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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Temporary Reprieve

I was fairly sure that it was up for me - no job, no unemployment (contractors aren't eligible for unemployment even through we pay into it, what bullshit) and no food money.

Bleak is not the word.

So, my plan was to go rob a bank, get thrown in jail for 8-10 years, and when I get out I'm eligible for retirement, so.. retire.. and write novels until I died.  3 hots and a cot, free medical, free dental, free vision, given I'm handicapped likely a minimum-security prison.. not a FUN way to live BUT! no living under a bridge with no food, water, bathroom, medical.. never going to go there.

And indeed, committing a Federal crime does NOT invalidate your Social Security retirement!  Now, for disability, if you become disabled in the commission of a crime, well, that won't count towards getting disability insurance and so try not to shoot off a hand/foot during a crime because you won't get credit for it (lol)!

However - my dear landlady/friend Anne is letting me stay rent-free for now, partially in exchange for dealing with various financial matters and generally being the Big Mean Man(tm) taking care of the two ladies living  in the house with me.  Between that and selling off hundreds of dollars worth of music software I won't use again, I have a place to live and food/phone money.

For a few months, anyway.

Given that my situation can't be that unique, I'm going to blog all the way until I pack up and head for the bank.  Maybe my experiences will help someone out, or at least act as a cautionary tale.  LEARN FROM MY FAIL.

So, today: I sold enough that I was able to get Paypal to send me two checks for $48.50 (it's a $1.50 for Paypal to cut you  physical check), one came in yesterday so today I'm off to cash it for fresh food.

For food, I've been spending right out of Paypal to Walmart.. I can get a large quantity of non-perishable foods (and you'd be amazed at what Walmart carries) to fill in around the fresh stuff.  $30 will get me a few weeks of beans, canned meat, sardines, crackers, and soups.

It won't be all gourmet cooking, but combine ramen, water chestnuts, straw mushrooms, and sesame oil and you have a good meal for dirt cheap.

And, while sending out resumes that I never even get a "thanks for sending a resume" auto-response from, Im cramming on JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3 in an attempt to re-train myself into a new field.

Watch this space to see how this freaking stupid drama finally ends.

Friday, July 15, 2016

So, it's not just me!

Read it and weep:

Over 45 and unemployed? Tough shit!  Too many people, not enough jobs.  Prepare to become homeless, because America doesn't give a rat's ass whether you live or die.

Committing a Federal crime is a good career move when you're old: free food, drink, medical care, and a place to sleep.  Screw the society that has screwed YOU.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Going Dark..

Sometimes you roll the dice and you win.  Been in a few good start-ups, a few good companies.

Sometimes, you crap out.  First, Unilectric, a start-up, lost their funding in December 2015 and dumped me unexpectedly on the street.  Second, American Innovations hired me to write code, and then stuck me reverse-engineering and documenting 98 THOUSAND lnes of code and I burned out trying to do the impossible.

So now, I'm 57 years old, the only jobs around require a degree I didn't bother with in 1977, and I can't find a part-time job to bring in money while I try to polish off a CS degree.

If I didn't have eye damage and could drive, I'd get a commercial drivers license and drive a truck.  If I didn't have the foot amputated I could take a menial job and work someplace where you have to stand for long period of time (like a cashier).


I have "too much experience" for an entry-level tester job (really, I've done test for one bloody year), "too little experience" for an intermediate tester job (ok, where do I get 3 years of test experience), and am "overqualified" for several other positions
(read: we don't hire older folks).

So, it's time to shut things down and Plan B it.

Both my Twitter accounts re shot down.  I deleted my Facebook account yesterday, and my poor lonely MySpace as well.  Today I will delete my Bandcamp account.  The only thing I'm leaving behind is my SoundCloud account, which is free and will eventually be deleted from lack of activity.

I shut down my bank account Monday, because, who spend money on an unused account?

If I can't sell this laptop online then I will take it to a pawn shop and get what I can for it.  I have no intention of bothering getting another laptop, why?  I can't use it where I'm going (prisons take  dim view of bringing electronics in with you).

It's been 57 years of a Hell of a ride, but that's as far as I think I can ride it.  There's just nothing happening for me and I'm tired of fighting an endless uphill battle.  I'll let Club Fed take cre of me, and when I get out I'll be retirement age and I can just go live in someone's rented room, writing, until I finally die of old age and/or diabetes and/or high blood pressure (or just plain disgust with life itself).

This blog will stay around until Blogger deletes it.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it any more!

The greater portion of this post is going to be ranting and railing against the world.  Some of it might be amusing, some of it might be disturbing, but hopefully none of it will be boring!

Warnings and caveats out of the way, shall we proceed?

First: my last contract ended April 30th. and I've been unable to find another one thus far.  I get told that either (a) a Bachelors is mandatory even if I've shipped a dozen commercial products or (b) that I'm "overqualified".

No Bachelors when I have 35 years of experience and I learn a new technology for each new job? Come on, this just means you want some cheap fresh-out you can pay nothing and work to death.  Good luck shipping reliable bug-free products with a newbie! Wait.. that explains why modern software ships with showstoppers.

And "overqualified" means "too old".  Stop lying, I know bullshit when I smell it.And I call bullshit on this kind of statement.

