As long as I’ve been doing tech work, I’ve always had a day job. Day jobs have some benefits, like insurance, taxes, job security, paid time off, and a place to go 5 days a week. With that comes a loss of personal freedoms: the ability to choose your projects, potential to work from home or travel if that is what you like, and most important to me, a variety of work.
I want variety in my work; I don’t want to have to go through 5 layers of management to get a day off. I’ve been slowly working my way toward a freelance life and have learned a few lessons about negotiating a rate along the way.
Not just how I get ready for a conference talk, but how I have been getting ready for my first conference talk.
Conference season is in full swing in the software world. For the past few months, I have been spending a little time each week preparing for my first real conference talk at CAST 2014. I’ve done a talk at my local software testers group here in Nashville, and facilitated events quite a few times now, but for me, this is the real deal. The conference isn’t till mid August so I’ve got a little time and some work to do yet but I’ve learned quite a few lessons so far.
That’s not a huge problem; I deleted some photos and some apps, and then clicked to install an operating system update. Applying the update should apply the patch and also delete any obsolete code, right?
My phone never returned from the update. Instead, it came back with an image indicating the phone needed to be plugged into iTunes. I was away from my laptop for July vacation, so I was entirely out of service for two days. After that, when I plugged the phone in, I was told that the Mac needed to restore the phone from backup.
Sadly, I’m afraid we can expect more of this. Today, I’d like to talk about how to prevent it at our companies.
My daughter, Kathleen, just released her first book: The Treacherous Journey of Kaitlyn Weatherbrain. The book is available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle edition, starting at $2.99. Here’s the description:
When Kaitlyn Weatherbrain decides to take a vacation with her two best friends, she isn’t prepared for a race across a strange planet to stop an evil villain. Luckily, Kate and the rest of her new-found friends happen to have superpowers. With their powers, futuristic technology, and a little bit of luck, the friends hope to overcome their villain and his nefarious boss, who plan to take over Earth. Can they save their home and families in time? Are their powers strong enough to avoid getting crushed by the giant robot?
Katie completed the book at the end of November, on paper, as part of National Novel Writing Month. For the next six months she typed in her manuscript into a computer, edited the work, then spent June formatting it to fit the right typeface. At the end of the month we adjusted the book to fit a 5″x8″ word template, uploaded the document to CreateSpace, and followed the process to get the book published.
Ten years ago her ‘book’ would have ended up on the slush pile of a dozen agents. Twenty years ago the ‘book’ would have been printed and punched and stuck into a three-ring binder to hand out at family reunions, or, perhaps, photocopied and mailed to relatives at Christmas. Today, it is on Amazon.
The amazing thing?
Katie is eleven. Continued »
You have a team of developers and they have been doing such a good job that you need more of them so they can do more of what they’ve been doing. But your test team is just barely keeping up with things as they are and you only have so much budget to go around. This is a good problem to have, but it is still a problem. If you absolutely can not hire more folks that specialize in testing, there is still hope. There are a few options you can consider that might help you to continue producing that same good software with a minimal staff.
And that’s just my phone.
What’s worse is that I need these updates, or at least some of them. My current version of iTunes gets “stuck” and shows the cover art of Jackson Browne on every song occasionally, while twitpic crashes every time I launch it.
Meanwhile, on my WindowsXP machine, Adobe Acrobat is struck in an update loop. Every time you update Acrobat, it asks to update again.
Then there’s Turbotax, which asked to update, reloading a 50MB file, literally every single time I launched it this February, March, and April.
How did we get here?
Too many companies took delivery ideas from the web, like continuous delivery, (or “CD”) and tried to apply them to the desktop, without considering the context.
This may be leading to a backlash against continuous delivery, at least for applications. Before we get to that, though, let’s have a little history.
I like home automation and smart home gadgets a lot. But mostly, I like gadgets that are dead easy to install, will save me a little bit of money over time, and make life a little bit easier. That doesn’t seem like to much to ask.
A new smart thermostat is about to appear on the block: the Honeywell Lyric. I have had a Nest in my home for about a year now and have really enjoyed it. The Lyric seems to have some similarities but also some key differences that will set it apart. Amazon is currently listing the Nest at $249 and the Lyric for $279, quite expensive for a thermostat, so I wanted to see how these two thermostats compare feature by feature.
Generally, in some way, the story involves the evil boss meme. “It’s not my fault”, and so on. Personally, I’ve never really experienced the evil boss. Even if the boss does require overtime, the boss can’t be everywhere, all the time. People sneak off for long lunches, come in late, surf the web, and otherwise do things to take relief during the work week.
No, today I am going to talk about a more insidious kind of burnout: The kind we do to ourselves. Continued »
WWDC is happening right now. June 2nd through 6th your tech news feed will be barraged all things Apple. That isn’t much different from normal though, right? There seems to be a slightly different version of the iPhone every few months now. While the conference has just begun, there is plenty of stuff to talk about. A couple things are apparent: Steve Jobs is no longer with us, the keynotes so far have been lack luster, and the audience doesn’t seem all that into it like they have been in the past. Still, there are a few big announcements.
Now imagine the conference you want to go to is in a foreign country. Perhaps the conference itself is in english, at a five star hotel — but once you leave the building, the average person speaks about as much English as you do Spanish. (Which is to say, not much.)
That is exactly what happened to me this week, as I flew to ExpoQA in Madrid, Spain. Actually, it was a bit more challenging: Half the conference sessions were in Spanish, and about half the audience in my session word headphones and only understood me in Spanish.
Along the way, I learned a few pointers I thought you might like to hear before you get in that plane to another country. Continued »