Archive for October, 2010

Looking for contract work

As I mentioned earlier this year, I’m looking to make one of my decadal career shifts. Since that decision, I’ve been doing part-time contract work on a RubyCocoa application, and I’ve found it satisfying to deliver working software to people who are happy to get it. It’s also helped with the nagging dread that—while I can talk the talk about programming, testing, refactoring, and all that—I wouldn’t be able to walk the walk. It turns out I can. Although I’m slower than I’d like, I do respectable work.

In my ideal contract, I’d:

  • … code in Clojure, Ruby, or Javascript. Other than that, I don’t require super-advanced or cool technology, but I do have a hankering to work on something that could somehow be the inspiration for another book. I don’t care about the domain.

  • … devote 1/2 to 3/4 of my time to a single project, working with a single team, over a period of months. Some portion of that—a week or two a month—would be spent onsite. (Chicago would be the best place because it’s easily accessible by train. I live in Central Illinois.)

  • … work at a sustainable pace, and be given the leeway to do a good job by my standards. I’m trying to be artisanal about my code.

    (”I want to be artisanal” might raise red flags: will I decide I know what’s needed better than those who are paying for it? My saving grace is that I have a Labrador-like eagerness to please. I want product owners to smile when they think of me.)

  • … be able to stretch by occasionally going slower while I experiment with techniques. (My work on outside-in TDD in Clojure is an example.) I’m willing to be paid less in order to improve faster.

  • … be in frequent contact with the people who’ll viscerally appreciate the features they get for the money they spend. That given, I don’t care whether I am working directly for a product company or as a subcontractor on behalf of a contract programming company.

  • … work in an Agile style. (I almost didn’t think to include this, since I assume anyone interested in hiring me would expect or accept that. I’m not interested in a job teaching the glories of continuous integration or TDD or refactoring. I’m interesting in learning how to do them ever better, and in working with people who have the same interests.)

However, there may not be an ideal, and I don’t intend to be rigid about opportunities. I could see, for example, working with several teams at once, being someone who helps convert a daily grind into an exploration of new techniques. That’d be more like my consulting past, but I’d be more hands-on than I have in the past, involved for longer, and feel more responsible for the product.

Also: although I listed Chicago as my desired location, it has drawbacks when it comes to (1) winter and (2) helping me with my (currently somewhat faltering) attempt to learn Spanish. I wouldn’t mind working in Costa Rica, Argentina, or elsewhere in Latin America (probably for a longer continuous chunk of time onsite).

I don’t have a huge portfolio of code to show you. What I have is on Github. Critter4Us shows my Cappuccino and Ruby code. My Clojure code is limited to Midje, which is a programmer’s tool rather than an end-user project.

My email address is