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02/23/2004:

Freelancin' Risks 101


Shit happens.

What a way to start a blog.

QS and I had a difficult day. Although our problems are unrelated and we're not up against each other, still it doesn't remove the fact that crap happens.

But let's look at the good side of things... at least she's blogging once again.

Although I do enjoy freelance software development very much, it doesn't remove the fact that outside factors come in the way. These outside factors are often used to blame the programmers for every problems popping out of this world.

The user is using the program you created, sidetracked and visited a spyware/trojan-infested site, crashed the computer and spread the worm in the local network, eradicated his documents, impaired the OS which in turn hangs the program.

Guess who they're blaming?

They blame the programmer and his Level42 idiot-proofed database application.

Of course this is just the simplest variation of certain problems a freelance developer encounters. I could go on and on enumerating them all.

Yes... 'freelance software development' may sound sweet to one's ears, yet... it holds a lot of risks too.

While in a non-freelance software business, clients and some users tend to blame 'the company' for any other outside related bugs too, the developers have a better shield. In fact, some are even protected with seven headed salivating bulldogs guarding the programming zone.

While in worst cases, notorious (or shall we use 'careless' to be less harsh) programmers get fired or castrated, you seldom see them being blamed directly by users or clients. Experts would even sometimes blame the marketing department or the head for enslaving these borgs in four-sided cubicles.

You don't see 'the programmer Mr. Anderson coded this bug, redirect your hate mails to his email' lines in support forums and company websites.

In some cases, it is the support telephone entities that receive these kind of 'attacks'. Or the project heads who would professionally protect his team and defend his programmers to the last 8-bit of his blood

In the freelance world you're on your own. You are responsible for the un-released memory-based variables you make that cause your program to crash the OS. You see unchecked bugs unfold before your eyes while you are presenting the program to your clients. You hear their problems directly. You interact with them. You feel their pain from using your 'Duh-I-thought-I-solved-that-already' programs.

You are responsible. No shields or bulldogs to protect you. You're on your own.

But you do learn and grow.

Not that difficult really if the problem lies on the code or the 'logistics' of the program.

A lot harder when the problem lies on the users' attitude, in the way they view computers, in the way they view life.

And a helluva-lot harder when you don't know what really caused the problem.

Add the fact that your name is always on the line.

In the world of freelancing, if there's one thing you have to hold dear and hold it dearly like it's a 1024K halo-blue-ish diamond found behind the galactic borders of the Andromeda Galaxy only every 1168 lunar cycles... that would be your name... your reputation.

Yes... your reputation.

It can make you or break you.

What's worse is when your name and reputation is on the line because of the things you don't do. Because of the 'outside factors'.

The blasted 'outside factors'.

But like any other thing this world holds, it's how you handle these things that counts.

And that too could make and break you.

But whatever happens... life goes on... and still, shit happens.

After-blog dangling references:

I'll keep you updated on this problem and will make things less abstract once I have a full grasped of what the cause of the problem really is.


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