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Comment: Write your representative in Congress (Score 1) 362

by dristoph (#44385465) Attached to: NSA Still Funded To Spy On US Phone Records

My message to Pelosi (the second in the last week after writing asking her to vote for this amendment):

I want to express my complete disappointment in Rep. Pelosi's vote against Rep. Justin Amash's amendment to end the NSA's mass-surveillance program which targets all American citizens indiscriminately. Her vote represents a disdain for the civil liberties which ought to be held sacred in our country.

To this end, I am working diligently to inform all of my friends and family in California's 12th district of Rep. Pelosi's decision and why it's wrong. I will ensure that the knowledge of her ongoing campaign against privacy and the protection from unreasonable search and seizure is communicated to as many constituents as possible.

It should go without saying that Rep. Pelosi will receive no support from me for the remainder of her career in office. It is my hope that a challenger will emerge to take her seat in Congress and loudly deliver the message that San Franciscans will not tolerate further encroachment upon our civil liberties in the name of illusory security.

If you're in San Francisco, feel free to copy the message to her here: http://pelosi.house.gov/contact/

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 288

by dristoph (#43438679) Attached to: Top Coders Tell Agents, "Show Me the Money!"

I'll add as an addendum that as long as companies are putting themselves in a bad position by treating their employees as replaceable parts, there will always be a place for the engineer who takes that pride in their work who can come in and save the day. And when companies start understanding the value of skilled, passionate engineers and do what it takes to keep fueling that passion, even better.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 288

by dristoph (#43438669) Attached to: Top Coders Tell Agents, "Show Me the Money!"

I'll add as an addendum that as long as there are companies putting themselves in a bad position by treating their employees as replaceable parts, there will be a place for highly skilled, passionate engineers to save the day. And if companies start seeing the value in such engineers and hiring them from the get-go and treating them with an environment that fuels that passion, even better.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 288

by dristoph (#43438613) Attached to: Top Coders Tell Agents, "Show Me the Money!"

I actually have started my own company. I enjoyed contracting and would keep doing it, but I ended up hooking onto something after a while that really worked. That was the whole plan from the get-go anyways; contract part-time while trying to turn a side project into a real business. It ended up working out and now I'm the engineering half of a revenue-positive startup, bootstrapped up until this point.

And I'll tell you what, once we do secure some funding and start hiring, I won't be bringing anyone on who doesn't take at least as much pride in the work as I do, who isn't passionate about their craft, and who considers themselves to be nothing more than a cog in a machine. Any company who does, whether the person is American or *-ian or from East Europe or who cares, they're doing it wrong. Such a person is prone to end up costing more than they're worth, and we'll end up spending even more money bringing in a ringer to save the day, just like Whatever Tech had to with me.

No, I'd rather bring in the "rock star" (I do hate that term) *before* the need arises and just save the damn money in the first place. If that means I'll need to bring in contractors rather than full-time, salaried employees, at least at first to get some top-notch talent working on our product, then so be it. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. And, in fact, we already have a consultancy of highly skilled engineers ready to tap; they put real love into their work, and they're already getting familiar with the product ahead of time. And if we need more, I'll probably contact 10x to see who else is available.

There are many companies out there who do see their engineers as replaceable cogs. I'm sorry if you work for one, but if it gives you stability at least then power to you. But I would argue that the company is wrong to have that attitude. If it's not apparent in the quality of the end product, then I would hypothesize that it is apparent in the extra money the company had to spend to make up for the work of employees who for whatever reason weren't inspired to do their best work. Making matters worse, I think that sort of environment only perpetuates further the false idea that it's okay to just phone it in. Happy employees who know their shit and actually want to do the work are the best kind of investment a company can make.

Having stability and having love for your craft are not mutually exclusive.

Comment: Re:No (Score 1) 288

by dristoph (#43429315) Attached to: Top Coders Tell Agents, "Show Me the Money!"

Desperation doesn't produce quality work. I've been hired on emergencies fixing problems for a company full of replaceable "-ian cogs" who simply could not deliver. They needed a ringer. I made sure my price was justified and pretty much saved their asses. And that's why they've hired me back since on further gigs which were not of such an urgent nature, even though I'm far more expensive than the massive cubicle farm of "-ian cogs" already under their employ.

How does that fit into your perspective?

