Saturday, September 11, 2010

Has It Really Been Over Three Years??

There was a time when I’d sit down nearly every day after dinner and write up something, anything, that came to mind. It’s funny how such a simple thing can slip away, and before you know it, years have past and you wonder why you stopped.

I think I stopped, initially because things had gotten ‘real’ at work, I was no longer a “Coder of Fortune” I’d joined the ranks of other ‘employed’ folks, I had a real job.

It didn’t seem to me, at the time, that continuing to run a blog that, initially at least, was intended to be about coding, and the sometimes strange world of doing that under contract.

As I look back though, I realize that maybe what I was more worried about than anything was that I now had a job and what I was reading about employers and how they were reacting to employees who maintain a blog, was a bit unsettling.

I’m still not sure how I feel about that, but, then again, when I look back over the things I’ve written, why would any employer take issue with it?

So, here I sit, today, with not much to say really, except that I’ve missed you all. I never expected when I started this, that it would ever really be much other than a personal journal of sorts. That many of you enjoyed my stories, continued to stop in, read and comment on them, was a joy, in and of it self.

I can’t promise I’ll be back in any regular sort of way, but I can tell you I’ve been thinking a lot about it.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I'm still alive....

Should anyone have been wondering what's happened to me.

The past two years have seen more changes than any other two that I can recall.

It's time I started sharing that with you all, especially now that the dust has settled a bit and I can see past tomorrow.

For all of you who've dropped me a line to ask how I've been... THANKS!!!

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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What do you love to get paid to do?

I’ve found at least three things. Only one though that paid what I thought the job was actually worth.

Fixing, building, welding and/or painting vehicles was definitely the first thing I loved getting paid to do. . . and I did that with great enthusiasm until about 1979. I loved (and still do) the way a project car just 'comes to life' as the last nuts and bolts are tightend.

After that I found I loved getting paid to teach, and it really didn’t matter what the subject was, what mattered was seeing that ‘light’ go off in a students head. . . and knowing I got paid, was earning a living, to get the joy and satisfaction of seeing that happen.

While I loved both of those jobs, neither paid close to what I felt the skills were worth.

My teaching career lasted until 1985, when with the computer business booming, I got hired to bring my computer skills (I'd become quite interested in all thing computer while teaching) to teaching customers how to use computers, and more specifically to use things like WordStar, Lotus 123, Wordperfect and dBaseII. . . That very quickly morphed into building systems, from simple Lotus 'macros' to full on accounting applications.

For the next 20+ years I’ve loved the work of being in the computer business. I’ve been in, and out of virtually every aspect of it. Most of the things I got involved in however were simply to help me keep doing the one thing I really loved, designing, and then building, business software applications.

From the moment I delivered that first business system to Bill Beck, my future was cast. That look of surprise on the office manager’s face, the smile on Bill’s face, told me all I needed to know. This was not only something I was good at, enjoyed doing and found challenging, it was also something that paid pretty well, and that customers were (almost) happy to pay for.

This was not a ‘luxury’ like a custom paint job, these were mission critical business tools. Not only were they less likely to be ‘cut’ if times were a bit lean, there was actually a real possibility projects like theses would be stepped up to build competitive advantage in lean times.

So what made it ‘Ok’ with me, made it seem reasonable to alter this seemingly wonderful career path I’ve been on?

I think there are a lot of small, yet contributing, reasons, but, the one that keeps coming back to me is the ‘design’ aspect of development.

It’s always been the design piece I really loved, building something in my mind, writing it up, drawing it out and conveying that dream to someone else as we set about to build it.

So, today, in my new role as a business analyst, drawing up those business needs, drafting that requirements document, and then conveying not only the words but the spirit’ of those words to a development team *is* my job. I’m responsible for seeing that the application becomes a useful tool, ties into the overall vision of related applications, and the over all business plans of the company. All of this while still meeting the very real business needs of an entire industry. . .

Pretty cool stuff the more I think about it.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I’ve just made a natural transition.

Back in the day, there wasn’t ‘specialization’ we were all generalists. We had to do a little bit of everything as there was not enough work (or enough people) for someone doing ‘just one thing’. I watched many startups come and go who claimed they were going to alter the business model, stick to strictly development, or only do the design work. I modeled my operations more like a ‘Design/Build’ construction business. (I’m sure it helped that I had a half dozen or so customers in exactly that business).

