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Four Months In: Technical Notes

2010 October 21
by Alec

Well, it’s been…

one week since you looked at me
Cocked your head to the side and said “I’m angry”

Wait, wait, wait…no, that‘s not right.

Four months!  Since I’ve been freelancing, just about anyway.  Only recently can I say it’s been going well, but yes, I’m quite busy now.  I’ve got projects going on involving PHP, Magento, Java, Android, Unity, C#, Facebook, Python, Django, Javascript, JSON, and XML, with some HTML/CSS/Javascript sprinkled in.  A lot of these I have next to no experience with, so it should make for some exciting work, provided the wtf-is-going-on-smash-head-repeatedly-against-wall moments are kept to a minimum.  Here are some thoughts from the first few months:

PHP/Magento:  I admittedly don’t have a lot of experience with PHP besides some small pages hacked together quickly in college, but playing with Magento has been pretty eye-opening.  It’s based on the Zend Framework, and is built from the ground up to be highly modular and extensible.  Pretty much everything can be overridden or replaced, and it’s all MVC-based, without really any of the hackish behavior typically associated with PHP.  I was especially surprised at the substantial usage of inheritance and other OO features.  Likely, I’ll be doing a bit more with Magento in the next few months, so we’ll see how my opinions shift.

Java/Android: Developing for devices is really fun.  The Android platform is very well documented, and playing around with the various hardware these phones have (camera, accelerometer, SD cards) is pretty cool.  I’m quickly running into a lack of third-party libraries for certain things, like physics engines, but am finding alternatives.

Freelance life: This is a common topic of discussion, and I’m still figuring out what works and what doesn’t.  As much as I want to think my time is mine to do whatever I want whenever I want, it’s simply not true.  The world revolves around the 9-5, and to a certain extent, you have to, too.  That means delaying work til after dinner isn’t always a good idea, as friends and family call or want to hang out.  I think rising early is going to become mandatory.  I can’t really complain about being able to go on mid-week climbing trips with no advance notice, though, or buying the cheapest flights due to few time restrictions.  It’s pretty awesome.

WordPress/Typo: OK, Typo sucks.  I just needed to use something better to find out.  In this case, WordPress is miles, no, light years ahead.  A migration of my personal blog may be in order.

Here’s to another four months, and way, way beyond!

2 Responses
  1. Jim permalink
    March 12, 2013

    How did you get people to hire you if you didn’t really know any of those things? Where did you freelance?

    • Alec permalink*
      June 10, 2013


      At this point, a trusted referral opened the door. Afterwards, a few technical conversations proved some sort of domain knowledge.
      Ad agencies are an excellent source of freelance work — in my experience, the gigs are numerous and agencies reliable. A keen bullshit detector is also essential.

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