Help for Programmer

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Help for Programmer

Postby Cherubino » Mon Dec 19, 2016 5:46 am

Please give me your advice regarding a part of my business dealings, which is: web development. Increasingly I notice the price pressure of oversea companies for example from Brazil, but also continental programmers whore themselves out more and more. Add to that ageism and a general increase in taxation which kills a lot of business opportunities.

The situation is as thus: I am self-employed and everything is fine, I have another leg to stand on, which is sometimes related to the web devel stuff and I don't need to make much money anyway. But. First, I like to program and want to keep it, problem is as it stands now it is not a good investment of my time and effort. In terms of being "sensible" I should ditch it and focus on the other stuff. But I like it too much. In terms of "work" it's pretty much fun.

The other issue is, I don't like to work in big teams. As of now, the web stuff was all small projects or small improvements, the programming team always being me and myself. I's like to keep it that way. So, just getting a job in a bigger shop and becoming an architect or something is off the table.

I guess, the question is, how can I make some dough as a solo-programer without having to deal with too much other crap?
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby deadb0y » Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:47 am

I did the freelance/self employed web dev/programming thing for 15 years and settled for a full timer recently. Doing it freelance is never going to be easy these days because of the things you mentioned (cheap foreign labor and such).

I had a few good retainers (which is increasingly popular) which added up to a decent monthly income for doing pretty much fuck all so retainers, even if they are only £$100 per month.

I was also against the whole team work gig until I actually worked in a team and found out it's actually quite helpful. You know those times when your brain just stops working and not matter how much you try you just can't get that problem solved?? Working in a team solves is for you!

There is also contracting which, if you don't mind traveling and being a way from home, is very lucrative and you also get to do single projects and work on your own a lot!

My biggest bread winner was and still is, believe it or not, old manufacturing machines and production systems (I do other ERP stuff too). There is only a hand full of people that "get" these system and know how to fix them or mod them to talk to newer API's and such. It's kind of a electro/mechanic/code/comms thing!
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Lance » Tue Dec 20, 2016 1:48 pm

Great topic

I have the opposite issue. I work for a company and have thought about freelancing and becoming a solo programmer. Perhaps the grass is not greener on the other side.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Phathack » Tue Dec 20, 2016 2:50 pm

I've been thinking that perhaps freelance was something I should look at. I've been out of full time work for 3 years and need to start generating some income before I go broke.

In the past I was writing code for DSPs and FPGAs but can easily transition to something web based. Java/SQL/HTML etc...

Is there an active market for those sorts of people?


:ugeek:
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Slade » Wed Dec 21, 2016 2:32 am

Phathack wrote:I've been thinking that perhaps freelance was something I should look at. I've been out of full time work for 3 years and need to start generating some income before I go broke.

In the past I was writing code for DSPs and FPGAs but can easily transition to something web based. Java/SQL/HTML etc...

Is there an active market for those sorts of people?


:ugeek:


Python, for some reason, is the hot language du jour. There are jobs for Java programmers, but they will ask for more than just Java knowledge.

The thing is, the days of being a good coder being good enough are over (except maybe in Silicon Valley). Most employers will also want you to have domain knowledge. For instance, if a storage company wants to hire programmers, then you'd better also know SCSI, iSCSI, FibreChannel, internet protocols, nfs, routers, etc., before they will talk to you.

And don't believe for a second the lie that there is a "shortage" of people to hire. There is a surplus, and employers can be super picky about who they hire, and they are. Unless you can walk on water, they aren't interested. And forget about them hiring a smart, quick learner who can quickly come up to speed on new technology. They all want someone who can hit the ground running.

And don't get me started with age discrimination.

One area that is hot now is quality, or "Software Engineer in Test". There are few experienced in it, and most software engineers see it as a step down from being a developer, so they thumb their noses at it.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Lance » Wed Dec 21, 2016 2:50 am

Slade, you are right on all counts. This field is a joke.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby deadb0y » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:38 am

Following on from Slade's post: It's like employers have a list for an ideal candidate and they won't take anything less.

I've been doing this for a long time and have dabbled in so many different programming languages that I've forgotten most of them. It makes no odds to an employer that I say "Never used [insert latest fad language/framework here] but It'll only take a few weeks to get confident, a few months to get really good!" with confidence knowing I'm telling the truth (didn't touch PHP for over a decade, took me just 12 weeks to get fluent in Laravel PHP Framework).. They don't care!


Phathack wrote:I've been thinking that perhaps freelance was something I should look at. I've been out of full time work for 3 years and need to start generating some income before I go broke.

In the past I was writing code for DSPs and FPGAs but can easily transition to something web based. Java/SQL/HTML etc...

Is there an active market for those sorts of people?


:ugeek:


Yes, there is work out there but you have to be dynamic and be prepared to pick up the pieces on half finished projects because there is an awful lot of inexperienced dicks that can talk the talk! You can bid on projects but I've never found that to be beneficial. More beneficial is building relationships with web design firms, they all do dynamic content now. The most lucrative thing is finding an industry you know inside and out and writing a bit of software to suit then selling it on a SAS basis!
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Lance » Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:58 am

deadb0y wrote:Following on from Slade's post: It's like employers have a list for an ideal candidate and they won't take anything less.

I've been doing this for a long time and have dabbled in so many different programming languages that I've forgotten most of them. It makes no odds to an employer that I say "Never used [insert latest fad language/framework here] but It'll only take a few weeks to get confident, a few months to get really good!" with confidence knowing I'm telling the truth (didn't touch PHP for over a decade, took me just 12 weeks to get fluent in Laravel PHP Framework).. They don't care!


Exactly. They want you to hit the ground running....although the fundamentals of most of these languages are the same. It's a race to the bottom.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Cherubino » Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:41 pm

deadb0y wrote:More beneficial is building relationships with web design firms, they all do dynamic content now.

Why should they pick you? What kind of leverage can be developed so that these guys will pick you?


deadb0y wrote:The most lucrative thing is finding an industry you know inside and out and writing a bit of software to suit then selling it on a SAS basis!

This is indeed a good plan. I thought about this too. But then what you are doing is essentially building a small business. You would need customer service, marketing, office, another hacker to help out when you are sick or on vacation. It is a good idea. It is also something that wont be automated away, because that is what you would be doing: automatization of one business function these guys need. You get a piece of the automatization pie. This is exactly the problem with programming, most programmers are working on automatization of their own jobs!

So, good idea, but, it's not a solo-gig for a coder. It's building a small biz, which is a pretty thing, if you can pull it off.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Cherubino » Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:46 pm

Lance wrote:Great topic

I have the opposite issue. I work for a company and have thought about freelancing and becoming a solo programmer. Perhaps the grass is not greener on the other side.

I wouldn't know a single reason why you would want to do that. The thing is - hence this thread - I don't even know how this could exist in the first place.

Building a type of software business, ok. But freelancing? This is something for specialists in very narrow niches. The one guy who is the only living creator who can do that magic thing with the COBOL code we are still running. Or the two best logo designers in the world. Or the copywriter who writes better ads that people actually do click on. Those guys can have a nice freelancing gig. But your run-of-the mill web dev/designer? Forget about it. It will be a constant point of pain.

Well, maybe I am wrong. Prove it to me, if you know something I am not seeing!
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Slade » Wed Dec 21, 2016 3:08 pm

deadb0y wrote:Following on from Slade's post: It's like employers have a list for an ideal candidate and they won't take anything less.


This.

An interview used to be a process where you tried to find out if the candidate would be satisfactory. Someone who could quickly come up to speed and be a productive team member.

These days interviewers are looking for a reason to NOT hire you. In other words, unless you are a 100% perfect fit, you will be rejected. 99% is not good enough.

What is ridiculous about all this is that the hiring organizations are often fubar'd. Their projects are an undocumented mess and most of the original developers left a long time ago and their replacements, the ones who are judging you in the interview, are often incompetent and their projects are crashing and burning. I've been hired more than once into dysfunctional teams like that. Without exception, the projects end up being disasters and are cancelled.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Lance » Thu Dec 22, 2016 1:34 am

Cherubino wrote:
Lance wrote:Great topic

I have the opposite issue. I work for a company and have thought about freelancing and becoming a solo programmer. Perhaps the grass is not greener on the other side.

I wouldn't know a single reason why you would want to do that. The thing is - hence this thread - I don't even know how this could exist in the first place.

