Archive for September 2009

Roadside Geology? There’s an App for That

If I lived in AZ, CQ, FL, NY, TX, or WA, I’d have this on my iPhone in two seconds.

Integrity Logic – Geology AZ .

Wheel won’t turn on car left 3 months: Rust or Brake Issue?

Apparently the person who we told to move the car every week didn’t. The left rear wheel of my (front-wheel drive) car will not turn; the right turns fine. I jacked up the car and applied considerable leverage to the wheel, but it still won’t turn. I took off the wheel itself and WD-40′d the heck out of everything in sight.

While I wait for that to soak in, it occurred to me that the problem might be brake-related. Does that make sense?

If the WD-40 doesn’t miraculously break the corrosion, what else should I try?

Update: I waited for the WD-40 to soak in,removed the tire again, tap-tapped with a hammer for a few minutes, and the wheel broke free. Leading speculation seems to be that the emergency brake cable may have been stuck…

Collection Agencies for Deadbeat Clients?

What do you do if a client stiffs you?

Twice in my career, clients have decided not to pay my invoices. Once, after delivering a component, a client seems to have made the simple decision that the amount of my final invoice was less than what it would cost me to retrieve it (they miscalculated — the amount was so little I took them to small claims court. Sure, the opportunity cost was excessive, but it was such a bush-league maneuver I couldn’t let them get away with it.).

Currently, I’ve got a much more serious situation. I wish I had faith in the legal system, but I don’t. I feel that no matter how much the facts are on your side, the person with the deeper pockets can delay and delay, costing you not just money, but the only thing you have as a consultant, which is your time. As a software developer, you train yourself to manage risk, and the risk and opportunity cost of suing someone is clearly very high.

Jacob Profitt says that a collection agency is the logical choice: that they buy the debt discounted for the risk and I move on with my life. Has anyone used a collection agency to go after a contract debt? What kind of experiences have you had?

Back in Hawai’i

The only thing nicer than vacationing in Hawai’i is getting on a plane and realizing that you’re going back home… to Hawai’i.

Tina and I spent the Summer in Milwaukee, where her parents live. Unfortunately, the Summer for me was dominated by rotten work developments.

I had planned on doing little income-generating work this Summer, instead investing in some longer-term goals. Unfortunately, my client wanted to add new spangles and gew-gaws to their project and I wanted to keep them happy.

The manager in charge of the project died in a terrible accident. The owner of the company suddenly got involved, flipped out, and decided to cancel the whole project. Which is his right, of course, but he also decided not to pay my company for the work that had been done in the previous 8 weeks. So that meant that I had to pay my developers out of my own pocket. So not only did I end up working for free for the Summer, my obligations to my developers erased my (relatively good) Spring profits.

What sucks about it is that, even though I’m confident that I would ultimately prevail in a legal battle, I am also sure that I would have to spend money out of pocket to a lawyer and I wouldn’t win for at least a year. So I’m very seriously considering sucking up this really brutal loss and just moving on to new projects.

More photos from Machu Picchu

Back from Machu Picchu

“Fritzing” Software Bridges Schematics, Prototypes, PCBs

One of the many things that I haven’t had time to pursue this year is a determination to do some hardware hacking. One aspect that’s been a challenge is moving between the joy of “stick a wire in a breadboard and see what happens” and schematics (I’m sure for the more experience this “challenge” is long forgotten). Fritzing is a piece of software on which you can drag-and-drop wires and components and it will show you the schematic (and vice versa). Kewl.