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Finding Programming Work on the Side? 181

vistaconfig wonders: "I work as a developer for a certain fairly small company. I'm very happy with my work/pay and I wouldn't consider changing my job. However, I find myself bored at night since I never take any work home (as per the boss's orders). Since I'm not capable of working without some kind of motivation, I'm trying to find some kind of a side job that pays whatever money, and has deadlines (that's the only way I can work, unfortunately). There doesn't seem to be a website for side jobs. I'm willing to take something on, but I don't know where to go. How do other Slashdot readers deal with finding the side job in the first place? "
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Finding Programming Work on the Side?

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  • OMFG (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Le Marteau ( 206396 ) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:34PM (#15546250) Journal
    However, I find myself bored at night since I never take any work home (as per the boss's orders).

    You are bored, because your boss won't let you take work home. You're kidding, right?

    OMFG. What are you working for, anyway? Jesus H. Christ! Go out and HAVE SOME FUN. Meet a WOMAN (or a man, if that's your thing).. Go out and DANCE. Go to a production of something. Take some music lessons. See a provocative movie about provocative people with provocative people. Learn how to play bridge, backgammon, how to take pictures, how to bluff a Texan out of a pot. But for fuck's sake DO SOMETHING. EXPAND YOUR HORIZIONS.

    Kids these days. Ay carrumba!

    Since I'm not capable of working without some kind of motivation, I'm trying to find some kind of a side job t

    Working? WORKING? What are you, a retard? This is your SPARE TIME. YOUR TIME OFF.

    Find the nearest tall building, and jump. That's my advice, for you are not living and I see very little hope for you.
    • Re:OMFG (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:49PM (#15546316) Homepage Journal
      The social pressure to hate your job is strong enough without you badgering the guy. When are people going to learn that programmers are not labourers. We like to program. Most of the time when you ask a programmer why he hates his job he will tell that a woeful tale about poor management and almost always include the complaint "there's no time to do any actual programming!"

      • Re:OMFG (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:01AM (#15546359)
        So you don't hate your job, that doesn't mean its healthy to do it 24/7. The topic is something that most people wish would happen, to be allowed to leave work issues at work so they can have a life of their own.

        Leave what you do for work at work when you're done at the end of the work day. That way you will continue not to hate your job, you will not begin to loath waking up and having to do it your every waking moment. Use your free time for your interests, for whatever you find enjoyable. If its programming, fine do that but have it be something that is related to your own interests, not what someone who is cracking the proverbial whip at your back tells you to do.

        His boss may even realize this and so to keep a happy and healthy employee he tells them not to take work home with them when they are finished work for the day. Most places only make a show of wanting their employees to keep work and their own free time separate.
        • Re:OMFG (Score:3, Insightful)

          by QuantumG ( 50515 )
          Which is what the guy said. What you enjoys is working on software with a deadline. Some of the most enjoyable working experiences I've ever had was working at a startup and literally living in the office []. Dear god why? Because the company in question was smart enough to keep the management away from the engineers and let the engineers form their own society.
          • Re:OMFG (Score:5, Insightful)

            by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @08:55AM (#15547912) Homepage
            Maybe he should go to school then. I know I enjoyed programming a lot in university. Maybe he already has a degree, but that doesn't mean he can't take more courses. Classes do have deadlines, and often you can be more creative in school than you can be on the job site. Maybe he should be working on his masters or something.
            • That's actually a really good suggestion. Most advanced degrees will involve coding a functional product, at least if you get into a research lab. And while a real job would probably be prohibited by a Non-Compete from your day job, educational coding usually is not, or at least is easier to get an exception for.

              Personally, my other suggestion would be: even though you "know" you can't motivate yourself to work on home projects... try. If you always need some external deadline looming over your head to ge
    • Re:OMFG (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Exactly. I wish I had that problem - bored because of too much spare time!?!

      I'm always busy playing with the kids, cooking nice stuff, learning guitar, watching movies, reading books, doing some photography, taking some walks at local parks, listening to some music, going on short trips, some minor renovation projects, etc. In fact, I wish I had some time for some pet projects of mine (had some ideas of starting a micro ISV sometimes), but the time just isn't there (not counting house chores either)

      I truly
      • and I'm sure I'll be busy with kids and all that stuff when the time comes. But I don't have that now. And like I explained before, I still do a lot of stuff that people would consider "fun". What I don't understand is that people fail to see that I LIKE programming. I don't look for a side job because I'm addicted to work and I need to fill all my free time with work-related activities. I'm looking for it because I'm addicted to and passionate about programming and can't feed that hobby by myself.
        • If you truly love coding, I'd suggest picking an open source project and helping out (or starting one of your own).

