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Comment: The #1 important IT personal attribute... (Score 2) 277

by the-build-chicken (#44443449) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is Tech Talent More Important Than Skill?
don't be a dick

It's what I tell all my students who ask for career advice, what tech to study, how to succeed in IT etc etc etc.

In an industry full of people with big 'ol chips on their shoulders about how special they are for knowing what a variable is, many of which have zero social skills or charisma, zero ability to see other people's/department's point of view, and where not an inconsequential amount are "on the spectrum"... just being a good guy (or gal) that makes your client's lives easier instead of harder and does it daily with a smile, a laugh and a warm handshake, is far more important than any technical skill/talent.

Comment: There is actually a way to do this... (Score 1) 524

....but you have to be a lot bigger fish than you are.

Outsourcing generally comes in two flavours "time and materials" or "fixed price quote". Small contractors will generally always go TM, but medium sized consultancies like to chase FP because taking on more risk equate generally to more reward.

I've worked for a few investment banks that have large internal development teams, but still outsource certain components of work to FP companies...which components? The high risk stuff...that stuff that is technically complex and likely to end up with a high defect count.

So, you identify the stuff that's going to be high risk, you shop it around to small shops that want to increase their profile by working with [insert multinational name], you get them to do a fix price quote...and here's the trick, you get your team of lawyers to draft an absolutely iron clad contract with specific UAT milestones including acceptable defect rates/priorities and knife edge specific definitions for each defect type/priority....you also include tiered financial penalties for missing milestones and/or metrics, ensuring that top level penalties are capable of recovery of monies over and above the total cost of the contract as required to cover things like marketing campaigns that had to be pushed back, opportunity costs, re-engagement etc etc. You then have your lawyer brief the testers on what they're trying to break, and what financial penalties get enacted if they do. If you have good enough testers you can really screw down the cost of delivery.

So:

1) Get realistic about what someone will charge you to take on all the risk of your product. Risk and reward go hand in hand in life, if you don't want the risk, you're gunna pay.
2) Get a bigger name....consultancies will drop their quote to get a known brand on their books.
3) Get better lawyers (yes, multiple)....you're gunna need them for the multiple drafting of the contracts and the ensuing law suit if you're looking to enact penalties.

or...you could just realize that TM means exactly that, pay your contractors what both you, and they, know they're worth and be thankful that they even work for you, because without them you're a very small fish with a pretty spec that's worth nothing to no one.

Comment: response from a doctor (Score 1) 486

by the-build-chicken (#43761025) Attached to: Larry Page: You Worry Too Much About Medical Privacy

I just told my wife about this story, her response:

"What kind of idiot said that...the whole reason for privacy is so people feel comfortable telling their doctor anything and everything that may be relevant...there has to be trust and doctor/patient confidentiality is crucial to that trust"

Comment: teach him gleefully! (Score 2) 292

So, I'm also a high earning contractor whose wages are consistently 30% above market rates, and have been for as long as I can remember...I also have (paid for myself) obtained complementary teaching qualifications so I can offer exactly what you're describing as a "value add" service to my clients. I always have a new contract waiting for me at the end of the current one, I've never been unintentionally unemployed (I like to sit on the beach a lot), I'm regularly re-hired by the same clients that have used my services previously, and usually they bid against each other for my services, I don't work very hard (can't remember the last time I even said the word "overtime") and I make buckets of money...why?

Because I approach every single contract with the view that at any point I could get a better offer somewhere else and I don't want to burn the current bridge. Every single thing I do, be it code, or architecture, or business process modelling, or teaching/mentoring is highly documented, and at least one full time staff member has had a walk through to the point where, in a pinch, they could get by without me. And every single client appreciates my approach and recommends me wholeheartedly to their business buddies.

"Knowledge lockin" is a petty and small way to build a career...if you have to rely on it, eventually you will have no career (I have seen it over and over again...cushy contractor locks in his position through knowledge bargaining rather than services provided and sure, he gets 5, maybe 10 very stressful years out of it...then his career is toast)

And teaching is fun...remember, that kid you teach today is going to be the project manager signing your very hefty invoice tomorrow. Many of the "kids" I taught at one point are now in very senior executive positions...who do you think they recommend when the job has to be done right?

And finally, the ethical aspect. My art teacher once said to me "Everything you learn in life is taught to you by someone...to die without passing that knowledge on is stealing from humanity."

