Sean Reiser

Hi I'm Seán Reiser, this is my Personal Blog

“A person is what they think about all day long”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Quo Vado?

Whether I knew it or not, I've been a technologist since I was 14 years old whether it was slinging code on my Apple ][, staying up late enjoying BBS culture, exploring the phone system with a Blue Box, playing on the pre-web Internet at MindVox, maintaining printers and mainframes for CA, building DOS and Windows applications for financial firms, managing teams of developers, building and maintaining websites, helping nonprofits, figure out how do use the web to distribute the message, or running my own tiny digital agency my life had a tech focus.  I've done a lot in the past 30+ years.

If you asked me three years ago, before the pandemic, what my long-term career was, I would've been to continue to run my business, service, my clients, and find a way to retire in about 10 to 15 years. And then two weeks to stop the spread became two months, became two years. In addition to the normal attrition of customers that my business had seen, many of my clients were struggling and shutting down, leaving my business decimated (I like to think of this, as “reverse trickle down economics”).

As the world began to boot up, I began a two prong approach to get my self up and running. I began looking for both full-time work at a digital agency and new clients for my business. I've learned some lessons:

People weren't ready to invest in small businesses as they were before the pandemic. The thing that made my business run well, the fact that I could jump between web development, project management, business analysis, database and server management, doesn't work at an agency. I am a 7 in 10 different tasks where people at an agency might be a 10 at 3 different tasks. Affectively their knowledge is deep, where mine is wide. This makes me wonder where I can fit in at a digital agency.

And as I'm going through this, I'm starting to wonder, is this what I want to be doing for the next 15 years?  I'm watching, super talented folks from Meta and Twitter being laid off en-mass and an reminded of the tech field at the beginning of the century while the web bubble popped. Do I want to live in that instability again? I'm not sure.

No matter how I look at it, I'm on the cusp of my third act professionally and for the first time in my life, I don't know what it should be. I'm trying to figure out how to take this diverse skillset that I have acquired and turn it into my next career.

 I maintain a an online résumé and portfolio at https://seanreiser.work.  I'd love to hear what other people think either in the comments or via email (sean@eanreiser.cpm) . If you think you can use me or if you have a suggestion of something that I should consider feel free to let me know, .

Is it possible that at 53 years old I don't know what I should do when I grow up? 

This may surprise you, but you know Windows better than I do.  I use a Mac in my day-to-day computing.  I host my website on a server running Linux.  Over the past 16 years the only times I've used Windows is to open a browser and test websites that I’ve built, a couple of hours a month at most.  If you want me to "fix your computer" all I'm doing is googling what's wrong and following directions that I've read, skills we've both learned early in life.

 

In reality, I'm more qualified to clean the windows in your hame than  I am to support the Windows on your computer.

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Shrug

In my 30+ years in Tech, I've been laid off a time or three. My favorite was with a bank...

I was commenting a post on LinkedIn, and the comment got away for me. In light of the recent tech layoffs, people were discussing times they had been laid off.  Telling my story, became a bit of a saga add blew rught past LinkedIn's maximum comment length.  So I decided to post it here. I link it in a comment on the original thread.

In my 30+ years in Tech, I've been laid off a time or three.  My favorite was with a bank, since there are a few that I've worked for, I'm not saying which one. The bank merged with another bank there were redundant systems and after much back-and-forth my system not was the one to survive.  Instead of just saying, there's a layoff, pack your things, and meet people in HR, they took my team out for a "team building exercise" which involved us all going to a movie theater and seeing a movie. After the film, a Senior VP got up on stage and announced that we were all laid off, our things have been packed and we should pick them up at security and have a meeting with HR.
 
I go to the meeting in the room is the HR representative and a member of the security team (who I had first assume is there in case I'm a threat).  I'm presented with a stack of documents and then told I have to sign the separation agreement.
I replied that I can't right now and ask if I can take them home review them and set up a meeting for Monday for me to sign. I also tell them that I I need to speak to my wife.  The security guy pips up with a snarl and, "what are you p***y whipped?”  (Sorry for the language).
 
I now know that the security guy is there to play bad cop to the HR guy’s good cop.  I
look at them and say this is the largest decision I've had to make since getting married and there's no way I'm doing it without my wife's counsel since this affects our family’s short and medium term future.
 
I also tell them that there's a bit in there about cobra and before I can do anything with that I need to better understand the coverage my wife gets through her employer, if she can add me to her plan,  and do a gap analysis to understand what I'm giving up and what I'm getting. But I can do none of that sitting in a room without a phone.  (It was the 90’s only Gordon Gecco had a cell phone).  So I need the weekend to dope that out.
 
Plus there are things in the agreement that I fully understand, so it's worth it to me to give my attorney a buzz and get some clarification. The HR guy offers to help me with what I don't understand and I let them know that I'm not comfortable with that since our interests are no longer aligned. He then does the “I’m not sure I can guarantee that you'll get your severance if you don't sign now” routine.
 

I say, "sure but I don't think you will.  In this agreement  you want something from me beyond the normal confidentiality, you obligate me to provide immediate assistance and support in your transition from the system I built to the new one over the next year.  So this severance isn't goodwill on the companies part,  you want to secure my time in your migration and do it in a very inexpensive way.  I'll lay my cards on the table, I'm sure I'll be glad to help you, but I need a cap on the number of hours and an understanding that I can't provide "immediate" support if I accept full-time employment.  My new employer is my first responsibility, but I'd be glad to answer questions at night or over the weekend. ”

There's a little more back-and-forth but I leave with a meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon. Over the weekend, I speak to the wife, my attorney and a mentor who helped me come up with a plan.  I call HR Monday morning and let them know that if they think they needed beyond 5 hours of help, I'd be glad to sign an independent contractor agreement with a monthly retainer and I had my first taste of contracting work.
 

Moral of the story: don’t sign agreements under pressure.

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Secret

 

I'll take, "Conspiracy Theories" for $100, Alex

So, it has just been explained to me that it's not "if you don't vote, you have no right to complain", it's "if you don't vote for the winner, you have no right to complain because if you don't support the President, (s)he doesn't need to support you"

And with that I'm done. I wish you all luck burning the place down.

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disappoimted

I posted this a couple of years back and thought it was worth a repost:

This is why I hate the term 'coder'. It takes Application Development and reduces it to its simplest part. Application Development is a craft, like carpentry. Reducing it to just coding would be like reducing carpentry to hammering and telling people that they just need to learn to hammer. The reason we have failures like the first Obamacare* site is this myth that anyone can be taken off the street and be competent in 6 months. I’m 51, been writing code since I was 13 and I’m still learning everyday.

I believe in retraining. I believe that some portion of retail employees might be able to become developers. But the “teach them to code” mantra is downright insulting to me and anyone who takes this craft seriously.

*I mention the Obamacare site not as a knock on the Ex-President, just because it was one of the biggest blunders I could think of.

 

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work