          Want a project & deadline?

          Go to []

          I need this thing working completely with amavisd-new 2.4.0 and able to train ham/spam via the web interface by July 31st. A Postfix queue management screen in the admin menu is due by August 15th.

          Get to work . . . . please? :)

          (I'm actually already working on these mods myself, but being a C/C++ guy I'm having to lookup every statement
    • Re:OMFG (Score:5, Informative)

      by vistaconfig ( 788945 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:00AM (#15546356)
      I certainly didn't expect this reaction. I do have a "life". I live with a woman. I go out, frequently. I read. I travel. I watch movies almost on a daily basis. What the hell else can I do to have "a life". My "problem" comes down to the fact that I work true 40 hours weeks. I also work from home very frequently, thus taking away the waste of time that is traveling to/from work. I think I'm lucky in that regards compared to other people in my position. I don't work overtime, my projects (at least for now) are managed to the point where I know I will meet my deadlines. Also, call it what you are, but I guess "geek" would be a word that describes me fairly well. I simply like to program. The unfortunate truth is that I can't do it "for myself". I find myself bored with every project I start on my own.
      • Re:OMFG (Score:5, Funny)

        by heinousjay ( 683506 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:10AM (#15546405) Journal
        I'll happily load you up with projects if you like. The pay is nonexistant, and the work won't be interesting, but you'll be helping me earn a nice salary and have more free time.

      • Re:OMFG (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:26AM (#15546463)
        "I certainly didn't expect this reaction."

        Don't take it personally. Lots of people around here rush to judgement, usually looking for a cheap Insightful mod. Once I mentioned that I sometimes go to movies without my girlfriend. There were a bunch of replies to the tune of "You should treat her better!", never once did anybody mention that not all ladies are interested in sci-fi. Heh.

        Anyway, getting back on topic: Do you have any interest in 3D? There are lots of apps out there (Lightwave, Maya, 3D Studio MAX, etc...) that are darned good tools, but there's always something missing. There's always a demand for new plugins, particularly ones that solve annoying problems. This would require some initiative on your part, but if you were to generate a few plugins and put them up on a site, you could make a few bucks on the side. (Paypal's very friendly for this type of work...) It'd take a little investment up front (Lightwave is $800...), and it'd take some time to get going, but you could generate a revenue stream for yourself for a while. I'm not sure if this is the sligtest bit interesting to you or not, but you'd broaden your skillset. There are a variety of things you can do with a 3D app (image processing, UI enhancement, automation, modelling tools, etc.) Might even find yourself working at a movie studio if this gig you have now ends!

        Something to think about. :) Gnite!
      • Re:OMFG (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AstroDrabb ( 534369 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:46AM (#15546550)
        I find myself bored with every project I start on my own.
        So don't start your own. Go to [] and browse by topic or language you like. There are tons of community based projects that could really benefit from someone like you who has free time and likes to code. Do you know C# or would you like to learn? Head over to the Monodevelop [] site and help out. It is a very nice Mono/C# IDE for Linux that is comming along well, though it still needs coders like you to jump in.
        • I'm trying to find some kind of a side job that pays whatever money, and has deadlines

          Doesn't sound like pitching in to an open-source project would really be your thing. It's rare to find one that runs on any sort of stringent deadlines, and rarer still to find one that pays.

          I do have a few suggestions in the line of open source work, though. If you'd like to earn some money, you could try looking for exploits in Firefox and earn $500 a pop with Mozilla's Bug Bounty [] program. In addition, Launchpad lis

      • Re:OMFG (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ELProphet ( 909179 )
        While the GP was a bit... overbearing, he did have a valid gut-level reaction to your post (especially for the /. crowd). If you're making enough money to live on and still play (new hardware/games/dvds) and travel, then myself I'd be thankfull, and join the Iron Butt Association [].

        If motorcycle riding isn't your thing (or MMOs, hiking, kayaking, whatev), and you just *have* to code, then I'd look towards some OSS projects, or something else for fun, and no money. No, there are no deadlines, but if you actual
      • I don't know about getting paid programming work out of your free time, but I can tell you about getting fruitful personal projects: a personal project would only motivate you if it solves your own problems.

        Here is what I do on my free time and why I do it.

        Since I'm a graduate student, I'm pretty acquainted with LaTeX because my job (writing papers) depends on it. So I agreed to typeset a book written by a friend, in Chinese. For that, I'm using XeTeX [], which is an extension of TeX that has very good multili
      • Good reply.

