Friday, August 22, 2008



There's a strong possibility that I will get caught in the big layoff on Monday. If I could have sold the old house in Boise, this wouldn't be a major problem. I wouldn't mind teaching, and if I could get the old house sold, I could just about afford to do it. With only the one house payment, I would not be burning through savings. But that house isn't selling--even at the now bargain price of $289,000.

This suggests that I should be looking for an engineering job. There aren't a lot of jobs for software engineers in the Boise area--and the jobs that are there are for people with experience that I don't have (C#, .NET) or where I have not terribly current experience (Java) but I would be competing with engineers with recent computer science degrees who are decades younger than me.

I was thinking of going through the ABCTE certification process, so that I can get a high school teaching position--but this an extraordinarily bad time to be looking for a teaching position. (And I'm sure that my co-workers with school age children who get laid off on Monday, and have to relocate a month or two into the school year, are going to be even more upset than me. The joys of working for a company run by liberals.)

Pretty obviously, the best situation would be another engineering job, one that pays well enough to keep those mortgages current while I wait for the economy to recover. If you are aware of a position that comes up that could tolerate a telecommuter (perhaps one week a month on site), I would appreciate hearing about it.

My language experience: C (about 18 years, both embedded systems and user interfaces on PC-DOS and Unix); assembly language for antique microprocessors (about eight years, largely embedded); Java (about two years, a little rusty); C++ (just a little); PL/M-86 (about two years--try not to laugh); Korn shell (about six years); Perl (just a little).

My application experience: data communications development (porting an SNMP server, porting a DHCP server, DSL access multiplexer development); telecom (telephone switch code); operating systems (device drivers for antique microprocessors and operating systems, building a file system in PL/M-86); in-circuit emulator development (both user interface design and development, and embedded code); telemetry processing software (for the Voyager mission at JPL); system administrator for a mixed Sun Unix, PC, and Mac network (some years ago).

SCMs: I have made extensive use of ClearCase (these last six years); SourceSafe; and RCS. I have also been ClearCase administrator and SourceSafe for a startup (a dozen engineers), and I set up the wrappers around RCS for another startup--and those wrappers were still in use eight years later.

Technical writing: Regular readers of my blog know that I write law review articles, popular magazine articles, books, and I'm pretty competent at it. I also have substantial experience writing technical manuals. At one startup, I created the technical writing department from scratch, leading a team of three writers in getting our technical manuals going. I'm a lot more technical than the average technical writer (as you can see above), and I'm a far better writer than the average engineer--a perhaps useful combination.

Supervisory experience: At three different companies I have been a manager, supervising groups of 2-3 people (engineers in two companies, technical writers in the third). I'm pretty good at it.

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