January 28th, 2010

krazy koati

You could be a victim of circumstance

Good news, everyone: I may have a new job soon. Not losing the old one, so far as I know, but a project I could do as independent contractor, or freelancer, or what-have-you. A new interdisciplinary program at my grad school needs a web site which explains such things as how to get to it, what their mission statement is, who's in the program, that sort of thing. My advisor suggested me to them and based on a phone call I think they like me and I can do most of what they want right this minute, given minutes.

They do want some password-protected areas where groups can share files and also set up shared calendars of events and news bulletins. I've actually written code that could be redirected for most of this, but they are hoping to use something called ``Drupal''. I never heard of that either, but as a comical fake word of two or three syllables it's a web thing and it looks like it should do all the boring work of coding very well.

The one thing they asked which I'm stumped on is: what do I charge? In light of my comments about artist commissions a few weeks back the answer might seem obvious. I'd like enough money to cover the cost of a new laptop, as I'm getting about to my projected replacement time. The more the better, of course, although I see this project more as first item in a portfolio for as a paid web making thingy. So all I really want is to make sure I get the job, but don't put a price so low they suspect there's something wrong with me.

Oddly, back in grad school, I did a little web page design job, coding a tiny special-purpose search page, which I'm pretty sure I got $3,000 for. And that was a much simpler project, although I did have to learn enough Perl and cgi-bin to open dangerous security holes nobody would ever care about to do it. However, I also suspect this was the department chair throwing me some funding because there weren't summer-instructor positions available for me, so I don't know how to use this very old project for much simpler goals from a different department as a guide. Plus I'd have to learn ``Drupal'', assuming that is a real thing.

I'm trying to get my advisor to prod the people involved and see what they were planning to pay; my attempts to fish that out in the phone call didn't work. I may try using the earlier experience as a starting point, since $3,000 would cover my new-computer desires with room to spare, and by talking about it as what's-guiding-my-thinking might let me feel out their price range without committing to too much. Still, it'd be easier to know.

Trivia: Morton Thiokol's data before the final launch of the space shuttle Challenger indicated that the worst Solid Rocket Booster O-ring damages, field joint blow-bys, had come with a ring at an estimated temperature of 53 degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest launched to that date (STS-51C, January 1985), and at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the warmest launched to that date (STS-61A, October 1985). Source: The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA, Diane Vaughan.

Currently Reading: How Markets fail: The Logic Of Economic Calamities, John Cassidy.