        It's funny but my first reaction was to tell you that you should have included the fact that you already have a "normal life" in your orignal Ask Slashdot question. How strange that the claim "I already have a normal life" seems so unusual here that it feels like you're sandbagging us by not saying it.

        But to answer your question, I suggest that you look into doing some volunteer work on the FOSS project of your choice.

      • Re:OMFG (Score:3, Insightful)

        The unfortunate truth is that I can't do it "for myself". I find myself bored with every project I start on my own.

        Have you considered pursuing training in basic management skills, so that you will be able to follow your self-started projects to completion without losing focus, getting bored, and abandoning them? Now, you don't have to run out and enroll in business school or anything -- a weeklong Learning Tree seminar might do the trick, or a job skills class at a community college.

        Learning to manage you
      • That's what you really want, your job is too comfortable, too predictable, too much happens right. Every once in a while we want and need a project that's crashing and burning but savable, to give us that "mighty mouse" "here I come to save the day" rush and the deeper sense of accomplishment that comes from being able to say "if it was easy, then anybody could have done it, but I had a lot of help from the team". Too many and you become a burned-out crispy critter, too few and you become unsatified and unc
      • Just look for the links to job sites and the job-finding recommendations here. Ignore all the morons with the "great advice" on how to live life. Shit, we're all nerds here reading slashdot. We may know about finding computer-related work, but we know nothing about having real lives. ;)
      • I sincerely apologize.

        I could blame the wine I had at the time, but that is no excuse. I could have made my point without being so inflammatory.
    • Re:OMFG (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      +1 to parent. (BTW, remember the old Captain Kirk/SNL "Get a life" bit?)

      I'll make a different argument, though. Often what makes you productive in your work is experience gained outside of work. This applies especially to crafts like programming, which are as much art as science. What you learn from studying other disciplines will be rewarded in better understanding of and proficiency in your day job. Principles like aesthetics from art, rigor from math, argument and persuasion from literature - these
    • Find the nearest tall building, and jump. That's my advice, for you are not living and I see very little hope for you

      BASE is a pretty severe suggestion just because the guy is bored. Start out slow, like a tandem or something!

    • I fall down on the side of the original posting. Odds are, if he's like a lot of hardcore geeks, this IS what he used to do when he was bored.

      And, if he is like some geeks, it's hard as hell or else just not interesting to do 90% of the stuff you listed.

      I don't give a shit for dancing, because I think it's a useless expedinture of time. I've done horrible in relationships, because I think it's all useless emotional blackmail.

      The "see a movie" advice is plain bad -- a good movie hasn't been released in yea

    • I think you're right :) I've been working for myself, and for free sigh.

      lately, i spent almost 250+ hours working the past few weeks. for myself, and it was crazy.

      working too hard is a danger, because you can loose your mind.
  • by Myself ( 57572 ) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:36PM (#15546261) Journal
    Have you looked at Rent A Coder? That's the first outfit that comes to mind. (As of writing this post, there are no other posts showing, so forgive me if it's redundant.)

    Also check your local (or not-so-local) Craigslist boards, people frequently post there looking for small programming projects.

    Also also, call around to local charities, political groups with whom you agree, and other similar operations. See if you can identify ways their operation could be streamlined, and implement them.
    • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:16AM (#15546424)
      I registered on RentACoder in hopes of basically freelancing as a summer job and eventually abandoned the idea. The site is extremely popular with overseas coders of varying quality (from worse-than-crud to top-notch), many of whom put in bids which are just ludicrously low if you're duplicating them from a base in the US or another first world nation. Take, for example, a project the complexity of an undergraduate CS lab (not an ACTUAL undergraduate CS lab, although there's no shortage of students using rentacoder to cheat that way): I would assume eight solid hours of effort would get this done. I was thinking of bidding in the $100 range -- $12.50 an hour seemed like a pretty fair valuation for my time for a college student with a specialized skill set working as an independent contractor. Within an hour of the project being posted, there were I kid you not a dozen bids offering to do it for $20. Many of them had the feel of a copy-paste job of questionable English skills, but there were some capable individuals in the bunch. I mean, programming for pocket change beats working at McDonalds, but programming for $2.50 an hour... not a worthwhile proposition I don't think.
      • Well, ya know, there's internet in India...
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Yes, you are right! Dialup was popular in India till a few years before. Providers like BSNL, Airtel have started providing broadband (starting at 256kbps), neverthless a good speed to start with. It has pulled quite a lot of students into freelancing...

