Taking Stock

What's going on?

Posted by Piers Cawley on Nov 11, 2016

You may have noticed a distinct lack of Bakehouse Diary posts. It’s mostly because dad’s in the process of building some A-frames to allow him to get engines out of old cars and such, and to help me get the oven assembled so we can test it in the garage. Which would be the work of not very long at all, if dad wasn’t doing a million and one other things. He’s just back from a trip to Holland and France, “following” the route south that my Grandfather took after his Lancaster was shot down in 1943. Which is an entirely other post.

It’s also because, a couple of weeks ago, I took my wife into A&E because she was short of breath and, after a desperately apologetic bit of Friday night queue jumping (“Um… I’m sorry, but, err… would you mind awfully if I jumped the queue here? It’s just that, ah, my wife’s having trouble breathing”) and prompt action by a triage nurse, she crumpled.

I was whisked away to a small room with teamaking facilities where I could fret without getting in the way. Over the next hour or so the team of heroes in the resus ward kept her alive through cardiac and respiratory arrests. By the time they let me see her again, she was looking a good deal better and proceeded to bounce back with astonishing speed and was discharged just under a week after she was admitted. She’s much, much better now.

Something like that gives you pause.

I’ve not been happy in my work for a while. A combination of persistent RSI preventing the kind of extended runs of almost trance-like coding that can be so energizing, general low level depression, and a sense that helping car hire companies make more money from their punters wasn’t exactly meaningful work. When you’ve been in the lucky position where what you do to make a living is what you’d be doing for enjoyment anyway, it comes as a shock when the pleasure drains away. So I’ve done the potentially stupid thing and jacked it in to spend more time with my wife. I’m pretty sure this isn’t sustainable, but I’m equally sure that the kind of stress I was placing myself under wasn’t worth the generous salary. My rough plan now is to get the bakery to the point where I can do a “selling” batch of bread and pastries at least once a week and, assuming that doesn’t snowball and become commercially viable by the new year, start looking for part-time programming work again in January.

If you’re looking for an experienced programmer, then by all means get in touch before then. I’d love to hear from you, but bear the following in mind.

Why you shouldn’t hire me

I have persistent RSI

I’ve worked around this with a voice coding environment that’s remarkably effective, but it still means:

  • I can’t work more than three days a week
  • I’m not as quick as I’d like to be
  • I get grumpy when I’m in pain

There’s no long term

I don’t want to still be a dedicated programmer in 2020. Or even 2018. My long term goal is to get the bakery to the point where it’s paying me a living wage and I can go back to programming for fun or to scratch my own business itches.

I’ve had it up to here with commuting

I used to believe that working from home wasn’t a great way of building code. That a co-located team was emphatically the way to go. But most of the open source software I used on a day to day basis isn’t written that way, it’s written by distributed, loosely connected teams coordinated via IRC, source control and infrequent meetups at conferences and hackathons.

Clearly face to face matters, and regular meetings in an office are a good thing, but I’m never doing another weekly commute. Nor will I spend over an hour travelling every day.

I’m one more white bloke in an industry that’s stuffed with them

Seriously, if you can’t find someone from an underrepresented group who isn’t at least as good as me, then you should be putting some money into nurturing new talent from those same groups.

Why you should hire me

I’m quite good at this programming lark

At least, I think I am. There’s not much on github right now (but I’m working on getting my voice coding setup into a documented and releasable state) colleagues have said nice things about my code, and various technical talks I’ve given have been well received.

I give good code review

I’ve spent a good deal of my career understanding other peoples’ code and I’m good at breaking down what’s good and bad, what it does and how it can be improved.

I want to do something meaningful

Folk with my skills generally don’t come cheap. But the people with the deepest pockets aren’t necessarily the people I want to work for. Selling adverts doesn’t motivate me. Interesting and or socially valuable work does. And I’m happy to take that into account when negotiating a salary.