Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment We had this problem. We solved it. (Score 4, Informative) 167

I work for a 5-person tech cooperative. We were writing code, documentation, etc. that we wanted to contribute back to the community. So out of our "profit", we made sure that we set aside some funds for our members to spend some of their time abstracting code, packaging it up for release, etc.

The basic principle is the same for a freelancer - you have to raise your rates. Are you charging $100/hr? Charge $110/hr. Use the extra money to pay yourself to package up the code.

In terms of "useful tricks" - well, as a freelancer, you don't have the privilege of someone keeping you honest to your goals. You can change your personal rules whenever you want. But frankly, I would say my co-op has made a net PROFIT on open sourcing our material. When we open source it, we post about it on our blog, Twitter, etc. This increases our referrals from other developers, it means more folks are finding us on the search engines, we gain credibility with other developers when we need them to fix a bug in their module. Maybe the "trick" is to remind yourself of those advantages.

Comment I was in your shoes. (Score 2) 523

I'm also a self-taught geek, and now I am part of a Drupal/CiviCRM shop with three other folks, all self-taught. We do very well, and just made a job offer to a fifth person, also a self-taught Drupal dev. Here's some thoughts from the other side of the interview table.

A few thoughts:
* Getting hired in the Drupal world as a self-taught geek is way easier than in most corners of the IT world. There's lots of small employers, and there are ways to demonstrate your skill that don't involve certs.
* Drupal is a fast-moving product - we want to know that you know the latest tools. Have you developed in Drupal 7? If you're doing theming/front-end, what's your experience with Sass/Closure/etc.? Basically, if you're not plugged into the Drupal community, it's difficult to be up-to-date. So YES, go to DrupalCon, Drupal meetups, etc. - and make sure your prospective employer knows it (if you're looking to get hired by a Drupal shop)
* The most important part of being hired is networking. Not what but who you know, etc. Another reason to hit the Drupal community gatherings.
* I'll echo what other folks said about needing a portfolio. If you don't have one, make one. Seriously.

When hiring, we asked for folks' Drupal.org usernames, and we looked at their history. Seeing that you've made a non-trivial patch to a major module counts for a lot. Seeing that you know how to make a comprehensive and useful bug report means you'll get better responses when you're working on our projects. We asked about community involvement, as a measure of a) seeing how up-to-date folks were, and b) determining if their contacts in the community will help in a pinch - our good relationships with key Drupal devs has certainly helped us in emergencies. It also means we've been referred work (particularly because we specialize in Drupal/CiviCRM). We looked at portfolio - especially important if you want to be a themer.

Finally - one problem we had with hiring folks in your position was a lack of experience with tools used for working in groups. Familiarize yourself with at least one of the popular project management tools used in the Drupal community (I'd suggest Redmine, Open Atrium, or Basecamp). Learn git. Brush up on CLI tools like drush and ssh if you don't know them already. I think it's telling that the person we offered the job to was self-taught, but was already working in a small shop. A self-taught person with experience with the tools I listed above would have closed the gap that advantage brought to her.

One more thing, I guess - there've been a lot of good arguments for self-employment on both sides of the debate in this thread. Consider the middle option of being semi-self-employed. Moonlight doing Drupal dev. I moonlighted as a freelancer, and brought my day job from full time to part time to gone.

Comment Re:Bimonthly release cycle == overhead? (Score 1) 555

It sounds like you have a domain but not Active Directory. I suggest you check outwpkg, and install it on a server you have hanging around. Use winexe (if you have a Linux server) or psexec (if Windows) to push the command to run the wpkg script - and wpkg will handle your updates for you. I manage almost as many machines as you describe, spread out at about 10 different businesses. Upgrading Firefox etc. takes about 3 minutes, including downloading the package, updating my XML, pushing it out to a test group, and pushing it out more widely a few days later.

Note that wpkg also works even if you don't have a domain - you just can't deploy it remotely. Send those undergrads around one last time to install it. Trust me, it's worth it - far more flexible than Active Directory (though the two complement each other nicely).

Comment Re:I'm bombarded.... (Score 1) 408

> Raw data has no agenda

In principle I agree with you, and I have no patience for those who use no raw data at all. I also think two people could reasonably disagree about the comparative importance of data sets. The U.S.A. has a high standard of living compared to other countries, but also has a large wealth gap compared to most industrialized nations. Which of those facts is more important? Reasonable people can disagree about this - even get angry that you privilege the "wrong" raw data.

I'm also not convinced that the "nutters" are any further out there than reasonable folks on both left and right. There are very smart thoughtful folks on both the left and right who read raw data. Many of them hold views every bit as radical - and opposite from one another - as the "nutters" of their political wing.

As disagreeable to me as some of the extremists on both sides are, I don't conflate the "shouting match" politics with radical politics generally. For instance, Slashdot's tilt on the MPAA/RIAA (or COICA) is far out of the mainstream, but despite being a fringe opinion, it's well thought out, backed with raw data, and I find more reasonable than the approach from both mainstream left and mainstream right.

Comment A few more protips I forgot (Score 1) 378

Reading through others' comments, I remembered:
- In NYC at least, there's a city-wide censorware blacklist run by the Board of Ed. If that's the case where you are, find a way to bypass it, immediately. There were constant mishaps. For example, one teacher had a curriculum based around students' use of Goodreads. One day early in the term, goodreads.com got blacklisted as a social networking site. Many phone calls to the censors were needed.

- It's much easier to troubleshoot issues if the students all use one login - "student" works well.

- Students shouldn't be able to save files to their local desktop. That said, sometimes the network will be down and they need a way to save their work. Flash drives aren't an option in that environment.

- Having a way to update to the most recent version of Flash is often a surprisingly necessary thing to do. Most of the content at www.pbs.org, for instance, is Flash-based.

Slashdot Top Deals

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.