          I'm an Indian student. I find RentACoder extremely useful. With a week's effort, i can fund my semester. The only problem I face is during transferring funds (from paypal, which takes more than an month). Competition is quite high and that forces peo
      • Don't be too qujick to blame those pesky foreigners. It's also likely that the majority of applicants were simply more skilled than you. The difference between a coder who is still in college and a professional with 5 or ten years of experience is immense.
        You say this was a simple CS lab type project. It is very likely that some of the coders already had usable code in their own library to accomplish the purpose of this task.

        I personally have bid 8 hours on projects which would be considered complete networ
      • by Bonewalker ( 631203 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:45AM (#15548699)
        I've been working through Rent-A-Coder for about a month now. Sure, I get underbid all the time, but I have already had five jobs, all in the $100 range that didn't take much time to complete.

        I have found that many people were glad I was from the US, spoke English, and was available at roughly the same hours as themselves.

        There are plenty of opportunities on RAC, you just have to keep bidding. I highly recommend it.

    • by bscott ( 460706 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:26AM (#15546464)
      > Also also, call around to local charities, political groups
      > with whom you agree, and other similar operations. See if
      > you can identify ways their operation could be streamlined,

      I think that's a very narrow view of your options. Don't limit yourself! You could find a charity or political group with whom you DISagree, and subtly sabotage them... THERE'S your motivation!
  • How about... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by ontheheap ( 824062 )
    Rent A Coder [].
  • by carpeweb ( 949895 ) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:42PM (#15546286) Journal
    I tend to agree with the comment suggesting that you look for something different, like a life.

    However, if that's not feasible (e.g., maybe you need more money; maybe you don't want a life right now), then how about a pet ... project?

    You could work on an open source project. Or you could think of an "unmet need" and code the solution, get some angel money, parlay that into VC funding, cash out and criticize the government full time (on /., of course).
    • Get a life? Some people enjoy programming(/doing things which are constructive), Open Source has come about largely because of this. Do you actually think that enjoying your work is a bad thing? Some people suggest playing video games or going dancing; maybe /they/ should "get a life"?
      • But seriously, if you have a life, who has time for extra programming. I do bring my work home, sometimes.....get around to it almost never when I actually do.....believe me, I enjoy programming/"doing something productive"......thing is, in the real world, there are productive things that aren't programming
        • Thing is, "get a life" is always a dressed up negative phrase to say, "I wouldn't enjoy what you do for fun, so you should obviously come do what I find fun, even if you're miserable doing it.".

          If someone is actually happy what they're doing (actually happy, not moping about doing it), then telling them to "get a life" is counterproductive. What you're really trying to do is make them conform to some ideal that you hold as "proper recreational activities".
      • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @04:59AM (#15547219) Homepage
        The healthy balance is somewhere in between.

        I looked into working on BIG and real stuff in my "free" time a few years back and after balancing the pros and cons I decided not to. If I did take one of the offers I had a few years ago to "code this in my free time" I may have been considerably better off then now financially. Which would have mattered only if I was sane, alive and healthy. There is a limit on what a human brain can endure per day and this limit drops as the years go by.

        There is simply no way in hell I am going to look at a BIG project with a deadline in my free time now. I would rather read a book or spend some time with the family.

        Now, recreational coding is a different matter. Fixing bugs, polishing rough edges on stuff, writing documentation and articles are something BIG OSS projects always fail on. That is what I do when I feel like coding in my free time. It is an activity that you can do once in a while when the weather sucks so bad that it is not worth it to go to the park with the kid(s). It keeps your brain in shape, it is enjoyable and most importantly it is not stressful.

        Most of us get enough shit at work to get additional stress at home after that. Even if you can take it now in 5 years you will not and everyone will still expect from you those 15+ hours of work per day. Worst of all your finances will expect that too.

        It is not worth it.
  • Side work website (Score:3, Interesting)

    by czehp ( 156215 ) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:44PM (#15546299) Homepage
    I'd check out []. It's a good site for finding programming jobs of all sizes and in all fields. I've taken several jobs from the site while in between jobs and on the side.
  • TopCoder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by USSJoin ( 896766 ) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:52PM (#15546329) Homepage
    I, for one, would recommend TopCoder: [] . I am a member (blue-rated), and it's an interesting place; half devoted to algorithm competitions, where you have short timed problems to complete, and half to software development. All of it involves money in some way, either as prize or compensation: I suggest you check it out.
  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:55PM (#15546345) Homepage Journal
    Rentacoder is full of people trying to get cheap work done with a poor idea what they want and no intention to pay at all if they can get away with it. No-one needs Rentacoder to find a programmer. Instead, there should be a site called Rent-a-networker. No, not the kind of networking that involves cables and routers, the kind of networking that involves going to conferences and smoozing. There should be a site where programmers can go, enter their skills and availability and some business guy goes out and finds real customers who need those services. The business guy gets a cut of whatever you make, so he will be trying to find clients that really need your services and are willing to pay top dollar for them.
  • OPEN SOURCE (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:55PM (#15546346)
    If you're happy with your pay, why not join one of the many thousands of open source projects out there that could use your help?
  • Tell the Boss (Score:2, Insightful)

