Monthly Archives: June 2009

On taking responsibility

And so I was asking myself today, after realizing that maybe, my current situation at work might not support in a sufficient way my personal and professional growth anymore, what would it take to reach out to the next level?

What is it that would be needed in order to break out of the protective shell that is a regular job, with its predictable income stream and limited responsibility?

Being employed as a programmer is, up to a point, pretty comfortable. You don’t have to worry all that much about getting new customers, and about accounting, office space, and a whole lot of other headaches.

In the end, you don’t have to take responsibility for those things. Somebody else does that for you. And I believe that this is the whole point: little responsibility.

Taking responsibility

A few years ago, I was looking at the rent our family paid each month to the landlord and realized that I would rather keep this money for myself, so we bought a duplex house and moved in. Not only the monthly payment went hereafter to capital repayment (minus interest of course,) but we got to collect a rent check every month for the second unit!

We went from tenants, with zero responsibility for the building and not much more for the apartment, little freedom about how we could rearrange or renovate the place, and total loss of the money we paid each month, to owners with full responsibility, money starting to pile up as well as coming partly from somebody else’s pocket.

Yes, sometimes a water tank needs to be replaced, a roof repaired, but in the end the trouble is way smaller than the benefits.

And now things are beginning to look an awful lot similar to me, professionally-wise. I get the paycheck in exchange of not having to worry inside that quite nice and shinny cage.

It looks that a lot of us are just happy to trade responsibility, freedom and expanded wealth-building abilities, for the easy ride, the one we can safely travel blindly without getting too much bothered.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to come across as judgemental: I don’t think being an employee is intrinsically worse that being self-employed or an entrepreneur. It all depends on what you want to achieve, and what phase of your life your are in. Do what fits you best, and as a matter of fact I have no regrets whatsoever to having had a job for so long. It’s just that I’m now wondering, how farther could I go without the constraints a job affords.

So what’s next?

Well, that is the part which is not all clear yet, but I think the next step would be to define exactly where I’d like to go. Who am I, what are my strengths, what is the value that I could offer to the marketplace?

I guess my actual skills would make for a good start, in addition to the numerous improvements that I envisioned for our processes at work but was not allowed to implement.

Let’s see what comes off it.


Web hosting adventures

While A2Hosting has a pretty darn good bang for the buck, I recently had to look for a web host with even more advanced features. For instance, I needed to be able to compile a more recent version of the git DVCS, and use it on my account of course.

So I looked around some more and settled on WebFaction. I had wanted to try them out for a while now based on all the good reviews you can find on the Internet on them, and now that I have I must say that I’m pretty impressed.

I was able to compile git using my SSH account, along with the dependencies to be able to use git-svn, and it all went pretty flawlessly.

The control panel at WebFaction is awesome, easy to use, and it seems one can host just about everything on their servers: anything PHP, all sorts of Python and Ruby frameworks, it just looks fantastic.

In most cases you are running your own private Apache daemon, so you control your own configuration, add the modules you want, etc.

Pretty good stuff, check them out!