Building a type of software business, ok. But freelancing? This is something for specialists in very narrow niches. The one guy who is the only living creator who can do that magic thing with the COBOL code we are still running. Or the two best logo designers in the world. Or the copywriter who writes better ads that people actually do click on. Those guys can have a nice freelancing gig. But your run-of-the mill web dev/designer? Forget about it. It will be a constant point of pain.

Well, maybe I am wrong. Prove it to me, if you know something I am not seeing!


Less politics to deal with, make your own schedule, be your own boss, etc.

I was thinking this: instead of doing projects for a company, you deal with multiple businesses (involved in all phases of the SDLC) and build applications, maybe for a flat fee. Yes I know, easier said than done.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Lance » Thu Dec 22, 2016 1:37 am

Slade wrote:
deadb0y wrote:Following on from Slade's post: It's like employers have a list for an ideal candidate and they won't take anything less.


This.

An interview used to be a process where you tried to find out if the candidate would be satisfactory. Someone who could quickly come up to speed and be a productive team member.

These days interviewers are looking for a reason to NOT hire you. In other words, unless you are a 100% perfect fit, you will be rejected. 99% is not good enough.


Exactly. Reminds me of something called dating.

Slade wrote:What is ridiculous about all this is that the hiring organizations are often fubar'd. Their projects are an undocumented mess and most of the original developers left a long time ago and their replacements, the ones who are judging you in the interview, are often incompetent and their projects are crashing and burning. I've been hired more than once into dysfunctional teams like that. Without exception, the projects end up being disasters and are cancelled.


Too many people are in jobs they are not qualified for. It's amazing how widespread this phenomenon is.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Cherubino » Thu Dec 22, 2016 3:58 am

Lance wrote:Less politics to deal with,

That is probably true. In fact, I have sorted out my own clients according to this criterium first. Sometimes you even can help save a project by delivering straight talk to the boss what all the employees involved can't do.

Also, it depends on what you see as "politics". If it is the maneuvering people do to get that promotion instead of the colleague, yes, freelancing frees you from that. If it is "corporate policies" and such, well, the company is your client and you want to appease your client.

It also depends on the size of the businesses you serve. In most cases, if you go solo, your clients will be small businesses and agencies anyway. They usually are pretty free from politics. (But less stable.)


Lance wrote:make your own schedule,

This is cool as long as you make enough money to do something worthwhile with your free time.


Lance wrote:be your own boss, etc.

The boss is the market. The market gets tossed around by military movements and technological advances. The market itself progresses according to a variety of stuff like demographic factors etc

If you are doing business, the market is your boss. You will have to play nice with stupid people.


Lance wrote:I was thinking this: instead of doing projects for a company, you deal with multiple businesses (involved in all phases of the SDLC) and build applications, maybe for a flat fee. Yes I know, easier said than done.

But it is doable.

The basic concept can fly, but again, after a while you will want to have other people involved. This will become a software business, not a solo-flight. Or you can command such an outrageous fee, that after one project is finished, you can take the time to relax and recharge and than do all that marketing to secure the next gig.

And all this in the sight of Indian outsourcing shops who do everything for cheap and it is always a question whether the "suits" can tell the difference.

This would let me with two questions:

a) What do you have, that the cheap shops from overseas cannot deliver and that the "suits" are willing to pay (high) fees for?

b) What type of business would buy that? And what type of business would buy that from a solo-worker?
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I make a distinction between the oppressor in W., DC and it's main enemy and target: the American people.

"Increasingly, one's humanity is directly proportional to both one's insistence on withdrawal from the herd, and one's intolerance towards ape-like conduct of all sorts." - bem

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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby deadb0y » Thu Dec 22, 2016 6:53 am

Another 2 pence worth.... Again, reflecting on what Slade has been saying. I worked here:

http://www.thetopvillas.com/

late last year for 3 months. The site at that address was over 24 months in the making with a team of 3 devs, a front end designer, a JS/Angular "expert" and a CSS "expert". The "team" was young, there was little to no documentation external or in-line, there was no plan or specification for the job...

