Before I did this, I worked as a freelancer doing one-off website jobs for small businesses. Finding clients was easy, but I started dreading the same work everyday. I'm much happier doing what I do now, but in a while I want to start a non-profit with some co-worker friends.
I'd want that non-profit to be education-related. Education is a really important space to improve, but adding "technology" to an already-bloated space is useless. I feel too many organizations try to add tech for tech's sake, when it's already impossible to get a class into a computer lab and make effective use of that time. Educational software needs to be thought of differently. Another crap webapp that tests students is a detriment to every student that has to suffer through it. Educational software needs to allow students to explore nature and the world around them.
After two years, I feel that educational software is more about production quality/entertainment value than about solving technological challenges. Poorly designed content that is not engaging can't compete with other resources on the web.
Building a platform to facilitate learning is difficult, because the user experience will only ever be as good as the effort the instructor puts into the course. At the same time, training/education requires a hugely diverse set of features. You're pretty much developing a content-management system, plus a lot of extensions for client-specific needs. Different school districts/companies can have hugely different needs and standards that they need to satisfy, so apps become bloated and dysfunctional. I don't think anyone starts out thinking that they'll build a "crap webapp", but education is a really tough problem for computers to solve.
At the end of the day, organizations choose the most "comprehensive" system, which usually means Blackboard or one of their competitors. Established vendors make integration difficult, and will try to scare their clients from working with you. Also, school districts are also notorious for procurement processes that are incredibly painful.
If you go the content route and become an eLearning development firm, you're looking at a race to the bottom for lowest price for acceptable quality. You'll also be going up against big companies (e.g. Relias) that already have thousands of stock trainings on-hand that they can adapt slightly to individual clients.
All of this said, the online learning space is ripe for disruption. Articulate Storyline (the industry-standard eLearning authoring tool) is still heavily dependent on flash and has numerous glitches. xAPI is almost completely meaningless as an LRS standard. I also get the sense that many organizations are beginning to re-think their commitments to Blackboard and the like. It's a great cause and I wish you the best!
The idea of what a 'computer' is to most people is disappointing to me. More people should see computers as thinking machines, as machines that allow us to extend the reach and complexity of our own thoughts. They are not word processors or spreadsheets, and they certainly aren't multiple-choice answer facilitators. While they prove useful in those regards, the real power is in the mind of the bit manipulator: the student.
I think that if we start using computers as facilitators to learning, rather than replacements for instruction, we'll see a lot of students become more interested in learning. Concepts are very difficult to understand from a book, so blackboards were invented. However, blackboards are very static, so it takes a lively animator to control it. However, it's foolish to believe that every teacher wants to be outstanding. Computers offer us a chance to go one step further than the blackboard, without much additional effort from the instructor.
Visualization is a key problem. There needs to be a way to visualize things on a computer with almost zero learning curve. Blackboards are so much simpler than learning the syntax of a programming language. Bret Victor's work on Drawing Dynamic Visualizations is a step in the right direction.
Students should be using computers to explore the nature, and the best way to do that is by having them build models and simulations. Live classroom instruction should be supplemented with these tasks, to allow students to figure things out on their own. That builds a deeper understanding of problems, and allows students to see connections between things.
I agree, it's a matter of content. However, it's not that the content isn't entertaining enough, it's that it isn't participatory enough.
This is already a well established instructional strategy called Blended Learning (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blended_learning). Blackboard even has a product page devoted to using technology to supplement face-to-face training (http://www.blackboard.com/k12/blended-learning.aspx).
Concepts are very difficult to understand from a book, so blackboards were invented.
This is not really the reason blackboards were invented: http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/reference-material/the.... Many classrooms could still benefit hugely from low-tech solutions like leveled readers.
Computers offer us a chance to go one step further than the blackboard, without much additional effort from the instructor.
I disagree – creating effective blended learning is incredibly time consuming. It nearly doubles the effort of teaching a lecture-based class because teachers must also prepare digital content.
Introducing computers is also a huge logistical hassle (e.g. getting every student logged in, getting them all doing the same exercise/simulation, etc).
I have friends who are teachers at schools with well-equipped computer labs, and they claim that they regularly have to spend 20-40 minutes of their instructional time doing IT to get students up and running. This also echoes what I've found in my professional experience: most blended learnings require an additional instructor to help troubleshoot IT problems.
