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Cloudmark phone screen

I just finished up the phone screen about 15 minutes ago. It wasn't that long –
about 15 minutes. The guy who interviewed me is a senior engineer who also authored some
of their white papers.

He asked me what kind of work I was primarily interested in, and I said development of
network protocols and algorithms. He asked for an example, and I gave a brief description
of congestion avoidance. Turns out he had an advisor in grad school who had a similar
focus. He then asked what I'd done lately in that area, and I said I'd been unemployed
since being laid off from Nominum. He wanted to know if I'd done any network
algorithm/protocol development at Nominum, and I said no – mostly QA. He wanted to
know if I was interested in switching to QA, and I said no, that I was primarily
interested in getting back into development, and that doing QA was a way to get back into
the market and on the path of protocol development. (I was not really comfortable with
these questions, and what came out was primarily related to what I'd said to Akamai; I'd
have answered these questions somewhat differently if I'd known they would be asked.)

We got around to a discussion of what I did at AV, and I gave a short explanation of how I
was responsible for the site traffic statistics. He asked what the architecture of the
reporting was, and I told him about the Alphas being fed by the mhttpd Alpha servers
first, and the eventual switch to Resin on Linux. He then wanted to know what the
database architecture was. I told him that I wasn't really involved in the DB aspect of
the project, rather, I was primarily on the Unix end of things. I tried to think of some
aspects of the DB architecture, but couldn't remember, so I just pretty much left it at
that. His next question was what was my primary contribution to the effort – in
other words, in what way did my work advance the body of knowledge. I wasn't expecting
this question, and am not really convinced I said what he wanted to hear, but I said that
my primary knowledge transfer was explaining the statistics in terms of how the HTTP
protocols actually worked, accounting for discrepancies, subtleties, and so on. I gave as
an example how as far as clicks are concerned, HTTP is a redirection service, but the
number of clicks at the web server need not equal the number of times the destination site
is actually reached, due to connectivity issues, etc. I told him that at the time I
joined AltaVista, these discrepancies and subtleties were not very well understood, and
that my involvement helped clear up a lot of misunderstandings. (I wish I'd remembered
some of the other things, like faked user agents, cookies, etc.)

I got the feeling he was looking for a person who had more involvement with database
architecture, tuning, performance, etc. But at least the answers I gave were consistent
with what I've said publicly about what my contribution was.


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