Thursday, October 30

Forthcoming changes

Whew, been a busy week. Shuffling around background check and similar paperwork for the new employer, getting a mentee up to speed to replace me at the old employer, business banking paperwork to deal with, trying to get prepped for a November 22nd Tech Valley Code Camp 2008.2, my first Albany Sushi Meetup in months last night ...

Did a Drupal demo last week -- first commercial Drupal work. So far, so good, but mastering the art of laying out complex, dynamic interfaces within Drupal is not yet one I have mastered.

My Eclipse is pretty much dead; bought one of these (same year & color) over the weekend:



2001 Blazer LT, 4DR, 4WD, auto (first auto I've ever owned!!). Needs some work, but with some decent tires on it, ought to make a decent winter beater/pet bus/daily driver for now.

Now, the point of this post was to touch on some changes I'm working on. I want to be able to aggregate my entries from all the blogs I write on or for, along with the associated commentstream (as much as Disqus & etc. will allow). This way I can keep a completely separate personal blog, professional blog, business blog and blog for Change Round-Up, but still have a landing page where all my various entries are displayed in a chronological stream. I already wrote a .NET 3.5 blog widget that allows me to customize which tagged or labeled or authored entries to display from a single blog -- now I'm going to expand that to operate across multiple blogs.

Tuesday, October 28

Making a career move

Monday (yesterday) morning I gave notice to my current employer, so I can officially announce: I've accepted a role as Senior Consultant with Infusion Development.

Infusion is a boutique Microsoft technologies consulting firm, with offices in Manhattan, Toronto, Boston, London, Dubai; I think there's an office in LA as well, and there's a virtual office here in Albany, NY. Infusion works pretty closely with Microsoft, doing a lot of Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) work. They also employ a surprising number of MVPs, given their relatively small size, and have some sort of VAR or OEM relationship with Microsoft and the Surface. Once upon a time they derived a lot of revenue from the financial services sector, but the past year or two have spent time refocusing business development efforts on the resort industry in Dubai. Yes, THAT Dubai. Hey, who knows, maybe someday ...

For the first six months, at least, I'll be doing some SharePoint work here in Albany for the NYS Department of Correctional Services. I first used SharePoint and VSTO back in 2006 at Xerox; newer versions are out, but frankly, not a lot seems to have changed, at least not drastically. I'm surprised there's still so much COM interop -- wasn't Office 2007 supposed to be purely .NET-driven? Then again, so was Vista ...

Hoping to achieve another Microsoft MVP nomination, and actually win MVP status, this time around. Not sure yet where to focus my efforts -- do they have MVPs for Azure yet? I'm sure the MVPs at Infusion can offer me some insight here.

Anyhoo, my last day with Davis Vision will be Friday, November 7th. I can't say enough good things about the people and the environment at Davis -- they're good people doing good work. They're open-minded toward Agile, but not fanatical. They've started using automated unit testing. They're trying to embrace TDD and CI. I would highly advise .NET developers in the Albany area to apply, they have growing teams supporting a fairly complex web app, or collection of web apps, and the SOA-ish middle tier and desktop GUI. If I weren't constantly driven so hard to create change, I could see myself happily continuing on at Davis for quite some time to come. Their technology roadmap just isn't quite aggressive enough to keep me interested over the long term however -- I was starting to feel as though I wasn't being technically challenged, didn't have a lot of room left to grow there.

My first day on the job with Infusion will be Monday, November 10th.

Wednesday, October 15

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty


Apparently my head's been buried in the sand, or elsewhere, as I was totally surprised today by Blog Action Day 08. This year's focus is poverty. Expect a more in-depth followup.



Feedburner having a flaky day

Seems like Feedburner is having a flaky day today. Slow loads ... bouncing subscriber counts ...

Monday, October 13

Time for my fat ass to get (closer to) back in shape

OK, I've been doing the fat software geek thing for too long. Ever since a broken ankle back in 2000, I haven't seen the inside of a gym, and have grown less and less active. I'm completely out of shape, and weigh far more than is healthy, by any measure.

I don't care if the Web 2.0 bubble has burst, I'm going to leverage Web 2.0 apps to the hilt. You'll notice the new, ill-fitting skinnyr graph tracking my weight in the sidebar. I'm hunting around for a nutrition planning/tracking app, preferably something with a Windows Mobile or mobile web component, or something with an open API for which I can write my own WinMo app.

I'm setting my first goal today: lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks. I'll be weighing in tomorrow, October 14th, wrapping up a week or two before Thanksgiving -- great timing, I know! I plan to make a few simple changes:

  • add a few minutes to 3x daily dog walks - always at least 15 per walk, instead of 5-10. try and get 4 walks in when possible. (buy new timberlands!)
  • get more sleep; don't half-sleep with the TV on.
  • drink more water.
  • stretch every day.
  • no alcohol, no chicken wings; generally better eating: leaner meats instead of my ribeyes, for instance. no more weekend home fries. no more fast food at lunch.
On other notes, I'm working on a blog redesign, one that will fit widgets and content better, and one I'll be putting together entirely in ASP.NET. I want infinite flexibility and customizability, I want to pull in and manipulate all kinds of outside content. I think the only way to do that is to build a new site around my blog. A new URL will follow.

