Last week I started a new interview with Rosie Sherry – a software tester turned entrepreneur.
No, seriously, she was a tester (and a few other interesting things) that went on to start a community site for testers, which now does placement, training, has a newspaper, and might even sell an advertisement or two.
I admire her.
This week, we’ll pick up the interview, finding out where she got the idea for moving from employee to content creator — and how she got started.
Consider, for example, quitting your day job to sail the world — Adam Yuret did it. Or reframing your job so that you are independent, and can trade time for money; both J.B. Rainsberger and David Hoppe did this.
But maybe you don’t want to travel the world or take long sabbaticals to go lounge on a beach (or go mountain biking, or rock climbing, or whatever.)
Maybe you just want more time with your family.
Meet Rosie Sherry.
Rosie was a freelance software tester from 2001 to 2004, when she took a ‘day job’ doing the same thing for the next few years.
Then the children came, and, suddenly, dropping the kids off at day care and driving in to an office felt … less appealing.
Heavily involved in the software test community, Rosie went back to freelancing but also lead the start-up of SoftwareTestingClub.com, an online community site for testers. The site now generates a comfortable income, and, combined with her freelance work, allows Rosie to work from home with less hours than a day job, and the flexibility to work after the kids are in bed.
We might you might like to hear from her.
We’ll come back to our series on the Independent IT Life in the next post, but first … an interlude.
A few weeks ago I introduced the idea of a Singularity Signal – a sort of “canary in a coal mine”, indicating that Artificial Intelligence was getting too powerful — that could happen well before computers become self-aware.
In fact, I’d like to continue that premise into today’s post — the idea that computers do not need to be self-aware in order to act like they are and, in effect, to force humans to conditions that would not individually agree on.
All you have to do is to get computers to do work for human beings, programmatically, in multiple systems that are interlocked.
Like, I dunno, the world’s financial markets, maybe.
I will explain.
So far we’ve had two posts interviewing Corey Haines about his life as an independent technologist (part one and part two) but we haven’t gotten to the deepest questions – his biggest obstacles, how he overcame them, and how he paid the rent.
It’s time for part three, don’t you think?
Last time I interviewed Corey Haines about his journeyman lifestyle — leaving the day job behind and travelling the country on a pair programming tour in trade for a place to crash and maybe “fifty space bucks for lunch, gas and tolls.”
We’re back for part II of the interview, where we covered Corey budgeted and planned for his tour, how the tour actually took shape, what he did … and what he learned.
In my previous article I interviewed J.B. Rainsberger, a sort of traditional globe-trotting-consultant turned early retiree living the life of the itinerant IT consultant.
His story is inspring, but even as I wrote it, I could hear the comments in my mind. “But Matt”, you’d say “I haven’t written a book, founded an international series of conferences, or have the cachet to command high rates for short-term consulting. What’s a guy like me to do?”
Meet Corey Haines, that’s what.
The term the author uses is “citogenesis”, a clever pun on “cytogenesis”, that actual real-life term for the process by which living things are created.
It seems that on the internet, and even before that, legends are born when respectable people or organizations make respectable claims that sound like they are true – or at least, sound like they should be true.
Comedian Stephen Colbert calls this “truthiness“, a term that, ironically, has made it’s way into wikipedia, where it is described as: a “truth” that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” or that it “feels right” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.
Yes, some Wikipedia author put “truth” in quotes to indicate just how true it needed to be. (Hint: Not very much).
Citogenesis isn’t just for mythbusters; it can affect us at home, at the office, or out shopping.
Here’s how to spot it – and what we can do about it.
I’ve been enjoying the series on career directions, but it’s time for a bit of a break — so let’s take a coupe of posts for something completely different.
Have you heard of the Singularity?
It’s an interesting sort of technological apocalypse — you can see it’s ideas on the big screen in The Terminator or The Matrix; that eventually machines will become self-aware and rise up to rule over their human overloads. To introduce the subject properly would take a book; Amazon tells me that there are thousands of books on the subject, so I’ll make mine very brief.
It is also easy to dismiss Singularity as Science Fiction inspired by an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie from the 1980’s, but let’s dig in a little bit.
The most compelling observation I know of for the singularity is that Computer Clock Cycles and Processing Power keeps increasing, roughly doubling every few years in accordance with Moore’s Law, while we humans are at best, facing small gains over millions of years through natural selection.
The thinking goes like this: Eventually computers will catch up, have some sort of “divine spark” event, and go past us.
That thinking has been smacked down in the media: Right now, today, we could create a three-dimensional grid, 100x100x100 of the strongest CPU’s in the world together, something like the Department of Energy Project ASCI Red, and get a computer that strong, but we know what it would do: Execute instructions it was fed in serial order. The “divine spark” is a question mark, a huge one, one that can’t be ignored. Without it, we have no singularity.
But here’s the thing: We don’t need one.
Last time I introduced my friend, Adam Yuret, and the story of this three-year boat trip from Seattle, Washington, down to Mexico and back. (Perhaps I should say, his one year trip, which he took three times.)
You would think this would sink his IT career, yet Adam, who has no certificates, no degrees, and did not complete high school, is doing just fine.
We’ll pick things up this week, to talk about how the trip went, how it impacted his career, and what’s next for Adam.
That’s great for them, you say, but it’s not your goal.
Hey, I understand. Some of us like the places we live, or at least we want to come back.
Perhaps the trade-off of forty hours a week for a pay check and benefits is one you are willing to make, or at least one we are willing to make for eleven months a year.
Or ten. Or nine.
It may have occurred to you to take a year off; to travel, then come back to the eight-to-five.
Of course, you are worried about your tech career. It doesn’t look good to have a hole in your resume and all that, right? I mean, those big gurus who have written books might get away with it, but how about a little guy, or a guy with no impressive credentials?
Meet Adam Yuret, a self-educated technologist who dropped out of high school when he was 16.
He and his wife took three years off to sail on a boat down the Pacific coast, from Portland, OR to Mexico. Adam and his wife bought an old fixer upper sailboat which they spent nearly 2 years rebuilding before they headed out to sea. What followed would be a tumultuous, sometimes highly challenging occasionally amazing adventure. Due to various critical mechanical failures they ran out of money after 18 months. At this point they adjusted their plan from a Pacific crossing to a summer exploring the Sea of Cortez. After that summer they hauled the boat and came home to earn more money before taking another attempt 18 months later. They never crossed the Pacific but they learned a lot about each other and have no regrets. (You can read about their adventures on their 2 blogs: Part 1 andPart 2.
Yes, he had to take the trip in several segments. Instead of a Cruise ship vacation at $700 per per person per week, they sailed their own boat at a cost of, well … approximately every penny they had.
Along the way, the boat broke down. They ran out of money. There was struggle.
And they got some great stories to tell the kids, eh?
Let’s hear what he had to say.