    by homerjfong ( 709647 )
    I don't know your situation, but your boss may think he's doing you a favor. Talk to him, take on more responsibility. Run the company. Do you think there's nothing more to do there? It's a rare company that can't use some extra, motivated, help.
  • STFW? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rinisari ( 521266 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:08AM (#15546393) Homepage Journal
    You [] could [] always [] do [] a [] code [] bounty. []
    • That's an excellent suggestion, but from my admittedly limited research into the subject, there seems to be an awful lot of people with completely unrealistic expectations of how much to offer as a bounty. That's probably fine for students and people in a similar position of having a lot of free time, but not so good for the 9 to 5ers amongst us. I've seen projects that are easily a couple of weeks work with bounties offered of $100 or less.

      That said, it might be worth a person's while if they truly have no
    • In fact, if the poster could take on the SIP encryption bounty on, I would be really happy !
  • by Zzyzygy ( 189883 ) * on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:18AM (#15546432)

    Yup, I was in the same predicament that you're in; home after work, and bored out of my skull. So, I started contracting at night working with a small firm writing accounting software, and with a hotel writing banquet management software. One night when I finally got to bed at two in the morning, my wife looked at me and said "you've been so distant for the past six months, have I done anything wrong?" That broke my heart. I realized that I'd come home from work, eat dinner, and head on upstairs to my home office and code all night.

    It was also affecting my full time job. I was constantly late, and groggy and grumpy until sometime around lunch. My boss at the time finally got tired of the complaints and gave me an ultimatum: fix my attitude problem or find another job.

    I finally realized what an a-hole I'd been to my co-workers and more importantly to my wife. So, I gave up the contracting work.

    What I'm trying to say is that instead of burying your head in coding 16+ hours a day. Take some time for yourself after hours. Hang out with friends. Surprise your S.O. by doing something that's fun, offbeat, and different from your normal routine. To sum it up, enjoy life.

    • Side work is rarely worth it. Most of the time you are going to bust your ass, for what? A couple hundred extra bucks a month? Is that really worth two sets of work deadlines in your life? Side work obligations are usually hard to shed and once you make the decision to stop, you are looking at a good 6 more months of weaning people off.

      Get a hobbiest project. Doesn't have to be OSS, just something cool you like to do. I spend time at work all day writing glue code and database reports. When I get home th
      • It sounds like he's looking for something to fill his time, not make more cash. He likes to program, but can't get himself to do any task without a deadline and self-imposed deadlines don't work. So, a side job is the only thing he can think of. And, please, it's *hobbyist*. The word piece "ist" means "one who" while "est" means the word is a superlative.
      • Re:nods (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

        Side work is rarely worth it. Most of the time you are going to bust your ass, for what? A couple hundred extra bucks a month? Is that really worth two sets of work deadlines in your life? Side work obligations are usually hard to shed and once you make the decision to stop, you are looking at a good 6 more months of weaning people off.

        Get a hobbiest project. Doesn't have to be OSS, just something cool you like to do. I spend time at work all day writing glue code and database reports. When I get home that

    • by Will2k_is_here ( 675262 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:32AM (#15546491)
      I was about to post something similar to this.

      It isn't healthy to mix what you do with your free time with what you do during work hours. There will be unnecessary overlap and it isn't fair to you or anyone else around you (home or work).

      Use your free time to take up another or a new interest. Everybody needs to have variations in their lives.
      • It isn't healthy to mix what you do with your free time with what you do during work hours.

        Just because it's programming doesn't mean it's the same thing. Of course one should have other interests, but if it weren't for hobby programming we wouldn't be having this discussion here today.

        I know guys who have been writing mainframe reports for 20 years, but go home and groove in Objective-C. It's a good way to not lose your sugar-daddy job when they decide to go modern.