Tuesday, October 7

Tech trends to keep an eye on

I love how they all have overlap and integration points, and yet SOA/cloud stuff is really on the opposite end of the spectrum from a lot of concurrency technologies and practices:

Mobile devices
RIAs (Rich Internet Applications - Smart Clients)
Clouds/Grids
SOAs (Service-Oriented Architectures)
SOGs (Service-Oriented Grids)
Concurrency
Functional Programming

Mark my words, the next decade in the industry will be dominated be these concepts. They will certainly be playing a role in upcoming posts and presentations.

re: Hank Williams' How Much Is an Idea Worth, and the Tech Market

Hank-

Replying to:

http://whydoeseverythingsuck.com/2008/10/what-is-idea-worth.html

and


http://whydoeseverythingsuck.com/2008/10/tech-market-failure-of-ideas-not.html

I believe what I said on-list was that success is "1% idea 90% team/connections 9% luck", and that 9% luck figure is important in putting context around my perspective.

A crappy CEO can take a crappy idea, and with a lot of luck hits 10%. 10% gets you prototyped, gets you seed funding, maybe gets you a Series A. It gets you users, it gets you news coverage, it gets you hype and buzz, but none of that constitutes success -- not in real world business terms.

Success is sustainable profitability. Success is a high-value exit. A brilliant CEO can take a crappy idea, mature it, and turn it into a hundreds of millions of dollars acquisition in under five years.

A crappy CEO can take a brilliant idea and get further than 10%, but a crappy CEO is going to result in a low-value exit, or is going to end up replaced, probably after a lot of pain and wasted investment.

The strongest indicator of success is the team, not the idea. Obviously, however, the right idea, a matured idea, a well thought through idea, carries more weight, vastly improves chances of success.

I think we're saying a lot of the same thing here, but I will insist that a subpar CEO can easily ruin the most brilliant, bound-for-success idea, whereas it's much more likely that a killer CEO can make a success out of a subpar idea, or one that needs massaging, maturation, etc. And yes, a slick CEO can BS their way to a limited degree of success -- but not sustainable success, which I think we're in agreement on. My definition of a killer CEO isn't the sales guy with the biggest shovel, but the one with the greatest ability to do the most with the least, make the right moves, and please stakeholders along the way.

"idea = 1%" isn't an exact figure, but it's highly demonstrative of proportionate value.

And yes, the market the past few years has made for some fat and lazy management teams and backers with a plethora of redundancy getting funded. That's inevitable, it happens with every peak. It's those who can stay lean and agile even in fat and happy times that will of course have the greatest chance of sustainable success over the long term.

--Andy Badera

Note: you can, and perhaps should, substitute "management team" or "founders" for "CEO" throughout this piece.

Sunday, October 5

Mystery solved: random disabling of Disqus not so random

Turns out ScribeFire and Disqus don't play so well together.

When using the ScribeFire add-on for Firefox to post to a Blogger blog, Disqus commenting gets disabled, and Blogger commenting gets re-enabled. After using ScribeFire, I find it is necessary to then edit the post, show post options in the lower left and disable commenting, with the hide existing option. This then re-enabled Disuqs commenting. Note, disallowing comments but showing previous does NOT re-enable Disqus.

It's begun already: the cheap b*stards come racing out of the woodwork

Google Alerts popped yet another gem today. Hot off of craiglist: ".NET web Developer (Albany, NY)"

"An award winning web design and development firm in Albany is looking for a motivated Web Developer with a proven track record in developing high end websites and the portfolio to prove it."

...

"Required Experience and Skills:

> Solid Knowledge of Object-Oriented concepts.
> At least 2 years experience in a development/programming position, and 1 year experience with ASP / ASP.NET (C#).
> Must be able to take layered Photoshop designs and transform them into web sites
> Experience in .Net 2.0 development in compiled and non-compiled .Net applications
> HTML/CSS hand coding required
> Degrees and certifications are a plus but not a necessity
> Degrees and certifications are a plus but not a necessity
> This is a salaried position for a developer in the Albany area"

...

"Compensation: $30,000 to $35,000 plus benefits"

This is the kind of vulturous crap you saw for a year after 9/11. And this is in ALBANY -- we're not talking up in the mountains of the North Country, on the edge of the Adirondack Park, where I grew up, where I recognize there is a serious technology deficit in play. This is the capital of New York State for gosh sakes.

Two years experience OO, and 1 year ASP.NET/C#. Experience in .NET 2.0 (wait, what's a "non-compiled" .NET application? FAIL! Benefit of the doubt: maybe they mean static and dynamic .NET languages?) applications. Degrees and certifications are nice, but not a necessity. By the way, degrees and certifications are nice, but not a necessity. All that translates into AT LEAST $45,000USD + benefits -- BARE MINIMUM. Someone with these skills, and a college degree, should be in the $50s or $60s.

I know economies are cyclic ... and I know we're in a serious downturn. But when will these smalltime, smallminded employers finally realize, you get what you pay for? That offering this sort of spurious sum only leaves you with a dissatisfied, probably indebted, employee who is a) not going to work to their full potential and b) will be constantly seeking more gainful employment. And worse, c) possibly eventually looking to engage in theft against their employer, or employer's clients, in order to make ends meet?

What does it cost to find, vet, hire, train and do paperwork on an employee these days? Are you telling me that an extra $10k salary won't make up for itself quite quickly? If you've got annual turnover and even a $35k employee, $10k makes up for itself in a single year. (Assuming typical total turnover cost of 50% of employee salary.)

Also, it might help this particular employer to know: the Albany market for .NET people is HOT and TIGHT. Worst case, an economic slowdown is simply going to mean that several of the larger, established local .NET teams are finally going to be filling their open seats that we've been gapping on for two+ years now. You're not going to find bargain basement .NET people in Albany right now, period, at least not one who knows how to use a keyboard, or how to spell .NET.

UPDATE: 2007 national, state, Albany and NYC wage data for software roles:



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