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How can I inspire engineers to positively conduct telephone interviews
Interviewing is not a skill which comes naturally to a lot of us engineering types. Compound that with the fact that many of us do have performance metrics based on project performance, billable hours, etc., and most engineers are incentivised NOT to waste their time on these activities. Make an incentive to participate at all and compound that with a followup incentive for the results and you can help to break this cycle. I was not implying the employees were insincere or insensitive, but rather that the typical model discourages the desired behavior regarding interviewing.
Are COM objects a form of IPC?
Depends on your use of the word framework... it is not a general purpose app development framework like the .Net framework. One could call it an IPC framework, but that is not the same definition as an app framework. Please see the COM page (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Component_Object_Model) linked from the IPC page for a somewhat elaborate description of COM and what it entails. It is pretty much defined as a technology to provide inter-process communications.
What is the (craziest, stupidest, silliest) thing a client/boss asked you to do?
We so had this... and a requirement that EVERY LINE be commented, in the 79th column, so that the code was down the left and comments on the right. And all of this was enforced by an IDE add-in.