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#1 Musashi822  Icon User is offline

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Starting over with software development

Posted 28 November 2012 - 02:41 PM

I have been writing programs with VB.NET for the past 5 years, all of them for personal use, and to hopefully be used as examples to land me a job in this field at some point. However, due to some personal issues I have not had any success in locating an actual job programming. I have tried the approach of signing up to several freelance sites, but a lot of the jobs I am getting turned down for because I do not have any experience with some of the languages that really have nothing to do with the task that is needed. Other times I am getting under bid by people around the world who can afford to do commercial-level applications for very miniscule pay.

With that in mind I am going to take a different route - just start over. I know becoming an expert software developer requires much more than what you can learn in a 20 chapter book. I have found a few lists [links omitted] of the route I plan on taking with just starting over, to essentially get me past the "Intermediate-Noob" level I am at now. However, with this approach I am going to be working on the same applications with C# and Java at the same time in order to broaden the base in which I can actually work. I'm planning on allocating a year to get through the whole process of starting from the ground up while working on 2 additional programming languages.

That being said, I'd like to get the opinions of professionals on this board of what they would work on additionally learning were they to start over? I know this question is somewhat ambiguous, as it really depends on what type of software/technology that the developer is interested in, but for a generalized perspective it can be anything that someone would be able to setup a very small business with.

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Replies To: Starting over with software development

#2 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Starting over with software development

Posted 28 November 2012 - 04:03 PM

View PostMusashi822, on 28 November 2012 - 03:41 PM, said:

but a lot of the jobs I am getting turned down for because I do not have any experience with some of the languages that really have nothing to do with the task that is needed. Other times I am getting under bid by people around the world who can afford to do commercial-level applications for very miniscule pay.


Nothing new there. That's pretty much the nature of the freelance market and why so many of us hate outsources in 3rd world nations where $500/year is good money. Bite the bullet and take some crappy contracts for $5/hour just to get your ranking up. At the very least it will give you some real-life experience dealing with customers and their expectations, force you to put some time-tracking habits in place and iron out issues with your billing process.

As for the rest of the post I can boil down what you're saying to "What should I learn so I can get a job in 5 years?"

If we knew that we wouldn't be looking for work just like you are. Your question is so broad - desktop PC games - Mobile phone navigation apps - Embedded systems in cars - All of those are programming. So to ask "What programming should I learn?" is just far too broad.

Stick with what you enjoy. "Do what you enjoy for a living and you never work a day in your life." Its an old saying and it is true. If you like photography and hiking, build a program to merge the two then offer it for say on the internet. Why do you think you *have* to go to work for a company? Maybe you can become your own company to work for.

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I have been writing programs with VB.NET for the past 5 years, all of them for personal use
Well, that could be a problem. 5 years and you've never tried building something for someone else? Your wife couldn't use something to make life easier at work? Some charity or church you attend couldn't use something to track attendance? Your bowling team couldn't make use of something fun for tracking averages with some humor and Facebook connectivity? Volunteer some time with the local high school robotics team. You've never walked into a barber or insurance office and had someone say "Sorry for the delay, its this crappy software"

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Anyone that can't find 5 good program ideas a week is walking through life with a blindfold on.

This post has been edited by tlhIn`toq: 28 November 2012 - 04:04 PM

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#3 Musashi822  Icon User is offline

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Re: Starting over with software development

Posted 28 November 2012 - 06:05 PM

tlhIn`toq, thanks for your detailed reply.

I probably could have been a bit more specific when I said I have written programs for personal use. I have actually made a few programs for some family members, quite a few applications for my wife, and several small games/applications for my 2 boys, both who are autistic. And they are the primary reason why I am looking to work for myself instead of someone else.

However, since I am essentially starting over and adding in C# and Java to boot in order to boost the amount of languages I can work with, I have to keep in mind there are other people who have a greater amount of experience than I do. Someone else may know of something that might be of more use than what I have listed which would be of better value after a year.

I honestly might just be better of ditching VB.NET and the idea of C# and moving straight towards making Android apps. That's probably the most logical approach considering the time I am allocating. However, I'm not very good with ideas, and much better on determining a solution to a problem that someone has instead of creating something fresh from scratch. I dislike the idea of mimicking someone else's applications, regardless if I could make it better than they did.