Today, with ‘offshoring’ and now (can you believe it?) ‘OnShoring’ becoming such a large part of the development environment, there’s less and less opportunity for the ‘design/build’ generalist. We’re in an age of specialists when it comes to things computer…

I had a choice I guess, continue to try and find those few projects that required a generalist who could do a little bit of it all, or, find another way to stay gainfully employed for the next decade or so…

When this chance came along, I’m not sure I really saw it for what it is. It’s a chance to continue to design software, design it in a way that makes a difference to the company, the user and the industry. I’ve always been a ‘business guy’, I just wore the “puter guy” hat because it let me do something I loved, and get paid to do so.

That’s what I’ve been doing, the real difference is, that now, once I’m done with the design, I can watch it being built, and make necessary adjustments (hopefully small ones) in the process as the product materializes.

Maybe it’s true… do what you love, everything else will fall into place… any thoughts?

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Life after Coding. . .

There is indeed, life after coding, for me at least.

If you had asked me five years ago if I would ever let go of my ‘developer’ hat, move beyond coding and into another career line I know what my answer would have been. I would have told anyone who asked, “No thanks!” in no uncertain terms.

I’d centered my ‘worth’ in what people were willing to pay me to do, those of you who know me, know that’s been a common theme in my career… I reveled in jobs that had been deemed impossible, the proverbial “It can’t be done” scenario.

I made a nice living in the 80’s and into the mid-90’s doing exactly that for anyone willing to pay me to deliver what others had said couldn’t be done. I only stopped contracting, and that life, because a client had hired me to continue to build the impossible, and in the process get some job “stability”. (Which we now know was certainly a false sense of ‘stability’)

When that gig ended, I jumped back into contracting, eventually ending up where I am now as a result.

However, this time when they decided to make me a job offer, it wasn’t my programming, design or development skills they wanted. Nope, they were actually interested in my analysis skills. Those same skills I’ve been using to spot trends in data for 15 years or more, and to prove, or disprove what was often just a ‘gut feel’ of mine for the data.

I’ve been at it now for about six months, and the jury is in, I *like* not being a developer!

That revelation has been on my mind a lot lately... How can *I*, the guy who loved development, who lived to build things no one else would tackle, suddenly find myself on the outside, looking in, and not missing the development work?

How does that work exactly? How are we (or more specifically, am I) able to shift our primary feedback mechanism, alter our professional “raison d’ĂȘtre” without so much as a second thought?

I never really contemplated the change; I just knew I wanted to make a difference in this project so I accepted the challenge knowing it was a departure from what I’d known for the last 20+ years. Stepping firmly over the line, one I’d straddled fairly well I might add, that divides the ‘business’ folks, from the IT folks, onto the business side of the line.

So, here I sit, a coder, who’s no longer a coder, and what once was the reason I got out of bed in the morning, is no longer any real part of my day. Yet, I still get out of bed, and I still (maybe even more than ever) look forward to going to work… I can’t remember the last time that happened.

Wait, yes I can, it was December of 1994, then again in August of 1998... Then not again until October of 2004... in the interim, I hated the job... but I loved the work... and the people who developed with me... but, then again, it’s always been about the work, for me.

The life I loved was making software with my friends. . . .

More on all of this as my thoughts gel, I think I’m still to close in to the change to fairly observe what’s going on with me.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Now this could get me interested. . .

In electric power!! No, nothing has changed, I still don’t really care about global warming, Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” (which all too convenient for Mr. Gore and far too short on truth for my taste), or alcohol replacing fossil fuels…

I care about horsepower.. raw, unadulterated ass-whoopin horsepower… and this two wheeled rocket has it in spades… This is the kind of stuff that gets a new generation interested in ‘go fast’ stuff.

While the technology is a long way from making it to your driveway… it shows what a few folks, some money (about $13K/year for the racing), a little ingenuity and some elbow grease can get done!

Electric Motorcycle drag strip video...

YouTube Link: KillACycle

Here's a link to their website...

I’m really pretty excited over what I’ve read about this stuff.

Here I am, mid-50’s and a died in the wool, gimme cubic inches, and gimme lots of horsepower… fossil fuels… loud, ear splitting V8 thunder and all of that…

Watching this video has me thinking about a whole new plan…

I mean 350 horsepower, from batteries that can be recharged in 5 minutes? I think these folks may just be on to something here.

If they’re not… hell it’s still fun to watch the video!!

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