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2010-06-03, 19:32
Member
26 posts

Registered:
Mar 2010
I'm looking for a bit of advice.

I recently resigned from my job as a unix admin / perl coder / general fix-it-man. Twenty years in office-based IT was just too much. I haven't really decided what I want to do with myself yet, but one of the things I've considered is home-based IT work, most likely coding. I'm going to teach myself PHP over the summer, and remind myself how to code in C (last time was about 15 years ago).

I would really appreciate any getting-started tips from those already in the field. If it's at all possible, I'll buy you a beer.

Thanks.
2010-06-03, 19:43
Member
284 posts

Registered:
Oct 2006
vodka wrote:
I'm looking for a bit of advice.

I recently resigned from my job as a unix admin / perl coder / general fix-it-man. Twenty years in office-based IT was just too much. I haven't really decided what I want to do with myself yet, but one of the things I've considered is home-based IT work, most likely coding. I'm going to teach myself PHP over the summer, and remind myself how to code in C (last time was about 15 years ago).

I would really appreciate any getting-started tips from those already in the field. If it's at all possible, I'll buy you a beer.

Thanks.

If you are learning PHP or pretty much anything else, don't reinvent the wheel, it doesn't pay any bills. Learn to use popular frameworks for what you think you might be able to sell as coding work projects. With your background however I'm not sure what kind of gigs you were thinking about.

Outside of that, chill out a bit, maybe just code for fun (there you can reinvent the wheel all you like and slowly start to envision what it is really that you would like to do in this area, or maybe some other area? Ofc this depends a lot on what kind of expense structure you have and what kind of savings.

Or simply code some semi-popular app for appstore and you'll be set for a while How hard can it be!
2010-06-03, 19:55
Administrator
2058 posts

Registered:
Jan 2006
While it might be too late now as you already resigned, a tips I would have given you is to start your business on the side of a regular job to eliminate the risk of standing there without anything to do should the solo career turn out to be a bad move - sometimes the timing just might not be right for example. The positive thing now though is that you will have 100% focus on your new thing, which is also good.

When getting started I suggest you scan your social network for business opportunities. Perhaps there is a friend to a friend who needs something done for his company? If it's people you know you might do some stuff at a hefty discount in the beginning just to get some references. When you're in the game though you definitely shouldn't be afraid of making sure to get good pay.

As for the actual coding i would suggest you learn how to handle (i.e. using, adapting) the most common platforms. If you're doing web, you will have lots accomplished by using Wordpress for example and just learning how to code the plugins (if what you need don't already exist somewhere on the net already).

Some random mumbling but might get the discussion going. Good luck with your future endeveaours
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2010-06-03, 19:57
Administrator
2058 posts

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Jan 2006
A disclaimer is that I'm not in the field though. Been thinking about it lots of times but never had the balls to pull it off.
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2010-06-03, 20:00
Member
48 posts

Registered:
Sep 2007
about the reminding yourself part. Start with QuakeC =)
2010-06-03, 20:09
Administrator
1859 posts

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Feb 2006
Nobody wants to be reminded of QuakeC
2010-06-03, 21:10
Member
271 posts

Registered:
Feb 2006
o.O
QuakeC rules though!
If you want to play with C, port a Quake engine to run in a web browser (hint: npapi = firefox+chrome+opera). Make it stable and look professional. That'll impress enough people, and give you some experience of threads and other people's code, and stuff. Its all good. And if you can't get a job, you can start making a matchmaking web site for it, just make two clients join the same server at the same time.
I already did the first bit myself. Got bored when it came to 'stable' though. :/
moo
2010-06-03, 22:39
Member
188 posts

Registered:
Jan 2007
Spike wrote:
o.O
QuakeC rules though!
If you want to play with C, port a Quake engine [...]

Sorry, I'm gonna have to counter that. If you want to play with C, stay as far away from Quake as you possibly can. If anything, Quake is handbook on how _not_ to do things in C. In fact, it probably contains every idiotic thing you could possibly do in C combined into a single project.

Want to learn C? Don't look at the Quake source code.
2010-06-04, 08:42
Administrator
1859 posts

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Feb 2006
Spike wrote:
Got bored when it came to 'stable' though.

Oh really? Who would have guessed?
2010-06-04, 10:16
Member
198 posts

Registered:
Oct 2006
Vodka, I'd really not recommend PHP and alike. The market right now is quite bloated with that and as a result, as niomic mentioned, it doesn't pay for itself + requires a lot of work while php/mysql versions change format, etc.

