknown to anyone.
She knows what we have is real, yet doubts what cannot be disputed.
She pretends not to love but her heartbeats betrays her at each moment.
She looks for sincerity but doesn’t see the mirror of my eyes.
She tries not to look back but what lies ahead is the dream we built.
She forgets what she needs but attends to my desires.
She finds my excuses lame yet wishes they are true.
She cries in silence and thinks I don’t see her tears.
She fights her conscience but surrenders to fate.
She awaits my call yet pretends to be busy.
She puts on a fake smille and hopes no one catches her.
She builds a wall with her pride but secretly wishes my love to invade.
She wishes to hold my hand yet is scared of my touch.
She feels my pain but refuses to show empathy.
She knocks on my door yet feels surprised to see me.
She hates thinking about me but secretly cherishes my memories.
She listens to her mind but none to her heart.
She loves me but denies it everytime.
She is all that yet is incomplete without me!

5 months since I last blogged

It’s been a really long while since I last blogged (5 months). There’s been some major changes in my life and I didn’t have the time for writing although I wish I had. My main reason for blogging is to write on the problems that I encounter while programming so that people who find themselves in similar situations can find the solutions. However it takes time to write up a good post and although there’s nothing wrong in writing a short blog post, I believe a good write-up should be complete in itself and not lacking in content.

Sometimes it takes hours or days to find solutions and by the time I get something to work, it’s just too much work to post the solution online. The thing is that we all have busy lives and I’m not an exception to that.

Changed from pay monthly to pay as you go tariff with o2

Seeing that I was only using a fraction of the allowance on my pay monthly contract, I decided to downgrade to a pay as you go tariff on my iPhone. I opted for the text and web plan because that made more sense for me. I wanted to keep my mobile number and o2 said that they would send me another sim card through the post as the other one would not work when it was time for the switch over.

Couple of days after the call to 02 to switch plans, I received the Pay as you go sim card. I was told that I would need to switch the sim cards on the date that the switch over would happen which was 2 weeks from my initial call to 02. All they told me was that I would just need to remove my old sim card and insert the new one and everything would work fine. They also mentioned that it could take several hours before I would be able to use the new sim card.

On the switchover date which was yesterday, I changed sim cards because my pay monthly sim showed “No service” at the top instead of showing me the 02 mobile service operator. I tried to call my cell phone but I received “The person you are calling is not accepting anonymous calls” message. I thought that the new sim card was not ready to use. Since the switch over happens at midnight, I expected things to start working back to normal within 12 hours but I still could not get through at 7pm in the evening.

So my mobile phone was not working and I was getting nervous now. I tried switching it off and back on a couple of times but that did not work. Although I knew I couldn’t make calls because I have not topped up yet, I tried that as well and it prompted me to top up which I denied. I wanted to know that everything was working fine before I spend my money. O2 send me a couple of messages and they said that switching the mobile on and off until it connects is the way to go but obviously that did not work. I decided I was going to call 02 the next day if it does not work because if I call them on the same day, they would just say that it needs time and the switchover would happen sometime soon.

Well the next morning, the mobile was not working and I gave 02 a call and the agent told me that I need to top up first before I can use the phone. She said that it’s only when you top up for the first time that the pay as you go sim card gets activated. Well why did 02 not tell me anything about this in the first place? For a whole day I was not reachable, I could not make/receive calls and text messages and spent time looking on the net for a solution to the problem when o2 could just have told me this.

Instead of sending me text messages for extras that I can get, I would prefer them to tell me how to get my sim card to work. Anyway there was a new number on the new pay as you go sim card but that was overriden with my previous mobile phone number. For now everything is fine and I’ve associated my bank card with the sim for easy top up.

SD card reader (Mass storage device) driver for Toshiba Windows 7

I recently upgraded one of my laptops from Vista to Windows 7 and everything went smoothly except when I tried to insert an SD card in the memory slot and found out that it was not working. When I checked Device Manager in Control Panel, I saw that there was a “Mass Storage” device which had the exclamation sign, meaning it was not working properly. It is this that was causing the problem and I tried to update the driver through Control Panel but Windows was unable to do it.

I also tried one of the recovery CDs that I got from Toshiba but that didn’t work as well. So I started looking on the web for a mass storage device for my Toshiba A100 027 laptop but couldn’t find it. It’s not even listed on the Toshiba website and they usually have quite a lot of drivers for you to download just in case you need them. Anyway, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a forum which had a link to a driver which would solve the problem. Here’s the direct link to the driver for the SD card reader:

http://www.station-drivers.com/telechargement/texas%20instrument/TIPCI_xx21_xx12_02_2.0.0.8.exe

I am always skeptic of downloading .exe file (executables) as they may contain viruses/trojans but the above link is safe and works well on my laptop. After installing it, I was able to get the SD memory card reader to work properly again.