Stories about Software


Happy 2017!

I’ve slipped a bit from my usual cadence in the past week.  C’est la vie, I suppose.

I’ve been doing a lot of travel in that time, which isn’t really anything new.  I’ve also been doing some work, which also isn’t really anything new.  But, on top of those things, I’ve also been trying to relax a little while visiting and entertaining family.  All of this has led to me more or less disengaging from publication and social media this past week.  I imagine a lot of you are doing the same, though, so it’s probably no great loss.

This year, I offer nothing in the way of a so-called retrospective post.  In fact, I’m going to commemorate the impending flip of the calendar only by sincerely wishing you a happy new year and a big thank you for reading and keeping up with the blog.

In case you were curious, I have a lot of plans for the new year.  Here’s a quick rundown.

  • I’m hoping to wrap the preliminary draft of Developer Hegemony in the next week, and I’ll be launching the book in E-book and print in Q1, 2017 (audio book is also potentially in play).  Stay tuned for a lot more details about that, and also look for me on some upcoming podcasts and interviews.
  • I’m under contract for another Pluralsight course, so look for that in the first quarter as well.
  • Retrospecting a bit on the merchandise kickstarter, for better or for worse (not looking good).
  • I’ll be making the announcement of a new productized service relatively soon.
  • Look for me to appear as an author on a few additional blogs in 2017 as well.

All of that comes on top of my standard work and travel schedule, so the new year figures to keep me busy.  Hopefully you have a plan and prospects that you feel good about as well.  As I said, you have my gratitude for reading and following the blog, and I hope that you have a great year!

Look for me to resume my normal posting cadence on the 2nd or possibly the 4th of January.


Expert Beginner Store Kickstarter (And Giveaway!)

Check it out: the Expert Beginner has a kickstarter page!  But before you go, if you’re interested in details and some free swag, read on.

The Expert Beginner is Getting a Store…Maybe

People seem to enjoy the Expert Beginner—well, the satire anyway.  I imagine they don’t enjoy the real life version, walking around and lecturing you about the proper use of their tortured frameworks.  Instead, we’re talking about this guy:

My wife and I (though, mainly her, and thanks to her for all of the hard work on this) have decided to see if people would be interested in adorning themselves or their offices (okay, who are we kidding, cubicles) with themed merchandise.

The goal of the Kickstarter campaign is to fund the creation and seeding of an online store that will sell this merchandise. The things we’re planning to stock the store with so far are sticker, mugs, and—best of all– extremely comfortable shirts.  Seriously, I actually wear mine on weekend flights, which means it’s pretty much the most comfortable thing I own.


If we’re funded, we can supply this merchandise indefinitely! If not, you might be on your own for making Expert Beginner shirts. (We promise not to sue you if we fall short and you want to pick up the torch.)

The campaign will end January 5th, but if you’d like to contribute, please don’t wait until then. Apparently, projects that gain a lot of interest in the beginning are more likely to be promoted and rank higher in searches on Kickstarter. We ask that you visit the page and donate now to jumpstart the campaign. If you’re one of the first to donate, you have the chance at some early bird rewards, including mugs and shirts given for lower donation amounts.

Again, here’s the link to visit the Kickstarter Campaign Now

There’s also a reward for a $150 donation where you can get not only all the merchandise offered but also an hour on the phone with me to talk about whatever you like. I get a lot of reader questions for the blog, and in general, about a variety of subjects.  With those, you’re sort of at the mercy of my natural posting cadence and attention span.  With this donation option, you have my undivided attention for an hour, which is even longer than the time I donate at startup office hours.

If you can’t donate any money, you can still help! Please consider sharing this blog post with your social networks by using the usual buttons at the end of the post.   And you can enter our giveaway by sharing with your network via Rafflecopter.

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Some Announcements: Podcasts and T-Shirts and Partnership, Oh My

This post will be neither how-to nor rant, neither philosophical musing nor observation.  Instead, I’m going to offer a handful of pieces of news.  I’m not sure that it’s anything yet polished enough to send to my mailing list, in case you’re wondering why I’m not making a rare use of that.  I’d prefer to save that for more official offerings and announcements.  This is just a handful of things I’d like to collect a bit of data on.

A Podcast Appearance

I was recently invited to appear on Developer on Fire, a podcast hosted by Dave Rael.  If you’ve never had the pleasure, I suggest giving it a listen.  Dave has had quite an impressive list of guests, including Scott Hanselman, Uncle Bob, and DHH among others, so it was both flattering and fun to be added to the roster.  If you want specifically to check out my interview, you can find it here.