My advice would be that you open up a job search engine and see what is in the highest demand. Few years ago it was C# and some Java. That is however quite popular among people now, as it is considered easier. A field where many strict rules exist is lower level coding for example for electronic devices. It is also MUCH better paid.

Finally, if you'd like to do something else than coding - certified professionals (cisco, microsoft, etc) are always in high demand and well paid for doing contractor jobs.
2010-06-04, 10:18
Member
345 posts

Registered:
Feb 2006
Someone needs to come up with a way to make 'polish' fun. :-(
2010-06-04, 15:05
Member
125 posts

Registered:
Jan 2008
As some people mentioned, the demand for wordpress/drupal etc based php work is what is hot now if you want to get into php.
If that is not your cup of tea, and you want to do more advanced web services, you should think about python. However the freelance market is probably not ready for it yet, but its emerging.

Freelancing can be awesome or it can be a pain in the ass, It all depends on your clients.
If you feel you have a good network then go for it!
If you have no idea where to start, then I probably would advise against it until you do.

Also about the office vs home base.
If you for example work for an advertising agency who wants you to make a site for their client. My experience is that they will want to have you at the office quite a lot... even if you're just freelancing
And for more advanced/bigger projects, even much more so.
2010-06-05, 18:47
Member
26 posts

Registered:
Mar 2010
Guys, thanks very much for all your feedback; it's given me a lot to think about.

One question that now comes to mind is: which development environment? I'm assuming a laptop with some flavour of Linux would be best, but the last time I dabbled in Linux was about 5 years ago with Gentoo. Career-wise, I've been working with Solaris / HP for 20 years. Which flavour(s) of Linux would you recommend? What sort of software stack should I look to install / compile?

Thanks again.
2010-06-05, 21:52
Member
1100 posts

Registered:
Jan 2006
I recommend Archlinux. It is barebones and makes it incredibly easy to tailor a system that fits your needs exactly, if you have a bit of previous experience.
2010-06-05, 23:01
Member
115 posts

Registered:
Mar 2006
vim ;]
one of the good guys! so please don't ban - jogi.netdome.biz
2010-06-05, 23:12
Member
1732 posts

Registered:
Jan 2007
Uhm, well. You know. Lets just play Quake and have a laugh.
*** www.signedcmn.nl ***
2010-06-10, 08:34
Member
198 posts

Registered:
Oct 2006
Is it enough to say that Milton plays qw on Gentoo? I think Eclipse is quite powerful IDE nowadays, can be used for various languages.
2010-06-10, 09:16
News Writer
283 posts

Registered:
Jan 2007
I'm kicking myself for not coming up with the idea of a browser-based online strategy game, e.g. Grepolis:
http://en.grepolis.com/invite-500051-en7 (start in Eta, south-east!)

Just to think... if the idea had come to me a few years ago then I could've focussed on learning the coding language and could be having great fun & making plenty of cash whilst doing so by now. If you can come up with a similarly revolutionary idea which will potentially be popular with the masses then you're set. Easier said than done I suppose.

Or you could just play it and enjoy the hell out of it (whilst kicking yourself) like I've been doing for a couple of weeks now...
2010-06-28, 14:01
Administrator
2058 posts

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Jan 2006
What did you decide to do, Vodka? Might be a bit early, but would be interesting with a follow-up!
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2010-06-28, 18:08
News Writer
646 posts

Registered:
Mar 2006
C and PHP are my two favorite languages so drop me a line. You can help me with a little on-the-side project if you want

Reading other peoples code and just doing little side-projects is the best way to improve imho. A book on this subject I can recommend is "Coders at work" http://tinyurl.com/25vu6ke

Cheers
2010-06-29, 19:06
Member
26 posts

Registered:
Mar 2010
Hi folks.

I've decided on a career change and am going back to college in October to study countryside management. I live close to a national park and there are always plenty of seasonal ranger positions available in summer if you have the right qualifications (and have done a lot of volunteering - which I'm also doing). I spoke to a few of the rangers there and they all do something else on the side, so it makes sense for me to continue with the coding. So I've decided to buy a no-OS laptop and put down either Ubuntu or Gentoo (probably Ubuntu), and then get up to speed with PHP, C, and Perl. At the moment I'm still deciding on the best place to buy a no-OS laptop in the UK. Novatech seem pretty good, though there kit seems a little out of date. Still, I'm not really looking for bleeding edge technology, just a nice laptop.

Thanks Phil, I'll certainly be in touch when I get my laptop built.
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