        While I'm posting, it would be great if
    • Or you can go the other way entirely - chuck the dayjob in the can, go fully indie, live, eat, breath code, love what you do, and people don't get on your back about it, because you're an entrepreneur, and it's understandable that you dedicate 20 hours a day to your baby.
      • Or you can go the other way entirely - chuck the dayjob in the can, go fully indie, live, eat, breath code, love what you do, and people don't get on your back about it, because you're an entrepreneur, and it's understandable that you dedicate 20 hours a day to your baby.

        Normally a good suggestion, but the original poster indicated a problem with self-motivation, which would probably be a disaster if they went into business for themselves.
        Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, I guess.
    • The question I have to ask is how you got away with that for 6 whole months?!!

      When I met my wife to be, I was at my computer easily 14+ hrs a day. Now after 6 years of marriage, I can hardly get 14 worry free minutes! Worth the trade off to have a loving wife.

      I'd post a link to my wedding site, but last time I did that I got mega flamed... not my wife mind you ... the site uses *gasp* frames. *wink*

  • I'm starting a company and looking for a programmer to write a couple of databases that interact for the website which will sell many products. The pay is small, $500 a month, as we are trying to start it up without the help of greedy investors, but if you can create a good finished product, we are willing to give you a percentage of stocks, so in the future it could be a great investment.
  • Volunteer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smvp6459 ( 896580 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:22AM (#15546447)
    Someone mentioned OSS...but that isn't the only path for free time. Have you ever contacted local non-profits and seen what kind of help they need and if it fits with the type of programming you'd like to do?
  • Ok, how about this? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:45AM (#15546542) Homepage Journal
    I'm involved in a number of Open Source projects (covering crypto, multicasting, reconstructions of genuinely ancient games, etc) and volunteer projects (processing archaeological data, mostly) where there is a desperate need for coders who are determined to get results, who can be given assignments & deadlines, etc. I don't know what sort of bounties I could pony up, but if there are coders out there who would like to be given a nice, encapsulated, well-defined project, I would be more than happy to write up a formal requirements doc, milestones, deadlines, etc.

    I'm probably not the only person who can provide the structure. (There are a bazillion project sites out there, but sites != structure.) There are an amazing number of projects out there. The problem is that there are simply not enough people to go around, and the lines of communication between coders and projects has traditionally been poor. Proper requirements analysis and project specifications are rare to non-existant outside of the best-of-breed elite institutions, paid or otherwise. Most of this is because geeks are often poor communicators, so the projects that are interesting (ie: geek-run) are the ones people know least about, and the ones with the best PR (run by marketing) often have the least novel or interesting work involved in them. This makes it hard to find out what REAL work is out there.

  • Chase what you love, first and foremost. That said, you should surf Sourceforge and sign into one of the projects there. It will help "the cause" of forwarding FOSS.

    If you want extra money, you'll find enough few contract programming jobs (if you're competent) at places like Hire A Programmer [] or Xperts 4 Hire []. There are others but you know how to google, right programmer?

    For example, my side projects include:
    - FOSS Sudoku []
    - Postgres Build machine agent []
    - General BSD OS fiddling
  • by Centurix ( 249778 ) <> on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:56AM (#15546591) Homepage
    While I think the idea of Rentacoder and other bidding sites is good for getting quantity of work through, it's really the wrong type of business model. Basing a service on discounted labour is a short way to make very little money. Not only that, but it de-values your worth. I've been working as an independant programmer for almost 15 years and I've tried a few different ways of finding new work to do, advertising in newspapers, journals, 'door knocking' around businesses with flyers, but by far the best way of getting ongoing well paid work is by referral.

    Getting that first customer is the tricky bit, but once you've done that the rule is simple, when the work is either complete or well under way, ask them for a minimum of three referrals for businesses they know personally who may require work, and ask them to put in a good word for you. Always push for three as it covers the odds pretty well and you're nearly always guaranteed new customers. It's difficult to do initially as it feels awkward asking them for that kind of information, but you have to see if from their perspective, they have a valued service that has helped them and their mates should benefit in the same way. I've never had a customer who was not willing to give me referrals in this way.

    Fix a rate, do some research into the going rate for your area, don't undersell, don't oversell. After a while you get used to spotting risks, be they technical (in most cases you have to guage the amount of technical risk involved, this will aid in contingency) or political risk.

    Don't be afraid to contract other people into the same job with you, just choose people you know, even if they have flaws it's better the devil you know. You can be fussy about the type of work once you have quantity coming through the door, until that point be prepared to do any type of development work.

    The discounting thing is the real point though, don't be tempted to do it. Instead of discounting, reduce your services for the same job. Otherwise you'll find yourself doing the same work for one customer at the discounted rate for 10 years and have a hard job trying to increase your rate.

