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Comment Re:The human fund (Score 1) 337

You're both right. I do servers and embedded systems (yes, I know, opposite ends of the spectrum; makes life interesting) as a contractor (in SF bay area) and it's great, however I'm aware that's because (a) live here where there's a ton of tech jobs, also salaries are high which means you can charge even more as a contractor, and (b) I have a diverse set of billable skills which a lot of companies round here find some use for. Works well for me, and yes, I think job security is a bit of an illusion anyway.

However - much respec' to Chip Design dude; that's a real career-long skill to build up; clearly very interesting and - to a limited number of employers - a highly valued skill. You clearly need to specialize to excel at that job, and I bet experience counts for a whole hell of a lot when each mask set costs millions. I have friends in biotech who are equally highly specialized and they have had similar issues with limited range of job options.

Yay geekin'

Comment Re:Patience with the yonge ones :-) (Score 1) 435

I know you're joking but (as a huge convert to Python) the whitespace thing seems crazy/annoying for about 20 minutes, then you get used to it, and after a week or two (especially when reading other people's code) you realize how great it is. Consistent formatting is a huge win for productivity, I now love it.

Comment I'm 48 - fuck the concept of "older programmer" (Score 1) 435

..been doing this since I was 16, and I don't think my geekin' skills have degraded in the slightest, and I learn new technology all the time. I've been doing purely contract work for the last decade (for a variety of companies) - where you're judged entirely on the quality of your output, as well as being required to adapt to new things on a regular basis (which is why I like it so much). Personally I'm glad I'm not a long-term employee of a company because that's what causes atrophy IMO, as well as it'd probably make me worry more about job security. As a contractor however I _have_ no illusion of job security, so not a problem :-)

My eyesight has recently started going downhill, but that's what glasses are for (and microscopes, I do embedded systems so lots of soldering 0402's and suchlike). Other than that, doing great. :-)

Comment Nope (Score 1) 124

Not impressed - too little storage to do much of use easily. "Easily" being the active word here; sure I've programmed lots of things with less Flash than that but it's about ease of use in a linux environment. A few meg is no fun at all to work with when there's the _potential_ for installing a ton of nice packages but you'll run out of space instantly.
Get a C.H.I.P. ($9) which uses a much more capable CPU (Allwinner H3) also has wifi & BT but vastly more RAM and (especially) Flash, more i/o, it's streets ahead. Or an Orange Pi (good) or a Banana Pi (personal fave but a bit long in the tooth now; but has Gig-E, SATA, 3x USB host ports etc)...

Saving the price of a latte to get something vastly inferior to the above options isn't worth the sweat IMO.

Comment $100 BLE sniffer? No, $39 (Score 1) 87

You want the Nordic nRF51-DK, a devboard which, when loaded with some free Nordic-provided firmware, is a most excellent BLE sniffer ("nRF-Sniffer") - plugs into Wireshark. You can probably lash one together for less than $39 (it's just an NRF51822 and a USB-UART) but this board is quite tasty.
Anyway, $39 online. Highly recommended, I use it all the time.
https://www.nordicsemi.com/eng/Products/nRF51-DK

Comment Re:no duh (Score 1) 65

Alternatively, you just acquire yourself a decent collection of parts (from china via ebay) and there's practically no delay when building a proof of concept device. For well under a hundred bucks you can get sets of _every_ standard resistor and capacitor in 04-, 06-, 08- and thru-hole. Basically the components are so cheap you can have at least two* of everything you might reasonably need. Sure, there's often some specific chip or other you need, so digikey works great for that.

* Pro tip - never EVER buy one of something unless it's seriously expensive. Two is the bare minimum if you value your time and sanity (when debugging you have spares so you can swap-and-test parts, or if you simply fat-finger your board and blow something up).

Nowadays I find when I take on a project (I do hw+sw dev) literally the first thing I do is spend a couple of hours and a couple of hundred bucks (tops) on ebay buying a fairly wide variety of components/modules that are candidates for what I think I'll need. They trickle through my mailbox over the next couple of weeks and any surplus just goes to enhance my stash of components. The dollar cost of unused parts is negligible, and it's great for when I get crazy ideas for Burning Man projects :-)

Comment Re:Competing at Timbuktu rates (Score 1) 318

You do have to be especially good at what you do, and ideally in a niche that isn't too saturated (I avoid doing HTML, JS etc, partly because I fucking _hate_ that shit and partly because there's a ton of people doing it all around the world).

Personally my rule of thumb is "if it has a user interface more complicated than two buttons and an LED, I'm not working on it". The bug reports you get on UI stuff are the worst, e.g. "make the font bigger", "make the font smaller again", "move that button to the left", "it doesn't look right on IE4" etc etc etc. Ugh.

