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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.

Comment It's not about HW sales, it's about usage... (Score 2) 328

I'm still (very regularly) using my 2013 Nexus 7 and my kid loves her 2011 IPad and they both work perfectly. Tablets age rather well; performance and display res have been more than good for several years, and they don't get dropped down the toilet/left in a bar as much as phones.
It would be much more useful to see data from Apple/Google on daily device usage...

Comment I would hate Comcast but... (Score 1) 258

My Comcast cable connection is fucking fast and regularly gets faster. I noticed 100Mbps downstream a couple of days ago - good thing I purchased a router with gig-e - when I'd tested it a few months earlier I was clamped at 60Mbps which was still in the "doesn't-suck" category. With that kind of performance (and excellent reliability) I just can't hate them.

Comment Re:Actual PhD students getting slandered? (Score 2) 448

Did he say if he'd seen a working device, or confirm anything other than that it was him that appears on the KS page? Verifiable details from the creators are exceedingly thin on the ground. If you'd like to screencap your email and post a link to the image, that would be great. Thanks.

Comment Re:Actual PhD students getting slandered? (Score 1) 448

Wotao popped up (long ago) on the KS comments thread and basically said "I'm an investor but I can't really talk about anything". He also replied to direct emails to his uni email, confirming his involvement. One person who contacted him, reported him (not seen the email) as admitting he's not yet seen a working device.

I think he probably got pulled in as an investor (and to add credibility) and probably now rues the day he said yes. We'll see. Either way, at this point Google searches won't forget his involvement.

Comment Re:Thanks for the tip! (Score 1) 448

The thing also needs (most of its) power to run a Bluetooth receiver (+accelerometer), which typically uses 10-15ma @ 2V (=20-30mw) when in _receive_ mode. The duty cycle is short but waking up every 5 seconds to see if the tag is being pinged isn't typically something you'd power with leprechauns (unless they were made of lithium).

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