From a friend’s blog->
People who believe that they are geeks believe that people who they think are “management” are unfamiliar with technology and can be easily intimidated by it. Picture this confrontation: young active looking geek with long hair v/s old grumpy looking guy in pinstripes. Anyone can predict how this encounter is going to be when it comes to technology. Here’s a preview from the encounter:
management guy (M): So, let’s say I upgrade Linux on a machine after many years and one of my programs stop working, what could be the reasons?
geek guy(G): (Uh oh! how do I explain this to him). Many things could have changed that cause problems
M: Like what?
G: kernel, libraries, file systems, hardware…
M: I said upgrade OS, so hardware remains same (gotcha geek, don’t bullshit me)
G: uh ok
M: Explain how each one of the other changes breaks things
G: (Says nothing)
M: Let us say the program in consideration in “hello world” written in C, with this as an example, explain why the binary may stop working after the upgrade (C’mon now, even terribly old mgmt folks can still write this).
G: For starters, header files might have changed
M: But why do you need header files to run binary?
G: (Wow! this old guy knows more than I thought) Um yeah, you said binaries.
M: So what about the kernel?
G: (Ok old fella, you asked for it, kernel is so not what you know) Change in terminal output drivers which is a part of the kernel will break the program.
G: (Die management bitch, die)
M: What about filesystem?
G: (Huh? That last one was supposed to be stun you till your kid returned from school, I used kernel and driver in the same line, what more do you want?)
M: Are you saying newer OSes come with newer fs?
G: (confidently) yes
M: Let’s say you have a binary on your hard drive which is a ext2 fs and I copy it over to a floppy which is fat32. Will it run?
M: Have you been to mozilla.org/mozilla.com and tried downloading binaries for linux?
M: Do you remember seeing “firefox for ext3”, “firefox for jfs”, “firefox for resier” etc etc?
M: Then how does it work?
G: No idea
And thus the evil management guy harassed the geek.
I never realized till today why I was getting weird answer at interviews. Turns out that I look very non-techie and very managementish, and hence candidates have been liberally bullshitting me. Sometimes not trying to guess personas and just answering questions helps.