This kind of thing has pushed me to the edge of my patience.  I could easily teach a masters-level class in multi-threaded real-time software development in constrained-resource systems, sheesh!  Why do I need a piece of  paper when I have products out on the shelves RIGHT NOW?

Idiots.  I'm surrounded by idiots.

Given these circumstances, I'm left with few viable alternatives.  A missing foot and diabetes isn't enough to get disability.  I have 10 years left before I can retire.  90% of the jobs in Austin are either networking, Web, or test with a minimum 4 years of test experience (no entry level jobs?  Where does that 4 years come from, this is AFTER the degree).  Full-time embedded jobs are sparse and mostly in places with no mass transit (there's that darn amputated foot issue again).

The final fallback is to sell the laptop, go out on one last mega-blowout party, then burn the local IRS office to the ground.  I'll get out when I'm 67, which is retirement age, and I can find  nice romm to rent where I can write for the last few years of my life.

But I'm not *quite* out f ideas yet!

So today, I throw aside everything but game development and writing, bail music creation, and focus on learning WebGL and mobile/Web-based games.  This has two beneficial effects: one, I learn new skills that will get me work even if the business fails; and two, it ould possibly lead to the development of money-making mobile entertainment apps!

So now I'm off to find  part-time job of any kind and spending all the rest of my time writing novels or games.  Simple as that.  It's my one last shot before I Plan B it.

Whee, here we go!

Monday, April 25, 2016

And so, it begins

Well, Friday last week was the last straw.  All I could do is stare at the code, and sit while the cramping between my shoulder blades slowly made its way up into my skull.  Zero productivity.  Less than zero enthusiasm.  No way to produce a professional-level result.

So, I emailed my agency, told them I was going to close things out and leave, and managed to give my boss a 2 minute heads-up between his meetings.  And then I went the Hell home and had a few beers!

I haven't emailed out a single resume', but those automated resume' search bots have found me and I've already been in contact with a couple of headhunters.  All of the jobs are real development projects, by the way.  Design, write, test, deliver.. that's my kind of job!

With any luck 4/29 will be my last day here.  I need about a week off, then go full-press on the job search.  I'd prefer to stay in Austin, but I'll go where the work is, as long as they have bus service!

Today - no real muscle tension, haven't ground my teeth all morning, feel enthused to create a documentation roadmap and prepare thing for a professional exit.  Downloading some large files so I can write code at home, to keep sharp and continue to grow my education.

Oh, and learning Nuke video editing software and Houdini visual effects software.  I don't want to be an engineer for the rest of my life!

More as it happens...

Friday, April 22, 2016

Losing my remaining marbles!

This job will be the death of me.

Imagine being a writer, and you've ben hird to write, so you're told.  To start and do a nice piece that goes into the commercial product, great!

But then, your boss comes over and hands you an immensely thick book - 98,000 lines - and tell you that your new assignment is to read through it, write a synopsis of the important major and minor points, and create some diagrams to make it easy to follow.  And you have about 3 months to do it, and it's on a topic you're not real familiar with, there's alien jargon throughout it and it's some of the most boring reading you've encountered in your life.

Welcome to my job, only it's programming and not writing.

The stress is incredible.  My mind is not set up to tediously plow through tens of thousands of lines of other peoples code, from the instant I get into the office until I go home I have a near-continual stress tension headache, and all I can think about is going home and having several beers.

So, resume' updates and possible two-week notice coming soon.  I'm going to try to last another month but no promises, I need out of here!

In the meantime, working on my 5-year plan to change careers and get the Hell out of software engineering.  Between music, writing, and video editing/visual effects I should be able to support myself decently, don't need to be rich, just pay bills and afford beer.

Damn, I hate his job.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Stress is not good for a body..

This job is going downhill fast.

I was originally told I would be doing programming and bug fixing when I signed on.  And for my first month here, I wrote code - a nice Windows CE firmware updating program. 

Everything was going well until I finished the little app and they gave me my next assignment - which has NOTHING to do with writing software!

Instead, I'm going through all their existing code, trying to extract the critical algorithms and produce diagrams/spreadsheets/text documents that would allow a third party to re-implement their application on a different operating system.

Yep, a reverse-engineering job, the kind of job I actively AVOID.

For this kind of job, you need to enjoy - or at least have the patience to - sit down day after day and read over thousands of lines of Other People's Code, threshing it to determine which code is the "meat" - the core algorithms that make it work - and which is either user-interface-specific or operating-system specific and thus not critical to the basic functionality of the application.

You need someone with a lot of doggedness, a fast learner, and who isn't going to be upset because they AREN'T CREATING ANYTHING NEW OR FIXING ISSUES OR DOING ANYTHING CREATIVE AT BLOODY ALL.

I was born to write code, damn it, not produce pretty pictures.  I *can* do it but not as my primary job function!!!!

So far, every day of the past 10 days has resulted in a nice stress headache and muscle cramps in my shoulders and the back of my neck - which Tylenol barely touches - and takes all weekend to fade.  This never happened when I was actually writing code.

My gut feeling is that I'm likely to hand in my notice within 2 weeks of this posting,  My living expenses are low and, while I will lose my insurance, if the foot is healed up enough I can get along fine.

We'll see how long my patience lasts.