Agree to disagree, but the way I see it, if content is not entertaining (maybe intellectually stimulating is a better phrase), students will not participate in a productive way.
And thousands of public sector IT people who are making very little money and are very hard to fire.....
Not usually where you find the most forward thinking progress oriented tech advocates in my experience.
I work at an ed-tech company in the Bay Area - We're a for-profit company but we've found success in building study tools targeted at students and teachers rather than top-down school district procurement. If you're interested in working in this space, or just chatting, feel free to message me. Same to others!
(serious question. A lot of us want to work at non-profits, but find it to be not a realistic choice since it doesn't pay enough to survive, wondering how others are able to do it)
Even if I can't do it full time, I can do it when I can. Right now, I'm working on these ideas about one night per week.
I neither like nor dislike my job. I like the people I work with, and I get to architect things and play with new technologies, but I'm not in love with my work. I accept that, I don't think I'd find any other work environment in this field to be that different.
Honestly, I was happier when I was serving coffee. My favourite job was when I was in the geophysics field and was sent all over the world on mapping projects. The mining/oil industry crashed though, and that's over for me unless I amp up my education. It wasn't the job itself I liked; it was being sent in these wonderful locations that I'd never get to travel to otherwise, free of charge.
I'm writing in a number of languages that (apparently) many people cannot understand, let alone be fluent in. This language allows me to write things into existence, entire complex structures. In fact, within the bounds of the virtual (mostly), I can create pretty much anything I want!
As a child I created a game that my father actually got addicted to. I didn't need paper, pencils, scissors, or any other things that I'm not too good with. Just a computer and a knowledge of it's language (Object Pascal).
As a teenager, I created realistic environments that many people spent hours immersed in, sneaking, attacking, finding secrets, and whatnot. And while I did need a mouse and some special visual tools for that (UnrealEd and JkEdit), it also involved 'writing'.
And now, as an adult, I created my own tools for journalling and time tracking, etc., a number of 'online publication platforms', and even a few minor things that escape the bounds of the virtual. And all by writing in these special languages! It still feels like magic after all these years.
While sometimes I wish my work felt more 'real', like the tables a friend of mine 'hand-crafts', I still sometimes stop and marvel at what I can do with just a text editor and a laptop. And now more than ever before it's possible to create things that actually do stuff in the 'real' world. That might be my next big focus.
And I didn't even mention how all this makes me enough money to not worry about making money, or the fact that I have an amount of control over the results that I suspect many other people would envy.
I try to remind myself of that when I'm faced with some ridiculous CSS hack, a silly request from a client, or a weird bug hidden in the ridiculous amount of layers of abstraction at the basis of my day to day work.
I forgot that I also push around a little puck on the table that also changes the pattern of the lights depending on its position, and I have to push it to a different specific place and press a button. I repeat that many thousand times per day.
In the meanwhile, we've helped develop faster disease detection assays to improving safety in transportation.
We get to play with lots of big computers, pitch new ideas, and can have immediate impact on people's lives.
I love this job, it's probably the best job I've ever had. I've even turned down some less appealing jobs at Google because of the range of cutting edge things I get to work on in a normal day and the Google positions weren't offering that. I've never been so engaged, on a daily basis. I'm long past my honeymoon with this job and can't see an end to it. Knowing that I'm helping people with my work makes it extra rewarding.
I've worked in similar applied R or D fields, did a stint at a couple software companies and worked as an analyst from time to time, working on some very hard problems. But nothing with this kind of positive impact potential.
Will I help change the world? Probably not, but I'm pretty sure I'm helping make it a better place.
If you are interested in it, I would highly recommend looking at working with National Laboratories, or companies that work with or manage National Labs. FFRDCs are another great place to look https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federally_funded_research_and_...
Be prepared to take a salary hit, but the work can be really rewarding (if you end up in the right place).
I like this job.
This is my first legal job, so I don't know if it's my favorite.
I'm currently working on PostgREST, an open source server that turns any PostgreSQL database into a RESTful API.
My team is great, everyone here is insanely knowledgeable, and the work is very meaningful. I honestly feel like I've learned so much more in the last year working for Apple than I have in my entire life.
It's a long-term freelance gig in a joint venture between the french secretary of economy and the national unemployment agency.
My job title is officially Lead Developer for the project but since we're such a small team (the idea is to borrow the organisation and process of a startup in a big french administration, bypassing their hellish processes), I also help in copywriting, system administration, monitoring, and the most interesting : machine learning using a huge amount of economic/recruitment data to predict which companies will hire. We have pretty good results!
