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Archive for July, 2008

I’m a programmer, why go start up?

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I’m a developer, why the hell do I want to do a start up? I’ll tell you why (in order of significance)

1) Need a bigger challenge: Technology itself is no longer a challenge. I know given reasonable time and resources, i can do anything. It’s time to learn new skills and assimilate them into my repertoire. No better place to learn about the different aspects of IT business than in a small start up, where everyone’s got to wear different hats

2) Your Empire, Your People, Your Culture: Start your dynasty. Find like minded people to work with. Create the most awesome work atmosphere ever! You’ll wake up every day wanting to go to work!

3) Choose your battles: Choose the projects you want to work on. Contact the clients you want to work with. Sell the features you want to build. Set the timelines you want to commit too. Do the things you want to do.

4) The front: You’re right in the thick of things. No one stands between you and the customer. You’ll hear what people have to say about your business right from the source. If a customer is upset, you have to turn their frown upside down. Then you walk away knowing you’ve made a difference.

5) Money: Some people say money is good. And sometimes I believe them.

Written by John Lai

July 22nd, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Off the shelf or build from scratch?

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I’m about to work on a big project. I’m doing research into off the shelf products that may or may not do what I want. Here are quick pros vs. cons

OFF THE SHELF
pros – much of what you need might be built; there’s support for the product; save a lot of time; great short term

cons - may not be as flexible; takes time to learn how to reverse engineer; since open source platforms try to solve ALL business scenarios, you’re stuck with superfluous code and irrelevent modules, which results in one big bloated system that’s hard to maintain and scale

BUILD FROM SCRATCH

pros – you know exactly what it can or can’t do; solve only problems you need solved; design for immediate re-use with other projects you have on the go

cons – takes more time to build;

If your project is quite substantive with long term plans, and you have the skills to do programmatic wonders, then you will be biased towards Build from Scratch. It’s appealing to a developer to design his own products, and re-sell them on his next projects.

Whatever you end up deciding do invest A LOT of time in trying out existing tools. You may end up using them, or they may inspire you to build even better products!

Written by John Lai

July 20th, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Q&A With Freelance Software Developer

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ON the subject of being a freelance software developer and consultant:

 

1) who else is doing this?

There is a big demand for software consulting and freelance software development. There are people doing this, but there aren’t enough. Plenty of opportunity for me to engage this industry. I have two objectives 1) make money 2) expand client base/establish new relationships. The fact that Ive had to turn down a handful of projects due to schedule conflicts is a clear indication of this demand.

 

2) is your service better? or cheaper? or both?

Majority of freelance software developers do not follow best practices, and open up security issues in their work. I offer services that adhere to best practices, as used in reputable organizations such as U of T and Torstar Digital (particularly on thestar.com, toronto.com, wheels.ca and ourfaves.com). I have existing re-usable products and solutions that promote fast and cost effective development (eg. my CMs which has been popular) .

3) why would soeone use your services vs. others
Reason outlined in question 2. Additionally, I have resources to assist clients with graphics design, marketting, and post release product support. Unlike most frelance developers who bring solely their own skillset to the table, I can bring together a team to get the job done. Finally, word of mouth will promote my service…part of the reason why i want to do consulting /contract work is to establish more contacts and get my name out there. All my clients have been enthused with my work, and they play a big role in growing my reputation exponentially.

 

4) can this be outsourced?

IT and software development is a big field, and there are many facets. In general, there are two types of organizations: Big ones, and not so Big ones. Big orgs. can afford to hire large IT teams and admin staffs. Small orgs. can’t afford to keep IT teams and admin staff. I offer my services to small/intermediate sized businesses looking for turn key solutions that the manager or an assistant can manage themselves.

Small orgs need Agile Development and Flexible Management strategies. Processes need to simple, lean, and fast. These methodologies are extremely difficult to execute when a) you’re a big corp. and you need different departments to sign off on proposals, specs, docs etc.. and b) you outsource to parties that are not conveniently geographically located.

By keeping my team small to service a client’s modest business, we can develop with flexibility, speed and simplicity. I can provide face to face conversation (extrmely important in graphics design and brand design), accept last minute requirement changes, and adapt quickly to changing realities. None of this would be cost effective to do for a 5 person company looking to outsource IT development, support and maintenance to India.

Written by John Lai

July 15th, 2008 at 12:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Start Up Success

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We finally got around to laying out the high level specs for application functionality. It’s weird, but even though my team hasn’t begun hardcore development, I see success already. And that success loses some of its glamour now that I have a plan, and know how much work there is to do. It’s still glamorous, and I’m totally devoted to it, but now I’m much more conscious of not sacrificing too many of the fine and simple things in life that will make me happy. Things like spending time with my family, listening to a cardinal whistle from the leaves, and enjoying what’s left of my youth.

I need to remember, don’t think of this as an investment with rewards to reap 20 years down the road. Think of it as a journey, and cherish each moment, because they’ll never come again. ..I think that came from star trek.

Written by John Lai

July 14th, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized