A few days ago I tweeted this:
getting tired of having more free space on my phone than on my laptop
Which got me thinking. How much space is being used up on my laptop just for backing up my phone? Some investigation yielding the following obvious result. Alot.
But what’s worse is that there are backups for old iOS devices I don’t even use anymore, like my old 3G iPhone and the iPhone4 that Apple so nicely replaced when it had headphone issues. Anyway after culling all that crap out, I now have plenty of Gigs free on my old Macbook Pro, possibly putting the day when I need to upgrade even further into the future.
For the last several years I have been working essentially as a contractor/consultant rather than a full time employee. These engagements are of varying lengths and generally center around specific projects. This arrangement suits me well as I prefer to think of my job as working on a Project rather than for a Company and I like the flexibility for my own personal time that contracting allows me.
In these situations the inevitable question which arises is something like “What is your rate?” by which its generally meant “How much do you charge per hour?”. The problem is that I have no interest in charging by the hour for several reasons. First and foremost is that I find the idea of tracking my time at this level to be too much trouble. I don’t like bookkeeping in the first place and even if I did its too hard to decide what counts and what does not. I do some of my best work while riding my bike. This is actually one of the reasons I love bike commuting. If I drive to work, I will listen to NPR and arrive at the office frustrated about some stupid political issue or maybe just the traffic. When I ride in, I spend a lot of that time thinking about what I am going to do when I get to work, how to solve a problem etc., and can’t wait to get to the keyboard. Do I get to charge for that time? How about that hour I spent trying to sleep while running over ideas for an algorithm in my head?
Essentially the smallest unit of time I am willing to sell is one day. For things which are less than one day of work for me I have two special rates, free and no thanks. Â I will spend a few hours helping you for free if I want to for whatever reason but I am not interested in a couple hours of paid work unless the rate was equal to my daily rate in the first place. During that day (or those weeks depending) I will work on the client’s project as If I am a full time employee. That means giving at least full days work M-F and sometime a little extra on nights and weekends that I don’t bill extra for when I feel like its warranted. The details of how my time is spent is my problem, and the client needs to judge whether I am worth it by the work produced.
As a contractor I expect no paid time off. If I take a week off to go to Central America, I don’t bill for that. If I am sick and can’t do any work, I don’t bill for that either. Its my job to make sure that my work is all done by an appropriate deadlines but If I can do that and take friday off, I will. If I take the day off, the client does not pay and I try not to think about them. Its easier to stop thinking about them if there is a beach.
Does charging by the hour really work for anyone in software development?
Pretty excited about SpokeFest tomorrow. I did it the first year with the little girl but didn’t make it after that. This year they added a 47 mile option which should be fun. With that and the ride to downtown it should be about 67 for me.
This year I even have a T-shirt.
Yesterday I put up a post on my blog about programming. I did this because I had read an earlier post that inspired me about the idea of trying to write something every day. The basic idea was that if you keep at it you will get better. So I had a go.
The incredible irony here is that one of the points I was making in my blog post was that much of the skill of a programmer seems to me to be innate and thus I wondered if it can be taught. So while I was demonstrating my belief in the idea of practice, I was demonstrating it by questioning it.
Um whatever,Â on a good day 10 people read my blog. Thanks sis!
The post actually got picked up on a few sites and I got literally 500x more traffic than I expected. From this experience I learned a few things:
1) Wp-cache is a good thing.
2) I really do need practice writing.
3) I would have been alot better off with a few shorter posts.
When you title something “Some random thoughts on …” You pretty much give up any pretense of saying you are making a coherent argument about anything. That should have been my first clue that my post wasn’t ready for prime time.
Still reading all the comments does help me realize what I was trying to say:
1) I think people’s ability to deal with complexity seems at least to be some kind of innate trait
2) Managing complexity is a key skill in programming
3) Abstractions can both reduce and introduce complexity
5) We should worry about 4) since we seem to be using it for everything now.
I’ll try to do better next time.
Things I wasn’t trying to say:
1) I am awesome
2) If you aren’t awesome like me quit trying, you will always be a loser.
For the record. I don’t think I am awesome. I have done some cool stuff and some crappy stuff. I have worked with people who were both better and worse at this than me. I’d say I am good not great. When I was 26 maybe I was great. Its hard to remember.
I also don’t think people can’t improve. That wasn’t my point. People get better there is just a limit on how much better they will get.Â I ride my bike almost everyday.Â I actually climb hills better than when I was 26, but I am getting no closer to winning the Tour De France much less a local cyclocross race.
Sometimes when I am feeling a little obsessed with something. I wonder where I stand on some kind of scale relative to other people. Today I wonder, what FedEx package has had the most hits on its tracking page.
I finally actually finished an iPhone app and put it in the store. Its pretty simple but solves a problem I actually had. I am a big user of Evernote and but thier iPhone client is pretty clunky for editing todo lists. Nimbulist (app store link) lets you do this quickly with what I think is the minimal number of required touches.
If you are in this hell:
To preform the requested action…
This guy is your friend:
Direct plugin auto-update on WordPress 2.8
Saw this on a ride recently.
What exactly is GOD charging these days for Freedom?
Starts after the plane lands.
just starting an 11 day trip to el Salvador with optional side trip to Guatemala. Writing this using the neighbors’ wifi from my friends house here in auachapan. Flights we all good and I’m looking forward to heading to sonsonate tomorrow.
Hopefully there will be better photos then too.
Btw. Something I learned recently. Here they lock your cell phone to a sim card the old schooll way. They glue it.
Heading back to El Salvador for 11 days tomorrow. Been looking forward to this trip for a while. I hope to post some updates here.