With that in mind, freelancing would be great, but then there is the issue of actually getting someone to hire you for something. I have invested several months bidding on jobs, getting passed up for the reasons listed, so I tried bidding low, which provided me to get overlooked still. This was some time ago though, and it might be time to try again. However, it honestly doesn't look very promising so I was looking into just starting something small after I have put in some more time.

It has never been about the money though, it has been about doing something which I like doing - writing programs ;)/>
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#4 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Starting over with software development

Posted 28 November 2012 - 08:59 PM

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I'm not very good with ideas, and much better on determining a solution to a problem that someone has instead of creating something fresh from scratch.

Ideas aren't really even ideas most of the time. Ideas are more the recognition that there is a problem instead of accepting 'this is just how it is'.

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and several small games/applications for my 2 boys, both who are autistic.

HELLO!!! Sounds like ideas to me. Did you try expanding on that? I'd bet your circle of friends include other parents of autistic kids. So what are their needs? You are smack in the middle of a niche market, with available beta testers. Its only the very reason you're doing this. Doesn't that sound like a direction to take your coding? Frak the business apps for the Wall Street bozos. Become the king of apps for autistic kids.

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I dislike the idea of mimicking someone else's applications, regardless if I could make it better than they did.

You might want to get over that. Look around - 90% of the world is build on improvements to the last generation of a product.

Porche did not invent the car. They didn't even event a new form of engine. But they improved on someone else's. They took it in a different direction for a different market.

Microsoft Word didn't invent word processing. You can trace a lineage from simple text editors, to WordStar, Nisus Writer {which I personally love}, and so on until you go through multiple improvements on Word year after year.

Heck, the modern PC didn't just burst on the market. It didn't go from mainframe to Intel i7. There were numerous improvements built on improvements. Even USB is in its 3rd generation.

I hope I'm not overstepping my place here, but that's never stopped me before.

The general tone of your post is that of feeling defeated before starting, lacks confidence, fear of failure and possibly even a little fear of success.

Why do you think you need to dump 5 years of VB.NET for C#? They're both .NET languages. Do you think that the .NET libraries are skewed for better results if you use C#? Do you feel you've pushed VB.NET to the limit and are hitting a wall that can only be overcome through C#? Perhaps learning other aspects of VB would be time better spent. What about VB apps that communicate with on-line SQL databases? Or consume internet feeds to provide information to the user, like weather and GPS etc.

Are you maybe looking at starting over because it is a way to put off everything for another couple years? If you are constantly a student of some new language then you don't have to feel like you've failed because you never really reach that point of getting out there.

More than a new language I think you need to have a little more faith and confidence in yourself. Yeah the world is a scary place. So what? Get over it. Polish up those games for your kids, run them by the other parents at play dates and market the fraking things. Get some outside feedback from others and make more improvements.

And quit thinking that it has to be this or that. Work for a company or work freelance. I don't care if you make the donuts by day, and program on your days off - you can do both.

I saw a great quote on someone's signature block the other day:

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I've probably spent as much time writing as the average American has spent watching television. That probably says a lot - Author William Gibson

Working your regular job while at the same time coding side projects doesn't leave a lot of free time to watch Survivor and American Idle. GOOD! It might just raise IQ points.

You said you were good at finding solutions to problems. You've described a problem. Find and BE the solution to it. I just have this feeling that those 5 years spent on VB aren't as wasted as you make them out to be. Build on them without fear. Use the fear to drive you forward, not hold you back.
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#5 Musashi822  Icon User is offline

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Re: Starting over with software development

Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:44 PM

It's not that I have given up on doing anything with VB, only it alone has not really gotten me anywhere. When I first started this post I had the idea in mind of thinking out a new direction ahead of time, planning it out, then proceeding with it...and maybe some advice on alternatives to what my plan was. Starting over was the best solution I could come up with because if I could make something with VB, then make the exact same program with C# and Java, then I'd have learned 2 additional programming languages which might make me a more valued developer.

However, I'd not even thought to take some existing stuff further. While I am not certified to teach autistic children, I am a certified parent of 2 that has developed a few small apps that they like, and achieved results that I set out to do for them. If I look at going with that route though there is a lot of additional planning that I must do. Sounds like I have a bit of work ahead of me here...

Thanks again tlhIn`toq !
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