This has been going through my head for some time now, and I figured that now that I have a little free time, I could write a post about it.

What in the hell is happening with insurance company advertising?

I’ve been familiar with the Insurance industry (if you could call it industry. Sector maybe?) since about the time I was born; it’s a family business of sorts. Which makes me the family oddball with going to school for an engineering discipline.

But enough about that. I recall a time when there weren’t many commercials about it. Times when Progressive was much smaller, Westfield was Old Guard, Esurance and Geico didn’t exist (at least in my knowledge), etc.

But now, everyone and their brother seems to be advertising about insurance on the TV. And some of these adds are alright. I especially enjoy the Allstate commercials (I think they’re Allstate) where people are all helping each other. But that also brings me to my issue.

When did advertising for insurance become so insanely far removed from insurance itself?

Case in point: Esurance. I just saw a commercial that involved the song “What I Like About You” by The Romantics and a montage of their cartoon character fighting villains and singing.

What. The. Hell.

All of Esurance’s commercials seem like this, with wacky off-the-wall themes that appear to me to range from “Save paper, get our insurance” and “other car insurance has become a giant mechanized monster and is blowing up a city!”

Esurance isn’t the only company that’s been going this path. Geico and their caveman commercials. I found them witty and interesting at first, but now they’ve become a beast of their own.

I’m fairly certain the newest one I’ve seen doesn’t even advertising insurance. At all. The commercial tells you to go to a website at the address www.cavemanscrib.com.

I took a venture there, and it actually appears to be a fairly quality site. However, I think it’s going a bit to far away from the company itself.

Maybe that’s just it. Maybe the fact that the advertising is so far removed from the product itself helps it. I remembered it due to that. It doesn’t make me want to purchase from them, but it makes me remember them. I don’t know if that’s successful or not.

I think that insurance companies should try to instill confidence in their product with their ads, not make them think of a wacky caveman party or a woman with pink hair fighting giant robots.

If you want to see a good commercial, keep a lookout for Allstate’s commercials. I think that they are the prime example of what I’m talking about.

Now I’ll kindly step off my soapbox and end this rant.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve written an entry into this blog. Been quite a busy time for me at RIT. Quarter is coming to an end, assignments are coming due, and all other kinds of fun, fun stuff. A lot has happened, but I’ll keep it down to a few points to keep this entry (relatively) short.

First off: Ben Folds concert. Recently, the artist Ben Folds gave a concert at the Gordon Field House here at RIT. One word can describe his performance: Exceptional. I haven’t been to many concerts in my time, but this was a great time. Folds is funny, interesting, and incredibly talented at what he does. It was an awesome night of humor, random vulgarity, and great music. The openers weren’t that great for the show (The first one, a female vocalist, was fairly good. The second opener, hip hop artist “Black Violin” was awful), but Folds brought it back and the night was an incredible time. I could devote an entire entry to the concert, but that’s for another time.

Second: I finally found a co-op. Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America (TEMA) has hired me for a summer and winter co-op (the second term is not sure yet, but it will be two terms). At the co-op I’ll be programming in Visual Basic .NET and SQL, two languages which I’m not horribly familiar with, but I feel I could learn very quickly. If anyone has any experience with either language, please feel free to give me some hints or tips in the comments or my e-mail.

Kentucky’s a far way off, but it’ll be fun to finally get off the East Coast (kinda) and live in a new place. Plus, the co-op is located in the town of Erlanger, KY, which is about a half hour from Cincinnati, Ohio. Maybe catch a Reds game or something over the summer.

I think a co-op will be a great change of pace from the normal term at school. Being able to focus on one or two topics that are (hopefully) closely related will be a lot better then focusing on the menagerie of topics I’m required to focus on during school. And plus, no homework. And also, getting paid.

That, my friends, is a true winning combination.

Finally, the last topic I will talk about will be trying to intimidate people. I’m not at liberty to mention any names and such, but one as myself and two friends were leaving class today, another student grabbed my friend by the shoulder and said “You better watching your [fornicating] mouth”

This was in response to said friend speaking to the prof. in class, and when being interrupted by this student, my friend more or less told him to shut up. Which was, of course, hilarious in its own right.

However

If you’re going to try to intimidate someone, you must meet a few criteria:
1. You must be physically imposing.
Do not try to intimidate someone if you are not either A) Very strong/muscular or B) Much larger then the other person. I don’t care if you know akido or karate or anything like that. If you don’t look intimidating, you can’t be intimidating (easily)

2. Don’t do it in front of their friends
Seriously. It makes you look stupid. And it also takes away any advantage you may have alone.

3. Don’t run away afterwards
Leaving the situation makes it look like you gave up. And it gives the other people/person time to laugh.

And most importantly, don’t do it at all. Trying to be intimidating or aggressive makes you look like a little child who just got his toy taken away. If you’re offended by something someone says, talk to the person or just cut your losses and live with it.

Don’t be an idiot. Period.

The Spring Career Fair (or Job Fair, or whatever) ar RIT happened last Wednesday, the 28th. This was the first job fair that I (and a good amount of my friends) attended. I forget how many companies were there, but according to the RIT co-op website, “over 2,000 of you attended, with 685 interviews the next day!”

I’m no math major, and while that’s a large amount of interviews, it translates to about 34% of students getting interviews; and that’s best case. That didn’t happen, because some people were able to get multiple interviews. I was lucky; I snagged two job interviews. More on that later.