Working self complied or as a "lone wolf" in a firm that needs 1 dev/tech IS the only way to go if you want to lead a relatively stress free life as a tech/dev.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Lance » Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:40 am

Cherubino wrote:Also, it depends on what you see as "politics". If it is the maneuvering people do to get that promotion instead of the colleague, yes, freelancing frees you from that. If it is "corporate policies" and such, well, the company is your client and you want to appease your client.


I am referring to backstabbing, manipulation, lying/deceiving, and making oneself look better at someone else's expense.

Cherubino wrote:If you are doing business, the market is your boss. You will have to play nice with stupid people.


Just like when working for a company. :) If your boss is stupid, you can change employers. If your client is stupid, you can fire that client as long as you have other clients.

Cherubino wrote:The basic concept can fly, but again, after a while you will want to have other people involved. This will become a software business, not a solo-flight. Or you can command such an outrageous fee, that after one project is finished, you can take the time to relax and recharge and than do all that marketing to secure the next gig.

And all this in the sight of Indian outsourcing shops who do everything for cheap and it is always a question whether the "suits" can tell the difference.


If you're dealing with small businesses who cannot afford a full time techie, they may prefer to deal with somebody local if you charge a reasonable price.

Cherubino wrote:a) What do you have, that the cheap shops from overseas cannot deliver and that the "suits" are willing to pay (high) fees for?


It's all about cost savings. It's about saving them significantly more money then they are paying you. Maybe these businesses are too small for the cheap shops to deal with. Maybe they would rather pay someone local a little bit more in exchange for added convenience.

Cherubino wrote:b) What type of business would buy that? And what type of business would buy that from a solo-worker?


I don't know if it would be restricted to a certain type of business. You can deal with pretty much any business. Or perhaps find a niche and focus on that. You don't have to tell them you work solo. :)
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby a_real_man » Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:36 pm

Lance wrote:Too many people are in jobs they are not qualified for. It's amazing how widespread this phenomenon is.


It's because jobs are considered a resource nowdays. They are handed out to those who need them (cupcakes, affirmative action, etc.). "You poor oppressed little cupcake, how do you bear all the discrimination!? Here's a surgeon's job, you deserve it and can do it better than any man". It's all in the same spirit as what is happening in academia. For now academia has no competition. But just like the US automotive industry that needed an $85 billion government bailout because they were shielded years ago, it's just a matter of time until a better competitor emerges, like the asian car manufacturers. These interventionalist policy makers don't get the idea of the invisible hand of capitalism. Hence, societal decline and of course the inevitable collapse that occurs from communist-like policies and regulations.

In our society, jobs are no longer considered things that must be done; they are considered things that people get to have.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby No4Dad » Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:52 pm

Slade wrote:Python, for some reason, is the hot language du jour. There are jobs for Java programmers, but they will ask for more than just Java knowledge.

The thing is, the days of being a good coder being good enough are over (except maybe in Silicon Valley). Most employers will also want you to have domain knowledge. For instance, if a storage company wants to hire programmers, then you'd better also know SCSI, iSCSI, FibreChannel, internet protocols, nfs, routers, etc., before they will talk to you.


Seeing that, myself.

One I think is funny is the "full stack" person. The idea is that this person knows everything about everything from HTML, to CSS, to Javascript, to Java, to SQL, to bash...

I've just finished up my 27th year and will tell you it's bullshit that you'll find someone well versed in all of those. You may find someone who's particularly skilled at one or two of those and have touched upon the others, but someone who knows all of that inside and out? That's pretty rare. Hell, most programmers don't know SQL or the command line as a minimum. Still, they ask and, in a way, can command all of that because there really are that many people out of work (unlike the 5% quoted number for unemployment).

I've gotten to where I just stay put because it's such a stupid PITA to look for a job with all of the idiot questions. What's worse is that people are writing code, not even good code, so that they can stack their resumes with all sorts of shit. They'll use hadoop when it really doesn't belong because, "Look! I have hadoop experience!" Nevermind their code either never or just barely worked and, from everything else they did you can tell that they're really not all that skilled at what they do but fuck, their resumes look awesome!

I've seen a ton of that. They also talk just enough of the bullshit to where it sounds like they know what they're doing but, again, if you look at the shit left in their wake: They don't have any clue.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby No4Dad » Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:29 pm

I should also add that most fairly new coders only know how to "glue things together" and really don't understand what's happening underneath the covers.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Lance » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:43 am

a_real_man wrote:
Lance wrote:Too many people are in jobs they are not qualified for. It's amazing how widespread this phenomenon is.