My advice, don't just teach that kid...teach the hell out of him...make it obvious that you're more than happy to do it. Understand that, once a contract is coming to an end, it's a natural and expected part of the development cycle for your client to want to fund the maintenance of the project in a more cost effective manner (and who the hell wants to get stuck doing maintenance anyway?). And go out of your way to make it as visible as possible that you understand that part of the development cycle and are enthusiastic to have done such a great job at design that maintenance can be handle by a graduate. And through all this, keep asking...referrals, referrals, referrals.

Comment: Re:Every new medium is always snubbed by the snobs (Score 5, Interesting) 65

It's a bit reductionist to say that it's just because they're 'snobs'....the way it was explained to me by my art teacher is thus:

There are artists, and there are artisans...artists create art, artisans create craft...the yardstick used [in the art world] to differentiate the two is the ability to reproduce the work given the same skills, equipment and environment.

Take for example, two metal workers...both with the same training, equipment, environment and requirements...likely it will be difficult to spot too much of a great difference in the resulting product. Same goes for photography...same camera, settings, direction, time of day, physical location etc...you end up with the same shot (as this article eludes to)....very difficult to tell the difference between two works of craft produced in the same way.

However....you take two draughtsman (sketch artist, not architectural)...with the same years of experience, give them the same pencil, same paper, same light, same subject.....you get vastly different results. Same for painting.

Interestingly, before Rodin, sculpture was considered a "craft"....he showed that it wasn't.

IMHO, the jury is still out on photography...with film it had an small element of art because of the nature of the development process...with digital, it's really hard to argue that it's not a craft.

The most telling point I think is that, if you talk to a artist (classically trained painter, sculptor or draughtsman) who is also a great photographer...he/she will usually not classify his photography as art, usually as craft....in fact, even the greats like Ansel Adams used to get angry when people called his work 'art'....he saw himself as an artisan and historian more than anything.

Classically trained artists sound like snobs sometimes because of the wholesale trivialization of their hard won skills....Donald Trump calls contract negotiation an 'art', I've heard some programmers call coding an 'art'...everyone calls what they do an 'art'....go spend 10 years trying to master classical portraiture and you'll see why those classifications are just laughable on all fronts.

But that's just the view of this programmer, classically trained portrait artist, sculptor and photographer :)

Comment: Mod Up? - it was earned! (Score 1) 183

by the-build-chicken (#37595828) Attached to: Mass Piracy Lawsuits Come To Australia
Company directors are Richard and Matthew Clapham, both live on the gold coast....if you're interested, the ASIC registry has their home addresses (I won't post for privacy reasons), Movie Rights Group Pty Ltd is a home business at Richards address, interestingly, the houses sold a couple of month ago for $1.1M so there's an online tour - reaaaaaly nice house :) (tisk tisk, didn't update ASIC records)

I can't find anything on them online, so I don't know what they mean by "15 years in IT"

Comment: Information Black Hole? (Score 1) 183

by the-build-chicken (#37595320) Attached to: Mass Piracy Lawsuits Come To Australia
Seems there's really not much information on this "Movie Rights Group" - a website with an anonymous host with minimal functionality and some buttons not working (and according to wayback, barely touched since created last year), a spokesman who's linkedin profile jumps from "Australian Air Force - 1980" directly to "VP Sales & Marketing Movie Rights Group - 2010", a head office in a suite off broadwater on the gold coast (not exactly the bustling commercial hub of Australia!).

Interestingly, the original website has this wonderful snippet (god I love wayback)

"If, however, you decide not to settle and wish your matter to be heard in Court, we strongly suggest you engage a lawyer as soon as possible. Be aware that you may be exposing yourself to civil damages of up to USD$150,000 plus costs, per infringement."

However I guess when this story broke they thought it would be safer to change it to

"If, however, you decide not to settle and wish your matter to be heard in Court, we strongly suggest you engage a lawyer as soon as possible."

I guess my internet investigation skills are not l33t enough to find much real information on the company :)

It would be interesting to know if this is a proactive launch by the MPAA into Australia, or is this just some guy who saw what was going on in America, set up a website, flew over there and shopped around until he got a client who thought "why not, this guy wants to take the risk, we know nothing of Australia" - he's not even a law firm as far as I can tell (he's using a Brisbane one).....the website claims "the directors" have been working in IT for over 15 years, anyone from Brisbane/Gold Coast worked with this guy or know the directors?

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr

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