It's a great gig and hopefully of social value to France which needs it at the moment (unemployment is at an all-time high right now).
75% of the job market is "hidden" (jobs that were filled without the company ever posting a job ad). We help the job seekers to identify this hidden job market.
Before this I worked at Google for four years, and before that I ran a small game development studio (http://www.mysterystudio.com) for almost 10 years. Improbable gives me the best of both worlds -- the speed and the impact your day to day work has in a startup, and the world-changing ambitions of Google.
I get to work on very challenging technical problems, building core systems from scratch, within an engineering culture and people of a caliber comparable to Google's, but perhaps even more motivated because we're more invested in the success of the company. I'm enjoying every minute of it!
I'm trying to take the best parts of a law firm (explicit focus on mentorship, got-your-back partnership mentality, treating people like skilled, autonomous professionals, good pay) and apply it to software dev. I expect a lot out of people but give them the tools and space necessary to get things done. We're going to build a product in 2016.
I have about 8 yrs experience as a working dev. Last job was at a startup that grew explosively but had massive tech/architecture problems of its own making. I wore a lot of hats at this place over 3 yrs including dev, ops eng/head of ops, and some product management on our API (we were a developer tools company) but ultimately got sick of shoveling shit behind repeated poor decisions made over many years. I was a founder before that for a company that had a small acquisition, and before that I worked at Microsoft for a while.
Favorite kinda depends on what you value. I get the most professional satisfaction out of my current job; we do things at a reasonable, sustainable pace, and don't have "crunch time". OTOH there's a thrill at "up and to the right" you get in venture tech that's hard to replicate. You'll probably make the most money in bigco tech, but if you save and invest well in your 20s, you can start to replace a lot of wage income with investment income pretty rapidly in your 30s.
Another point: running any kind of client service business, to a first approximation, is 100% about getting the right kind of clients. I spent a while a few years ago doing "contracting" for bottom-of-the-barrel Craigslist wannabes and other jokers and it was horrible. Going from being a pure dev employee to contracting because you 'hate office politics' is a route to failure; it requires a lot more planning, especially over cashflow, and client relationships.
As an aside, programming knowledge has made me a far, far better designer; vice versa maybe as well, maybe
I would imagine there is some overlap between journalism and "data science". Many articles about the world would benefit from statistics derived from online data sets to back them up. But I wonder if this is really journalism, or if it's the primary source which the journalist relies on?
There also seems to be a lot of interest in journalism and computer security/privacy, because journalists are targets for spying. But that doesn't sound like what you're talking about.
The other focus I have is on SQL, which I make all of the students learn in the required course I teach. For many students, it's the first programming they've ever done...and it's directly applicable in data journalism work. Here's a couple of sample midterms:
how would someone who's been doing distributed systems and genetics for 8 years make the switch to something equivalent of five thirty eight, or other data driven outfits?
The other part of it is to demonstrate a good sense of the state of civic affairs. You can actually do quite well with average talent in programming and statistical skill...the bottleneck when it comes to data journalism is knowing the quality and quantity of data that is actually kept and produced by civic entities. Basically, being a good researcher will pay immense dividends...all of my best projects have literally been just being able to find or being aware of information that has already been publicly made available (and the legal/institutional reasons for the precedent).
IQuantNY is one of my favorite examples of non-traditional journalists doing great things in civic data analysis using already publicly available datasets: http://iquantny.tumblr.com/
In between past startups, I worked for boutique software firms making custom software for x-ray machines, vaults used in banks and jewelry manufacturers, and even machine vision tech used in movie production.
- an experimental video codec based around contours, with some fairly tremendous potential. It works, but there's still a few years more work required to turn it into something commercially useful. (But, with no further funding for now, it's on hold)
- an embedded project, developing some audience response keypads and base stations. Nothing world-changing in the least, but a lot of fun. No OS involved, and everything had to fit into 256K of flash, with 64K RAM available. Designing the bootloader, a robust audio link, a scriptable accelerometer engine, and more, with plenty of hardware involvement - mm, that was good fun.
