Sunday, July 10, 2011

Simo the unemployed

The writing was on the wall since Elop's announcement. Back then, the number of projects had already decreased. I had plenty of time to sketch scenarios. The only surprise was timing: the customer was still paying my salary when I got laid off last week.

Plan A: Get a Java programming job from Helsinki

Why Helsinki? My brother and sister moved there within a year. There are 10 times more open programming positions in Helsinki than in Tampere.

Why Java? It was already going strong in 2007 when I was searching the previos job. It is likely to stay relevant also to 2015. Even if Java becomes obsolete, the whole web stack from SQL servers to browsers won't change in one punch. Java is my second strongest language after POSIX C / Symbian C++. The wanted skills in the job ads are suprisingly similar as in 2007 - SQL, Hibernate, Spring, JSP, JSF and various application servers are still going strong - and only Liferay and jQuery are completely new.

Actions taken: Sent job applications, got some books on jQuery and J2EE.

Plan B: Play time by starting a company

The basic idea is to warm up some leftovers from the website I developed in 2005-2006, but with much clearer goals and much better focus on what I am going to sell and to whom. The software would be distributed as an applet which runs in browsers.

The first phase is to develop a free prototype with limited content, to put it online and advertise it a bit. This way, I would find out the number of users a month. With reasonable assumptions about the conversion rate (how many visitors would buy the full version) this gives an estimate of market size and income potential. Is there enough demand for me to make a living out of it?

If there is no demand, then I would get a real job. If there is mediocre demand or the data is ambigous (most probable scenario) then I could spend 6 - 12 months developing the full version. The upfront initial investment would be paid back over many years as a trickle of side income. This way, I could play time until the Finnish IT job market clears out after 1500 laid-off Symbian engineers from Nokia and comparable amount from subcontractors.

Because of Plan B, I have almost no incentive to get a new job quickly. The only thing I want but can't do on income-based unemployment benefit is to buy a house in Helsinki.

Actions taken: I've been unemployed for 4 days and have been developing the prototype in 3 of them.


Jussi Kujala said...

My experience is that Java EE sucks life out of you. Oh well, Symbian does/did the same.

Simo said...

For me it's the social environment in corporations which sucks life, best described in this Onion article. Technology matters little. That's why it would be so great to implement something like Plan B which would convert hard work into income without the need to participate in paid daycare for adults.

Jussi Kujala said...

True, social environment is important, but technologies also affect what kind of people are drawn to them. Java EE and Symbian are a pain to use. No pleasure or elegance in them. Avoiding painful technologies might be a smart thing in the long term, because in a competitive world the inelegant have disadvantage.

Simo said...

Let's hope so. Anyway, one can't just jump from embedded C/C++ to server Python with no relevant experience whatsoever. Therefore the road to next generation languages goes through server-side Java - it gives at least some web service experience.