Self-employed Again

For various reasons I have decided to leave s IT Solutions. The company was good, I stand by everything I said in my previous blog posts about working for large companies.

  1. I felt my position there was too junior. I was constantly having to justify the things I wanted to do in large meetings with various "senior" people who'd been working there for 10 or more years. But these people were younger than me, and had been working at that company all their life, and simply didn't have the variety of experience that I had. They felt things had to be done a certain way, but I had seen various ways including the way they were proposing, but they weren't interested in listening to my input on the consequences of that way. Basically the reason for that was people didn't want to dilute their power; I don't hate them for this, I just don't need to work there either.
  2. Various things were far too complex. It took me about a month to learn how to deploy something on one particular environment (this wasn't the live environment!) which involved asking a project manager for a release number (which involved justifying to him why the deployment was necessary, often he didn't agree..), writing an email to dept X, they would forward that to dept Y, then there was some Windows tool with multiple tabs and multiple fields per tab, where you had to enter various magic data, plus there was something on the Windows tray you had to right-click and configure, then there was the web-based deployment tool and you had to know where to click in that.. Plus I didn't have permission for any of these systems, I didn't know that I needed to have asked in the past for permissions to these systems as I only discovered "just in time" that they existed at all. No documentation, nobody told me they existed as that would reduce their power that the bosses needed to go to them to get something done.

Anyway, I was told at least once, "well, you might not like it, but you'll have to get used to it. That's the way your life is now!!". Wrong ;-)

For the next months I have the following things lined up:

  1. Implementation of a Java Wicket based system of analyzing mobile phone usage data. Usage data is uploaded via CSV files, I parse them and put them into a database, then the main screen involves a set of reports, defined over a configuration file, with snippets of "where" clauses in them. The user may select further restrictions via drop-downs, these are added to the "where" clause. The "select" against the DB is performed and an XML is created of the results. XSLT created by Altova Stylevision, which the customer has created and checked into my SVN, is then performed on the XML to produce PDF, RTF or HTML reports. I don't need to change any code to change the layout of the report, it's all in the XSLT file. To give the user a nice interface for managing the CSV files Windows Explorer and TortoiseSVN is used, I read the reports from SVN and insert the data programmatically via svnkit which is nice and easy to use, and I keep the database and configuration in sync like this. Onestop Concept provided analysis of the requirements, and I did all the software architecture and programming. Deployed at Nessus. All in all, a nice project!
  2. Further implementation on Offer Ready for Onestop Concept (Martin Schmidt) which involves using some cool algorithms to determine which mobile phone tariff (incl. packs) is the best option given a set of usage data. Written in Java and C. (Not written only in Java!)
  3. Working for firstload (hopefully!), a platform where you can download binary files acquired from Usenet. I will be working on their e-commerce software, for example the invoice-generation software, introducing tax rules, extending/re-writing the subscriptions logic, modernizing the software, and so on. PHP and MySQL. This is a domain I've worked in a few times before, I did the e-commerce software for Uboot's SMS functionality, I wrote the Subscriptions system for easyname for Nessus, was hired to write a pay-out and tax logic module for TheContentMarket then FatFoogoo, and so on.

This article is © Adrian Smith.
It was originally published on 30 Mar 2011

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