Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Not-So-Evil-Homework

Many of you who know me have heard me mention "Evil Homework". What the heck is it? Well, hopefully this will make some sense. I know even hubby doesn't fully understand what's going on, but here goes nothing.

I'm currently finishing my Bachelor of Technology in Computer Systems at BCIT. It's essentially equivalent to a Computer Science degree, but a little more technical and a little less theoretical. (But of course if you ask the illustrious academics at the big universities around town, they'd turn their nose up to it). Two reasons why I'm doing this degree is so this will make me more employable if I should go looking for a job in town or within the country, but also, it opens the door for me to gain employment in my field should I wish to work in a different country. I'm not planning on leaving the country any time soon (or possibly ever) to work elsewhere, but it'll be nice to have that option opened to me.

Anyways, a component of my degree program is to do a large project. I'm not going to get into the details as to why I couldn't do the project through work, it's too complicated, and a lot of it is silly rules that BCIT have built around project eligibility. Bah. Hence, I had to go look elsewhere for a project.

BCIT managed to hook me up with the clients that needed some coding done. Yes, I'm building an enterprise solutions for free. My clients (one is here and another one is in Toronto), are typical clients, despite one claiming that he's "technical". I don't think he's built an application outside of school before, and so he really doesn't understand my frustrations with users that don't know what they want.

The best parallel that I can come up with is that they are asking me to build a house, only they give me a part of the blueprint at a time. No one builds a house with only seeing a small part at a time, but that's what they are doing. Not only that, but the blueprint is incomplete, because users really don't know what they want and hadn't thought through some items well enough. Which required me to fill in parts of the blueprint for them. And build a part of the house with incomplete blueprints that I still haven't seen the whole of yet. So you can possibly imagine what problems I've been facing and why I've been frustrated.

This project has already stretched for 1.5 years. I do have an end date, but it was later than I had first anticipated (more drama, this time with BCIT, long story there as well). I had more than once felt like I was in a dark tunnel with no glimpse of light at the end of it. It got depressing more than once. And it's affected my health (ie stress and back problems)

Well, something happened last weekend. My clients had decided to cut out 1/5 of the final product. You don't know how insanely happy that makes me. I've been constantly stressing about how I was going to be able to finish everything on time. Now the light at the end of the tunnel's getting brighter.

Not only that, but these guys want to start looking for venture capital to fund the product. If they get the money, I was actually offered a job at the end of it. I actually said no, for a few reasons. 1) I'm at the point of my life where I've discovered that, as much as I love development, that part of the world goes way too fast for me to keep up any longer, so I want to move away from it 2)I really need to stop sitting in front of a computer so much because of my health 3) I've already worked for a start-up once, no thanks. 4) My job, while not as technical, give me paid vacation, benefits, regular, non-crazy hours (for the most part) and a kick-ass pension. I'm not wanting to give these things up anytime soon.

However, they did say that they wanted to compensate me somehow if they did get their hands on some money. I was honest. I knew going in that I wasn't going to get paid a red cent, and I was okay with that. However, I'm not one to turn down money should someone offer it to me, I'm not that stupid.

So that's the story of my Not-So-Evil-Homework. Cross fingers that I'd actually finish the darn thing before the end of this year.

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