Comment: Re:can I get (Score 2, Informative) 288

by dristoph (#43429053) Attached to: Top Coders Tell Agents, "Show Me the Money!"

I figured someone would make this claim. Sorry, you've got the wrong guy! I'm actually the CTO of an entirely different company: http://sweetstak.es/ As such I haven't had a whole lot of time for freelancing, so I haven't worked with 10x in a few months, but I do give my honest recommendation. I hope more talented engineers can make the leap to freelance work, which can be far more rewarding than working the wrong salaried position.

Comment: Re:can I get (Score 1) 288

by dristoph (#43429031) Attached to: Top Coders Tell Agents, "Show Me the Money!"

It's certainly analogous to a consulting firm, but not so much in the vein as a place like ThoughtWorks or Pivotal Labs. You're still very much a freelancer, and the work isn't guaranteed like at a consulting firm. You don't get a paycheck every two weeks; you get what you earn in billable hours until the gig is finished. The agency model certainly isn't new. I've worked with one before 10x which actually specialized more in representing designers and UX types, but a company they were working with had an emergency need for a fast front-end engineer and I got roped in by a friend who they represented. I would say that 10x is the first agency model I've seen myself which specializes in software development, but I'm sure others are out there.

Comment: Re:can I get (Score 5, Interesting) 288

by dristoph (#43428971) Attached to: Top Coders Tell Agents, "Show Me the Money!"

Without getting too detailed, I'll say that they've negotiated rates for me which are above what I'd get on average representing myself, even after their cut. Considering that I didn't have to do any of the extra work of finding the gig, negotiating the contract (besides specifying what I will and won't do in general terms), handling the paperwork, or invoicing, it's been a very profitable arrangement for myself. If you've done a significant amount of freelance work, you'll well know that this extra overhead cuts significantly into your time.

Comment: Re:Can we just have unions already? (Score 2, Insightful) 288

by dristoph (#43428739) Attached to: Top Coders Tell Agents, "Show Me the Money!"

I'm probably one of the guys who gets paid the big bucks to fix the code you write in the drudgery that you call your career. Seriously, if that's your attitude toward the craft, then you can't possibly be very good at it. I don't doubt for a second that it would be easy to replace you with anyone from any country ever. There are all kinds of problems with outsourcing development work, but they don't stack up to nearly the same problem as a developer putting code into production without a drop of passion or pride for his/her work.

Comment: Re:I was wondering when this was going to happen. (Score 1, Interesting) 288

by dristoph (#43428723) Attached to: Top Coders Tell Agents, "Show Me the Money!"

I've done work with 10x Management in the past year, and I can attest that it is well worth it to have them as an extra pair of eyes looking out for your next gig. They also handle negotiation, mediation, and making sure your invoices are fulfilled as agreed. Definitely worth it. If you want to get in touch with them, let them know Chris V gave you the recommendation. :)

Comment: Re:can I get (Score 5, Interesting) 288

by dristoph (#43428695) Attached to: Top Coders Tell Agents, "Show Me the Money!"

10x Management has found me gigs in the last year, after I'd been doing freelance Rails work for the year prior to that. I can tell you one thing for sure, there is a big difference between their agency and your typical headhunter. Ever try finding an actual short-term contract gig through a headhunter? It doesn't happen. Headhunters are not incentivized for that sort of thing. They want to get you into a full time position so they can score a percentage of your salary as a reward. So it follows that they aren't really looking out for the needs of freelancers.

10x Management, on the other hand, gets a cut of your hourly rate; they're setup for exactly what a freelancer needs. They do a great job of representing you in negotiations so you can earn as high a rate as possible, which of course increases their own cut as well. And they're always looking for new gigs for you so you don't have to. If you're not getting paid, neither are they, which makes for a much more rewarding long-term relationship compared with a headhunter who just wants to get you placed in some salary, take their cut, and move on. 10x also takes care of the dirty work that comes with freelancing, from invoicing and making sure you get paid as agreed to mediating if expectations are not met on either side of the relationship. I feel that eliminating the burden of the administrative drudgery that comes with freelancing is alone well worth their cut.

Overall, I understand your cynicism, especially since an agent and a headhunter look quite similar on a superficial level, and I certainly share your disdain for the vast majority of headhunters. But, in this particular case, I would say that cynicism is unwarranted. Headhunters and freelancers just don't mix. Speaking from experience, 10x has done a good job of filling that gap.

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