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Comment: Write A Support Agreement - Business, Not Tech (Score 4, Insightful) 257 257

Unless you are (or someone is) getting paid to update, maintain, and upgrade this frequently (I would suggest every six months) I do not believe this is something than can be easily accomplished. I would recommend, if you are a contractor, that you create an ongoing maintenance agreement that provides deployments tests every six months. If you are an employee, I'd recommend you attempt to put into place such a program with your employer.

If people do not want to pay to maintain this, then it's probably not going to work for 25 years despite your best efforts. If they only want to pay to maintain it when they REALLY need it to be maintained, it's going to be expensive and not necessarily possible. I see this kind of stuff all the time - customers don't want to pay to maintain something, until it breaks, then they want to pay.

As an example (that isn't related to embedded, but the principle is the same), I JUST ported over Google OpenID logging in to OAuth2 in a PHP system. This was way more expensive, and way higher stress, because the customer did not listen to me six months ago when I said Google would no longer be supporting OpenID, and we should migrate to OAuth2 or they wouldn't be able to login. They didn't listen to me then, but called me when they couldn't login. The hourly rate was higher, because I hadn't scheduled this work, and it took longer (billable time) because I was under pressure to get the calendar time as small as possible. However, we got it! There are examples all the time where things basically need to be scrapped, since the technology is so, so, old and the provider doesn't exist anymore. For example, I am having a lot of trouble finding documentation for CouchBase 1.0 on some CouchBase work a customer wants done.... This wouldn't have been an issue if they had kept upgrading CouchBase versions along the way. Now, it's a pain.

Comment: Contract with Them And Be Your Own Successor (Score 1) 203 203

If you can setup a contracting agreement with your soon-to-be-previous employer, then you can be your own successor!

Seriously, this constantly happens when people decide to leave their employment to go out on their own. It happened with me when I quit my 9-5 to take the plunge, and I've seen it happen with every other person I've directly witnessed quitting a job to pursue contracting full time (three total, other than myself.)

Comment: Re:Fear of the West? (Score 1) 268 268

This is already what is happening, which is why tons and tons of pirate sites are hosted in Russia. However, that's a bit different than building a gigantic fabrication plant, which will likely fulfill government orders for chips. One case is easy to (legitimately) argue that the kind of enforcement is difficult, and in the other case that sort of argument is a bit more difficult to make in a convincing way.

Comment: Re:Fear of the West? (Score 1) 268 268

Russia's 2012 WTO ascendancy required them to have already made, and continue to make, improvements in respecting intellectual property. I believe it took Russia 16 years of trade improvement to join the WTO. Taking an official policy supporting that kind of piracy would be very, very destructive in any term other than the short term.

    -, .

Comment: Re:Don't Seek A Career + Diversify (Score 1) 420 420

Here's the etymology:

I don't speak French, and it look archaic (middle French.)

Did you listen to his "History of Freedom?" I was pretty sure it was in "Books that have Made History" but it might have been in that other lecture series. I don't think it was from any of his others.


Comment: Information is Only Available When Someone Cares (Score 2) 182 182

In his book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology Ray Kurzweil talks about the difficulties moving information from media to media as technology changes. He comes to the conclusion that information is only readily available when someone cares about it.

If you have enough money, [like other posters mentioned] you could setup a trust and have the executors required/compensated for taking an actions (such as keeping your online presence going after you die.)

Comment: Don't Seek A Career + Diversify (Score 4, Interesting) 420 420

Professor J. Rufus Fears taught me that a "career" is a French word that means "path." He says it's a path to get from graduation into a retirement home. I have tried to internalize this concept, and it helped me take risks with quitting multiple career-type jobs to open up my own businesses. Roll the dice, and see how they land. Have an adventure, not a career.

One business of mine is a software development company. This is my primary means of livelihood. Right now, I mostly contract out development services to small-to-medium sized organizations that have trouble staffing programmers. The vast majority of my clients are not large enough to hire a full time, on staff, programmer to help do what I (literally me programming, most of the time) do for them. I've developed a relationship with a programmer in Kazakhstan, where I can take advantage of the lower costs to get things developed cheaper than here. However, now I am working primarily with a MUCH more expensive local programmer, since his efficiency is higher, the Kazakh guy isn't as available and finding a new one is a ton of work, and on some projects the local presence far outweighs the cost savings by outsourcing. Plus, the American is my friend, an early mentor that taught me about web programming when we were both employees, and things are slow with him now so I wanted to get started working together (on a relatively small project for a client.) I'm also working on developing a software product for passive income, but that takes a LOT longer, and is much riskier than contracting.