I did get a bug report on one firmware gig which said "make the LED more yellowy"; fortunately I was able to comply (it was a bi-color LED and I pwm'd it)

Comment I've done it for a decade (Score 1) 318

I do contract work so my 'employers' don't get the option of having me in the office; it's not something I offer.
I live in the middle of San Francisco so there's many jobs I could reach with a minimal commute (or on a Google/Apple/etc bus) but I choose not to because I really like working from home. I do a mixture of hardware+software jobs so I have a well equipped man-cave with everything my geekin' heart desires, all purchased with pre-tax dollars as well a chunk of my cable inet and rent being a business expense. This doesn't suck at all.
I get to pick the jobs I do; tending to alternate between doing cloud server work and embedded systems work (the opposite ends of the spectrum in many ways) which keeps things interesting; I hugely enjoy the work I do, so motivating myself to put the hours in isn't a problem.

I'm fortunate to be on my wife's health insurance which otherwise would be a significant expense. We have a 4.5year old daughter and WFH means I'm around in the mornings and evenings to do school runs and help out, which contributes greatly to domestic harmony as well as being fun. Typically I'll work 9.30am till 5.30 and very frequently squeeze in a 10pm-2am shift as well (like I say, I enjoy my work a lot).

I really enjoy not having to attend pointless meetings or do tedious commutes :-)
I use Google Hangouts a lot for work stuff; it's definitely better than pure voice chat because you can see if everyone's paying attention, but most communications is email and text chat. Github is fantastic for distributed working both for the obvious reasons but also because it allows less-technical management types to see who's been doing what and be reassured progress is being made.

Another big win is vacation time; I simply go whenever it suits my family, not at the whim of my employer. Most of the time I'll take a laptop with me and be available for some working hours, sometimes I'll go off for longer periods (e.g. several weeks with my folks in Australia) and set up a mini home-office there.

It's not for everyone, especially if you're the go-stir-crazy-at-home type who wants company, but it's perfect for me; recently I interviewed for a "real" job and got some decent offers but realized I really didn't want to compromise on many of the above advantages of WFH - especially being around mornings and evenings for my daughter (in most coding jobs it's not 'the done thing' to leave at 5pm).

Overall I think the whole WFH thing is much easier to swing if you can do contract work rather than be an employee.

As for finding gigs - here's a trick I learned; interview for a few full time in-office positions in your chosen field. When you get a full-time job offer, very politely decline it and offer to do the same work but as a contractor. In some cases they won't bite, but frequently they will; their logic being:
a) We would have hired this guy full time so we've vetted him and want him to work for us
b) It's about the same price (I price myself at what appears to be a fairly high rate as a contractor but once you subtract the cost of providing me an office, benefits, paid vacation etc, it's about the same)
c) It's commitment-free - if we don't like the work we don't have to fire him we just don't give him more tasks.
d) We need someone to do X right now; let's give it to him and see how it goes, we can still look for a full-time employee
So it's not actually the bait-and-switch it appears to be, you're actually doing them a favor :-)

I typically find that I have more contract job offers than I can do; previous clients frequently call you up out of the blue when they need something doing or recommend you to others.
Finally, there's a lot of mental freedom with this approach, rather than your manager saying "I need you to..." they say "do you have time to..."; it's much more respectful. Also I'm never afraid of losing my job; because I do a fairly wide variety of different things my resume is pretty colorful and I'm not a one trick pony.

Comment What is his logic here.. (Score 1) 200

Step 1: Work on hacking (at the very least gathering extensive info about hacking) various militarily and safety-sensitive systems
Step 2: Boast about it, publish lots of findings and clues for others
Step 3: Piss off government of country where you are resident
Step 4: Get multiple private warnings from govt to keep your nose out
Step 5: Repeat steps 1 + 2
Step 6: Be surprised when govt gives you a slap.
Step 7: ...er.... Profit?

Comment Something python has taught me... (Score 1) 677

...is that consistent indentation makes code vastly easier to read and much harder for bugs to hide in; I imagine pretty much everyone nowadays uses auto-indentation when writing C code, which if course is curly-bracket based. If you use "GOTO" suddenly your indentation doesn't match your program flow; it's asking for trouble.
For the same reason I try to avoid doing a "RETURN" in the middle of a function where reasonable (if I need to bail due to an error etc I try to do it right at the start of a function before any of the meat)
That just leaves "BREAK" as a program-flow-modifier and I can live with that just fine.
I don't think I've _ever_ used GOTO in several decades of programming C.

Comment THERE's yer problem (Score 1) 136

I got as far as "... setting PHP config options.." and your issue became clear.

I'm a fairly well-qualified PHP hater having spent/wasted several years on it. Anyway, Vagrant is excellent. If you were to see the light one day and say use Python, you'd be using virtualenv, which would also greatly reduce your pain.

Comment Re:Not python (Score 1) 648

Completely disagree; having spent decades writing in many languages, when I first used Python I thought "WTF this enforced whitespace stuff is ridiculous" - for about two days, then the lightbulb went on in my head and I realized the supreme joy of having everyone's code use the same formatting; It's a huge win for code readability. IMHO the syntax doesn't suck at all; it's very productive, concise and clear IMO.
Python is also (with some corner cases) extremely portable; I switch runtimes between Win/OSX/Linux all the time and the code Just Works.
It's not an absolutely perfect language but it's damn near close enough for me.

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