This is a “quick” recap of my thoughts.
What has been up with me some may wonder. Well, a lot. I moved, decided to pivot & am restarting my career. Oh course whenever you do that, you get a ton of recruiters emailing you with jobs from your old profession, that are no longer suitable to you. Thanks to life events, I can’t work the long hours demanded, and besides that — despite my deceptively younger looks — I’m not a spring chicken anymore. Along with that, I realized that I can’t do repairs of small devices anymore. This is somewhat sad. But considering that my iFixit kit has paid itself off at least 10 times over the years, it’s not that bad of an outcome. Another change is my outlook. Before April of this month, my view on life was that I had to clear my plate of everything put in front of me or let it pile up. However looking at my reading list, there are literally over 100 articles I simply bookmarked after the synopsis or intro that I never got back to. Add to that the countless languages (markup or compiled) I’ve looked at learning and we see a truly daunting list. I’ve decided that things will get my attention as they always have: as needed. The one thing I am putting on my plate over and over until I learn it is 3D. This follows my 2 decade old foray into 3D when I bought some, now defunct, program to run on my Quadra 800. It took hours to ray trace a simple render test. However now it is for modeling objects for 3D printing. While you will never hear me call myself a 3D artist, it is one skill I know I can pickup again. My skills are in a constant state of flux. Last year I spent recuperating from yet another person who overestimated their stopping distance and ended up plowing into my car and injuring me. The more things change…
One thing that has remained constant is people thinking I’m 10 or more years younger than I am — that and Clan Lord. While this sounds great, in a professional setting some visible grey hair would help. I’ve gotten dismissed by people in the computer industry because I came off as knowing less than I do. Because of my youthful looks, some assume I don’t have a career spanning decades of problem solving and putting working solutions in production. They also do not realize that production is my forte given my training and experience. They do not know I am a veteran at applying my wide range of human, hardware & software interface knowledge to create solutions that are both powerful, flexible and easy to learn and ramp up with the user’s comfort level to be truly efficient. I have a few stories on my blog about my experience and how effective I can be when given some runway. Whether it was me running the numbers and bringing color printing in-house to save tens of thousands per year, or when I developed an upgrade road map that saved an additional tens of thousands and brought upgrades to the entire department. Of course I also have decades of hands on “break-fix” experience, experience with writing support docs, tutoring end users, etc. All of these were part of a larger IT titles: Refresh Technician, IS Manager, Senior IT Engineer and even DTP Manager.
So, when I meet people they might think I’m not an advanced user, while those that do not know about tech assume I’m a guru. I am neither really. I read that people who call themselves experts paint themselves into a corner, because they might think they know all there is to know. Once you think that, you become a dinosaur in computing terms, and if there is one thing I am not, is a dinosaur — at least in mindset. Yes, I am middle-aged, but I can still think rings around college grads when it comes to coming up with solutions given a budget and a clear goal.
That is not to say I haven’t had problems with contracts. The biggest problem is making it cleat that laying out a site or graphic requires all elements be both complete and as noise-free as possible. Often people give me photos where an edge of something is cut off and I have to either reject it because the cut off edge will show up in the photo or I painstakingly paint the missing pieces back in using the cloning tool of Affinity Photo.*
*Note: I used to use Adobe Photoshop when I was paid to do this sort of thing. However as a home user that only uses pixel editing on occasion now, a $30/month fee couldn’t hold a candle to Serif’s Affinity Photo that does all the pixel editing Photoshop does at a $50 one-time fee. This is not a shill for them, and I don’t think everyone should switch, but if you are not a pro getting paid for this, Affinity might be a very cost effective replacement.
Another problem was people thinking a small change is copy (text) was a minor tweak, not realizing the more characters that were changed the more the dimensions of a text box changes. In layout in 3D html space (meaing layers of text bounds and graphics etc.) changes to text density can translate into huge changes if the bounding box had tight tolerances. What that means as the more precise the layout, the more text changes affected the look. This would require laying out a text block entirely from scratch in some cases, and in most cases meant tweaking character spacing and widths.
This also makes me very good at handing off copy and graphics to others. When I give people graphics and copy, they are as complete and accurate to the final copy as possible. Often that means I tighten the copy be chopping out “filler” words. Instead of “Research into Market Shows Upward Trend” into “Market Research Trends Upward.” 2 Words cut equals a layout that takes ~30% less space when broken into 2 lines (as a pull quote). I gained this ability “first” in my career when I worked for an investment research firm startup that is still going strong. In. fact many of my skills were honed in the office on the upper floor of an old foundry in SF overlooking the bay. They were wise enough to recognize my potential, and essentially give me cart blanche. I would request X for an employee and my CFO and I would meet informally — likely before he told me a great story of his youth. It was those sorts of non-meeting meetings where I would talk directly to the end user to scope out their needs, then me proposing a solution to them, then advocating to the CFO who would often okay it because he knew I was arguing not for the employee, myself nor the company, but in the name of efficiency. After about a year of me going to Jeffrey, our CFO, for things, he told me, “M, if it is under $100, just get it and give me the invoice.” It is that sort of confidence in my abilities I missed most going outside to get clients one by one. I also do not relish having to prove myself to each and every new client until they were confident in my abilities.
Now getting back to casual meetings and meetups: yes, I come off young and even naïve at times. However my naïvety is a ruse of a sort. I do not want to walk into a situation where I dismiss someone who has studied a problem like I have, and having the end result being me not learning from them. So, when someone does ask me what I’ve done or my background, I just say, “I’m a jack of all computing trades. And when I say all, I mean pretty much every different type of software you can run on a computer— from graphics and laser scanners to development of modules and scripting. It is the same with electronics — if it has electricity running through it, I probably know something about it.”
Because of my wide range of experience, I pop up in a resume screener’s list often. Sadly most refuse to read the notes:
“Open to relocation outside of Northern California?” NO. with few exceptions (like another metro area with good transportation options. This means Los Angles is a non-starter for me, unfortunately.
“40+ hours/week” NO. No exceptions
“— Jr.” Probably not
Also, I must be able to chose my equipment and interface my workflow into yours. So, Windows only environments are out. Sorry, I worked professionally with windows for over a decade. Constantly having to fix things that mis-installed or broke the registry are not my idea of efficient workflow. I know Win10 is better, but it is the same old pile of garbage for the system settings UI. I wrote about this years ago: they UI falls apart once you dig into the settings: it looks no different that Windows 95 which was released almost 22 years ago. 22 Years of the same UI showing the underlying guts of your system is an ice age of development.
Anyway, this post is more a quick recap of the contents of my blog. User the tags above to find out more about me. And if you have a job that could use my expertise, is local to the bay area or remote is available at less than 40 hours/week, let me know. If you are a non-profit with a 4+ star rating on charitynavigator.org , even better.