It's because jobs are considered a resource nowdays. They are handed out to those who need them (cupcakes, affirmative action, etc.). "You poor oppressed little cupcake, how do you bear all the discrimination!? Here's a surgeon's job, you deserve it and can do it better than any man". It's all in the same spirit as what is happening in academia. For now academia has no competition. But just like the US automotive industry that needed an $85 billion government bailout because they were shielded years ago, it's just a matter of time until a better competitor emerges, like the asian car manufacturers. These interventionalist policy makers don't get the idea of the invisible hand of capitalism. Hence, societal decline and of course the inevitable collapse that occurs from communist-like policies and regulations.

In our society, jobs are no longer considered things that must be done; they are considered things that people get to have.


"thing certain people get to have"

And it's usually not based on merit.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Lance » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:52 am

No4Dad wrote:Seeing that, myself.

One I think is funny is the "full stack" person. The idea is that this person knows everything about everything from HTML, to CSS, to Javascript, to Java, to SQL, to bash...

I've just finished up my 27th year and will tell you it's bullshit that you'll find someone well versed in all of those. You may find someone who's particularly skilled at one or two of those and have touched upon the others, but someone who knows all of that inside and out? That's pretty rare. Hell, most programmers don't know SQL or the command line as a minimum. Still, they ask and, in a way, can command all of that because there really are that many people out of work (unlike the 5% quoted number for unemployment).


That's me....jack of all trades. I'm strong in a few areas, know enough Javascript to be dangerous. With what little Javascript and CSS I use, I just look it up when I need it.

I know how to code and know SQL. I didn't realize there were so many developers that didn't know SQL.

I wouldn't say I am an expert in every area listed but know enough to develop stuff that people have found useful. Do you really have to know all of that inside and out these days? Maybe that depends on what you're developing (i.e. if you're developing something more than a typical in-house CRUD app).

No4Dad wrote:I've gotten to where I just stay put because it's such a stupid PITA to look for a job with all of the idiot questions.


I recently went on some interviews and agree that the process is a PITA. Even without taking all of the silly HR questions into consideration, there is so much emphasis on tools, not as much emphasis on results. It's draining.

No4Dad wrote:What's worse is that people are writing code, not even good code, so that they can stack their resumes with all sorts of shit. They'll use hadoop when it really doesn't belong because, "Look! I have hadoop experience!" Nevermind their code either never or just barely worked and, from everything else they did you can tell that they're really not all that skilled at what they do but fuck, their resumes look awesome!

I've seen a ton of that. They also talk just enough of the bullshit to where it sounds like they know what they're doing but, again, if you look at the shit left in their wake: They don't have any clue.


Yep...it's mostly about trends and buzz words these days.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby No4Dad » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:15 am

Lance wrote:That's me....jack of all trades. I'm strong in a few areas, know enough Javascript to be dangerous. With what little Javascript and CSS I use, I just look it up when I need it.

I know how to code and know SQL. I didn't realize there were so many developers that didn't know SQL.

I wouldn't say I am an expert in every area listed but know enough to develop stuff that people have found useful. Do you really have to know all of that inside and out these days? Maybe that depends on what you're developing (i.e. if you're developing something more than a typical in-house CRUD app).


I think that's how most good programers are. They're strong in some areas and can make things happen in others if they have to.

The requirements are usually that you're supposed to know all of the parts of the "full stack" inside and out. Saying that the guy who is really good at the design/look and feel of a web page (HTML/CSS/Javascript) should be fully versed in the underlying technologies just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I think that the reverse is true, too.
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Re: Help for Programmer

Postby Lance » Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:41 pm

No4Dad wrote:I think that's how most good programers are. They're strong in some areas and can make things happen in others if they have to.

The requirements are usually that you're supposed to know all of the parts of the "full stack" inside and out. Saying that the guy who is really good at the design/look and feel of a web page (HTML/CSS/Javascript) should be fully versed in the underlying technologies just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I think that the reverse is true, too.


And I'm seeing more and more ads that require superb communication skills for techie positions. If that's the case, why bother with the technical jobs? Might as well get into management or sales instead and make more money.
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