I won’t tip my hat with specifics just yet, but I will say that this isn’t the last podcast on which you’ll be able to catch me, so stay tuned!

The Expert Beginner T-Shirt

My wife and I have been toying with 4 Hour Work Week concept of merchandising a bit lately.  In thinking about what we might be able to do together, combining the reach I have with her design chops, the thought of making something around the Expert Beginner emerged (my turn of phrase, her art work).  I’ve also been obsessed with extremely comfortable T-shirts lately, having been exposed to the absolute pinnacle of T-shirt comfort in the form of Pluralsight’s 2015 Author Summit T-shirt.  It is sublime.

Long story short, we’re looking at making a comfy line of Expert Beginner T-shirts.  To see if anyone would actually want this stuff, we’re maybe going to do a kickstarter, but that requires a prototype, which we’ve narrowed down to 3 shirts.  She and I were debating the merits of them, when she suggested we turn it over to a vote of potential customers.

Here are the fronts and backs of the 3 candidates.

Shirt 1

Mock Up 1--Front

Mock Up 1 and 2--Back

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I’m a Business, Man

One thing that I’ve come firmly to believe over the last several years is that every developer should have a business entity.  Please do not confuse this with me saying that every developer should hang out a shingle and become a freelancer.  The staff developer is alive and well and not going anywhere in the near term future.  And, besides, full time hustling isn’t for everyone.

Still, I stand by the claim that every developer should have a business entity.  What I’m referring to here is the idea that you should be your own company, capable of doing business on your own terms, with your own branding.  You should exist on a map of the business world independently of whatever company direct deposits paychecks to you.

Because, right now, for many people, this is the default state of affairs.  As far as the world of commerce is concerned, they exist only as (human) resources on a company’s ledger sheet — essentially property of that company.  And in a world where long term relationships between companies and employees is increasingly a thing of the past, that’s a bumpier ride than it would seem.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a reliable presence through all of that, whatever comes?


We tend to think of going into business for ourselves as mutually exclusive with working a corporate job.  But there’s a different path, which is to establish yourself as a corporate entity alongside your working for a company.  That allows you to maintain gainful employment and a steady paycheck while dipping your toe in the waters of freelance as a weekend warrior.

But, above and beyond that, I would argue that it gradually starts to help make you more marketable as a salaried employee.  If you’re a software developer, you’re competing against other developers for jobs, and you’re competing against a whole slew of people, former-developers and others, for higher paying management positions.  Don’t you think, “I’ve run a business” might help with that job application?  How many of those you’re up against will have maintained budgets, understood operating agreements, contracted with vendors, etc.

In Illinois, where I formed my LLC, it’s comically expensive to incorporate.  I believe it’s more expensive in Illinois than any other state.  It cost me $500 to form the LLC and it costs me $250 per year to maintain it.  That’s an 11 year total of $3,000.  So, let’s set that as an upper bound.

The gamble I’m talking about will then pay off for you so long as you’re able to negotiate $3,000 in extra salary over the next decade.  Do you have any idea how likely this is?  I mean, let’s say you make $50K per year right now and that, with your business credentials, you negotiate an extra 1% pay increase 5 years in.  You’ll make an extra $500 per year over the subsequent 6 years and break even.  That’s it.  One slightly tinier raise, and you win.

I’ll close out this short post by saying that this isn’t purely a motivational speech.  I believe in this strongly enough that I’m starting to work on an offering to help software developers with their independent business affairs.  And, as sort of a beta of this, I’d like to invite anyone in the readership thinking of starting a corporate entity to reach out.  I will basically help you start your business for free, walking you through everything you need to do.  I will have to limit this offer to only a few people due to constraints on my own time, so, first come first serve.  Feel free to send email to erik at daedtech or to send the request as a question through the submit a question form.  Really, feel free to reach out however you’re comfortable.

But, whether you participate in this or not, I think you should do yourself a favor and make yourself a business.

Editorial Note: Thanks to everyone who wrote in about the Beta!  I wanted to make a quick update for anyone still reading that the slots for this offer have been filled.  I’ll keep you posted if I have any further, related offerings.


Happy New Year, 2016

Much like last week’s Friday post, I think a seasonal greeting will suffice.  Thanks very much for reading the blog and all of your feedback and support.  Here’s to a good 2015 in the books and, hopefully, an even better 2016.  Happy New Years to everyone reading!  To celebrate, please enjoy this worried owl.