Category: Consulting

On-site Blues

I have a client that wanted me to work on-site (“to be more efficient”) which I agreed to. I haven’t done that in probably 10 years at least and overlooked several things that may have made a difference in that decision:

Travel Time: At rush hour, it’s taking just over an hour to get to and from this client. For my 20 hours a week that’s 6 hours of driving – a nearly 25% loss on my hourly rate. Oops.

Traffic: An hour of stop & go traffic is incredibly annoying. People really do this everyday? It’s horrible. I should have charged a daily annoyance fee for this.

Tools: I didn’t realize how many tools I use everyday in my programming and take for granted- large dual screens, the keyboard I’m used to, SnagIt, Thor, GoFish, IntellisenseX, speakers for music, etc. The lack of all that makes the programming far less efficient. This lasted only one day – I now drive an hour to get to this client and promptly logmein back to my own computer. Still stuck with a small monitor, an uncomfortable keyboard, and no decent sounding music.

The client is happy though and it’s good to actually meet the people actually using my software rather than just the one person I usually work with.

Hooky

Being a one-man consulting shop has its drawbacks. Every problem and every emergency is yours to handle. Frequently you get to worry about where your next paycheck is coming from. On the other hand, if there’s no pressing emergency or looming deadline, you can arrange your work/life balance how you like and take advantage of the serendipitous opportunities that come your way.  Today was one of the later.

With fourteen inches of snow in the last two days at Copper Mountain and nothing needing to be done today that couldn’t be done tomorrow, I played hooky and went skiing.

Tomorrow I’ll figure out where my next paycheck is coming from. Today I did this:

Copper

ISAM Driver Not Found

Had a client run into a “ISAM Driver Not Found” error when trying to do a mail merge to Word 2013 on Windows 10 from my VFP application. It looks like the ISAM driver for DBF files has been deprecated and is not installed by default anymore by  Microsoft.

Installing the 2007 Office System Driver appears to install the missing pieces and get things working.

Around the World with VFP

So WordPress has sent me some statistics on this blog. I’m kind of fascinated by the graphic below showing where my visitors come from. This tiny blog, with no promotion, in operation for only three months, dealing primarily with a programming language that hasn’t been updated in 10 years – has got visitors from around the world. That blows my mind a bit.

Blog2015

Don’t Be This Guy

I got this email a little while back:

“We will be transitioning off Foxpro to (other company) in October or November”

Granted, clients don’t owe me anything, but this company has been a client for 20 years. I’ve pulled their bacon from the fire numerous times. I’ve successfully navigated them around a Y2K disaster, upgraded their system from Foxpro 2.6 to VFP, and got them on the web with a robust West Wind application.

No discussion of any problems. No discussion on how to move to a new system. Just an email out of the blue saying they are done with the 20 year relation.

Etiquette alone requires more than a one sentence good-bye. Hell, they didn’t even give me a period. Don’t be this guy. Show a little gratitude for the business partners you have.

Update: They of course ran into a couple problems on the conversion over to the new system and it was an emergency to fix it. Did they call the new company they hired? Nope, called me. I’m the guy that can solve any problem quickly. They are the programmers they’re going to pay 10X what they paid me.

Update 2/21/18: I have some stock in this client so I get some schadenfreude each February when the annual report comes out. In the five years before they let me go, they paid me less than $200,000 dollars. They’ve paid the new guys $1.2 MILLION so far. Additionally:

  • They had to hire 3 extra customer service reps because the new software is so much slower than my software.
  • The new software totally screwed an accounting function (that mine handled just fine for years) – which cost over $60,000 in staff time to remedy.
  • The report mentions multiple projects put on hold while IT issues were dealt with.

Yeah, it’s petty to take pleasure in it not going well, and it even hurts me financially via a lower dividend, but I’m OK with it and wish them continued struggles.