    Getting that first customer though, not really as hard as you think. I try to avoid working for friends and family, but if you can get references from friends and family that's the next best thing.

    Know your own process. Understand what it takes to go from the handshake to getting paid from an invoice is very important. It's good to know how to gather meaningful requirements, build your own practical specifications, manage customer expectations, managing variations to work and learning to say no at the right time. It's easy to skim over some of these, especially when you first start doing it by yourself, but after a while you realise why they exist and how they can save you time when done right.

    A low priority is insurance, professional indemnity is a good one, cover yourself after a while. Not that you're going to be careless about what you do, but the insurance is there for when you get hit out of leftfield. When you get enough income in to pay for the insurance get a broker and invest.
  • Don't (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    As the subject says.

    Instead of programming in your spare time, find another area of interest and pursue it. You never know when you're going to snap mentally and not be able to write a single line of code again. My employer doesn't know it, but in the last month, I haven't done a thing, and I don't know what will happen when he finds out... I have reached a point in my life where coding absolutely disgusts me. And I'm not alone - many programmers I know are in a similar position, some have even resorted to
  • If it isnt the pay thats important to you, you may want to consider a balance, maintianing much of your free time yet finding new exciting projects to keep you busy where you are part of a team, and expected to fulfill your role in that team. look into a few things like your local LUG (linux users group) or []. both are places always looking for help, and both are worthwhile causes, linux users groups because you can be part of your community, get out and be involved, and still write c
  • Others have suggested finding an OSS project, which I want to add my support for. However you mentioned specifically that you need deadlines. For that I suggest finding a large project that puts out a roadmap and commits to releasing on schedule. I'm a fan of KDE, and right now they are developing KDE4 and porting all the KDE apps to QT4. There is plenty of work to do, and plenty of it can be done in reasonable clumps. Find a small app, convert it, and keep moving on. The QT4 framework seems pretty ni
  • by tallpaul ( 1010 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @02:09AM (#15546789)
    If you use computers, I know that you have run into software that totally sucks. In fact, not only did it totally suck, but every piece of software that came close to doing that thing sucks. Or you have run into wanting to do something that simply no software out there does.

    There are still LOADS of gaps like this anywhere from tiny utility software up to enterprise level stuff. Pick one. Whatever one bugs you the most. Write some really good software. Open source it and sell support. Or don't.. whatever. Just write good software.

    So you need some deadlines to keep you going? Not uncommon. Have someone do it for you (isn't that what you would do by contracting?). Either get yourself a partner (preferably someone who is keen on handling all the _other_ parts of creating and running a company in exchange for the possible rewards) who is also a good deadline-setter and will not let you slack. Or hire yourself a business coach if you do want to try your hand at the other aspects of running a company and just want someone to egg you on.

    Read Paul Graham's essays for encouragement and why starting your own software company is (still) a good idea. []

    Oh yeah - ALSO find yourself another engaging hobby or two. They must involve at least the following:

    Social interaction. Yes you need this. You cannot work in front of a computer at work and do programming all day and then come home and do it all night. Your boss made that rule for a _reason_ . In order for your creative programming side to flow the rest of your mind must be fed. If you just program all day every day for primary job and then your side job your productivity will drop like a rock. This should ideally involve more than one person - a significant other will severely cut into the time you can spend on the stuff you need (socializing with more than 1 person and getting outdoors (see below)). It is a trade off.

    Get out. Out of the house. Out of buildings. Gardening maybe. Or hiking. Bicycling. Whatever appeals really. This is important for all the same reasons that social interaction is. It will tend to give your mind a break from thinking too heavily and the opportunity for creative thoughts to bubble up. It will also keep your body healthier. Not Olympic gymnast healthier. Heck - gardening will leave you a fat slob (if you are, and want to remain so), but it will bring your health up a slight notch nevertheless. If you want to be time-efficient, find a hobby that combines social activity plus getting out - this would possibly allow the space to date. But I do feel that doing something relatively mindless (BUT NOT IN FRONT OF A SCREEN - no video games and no TV. They are not mindless enough) is also fairly important even if it is only for a short amount of time..but regularly. At least once per week. Heck - just sit outside in a lawn chair in the sun and make chain mail. No thought involved, but you get fresh air and sun.

    Remember, the hobby must be engaging enough that you will continue to do it in spite of the pull to spend all of your time in front of the computer. Try out a few and see which one sticks with you for a while. Plop a reminder in your calendar a few months down the line to start the programming part (ie: don't get so sucked into the hobby that it cuts off your original plans). Plop a reminder in your calendar a few months down the line to re-examine your hobby(ies).