- the 3DO and Mac versions of The 11th Hour, sequel to The 7th Guest. What an amazing place to work that was.. arriving for my interview, the sense of enthusiasm was nigh palpable. Everyone knew they could be earning way more down in the Bay, but nobody left. Plus, coaxing 40-70fps video playback out of an 8MHz ARM6 core was quite gratifying. ^_^ (The result of some careful alterations to the datastream format, and a lot of assembly)
I prefer it to every job I've ever had- but mostly for the talented people I work with and the meritocratic mentality of the senior management at the studio I work in.
the company also pays very little but there's a real sense of being taken care of; things like paying my health insurance (EU; Private healthcare), matched pension contribution, matched sum investment on my behalf, free company cinema events every so-often, health care contribution (massages/gym allowance) along with relocation cost and giving me a place to live when I was getting settled in Sweden.
There is a twisted downside to this though. My job title does not say "developer", I'm the "ops" side of a devops team handling online backend for an upcoming video game. -- And being the bridge between the studio and institutional bureaucracy imposed on us by a very thick layer of incompetent control freak managers which sits above systems administrators who only sit on 2 extremes: great or utterly incompetent- which is imposed on us by the publisher... makes my job an absolute nightmare.
It's actually enough that I'm probably going to resign very soon. Despite the studio being awesome.
I love my job, because it's a great blend between strategic work and technical work. Since our clients are often running shoe-string operations that have evolved instead of been designed, a lot of my job is convincing the client that they could change their process instead of paying me to build a feature.
I also get a lot of time to work on open source projects. There's a quickly growing open source community for non-profit software on the Salesforce platform.
I used to work as a professional union stagehand, programming and operating projection and media systems for musicals. I loved that job, but the work wasn't stable and the hours sucked.
I don't love it though. It's OK. It'd be better to code 20% of the time and observe, talk, think the other 80%. I think that this might make me more efficient and more productive.
My best job was my first. A guy had a profitable web-site and no technical knowledge, there was no notion of best-practice, and he hired me to do everything/anything. The environment was smokey, the equipment shoddy and the business practices disordered. I was straight out of uni and free to make any decisions I saw fit, any mistakes were on my head.
 Thinking about it, it was the shear honesty of the place. I don't think anyone even tried to dress up what they were doing in jargon or exaggerations. Words like 'passion' were never applied out of place.
Anecdotally, I've found this "honesty" more frequently in owner-operated companies, family businesses, etc. than in "white collar" "professional" settings. I like when people have the honesty to say, "we're doing it this way because I want to" rather than having to dress it up in some quasi-rational, quasi-scientific "we've evaluated the costs and benefits, and concluded that this way is superior" when the decision was 100% emotion/preference/it's my friend's company/we did it this way before/other silly reason.
I am also a student pursuing an MS program part time.
Haven't had a favorite job yet.
It's my first job out of college and have been doing it for 4.5 years. I also run a creative/music community on the side called HypedSound (soon to be hype.co) -- hit me up if you're a Django dev ;)
A little of everything, from printers to network/servers for the past 14 years(2 job switch so far). I love helping people resolve their issues, I would say I love my job but a recent switch to a oil and gas company seems to have been a bad choice.
Headcount cutting and all means I have a lot less support issues to deal with and more HN time.
I have this impression that most developers in any company would be more or less quite 'technical'. Is there any need for tech support role in bigger corporations?
I do enjoy it, even though it pays less than most other industries.
Favourite thing I worked on was a 48 channel touring console. Unfortunately is was cancelled shortly after launch and all released units (except 1) were purchased back.
I also worked on some pretty fancy digitally controlled line arrays and subwoofers. The aiming they could do was pretty cool.
The great thing about it is meeting with the developers, asking them "What CI problems are holding you up? Anything we can improve?" and making their answers my priorities. We always end up improving things and making people's lives easier.
It's not so much the technology, although I do love that; it's being able to make a team's working life easier and more enjoyable.
I quickly got bored because of the lack of intellectual stimulation. Fourteen monad tutorials later the whole stack was written in Haskell.
I wish I had a job.
I used to reverse malware. That job had a lot of other tedious responsibilities, so I'm a lot happier where I am.
I'm also building a web application in my spare time. Getting close to launching it. This is probably the most fulfilling work I do.
It is OK as long as I am earning enough to have good life.
I love to develop products that are being utilized by common people and it improves their lifestyle.
My favorite job is a tie between what I'm doing now and my time in the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps was more fun, but it wasn't sustainable.
My favorite job was writing test software at Boeing for 747-400, 757, 767 and 777, in the early nineties.