Why I miss iGoogle
iGoogle finally passed away this week, more than a year after Google announced plans to close it. People mourning its demise were mocked here and there on social media and via some spikey tech blog coverage (not referring to this very creative Engadget ode though) but the truth is that I’ll miss Google’s ‘personalized Web portal.’
Personalized portals are old hat in today’s social media age and, while I garner most of my information from RSS readers, Twitter and other tools, I always appreciated iGoogle because it made for the perfect homepage and, most importantly, it was infinitely customizable to your own personal choice.
This example is pretty noisy, but you get the idea…
I use Google’s address bar search for 95% of my searches, but I like to have the search engine as default for new tabs. With my RSS and news feeds flowing, iGoogle was a much better choice as a homepage because it productively filled the white space on Google.com — though I did stop using it last year when Google’s announced the planned closure.
(iGoogle image via Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones / Flickr)
BuzzFeed’s hiring process
I find it fascinating to watch how the Internet is impacting the hiring process. For example, I landed my job at TNW without a formal interview, it was based on my own personal blog which the folks at TNW were aware of — essentially my blog was my real-time resume.
These days many people ask when the business card or CV will die. There are certainly industries where physical documents will always matter, but online media is not one of them.
BuzzFeed — like the company or not — is a really interesting example. I noticed something fascinating about one of their recent job vacancies in the UK:
Interesting: “Established Twitter following” is one ‘requirement’ for BuzzFeed vacancies http://t.co/6Blj5lIloN— Jon Russell (@jonrussell)
I’m even more curious about this part of the interview process from the company’s vacancy in Australia:
This job is remote, and will begin as a contract position. To apply for this position, please create an account on BuzzFeed and make a few sample posts, then include a link to your profile in your cover letter along with your resume.
We’ve seen media like Gawker hire readers based on the strength of their comments, what BuzzFeed is doing here is pretty different to anything else I’ve seen.
Btw, don’t even suggest I’m looking to get hired by BuzzFeed — I’m an avid media watcher.
The best and worst visa process yet
It’s hard to explain the sense of achievement that comes with a fresh 12-month visa stamp (and the joy of a new, requisite work permit and accompanying docs) to anyone who hasn’t lived abroad.
It’s very often the delicious fruit of a stressful, labor intensive process. That was indeed the case for me this week.
When I worked for a company here in Bangkok, our visa admin was outsourced to agency that did basically everything for us — bar the necessary travelling in/out of the country.
That changed when I joined TNW, although last year the process was fine and I managed to squeeze all the city-based paperwork into one day.
This year…2.5 days.
I learnt a lesson about being over prepared and never assuming you know, since the processes changed a little since last year which, combined with my forgetting of a crucial doc, very nearly meant I had to start again from scratch — which would have meant a new trip abroad and visa run.
As it happens — with a bit of luck, my best charm and Thai language skills — my work permit was done just in time and I was able return to do my visa one day late. Kopping a fine less than 2,000 THB (US$60) for my troubles.
By far the most challenging visa process, it was also the best, since my 2 year old was off preschool, and, with mum busy, I had to look after her and bring her along on the final day.
Unlikely many countries, bureaucrats in Thailand actually like having kids around (it can be beneficial for us parents), and the one stop visa center has a pretty decent selection of toys that she had a great time with as my blurry photo shows (I’m not one to stand around taking hours to photo my kids).
Docs all submitted and queue ticket acquired, we escaped the four-hour queue to go visit a temple…
…and see some cats, before returning to complete the final details. All the way she drove around the visa center on her police car.
I doubt I’ll be able to take her next year, though she’s keen to make a return trip. Visas have never been so fun.
(I’ve been very light on the visa process itself, maybe a post for another day to help me prepare for next year.)