Another business I have is rental property close to the local university. That business is, by definition, tied to my geographical area. When software is slow, rents come in and I can work on home improvement projects. When software is busy, rents still come in and I can pay someone else to do emergency repairs, and put off improvements until a slow time.

The concept of relying on a single employer for all my income is extremely scary to me. I would much rather diversify my software earnings across multiple clients to mitigate risk. Similarly, I'd rather have multiple one-bedroom apartments to rent out as compared to a big house to rent so that when one of the college students decides he cannot pay his rent this summer, and that he's leaving two months early (despite his two, international, trips setup...) I still have rents coming in. I have two companies which provide me with income, in terms of about seven clients/customers/renters. Both the Albuquerque software industry (most of my business is serving local customers) and the Albuquerque university rental market would have to collapse, simultaneously, for me to be majorly screwed. If anything, I'm pretty tied to Albuquerque and should try and diversify geographically more! I love Albuquerque though...

I do not have a family to provide for. I'm working on changing that, with trying to be as good of a boyfriend as I can be, with the goal of getting married someday. I am not saying that you should throw away all sense of security for your family (if you have one) and become a hustler overnight. "Look kids, we get to have the BLUE Ramen noodles for dinner tonight! Insurance? Who needs it?!? Jesus is my insurance!" No, that's not what I'm talking about... My local, subcontractor, friend (that I am just starting to work together with) took the plunge about three months ago and went into business for himself. He has a wife and two kids. He prepared extremely well, and setup enough contracts to be making about 1.7x his salary for the first three months from basically day one. This is his first slow two week period, so we are working together. My local community has all sorts of people that are interested in promoting entrepreneurial activities, helping you get started, and providing free advice. I am extremely grateful for my earliest mentors in being a landlord, and the Albuquerque entrepreneurial ecosystem mentors now for the support.

To conclude, don't seek a career where someone else will provide for your safety. You're the only person that can do that. Otherwise, you'll still have these risks in your life (outsourcing, economic/business downturns, technological change and obsolesce) but you won't be as aware of them, and able to mitigate the risks. Try to diversify while you're doing it, since it will be safer and you won't be tied to a single person or organization.

I hope that this helps provide my viewpoint as an answer to your question, even if I think you might be asking the wrong question.

Comment: Pay To Install It Before Closing? (Score 2) 536 536

Why didn't the purchaser pay to install Comcast before he bought the house? This would have been a few hundred bucks, which is significantly less than the cost of reselling a house (normally.) This makes no sense to me. An reasonable seller would totally allow a potential buyer to pay for the installation of high speed Internet...

I work from home as a software developer too, and I'm aware of my Internet connectivity. I also helped a friend run a wireless ISP, and the cost of setting up unlicensed wireless equipment capable of carrying the kind of bandwidth necessary to run an ISP is probably less than the lose on a house.

If a criteria is critical to buying a house, it's a good idea to make sure that the criteria is met, or that there are major consequences to the entity "promising" that it is met (such as another posted mentioned, the closing of the house being contingent on wired high speed Internet being installed before closing.)

This sounds like buyer's remorse.

Comment: Re:Of course! (Score 2) 305 305

I don't believe that my education and experience is comparable to that which would be received in prison, which makes me think there wouldn't be much direct competition to me. If anything, something like this would seems (likely to me) to result in the massive, lower skilled end, of tech work being sent to prisons or half-way houses inside the U.S. as opposed to being shipped outside the U.S. This seems like a good thing.

I've worked on numerous projects that were shipped outside the country, to MUCH cheaper labor rate places. That tends not to work out very well, unless the project is extremely well spec'd, and/or requires very basic skills, and a very strong relationship exists between the buyer and seller. Typically, I become involved when the project has failed, and the customer decides that dealing with someone with greater skills that lives in a higher wage place is a better investment.

I am grateful for the fact that different options exist. Most projects that I could view as "competition" with low waged workers are not the types of projects I'd like to be involved with. The person shipping the project out typically has no long term relationship with the outside entity, is EXTREMELY price conscientious, is unable to clearly state what they want, and has very limited abilities to evaluate the quality of what they receive. These are people I do not want to deal with, until they have decided that they want to spend some serious money and change their viewpoints.

