the pseudonymous exploits of wombat boy

Friday, December 31, 2004

Join Me 

I read the Danny Wallace book "Join Me" while in the UK for Xmas, and have kind of a mixed reaction to it. I like that kind of book - it's the same style as "Are You Dave Gorman?" (unsurprisingly as Danny co-wrote that), and is also like Tony Hawks' books "Around Ireland with a Fridge", "Beating the Moldovans at Tennis" etc. That means it's a whimsical and quite funny story of an epic quest started out for no good reason (a small bet/to honor the memory of a Swiss relative/out of boredom). In this case the quest is just to collect recruits for a totally unspecified cause, started when Danny places an advert saying "Join Me" in a newspaper. Once he has recruits he has to work out what to do with them, and eventually ends up getting them to perform "random acts of kindness" every Friday. So it's quite a positive story in the end, but it raises a lot of questions.

It seems lame that he takes credit for the "random acts of kindness" phrase - that definitely pre-dates Join Me, and I think was American in origin. And there was already a kindness movement telling people to do that.

I found it very hard to believe he wasn't in fact doing all this just so he could write a book about it, rather than "starting a cult by accident" as the book cover says. This is the same guy who co-wrote "Are You Dave Gorman?" after all, so he has a history of pursuing an eccentric quest and then making money writing a book about it.

He calls the people who join him "joinees". That's not right - a person who joins is a joiner. If anyone is a "joinee" it's Danny, since he's the one who's been joined. Yeah I know that's pedantic.

Still it's a funny book, and since the Join Me thing ended up being a cool philanthropic movement, I feel a little bad criticizing him. Read the book for yourself and see what you think.

Not as bad at whiteboard coding as I made out 

I should probably mention that I did in fact get offered the job where the interview involved coding on a whiteboard, and I took the job. I've been there over 4 months now and it is so much better than my last job working for a large evil company.

Although I find coding like that painful, I'm actually no worse at it than everyone else. I still wish programming interviews involved using an actual computer for coding, and ideally would involve the interviewer saying "I'm going to leave you alone for 20 minutes - see how much you can have working by the time I get back". Of course the danger would be that people would cheat like bandits while the interviewer was out of the room.

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