stumbling into a dull person's machine
Friday, March 10 2000
Compared with working under the umbrella of a salaried hiring, working as a freelance web developer sucks (or, as some now say, "rubs"). As a freelancer, your employer dumps you headlong into the bizarre complexities and idiosyncrasies of his site and expects you to come up to speed on your own time, unpaid of course. Then, since you are a freelancer and he's running his operation on a shoestring, he doesn't think he needs to pay you the market rate for the work you do for him (if indeed you ever get to the point of actually doing anything). These are all known issues and can probably be avoided by proper pre-job negotiation, but you have to understand that I don't do this freelance thing very often. And yes, I'm fully aware of the advantages of freelance work: you pay low/no taxes, you get to set your own hours, and you can work in the nude if you want.
I had a meeting scheduled this morning with a potential freelance client, but when, at the prescribed time, I drove to his house in the San Diego State University area, I missed him by five minutes. His unhelpful housemate told me he was gone for the day, so I simply drove back home.
Later on in the day, we'd managed to discuss what needed discussing via telephone and I was firing up a demo copy of PCAnywhere in hopes of taking control of a specific server out there on the internet. I'd never used PCAnywhere before, so my first stabs at making it work were clumsy and random. Evidently it's common for someone using PCAnywhere to seek to control all machines on a local network with a single username/password pair. The username and password I'd been given were terribly familiar words, and when I simply attempted to hook up to any machine matching them on the local network (of my ISP), I found I randomly had full access to the home machine of a complete stranger located somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. I browsed through his Outlook Express Inbox to see what kind of person he was and was alarmed to see that nearly all his email was strictly business-related. There was only one personal email in the whole box, but it was brief and completely uninteresting. Could it be that there are really stunted people like this out there?
In order to do the fruitless driving around that I had done today, I'd had to drop Kim off at her workplace, the V!ctoria Rose. At 5pm she called to have me come pick her up. Evidently the place was in the midst of some sort of celebration; Vivienne, the 40 year old owner/operator had just announced that she was five months pregnant, a fact she had concealed up until now. Before making the announcement to her staff, Vivienne had drawn little stylized pictures of babies on her belly, which, upon making her announcement, she bared to quell disbelief. By the time Kim called me, everyone there was eating tacos and (with the exception of Vivienne, of course) drinking margaritas.
So that's where my dinner and my drunk came from on this particular Friday night. Kim and I also rented the flick Waking Ned Devine. I stayed up and watched the whole thing while a drowsy Kim slipped off to sleep. Waking Ned Devine was a hilarious movie set in a tiny coastal village in Ireland. The single strongest thread spanning its ninety minutes was a completely original (and, dare I say, heartwarming) proof of the Darwinian principle that all pro-community behavior is motivated by individual greed and selfishness.
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