For me, it is a good thing that purchasers of goods and services have an option VASTLY different than what I'd like to sell. It allows them to segment themselves, and not come to me until they are the types of purchasers that I'd like to deal with. I would waste a lot of time dealing with the lower end of the market if these release valves didn't exist.

Throughout this response, I've tried to make it clear that these ideas only represent my viewpoint : I do not consider what low wage / low skilled people to be selling to be competition. I have never wanted to compete at the bottom, and I recommend that anyone involved with ./ not compete with prisoners, or outsourcing companies.

Comment: What My Father Instilled In Me (Score 1) 698 698

I'm sorry that you won't be around to watch your daughter grow into a woman. I am extremely lucky that my father is still alive, and an an active part of my life. I am thankful for that. When I think of the values that my father worked (is still working...) on instilling into me, they are love, a respect for formal education as well as informal learning, and a good work ethic.

"...and the greatest of these is love." Despite the partial quotation, and not exactly intended application, I think this quote is applicable to your situation. If you only can share one thing with your future daughter, I hope it is that you love her very much. Other values are important, but I think the most important thing for a child is to know that they are loved.

Comment: Re:It's a vast field.... (Score 4, Interesting) 809 809

I've found this to be much easier as a contractor. I have different rates for different skills that I have, versus my less-skilled areas, and my less skilled employees. One major problem with W2 style employment is that it is inflexible. People can become rapidly more, or less, valuable based on their skills (attitudes, or whatever), and their compensation doesn't quickly change. Quite often, what happens with me is that a client hires me for something I am very skilled at, that I can sell them well, and then after that is finished and good, they realize they need other things too that I'm not quite as skilled at. I can have a conversation with them about giving them a discount on the rate no problem, and because of the relationship we've built up, they normally have no issue subsidizing (at a discount) my learning. Typically, I try and charge them about what an employee would make for things I'm not (yet) good at, and around 2-3x what an employee would make for things I am good at. Plus, all of this is legal. Depending on your state, there are all sorts of laws about cutting employee's salaries and/or firing them.

The downside of this flexibility is that the income is also quite flexible. If you are expecting a consistent, senior level salary, then I think you'll be consistently doing things you're already senior level at.

Or become part of a fully funded startup. That is a crazy roller coaster ride one of my buddies is getting on, and it sounds like a psychedelic combination of contracting, W2 employment, and doing everything that needs to be done, now. I've been a part of an unfunded startup, and I learned a TON quickly, but I also never got paid and (now) never expect to.

Comment: You Call Yourself a Data Scientist (Score 1) 94 94

What it means "to be a data scientist?" It means that you call yourself a data scientist, and that someone pays you to do things that either you, they, or both of you, agree are "data scientist" types of things. If you're not getting paid, then I think it makes you an "amateur data scientist", "data scientist in training", and "intern data scientist" or my favorite, an "indentured data scientist." There may be other amazing terms to describe this phenomenon (unpaid data scientist) but I believe I am missing them.

I could be a "data scientist", "programmer", "technical manager", "software engineer", "software architect", "pimp" or "software gangster." I prefer to call myself a "contractor" or sometimes "consultant" though. The last two tend to have the type of tax benefits I like, and don't really result in a customer specifying the time, place, and manner of my work to the same degree as if I used the term "employee."

The only person that I've met that I wouldn't feel like punching them in the face for them calling themselves a "data scientist" had a masters degree in statistics, was super good with relational databases, and all right at programming (but not awesome.) I do live in New Mexico, and we aren't exactly trendy, so I can imagine a lot of people that might be legitimate (not amateur) data scientists that live here call themselves database administrators, or programmers, since they aren't concerned with what Dice says they should be making as a "data scientist."

To me, this distinction has no use. That may be because I don't want to be a "data scientist" or spend time with them, despite working on analyzing large data sets and doing "data science" for paying customers.

Comment: Re:what is your return on investment? (Score 1) 189 189

That's OK, the conversion is really easy. 1 USCU = 10,000 CCU. Canada's central bank hasn't gone crazy lately with printing of the Canadian Coolness Units, and the dip in crude hasn't seemed to impact it yet, so I think that it's still 10,000-to-one.

Again though, I recommend using the SI Coolness Unit - the Fonzie.

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955