Subject: Re: Business - long
From: "David H. Lynch Jr" <dhlii@comcast.net>
Date: Fri, 12 May 2006 03:05:08 -0400

    I have fairly quickly received several responses, as well as a
couple of me too's.

    I am already in Dice, Monster, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, .... Most of
the job boards - they seem to overlap.
    CraigsList may not be a bad idea - I will work nationwide.
    I participate in a number of MailLists - but I beleive that normal
ettiquette there prohibits solicitation.
    I presumed based on its name that this type of discussion is not
inapproriate here.


    I am getting pretty good at searching for work, filtering out
recuiters and staffing companies (or figuring out based on the
interesting prospects who the real client is)
    I would like to think I am pretty good at finding people that might
consider a real consultant instead of a staff hire.
    I have been especially targeting people with jobs or posts that
sound like they can think outside the box.
    Unfortunately, I must not be as good as I think as In one full year
I have probably spent atleast 1000 hrs with job board related searching
and managed one client from that.

    I have hit up all my friends, college buddies, everyone I can think of.
    But of all the skills needed to consult successfully, I suck at
Sales and Marketting.

    What do I want ?

          I want to preserve those aspects of my life and lifestyle that
are important to me.

          I live on 2 acres in the woods, by a stream in Lititz, PA. My
80 year old inlaws live with me(and they are not moving) - but that is
an excuse. I can readily get extremely high paying jobs if I am willing
to pull up stakes and move to say CA or some other technology center. I
am an architect, I am building my own home - really hammer, nails the
whole bit, and I love doing it (mostly). I am not moving. My wife is a
local public defender. She is damn good, but she her salary has maxed
out. Most Lawyers are well paid. PD's are not. She is doing what she
loves. At the moment she is making more than I am, and we are able to
meet the mortgage, pay the bills, with a very slow increase in debt.
That does not let me buy materials to build. Hire carpenters
occasionally to do what I would rather not do. Go out to dinner ever,
not even fast food. Basically it is really tight. I understand
Sacrifice, but I want to go out to dinner with my wife occasionally. My
daughter is 9 and adopted from china, my son from korea is 7. Working
from home gives me alot of time with them that I do not want to give up.

    Preserving what I have with some modest increases is what matters.

    I do not know how not to work hard. I have taken one vacation in my
life - 4 weeks to go to china to adopt my daughter, and I ran two
payroll's while I was gone (one from china).
    I work, I eat, I sleep, with time off occasionally for my kids.
    I have most of the consulting skills that people ordinarily lack. I
have nailed the development time for every consulting project I have
done so far. I have grossly underestimated the client interaction on one
project, and the vendor interaction on another, but I had enough
contingency to cover them. Most of my work is fixed fee work - and that
actually makes me happiest.

      My idea of the perfect work, would be alot of clients looking for
Embedded Linux Board Bringup (atleast until that gets boring). It is
work I can do well, should be reasonably specialized and lucrative, and
is suited to consulting.
   
    But I do not need perfection. I will do 24x7 oncall support
babysitting Linux (or even windows) servers if I get to stay where I am
work on my house and be with my kids.

    Right now I am more aggressively looking for 3-6 month contract
employment gigs most anywhere, because a 6 month job would give me
another 18 months to get this working. That is not what I want, but I
will do what it takes.

    The local needs are pretty pathetic. There is very little need for
high calibur Software People in this area. And Lancastrian's are
notoriously cheap. I have aggressively gone after what local software
development work there is. There is virtually no software development
consulting work locally. I am reasonably close to the State Capitol, and
I have tried to break in there, but that is an entirely different
mindset, and getting state work does not seem to have anything to do
with skill, and whatever skill it does take I do not have.

    I have no problem with Travel. While working (telecommuting) for
Anzus I spent 5 days a month in San Diego. I would take Telecommuting
work right now, but what I really want is consulting. I was asked to
leave Anzus after a coup resulted in firing the President and founder
and my boss (now head of Pico). I was the last of Dr. Trout's friends to
be asked to leave. There have been two subsequent coups and the people
who asked me to leave have been asked to leave. I have some contacts
inside Anzus and I suspect I will actually get work out of them
eventually - The current CEO thinks of me as "that brilliant Linux guy"
and has promised me any future Linux work. Unfortunately what I want him
to think of me as is their goto guy when they do nto know what they are
doing inhouse. Leaving Anzus was coming anyway. I do not see myself as
someone else's employee. I want client's not a boss. Though I loved the
work.

        As to what can I do - if it involves a computer I can do it.
Aside from the fact that I learn extremely quickly, I have been working
with PC's since practically altair days.
    The bigest area of experience I am missing is medium to large
enterprise experience.
    I already have embedded experience. Aside form the fact that in the
early 80's if you needed a hard drive on PC's you had to write the
drivers, I have lots of experience in the hardware/software juncture.
    And I have already done Linux Board Bringup. I have the first
working Xilinx V4 port for the 2.6 Kernel. I have also done Linux
drivers. http:/www.picocomputing.com - Pico E-12.
    I am currently working to put GreenHills Integrity on the same board
(yes, I know Integrity is not Open Source,  but right now I have a
mortgage to meet, and that is my only active project)
    I get regular work from Pico. I am pretty much guaranteed if they
take off (they are about 18 months old) I will get alot of work from
them. But right now they are poor and cheap. I have been grossly
underpaid for the work I have done for them, but I have little other
work, and they can not afford more. The owner is probably my best friend
and reference, and has fed me atleast one other client - though very
small so far.
    Pico's Marketting director, was making a personal effort to find
consulting work for me while meeting Pico's needs. Unfortunately he had
a heart attack and died.

   
    The one client I got through Job Boards is
http://www.westfaliausa.com. They do automated warehouses, They have
several existing clients with Warehouse Management Systems written in
C++. There new WMS in in C#.NET.
    They have inhouse developers for the new projects, that are cheaper
than I am. I have tried to break into their new work, but they seem to
want to keep that inhouse. I am not commenting on the skill of their
internal people.
    They lost their onstaff C++ developer. Both the department head and
his boss can do C++ work, but mostly they want to manage. Mostly I get
all their upgrades for existing clients - atleast until they have moved
them to the new system. Each warehouse is fairly custom so that is slow.
That is also all very easy Microsoft VC++ work, with a smattering of
SQL, and just about every other Microsoft technology in existance. I
have tried to convince them to hire me to rewrite the whole mess using
Open Source Technology. Right now they want to use Oracle as the DB
more. I have offered to do that. They also make warehouse hardware that
involves embedded systems. Unfortunately that is an entirely different
department and I can not seem to break in there. One thing I am
discovering is that most embedded development today is done by engineers
- EE's and EE's do not seem to mix with software people. I am not sure
how I missed this. I went to RPI and all my associates were CSE's and
EE's. I actually have sufficient hardware skills to design simple
embedded systems, but I am not trying to sell myself as a hardware designer.

    Most of my past experience comes from my role in my family business.
David Lynch & Associates is an Architectural firm - Buildings. When I
started in 1981 (not counting everything I did as a kid) they had a
staff of about 15.
    In 2001 they had a staff of 55. During that time, I did absolutely
everything that had anything to do with computers. I wrote a CAD system
in 6502 assembler on a KIM I before there was an AutoDesk. I developed
Job Costing Systems, Accounting Systems - in 1981 if you wanted
accounting software for an S100 TurboDOS system you wrote it (as well as
the disk drivers, ...). In the rare instances there was PC commercial
software to do the job I was trying to do  it was almost always way
outside our budget. I developed PC network software using RS-422 before
there was a Novell - or atleast before I heard of them. Hard Disk
Systems to because I could not afford a Corvus.
When we moved to MSDOS, I write Disk Systems to get arround the
Microsoft 4MB, then 12MB, then ...... pretty much every disk limit
Microsoft ever had. Somewhere I have complete commented source for all
of MSDOS.SYS 5.0 that I disassembled myself. I wrote a multipass 8086
learning disassembler to do so. I wrote in assembler a Microsoft
SMB/CIFS fully compatible redirector and server (with my embedded
NetBeui and 3c503 drivers)  that was about 1/3 the size of Microsoft
redirector (without NetBeui and drivers) - this was a few years before
Andrew Tridgel's first effort for his wife. I wrote software to do
electronic payroll before there was an internet (alright before it was
readily and affordably available to small business). I mentioned very
little about accounting and business software. My mother - the business
manager/bookkeeper, had a heart attack just before I graduate. I have
mostly run the financial end of the business since then - I do nto know
marketting, but I do know business. I wrote all the buisness software I
have a nice intergrated AR/AP/GL/PR/ Jobcosting ... System that I would
like to Open Source but it is currently in a proprietary Database
language. I was looking to migrate to Perl/TK/Web/MySQL when I left DLA
(they shrunk too far to afford me).

    Despite my degree in Architecture - I am not a graphic artist. That
is about the only web related skill I do not have. I can handcode HTML,
XML, CSS, ... and put together a web site that will run respectably over
a modem - or off a CD without a web server. But web development looks
pretty cutthroat even without considering offshore developers.

    While I am compitent in just about every common programming language
used over the past 25 years - including atleast 1/2 dozen assemblers. I
do not consider indepth knowledge of specific languages to be important.
    I picked up PowerPC assembler in a few hours. I became more
proficient at C# than WTI's inhouse people in a day. When I need to know
how to cast a BSTR to a std::string in C++ google will get me the answer
faster than I can think it up on my own.

    My primary software development skill is analysis. I migrated
Anzus's Rosetta (a real time embedded SQL tracking controller
interfacing to just about every known miltary datalink) from Windows to
cross platform Linux development in about 3 months (and about 1000 hrs.)
- I have DoD experience as well as a Secret clearance, though in a
perfect world I would prefer to avoid DoD work. Anyway, I accomplished
the port by making about 300 very minor (mostly less than 1 line)
changes to the existing code base (about 1M lines) and adding about 2000
lines of additional support code - most of which was pseudo Microsoft
headers for Linux (basically a very mini Wine).
    There is an Einstein Quote I swiped from somebody in my signature -
that fits me. My code gains features, and power over time while getting
smaller and simpler. I am very good at that. I am very good at finding
the simple solutions to complex problems. I mostly do not like hourly
work. I spend a huge amount of time thinking, and not alot coding - and
if I did things well very little debugging.

   
    I was very big on Windows NT originally. I was a Microsoft Solution
Provider and I am an MSCE. I can write windows drivers.

    Aside from writing software, I was everything from CTO through help
Desk, cable maker for an enterprise of up to 55 systems. For a while I
built and sold computers (on the side while working ad DLA).
    I first started using Linux at lat 2.0. I started playing with it to
do pre 802.11 WireLess routing (AT&T Wavelan) over 1 mile links, when
Windows NT just could not do the job.
    It was immediately obvious that Linux's network layer was much more
robust. Over the next several years I gradually migrated all kinds of
services from Windows to Linux. I am reasonably fluent with all the
major Linux Services used by Debian (I am familiar with other distros
but I am pretty fluent with Debian or Debian based systems)  Exim4,
Cyrus 2.2, MailScanner, Apache2, Perl, MySQL, VServers, Bind9, DHCP3,
Iptables, Squid, MRTG, and a plethora of others.


>
>
>>     What little information I have found via google sugests  "build a
>> web site and they will come". So far they are not coming.
>>
> Yes, that is pretty terrible advice.  A web site is not bad to have
> but, even once you
> have it, you still have sales and marketing to do.
>
>>     I have been actively scouring job boards but they seem to be
>> operated primarily for the benefit of recruiters who have zero real
>> interest in actual consultants.
>>
> It may not apply to your area but Craigslist has a classifieds section
> for
> "gigs", which can include consulting.    This is still not the best
> way to
> find clients but it can sometimes work.
>
>>     I have been actively scouring the FreeLance sites, but they seem
>> to have primarily become the domain of offshore consultants working
>> at rates I can not possibly meet.
>>
> Plus, the quality of people hiring there? -- no, no, skip that.
>
>
>>     Almost all the work I have gotten so far has been through
>> contacts. But that is only meeting about 1/3 of my fairly modest needs.
>>
> Yes.  And, guess what: contacts (everyone says and I agree) is the very
> best way to find new business. 
> So, what's a contact?   On the one hand, it's people you already know.
> On the other hand, by gosh, it's people you go beat the pavement and
> meet all on your own.   Pick the most charismatic, charming, smooth
> operator you've ever known and think about -- in spite of the sliminess,
> what you actually admire and appreciate about that person.  Channel them.
> Speak with confident tones.  Look people in the eye.  Be gentle and
> honest.
> Listen, and try to create opportunities for people to tell you
> problems they
> need solved.    All that corny stuff.
>
> I think that embedded systems consulting is going to be a little tricky
> if you don't already have a lot of momentum in that area.  By the time
> someone needs those kinds of tech skills, they tend to already have them.
>
> The business systems stuff might do better, especially if you can find a
> niche.   What kind of money do you need/want?   Have you given any
> thought to the (real, not imagined) needs of small businesses in your
> region?
>
>>
>>     Since I would suspect many other members of this list are more
>> successful at this
>>
>>     What works ?
>>
>>    
> I'm not more successful.   I do have some recent success, not much
> different
> than yours (a fraction of what I need) -- so I'm just passing along
> info about
> the gradient I'm climbing these days.
>
> How entrepreneurial are you (in the Phil Grahmish sense of wanting to
> work intensely for a while to get your life's need to earn money over
> quickly)?
>
> I think that there's not a few people in boats like yours and mine and
> that
> raises a meta-question: what can be done with all this underutilized
> talent
> and labor?   And that meta-question leads, imo, to a plethora of
> entrepreneurial
> opportunities.   But.... the catch-22 is that if you are in a *truly*
> economically
> distressed position at time T_0 (e.g., your ordinary-lifespan survival
> is basically
> horked given all available degrees of freedom), well, *that alone*
> means that
> no matter what entrepreneurial idea you come up with, it doesn't
> matter -- you're
> out.  People will steal from you before they bother to do business
> with you.
> People will tut tut and moralize about you behind your back.   People
> will
> go out of their way to hurt you.  Basically, you don't stand a chance.
>
> -t
>
>
>


-- 
Dave Lynch 					  	    DLA Systems
Software Development:  				         Embedded Linux
717.627.3770 	       dhlii@dlasys.net 	  http://www.dlasys.net
fax: 1.253.369.9244 			           Cell: 1.717.587.7774
Over 25 years' experience in platforms, languages, and technologies too numerous to
list.

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of
genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction."
Albert Einstein