Monthly Archives: August 2008

Getting started with Mac programming

I mentioned in a previous post that I was starting the process of what’s after “what’s next?” and that means learning to build Mac software.  I have been through a couple of tutorials before and learned a decent amount about object-oriented programming, but I never spent enough time with it to become even remotely proficient.

This time, I’m starting with a new perspective, one that’s easier to swallow for me: infrastructure.  I know it sounds weird, but there’s logic behind this.  I need to learn to write an app, but I also need to learn how to efficiently build and sell software.  The rules for building and selling are the same no matter how big or small the app is.  So here’s what I’m thinking: build a simple test app and build all of the infrastructure around it.  That means things like help files, customer support forums, billing and serial numbers, an online store, merchant accounts and more.

Much of this can be done for free or very cheap and it will all be needed when the next app is built, something with greater value and more users.  Here’s the list of things I need–add comments if you think I missing something:

* a website for the software company that contains basic links to contact and support info, product pages and an online store

* a payment system and serial number generation system

* on online help file that mirrors the one built in to the application

* a way for people to download new apps and a method to allow replacement copies or serial number mailers


What's after what's next?

I used to work with a guy named Mike Mitchell, a sales and management expert. Among his many colorful phrases and amusing anecdotes were nuggets of solid gold wisdom. Here’s a favorite:

“What’s after what’s next?”

It’s supposed to mean that, once you’ve figured out what’s next, what you going to do after that? It’s a good way to keep your career moving and teach you to focus on being a professional and not an employee.

When I lost my job a couple of weeks ago, some people asked me to visualize what a job would be like if I wasn’t bound by my experience, geography or pay. The first thing I thought of was software development.

Writing good software is an art form. The medium is a computer programming language and it behaves much like granite does for a sculptor or clay does for a ceramist. Languages have rules, operating systems are environments but the software is the art form and it can express so much more than most people realize.

My “what’s next” is software. I’ll spend my nights and weekends working on writing software and prepping for the time that I can control my career instead of my employment.

Day 16 Update

Things are looking better today.  I’m in the final process of being hired at CenturyTel in Branson as a sales engineer.  It’s the perfect combination of what I did at my last two jobs–telecommunications technology consulting and network design/implementation.  I don’t have a start date yet, but once I pass the HR screening process, I’d expect it to be quick, maybe as soon as next week.

When everything is final, I’ll write up a more detailed set of notes…

Jobless Day 11 – Update

Things are looking better today.  I had a two hour interview the CenturyTel in Branson.  They have a job open for a sales engineer and my old boss at daZZee sent me the email to let me know.  I made some calls, filled out the applications and headed to Branson yesterday.  There were many clues that the interview went well–two hours at the end of the day on a Friday being the most obvious–but the non-verbal ones were important.  Some of the questions I would answer would generate a positive nod and a smile while writing down notes.

In all, a good interview and a good day.  I’ll know something by Tuesday.

Today is Wednesday–do you know what that means?

A good friend told me on Friday last week that I would have a job Wednesday. She didn’t have inside information or anything dramatic. She simply said “I have faith.” Her faith, and the faith of many others, has help to carry Tammy and I through to this day.

Yesterday was a second job interview with [Integrated Solutions Group]( and I think it went well. I hope to hear something from them today and get moving in a positive direction.

Still Jobless, Almost Homeless

Big news: someone wants to buy our house.  Bad news: I still don’t have a job.  Monday or Tuesday, I’ll find out if I can go to work for a great company, still doing the sales engineer job.  By then, we’ll have paperwork done to sell our house and a closing date set.  That means by the end of the week, we could be “homeless”.  What more will happen?

Jobless: Day 2

I had two interviews yesterday and both look like very serious job prospects and would allow me to start immediately. One is for a competitor of my old company and I would be able to work for them with the blessing of my old boss. That has a lot a appeal because basically nothing would change–pay, work, products–are all the same.

The other job is back to my roots in IT. I’d be a local IT admin for global company and work on their phone systems too. In that case, pay would likely be the same, but everything else would change. I would be out of the “sales” race and working on projects that were driven by business goals and not sales comp goals.

The IT admin job is one I’d rather have. The sales environment is wearing on me. I’ve been doing it for 9 years, asking and answering some of the same questions and seeing more disappointments than successes. The sales side has huge benefits both technically and financially, and this company has a track record for success.

I’m not stopping yet, so today is a “get organized” day. I’m moving contacts from my old setup in Outlook to a new on one of our house computers. I can then make lists of names to call and set up appointments to meet and maybe find jobs. I don’t want to be to presumptuous so I ask for help, not a job. People like to help people (self included) and I’m hoping that approach nets the biggest gains.

I am jobless

Folks, I’m out of a job.  For the first time in more than ten years, I’m looking for work.  This means I’m open to any idea that help me pay my bills and avoid being a statistic.

The company I work for folded up, closing the offices they have in Springfield and Rogers, AR and that left me on the street.  I knew it was coming, but only by a week.  In that time, I’ve been putting the word out that I’m looking, but now I’m trying to keep the money coming in.

The time for pride is passing, so let me be clear.  I need something in 30 days or less or Tammy and I could be your new roommates.

I have met the wall and it is me

I hit my emotional and mental wall today.  I had myself a good old-fashion cry.  Work is weird and not very satisfying.  My home is a mess and my interactions with Tammy have been short and frustrating.  I desperately want to return to a life more normal but more than that, I want to move from this house to 1424 S. Charing.  It’s the right house for us.  I know we’ll be there and I know we’ll make it through this, but man, this is hard work.

So you’re asking yourself, what would make him break down?  Try living for one month with constant clutter, disorganization, irregular meals, no social life while performing physical labor for 12 hours each day. Top it off with a bathroom in shambles so you can’t even shower in your own house.  All of the time, every time the phone rings, you fear that the call is to tell you everything you’re working for is for nothing.

Don’t tell me *you* wouldn’t break down at some point.  I made it almost three weeks.