The fair took place in the field house, with all manor of companies attending. Big-name companies such as Microsoft, nVidia, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, AMD, and Toyota (had to mention Toyota) as well as a lot of smaller, lesser-known companies. Most of the people at the booths were nice, friendly, pleasant people.

And then there was Microsoft.

I think I just had bad luck at that booth. The person I spoke had a very palpable “I’m better than you” manor about him, which really, really pissed me off. I like to think I’m not an angry person, but something like that really, to quote Peter Griffin, “grinds my gears.”

I don’t care who you are. The fact that you have a job at Microsoft does not make you better than me.

This event won’t, of course, stop me from applying to and trying to get a co-op or job at Microsoft; I just didn’t like one of the representatives they sent.

Oh, and on a side note, it’s kinda interesting which companies know what Computer Engineering is and which don’t. Most don’t realize we’re a CS and EE mix, some have never heard of us, and some believe we’re Information Technology majors. I don’t fault these people, and I realize that some of these companies are non-engineering firms. I just thought it was funny.

The interviews scheduled the next day were nice. The field house was converted from a bunch of booths with fancy decorations to…. a bunch of booths without fancy decorations. All the companies interviewing had their own table or two, and they called their interviewees up when the time came.

As I mentioned before, I had two interviews. These interviews were with a semiconductor firm in Rochester called Vivace Semiconductor, and my second interview was with the aerospace defense contractor Northrup Grumman. These weren’t technical interviews. The one with Vivace was simply a half-hour grilling of resume (What did you do working here, how was this course, explain this project). The interview with Northrup was a lot different; it was mostly praise for me for doing well in school and how it looked like I was a good fit for a position that they had opening sometime in the winter. Which was cool. I’m just thankful that the interviews weren’t technical. I probably would’ve cried.

Anyhow, that’s all I have for now. I meant to post this earlier after the job fair, but I didn’t have the chance (busy week). [

It’s week 4/10 here at RIT. What fun.

Not such a winning combination

I had my third and final phone interview with Amazon.com last week sometime, and I am just now getting around to posting about it. This was the interview I tanked, and it is now why I hold a deep hatred for technical interviews over the phone. The phone interview consisted of one question.

One long question.

And I completely tanked it.

The question was “Given a string of digits, write a method that would return all possible combinations of strings that could be created using the phone number-digit thing”. I may have abridged the question a little; I forget the exact phrasing of the question. This wouldn’t have been such a huge deal.

Except I had to code over the phone.

This is something I’ve never experienced before, and is why I no longer like over-the-phone technical interviews. I probably wouldn’t like an in-person technical interview, but that’s besides the point. All programmers have their own little style to how they code. I, personally, like laying out a basic skeleton for the program or method I am going to write, and begin coding, adding variables and adjusting my algorithms as needed. This has always treated me well; and I find it a fairly acceptable way to program.

This style of coding, however, does not lend itself well to coding over the phone. I was told to talk the interviewer through my algorithm, which I did, and that is what brought to light the problems in my coding style. I kept finding things I should change or add, and I’m pretty sure I drove the interviewer near-insane. It didn’t really help that I was unable to find a solution to the problem. I was getting to a solution, but I ran out of time.

I’m not blaming the interviewer or Amazon or the interview process. I know that the responsibility for passing that interview fell squarely on my shoulders, and pass or fail, I was taking whatever was given to me. While I’m not blaming anyone, I feel I’m in the right to express my displeasure in the system. If anyone has any tips for phone interviews and coding over the phone, feel free to talk with me. I would greatly appreciate the chance to improve my interviewing skills.

Job fair is on Wednesday anyway. Plenty of fish in the ocean.

I’ve come to a conclusion. Some people think arguing over the internet is futile and is only done by bored people. I disagree. The internet is (well, can be) a place where people of all intelligence levels and socioeconomic levels can come together and debate on any topic imaginable. Whether it be about the problems in the Java Virtual Machine or the performance of the Philadelphia Eagles in their last seasons, anyone can argue with anyone in an open, no-holds barred format.

And therein lies the rub. I remember seeing an image that said “Anonymity + Internet = Instant Asshole.” The sad part about this statement is that it is all too true. There are plenty of places online that are a testament to this statement. The darkest, sickest, side of people comes out in its ugliest form. And that’s a shame.

If you’re going to argue over the internet, and by all means, please do, at least try to be a little articulate in your argument. There is such an opportunity to have such great arguments with people that it’s a pity that so many degrade into childish shouting matches.

Go, have arguments, put you knowledge to the test against others. Will you get intellectually destroyed at times? Yes. Will you feel stupid at times? Yes. But don’t give up. Man, if nothing else, enjoy the fight, even if you lose it, because that’s what it’s all about. Take responsibility for your statements, stand behind what you believe, and even if you lose the fight, learn from it, and move on to the next.

I honestly don’t care if you listen to me. If you do, great. Feel free to message or e-mail me at any time, and I’d be more than happy to argue a topic with you. If you disagree with me or think what I’m saying is useless, then you’re welcome to think that. I think it’s just great if you’ve made it this far into this little rant of mine. The fact that you may read this and thought “Mark’s an idiot” or thought “Mark’s right” is enough for me.

That’s all I got for you. Fight on.