    Yes, this will severely cut back on the total amount of time that you spend in front of the computer programming. In fact, you might get only a tiny bit of code done per week (best done in extended-concentration burst I know - maybe one weeknight and 6-8 straight hours on one weekend day). But it will be much higher quality and you will get a LOT more done during that time.

    If you are concerned about the time issues and you happen to watch TV cut it out. Watching TV fulfills neither of the requirements for a healthy body and mind needed for programming. If
  • Side business (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scarblac ( 122480 ) <> on Friday June 16, 2006 @02:38AM (#15546861) Homepage
    Start a side business [].
  • There are TONS of Free Software projects that Need Your help.
    You can impose deadlines on yourself. And you probably should if that is the way your mind works.
    Just make sure that missing the self imposed deadline has some real repercussions.
    No cafeine for a month or something like that.

    Seriously though. Get A Life. Find A Wife. Have some children. Watch them grow. Go with the flow. Try to remain sane til then.

    Children can easily fill your empty hours. They are the most challenging programming (education) pro
  • Contribute to free open source software. There is lots of projects out there. I bet you can find something that interests you. If you are happy with your current salery, then why do you need to get payed for doing it? Be happy that you help making the world a better place when developing free open source software.
  • I'm trying to find some kind of a side job that pays whatever money,

    Why do you need extra money when you say you are happy with your pay,
    and evidently don't have much to spend it on anyway?

    If it has to be computer work, do some for a good cause that needs your
    help, or work on something fun you don't get a chance to wrestle with at
    work, or just make something that you think ought to exist, but forget
    about the money.

    If I can tempt you away from the keyboard for a second:
    Learning a new skill is a good way to p
  • If you're not motivated enough to type "freelance programing" into Google or search Craigslist, you're not cut out for "off hours" contract work. You even say yourself you're not good at self motivation. Do you think your client is going to call you at 11:00 pm to keep you motivated?

    A good contractor is self motivated and can produce quality work without having someone getting in their hair all day. They also have more availability than "after hours". Are you ready/able to handle client communication du
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @06:42AM (#15547448) Journal
    if motivation is your issue then volunteer to help a charity. Good IT help is hard to find for these kinds of operations and you can go to sleep at night happy that you've helped others less fortunate.
  • Well, if you know anything about windows driver programming, why don't you click the link on my sig and help me and my project with what's left to do? Otherwise look at the "jobs" thing (although it's unpaid).

    But huh, as all the others said, you need to get a life, and if you really suck at hookin up with girls in a club or something, find yourself one on Myspace [] or something (whatever people say about Myspace out here it's still the best thing on internet to meet girls), unless you're marri

  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @07:50AM (#15547600) Homepage Journal
    But I will quote Mallrats when I say "What you need is a fatty-boom-batty blunt, and I guarantee you'll be seeing a sailboat, an ocean, and maybe even some of those big-titted mermaids doing some of that lesbian shit."

  • I have been in the same boat you are. As a web developer I have approched small businesses in the area and started a name for myself making them their websites such as the Local bird store (I love my parrots, I have 4) and my brother's company ( - small plug hehe) and a car audio place... Just as an on the side type of jobs... they know I will not update their sites during normal business hours and I make like $500 a site here and there and it keeps me motivated to learn new things a
  • by AppyPappy ( 64817 ) on Friday June 16, 2006 @10:22AM (#15548519)
    I work for the State and we are not allowed to work another job in the same field. I have no idea why or how it would be enforced. I thought about taking my 6 weeks of vacation and going to Iraq as a contractor. Great money. But the university stomped it flat, especially since I was on their insurance. I can understand that.

    So I do volunteer web work for no-profits.
  • There's the old saying about people on their deathbed- no one ever wishes they spent more time at work.
  • To scratch my technical itch outside of work, I work technical theater (among other things). You get to play with geeky toys, and possibly get paid for it, along with the social experience of working in the theater system. If you don't have any experience in it, your local community theater is probably looking for stagehands, from which you could work your way up to sound or lighting.
  • How do I find side jobs? By asking around. Most small (and very tiny) businesses have some needs that you are the prime person to fill. You need to be prepared to "do it all" for Invoice work. That means they will give you a hand wavy requirement (e.g. "We need to have a database on the web for our customers" [note that they most likely don't *know* what a "database" is - they may mean a spreadsheet or something they saw]). It's up to you to write up a requirements doc and give them an estimate. If they'r

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling