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Ask HN: If you were to switch career, what would you do?
444 points by bsvalley 17 days ago | hide | past | web | 833 comments | favorite
If you were to quit your developer job today and move away from the tech world for a little while, what job would you do? Or what domain would interest you?


From running two small ecommerce companies I think I've learned enough about MVP, shipping, inventory management, etc.

From 25 years as a software engineer I've learned about building tools to automate steps.

I'd pick some "hard to find / expensive niche (e.g. Greene and Greene, Art Nouveau, etc.), but offer repeatable designs, not do custom work. That would allow for lots of jigs, fixtures, using cheap machines in duplicate to eliminate setup times, etc.

...and then after growing sales and shaking the bugs out of the production, I'd hire assistants to keep cranking stuff out.

Eventually I'd allow customers to start turbing a few "knobs" on products, via a website tool (this isn't too much falling back into software, is it?), which results in customized cut lists being kicked out for my assistants. Mass customization.

This is funny, I came into programming from being a high end cabinet maker. I had to give it up because I'm allergic to the components that make up the 'smell' of red oak. Which we worked with a lot.

Theirs a real satisfaction in looking at a your work at the end of the day and being able to SEE it.

I've always whittled as a fun side hobby. My desire to do anything bigger is limited by a fear of the table saw. As a lefty, nothing in the shop plays nice with me. I'm too worried about losing a finger which would impact my income stream as well as my other hobby, piano. But, I still spend more time looking at joinery than I do on HN.

Most of the time when someone loses a finger on a table saw, it is because they were doing something that they know better than to do, or because they didn't know that a particular action is high risk. What really helps is to initially work with someone who knows what and what not to do, so they can correct any bad techniques that you have.

Common errors are things like trying to cut a piece that is too large / awkward, resulting in the wood pinching the blade, and also getting your fingers too close to the blade. Get used to using push sticks to push the wood piece through. Typically you'd make up a couple of them with notches in the ends, or with a rubber tip. If you are doing certain types of cross cuts, the table saw has a couple tracks and a jig that runs along them, to move the piece through. Also, most important, is to set the blade height correctly, so not much of the blade is sticking out through your work piece.

Of course, I've always wanted a computerized setup, where you specify where the cut should be, and the work piece gets robotically placed on the table saw and precision cut. (they have this in some of the larger cabinet shops).

First day of my High School wood shop class (do they even have those anymore?), our instructor opened up a couple of packs of hot dogs and ran one through every machine in the shop. We didn't lose any fingers in that class ;-)

That you have an opinion on this and know the circumstances seems to suggest you know multiple people who have lost their fingers, which would suggest the risk is actually quite high.

If a completely untrained person bought an entire shop worth of power tools and just started trying to build stuff, the potential for injury is astronomical. However, there's a right way to go about it. Every shop tool has a simple set of rules to follow. Learn the proper and safe way to use things, wear appropriate attire and safety equipment, pay attention, and the risk is very low.

Powertools are made to cut/grind/drill/etc... wood, metal, and even stone into useful shapes. All of these things are significantly harder than the human body. Of course the tools capable of doing it are dangerous.

Never put your fingers where you wouldn't put your bollocks and you will be fine.

That piece of advice will save you more heartache than pretty much any other, but its a little more complicated than that.

For example, you wouldn't want to wear loose or baggy clothing around a lathe.

A guy I used to work with had cut off 4 fingers on his table saw, 2 were able to be re-attached. He admitted that he was doing something stupid.

Also, when I was a kid, my Dad had almost lost the tip of his finger in a snow blower -- he was cleaning out the chute when his glove caught on the blade. Again, something that you aren't supposed to do. For myself, I've had a number of close calls -- sometimes a piece of wood gets ejected in the direction of the blade spin. I've learned to stand to the side, and now directly in front of the saw. Also learned the hard way that you don't support a board on both ends, and cut in the middle with a circular saw -- blade pinch, and a nasty bruise results. Again, if I had someone standing there that could warn me, I would have corrected my technique before getting hurt.

anybody that does a lot of machine/wood work knows a few friends with missing parts. whole fingers or partials.

i had a roommate for years, was a very skilled machinist... we called him "nine and a half" although he was really only missing about 2mm from his right index finger... state compensated him $10k for those 2mm's though.

I nicked the tip of my index finger on my table saw a while ago, and all my friends called my Johnny-nine-point-nine-eight for a few weeks.

SawStop and Bosch both make excellent table saws with a safety retraction system.

Also, you can do a lot of woodworking with other tools, like a circular saw, track saw, miter saw, or even a simple hand saw. I've built a couple of bookcases and a built-in storage bench using only circular and hand saws, though a table saw would have made the work easier and probably straighter.

Yeah, a circular saw + square will get you a long way and provide an inexpensive way to determine whether you like it enough to invest in the more expensive tools. Of course you could end up like me, still using that same circular saw years later while routinely promising yourself that next year you'll invest in a good table saw ...

Saw Stop might interest you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiYoBbEZwlk

That's incredible. Theoretically you could even wear gloves and the saw would stop as soon as it reached tissue. Although, some sort of conductive work gloves might serve as an additional safety layer so it doesn't even have to hit tissue.

In general, it's a bad idea to wear gloves when working with spinning tools. If the glove snags the wrong way, it can pull your whole hand into the tool.

For sure, but in this scenario I doubt snags pulling anything would be possible. In the video it was stopping the blade before it could even break the skin on fingertips.

If the safety mechanism failed though, the resulting injury would be far worse as a result of the gloves, so it might not be worth it in that regard.

The gloves could pull the hand along the trajectory of the blade.

Not if the gloves are conductive too.

Most gloves make a point of not being conductive.

Which would be why I explicitly suggested conductive gloves in my first comment.

Ditto rings, for the same reason.

The rules in my dad's wood shop when I was growing up were pretty simple: any jewelry (necklace, bracelet, watch, rings, etc.) had to be removed, and eye protection had to be on before a tool could be turned on.

That is pretty impressive. Sadly, I'm limited to shared workspaces given that I'm in an urban area. Good to know about for whenever I decide that I'm sick of the city.

The table saw at the maker space / shared woodworking shop near me has a SawStop, which is a pretty good idea given the varied experience levels of users in a community space. If that's really what's keeping you from pursuing an activity of great interest to you, consider checking to see if the workspaces near you are equipped with SawStop. Even if they're not, you might persuade them to get one. Especially if you're willing to chip in.

Consider hand tools. It's a bit more labor, but if you're not building for profit anyway, you may enjoy it more. I have some thoughts on this on my blog, see my profile.

+1 to this! I got into woodworking with the goal of just using hand tools. As mentioned there is quite a bit more labor but you can also do things like setup a bench in your basement and work while your kids sleep upstairs.

I'd highly suggest taking a look at some of the videos from Paul Sellers: https://www.youtube.com/user/PaulSellersWoodwork. My first real project was building his simple (but very functional) workbench. He is pretty opinionated so keep that in mind, but he speaks from experience.

Also keep in mind that there are really two "classes" of popular tools: western and Japanese/eastern. If you do get into woodworking I'd suggest trying out a few tools from each class. I ended up going with Japanese saws because they felt more natural to me but then using western style planes.

What I like about Sellers is that he doesn't try to sell you tools. He pushes the same dozen or so tools for every project and proves that you don't have to buy specialized tools for a job.

Unlike Schwarz who I feel like is always trying to get me to buy something else :/

+1 I got into handtool-only woodworking several years ago. I find it very relaxing building things by hand. I am starting on a 6' tall bookcase this week

Thanks, that's a bunch of great info. I'll be looking forward to an update on your bench.

Won't be till April at the earliest. Minnesota winters...

As others have mentioned, SawStop can mitigate most of that risk (but not all - it's still possible to get kickback if you're not careful). I'd probably own a SawStop, if not for some of the questionable behavior if it's owner [1]. It's unfortunate, because they're very well made and designed saws.

You may want to check out the Bosch ReaXX, which has a similar tech in a portable job-site saw. SawStop is currently suing Bosch for patent infringement (which I don't fault them for; it was them trying to make it illegal to sell saws without their tech that didn't sit right with me).

[1] http://toolguyd.com/sawstops-stephen-gass-people-who-are-des... and a followup that's more balanced: http://toolguyd.com/sawstop-perspective-update/

Be sure to wear ear protection (the sound is loud enough to damage your hearing) and especially a face shield.

Don't work alone in the house, keep your cell phone in your pocket. I suppose this would be a great use for Amazon's Alexa, just yell for 911 (does that work for Alexa?).

I approached workworking like software -- iterative refinement. In the physical world that left me with a pile of sawdust.

I think that's the reason I (and many programmers) enjoy gardening/farming.

Putting your hands in the soil, seeing the growth & blooms, eating your produce - very satisfying!

That's why I went into software from hardware. From software I often get immediate returns, from hardware it often took weeks.

Funny thing is before I did hardware, I was running a wood/machine shop which was satisfying, but didn't pay very well.

I've worked as a general contractor, and a union finish carpenter. (Yes--Finish Caroenters still exits in some counties, like San Francisco. The work has changed though. It's all about speed, and specs, and laminates.)

What I found is so many people glamoririze wood working, but at the end of the day keep your desk job. Working with your hands is a dirty job. It's a physical job. You come home tired. There's a reason, even custom wood shops, are filled with immigrants.

I know very few independents that make a go of it. I know a few guys who highly specialize, and claim to make a living. For a few years, guys were making good money refinishing wood slabs, for tech bosses. That market is getting crowded. A $8000 table can be had $800 if you travel, and shop around.

I won't get in to all the downsides, but if you have some extra room buy some wood working equipemnent. You don't need to go hog wild. You don't need a cabinet saw. You should have a contractor's saw with a cast iron table. A router. Drills--don't spent a lot on fancy features. Union finishers use the cheapest plug in drills. Have an assortment of clamps. Keep your chisels sharp. You don't need every router bit made either. It's not about the tools in the end.

I really think the secret is to specializing. Do custom chairs? Get your name out there. I know one guy who makes custom dressers, but they are works of art. This guy will spend months working on a piece, and some rich guy will buy it for $180,000.

I once wanted to make custom knifes, but every guy I talked to said you won't make a living off it.

I am going to try to make custom sterling belt buckles. I've done some jewelry work, and found that a hard niche to get into. The Chinese make some realistic looking hand made stuff. Yes--they steal our original ideas--sometimes overnight.

My strategy is to get in quick, and get out if I get a bunch of copycats. I already have most of the tools.

I think a lot of us want to do something else? My dad, who was an Electrician, once said, "I wish I had a job where I could sit in a warm office for two hours in the morning, and then get in my service truck and do physical labor." He never found a job he totally liked. He died an angry man. It wasn't his job he hated so much; he was just angry about everything. My biggest fear was turning into my father.

I don't think I ever will. I had a busted a gasket in my noggin in my twenties, and don't look at the world like I used too.(bust gasket--had minor nervous breakdown in my twenties. I got better, but my perspective on life did change.)

This reminds me of Matthias Wandel. He's really one of the most impressive woodworkers I've ever seen. It's so clear to me that he still thinks like a software engineer.

I was going to make the same comment. I believe he worked as a developer for RIM (Blackberry). I would urge all to check him out on YouTube. Entertaining and you will likely learn something new.

My only regret about getting into his channel is that now I have seen all of his videos and I have to wait 7 days for each new one.

His channel is great for more than just its content; it's also inspirational. My father has been a hobbyist woodworker and he has a small basement shop. Growing up I would frequently be down there with him 'helping' here and there, but never really built much of anything on my own besides a few small projects.

Watching Matthias' videos rekindled my interest in the hobby and I even picked up some new tricks along the way. It has also been great to get back into the shop with my dad and spend real quality time with him.

Matthias, if you ever read this: thanks!!!

Love that guy, his channel is so great.

Sometimes I think it appeals to me (and engineers in general) because spending so much time developing software... when not working on front-end/UI, it's all intangible. Just abstract bytes cast into the void. I need to make things in the physical realm more often.

This is more similar than it first sounds... you're proposing a variant of ecommerce that includes production of the goods. You'd still start by identifying a product niche with strong demand. You'd begin with flexible but expensive production options, then automate incrementally as you figure out which products can scale. You'd invest in technology to help you maintain an advantage over other vendors.

This is actually very similar to how semi-custom cabinets are made and sold, aside from the web interface. There is a catalog of available cabinets, and each cabinet can be customized in a variety of ways. For example, you can order a drawer + cupboard base cabinet with 2 roll trays and finished left side. The cabinets are built to order, but from a standard set of parts. They're built in a factory and shipped to the job site fully assembled. (One big maker is Masterbrand, which like GM offers many similar products under a variety of sub-brands.)

Instead of the web, though, cabinet selections are typically made by a kitchen designer, because the customer is not sufficiently skilled to take responsibility that the items ordered will actually fit. This might be a problem in woodworking, though perhaps less so for furniture.


I'm basically in the process of pursuing this dream. Previously I was an architect in Canada where we did a lot of large scale wood structures using sophisticated computational fabrication techniques.

These types of sophisticated projects though were fairly risky for property developers making them somewhat rare. So I struck out on my own to try to develop a small business around the most 'automatable' work I could afford to get into - which is basically a prototyping shop that offers laser cutting and engraving of wood products.

We've been fairly successful with it, and so now we're starting to develop product customizers that allow customers to order custom work which we can fabricate on demand without having to interact with the customer in person (a major source of overhead in most custom fabrication shops). Here's an early beta example of one we're working on for the wedding industry if you're interested: https://www.instantcaketopper.com

So it's basically wood that people put on their cake, never saw something like this. Is common in Canada & US?

I've not seen a wooden cake topper like this, but it's very common (and used to be pretty much mandatory, if I understand right) to have something on top of the cake, usually little figurines representing the bride and groom.

I've seen cake toppers for special occasion, like bride and groom, flowers but never saw a wooden one. I was wondering if wooden cake toppers are a thing over there

I love this. My single regret about doing programming for a living is that I rarely have anything physical to show for my work at the end of the day. I've been looking at hobbies to pick up that involve making things with my hands. This is an innovative way to do both.

> My single regret about doing programming for a living is that I rarely have anything physical to show for my work at the end of the day.

This is the most challenging thing about most IT jobs. I was working "maintenance" (read: janitor that occasionally builds things) at an outlet mall before I fell in to an internship that led to the VoIP/MSP job I've been working for the last decade.

I'm making a lot more money and I never have to clean up bodily fluids, but rarely does this job provide any real end-of-day satisfaction. Maybe once a month I get to work on a project that when complete I can stand back and have something tangible to be proud of.

On the other hand from just a summer of working at the outlet mall there are a half dozen things I worked on that I can see from the highway as I drive by now 12 years later. Even the cleanup work had a clearly defined "task complete" state that anyone could see.

Amen to tangible evidence! I feel similarly about my current career, but there are two things to keep in mind: the grass is always greener, and you can do something on your own terms (hobby) that fills the same niche. Thus, woodworking, or even painting, volunteering, etc.

As for the grass being greener, it's important to keep perspective about what the former was. I think your example re: bodily fluids is a pretty good example :)

I love woodworking as well, and have completed a few little projects since buying a house and finally having a garage/workshop.

But, if that's not something you have the space/money for yet, I think that cooking is a nice substitute hobby. There's a lot to learn with tools and technique, and you get the immediate satisfaction of seeing (and tasting!) your finished product.

Just be careful though -- I've injured myself many more times in the kitchen than in the garage.

Same here. My undergrad & grad degree was Computer Engineering (Hardware focus) and Electrical Engineering. I made things (circuit boards), and programmed things that moved (robotics). But lots of money in web apps...

Look into producing beehive equipment; even if you're not a beekeeper, there is a constant and large demand for high quality, low price woodenware. Fairly easy to set up jigs and it is easy to find blueprints. By the end you'll be a beekeeper anyway ;)

Luthiery specifically for me - it's a hobby currently and the thing I think about the most when I'm programming. The tooling and jig making aspect of woodworking is also very satisfying to my engineering tendencies.

I have to plug David Hurds "Left-brain lutherie" here! It's a physicist's attempt to demystify the building of guitar-family instruments, and in addition to providing a pretty in-depth look at the major components of an instrument's sound, provides many immediately practical tips on construction - for example, how to choose the proper soundhole size.

Manufacturing of any kind is as competitive as hell.

Certainly it is possible to succeed there, but I think many manufacturers are already far ahead of the average software shop in terms of automation.

> Manufacturing of any kind is as competitive as hell.

Absolutely true. And this is why I was very specific about picking a high end niche, and using tons of jigs, etc.

If you try to make rocking chairs, or cabinets, or whatever, you're going to be undercut by people in Malaysia, or huge factories in North Carolina.

You need something where there is a LOT of complexity AND a relatively small market, both to serve as walls to market entrants.

High quality and custom made stuff are always hard to find.

You normally can't build a big business on any of those niches, but it may be enough to sustain a single-person shop.

+1 on the Woodworking....

I started StumpCrafters.com just a few months ago and its great. I love being out in the shop more and still getting to do a few things with code here and there.

Im not quite there with the customization yet but its in the works.

Check it out at:





edit: formating

I am a bit confused what stumpcrafters is after going to the website.

There is some sort of game...and you sell these pieces of wood for the game?

This page explanes it the best.


TLDR; The Stump Game is played with a Stump, nails, and a hammer. Win by being the last nail above the face of the stump.

They play a similar drinking game in ski bars in Austria - you each get 3 swings of the hammer, before passing the hammer on. Last nail left buys a round. Except you have to hit the nails in with the other end of the hammer, the part for pulling out the nails.

I'm not kidding, in the middle of bars they have a big ol' tree stump full of nails

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqhtHbqjp8I seems to explain it better ... if you can sell people small stumps of wood for $80 I think you'll go far ;o)

Shipping is part of the problem and but similar games such as cornhole cost $150-$350.

This is great. My friends and I played a similar game we called hammerschlaggen -- except instead of a hammer we used the sharp end of an axe and a real stump!

My stumps are a platform for your nails and you can play any game you like or make up your own.

Hammer-Schlagen® is a Trademark troll check out there site

Came here to say this. I have a garage full of tools (I built all of our kitchen cabinets and other built-in furniture). I'd love to have more time for woodworking.

That doesn't really sound like a "woodworker".

I like this. I've been thinking about a lot about software to help improve workshop efficiency or to design interesting things.

yeah software engineers are able to pursue art niches better than artists because of having more capital

they totally should

I would be a modern day philosopher/thinker (like Taleb, Dawkins, Harris). I would start with the classics and read everything, learn ancient Greek, Aramaic, as well as Italian, French and German (maybe Russian also, who knows)

I would study the first proof in mathematics all the way up through modern probability theory.

I would throw away my cell phone and do all of this work from a nice modern loft in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome - starting every morning with an espresso, and ending it with good food and two bottles of Red French or Italian wine.

Back to work ..

I can see how this would be a heavenly existence, but it seems like a stretch to call it a "career," in the sense I think the original poster meant. Sure, there are some people who have managed to become famous authors doing those things, but this basically seems like saying "I would switch careers to being a celebrity."

Yeah, that's the joke.

Yeah, in hindsight I pretty aggressively missed the point.

No need to quit your job or move to Italy. Turn notifications off on your phone, get an espresso machine for your home, buy some decent table wine. Get the books you want to read and start reading them. Go to the library on the weekends. Arrange to get to/from work on public transit and your commute turns into reading time (90 minutes a day for me).

I have a full-time job and read as many philosophy/sociology and math books as I ever have. You can actually try out your plan of full-time study on your next vacation - I bet you will bore of it in three or four days.

I agree, "the unexamined life is not worth living." We should start a club for expats that all want to do this.

The problem with a club like that is your fellow members would at best dispel the romance of the setting, and at worst be thoroughly insufferable.

> I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member –Groucho Marx

In a sense, I do this. I work/earn 10% of what I could, and spend 90% of my time studying all the things I want, moving around different countries. On one hand it's very nice but on the other, earning little gets tiresome (especially now in my 30s). My 2017 is for reversing the percentage.

How do you find consistent work doing that? I try to work part time as a developer and usually either my clients pressure me to full time or hire someone else who will.

I'm a VA with one long-time client who can only offer me part-time work, plus the occassional small project related to the work. I also sometimes get a few side jobs from previous employers. For the last several years, I've generally worked an hour per day, M-F.

Living abroad on dollars, and staying out of native-English speaking countries and Nordic ones, it's quite easy to live an average lifestyle on around $600/mo. However, to live like this you end up going through a few dry periods where you really are struggling. Three-fourths of the time, I'm living the same lifestyle as I did in the US, except it's more interesting and I'm not working a full-time job I don't like just to make ends meet.

My free time is spent exploring cities, learning languages which I teach myself and then practice in-country, reading and watching documentaries about everything that interests me (I was born curious), volunteering and working on some online side projects (non-monetary) related to growing my knowledge.

If this were a few hundred years ago, I would be the first person to sign up for overseas voyages, but since there are no more unexplored/untouched lands these days (barring the final frontier), I try to do the next best thing - explore subjects and places that are, in the least, not previously explored by me. Another way to look at it is to say I was born (SF in the early 80s) a few decades late, otherwise I would have grown up hippie and probably fit right in (rather than have friends who make amounts I can't even comprehend).

> I'm a VA with one long-time client who can only offer me part-time work, plus the occassional small project related to the work.

What's a VA?

Virtual Assistant, so I basically just do admin type work online (for a small startup).

Let me know if you're ever in Chiang Mai and would like to get a coffee, or maybe watch a documentary.


You are living an interesting life. It is fun to read about how different everyone's experiences are.

Thanks. I've definitely got to live the life that everyone back home can't, but the reverse is true as well. After doing this for several years and realizing what kind of lifestyle I really want, I'm ready to do a trade-in this year. Contrary to a 10-year old car with 200K miles on it, I'm hoping my value has actually appreciated in this time. The thing is, it's not on a resume, it's not in the form of a house. Any value, real or imagined, is invisible to the naked eye, and so by returning to "real life" it can appear that I've got nothing to show for the last decade.

I understand. You carry your experiences on your back, in your mind.

I wonder if you COULD document that in a physical way though, maybe build a website using a free host like Wix.com loaded with photos from around the world, organized chronologically by country.

That would be amazing. Maybe even organize a speech about "What I have learned by traveling the world" (with cool photos)

Even if you didn't take photos, you could find photos of the places you lived at on Google.

I think many people would be interested by a talk like that.

I appreciate your experience, and I think employers would also.

You have proven you can relate and survive in many different cultures and you are adaptable. I would imagine that would be valuable in an international position in a big company like Pagonia, or a safari travel company, or even a local company with a diverse workforce.

Take out the math part and make it outer Trastevere (far from the tourists) and you just stole my answer.

As long as you stay away from Basilica di Santa Maria, the tourists arn't a problem :)

You know that we have the web and internet and the computers also here in Italy, Right?

I'm getting close to retiring, in many ways this sounds a very appealing option :)

Mathematics from axioms: http://us.metamath.org/index.html

See you at Bar San Calisto!

The CEO of Palantir Alex Karp is a philosopher.

Must have failed ethics.

SGTM Approved

It's interesting that the majority of these answers are professions that pay nowhere near what a software developer's salary would be.

If the question were, "What other job would you like to do, if it paid at least as much as software development?" I could probably come up with some creative answers.

But even though I'm not particularly driven by money, given that I have a family to support, mortgage to pay, etc., I probably could not take a job right now that would significantly reduce my income.

With that constraint in mind, I suppose I would say I would return to my first career (journalism) and become an editor again. This would involve a significant drop in salary. So I would have to ramp up the time I devote to my second job. I'm an author of nonfiction books, which has been mostly a side project, but a relatively lucrative one. If I could bang out a book a year, on top of working full time as an editor, I could probably keep our household finances afloat.

Unless moving out of SF/NY is a deal breaker, it's not necessary to make $100k+ a year to have a solid middle class life. You won't be driving a BMW making $55k a year but you won't need to eat Ramen to make the mortgage payment either.

Obviously kids make this harder and my perspective is certainly biased as my wife and I don't plan on children so our nut is much lower every month than our friends with kids in HS or college.

> it's not necessary to make $100k+ a year to have a solid middle class life

Depends on your circumstances. 100k with one salary?

I'm in a similar situation to you, (similar salary, 2 kids instead of 3), and think you are being hyperbolic claiming "100k is nothing honestly". I think maybe it comes down to the definition of "basic life".

Sure, 100k can go very fast with kids, and it won't make you independently wealthy, but many people manage a "basic life" and even saving some money living on far less.

The added expenses of 3 kids and a stay at home spouse completely changes the financial situation you're describing as opposed to the other poster. 100k+ not split among 4 nonworking people goes way further!

I find the change from having a family not very large, say 2x food and perhaps to be very generous +1k clothing. The chief difference is the desire to live in a own space instead of having roommates, which are hard to find with a family.

Suppose you live in Cambridge, MA and eat all organic food; rent with roommates and utilities costs perhaps 800/mo, subway costs perhaps 100/mo, food costs 300/mo, clothing is perhaps 100/mo, health insurance perhaps 1k/mo. This adds up to 1300/mo, 28k/year. Throw in a very luxurious 5k/year in travel, 4k/year in restaurants and hobbies, and your 100k salary / 67k takehome pay supports you saving 30k/year (more if you use tax advantaged accounts).

Consider a family of four in such a case. Taxes run about 21k/year instead of 33k/year, so takehome is 79k. A 1br in Cambridge runs about 2k/mo, maybe 2.5k/mo for luxury. Subway is 150/mo, food costs 700/mo, clothing of say 200/mo, healthcare is perhaps 1.5k/mo; these run 5k/mo in total, 60k/year. Throw in 5k for travel, rental cars, and hobbies, and you're still saving 15k/year for emergencies.

This seems like a very luxurious life, as someone who's lived it; expensive, and I found it slightly more luxurious than makes me happy. So yes, families affect saving rate, but also provide perpetual free entertainment.

Childcare makes a huge difference. Most people with kids either have to sacrifice a huge chunk of their income or a huge chunk of their income-earning potential.

> rent with roommates and utilities costs perhaps 800/mo

Ugh, for a lot of us roommates == hell. There's no way I'd subject myself to living with strangers again.

I live paycheck to paycheck on six figures in the midwest. I'm not broke but I'm certainly not living it up. People act like 100k is life changing money.

I think it depends more on circumstances before you get to $100k. If I had parents who paid for school I'd probably be living it up too.

Agreed. My parents gave me nothing. Had to pay for school and save up for home loan, car etc.

Different experiences. I put myself through school, have $50k in student loan debt, and I'm living comfortably on $54k/yr in New Jersey. Renting a small house, and sending around 15-20% of my income to help support my mother and 5 young siblings. I eat out a few times a month, and otherwise have a modest entertainment budget. I'm only able to set aside a very small amount, if anything, right now, but overall, I'm fairly secure. Without a requirement to live in an expensive area, I don't see why anyone would have trouble living on $100k/yr even with a couple kids and a non-working spouse. May not be luxurious, but should at least be comfortable.

I often wonder if it's just people who have a different concept of what is a necessity vs a luxury due to never having to go without for a significant part of their lives, or people who have just never lived outside of the cities or other expensive areas.

> I often wonder if it's just people who have a different concept of what is a necessity vs a luxury due to never having to go without for a significant part of their lives, or people who have just never lived outside of the cities or other expensive areas.

In my case, I lived on the lower end of the income spectrum for much of my childhood, and lived even poorer while building my startup in a low-cost area. So it is with deep experience and sincerity that I say I have no desire ever to repeat those years, nor to inflict such a life on any future young humans.

Exactly. The GP of my comment talks about 100k not being lifechanging money. I know for a fact that it would have been dramatically lifechanging if my mother or stepfather had been making anywhere near 100k during my childhood, even adjusted for inflation.

I can really see both sides of the argument here. 100k is not permanently life changing for the recipient. But if it can be earned sustainably, it is a pretty big difference for the recipient's children, if any.

Ways in which it's not life changing: probably have to live in a more expensive area, which eats into the benefit. Still have to play the office game with people you may or may not like. Still have to save up and budget if you want to travel. You won't live in a mansion with a full-time staff. You still won't have enough money to trade money for popularity if popularity is something you lack and want.

Ways it is life changing: can afford more nutritious and more enjoyable food, which helps make life more sustainable. Can provide better food/clothes/schooling for any children (I have none of my own), which gives them an advantage when they reach adulthood. Can live two or three emergencies away from devastation instead of just one.

I don't make enough to have a liquid savings for these events. Credit works.

I certainly meet necessities and a few luxury items but people think 100k is like rap star money or something. We don't make enough to buy some frivolous luxury items like a designer bag or an actual new car. We make enough to spend more than normal on groceries, go out to eat a few times a month, and pay the rest of our debt. Not enough to have a decent liquid savings account. Every time I get $500 saved up I end up with some new medical bill that I forgot about.

Seeing stuff like this makes me wanna jump in the water and swim across the ocean. On my current salary, I'd have to work nearly 7 years to get 100k. You're living it up.

I'm not so sure the rest belt is all that glamorous. Yeah I might have a new ipad but I also make get shot for lunch money.

"Obviously kids make this harder..."

If you didn't have kids you would feel incredibly rich. You could pay off your house in five years and feel even richer.

Don't forget it's not uncommon for two college grads to have $100k in student loan debt today.

It absolutely is uncommon to have that much student loan debt.


The average student loan debt is $27,000. Having four times that amount makes you a massive outlier.

Averages alone don't give you the full picture; surgeons can rack up >$250K of debt which is probably about as high as it goes (the average medical school debt for 2015 grads was $183K, mind you). On the other end, plenty of young adults don't have any debt coming out of college (worked numerous jobs, parents paid, scholarships paid, some schools don't charge for people under certain circumstances, etc.) It just turns out that once you take the one-and-a-quarter trillion dollar student loan debt, add the 44 million-ish college grads up and do the division, the average lands you around your number (albeit I'm seeing $28K with newer data: https://www.newyorkfed.org/microeconomics/hhdc.html).

You'd need a lot more data than I have on-hand or care to track down bit-by-bit, but from the number of doctors and lawyers we mint yearly I wouldn't be surprised if 1/10 college grads were well over $50K in debt; MBAs make up something like 10% of graduate degrees and cost around $40K on average by themselves. To me, one in ten is not all that uncommon - student loan delinquency rate more than that ;).

On top of that, it's not "uncommon" for two people who are both surgeons or doctors or lawyers or MBAs to find each other and get married; these people, very much like most of the software engineers I've met, live around their jobs. The people they meet are quite often in their same fields, and have similar financial backgrounds as a result. Two young MBAs? Easily $80K in the hole together.

We in the Bay Area just get this warped sense of perspective because everyone here has to make absurd gobs of money just to make rent, reenforced by the demand for good software engineers being so high. Most of the other people we deal with or interact with are either software engineers themselves or are directly in support of software. We get insulated and siloed from differing perspectives by our monocultured Silicon Valley society.

(And yeah, doctors and lawyers don't usually become doctors and lawyers from the goodness of their hearts alone; they understand that eventually they will come back and get way ahead of their massive debts, especially as the government keeps piling on incentives like debt forgiveness and restructured repayment plans to keep people choosing these avenues of work.)

If you interpret that as $100k total rather than each, it's probably not terribly uncommon. I've got over $50k myself, so if I had a partner with similar, that's where we'd be. Median debt would be also be more useful than average, I think, or even just the top 25 percentile. Basically, anyone who paid for their education entirely with loans (say, while barely supporting themselves or even using excess loan dollars for food/rent) would be in this position.

That would be 2x. I didn't mean 100k each. You're still technically correct but that average means there are certainly people who have $100k combined.

Do these averages include living expenses outside of dorms? I know plenty of people who foolishly had to borrow to live near campus.

good reminder! I was assuming they were debt free, other than their mortgage.

As a former journalist myself (and someone who longs to write books), I'd be very interested in your thoughts on someone doing this career swap away from tech into writing nonfiction.

I realize this isn't particularly related to the thread at hand, but do you have any advice for "breaking into the biz"? It looks like the baby experiments book was published by a "conventional" publisher, too, which seems increasingly rare these days. I'm fascinated by people who can make money writing nonfiction without having an academic pedigree or something similar.

Regarding breaking into the biz ...

1) I found an agent by searching on aaronline.org and sending book-proposal queries to agents who seemed like they were a good fit.

2) Although the costs of self-publishing have gone down, the problem with self publishing, for my type of nonfiction anyway, is when it comes to distribution. Getting the book into brick-and-mortar stores, getting the book reviewed by reputable outlets, securing foreign rights deals ... that all becomes much easier if you have a book deal with a traditional publisher. Not to mention the advance.

3) Because I don't have an academic pedigree, I'm limited in terms of the type of material I can write. But my experience as a journalist helps, because although I'm not an authority myself, I'm able to take authoritative material and boil it down for a broader audience. That said, having a background as a journalist might help you get a book deal, but it's insufficient if you don't have enough of a platform: https://janefriedman.com/author-platform-definition/

Thanks for the response, this is really helpful. I'm unfortunately pretty well-acquainted with the marketing shortcomings of the self-publishing arena, but it's good to know it's not impossible to just start sending agents old-school query letters.

I'm an artist and a musician, and if I could do anything as a career, It would be in the arts. Unfortunately, it's difficult to put food on the table as an artist or a musician. As a musician, there's gigs and tours all the time, and probably a move to LA or Austin - not a very family friendly lifestyle, assuming I'm even good enough to find some success.

I loved your experimenting with babies book, btw. Kind of cool to see you are on HN as well!

Based on this extra condition to make as much money, I would develop real estate

I'd open a bookstore/cafe that sells tech and engineering books. We'd run tech classes in a space in the back, with a discount for vets and artists looking to change careers. I'd live in the apartment above the store, with a garden on the roof. The wifi would be phenomenal.

If you're ever in Seattle you should check out Ada's technical books. It's highly similar to what you're describing.

"Shelf Overflow"?

I was going to go register that domain. It's a site already apparently...


Well, you should be only registering .io domains anyway ;)

Why's that? (Honest question)

I think it's a bit of a joke about how popular .io has become recently. Seems like a lot of people these days really like them.

The reason not to is the colonial exploitation of an island nation. Doesn't seem to bother many people though.

If this were reddit I'd give you gold!

Really confused why my enthusiasm for your idea was so downvoted.

I did that after saving enough money in Silicon Valley back in 2008. I lived on the top floor. It was called USA Books and was the 1st English only bookstore in Vietnam. Naturally it was tech heavy http://wordhcmc.com/news-latest/in-the-papers/usa-books. Every month we d host a get together and do a storytelling event like the Moth. Good times :)

Why did you stop?

What is the point of owning tech books when a) much of the content is online and b) there are new developments in languages/frameworks all the time?

Mechanical Engineer here (I feel like HN tends to forget about us...). Most of the higher level stuff is pretty hard to find online, especially for heat and mass transfer or fluids. Most other mechanical or electrical engineers I know keep their textbook with them at work either as a reference, to look for some derivations, or to find some empirical data/results.

Mmm. I'm trying to learn ME a bit this year. Wrestling with endless Solidworks tutorials. Buying stuff just to pull it apart. Working towards a relatively ambitious goal in little modular steps. Trying to figure out how to buy off the shelf and have as little as possible in the way of custom parts. It's really interesting but seems very cross-disciplinary... the manufacturing process, cost, material properties knowledge, modeling processes and so on seem quite distinct, with no real high level overview to assist. Then there's the Solidworks project management ontology which differs from git and seems to play bad with it. Then there's the fact I live in China and know no ME's, and that everything I do in industry occurs in Chinese so I am learning at least two names for everything. A real adventure... :)

Thankfully, nothing in programming is anywhere near as technical as fluid dynamics. Most of it can be found on github, blogs, and medium posts.

I find reading print much more enjoyable, but I have a hard time quantifying why.

Maybe a break from the eye strain of staring at screens? Nostalgia?

Also, the book form leads to a different way of engaging with information, even if its digital. When I look at technical books on Amazon, I always read the table of contents first. Gives an idea of topics covered and overall organization, and thus how the information is connected in the author's mind. That adds value over just Googling and following various links in a haphazard fashion to learn about a topic.

So do I. What I particularly like with print is let's say when remembering a specific formula, I would remember it better by picturing its exact position in the printed book. It works even better with handwritten "cheat sheet" since you can also use some creativity to make it stand out more (borders, color,...), and thus remember it better.

On a computer screen this doesn't seem to work.

There are quite a few great books on stable information. To name a couple: Knuth's Art of Programming, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Advanced Systems Programming in the Unix Environment, the dragon book. Why should I own them physically? Well, I find physical books more comfortable to read than digital ones. They lack text search, but being able to have it open on my desk next to my computer is handy. Not to mention the sleep hygiene issues from using a screen before going to sleep.

Not all development is frameworks and webdev and many "tech" books aren't necessarily just programming. I'd consider half of my math books to be "tech", as that is how they end up being applied.

For some things, books are just better. I can mark the book, dog ear the pages, and the physical interaction that a book provides just seems (for me) to aid in retention. They also serve one purpose and I'm not as likely to get distracted on HN while trying to learn.

Although it's changing, books for me has largely been about someone taking the time to actually plan out, organize and go into detail on the topic. Blogs and release notes are good for staying up to date or for figuring out a work around. They "used" to be not so good at the getting started part.

Fundamentals are still better off starting with a book before moving to online imo.

"Although it's changing, books for me has largely been about someone taking the time to actually plan out, organize and go into detail on the topic."

I agree, except I don't think it's changing, because the end artifact of "plan out, organize and go into detail on the topic" I would still call a "book", regardless of how its delivered.

What I meant by changing is that online content has gone up in quality since the introduction of MOOC's and the realization that decent money can be made from training. What used to be semi-random collections of tips and tricks have turned into full blown courses.

From my experience, if you want to do anything complicated in C, it's necessary to buy books. Some languages have good online resources but many don't.

B) not really / there is a world out there outside of the JavaScript frameworks driven bubble.

Some books will remain relevant. A quick glance at my bookshelf of old but relevant books: K&R The C Programming Language, Programming with POSIX Threads (it's from the 90s but pthreads really hasn't changed), Algorithms, and Expert C Programming.

Spend 9 hours a day looking at an electronic display. Hands on paper, leaf scrolling. API reference books get dated pretty quickly, but more theoretical or conceptual references hold up pretty well in a collection.

> much of the content is online

Hmm, no. many of the classics of compsci are not available to read online, and there are even some which are practically impossible to find even as shitty scanned pdfs

I'm curious about the books in this list, I'd like to read them. Do you have any recommendations?

Here are a few of the books on my bookshelf that are not available as ebooks for purchase and would probably be very hard to find pirated copies of:

    The Psychology of Computer Programming
    The Paralation Model
    Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction
    Object-Oriented Programming in Common Lisp
    Computer-Aided Financial Analysis (Miller)
    Probability, Statistics, and Queueing Theory (Allen)
    The Brain Makers
Note that I sold off most of my library and regularly sell books once I am done reading them, so this is just a small sample of the material that you will not find online, that I have personally read. Also all the older/rare books I have borrowed from/read at my local public library (public libraries have a surprising amount of computer books), and the university libraries I have been associated with earlier.

Whoever discounts computer science books today because "you can find it all online" does so out of a very deep ignorance of computer science. Between Google Books and the Internet Archive's scanning project digital copies do exist, but are inaccessible.

This isn't an argument for tech books, per se, but dead trees are still the most convenient and comfortable way to read words.

I have five bookshelves full of computer books (and other kinds of books, too), and I actually have people that borrow my books. In a way, it's like a miniature, friends-only "library". For all the things people say about print books, they're still useful.

Human interaction?

Also my dream. I already have a collection of about 5000 or so books taking over my house. There are bookshelves on every wall. If I ever cash out of the startup game I'm setting up a private membership library / bookstore. I already have the building picked out and my own collection will be the foundation.

Computer Literacy Books was lovely while it lasted. They used to offer lectures too.


Their website in 1998: https://web.archive.org/web/19961219170620/http://clbooks.co...

I read a kuro5hin post about a programmer turned courier, "A Coder in Courierland," (http://atdt.freeshell.org/k5/story_2005_3_19_133129_548.html) and became pretty infatuated with the idea over a five or six months. The recession hit, lay offs began, and then I was a courier.

I did it for a little over three years. It had its ups and downs. I returned to software development and have found a cosier community in the Javascript realm (pre-courier, .NET).

Takeaways that stick with me till this day:

- You can develop an incredible amount of strength from just cycling.

- Air quality is a long term concern.

- (More sun + more exercise) - LEDs = great sleep

- Excessive amounts of exercise != great health

- Learn your machine, and do your own work.

- Fixed gears are extremely useful in dense traffic.

- The type of work you do affects your outlook on life.

- There is a substantial amount of pride amongst messengers who show up, especially on the worst of days. Most people tend to avoid the harsh realities of life, and everyone can learn something from just taking life one delivery or line of code at a time.

- There is something to be said for sitting on a park bench and admiring the beauty around - people, man-made, or nature.

I miss it, but don't recommend it to anyone, as it's a job that requires a lot of grit and is low paying. I wouldn't change my experience at all, though. It aged my mind and soul in a really positive way.

I will say, returning to software development raises some eyebrows. Some will scrutinize the hole in your resume, others will congratulate you on being different.

Aside: ridiculous how influential k5 was on my life. Their first article on coffee turned me into a coffee snob before third wave cafes became the rage. The article on ultralight backpacking started a lifelong obsession, eventually leading me to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

I think it's because people actually _wrote_ there. Since blogging has become a part of the "presence" everyone has to have, a lot of garbage and uninspired things are written on the internet. I wasn't a regular reader, but the things I did read seemed to be more visceral and well written than your average blog post you see today. The guy who wrote, "A Coder in Courierland" had pretty amazing prose.

> The type of work you do affects your outlook on life.

I wish you had elaborated on this.

> I wish you had elaborated on this.

Sure. I've held jobs in one or two other fields prior to entering software development, and each one of them (in my opinion) contributes to a perspective that you see the world through. Our brains change with habit, and, naturally, the thoughts and feelings that frequent your mind will become mainstays of your daily life. It took two years for me to stop feeling like every time I rode my bike to and fro, that it was imperative I do it as fast as possible.

This is going to sound silly, and I'm okay with that. But, being an engineer again, the patterns and ways my brain solves problems for work permeates into daily life. For instance, I view boiling water, laundry, and texting as asynchronous tasks that can have their own thread and let me know when they're ready. Ridiculous, I know, but I feel like our brains seek these things out to strengthen the existing connections we have and to put life into contexts we understand most. Take this with a grain of salt, because this is just my experience and I have no research to link to, at the moment.

The other interesting thing about how it changed me was, prior to being a bike messenger, I was pretty naive of classism and what it looked / sounded like; however, only now is it obvious. I make conscious choices to treat all people in service industries well because I only now understand how privileged I am as an engineer. Tipping and saying "May I have xyz" are large parts of this, as vocations such as baristas, delivery personnel, and food workers are very underpaid. I can't really change the world, but I'd like to think I can make the people in front of me a little happier by treating them well.

Would like to be a back country forest ranger. Someone who does work out in the remote woods. Not one of the rangers that has to deep with the public. The problem like most of us have is that our position and tenure in IT has lead to salaries that make such a change (and reduction in pay) almost impossible. Add kids, etc. and it gets set permanently in the dream category.

I know the logical response to this statement is: Reduce your needs and the reduced pay won't be an issue. While true, I don't think I am that flexible sadly.

The bit about salary is huge. I do a moderately good job of keeping my needs/lifestyle pretty basic (I could do better). In the back of my mind, I'm always telling myself "you aren't saving to retire from work early. you are saving so you can retire to a different career early".

I'm a retired(?) programmer who spends his summers as a Forest Service camp host. I spend the mornings programming a "side" project and the afternoons panning for gold, fishing, etc.

My boss described being a forest ranger in the Mt. Shasta area as the Forest Service equivalent of being a green beret. They carry automatic rifles and are totally isolated from support while dealing with drug growers and associated violent criminals. Not my idea of a comfortable job.

Oh man there's some sort of volcanic park north of Berkely, CA that we visited once, and up on some mountain was a firewatch tower with a dude just chilling in there looking for smoke. He worked up there in 2 week shifts, just up on a mountain reading books and watching for smoke. Seemed like an awesome job, especially if you could get a data tether (he did) and do some programming on the side.

I think you're thinking of Mount Diablo. It's not quite volcanic anymore though (however when California was just the ocean it was), but is instead caused by uplift to the earth's plates: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Diablo#Geology.

Or possibly Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve http://www.ebparks.org/parks/sibley.htm , which is closer (though not north of) Berkeley.

How far north are we talking here? Calistoga North, or Lassen North? Cause we can keep going further, if we have to...

http://www.oldfaithfulgeyser.com/ https://www.nps.gov/lavo/index.htm

I've thought about this ever since visiting the Needles fire watch tower and meeting Margee while climbing there. Sadly, that tower burned down in 2011 [1].

[1]: http://www.buckrock.org/needles.html

That feels ironic. Is that ironic?

Yes, I'd say it is.

Well, here's the next best thing you can do:


Play a game about a Forest Ranger. I played this game through and it's fairly enjoyable (even if my usual cup of tea is Battlefield/GTA style FPS). Give it a try!

You are that flexible. If you were forced into making do with less you would adapt. What it really is, is the dream is not something worth pursuing to you, all things considered.

Sounds like you'd enjoy Firewatch[1].


I actually did seasonal work as a Park Ranger on the Oregon Coast for a while. I would wholeheartedly love to do that again. I'm always so proud to go back to the areas I worked and walk the trails I built during those summers in undergrad.

I would like to do that too, and had thought of something like it when in my teens. I spent a lot of time in forests then.

Around that time I had read this novel (a Western) called The Deer Hunter (not related to the famous movie of the same name, which is about Vietnam, etc.), and it was about a guy who does that work - a forest ranger in the Grand Canyon (of the US). Great story.

I just said what I'd do if I switched now, but when I retire I want to do this ... exactly this.

I'd be an economics teacher. I'd love to teach High School and/or College economics. Since this is my own fantasy land, I'd be able to set my own curriculum.

  1. Why do we work? (Jobs, Businesses, and the individual economy)
  2. What is wealth, and how do I get it? (Saving, investment, real estate)
  3. Is it supposed to be like this? (Capitalism, Government, modern political economy)
  4. Systems Design (If you want to change the system, how should it work? How do we measure things that aren't money? Love, time, attention?)
I wish I'd had an education like this earlier in life.

If I had to make a living outside of programming, I think that teaching would be one possibility. I taught for a 6 years at a large state university and took my certification qualification exam. My parents are both career teachers, and my wife makes a really nice living teaching.

That said, there is no way that I can see myself doing it in the context of a high school or college.

High schools (at least the several that I have subbed at, and I have a couple of teenagers, so I've been on that side of it too) are really crappy "Lord of the Flies" kinds of places.

Colleges are better, but there are similar structural problems to being a musician: it's basically no pay for a big sector of the population, plus you still have an institution around your students.

The best model that I have seen is private students; my wife has 40 violin students (plus her general business of being a musician, plus teaching with a couple of local youth orchestras) and makes a very good living.

There is no reason that you can't apply the same principles to teaching any subject. I asked around, and there was a high demand for folks who wanted me to teach their kids how to program. I imagine that if there were a bigger population, I'd be able to find enough folks to put together seminars on the same stuff I was teaching at the university.

At that point, setting your own curriculum is part of the job and not a fantasy.

Economics 101 seems completely useless as taught, but it's just there so people understand the jargon. Unfortunately, it's often a general elective so that foundation wasted. So, I can see plenty of ways to make it useful.

What is wealth? Things people want. Money = wealth not because it's directly useful but because people want it so you can trade it for things you want.

Why do people want Money? Taxes, and loans. If you sell stock to buy a car, you need extra money to hand to the government. Further, if you have a mortgage or credit cards you need to come up with cash on a very regular basis.

Then build on this:

What is the demand curve? Different people are willing to pay more or less and buy more or less of the same things. ex: 3rd car.

However, you would be much better making this into a book than teaching a class. As again Econ 101 is setup so people can do a lot of math in Econ 301.

Completely disagree..

Common people should know the philosophy which shaped the government thinks about their lives and productivity.

Yes econ is not a true science, because it is mostly conjecture supported by handpicked data, but at the same time, it is the only template we have created to think about the complex interactions in the competitive marketplace.

The power of the competitive market is the foundation for all capitalist action, economics is a way to understand how markets intersect and interact.

I am not sure what your getting at. My point is you can use definitions that are more intuitive while teaching the same topics.

Do a search and: The demand curve is a graphical representation of the relationship between the price of a good or service and the quantity demanded for a given period of time. In a typical representation, the price will appear on the left vertical axis, the quantity demanded on the horizontal axis. -This means nothing to most people.

"What is the demand curve? Different people are willing to pay more or less and buy more or of the same things. ex: 3rd car, water for a bathtub vs water for a swimming pool." -Sounds like something you might recall in 10 years.

I am all for talking about the laffer curve as more than as math. You can also talk about it as society breaks down and a black market grows. It's still economics as it relates to society it's also meaningful to people.

For comparison CIS 101 is often this is how you use Excel and somewhat useful to most students, but also not really a foundation for a CS degree.

Higher education in economics quickly ramps up to using actual mathematics. Your curriculum is more in line with high school or International Baccalaureate styled diplomas, with a focus on the "old" philosophical economics.

Yeah, absolutely. More of a "Home Economics" tint to it, but something I feel most people are missing in life.

I feel the math should be used to prove the philosophical points. It's rare that the math actually improves understanding without a novel hypothesis behind it.

I'd be interested in that, perhaps in book form.

When the tech world moved away from me (doing mainly embedded C for the last thirty years might not have been the best idea for my career), I became an aged carer for my disabled mum. I learned a lot about cleaning, gardening and adding subtitles to films as she is going deaf. I also learned a lot about editing spoken word audio files for pacing, volume and noise reduction as she wrote a memoir then recorded an audio version.

In the future, I could be an aged carer as I really like looking after people, although it doesn't pay well and there can be a lot of poo to deal with. On the other hand, one of my former managers has been working at Google for about ten years and is quite enthusiastic about my working with him there. Unfortunately, they are in California and I am in Melbourne so I'd have to move.

"When the tech world moved away from me (doing mainly embedded C for the last thirty years might not have been the best idea for my career)"

Strange, why do you say so? We live in the era of IoT and everything has at least one chip inside them. I also do system/embedded programming, but never felt the lack of possibilities to advance my career.

I'm also systems/embedded and the OP made me a bit nervous. I have been primarily writing C (with some C++ and other languages) for my career of ~8 years. It seems like there are enough jobs available. Certainly not as many as web dev, but at the same time I have been able to work on things I consider interesting (spacecraft, MRI, automotive).

OP, what do you wish you had done differently? Web? Enterprise Java dev?

It depends on where you live. Embedded and device driver jobs disappeared after Australia's electronics industry died and went to China. Six of my friends working in that area moved overseas, four to the States and two to England.

I wish I had learned C++ but my KISS alarm went off when I looked at the language, which is a bit of a worry as we say downunder. I avoided learning C# as I found Microsoft's business practices to be utterly repugnant.

How did you get into doing system/embedded programming?

I did most of an electronic engineering course and discovered that I like software more than hardware. After programming portable barcode readers and interactive voice response systems, I wrote a Windows device driver at one company then applied to write Linux device drivers at another. I was strictly honest during the job interview, saying I wanted to write device drivers but I had done only one for Windows and none for Linux. The interviewer said "Writing Linux device drivers is exactly the same as writing Windows device drivers" and hired me. I found that it wasn't and faced the kind of learning curve that requires mountaineering equipment.

I succeeded and even trained someone else how to do it. When we started, he didn't know C all that well so I split the drivers into hard and easy parts and gave him the easy ones. We wrote about six drivers together. I made his parts harder and harder until he was able to write a driver on his own.

Perhaps I haven't been reading the right software architecture books but it seems to me that very little mention is made of changing the design to suit the ability of the individual programmers, the way band leaders like Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller did with their arrangements.

> I succeeded and even trained someone else how to do it. When we started, he didn't know C all that well so I split the drivers into hard and easy parts and gave him the easy ones. We wrote about six drivers together. I made his parts harder and harder until he was able to write a driver on his own.

This is a pretty amazing way to teach someone something as complex as device drivers. It sounds like you did an excellent job mentoring him.

Thank you. Stephen was quite deaf (60dB loss) so we emailed each other all day, even though we were sitting together. When I noticed he was straining to hear during a conference call, I started summarising what each speaker had said. He thanked me afterwards. When he looked confused about something I said, I made sure to repeat it using the exact words I had used as he hadn't heard one or more of them. I noticed that other people thought he hadn't understood, not that he hadn't heard, and repeated what they had said using different words, which confused him even more.

Stephen's deafness did not affect his work, of course, until management made him a quality engineer for our voice over IP project. With that kind of thinking, the company wasn't making any money and owed all of us six months wages. You learn a lot about motivating your team under those circumstances. I did it by emphasising the importance of what we were doing. Of the ten software and five hardware engineers, we were the only ones joining the software to the hardware.

Apart from not being paid, it was a great place to work and I'm glad it gave me an opportunity to develop my management and people skills. Until then, I had been much better at programming computers than working with people and I was feeling a bit lopsided.

I was always curious how things and systems work. There's no better to find that out than doing embedded programming, because it touches both hardware and software. I went to embedded programming straight from the university in my final years where I was studying telecommunication engineering. Knowledge of telecommunication systems and electronics besides C programming proved to be enough to get my first few jobs.

I'm hoping that this will be the 'solution' if AI eats many jobs. With an ageing population there's plenty of caring to be done. Hopefully society will figure out a way to value it more, so that it becomes a proper, first-class career-option/alternative rather than underpaid low-skilled work, or something that people find themselves obliged to do.

ETFPOS programmer here. yeah, it's easy to become obsolete in this area, considering most of the time we work with legacy code

We are currently conceptually iterating a user experience for a forward looking network of vending machines. The idea is the user buys food via smartphone app, pays via that, turns up just to pick it up (or a proxy delivery company comes and does it for them). So there's ~zero physical interaction, no cash handling, and like 10 different ways to pay, from digital currencies to credit card gateways to appstore in-app payments. We are very seriously considering completely avoiding NFC/contactless/stored value payment cards, which would essentially negate any requirement for payment hardware or related programming.

Can you scale this to help other carers? Maybe a domain-specific website promoting ideas and tools

I'd buy a sailboat and take people on tours in Greece. Except I hate people, which is why I work in tech.

>Except I hate people, which is why I work in tech.

I once met an older guy who was a software developer and asked him how he got into the field. He said that he'd originally received a doctorate in psychology and was a psychiatrist for years before he realized that most people don't want to be fixed. He said he'd got into programming because, "Computers always want to be fixed."

I wanted to reply psychiatrist/psychotherapist in this thread (most of my free time reading is about that).

And now I want to print out and put into a frame what you just wrote.

I still think people deserve a chance though.

Save the money and deliver sailboats. Large market for trained crew to take yachts from Point A to Point B. :) No people except those you bring. Free yacht.

Can you tell us more about the training and experience required to be delivery crew?

If you want to drive the boat yourself and not get too many questions, you probably want to start looking at a Captain's license. That requires a number of hours on the water and a test. The same is typically required or at least desirable if you want to run a chartering business. https://www.uscg.mil/nmc/credentials/charter_boat_capt/

RE experience, if you're totally new to sailing I'd start first with some basic sailing expertise at a sailing academy. J-World and others offer "learn to sail" courses as well as cruising courses. An American Sailing Association boat-handling certificate is probably useful as "proof of experience" for future crews. US Sailing's "Safety at Sea" typically run annually in different cities is another good one, and required for most off-shore regattas.

Once you've got the basics down, I'd suggest being a ride-along with a more experienced skipper / crew. Places like Offshore Passage Opportunities provide listings of folks looking for crew, but I'd recommend due diligence if you decide to make the passage: https://www.sailopo.com/

You might also get yourself on a mailing list for local regattas or sailing forums and say you're looking to help with deliveries. How long / where these things happen will likely vary by region. People do transits from Florida to Carribean all the time. Same with New England to the South each year. Racing boats go from Mid-Atlantic / New England to Florida / Key West around end of the year. In Midwest, deliveries from Mackinaw are common in July after the Mackinaw races. West Coast - not sure, but Transpac (Hawaii - SF) returns and/or Coastal races are probably common.

Best of luck! :)

You can get started fairly easily. Take a sailing course that gives you a recognized certificate. For example, the RYA "Competent Crew" or "Day skipper". Different countries have different certifications that are recognized worldwide. The UK Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is definitely one of them, and you can do these courses in lots of sail training facilities across Europe.

From there you can jump on almost any boat delivery crew with a bit of luck.

Most rich boat owners don't want to sail their yachts across large bodies of water, so they employ delivery crews. Normally they employ an experienced captain and the captain hires his/her own crew.

Boats are normally moved during the spring months from Europe to the Caribbean, specifically for the start of the season for Antigua Race Week, which I believe takes place in April/May. They normally head out from the Mediterranean via the Canary Islands to cross the Atlantic.

Common places to jump on board are where yachts have been kept or serviced over the winter. Common ports include places like Palma de Mallorca, which is full of "boaties" looking to get a place on a yacht crossing. You hang out in the "boaty bars" and see if you can hook yourself a ride by chatting to people. There are also a number of internet forums, but you'll get better luck face to face, and you'll spend a number of weeks with these people in close confinement, so you'll want to know what they are like beforehand.

As you get more experienced and depending on the boat you could try to get taken on permanently by the owner. The pay on the super yachts of the super rich can be insanely high, especially for experienced captains, chefs and engineers - monthly 5 figures if you are really good. That being said the super rich can be complete assholes, who can start throwing the carefully presented lobster dish back in your face because it wasn't the right colour, or you forgot to make sure the wine fridge was stocked with enough Dom Perignon P3 Plenitude Brut.

I've heard some wonderful stories of the super rich from boaties. It's a crazy life.

Just a heads up that a friend of mine worked in this direction for years but was rejected from a captain's license because he had that partial color-blindness thing lots of people have, and that reportedly was enough to disqualify him permanently. Most of a decade "wasted" (if wasted is defined as sailing yachts around the Med and picking up languages). He now sells wines in Sydney, with the benefit of correct pronunciation in four or five languages.

That's really interesting - makes sense, however as the main nautical colors are red and green. Messing them up would mean the difference between avoiding a ship and hitting it. Never thought about how bad a color choice that was for lights!

Well you don't have to bring them BACK...

If you hate people you could open a bookshop: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/05/bookse...

I wonder if Bernard Black, from Black Books, is inspired on him.

I have a romanticized vision of owning a boat that I teach people to sail on while toiling away in my woodworking space in the evenings.

Sailboats are a lot cheaper than people think. Did you know there is no technical definition for "yacht"? In practice, it just means "a boat that's nicer than yours". Don't buy a yacht.

In Seattle there are plenty of sailboats under 30' that cost less than $10K. The moorage is the expensive part and costs around $400/month.

I've owned several boats and I'm done with that. I now belong to a coop where I pay $650 a year and have access to a 30' Catalina and 24' C&C that I can use almost as much as I want.

There is no such thing as a cheap boat. The maintaince is a constant time and money suck.

A former co-worker told his wife, "The next time I say that I want to own a boat, take me out in the yard and spray me with a hose while I tear up $20 bills."

Is it in Bay Area?

You can skip moorage if your have a trailerable boat. They are very common. I personally owned two second hand Wetas, used them for a year, and sold them for a profit. It was great fun, and I would do it again. If you can get some friends together and import four at once in a single shipping container, it's way cheaper.

And if you have an engine in it, the biggest expense is time (spent trying to fix the f^%!$@ thing)

I feel ya - the struggle is real.

I have a small yacht that I can comfortably sail myself ... who needs a big boat for that?

1. Write children's books - because I love reading good books to my children, and if successful, the revenue scales and they have great recurring revenue potential (much better than adult books, I think).

2. Try to bring software development education to underprivileged kids in some way that eventually scales and has real career potential. There is part of me that feels this has potential, because the opportunity for self-development is so high, and the cash costs of the tools low. There is part of me that worries it is futile, because I suspect software development jobs actually require more deep and diverse basic knowledge of math and reading than I could hope for in underprivileged environments.

I did #2 for a time on the south side of Chicago while I was in graduate school. We founded a non-profit; begged, borrowed, and stole computers; and wrangled a lease for $1. Paid for internet and power out of my and my co-founders pockets.

It turns out the educational systems in areas like that are, ah, pretty bad. We ended up teaching more basic logical thinking and occasional math (arithmetic) than real programming. Still, we got the kids to make HTML/CSS websites, a few picked up some basic JavaScript, others made Arduino robots. We offered a safe, educational space for free or as close to free as we could.

It was very rewarding, but also one of the most brutal experiences of my life (earning <$30K and working as a graduate student didn't help, of course!). I'd do it again, but only if I had the cash to back me, preferably my own because grant funding is/was thin, the labor required is enormous, and volunteers are flaky.

I still keep in touch with one of our students, though. I like to think we really helped him, at least.

For #2 I have thought considerably about this as well. It seems to boil down to two things:

1. Lack of awareness. In many of these environments "software engineering" doesn't really mean anything to anyone, especially if few households own computers in the first place. Growing up in Detroit, my Dad lugged in our first (huge, ancient) PC when I was in the 4th or 5th grade - if I had simply been pointed in the right direction, I could've started my learning much earlier. I remember lots of kids in our middle school getting super interested in HTML/CSS, but only having access to PCs for an hour or two after school.

2. Learning ability. Obviously not to say there aren't any smart underprivileged people, but it is not often made clear that one's ability to learn is, in itself, a powerful asset. I believe this is the strongest factor in one's ability to program outside of personality inclinations, and that anyone can increase this capacity (within whatever local spectrum their personality and lifestyle allows).

I agree with 1. My wife and I just re-watched "Hoop Dreams", which she had never seen. There is a moment where Arthur Agee goes on a recruiting visit to a 2 year college, and is shown offering 4 different generic career ideas to 4 different adults in quick succession. ("Architect", "Business", "Communications", etc). Its like he is guessing at what a career might be, he doesn't have a frame of reference. So, I think the lack of awareness in underprivileged environments may apply to high level career paths in general, not just SD.

Regarding 2, I also agree. I think right now, the school (and possibly home) environments are so sub-optimal that we really have no idea what most underprivileged kids are capable of. But that problem is vastly larger and more intractable than the "could we teach kids pragmatic SD skills" problem.

As much as I want to believe that some kind of pragmatic software development curriculum could offer a scalable career direction for some of these kids, its not clear to me that it would really solve either of these problems. So, I continue to think about it occasionally, but not pursue it.

Also, I once tried calling underprivileged schools in my city (St. Louis), asking about opportunities to tutor kids in CS/computers. In each case, I got blown off, or referred to the city-wide magnet school, which teaches a tiny fraction of the most gifted students, many of them from the county.

As for 2, I think that's where the life experience of the parents weighs heavily.

For example, I'm deeply saddened when reading about scam private universities, because they prey upon people who value the ideal of "education" and really want to succeed, but don't have the people around them with enough experience of higher education to distinguish the good schools from the scams.

Couldn't agree more. Also, again from "Hoop Dreams", it was as though the basketball players believed that having entered college was going to transform their career prospects in itself, regardless of what they learned. If you see college as some sort of mysterious potion, then you might think any college will transform you. You don't see that college is at best a tool for developing skills that are relevant to building a career.

For #1, I've heard that children's books is a flooded market and that getting published is nearly impossible. There's always room for something great -- just a heads-up when I read "the revenue scales".

I'm friends with a hugely successful children's books author -- top 50 selling in the English language -- and related to a pretty successful new author.

It's hard work, not just the writing, which is way harder than it looks, but the marketing, which nobody really does for you, at all. You have to do tons of reaching out to schools, trade fairs, and magazines, pay your own travel expenses, and develop a whole extended entertaining workshop presentation to sell 20-50 people at a time, of any age, on buying your books. Unless your book is called Harry Potter, you are eking out sales in person a lot of the time, and wondering who you have to sleep with to get your book reviewed. Even a rave review from the NYTimes really doesn't do much to sales. I hear about seemingly successful books all the time that, when I look them up on Amazon, have maybe 8 reviews.

It's hard.

Teaching math, reading, and thinking is far more fundamental than programming. Entry level programming is very simple to learn if the fundamentals are known, and the fundamentals are more broadly useful than training people to walk through a Node tutorial

I was thinking about #2 - would it be plausible to get ultra-cheap laptops, and run virtual machines in ec2?

According to this, you can get a high-end gaming rig going for fifty cents an hour; can we get a nice programming environment set up for the kids, too, running off Chromebooks or cheap Dells?

What kind of children's books, out of curiosity? I have some interest there myself.

the ones you can't find right now with the message you want.

e.g. the pleasure of being a maker.

the pleasure of finding things out.

Have you seen the Andrea Beaty books? http://www.andreabeaty.com/

I have them for my daughter and the messages are very positive for exploring ideas and experimenting.

I've seen "ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST!" but not "Fluffy Bunnies". Thank you, I will look at them.

So far, the one we like the most is "Secret Science Alliance" but it's not for younger kids.

> have great recurring revenue potential (much better than adult books, I think).

why do you think so?

I would do some climate activism, become a crew member on a Sea Shepherd boat.

That, or help out my political party (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_for_the_Animals) since we have elections early this year. The party's name is unfortunate and its Wikipedia description as well. It is more well-rounded than that and also is the best party in the parliament wrt privacy, civilian rights, etc. (dutch link: https://www.privacybarometer.nl/pagina/45/Actuele_stand_van_...)

And Judo, more Judo.

Is Judo your current hobby?

You could consider to take a sabbatical for a time on the Sea Shepherd. I don't have the right personality for that (I'm too withdrawn/passive, not social enough) but I have a lot of respect for people who devote time, energy, and money against the strong tide of corporate selfishness.

Your party's name makes it sound like a one issue party. I recommend to change it, or merge with GL/SP.

Sorry, I should have said "the party I am a member of" :-)

And, yeah, they're unfortunately pretty resistant to changing the name.

I'd open a bar/pub with good cask ale and decent electronic music.

Actually whenever I get too stressed out at work I consider doing this, I've got the necessary capital and in a city like Oslo where people don't care about beer prices it can surely be made into a profitable thing.

DO IT. NOW. Seriously, I think it is an excellent idea. It could also be a tourist meeting point if properly placed.

Open a bar is something you should really only do if you don't have to take on debt and can pay for the starting costs without ruining yourself.

Very few bars turn out to be profitable, even those with excellent ideas.

Those two seem like they would cater to vastly different crowds, Real ale for old men in caps, electronic music for a younger lager drinking (if drinking at all) crowd.

ugh, sorry everyone. I didn't know jwz was hostile to HN. The comment is too old to delete now. :-( The relevant content at the link is:

Hi, I'm Jamie Zawinski. I'm the proprietor of DNA Lounge, a world famous and award-winning all ages dance club and live music venue in San Francisco, and of DNA Pizza, the 24 hour cafe and pizzeria next door. Prior to that, I worked as a programmer. I was one of the founders of Netscape and Mozilla.org, and have been involved in the free software and open source community since the mid-80s. I was the primary developer of Lucid Emacs (now XEmacs), and probably wrote most of your screen savers.

Apparently, they hit a rough patch -


Apparently they've been in a rough patch ever since he opened, fueled largely by his Netscape money. They're out of the rough patch now, and tumbling down a rough hillside.

Make sure you open that in a new window to scrub the referrer.

NSFW. Do not click that link from HN.

I'm not sure if you linked to the right page / responded to the correct comment?

JWZ looks at referrer headers.

Right click and open in incognito window.

Please remove this link.

JWZ.org attacks viewers referred by ycombinator.com

In that way that a testicle in an egg cup calling HN users brogrammers and finance-obsessed man-children is an attack. It's actually biting satire; an attack would be more direct and in some way actually harmful (ego doesn't count)

I have a few options/dreams.

1. Become a musician. I love all kinds of music and drums/percussion in particular. On the side, I'm working my way to being able to play drums+timbales for Cuban timba music. I've only been doing this for about a year and think I have a talent for it.

2. Go into criminology and/or politics. Crime is one of the biggest problems in Venezuela, with murder and kidnappings at all time highs, affecting me personally and frankly every Venezuelan. I'd heavily use technology to help me. If I can play a significant role in eradicating that problem, I'd be very proud of my life.

3. Open up a bar/restaurant. I love hosting people and providing an environment for people to have fun. Live music and a dance floor would be a must, but a nice chill lounge area should be available too. Again, I'd like to use technology, e.g. having automated beer taps that you can open with your RFID wristband or code and get automatically charged, and having something similar for standard mixed drinks (of course, I'd still keep bartenders for specialty cocktails).

I guess there are more, but these will suffice for now :)

> Become a musician. I love all kinds of music and drums/percussion in particular.

Back in the day this was a common theme. "I love boating so..." or "I like golf so..."

Doing something part time is much different from doing it full time or as a career. Waking up every morning and having to be creative or perform or boat or golf. The intermittent part of certain activities is what makes it fun. Not always but many times. Plus you have to be good enough to earn a living and/or accolades to keep you going.

I am reminded of the time when I sold my first company and was able to boat anytime I wanted. Honestly got tired of it almost immediately when able to do it without the pressure of actual work 'to get away from'.

Re:2, I've know people who work for the police in the Uk, and from the stories I've heard, the police have absolutely no respect for any civilian's opinion.

Statistician telling cops they're spending all their resources on the wrong thing? Got facts and figures to show that throwing more uniforms at a problem won't help?

They won't listen and then will tell you that you don't understand policing.

Thats not surprising. I think most developers don't care what non-developers think about how to improve programming.

Well, I wouldn't expect to walk in there and tell everyone what to do. I'd have to do my research first, i.e. study criminology, learn about the field, work with them.

But yes, it would be hard regardless. That's ok.

i'd recommend "surely you're joking Mr Feynman" - Richard Feynman's autobiography (my favourite book so I'll take the stretch to recommend it) - he goes on sabbatical to become a drum player in south america.

Interesting timing. I'm quitting my development job at the end of the month and going back to school full-time to become a furniture maker.

I have a lot of reasons for wanting to do this. The most straightforward ones are that I want to create something tangible and enduring with my time.

> The most straightforward ones are that I want to create something tangible and enduring with my time.

Maybe not tangible, but a lot of the backend code in financial organizations etc. is pretty enduring ;)

"Enduring" is quite a nice way to decribe "old and too risky to replace". ¬_¬

I curse that fact most days, too. :/

Congrats, that sounds awesome! What are the economics of that business like? I love woodworking (as a hobbyist) but it seems like most people that manage to make a living at it are doing so through volume (e.g., cabinetmakers) vs. something like custom fine furniture commission work.

Thanks! This is going to sound absurdly short-sighted, but I haven't yet figured out exactly how I'm going to parlay my to-be acquired skills into income.

I've talked to a number of people who are professional woodworkers, and they all make their living a little differently. One guy I've talked to does primarily architectural woodwork, but also does furniture commissions, a couple people do repair and restoration in addition to commissions. A guy not far from my sister-in-law's house does a lot of clock restoration (both cases and movements), as well as furniture work. Pete Galbert seems to make a living largely doing Windsor chairs on commission and teaching classes on making them (and he's an outstanding teacher). He also wrote a series of blog posts about doing woodworking professionally [0].

The school I'll be attending is the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts[1]. The owner, Phillip Lowe, does restoration and commission work as well as teaching classes, and I'm hoping to learn a little bit about how he goes about drumming up business in the course of my schooling there.

In the short term, after finishing, I'm hoping to find either a cooperative shop or an established business to work in for a few years, eventually, I'd probably like to have my own shop doing largely commission work.

In the very short term, my partner is going to continue working her full time job, and I hope that my current company will take me back over the summer.

[0] http://chairnotes.blogspot.com/2015/06/letter-to-woodworker-... http://chairnotes.blogspot.com/2015/06/letter-to-woodworker-... http://chairnotes.blogspot.com/2015/06/letter-to-woodworker-...

[1] http://furnituremakingclasses.com/

Thanks, definitely going to give those a read. Best of luck!

I've always wanted to do the same.

What type of schooling? Industrial design or something more materials / mechanical?

Traditional wooden furniture making. A large part of the appeal to me is that while power tools can make the work go faster, you can accomplish an immense amount using only a relatively small set of hand tools and time.

For example, I built a pole lathe[0] (almost) entirely by hand in September. I bought 4x4 posts at Home Depot, milled them square with bench planes, chopped the mortises by hand, and cut the tenons with a hand saw. To make the dead centers, I chucked a big lag screw in my drill press and ground the head into a point with an angle grinder.

Now I'm (slowly) trying to teach myself the basics of how to turn.

I'm doing the exact same thing! (quitting end of this month too). While I haven't decided to completely leave tech, I'm planning to do a couple of 3-month furniture intensive classes for my sabbatical this year. I'm also going to apply to the College of the Redwoods. It's kind of a moonshot though, given my limited woodworking experience, but I figured it's worth a try. What's the duration of your entire course?

What school are you going to for furniture making?

I did stop being a developer for a year and a half in order to work for a video game publisher as a producer. I really enjoyed it, worked on five games (four of which were released on Nintendo, Microsoft, or Sony consoles), got to go on fun business trips to game conferences, and got to meet some important people in the industry, but I got nervous not programming for that long because I thought my skills were atrophying due to lack of use.

Nowadays if I were to do it again, I'd probably go into board game design or publishing. I'm a bit more in tune with the board game industry than the video game industry nowadays. I'm actually actively working on several board game designs and trying to get my first game signed. Hopefully one or two of them will be a hit and I can afford to stop working a 9-5, maybe just do some freelance development part time on the side.

I would consider going back into video game publishing too, though.

Could you tell us about how you got into video game publishing? I'd love to make the transition myself.

My route is probably hard to duplicate, and was more by chance than anything. I made a game for Microsoft's Dream-Build-Play game dev competition (Proximity HD, now called Proximity 2), on their new upcoming Xbox 360 Indie Games Service. It was a finalist in the competition (you can see me on the list here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_Build_Play#2007_Challeng...), and was on display at their XNA Gamefest conference in Seattle along with my name and my city.

A guy who worked for the (small) publisher attended the Gamefest, saw that I was local to their office, and called me up to stop by and discuss a possible deal to publish it on Xbox Live.

Halfway through the discussion I mentioned I was looking to break into the game industry, and the discussion morphed into a job interview.

I was brought in for a second interview with their parent company in Japan via teleconference, and was asked questions in Japanese and had my answers translated back, and apparently my answer to "What's my favorite game right now?" being "Tetris Attack" was a great one, since I found out later I was being interviewed by ex-Bulletproof Software guys who developed Tetris for Game Boy.

I got the job, and immediately had to become a competent producer, video editor (for ESRB ratings and game trailers), localization and certification checker, evaluating games for possible publishing, advertising asset designer, the local expert on managing the console dev machines for evaluating builds, and overseer of entire QA teams, had to come up with new game features and prioritize which bugs got fixed, despite having pretty much zero experience in any of that before I got the job. It was intense, but rewarding. I learned a ton while I worked there, and wore many hats.

If you have any questions about it, I'd be happy to answer them.

Sounds like the advice to be distilled from this anecdote is "start making games and meeting other people who make games."

There are two possible interpretations of this question actually:

1. What would you do if you were not worried about finances and could simply do what you most loved for a living?

2. Given your financial and career needs/desires, what would be more rewarding than your developer job?

I'd answer these two questions totally differently, and I suspect many in this thread would as well.

I came here hoping to find some viable alternatives but I don't think children's book writer or thinker are it.

Not in any particular order...And, either one or some combination of the following:

* Dance music DJ or music maker - I love me some house music. (Notice I said "music maker" - i.e. a maker of tracks/songs, and not "musician"...i just don't have the formal training to play an actual instrument...however, if time travel existed, then yes a musician).

* Indie film maker / director / screenwriter / or even actor/performer.

* Custom motorcycle maker. Although custom choppers are fine and all, I'd lean towards custom made naked or cafe racer style motorbikes.

* Own/run my own little cafe - with a few small food offerings - showcasing small, local bands, and maybe even a teen dance night. (There was a local dance club that had a teen night where I grew up, and I always thought it was such a cool idea.)

> Notice I said "music maker" - i.e. a maker of tracks/songs, and not "musician"...i just don't have the formal training to play an actual instrument...however, if time travel existed, then yes a musician.

It's actually much more feasible to teach yourself to play instruments than people realize! Obviously being taught makes things easier for most people, but what really makes a difference more than anything else is just spending substantial amounts of time practicing, which is still necessary even if you do take lessons.

Plenty of famous musicians were actually self-taught, including some who were at the absolute top of their field, like Hendrix, Clapton, and Moon: https://www.joytunes.com/blog/music-fun/15-famous-musicians-...

Get a quality keyboard and a piano tutor. They'll keep you accountable, and you'll learn much faster.

The one that fits my current lifestyle: carpentry. I love woodworking but am not particularly practiced at it. Opening up a garage full of tools and building real tangible things with my hands that still exist when the lights go off has huge appeal.

The one that doesn't quite fit my lifestyle (married, love it that way, spouse has a stable job with a set location, thinking about kids): travel journalist. My wife and I have both spent a significant portion of time living and working in semi rural areas of underdeveloped countries. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, and would love to get it all down on paper. But that really doesn't fit in with giving kiddos access to education, so maybe in thirty years!

I already did after 25 years in development. I'm tempted to do a side-project or startup now after a few years away. If I was to return to tech I'd be very focused on creating real benefit and progress (think perhaps environmental, climate change, medical or learning etc), rather than a shiner bauble or "disrupting" something that really shouldn't be (internet connected kettles? Making everything a consumer replaceable).

My driver was the rant that easily followed on from the above. :) Basically wanting something more substantive, less ephemeral, more tactile. I ended up in restoration. I'm enjoying it hugely and the things I'm doing will have life of many decades, perhaps sometimes centuries.

The surprise was, even after 3 years, discovering there's still more satisfaction in physical tiredness and manual activity at the end of the day than just mental. I'd already experienced this in car restoration and various projects but assumed much was from hobby and novelty interest.

> restoration

What type of restoration? Cars? Houses? Pinball machines?

> The surprise was, even after 3 years, discovering there's still more satisfaction in physical tiredness and manual activity at the end of the day than just mental.

My motorcycle broke down in Silicon Valley once. The guy I called to come pick it up had a normal ford truck. The bed was outfitted with a dual motorcycle winch. I got to talking to him on the way back to SF. He used to be in IT. Specifically, he used to manage and maintain one of Amazon's data warehouses in Seattle.

I asked him if he missed IT and he told me pretty much what you just said: the physical tiredness at the end of the day is more satisfying than just the mental exhaustion. He also got to make his own hours and he made more money towing motorcycles.

Houses. Well houses++ really. Working at an old estate preserving and restoring. There's a little of everything including the old farm equipment etc. I'm a strange mix of restorer, labourer and extremely junior apprentice (seems like every trade these days needs a vocational course and piece of paper before you're "allowed", even when clearly able).

They try and use my project and IT abilities when they can too, though I try and discourage them. :) I'm tempted to focus on blacksmithing as it's so interesting, satisfying and just a little magic to watch the guy work. Much to learn if I follow through on that.

I looked around at many things, including car and motorcycle restoration, steam trains (lots of volunteers, few jobs!), and more current things like environment and alternative energy. Many either needed me to go back to uni, or have assorted bits of paper and experience first rather than able to learn as I go.

This somehow raises more questions than answers, for me at least: You work full-time restoring a single property? Do you work for the owner, or is it maintained by a nonprofit/government? I'm guessing you work for a company, or are some kind of subcontractor? This sounds amazing.

It's one of the countless historic houses in the UK and Europe. Similar age as and nearer Downton Abbey than mere house! Elizabethan (late 1500s) and numerous alterations since, so plenty is in need of care and restoration.

There's gardens, stables, barns, and a number of outbuildings and estate houses for staff in older times. They still have some tenants and lettings, managed by the estate. The lettings are maintained by local firms usually. Then there's all the amenities associated with being open to the public, putting on various events. There's a charitable trust, but I work for the estate company.

I like the informality of it compared to the large company feel of say the National Trust (national preservation charity) who are more defined with roles. Of course they have hundreds of properties, thousands of staff along with countless volunteers.

This is fascinating, thank you for responding. What an interesting way to engage with history. (I'm from America; anything here from the 1500s is an archaeological site.)

I'm only 4 years into my career, and I feel done just working for "business". I'd love to do something with "real benefit", particularly the environment or medical.

I would go into finance, maybe as a CFA or some sort of investment/financial analyst. If I could go back in time and restructure my career aspirations as a teenager, I would pursue a career as a medical doctor (possibly specializing in cardiology or clinical pathology).

I don't know if this is normal, but I feel burnt out after working 6 years in the tech industry. So much so, that in my spare time I occupy myself with hobbies completely unrelated to software engineering. I enjoy reading books about finance and medicine, and have also grown an appreciation for cinema/film-making.

My side projects have definitely suffered as a result, because often times I find myself preferring to read The Economist instead.

I consider it normal to not work on side projects. How many other industries consider it normal to work 40 - 50 hours a week and then your "free" time working on other projects? Everyone I know clocks out and does something completely unrelated to their work in the off hours.

Side note: having hobbies unrelated to your day job is perfectly normal and healthier, imo, than spending all of your time on one thing.

Life is all about balance.

Same here - I'm actually studying to take the first actuarial exam. Not sure if it's something I want to seriously pursue, but it's fun learning the math.

I'd be an industrial designer. I'm a product designer (software), but I have a deep appreciation for simple, beautiful things. I have no experience with CAD software, but given the time, it's definitely something I'd like to explore.

Alternatively, I'd like to be a product reviewer and write about products. This may be more attainable as I was a journalist in college and still blog occasionally.

All that said, I love designing software. Don't see myself leaving the industry anytime soon.

cinema 4d is a good entry point into working in 3D if you're a designer

Oh my god, are you me?

Something where I can immerse myself into a project for at least a few weeks without needing regular state-exchange with others. I thought programming was the thing, but does seem to be moving in a rather collectivist direction right now.

Farming and winemaking both appeal due to the feeling that you're working on something that will come to fruition months or years into the future. Tax arrangements make small-scale winemaking in the UK somewhat unattractive (beer and especially cider get better deals), but I do ponder given it a go sometimes.

Ever considered moving to a more wine friendly country?

When I leave my current job I'm going to apply for an adult course on wood working. I love to build things, and wood is the most available and easy to work with material (compared to plastic, rock or metal).

And seriously, I bought a saw, a hammer, a screwdriver last year, it got me crazy. Same as having a unix terminal and an Internet connexion.

I've been getting into woodworking over the past year or two. It's great fun. It's something I would consider doing as a business, but I think that's a hard road to go down. I wrote a bunch of words on the tools I've gathered: http://www.smokingonabike.com/2017/01/01/hand-tools-for-a-ne...

I also think it seems pretty appealing. There have been some interesting things on HN over the years about it.

I loved this talk about how the tools you use determine how you look at problems (Tim Ewald - Clojure: Programming with Hand Tools) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShEez0JkOFw

And if you haven't seen him before, you're about to fall in love with Matthias Wandel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Matthiaswandel/videos http://woodgears.ca/

Cool ! It is true that I haven't looked online to learn wood-working related stuff. I'll look into it

Carpentry is fun and it's surprising how similar a mindset to software development is required. Lots of planning and precision and interesting challenges to be found.

I'm in the same boat, currently frustrated by the high cost of entry for a lot of projects. There's always "just one" tool that's missing. (Plus, I have the habit of starting projects with a lot of confidence, then they turn out ruined. This hurts worse when I just spent a bunch of money on supplies.) In any case, your blog looks like it's going to be a lot of help, thanks for sharing it.

(I assume you meant to reply to me.) Thanks, glad you like it. Feel free to throw me an email, I love chatting about woodworking.

Womp, I did indeed. Will do.

All the carpentry-as-an-alternate-career comments here reminded me of something Fred Brooks wrote in his "The Mythical Man-Month" -- how he described programming, reminds me of carpentry (note: it's a quote from the book all the way from here):

Why is programming fun? What delights may its practitioner expect as his reward?

First is the sheer joy of making things. As the child delights in his mud pie, so the adult enjoys building things, especially things of his own design. I think this delight must be an image of God's delight in making things, a delight shown in the distinctness and newness of each leaf and each snowflake.

Second is the pleasure of making things that are useful to other people. Deep within, we want others to use our work and to find it helpful. In this respect the programming system is not essentially different from the child's first clay pencil holder "for Daddy's office."

Third is the fascination of fashioning complex puzzle-like objects of interlocking moving parts and watching them work in subtle cycles, playing out the consequences of principles built in from the beginning. The programmed computer has all the fascination of the pinball machine or the jukebox mechanism, carried to the ultimate.

Fourth is the joy of always learning, which springs from the nonrepeating nature of the task. In one way or another the problem is ever new, and its solver learns something: sometimes practical, sometimes theoretical, and sometimes both.

Finally, there is the delight of working in such a tractable medium. The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures. (...)

Yet the program construct, unlike the poet's words, is real in the sense that it moves and works, producing visible outputs separately from the construct itself. It prints results, draws pictures, produces sounds, moves arms. The magic of myth and legend has come true in our time. One types the correct incantation on a keyboard, and a display screen comes to life, showing things that never were nor could be.

Programming then is fun because it gratifies creative longings built deep within us and delights sensibilities we have in common with all men.

I love this quote. Probably going to read the book. When I look at a lot of the comments here I see people talking about they hate what they're creating. Maybe - relating to the mudpie example in a lot of corporate environments is that there isn't much room for creativity in programming: its all pretty defined from start to finish.

Also with programming, there's right and wrong: your program either works or it doesn't. Whereas in poetry or writing, you could swap out words indefinitely and never know if it's "right".

Politics. The only way to fix the broken stuff in the world.

I have stood in a bunch of elections and lost them all. I'm not dissuaded yet.

Is that better than making money in tech and then buying a politician?

Interesting. At what level? And are you involved at all in your local party, on the precinct or county level?

In the UK. I've stood in local council elections three times, and for Parliament once in 2015:


(I came 4th).

You brave

I'm not a developer (I'm a physicist), but someday I'd like to go into medical research. I like the idea of coming up with things that directly help suffering people. I hope that the problem solving skills I've acquired would prove useful. Of course, I'd need to go back to school for a few years to get up to speed first.

Unfortunately, I have too much to do still in the applied physics world. It takes too damn long to commercialize inventions. I'd love to move on to the next new thing, but there is no one you can just hand off an invention to; if you want to see it deployed and profitable it seems you have to carry it all the way yourself.

Have you looked into Medical Physics (mostly concerned with radiation therapy and imaging). Best of both worlds in my opinion! If you tire of research you can likely pursue a clinical career and clinical physicists get paid pretty well ($120k-$200k in Canada at least, not sure about US).

I appreciate the kind advice, since you are correct that Med Phys is a rewarding field for many. However, I'm already more than familiar with Med Phys, since that's most of the "boring day job" I use to pay the bills. I was on the design team for some of the most widely used devices in the field. Unfortunately, as a field of applied physics, it is the epitome of slow steady progress with almost no real breakthroughs. There's nothing wrong with that, especially when it helps people, but I'd prefer to work on things with the potential for big breakthroughs. So I work on the boring stuff during the day, and do mad science at night.

I would work in agriculture, producing food and managing honeybees (currently a hobby). I think we desperately need more small, local, sustainable farming practices which inevitably will require more individuals actually engaged with food production. I would focus my time left to advancing this practice and writing about it.

My second choice would be as a researcher in a field of biology. As many others have said, the interest in tech lends to a natural interest in how humans and other life forms work, and I'd like to explore this more. The time for this has probably passed me by, sadly.

I'd be a baker - I've recently (as of the past year or two) started baking my own bread and find it incredibly therapeutic, fun and interesting. Maybe open up a small bakery with a cafe and if it went well expand it to teach classes on how to make bread, pizza, etc...

If anyone is also interested, I'd recommend the book Flour Water Salt Yeast (https://www.amazon.com/Flour-Water-Salt-Yeast-Fundamentals/d...) as a starting point

If you are really considering this, I recommend that you first see if you can volunteer a bit at a local bakery. I also was considering a career change to becoming a baker. I knew someone who worked at a fairly large yet still artisan bakery (their brick oven was built by some specialists who came from France). He let me come work for a day to see what it's like. I quickly realized that as much as I love bread, I'd get bored doing relatively the same thing every day. I think that it's also a life where you can't easily take time off, which depending on your current situation in tech may not be much of a difference. :)

Love that book! Just got Bread Baker's Apprentice too.

With you completely. My 10-year-old niece is on-board, telling me about how we're going to do this next week. I'm pretty sure I'd miss programming too much though.

Opening a bakery would destroy all the pleasure you get from baking

They said that about programming but I still enjoy it.

Sitting and thinking about this for just a moment...is unnerving. I'm not convinced I could "move away from the tech world" for too long. My brain is wired to tinker and build in the digital realm, my physique is accustomed to stationary existence, I've allowed tech to build a house of cards within myself which props up my life. It gives my day structure and when I take breaks (2-3 days here and there), i'm often at a loss for what to do with my time. It takes a good week for me to find my pre-tech self, something I haven't done in 6-8 months.

If I were to quit today, I would spend time unschooling my child. Maybe along the way I could rediscover some important lessons about how to live a more physically present life.

Try a creative hobby. Go out and take photos, try drawing, or writing. It came up in another HN thread recently how transient all the stuff we build is. Whatever it is we're building right now will one day be replaced. A photograph, or a painting, or a story can persist for a much longer time (maybe 'forever'), and provides a productive outlet that feels more connected to the 'real' world, at least for me.

That's messed up. Really no hobbies beside tech ? Try jiu jitsu or something.

I concur. Aikido is one of the things that keeps me sane after a day fighting a JavaScript runtime.

Teach, I suppose: high school history or English, or maybe with some brush-up, math.

(Over the years, I have earned money as busboy, stock clerk, landscape worker, driver, proofreader, copy editor, tech support worker, and developer. At this point, I don't know that my back is up to some of the manual labor, and I think that I'm too much of a wool-gatherer to be a good commercial driver. I wasn't a bad editor, but it doesn't pay well: people know when their computer systems don't work, but don't know or don't care when their texts are unreadable...)

Welder. It's everything that makes a skill desirable to learn. Very easy to start, impossible to master.

Pays reasonably well too if you can find work. Also most welders are people who don't put up with much BS so it's refreshing coming from pretty much any other field.

I also love welding. My grandpa wanted to teach me, but he didn't have a second helmet. So he has me wear the helmet because he can weld by sound, so he just looks the other way and lays down a bead that is more perfect than lots that I see in the wild. (He started and ran a machine shop for most of his working life.)

Although I've dabbled in tech and code for the past 15+ years, I've never been able to find a decent tech job. I got into the trades and have bounced around everywhere. Welding is one of my most valuable skills IMO, but as a career I've seen some of the most terrible conditions and communities. YMMV

> Welder. It's everything that makes a skill desirable > to learn. Very easy to start, impossible to master

Indeed. I picked up a bit of hobby glassblowing then metalwork which led me to learn welding and blacksmithing. I don't necessarily want to leave IT for it but I love these things as an avocation. Eventually, I will be good enough that I might offset the cost of my formal and informal education in these things. That's the plan, anyway.

There was a study done recently linking airborne manganese (below federal occupational safety levels) and neurological symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease.


There are far worse conditions that arise from welding (and more so from welding incorrectly) that Parkinson's is the least of your worry. Even then, "so what" comes to mind. If you love doing it the fear of death shouldn't stop you. A youtuber I love once said "Has anyone ever noticed how there aren't any old welders? (cynical chuckle)". He's right but people still do it.

You can also, in some cases, avoid using manganese based fluxes. There are quite common rods without the presense of manganese.

I studied welding and metal fabrication part time to get my certification. It was a great time. Apart from the physical skills of manipulating metal I really enjoyed the technical drawing aspect. It involved a lot of geometry and visualizing 3D objects.

Something with absolutely no deadlines.

Digging ditches sounds really great at times.

Along the same lines, something with no multi-day projects. When I go home, I'm really done for the day. And tomorrow, I start fresh with no lingering issues.

My wife has family in the ditch digging business. It can be very lucrative, but there are definitely deadlines.

Fuckin' A.

Office Space reference?

Doctor. The idea of studying human body and saving lives fascinates me. Having said that, i think Docs should be more accountable, like for ex: they could screw up a surgery resulting in a loss of life and no one would even know about it, is something always scares me.

> Having said that, i think Docs should be more accountable, like for ex: they could screw up a surgery resulting in a loss of life and no one would even know about it, is something always scares me.

I'm curious about where you got this idea. In the US (and I'd presume any other modern healthcare system) a patient dying in surgery leads to a full incident review.

I believe they're referring to a mandatory publication of these events or even all outcomes, linked/contingent with licensure.

AFAIK the incident reviews are protocols that physicians and administrators use as tools for teams to learn, not for patients to consider which physician to choose.

If you want people to be honest about their mistakes, they need to feel that doing so won't come back to bite them. The airline industry sets a great example in learning from failure to improve safety.

Given today's plentiful tech resources, it only makes sense to record video and audio of every surgery. These would be useful for accountability as well as refinement of technique and protocol. The added cost would be negligible.

Some people actually have trouble getting a risky surgery performed because surgeons don't want to screw up their stats. It's a very tricky problem to solve.

I do exactly that as a break from my other businesses of lighting and network installation. Mining is awesome stuff. You get outdoors, you see awesome views, you can go it solo or with friends, and if you use your brain a little bit, you can make some serious cash in a short period of time. There are tons of BLM lands with abandoned claims just waiting for someone to re-register the claim and open it back up, or lands adjacent to that claim which were never touched and possibly have tons of material the other claim couldn't get to/missed during survey.

And then you get to start your own D&D-style real-life dragon hoard and put it on display. Very few people are unimpressed by nature's splendors.

So, are you just re-prospecting? Are you looking for things that were forgotten?

I'm trying to figure out where the value is coming from. Are you essentially trading on the difference in metal markets between now and when it was last claimed? Or are you trading on the difference between current mining technology and past mining technology?

Are you working with someone who actually does the mining? Or are you just re-prospecting? How do you test the ground? What equipment do you need?

Mind emailing me? :)

//edit one place where people tend to sell their claims: http://www.icmj.com/properties.php What kind of due diligence do people put into this?

Re-prospecting on some occasions as certain things tell me that the area was not exhausted of what was being mined there. I rarely ever go after metals. I have more luck with minerals/gemstones.

I just get the minerals by hand and sell them to collectors. Occasionally, they ask me to take something like a piece of jade and put it into a pendant. I make money teaching people how to find and locate what they're after.

I do all the mining myself for the most part. I don't do it until I get a lot of evidence that I'm likely to find something.

How I test the ground is via publicly-available satellite data. The equipment you need? Basic digging tools, pickaxe, folding shovel, hammer, chisels, rock picks, breaker bar/wrecker bar. Be nice to have a jackhammer and generator. Need lots of water in the desert, too, and some shelter (like an EZ-up.)

As far as the claims selling - those are legit, but do make sure the land is patented first so you own EVERYTHING.

How does one go about re-registering abandoned claims?

Pretty easy. You just file a claim over that one. If you already know the quadrangle and township and sector, plus some other small details, taking over the old claim is pretty much as simple as filing paperwork and paying a fee.

Is the process state-dependent? Can you only reclaim mines in public lands (and does it matter if it's NF vs BLM?), or can you claim an abandoned mine on private property?

The process is pretty much the same as mining claims are in the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. Just look up the Bureau of Land Management for your state and they should have everything you need to know on the website.

Music Typesetting. I've published a book and have been involved with a few related projects. I do pretty good work here. It pains me showing up to rehearsal and seeing poor quality sheet music on my stand. It's worse when these mistakes cause stoppage during rehearsals--usually easy mistakes that the person creating the end product could have fixed saving rehearsal time.

very interesting, I've sometimes done transcriptions etc. in Sibelius for personal use and it sure takes quite some time!

I have never been able to get things looking as nice as something like the Henle Urtext editions though, wonder what they use to put those together.

I believe Henle was one of the last hold-outs doing hand engraving of their scores (there are some good videos on youtube showing the process). Today I'm not sure what they use (I've seen one reference say they use finale). Here's some work to recreate that style in finale: http://notat.io/viewtopic.php?t=46

I use lilypond. It tends to get scores mostly right saving time in proof reading and tweaking. With each new version of lilypond it feels like less needs to be tweaked to make it correct.

Recreational vehicle repair. Sales are way up since the industry almost died after 2007/2008, and the manufacturers are producing crap quality in order to satisfy sales demand. It's not uncommon for someone to spend $400k on a new RV and have to take their new purchase back for a months worth of rework -- only to find out there's no service openings for 5 months.

What's stopping me is the up-front capital requirements to lease a building, hire technicians, and buy the tools & equipment needed (you can't just use an ordinary car lift on a 50,000 pound bus).

I have thought about this too along with selling the house and going full time in the RV.

One interesting sub-niche of this is RV solar installation, this seems to be booming as well with few who know how to do it right. AMSolar is the premier one and are booked solid months out.

As well as LiFePO4 battery conversions for the well-heeled boondocker.

Mobile RV repair is extremely common and doesn't have quite the same capital requirements. The challenge is getting set up with a manufacturer to be a warranty specialist. Most of the warranty work required is interior stuff anyway like plumbing, electrical work, cabinet and door re-hanging, re-carpetting, etc. Leave the "roof replacement" jobs to the big shops and you could get started quicker than you think.

Yeah, I wouldn't do things like glass replacement - even as a shop owner I would call the vendor for that. So far as getting certified for warranty work from WBGO or Newmar, etc. I would think they'd want you to have a bricks & sticks location. Not sure yet.

How has RV life been for you?

Pretty fantastic. We're stationary for the winter with the RV in storage (my wife is working at a ski resort and I go skiing every couple days) but we'll definitely be back on the road come spring. Had 3 breakdowns this past year and used a mobile tech for one of them and got towed to small town mechanic for the other two.

That's a very interesting concept. I've worked in aquaponics before so I've also been intrigued by the idea of being able to recreate sustainable ecosystems. If I had the time I'd love to be able to create a database and 'calculator' or sorts where you can enter inputs such as the type of herb crop you'd like to grow, and going by the preferable water salinity, pH, ppm, ds, and a few other criteria, you'd be given options of what crustaceans and fish you'd be able to incorporate into the ecosystem. It's a huge endeavor, but I believe it's something that would have a tremendous impact on society since too often there's reinventing the wheel with this type of stuff and that destroys the runway for a lot of startups that have grander visions.

I've dreamed of doing this but in the Caribbean. I dream of farming Spiny Lobster, Scallops and Red Snapper along with Blue Crab and Oysters. Weather is the biggest challenge in the zone. Thanks for sharing psiops.

Relief bush pilot on the Amazon jungle... Today, there is so much need for transportation of Doctors/Teachers/Helpers within villages in the Jungle. Unfortunately most of the obstacles to achieving this are purely political/Bureaucratic.

I'd love to get more information on this. Is it largely a lack of willing pilots? What are the political obstacles you've encountered?

In the Peruvian Amazon, the restrictions put on aviation because of the "war on drugs" have effectively crippled any private/small commercial aviation activity.

Some examples: It is illegal to transport or sell aviation grade fuel without an (impossible to get ) permit.

The bureaucratic (permits/certifications/plain corruption) obstacles to operate an aircraft makes it to expensive to operate. To certify a pilot or an aircraft takes at least a year.. including flying an inspector to the US to inspect the aircraft before it can fly into the country.

I could go on for hours on this topic...

Depends on the country, but I've heard of several areas (in Africa and Asia) where they're looking for pilots to serve remote areas. They have trouble finding them because it's one of the most dangerous jobs you can do (landing on a runway isn't fun when animals start crossing it) and many people quit after realizing that.

Here the usual risks apply, but it is mostly short flights between small villages next to amazon rivers. A 15 minutes flight is equivalent to a 3 hours boat ride on the river.. Imagine the increase in coverage a vaccination nurse can do with a small ultralight seaplane. http://www.aircam.com/

There are several Christian groups that do this. They deliver missionaries into isolated areas but they also bring supplies, doctors, etc. I know some people who are involved and it's pretty cool.

Yes.. a few years ago one got shot down by an "overeager" drug patrol interested in cashing the $$ reward the DEA puts on such planes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_Peru_shootdown

Interesting story, sad.

I would love to be a performing artist. I can play various instruments, and am recently really loving playing Piano. Would love it if solo pianists could practice to virtuoso level and make a decent living, but sadly, they cannot. Unless you have the magical combination of proper connections, prestigious music school credentials, timing, and luck, you cannot hope to make the kind of salary I am making programming. My sister, a Soprano who went to NYU taught me this early on.

Funny story, her school call her a couple weeks back and I happened to be in the room with her, and you could tell it was some undergraduate performing some capstone research project, and he asked her "If you could tell students now one thing, what would you tell them?" to which she cynically replied, "Don't waste your time if you hope to make a living." and "Only .05% of you will go on to have successful music careers." Brutal.

I'm currently a software developer, if I'd change I would go into genetics, more like what CRISPR is doing, from programming computers to programming living beings :D

Be prepared for 10+ years of training to get paid the same as a call center worker.

Check bioperl and biopython

A USATF certified coach, probably focusing on distance running with one-on-one training for adults. There are apps with algorithms that create personalized training programs for things like marathons and 1/2s but they aren't there yet. Plus, nothing is like in person human interaction for on the fly adjustments to training and for motivation.



Somehow get into climate science. I almost went to school for meteorology in the early 00s but on a tour of a college atmospheric sciences department when I was 17 an old professor told me it was a hard career to get into with very limited job prospects. :(

Stand-up comic.

I would never have to write a thing. After all these years in enterprise I.T., I have enough material for life.

I'll just tell them stories from real life at work. I doubt I could write anything nearly as funny as what actually happened.


  Jimmy: I closed 7 tickets this week. How'd you do?
  Kim: I had a bad week. I opened 2.
  Boss: We have too many open tickets!
  Kim: Don't blame Jimmy and me. We closed 5.
(I'll be here all day, folks.)

Indie movie maker (with story, screenplay, editing, cinematography, directing and money all being mine so that I am in total control of creativity). Making movies has been a long time dream for me. I will do that when I am older and have enough time and finances to experiment, more than what I have been able to so far. And when I do that successfully, I would be simply swapping software & moviemaking for what is profession and what is hobby.

See my comment above - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13336068

You can make a feature on your smartphone. Time is more of an issue, but you really, really don't need much cash. And you can make a short film in a weekend on a zero budget, comfortably.

See this article on "Layover" - made for $6k - and remember that you could shoot for much less.


Hell, Sundance sensation "Tangerine" was shot on an iPhone.

Turning that into a full-time profession is a different animal, though. If you really want to do that as a career, I'd advise learning a lot about the realities of the indie filmmaking life before jumping. It's not a great time for that move.

I would love to get into structural engineering. I just can't justify the cost of school, and the end salaries are not even going to be better than a software developer's.

Or maybe be an auto mechanic. Or a woodworker/metal worker/welder. Or a farmer (seriously).

Part of me wants to embrace the city and "book" knowledge to further my career, and part of me wants to abandon it and go back to a rural life and just make/repair things.

Regarding your last point, don't discount the happy medium. I both farm and develop "big city" software, and I know I'm not the only one on here in the same position. I find they go quite well together.

In fact, I expect you will find that most farmers have "book" careers in addition to their farming business. Outside of large multigenerational operations, it's pretty difficult to pull off farming without other sources of (high paying) income. I know farmers who are also dentists, lawyers, and chartered accountants, to name a few.

I studied to be an S.E. for 7 years (undergrad/grad) and practiced for a little over a year before I gave it up for software. First, the pay was atrociously bad given they years of schooling. Seriously, I couldn't justify doing it if I didn't absolutely love it because I was barely getting by.

Furthermore, S.E. in practice is pretty boring -- lots of repetitive calculations. Yes, there is room for software automation, but that kind of automation is never rewarded - so much of the tasks just seemed to be coordination and paper shuffling. Beyond that, working on projects often meant waiting years to see anything come of it - think about how long it takes to get a large project from concept (design) to completion. In most markets it's a very long timeline.

That said, if I were to have stayed in S.E. I would have focused on smaller projects (with shorter timelines) and I would have tried to specialize in field engineering (being on-site) since that's where most of the real problem solving happens.

Same. I'm a software engineer who's been going down the metal fab/welder pathway for the last 1.5 years. It's highly rewarding, but also the overhead continues to grow and grow. Probably because the scale continues to grow as well.

I need to be happy making small physical things instead of huge physical things... http://www.breefield.com/projects/prodigal-swan

I've also looked into the timeline involved in becoming a PE. Not only do you have to take 6 years of school but you have to work under a PE for 2 years to become one. The pay doesn't seem to justify that much training (considering my anecdotal interest in the field).

Call me new-school, but I continue to enjoy working on systems that can't kill or maim people.

I've wondered if I could shortcut the school requirement on the basis of already having an ABET-accredited computer engineering undergrad. My state does not seem to distinguish the type of engineering education required to be a PE. I would think that a computer PE is not quite the same as a civil/structural PE though.

As for welding, certifications and or even training seems to be very expensive. E.g., a single one-semester (4 credits) welding class at the local community college is $847. I'm tempted to buy some welding equipment from Harbor Freight and just try to learn from YouTube videos (which is basically what I did to teach myself car repair).

My grandfather was a farmer. It always seemed to be quite rewarding and challenging. I've thought about going down that path myself.

Same here - my father's side of the family was from the country. Acres of farm land, crops, and animals. My father was one of the first to shift into a non-farming job. Growing up I always had chances to work on the farm or spend summers down there. There are times I dream about what life would be like for me as a farmer today. Also the reward of a hard day's work is under appreciated in today's society (if you ask me).

> Also the reward of a hard day's work is under appreciated in today's society (if you ask me).

I couldn't agree more. My parents always taught us growing up that my (and my brother) brain was our biggest asset. We both chose career paths that valued brains over brawn.

I recently helped a friend out build shit for a couple days. It was the best time I'd had in a while. Maybe it's not too late for me to switch.

I imagine that I could be happy building wood furniture. Or maybe becoming a car mechanic. I think that I'd still like to either make or repair something, if I wasn't going to be a software developer.

I got into building up my arsenal of tools about 4 years ago and have found that there are quite a bit of programmers and engineers into the hobby. It can also be a decent source of side income, even starting out (cutting boards for myself)

I am tempted to partially abandon my career in cloud computing to start a business that... well, has the aim to build better (new) cities.

I wouldn't start with a city, though (disclaimer: I'm not a multi-billionaire), but probably with the individual building. I want to dramatically change the "footprint" of the building in terms of : ecology/sustainability, cost, value for the people investing in the real estate property.

If that's successful, I'd like to then up the target to changing whole "new" cities.

I fully appreciate how crazy and over-ambitious this might sound. Curious to hear any feedback or comment/questions about it.

I'm curious if you've thought thru actual locations for building said city (especially if site is in US). I just finished "Triumph of the City" and it really echoed this.

I definitely think it's possible.

Have you been keeping up with Sidewalk Labs, YC Research and their attempts to reshape cities?

Also, would look at Tom Currier's stuff (although he is no longer actively working on this) https://medium.com/@tomcurrier/build-something-people-want-1...

I would also like to do something similar. I worry that the US will fall behind due to our constant expansion into the suburbs. Large cities have historically been the cultural and economic centers for all civilizations.

Think about how much cultural change has come from New York, Chicago, etc. Now think about it, China has over 20 cities with populations over 7 million! That's like the US having 20 New York Cities. Imagine how different the US would be if we had 20 New York Cities.

I wish I'd had the opportunity to work in finance/IB for at least a little while. It's something I was always interested in, but would have taken more work to break into (vs. getting great-paying jobs for tech pretty much right out of high school).

Or consulting. I think I'd pick up interesting skills there. I might still follow this path by getting my MBA.

My biggest frustration is that professionally it's very easy to top out in tech. I'm still quite young and already make more than most developers. Really the only way to significantly level up professionally is to take on more risk (by founding a company).

Something outside. Maybe work in a state park, doing tours and educating children about the outdoors.

I have fond memories of going on field trips to state parks in elementary school.

I have fond memories of programming a "guess the number" game in basic as a kid.

Let's become a professional software developer!

My first VB app was a lottery numbers generator. That immediately got me interested in writing software, and I've been writing code professionally for the past 20 years. A small start is more than enough to spark a life long career.

That's what I and most of us did, I guess.

But isn't the professional stuff totally different from that initial first glimpse?

Come on, giving educational tours to children isn't anywhere near as rigorous as being a software developer. What point are you trying to make?

It's not a matter of rigor, but rather a matter of doing it for fun on your spare time vs doing it 40 hours a week.

It might very well kill the fun out of it.

Disclaimer: I've never done educational park activities.

My reading was that if there's any regret about choosing professional SE, one should be careful not to think something else would be better for a reason similar to that the choosing SE.

I'm not a software engineer. I also didn't say I regret it, I do plan on retiring to something where I can work outside.

Physicist. I love applied math. I love to explore and understand how everyday things work. And I love Richard Feynman.

I went in the opposite direction mostly because the academic job market sucks. I would love to get back into scientific computing in some sense. I miss all the math.

Neuroscience PhD student here, looking at how to transition out of academia and chuckling to myself about all of the people who want to "study the body" here....

>I miss all the math.

Odd, in Spain you need advanced linear algebra to even pass the CS career.

You could do half of the classes without a hitch. Half of CS here is Math , 1/4 physics and the rest is coding even on paper.

I live on the edge of a national park. In summer they advertise for Wardens to help with patrolling the park, on a voluntary basis.

If I could afford it I'd happily code for 6 months of the year, then be a warden for the rest.

I thought being a park ranger would be cool. Doing that and do programming on the side is probably easier than the other way. I would definitely go for a job that gets me more outside and involves manual activity.

Try this first: http://www.firewatchgame.com/ :)

Makes me want to do it more.

Lawyer. With years of building and debugging code I find the logical aspects of the law rather interesting. Though the amount of reading, less so.

My wife was a litigation lawyer for many years (she now works in-house) and while I can see the similarities with coding & debugging I think it would be the most frustrating thing imaginable.

Imagine having code where the people writing it never run it (the people writing contracts often aren't the people who would run litigation) and where you would spend months arguing with other people what you think the code would do if it was run and only very rarely actually "run" the code in court and when you do it's difficult to predict what will actually happen!

Same here. I find law intellectually fascinating, and my limited working around jurists and lawyers showed me there's a significant proximity with debugging and testing.

Painter (of canvasses, not of fences). It does occur to me sometimes that I could sink everything into a small cottage somewhere and live very simply, trying to make it as a small-time, local artist. It usually occurs to me shortly afterwards how quickly I'd (probably) get bored.

What I coincidence; Painter, as in fences, was the first thought I had by just looking at the title.

Probably not a trade I'd take on for the long term, but if I'd be leaving my programming career for good today, I'd definitively need some activity that would allow me to remain active and earn a modest cashflow while I figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Painting is something I am more or less competent at, is relatively safe to do, and therefore would be at the top of my list.

I'm using this one right now to get away from a computer at the end of the day ... Much better than watching TV or similar. Heck even when I'm writing (fiction ...) I'd be sitting in front of a computer screen.

I would never leave the tech world entirely. I would shift focus from coding and solving bullshit issues generated by business people to dealing more with real people solving real problems. I have ideas how to do that in a fun way but I am not there yet.

I think coding is really fun and creative occupation if you can decide what you code and when you code. I know if I would make my dream come true and would teach teenagers self defense I would end up spending my nights coding the website of my dojo by myself...

This is where I am as well. In the end I think I would enjoy my profession more if I stopped working on bullshit invented problems. I then remind myself that pretty much everybody hates that their jobs are ultimately not contributing to the greater good. Get in line, essentially. I think a good compromise may be finding something in bio tech, not sure. One of my goals this year is to do some market and tech research to see where I could feasibly become employed to do something worth a damn.

If we're really dreaming, then I'd like to go back in time 30 years to write a monthly column for 80s/90s era tech fanzines like Creative Computing, WiReD, or InfoWorld.

I'd describe the science behind a different technology each issue and interleave an interviews with pros in that space about why it's hot or not -- like "Mathematical Games" a la Martin Gardner, but set in a a more cultural context that made the most of the gogo enthusiasm that infused those heady days.

Computing was a blast then.

1. Guitar player in a band, either rhythm or lead 2. Study and compose (not lyricist!)

I can spend all day playing my guitar and jamming with other passionate musicians from all walks of life. I would love to take the time to explore jazz, blues and classic rock. I have guitars and I just don't seem to make enough time for them.

Unfortunately, I don't believe I'll make any real money in this space, so my assumption is that food and board is paid for by a patron so I can play music publicly in return.

Build high-end speakers. I really enjoy it and I like the idea of high-end speakers that you can just plug into your TV and they "just work" without juggling remotes.

That's my hobby. Anyone who enjoys creating and building speakers and sound systems, should absolutely spend the time and build a pair of Linkwitz speakers" http://linkwitzlab.com/ -- I yet have to hear anything better anywhere at any price point than the LX521.4.

I would become a full-time MUT runner (mountain/ultra/trail) and adventurer like Kilian Jornet (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventurers-of-t...) or Karl Meltzer, who broke the fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail this past summer here in the U.S.

How would your outlook on income be? I'm sure you're quite familiar with Sage Canaday and his girlfriend then. I'm simply a filthy marathoner, but there's so few great personalities that vlog/blog/do social media in the running community. Opposed to our profession where no one is short on opinion about the pros and cons of each and every technology.

I feel like getting sponsored is a must, and even then, it's likely living a minimalist lifestyle (which is fine!). Unless you can compete with the East Africans for prize money or the top dogs in US road races, the money in running is very scarce.

It seems the niche in competitive MUT is conquering the few popular 100 miler races that are put on annually.

Flight instructor/local commercial pilot. The pay is garbage compared to software development but if you're an independent CFI there is as much time freedom as there is being a remote dev, and the pay is still good enough to cover all the necessities.

I used to flight instruct in my twenties. Couldn't make a decent living in aviation and had to switch to something else. Software development has its benefits, but having an office in the cloud beats everything else.

CFI is my retirement job. Already have my private, so I'm working towards my commercial now. Once I'm starting to feel like the old man of the team, it'll be time to move to a beautiful part of the country with lower living expenses and let students try to kill me all day.

Bonus: if I work in the tech industry long enough, I can afford to pick up a few 150s and start a school.

I'm actually thinking of switching into video editing career slowly, just as a backup for my current programming profession. The reason is I'm not sure whether I can survive as a competitive programmer in my late 30s and also I think I kind of like editing.

Dev in his late 30s here.

I went up the management chain for a while (startup CTO, etc.), and it kind of burned. Switched back to dev for a larger (200 headcount) e-commerce.

My experience is valued very, very highly. I look at designs from younger developers and help them shape it a bit, and it's normally appreciated. I am willing to bet I am a better developer now at 38 than I was at 28. I expect to be better still at 48.

The "young people are smarter" thing is a myth. This is not a competitive sport built out of hours worked: it's about being able to write good code, and that takes experience and practice. Keep crafting, good luck.

You make it sound like programming is some sort of competitive sport where you can't reasonably compete anymore when you're past your prime.

There's clearly no obvious reason why someone in his 40s shouldn't be able to develop software just as well as someone in his 30s. Apart from a more or less healthy lifestyle, staying competitive in this line of work is more about mindset than about age. You stay young by exposing yourself to new ideas and challenges. I've met 30 year olds who act twice their age because they've settled into a cosy big corporate job that doesn't require anything but will get them safely to retirement. I've also met 50 year olds who're still avidly learning new stuff and who've managed to remain quite competitive in the software consulting business.

Another thing to keep in mind is: Level up. When athletes in competitive disciplines can't keep up anymore they often become trainers and mentors. For various reasons this makes sense in software development, too. Coaching / mentoring / teaching is a rare skill, as is competent management.

Then there's always the opportunity to create your own software product (I know, easier said than done but much more doable still than in many other disciplines) and sell value instead of your time.

Developer here and just about to turn 42. It helps if you can find a niche where you are a subject matter expert, hopefully a subject matter that is going to be relevant for some time.

Keeps me out of the rat race of which tech to learn next, or at least doing it at my own pace. This year I'll be applying Rust.

Unless you have a very good reason to believe you're in a low-competition area for video editing, I'd avoid making this move for career reasons.

Video editing is a far, far higher competition field than programming.

Lots more people wanting to do it, lots less jobs, on average for lots less pay and much worse hours.

Metal Fabrication. I've actually been taking metal classes for the last 6 months and just finished my first pair of motorcycle foot pegs on the CNC machine last night.

Plumber. Locksmith. Similar.

Jobs that you can do at your own pace, and with the kind of SEO skills I have I'm sure I'd do well. Plus these kind of jobs cannot be out-sourced.

Witnessing a plumber literally taking a flow of shit falling on his face from a pipe, I think I'll pass.

Having experienced that same situation metaphorically too many times to count, I think getting it literally would actually be a refreshing change of pace.

Civil Engineer. I love the scale of huge projects like dams and the challenges that they bring. Watching a documentary the other day about the new Chernobyl Safe Confinement shelter was fascinating (they couldn't use wheels as the structure was to heavy for ball bearings).


I moved to product marketing. I have the benefit of working for a company that makes a product for ops engineers which was my previous role as well as exposure to marketing concepts from working at a marketing tech company previously. I understand the product audience in ways that traditional marketers do not and I understand our marketers in ways that most engineers do not.

It's fun and it's a nice change of pace. I've retained some engineering responsibilities. So what might be a passion project for someone on an engineering team, I develop something and then start writing blog content to help educate our audience around the subject. Our product has the ability to fire a JSON doc at an endpoint which gives you the ability to integrate us with other systems... To many ops engineers can't write a web service to bridge us with that other system. So, I'll write a small service and then after it's up on GitHub I'll write a tutorial and walkthrough of the service. If you just download what I wrote and run it, awesome. I've helped solve a customer issue. If you take my blog post and learn to write your own service, that's even better!

Since early in college, my 2nd choice has always been psychology -- so much that I went back to school to finish up a BA in Psychology. I would focus on either cognitive or industrial/organizational psychology. With cognitive, I'd focus on motivation. With two children, I'm always wondering what motivates them to do the things they do. In I/O, I'm looking at workplace optimization and comfort -- mostly comfort.

On a related note, there is huge world wide need for BCBAs in developmental and behavioral psychology to help expand ABA and other early intensive intervention programs.

Homebuilder building unique semi-modern homes not the typical 5 4 and a door. I have remodeled several homes doing everything myself including electrical, plumbing and even structural. I love working with tools and heavy equipment.

Film maker. I'd like to write and direct short films (initially -- maybe moving to feature length later). Maybe also write and produce plays.

Until that happens, I think the next step is to write and produce a play at my local theater.

I mostly left tech last April to help run a performance theater and a speakeasy. I do everything from lighting/wiring, ticketing, marketing, bar tending, helping as a stagehand, running spotlights, etc. I get to hang out with magicians, circus performers, burlesque dancers, and all sorts of interesting people with interesting stories. It's been a lot of fun and fulfilling in a way, especially since I've never had a public-facing job before. Definitely uncomfortable the first time you sell concessions or deal with upset parents due to someone else's failure to include mature content warning on event descriptions. Overall it's been an amazing experience.

But also I make peanuts compared to what I used to and I'm basically living on savings, so I'll probably end up going back to tech eventually. My best friend with less development skills than me just got a job for over $200k, so I can't help but feeling I've fallen off the track rather than made a positive life change.

Very easy... finish paramedic school. EMS is the perfect antidote for a lifetime of sedentary computer programming. Plus, you get to work with people - or at least you'd better learn how to work with people.

What's stopping you from getting your card?

I am a full time developer and part time paramedic. I generally pick up one shift a week (usually a weekend day, but also the occasional weeknight). I'm sure there are agencies in your area that would hire a part-time/per diem medic.

I am with you there. In fact, I'd say flight medic. Have been volunteering in EMS for going on 10 years now, and find that I particularly enjoy both the flight and very critical care aspects of helicopter EMS.

Therapist/counsellor. I love technology/coding/hacking but what gives me the best feeling is helping someone on a personal level. I have realised (from having been told) I am a good listener and I think I would have done quite well in some kine of mental health role. Not a full on doctor but someone who listens and helps a person during difficult times.

I firmly believe that this -- really sitting down and listening to an individual and holding the microsystem that they live in, giving time and space for someone to trust and to heal -- has a far more beneficial and long-reaching benefit to society as a whole than anything that we can ever "scale".

If this is something you'd be interested in doing in your spare time, I'd recommend looking up your local crisis/suicide prevention hotline for volunteer opportunities. I've been doing this for about 1.5 years and it's been an incredibly rewarding experience.

Baker. Been baking as a hobby for a few years now and it's the one thing that I keep coming back to, no matter how much life changes.

I came here to say this, what do you like to bake?

I am a becoming a bit of a sourdough fanatic and am starting to see some results [1]. Thinking about building a wood-fired oven and baking a little for the farmers market this year to see if it could be a sideline I enjoy (in gradschool).


Looks great, a very nice rise to it (although a bit too blackened for my taste eheh).

How did you manage to get those bubbles? Double kneading? Wood-fired oven gives a nice taste to the bread (to whatever you cook in it anyway) but controlling the temperature is a challenge.

With all of that said, when I said baking, I meant cake baking. (although I dab a bit with bread (and can make a nice loaf)). I specially enjoy taking recipes and iterate over them adding twists in terms of flavour to them (last year I went through my vanilla pods phase, currently on a nuts phase[1]).


I am slowly working towards becoming a fiction writer. At the moment I am a software engineer and I feel I can make it if I put enough effort into it. My specialties are psychological terror and sci-fi.

"My specialties are psychological terror"

What about moving into project management?

... it hurts from laughing too much. Wow.

I am not that dark.

Got any tips for someone trying to do the same?

Write everyday. And read double than that.

I do not think there is a single field more interesting than programming today. I do not mean Developer, as in Java Developer, I mean programmer, somebody who uses computers to do what was not possible before. So I would still do programming, but more meaningfully.

Speculation here, the Einstein of this century will be a programmer.

> Speculation here, the Einstein of this century will be a programmer.

Programming is a means to an end. It's like saying, the Einstein of this century will be a writer.

More than likely it will be someone who makes amazing advances in AI, or biology/health. They may also be a programmer, or merely leave that grunt work to their team.

Politics. I feel like the world is in a state such that I need to try to change it personally. Incidentally, is it safe to assume that most hackernews readers are developers? I'm a developer, but I wonder what other readers do in their day to day lives? Perhaps people from other fields looking to transition into development?

Something that doesn't have a process or technique.

Something that can be done out of my heart.

I upvoted this for its sincerity, but I'm having a hard time thinking of...anything, really...that doesn't reward process or technique; by disposition, I also really embrace process as a psychological circumstance that almost inherently creates meaning. What are you thinking of that comes from the heart but doesn't get processed? Process for me implies art, craft, care, learning, documenting, participating, communicating.

Pretty much this, I think.

The trouble I run into is that there seem to be people rather eager to create process for any field where there's much money to be made.

That said, areas like agriculture do look kind-of enticing.

Doesn't everything have process or technique?

I always liked the idea of being a small farmer. In particular, a tea farmer.

Most recently I have enjoyed doing physical therapy with my dog -- so that'd be another option.

Artist - currently trained in code, oil paints, and poetry (to a lesser extent). At the moment my creativity is bounded only by time, money, and a certain lack of technical expertise that would be gained through focused practice.

Scientist - researching complexity and complex systems, my longest-standing passion. I hope to one day contribute significantly to the study of cognition and artificial intelligence.

Politician - after thoroughly studying mathematics, economics, and law. I have strong opinions on humanity's direction and my views are not well represented in US government.

I haven't ruled out any of these for a future life. I'm hoping entrepreneurship will earn me enough cash while I'm still young to fund my future escapades.

Rocket scientist. My brother is a propulsion system engineer working at ULA, over the years he's been on the Delta III, Atlas V, and now Vulcan. We compare jobs all the time, both have lots of politics and stress, but he wins hands down on sheer awesomeness.

I did. I'm in the military. I was a linguist but I'm switching over to a cyber security role now. When I get out I'm going to work in the industry again, but with a focus on security. Previously, I just worked on web/mobile apps.

Focused, neighborhood context-sensitive and environmentally conscious real estate development. The goal would be to replace the typical boring stick-built midrise, minimal setback, blank sided commercial and residential you see being built in most cities. With a stated goal of providing space for existing businesses being displaced by the new development as well as public spaces when possible.

Yeah, my returns wouldn't necessarily be as high, but at least it would improve the neighborhood without unduly displacing the things that made the neighborhood desirable in the first place. Or being a generic, overpriced pile of blank like most modern pop-up construction.

Definitely theater tech, especially audio work and sound design. I loved it all through high school and it was fixing old sound boards that got me into electrical engineering where I am now. But I'd love to do theater sound full-time forever.

Not that I'm saying I'm capable of it, but basically I'd want to move into doing my hobbies for a living.

I'm an aikido instructor already, but making a living from it is not very easy (and incredibly poorly paid compared to programming). Also I'm not sure I'd like it so much if it was my entire career.

I'm also a musician, but I'm not good enough to make a living performing or teaching. I might be able to if I had funds for two or three years of intensive practice, training and bloody hard work beforehand I suppose.

But yeah, in dreamworld I would make my living from a mixture of aikido, music and some code on the side, because honestly I'd never want to give it up entirely.

Craft beer brewer would probably be the first choice. I already homebrew, and I actually think it's possible to envision a profit-making craft brewery (even as crowded as the marketplace is these days).

I'm also a musician (synthesizers / piano) with enough skills to play in cover bands in the past. But that's a very difficult market to break into, and the types of jobs that actually make good money either aren't usually the type of music I'd really want to play, and / or are a market that I'm too old to enter, and / or are well beyond my current skillset. It's a good hobby to pass the time with though.

IMO, "breaking into the market" as a musician isn't tough... the problem is that the market pays so little.

I know (and gig with) a lot of folks who play music as their primary or only source of income, and it's doable if you are never going to retire and don't mind living out of your car. Or possibly have a spouse that makes better money.

I homebrew as well, and this always floats around as something I'd like to do. Then I picture hauling 55 pound grain sacks up a catwalk and dumping them into the grain mill, for a mid-to-low margin business. Sigh.

I notice that many of the "entreprenurial" dreams in here would work better if individuals banded together. Of course there are downsides, such as handling unequal investment of money and time.

But take the dream of a brewpub. At first glance, it takes a lot of capital, and you don't want to run an undercapitalized business - very stressful. You need runway for some beginner mistakes. And if you've never run a bar or restaurant, you'll make lots of mistakes.

But imagine five engineers teaming up to open that brewpub. Now we have 5X the capital and a bigger "brain trust" to bounce ideas off of. It's harder for the staff to steal with 10 eyes watching them. Problems which a single owner might overlook (cleanliness, service, pricing, competition) will get addresssed. The chance of failure seems much lower. Of course the return per person is also much lower - but the partners could open a second pub if successful. You have the luxury of putting a lot of brainpower on each major business problem.

Such a timely question -- not in the tech world (banking/finance), finding myself fairly dissatisfied & feeling like I've been doing the same thing in a loop for the last 10 years, and I have no idea what to do next.

8th grade science teacher. In a private school, where I can use lots of fire.

I figure if I can inspire one or two pupils into truly understanding thermodynamics, maybe -they- could change (or save?) the world. Doesn't seem like I'm going to.

I find this question kind of hard to answer, because there are so many things I'd love to try. Though I'm an introvert, I'd love to try bar tending or waiting tables for the social aspect of it. I'd love to try out really small scale farming or herding goats to get away from tech entirely. Law (tax or business law, not something like criminal) is fascinating to me too.

If I was really forced to choose, though, it would be art or writing. The idea of capturing ideas and feelings, or creating worlds, characters and stories in visual or word form has a lot of appeal to me. That's probably why I make video games as a hobby.

This sort of depends on whether I had the "money problem" solved or not.

Assuming I magically had enough saved to pay for all my family's housing and food and assorted expenses with passive income, then I would probably work on the following:

- Several book projects that are in the pipeline, one near completion

- Podcast production projects, maybe a business like Dan Benjamin's 5x5

- Work with homeschool groups to teach classes on electronics

- Possibly run a small maker space

- Maybe go back to school (at nearly 50) and study some things I'm interested in: architecture, some upper-level mathematics?

- Teach again at a university level (with guaranteed income, I could afford to be an adjunct and teach programming)

Musician. Knowing what I know about marketing and outreach, and seeing how my musician friends falter at getting the word out and getting the money, I would have no problem making a decent living playing music for cash.

- Film director or screenwriter

- Electronic musician (Just hardware, no software involved)

- Cartoonist / Illustrator

I lack the skills for all of them but at least I'm allowed to fantasise :)

I don't regret being a programmer though, computers are probably my favourite thing.

There has never, ever been a better time to be an amateur film director. And the best way to learn the skills is by making films.

I was a professional filmmaker for almost 20 years before my move into VR, and I can assure you I didn't have a lot of cinematic skill when I started :)

You can cheerfully shoot a festival-worthy film on a modern smartphone. If you want to go a bit higher-end you can rent all the kit needed to outfit a professional two-week shoot for a few grand. You'll still need to find people to cast and crew, but that's a solvable problem.

It's a terrible time to be a professional filmmaker, because of distribution woes, but if you want to make films and you have another job (and you're not terribly worried if they don't get distribution beyond some festival showings), there has never been a better time in the history of the medium to do it.

Very helpful words from someone who has been there and done it. I am not sure if distribution woes are as bad as I hear they are. With transparent platforms like https://studios.amazon.com/ it seems to me (from far) that ease of distribution is at its best too. I don't think it is still easy, but is it not easier than it was say 10-20 years ago?

It's trivial to make your content available to purchase. It's very, very, VERY hard to get anyone to purchase it.

One of the main issues is simple: there are over 10,000 feature films made a year. How many feature films do you watch a year?

Generally it is considered a remarkable achievement - considerably beyond "noteworthy" - in the indie world (and I get this from various communities of indie filmmakers) if your independent films manage to make you minimum wage, never mind any more.

I must say right now I'm pretty envious of even semi-prolific broadcasters. For example, stream 4-6 hours regularly of me massing ladder in a competitive game while interacting with other prominent members of the community (who probably have their own streams so we essentially advertise for each other) injecting the occasional few hours of variety streaming that I can even utilize from time-to-time to develop personal interests, e.g., play guitar.

Of course, the best strategy here would be make it on a proteam and become a personality. This has the added pros of my daily needs and equipment being maintained for me while in the roster (and probably better health benefits than I have now if I get a gym membership to regularly exercise and, also, no team wants an "injured" player). Whether I win a big prize pool or not, I then secure some momentum for my stream. I don't see my stint lasting for more than 2-4 years for either some external or intrinsic reason, but options are pretty open from there. If I made near the amount the top, say, 30% make, then I estimate I have a healthy cushion for at least a couple more years given my relatively modest desires. I can go back to the tech world (honestly I'll probably still contribute to open-source projects even during this period), become a content creator of a different kind or use my clout/connections I've built to find my way in a similar scene.

More than I expected to type for this prompt.

The "what job would you do" question suffers from framing problems. I have always been interested in multiple domains, and have found ways to explore a lot of the responses others have given here (photography, film-making, music, cooking, writing, entrepreneurship) to varying levels. Right now I am trying to learn about physical product design, manufacturing processes and mechanical engineering, re-stringing a sitar, organizing an exhibition of my regionally focused antiques prints and photos collection with a commercial sales element, about to go cycling at 2000m in the Himalayan sun,[0] pick up a German loaf from a friend who did the (also mentioned by others) open-a-German-bakery thing here in southwest China. Yesterday I discovered a mislabeled antique photo online, researched the hell out of it, determined it to be an early and very rare panorama of a major city (after detailed research on three major regional cities in the 19th century), and decided to bid on it, scan it, then re-sell it for cash to a museum. Life is good... for me personally, though it's not always easy taking a less safe route, especially sporadically returning to see friends and family with the play-it-safe approach, nice comfortable investments and cashflow (but absolutely a fraction of life experience) ... once you embrace it you can't go back to 9-5 - except that in the worst case, you can.

[0] https://duckduckgo.com/?q=weather+kunming

I started on a journey towards sustainable agriculture, working with dessert coast greenhouses. But got sucked back in to work on data systems for international development, which has been quite a success so far.

I'd like to teach Music and CS somewhere in grades K-12. I'm not sure which age group right now. During Summer breaks from school, I'd gig, write code, and try to refine my teaching skills.

While I am happy with being in IT... If I could try something completely different, I would do "Iranian Studies" at the university of Marburg, which is nearby as I have some unexplainable love for Iranian culture and language (to the point I found a girl from there and married her). I'd try to work in research at university or as a consultant for businesses that are interested in the country.

The other boy dream not come true (but still dreamed): being a pilot, preferably for cargo planes or other mid-sizes special missions.

I would also prefer cargo planes. Less people :)

Seems to be a thing for nerds :)

I would do good. I would build homes for veterans or work for my local non-profit that supplies dogs to support veterans having a tough transition back to civilian life. Or I would work with the diabetes type 1 JDRF so that my wife would no longer have to worry about her glucose levels. I would support teachers the right way, supplying them with proper training for 21st century skills so that kids are inspired to learn, learn, learn. Because I believe that doing good is very much needed right now in our world.

Accountant! The only use of pure math in real life!

No pesky real world to mingle with your results, if a cent is missing it is because somebody took it. Also, when 0 = 0, you know when you're done!

Glassblowing. I've been doing software professionally since 1978. When I first started learning programming I was amazed how easy it was, and how hard it seemed for everyone else. 35 years later I tried glassblowing (hot-shop, not torch) and had the same experience.

Unfortunately I can't afford to pursue my hot glass dreams. My second job is providing palliative care for my wife. That takes up more than my paycheck and most of my time when I'm not writing code.

Doctor. Since no one has said it yet. My fascination of machines has turned inwards as I've gotten older and the mysteries of our bodies are still waiting to be discovered.

Entrepreneurship. It's a lot of upfront work, but you've got the ultimate upside in terms of money, control over one's lifestyle, impact, and fulfillment.

But more realistically, I'd probably pursue product management because it seems interesting and isn't hard to transition into as a developer.

If I didn't have to worry about money, then I'd be trying to make the world a better place, doing things like spreading awareness of and advocating for a basic income.

I've been running my own business for 19 years now, financially I would probably have been better off with a job.

> ultimate upside in terms of money, control over one's lifestyle, impact, and fulfillment

you sound like one of those semi-retired lawyers that thinks opening a restaurant is a carefree experience just like hosting a fun dinner party every night for 300 of your best friends.

Astronomer, if we are talking about quitting completely. It's what I wanted to be as a kid. If we are talking about quitting for a "little while", then I'd just go travel the US with my mountain bike and hit up any and all trails I can get my hands on ala Craig Bierly [1] and become some kind of cliche bike blogger.

[1] http://runutsadventures.com/bike/

I would like to be a painter.

I used to learn to paint during the whole my childhood, but I gave up to be a painter and switched to be a tech guy.

I really like paint and I do some doodles in the weekend now.

You and me both. I still paint, and it's one of the most enjoyable things I do. Although I do wonder if I switched to it full-time if it would lose its lustre.

I think it's when you start doing things for money that they loose their lustre.

I wonder if asking such question (and inspecting answers given) is not enough to refute the idea behind basic income - that it allows people to retrain into their desired profession, thus making the society more productive. Seeing that most people desire only a relatively small subset of careers (and almost no one want to be for example a dentist, an accountant, not to mention telemarketer or toilet cleaner), I don't think it's going to work.

Hmm, that's really interesting - "toilet cleaners" in particular stuck out in my mind. There will still be folks doing this job, but I imagine they'll be paid more.

Money becomes less valuable the more you have. For example, your first $1000 dollars buys food and shelter, while your next $1000 buys nice food and a bigger house. With BI, everyone should have the basics covered so any earned income will buy luxuries.

> Seeing that most people desire only a relatively small subset of careers (and almost no one want to be for example a dentist, an accountant, not to mention telemarketer or toilet cleaner), I don't think it's going to work.

Or...these careers would either pay a lot more (wouldn't begrudge toilet cleaners making more money), eventually be found unnecessary or uneconomical and go away (no more telemarketers?) or be automated away. That doesn't sound like an entirely bad outcome.

Besides you'd be surprised how many people genuinely want to be dentists or accountants; those careers may not be for you but I'm sure many dentists and accountants enjoy their work.

Interestingly I actually want to be a bathroom cleaner. Nothing dismays me more than walking into a dirty bathroom.

Would you be happy if your days were filled with the smell of urine, shit and chemicals (used for cleaning)?


Basic income doesn't end supply and demand of labor. In other words, if all you want is money, you'll still perform these jobs.

Writer for roleplaying games. Either as a game / setting designer or writing adventures.

HVAC. I love figuring out proper air flow for some reason and have made modifications to the ducts at my house. I could see myself doing that stuff for a living.

For the unacquainted, is the purpose of the modification to improve efficiency, and thus get to temperature faster or reduce costs?

Both, sort of. I installed dampers on certain vents to reduce the amount of air that goes to certain vents. This causes my heating and cooling to run a bit longer when it comes on, but it now runs much less frequently and my house has a more even temperature from room to room.

I also did modifications to some ceiling registers because they were never installed correctly and were leaking air into the ceiling of my basement. That helped with the temperatures down there without really affecting anything else in the house.

Increasing comfort can be as big or bigger a driver.

Advanced Cash Crop Agriculture.

I've also always liked the idea of being a welder or machinist. Whatever it is, it must satisfy my need to tinker and experiment.

I changed my mind! Professional RC Drone Pilot looks like a heap of fun.

Something creative while at the same time completely opposite to what I do now. Probably become a presenter, video content creator or entertainer.

I'm shy, suck in presentations and am not very funny. Plus I work all day from my laptop without talking much.

So naturally I really really want to do the opposite, work creatively on a show to tackle that, talk in front of big audiences of people and entertain people. Maybe YouTube.

You should try taking some improv classes. You might surprise yourself.

Car mechanic / electronic

Yeah I second this. I could diagnose a PC problem, pull it apart, swap hardware out, put it back together again without a second thought. But something goes wrong with my car and I'm all like "car's broken, better call the mechanic". Can anyone recommend a beginner's guide to mechanics? I feel like even some basic knowledge would go a long way.

Buy a cheap car (i.e. a MX5/Miata) and go racing (on a racetrack). Stuff will break and you will have to fix it, since it's not your daily car there is no pressure in having it fixed on time, just take your time and figure out how to fix whats broken. Youtube is a great source for instruction videos. Even if the car does not break, you will still need to wrench on it to upgrade the brakes, engine, transmission, suspension etc, make it more suitable for racing. In the end you'll have the knowledge, a racecar, a great new hobby, a lot of fun and meet a lot of cool people.

Or next time you buy a new car, just keep your old one as a project.

That's what I did when my old car died. I was originally going to sell it for parts on Craigslist, but then I got the crazy idea in my head to buy some tools and attempt the repair myself over the summer. Got it back in working order and I've been wrenching on it ever since.

Like you said, no pressure in having it fixed on time if it's not your daily driver.

This is actually how I became a programmer; cutting my teeth on problem solving physical systems, and learning how to self-teach using Haynes manuals fixing a classic F-body Trans Am.

I would start with a cheap OBDII reader ($50 or less) that has a real-time feature that can show you what all the sensors (o2, intake temperature, etc) are saying.

That's a more fun start than a book, and it might lead you in a certain direction as to which book you might want to read.

You could always play "Car Mechanic Simulator 2015". Not 100% accurate but it does teach a lot if you come in with no knowledge whatsoever.

Also seconded. Tracking down the root cause of a check engine light is very similar to debugging. What the code says...say "Catalytic Converter Below Efficiency" isn't necessarily what's wrong. Often times, that means "bad o2 sensor". As in our space, picking the right tool makes a big difference as well.

Same here, or aircraft A&P mechanic if you want to get more specialized and charge more :)

I'm a 24 yrs old humanities student which spent two years self teaching programming, but decided to pursue sth. else as while programming is fun, the industry for the most part very boring. If I could, I'd become an architect. I love buildings, I often get tripped on the street because I'm watching the houses, the shops etc. And in my childhood I had the chance: my parents begged me to go to the architectural schoo (a vocational secondary), then they forced me, but I was stupid and I went to the normal lycée. I just love buildings, but in the other hand, I know that I wouldn't be able to work with the kind of them I adore, masonry beauties. So I'm kind of happy that I didn't become an architect given I'd have the same situation as my software attempt: big contrast between the ideals that drive me and the economic reality. I would love to do interior design though, I guess I'll try my luck in it after graduating from uni next year.

I love to watch the "grass is greener on the other side" effect.

Other jobs always seem easier, more rewarding, more exciting till you try them.

I'd be a SCUBA instructor. I almost decided to take a few years off to do it so I could dive full time and put in as much time around live coral while there still is some, but an injury sidetracked me.

There's really nothing like living in some beautiful, tropical place where you get to spend a ton of time in nature. And diving regularly makes me feel 10 years younger.

If I were to quit technology, I would try to find something that keeps me as far away of a screen as possible. For instance, quitting the tech world to become, say, an accountant, where I would still looking at a screen all day long, seems useless to me.

This would therefore probably be a profession where I either see a lot of people (doctor?) or use my hands (carpenter).

doctors stare at screens all day now also.

I'm tired of busting my ass for a bunch of corrupt businessmen. I'd either be a bartender and do music in my free time, or join the military[0] as I'd rather let someone else make the decisions. Being "smart" is starting to feel more and more like a burden on my well being.

[0] I realize the irony given the "corrupt businessmen" comment.

Political philosopher and social critic, in the spirit of Taleb and Moldbug.

Our civilization desperately needs independent thinkers of this type. The problem is that the people who get paid to do this for a living are all hopelessly compromised by the institutional structures they inhabit (universities, newspapers, right-wing think tanks, etc)

One idea I would promote is geopolitical vacation as a third-path way to deal with refugee and immigrant crises. My claim is that geographically large countries like Canada, Australia, the US and Russia have no serious need whatsoever for the vast lands they have claimed. So they should take some of that land and vacate it to make room for refugees and immigrants. It doesn't need to be a lot of space: city-states like Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai prove unquestionably that prosperous and wealthy societies can be built in physically small territories.

I've thought about doing something like Lester from American Beauty, where he just quits his job and works at a fast food restaurant. Maybe just for a few months. I've never worked at a cafe or a restaurant so I want to see what that's like. I think I will start a cafe with my wife one day, so it would be good for me to have some personal experience.

I don't think I could contribute much to an NGO if I had to leave my technical skills at the door. But that's certainly a domain that I'm interested in.

I would also love to do something in the film industry. I would start as an assistant, and eventually do something with special effects. I also enjoy editing.

Maybe writing. I don't think I'm a very talented writer, but I might try to write a novel one day. I've tried to write a few screenplays for short films, and so far they've just been awful. It's a lot of fun, though.

I'm also thought about that bit from American Beauty. Personally, I'd like to do either a cafe or a brewery bar, since those are beverage I personally enjoy.

I've also been working on a novel, but am finding it pretty tough. I've gotten decent at non-fiction writing when I have something to say, but I'm not great at creating things whole cloth for fiction.

The world seems full of possibilities that would be interesting to check. Doing all forms of art, travelling without destination goals, learning chemistry and making my own boat. I'd change my name to Alexander Shulgin. Or perhaps Genesis C-Ereal. If the technology revolution stops happening, we should move to the original path.

I'd be an astronomer. I worked in an observatory once and it was far and away the most interesting and awesome job I ever had. But I have no degree, so I'd spend some time in school first. If that didn't work out, I'd like to assist the effort currently underway in Mosul. That's just me being honest.

I've worked professionally as both a musician and a technologist since my teens, I'm 40 now. I used to want to be a musician, but I realized that, like technology, there's really a zillion different kinds of careers you can have as a musician, and I was really only interested in a few of those.

Some people love music so much that they are happy making their living any way they can involving music, including teaching, playing weddings, and other functions. I've done a lot of this, and ultimately am not happy doing it.

Even though I loved touring as a musician, most of my friends that made their living touring have retired from it and gone on to do something else, as the road life makes it pretty difficult to have a "normal" family life.

I've often asked myself what I'd want to do if I weren't a technologist, and I always come back to doing something with my hands.

Interesting. I see a lot of interest in woodworking/carpentry. Also read a surprising number of people talking about film. I started in film. Evolved into carpentry/metal fab. I'm now starting my career in programming. I'm excited about all the ways that programming is NOT carpentry or film.

Sustainable development, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_development choosing topics and skills you are passionate about. It's fantastic for people, planet and yourself

I'd like to do software relating to this. But most of what I've seen is low level or hardware/mechanical.

Travel writer/photographer: I travel enough for pleasure as it is, I could probably do this as a side gig, but doing it full time would be interesting.

Indy rapper: My favorite artists are all YouTube stars (Futuristic, Devon Terrell, Kyle KiD), and I have some talent for music and I've been freestyle rapping in my car for decades. I could bring a unique perspective to rap as a black software engineer turned rapper (from python to gettin my rhyme on?).

Motivational speaker: My first career was teaching so I have experience with public speaking. Specifically I'd like to create a series of seminars that teach people how to negotiate pay raises. I'm horrified when I hear about people who don't negotiate, or accept 3% raises. I have averaged an 20% increase annually over the past 10 years and I think I can teach others to do the same.

Though not a developer (I'm a production DBA), I'd like to move toward a career in sustainable development in developing nations. I think that water and sanitation would be what I'd like to focus on, though I'd wager that social policy would need to be a large part of it as well.

A truck (lorry) driver ideally in the states. I found something oddly relaxing about driving, full throttle, 18 wheeler down the road through Rocky Mountains or Alps. I actually have lorry driving licence (C class here in EU), I need only one class higher (C+E) to drive a proper 18 wheeler.

Good question. At one time I considered going back to school and getting a degree in Exercise and Sports Science and doing something related to athletic training. And I wrestled in high-school and have always thought I might one day want to do something with coaching wrestlers or something. So maybe some combination of that stuff.

I also spent a lot of time in my life as a volunteer firefighter and was an instructor with qualifications to teach Firefighter I & II certification classes, as well as Incident Command and LP Gas Firefighting. I love that world, especially the teaching part. So something related to teaching and emergency services could be appealing. The problem is, there's not a lot of money to be made doing that stuff, except at the higher levels.

Private intelligence to help journalists disclose and report on corruption and abuse around the world.

I would run a "wellness" center with various activities. I'm a Aikido black belt, so giving classes would be my "technical contribution" aside from running the business. I have a special attraction to wellness topics: meditation, massage, therapies etc.

build modern versions of classic cars.

It's a passion of mine (and probably something I'd do for fun in the future) to get an old mustang (preferably ~1964) and convert it into a modern car (electric, heated/cooled seats, power windows etc.)

oh and build competition grade racing drones.

and be a tech reviewer.

An appropriate lyric about this would be Nick Drake - One Of These Things First [1].

I'd love to be a farmer, a painter, a philosopher, a writer, a chef, or a combination of that. However since the world is changing so much due to technology, I'm not sure how feasible or enjoyable those jobs would be in the 21st century.

I find it a bit pointless to think too much about it, since its unrealistic, unless you're interested in changing. For good or worse I'm gonna stick to development for the upcoming years. Who knows what's next though.

[1] https://duckduckgo.com/?q=nick+drake+-+one+of+these+things+f...

Same thing, maybe more machine learning.

Our jobs are amazing! Every minute we're solving a problem that probably hasn't solved before. It wasn't solved in our work context for sure. I can't imagine doing a job that is repetitive. Even teaching seems repetitive.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor/instructor. I'd need some years back to be anywhere near the level I should be for that. I don't think I could switch to anything (significantly different) right now with a realistic chance of keeping afloat.

I am doing this right now...I've been a graphic designer/web developer for 10 years. Half way back at my first year at uni to get my CS Degree and (hopefully) end up working with AI.

You guys are not instilling me with a lot of confidence however.

I will be a farmer.

I love farming and growing stuff.

I would go into manufacturing. My dad has a stake in a steel mill. Heavy industries and robots fascinate me.

But right now even though I'm in tech, I can't afford my rent or be able to afford a house. I feel very unsuccessful hitting 30s.

I'd like to be a teacher. That's what I wanted to do originally but I gave in to family pressure and majored in computer information systems. I've enjoyed the career, but I sometimes I really wish I had gone into education.

Many countries have a serious lack of qualified IT high-school teachers. Depending on where you live, it might be easy to branch into teaching this way.

I'd be interested in working in media and/or politics given how significant their impacts are (and how rapidly things are changing).

It'd be far less likely to work out but I'd also love to be able to professionally produce music.

I like creating things and I like entertaining people, that's why I originally became a games programmer. I love cooking, mostly for the same reasons. I think I would be a chef at a fancy restaurant or maybe a restaurant of my own.

I'd build semi-custom vacuum tube guitar and bass amplifiers and effects. I've built a few for myself and it's fascinating and rewarding. I enjoy the technology, the theory, the process, and the finished product.

I would work with animals; maybe at a cat shelter, or have a pet "hotel", or maybe a dog daycare or walking service. Animal welfare laws are very strong here and dog owners aren't allowed to leave their dog alone for more than four hours at a time. This means there is a lot of potential business for dog daycare and walking services since not everyone can take their dog to work with them or come home for lunch. But basically anything involving taking care of or helping animals would do.

Weird to read this, because I'm thinking of switching into software development.

But if I were going to switch into something else, it would probably be something involving the outdoors, with a tangible physical aspect to it. Surveying?

A colleague and good friend of mine was a surveyor before he went to college in CS. He said the surveying was very pleasant, but the job also involves a lot of driving.

Maybe we should focus on things worse than IT?

Like accounting...

Would love to open a classic diner.

Not a grease trap, but quality, but familiar breakfasts, great sandwiches, home-made pies. Superb diner coffee.

A place welcoming to anyone, young, old, family, friends.

Software Development is great. It's been a fun ride, and I've made some amazing friends, learned many skills, and of course, took in a salary that helps pay bills.

Eventually, it'd be nice to try this. There's a rush, and a large challenge to running a restaurant, but a diner brings a simpler focus. It might be a pipe dream, but since I'm not planning to execute on it any time soon, I will continue dreaming :)

Probably a custom/bespoke leatherworker. I sell stuff as http://www.vulcancrafting.com on the side now, I'd love to do it full time.

I've always thought being a dictator would be an easy way to get things done.

Run some kind of a brick and mortar: a place to relax. eg: Float tanks, hot-cold spa/sauna house, kava/kratom bar, ASMR type stuff, meditation, massages. Anything which has been shown to help people relax.

Urban planner. I'd love to try to create my version of a utopian city (no non-essential vehicles allowed, built for the pedestrian/cyclist/subway) the way they are building new cities in China or Dubai.

I'd run for governor or be a lawyer. My favorite part of software engineering has been systems thinking and either of those professions give you ample opportunity to design and explore systems. (I wanted to be a lawyer in college but the Great Recession -- and an astoundingly high number of lawyers saying it's a terrible idea to become a lawyer -- scuttled that idea. Software engineering exercises the same *STJ personality type proclivity for rules and systems.)

And I know it's not a "career" but being a gentleman scholar would be even more fun...

I would move to Wyoming and become a cowboy.

I'd love to work in an underground hard rock mine. Being under the surface has always fascinated me. One of my favorite hobbies is caving. I live in Denver, so the Henderson mine isn't too far away...

I invest the money I earn as a programmer into what I would like to do after; so far a brew pub/restaurant since a few months which also contains my computer museum. I am adding a pizza oven which is the thing I am most interested in; making the best possible pizza. And yes, during the summer here (which is long) that is competitive with programming pay if done well. Not that this would be a money thing; I just want something else to do if I ever start hating code. I love coding so I am sure that after it I will move back to it but who knows.

I've thought about the concept of a business in private education for (older) kids for software/computer science.

And I've never spent any time with music but I think it would be a really enjoyable endeavor.

I learned programming from small private classes when I started the 3rd grade. It drove me to found a hackerspace a few years ago, and I finally got to start teaching other kids how to program and do robotics. I highly recommend it, education is very fulfilling.

Open a german bakery somewhere non-german.

As a non German living in Germany I think this is the best idea in this thread. German bakery products are the best and can be sold everywhere despite of their high end price.

That and I never understood why knödel never took off. I love knödel! I actually brought some back the last time I was in Germany (before learning I could buy them right here in Paris).

Too heavy. Its like lugging a brick around in your stomach after eating them. And the liver ones?!?! Ewwww.

Well a couple years ago my answer to this would've been very different, but now I have a wife and I have to give her some consideration. I'd probably just go back to the family business of farming. I would probably only make 60-80% of what I do now but it'd be debt free and I'd be on my own terms. I'd have to become a morning person all over again but I know how to do the work and I find it particularly enjoyable. Plus maybe I could tinker with my dream of a self driving electric tractor a little more.

Research Mathematician. I'm going to try anyway but I doubt I'll even make it to grad school and the career prospects for an average mathematician to do research near full time are dim.

Possibly a combination of two things. I'd like to teach meditation to children and young adults. I'd also like to pursue stand-up comedy and other comedic efforts.

I'm a security analyst. I love my job, but if I thought I could make a decent living doing it, I would focus on calligraphy, the restoration of vintage writing implements, and art.

Anybody in Atlanta interested in film?

I use almost all of my spare time to pursue my hobbies, and this year I want to get started learning filmmaking.

I'd like to incorporate programming with filmmaking, too. I've had an idea for programmatically switching between several cuts of a scene based on user input and other variables. With enough shots and a clever enough script, one might be able to turn a film into a game.

If there's anybody locally into film, I'd love to buy you a coffee and see if we might be able to work together.


Surfing all day long could be a lot worse. You'd have to teach mostly tourists, but then you get to talk with people from all over the world too. Read the rythm of the waves a

Something physical. That's the one thing I miss in the IT world. Being chained to my desk for 60 hour weeks is putting a toll on my body and mind. I'm only 30 and I feel wore out from this field. The money is OK but It provides happiness to my family. The construction workers I know can make more on a good year. Plus they get laid off for weeks or months at a time. I've never been off for more than two weeks since I was 14 so that sounds amazing to me.

Philosophy or history if salary wasn't an issue. Something mechanical/physical if it was. Mechanic sounds good. Who knows, from there to CNC master, 3D printing...

I always wanted to do translation - but video game translator is another job that doesn't pay well since everyone wants to do it, so this pays better.

Other issue is how much thinking about code has ruined my creative writing skills. There were no sign of humanities at my school, not that anyone would've had time for electives, and the "tech writing" class I tried was more interested in how to use styles in Word than anything else!

I work as a C++ programmer. I wouldn't mind being a professional driver, even driving a taxi would be fine for me. I could work as a professional interpreter(I speak two languages fluently and have some official qualifications). I would love to have a bike and/or car repair shop. I would like to try being a park ranger and doing physical work outside.

Basically, anything that doesn't involve staring at a screen all day long.

Photography (fashion/portrait)

I gave myself a target: to have my first paying client by end of April 2017. I have been photographing for 20 years, did some paid work here and there, but never found the cojones to move 100% to photography as a job.

I'm very comfortable doing my 8-5 job as dev/architect in a large financial institution. I have lost pretty much any interest and I want to do something I like. I hope my plan works out :)

I'd still want to create. Maybe something with my hands. Being a luthier or cordwainer sounds attractive. Assuming money were no issue, perhaps a musician.

Chocolatier. Nearly went into it before taking this job, but the numbers didn't add up and wanted to try a different city. Whenever I've had a hard day I was wonder what if... It's easy and therapeutic, and a great conversation starter. A few examples http://stevefarnworth.com/channel/taste

I would like to be an astronaut. It has the physical and mental aspects I'm looking for. The skills learnt during training are also super interesting.

Carbon farmer. Figure out ways to sequester carbon in soils while providing nutrient dense food to the local community and making a profit doing it.

Lawyer. With those skills and credentials, there are lots of clear and direct opportunities to help some of society's most vulnerable people.

Open a CrossFit gym or be a tango dancer/teacher.

- Architect (of buildings)

- Farmer (been there; my fallback option)

- That person who works in the IS18 infrasound station that detects nuclear explosion sound waves in Greenland (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vULUkp7Ttss) or something similarly monk-ish. I could be a monk but i cant stand religion.

About the monk thing you might be interested in Zen meditation. As non-religious as it gets ;)

I'd be a fashion designer. Oftentimes I feel like software engineering doesn't give me an opportunity to fully realize my creative self. Mostly because of people, not because of technology. Creativity is not valued for its own sake in software development and you cannot just say "that's the way I see". I feel it narrows down my life perspective too much.

I would choose to be a physical therapist. You to to actually move around all day and also help people and interact with them. Also great potential for research as this is a developing field. Sure would beat starting at a screen all day long, takes about 5 years to train though, 3 full time in school and then would take several more years to match software engineer salary.

If I could go all the way back I would study astronomy. I would love to have a job looking at the stars and doing really difficult math.

I want to get into the legal marijuana business.

In the summer I would just like to work outside.

I would like to be the mayor of my city. I would focus on improving infrastructure (transit and internet) and supporting the arts.

To me the only answer is: asteroid field miner.

Dentist. I was a software developer for 9 years before dental school. This year I am doing my residency. Last week, I did fillings, root canals, extractions, implants, IV sedations, and seeing medical complex patients in hospital. It felt like it's a dream.

(Fiction) Author.

It is very difficult to get published, and till you do, it is very hard to make 'rent and food' money (leave alone serious money) out of it (and sometimes not even then. Most non bestseller authors have day jobs), but if I couldn't be a developer for some reason, that is what I'd do.

- Picker/Seller of antiques and vintage items. Fun hobby and comes easily if you're already sourcing for your own home and collection.

- Historic building salvage crew and/or restoration of historic buildings.

- Bed and Breakfast / AirBnB / wedding venue proprietor with healthy dose of the above history/restoration work on the side.

I took a bunch of urban studies and GIS classes in college for the hell of it, and might have done it as a major had they not just started offering it my Jr year. I think I would enjoy urban planning or map making.

On the more creative side I'd love to take my Arduino hobby to the next level and build interactive art installations for museums.

I'd probably go into a medical or bioscience field. It's always fascinated me (and I read medical journals as a kid).

Motorcycle mechanic or astronautical engineer

I'd love to open a bookstore and a publishing house. But I also would love to be art curator, or something related to art dealing. I read a lot of books (fictions, too) about collecting, fakes, etc. I find that world quite amusing, but I think it is impossible to do a career there without money or networking.

I'm doing this.

Are you an art curator or dealer?

Publisher and gallerist/bookshop owner.

I'll approach this from a different direction. I currently work cleaning a meat room in a local market; machines,floors, scraps and such. It's a dirty job.

But if I could have any job in the world, it'd be what I spend every other hour not on shift doing, and that's programming and solving problems.

Development is my dream job. The day to day is completely different than I imagined, but a good fit for me overall. Learning how to be content in spite of all the blockers to "just coding" had not been trivial, but doing anything well is always hard.

If I had to pick something else, I'd probably get bored.

Archaeology. I was really interested in the idea as a kid but my mom pointed out you might not get to bathe that often (and I was/am a neat freak) so I quickly lost interest.

Now I find most of my vacations are centered around traveling to ruins or going to live in small towns with interesting cultures.

Way cooler than software. FML.

I'd be a lawyer - specifically in the common law system. I like making arguments based on past cases.

Something in film.

I can sit for ages thinking about how movies and TV series are cut and edited, i think it is fascinating.

Surgeon would be interesting.

It is however not a big leap from the fundamental reason i am in tech.

I like to figure out how stuff works and fit together. I don't feel it maters that much if it is a computer or a human body.

I'd become a full-time startup advisor. I already do this part time with a couple of startups here in the valley, and I really enjoy those deep brainstorming sessions about the present and future of technology. Helping shape possible futures is really exciting for me.

Doing this in a few years when we've sold. Going to found a company building mid end speakers.

Prototyping this year.

I would like to become a farmer. I think producing something physical would make me feel good I guess.

I would want to become a researcher in a theoretical field such as applied math, physics or economics.

Games. It's what got me into tech in the first place - developing MUDs, building games in QBASIC when I was a kid, playing board games like Hero Quest. It's the only thing that really excites me. I especially love roguelikes these days.

I would build robots to facilitate AI construction that I would move back to when I moved back to tech. Really though, animatronics/movie work sounds the most fun to learn from right now though. Practical effects making a comeback just feels exciting!

I would start a coffee shop. I don't even really like coffee that much, but the thought of literally selling the same product day in and day out seems calming after working in environments where the formulas for everything are changing literally every day.

I would move to the Carribean and open a beachside bar with pinball machines and a large jukebox.

I'd open a brewery. It's a pretty saturated market but from whatever little business planning I've done break-even point is at about 2 years which would be fine if I was running it as a side business. The problem is it's a full time job :)

I would try to be a martial arts teacher (i always try to teach others at my kickboxing gym, why not get paid).

Also, any hobby/sport that gives you big addrenaline rush + makes/keeps you fit but doesn't slowly kill you (example: (kick)boxing kills your braincells) ?


Mechanical engineer specializing in guns - guns are quite impressive works on engineering.

Yes, but wouldn't you feel like Tony Stark in the first Iron Man when you see video footage of terrorists brandishing weapons with your logo on them?

I would really like to become good at mountaineering - spend a lot of time in high altitude places, get better physically, get trained on high altitude trekking. Then I would like to take people in life changing hikes in the Himalayas

I'd love to get back into music. Unfortunately, it doesn't pay terribly well, but maybe if I can get enough saved up (or perhaps hammer out a couple self-sustaining side projects)...

Constructing bespoke Scalextric circuits http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-3851885...

Landscaping designer, worker/Handyman. I get such joy from it and the creating/design aspect stems from my programming ability. Also, anything weather/meteorology related, as it's a side passion.

I'm a web developer now. If I could switch, I'd absolutely love to be one of those forensic science technicians. To use science to put away the bad guys (or exonerate the good guys) sounds so gratifying.

Designing and building automobiles without all the gadgets and gizmos present in modern vehicles. A vehicle designed to embrace the visceral experience of motoring and minimizes interference to that experience.

I'd probably go into academia, honestly. I'd probably want to be a researcher, though I'm not sure which field of study I would focus on. Either cognitive psychology or linguistics, I imagine.

I would choose an option in wich automation is difficult to apply, also, something that I love to do (so maybe I had to be a pro player of soccer haha).

You got a serious and a kind of serious answer :D

I want to become a toy maker.

This is already my third career so it's not that unlikely. Maybe my last career will be outside the system and not a career at all: the creator of a new type of economic system.

I'd be a Chiropractor.

The original reference architecture for the Human Body is still valid, save for a newly-classified organ here and there.

No microservices revolutions, no development methodologies, no UI toolkits...

I'd probably try to start some kind of non-tech cashflow business. Beyond that, writing or photography. Hard to answer because in reality I'll just want to start another tech startup :)

I'd probably ride the beer brewing wave like everyone tells me I should do. I love programming and live well off of it while having lots of fun homebrewing so I don't think I ever will.


The feeling of learning a new word and using it correctly is like crack. I still have pretty good memories of learning words like "however" and "nevertheless" when I was a kid.


Designer. And I'm actually doing it this year, with a slow transition. I will most likely not fully give up coding, but I hope for a 70/30 mix of design/coding, if possible.

Run a dog sanctuary.

The more I read about how people in the US treat each other, the more I want to work with innocents.

Screw the money. I've got enough saved to live simply but well. And yes, I'm married.

I quit my job as a software developer to study medicine. Although I still work as a developer for a medical education startup to pay the bills... perhaps there is no escape ;)

Skip college, work a part time job and build SaaS products. With the recurring revenue would be able to hire people to manage the product and then become a digital nomad.

From UX Engineer to Apprentice Woodworker on top of a mountain.

Climbing and sign language instruction, supporting me just enough to enjoy life and start writing. I'd try drawing as well, though I doubt it would be profitable.

Tennis coach. I am decent (rated as high as 4.5 in my prime) and I love to teach. I have a 5 month old daughter, so I'll be able to do that within a few years :)


Most likely taking care of goats.

I would be a cook/barman in my own small establishment. I actually prefer the work to dev (after 30+ yrs since childhood) but lack the finances to make the transfer.

I would be a physicist. I studied it all the way to PhD and I often have a vague regret that I left the field.

I've been fantasizing about getting into timber framing.

I would be a historian. I was always interested in history and reading history books, but the career in computer science is much more perspective.

I'd be a physicist. I actually want to start doing that as a side job; especially quantum mechanics seems very interesting and it needs a lot more research!

Dancer / Dance teacher. I find dance and especially social dancing an incredibly joyful experience after few hours of sitting in front of computer screen.

Since I imagine you're looking for unusual answers that an engineer type could conceivably transfer to:

Theme park design/engineering

Museum exhibit design/construction

I'd like to be a workplace safety inspector or ergonomics consultant and help people do their jobs better without risking injuring themselves as much.

Charter Pilot. Been working on that transition for 3 years now, getting my CFI soon ;)

Love development, but I'd much rather do it on the side than 40 hrs/week.

If you're going to do it, I'd try to join the industry ASAP. It's a good time to get in, though entry charter jobs can be pretty brutal.

Epidemiologist or homocide detective. Both (at least from the outside) seem like they require extreme skills at picking out a needle in a haystack.

Novelist would be my initial attempt. Mind you I'm working on doing it as a second job NOW (I'm about 80% done with my current novel)

Record producer. I've been recording and producing music for years and love doing it. It'd be nice to be able to make a living at it.

Play competitive tennis :') It'd be a miserable paying job at my level, but the most satisfying life I could live.

Start a crappy band, have a cool band camp page, travel around the country in a van playing shows in DIY performance spaces and dive bars.

Roast Coffee. Done.

from IT? Telecommunications Engineering.

Half of it is shared with CS, so is kinda the same but more fun.

C is still the main language for standards so I could find myself at home, as I am a OpenBSD user and zealot.


No GNURadio here, sadly, but is WIP.

Hacking comm devices is funny.

Even something simple as SDR's are interesting too.

- Pilot

- Fiction Author

- Location Hunter for Cinematographers (basically get paid to travel to wonderful scenic places)

- Landscape Photographer (very hard to get paid for this I guess)

Tournament poker player or national park ranger.


That is the career I moved to after establishing a career as a developer.

Being around all the high tech machines on the farm has gotten me quite interested in mechanical engineering of late, so if I were to make the switch again, it may be in that direction. Especially, to bring things full circle, with a focus on integrating my software experience into those machines; robots and such.

I'm in 100% agreement. The first time I ever fixed anything mechanical was when the pulley on my push lawnmower broke. I thought to myself: "If I can write an iOS app, then this is nothing."

These guys could probably use your skills > http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/09/the-vertical-fa...

Modern day blacksmith. Specifically, I want to make high end, historically accurate swords for a living. I love swords :)

Look up Niels Provos' (OpenSSH/Google) youtube page, he works F/T and is a hobbyist swordsmith https://www.youtube.com/user/mintwart

I have a friend who did this. He used to run a hair salon, and when it failed, he started his career as a blacksmith. I've been kind of his benefactor for his early efforts, but he is improving his skills rapidly. Every iteration seems to have lots of skill development. His latest creation for me is an historically-accurate, late model gladius. It's easily one of my favorite possessions! And here I should say... He is on track to be making a lot of money. He doesn't only make swords, though. He makes all kinds of stuff. Swords are just his favorite thing to make.

If I didn't have to worry about losing lots of money, I'd become a freelance reviewer of skis and ski resorts :)

Music Curator/DJ: Not a Top 40 DJ but more like Gilles Peterson. Have a collection of unique and eclectic playlists.

Would love to become a theoretical physicist.

Pianist, though if I'm being honest, I'll never be good enough to be A-list. Which is why I'm a developer.

I would write books except I hate working alone, I prefer being around people. Maybe some kind of writer's workshop?

I overheard a guy on a plane once - old guy telling is life story.

He'd done various things, been a pianist, engineer, parent etc.

Now he writes, he says it's the most fulfilling career he's ever had; Though I expect he's already financially stable.

Football(Soccer) Journalist.

Have been doing it as a hobby but would love to spend more time immersing myself into the beautiful game.

I'm the opposite of a lot of people. I was a private yacht chef now trying to switch career to web developer.

Not that I'm trying to discourage you, but why? Stability ? Money ?

At first because I had an idea for an app which I could not afford to implement unless I did it myself. Now, for love of coding only -- trying to make the switch has cost me everything.

Good luck on your journey !

Might be close to tech, but I would run a Makerspace/Hackerspace full time if I could sustain myself doing it.

Camera repairman.

edit: Film camera repairman

I would write short stories and novels, and I'd also like to teach at the high school or college level.

Winery / cidery. More on the vineyard/orchard side of it, but would like to own the business.

Get into motorsports in some capacity.

I'd open a shop and small school dedicated to archaic crafts like blacksmithing and boat building.

Creating music and writing. Things I did as a youth but didn't pay the bills like computers!

Forest ranger

I'd take up a trade. Either be an electrician, or a machinist.

Edit: Or HV mechanic. I love big engines.

I'd probably become a monk.

Curator at an art museum and publisher of unique writing about music, art, and humans.

Train driver. In particular, pootling around the highlands of Scotland in a Class 37.

Tailor. I just sew as a hobby, but I enjoy being able to make clothes fit better.

Campground host. Camp all day every day. Be nice to everyone. Rest for years...

Yoga Teacher (for developers)

In order of preference:

Yoga teacher

Professional chess player

Fantasy book author

Meditation teacher is my FI goal, I'll probably get yoga certified because I'm sure those businesses will be tightly coupled.

Do you think we need to be in specific kind of cities (smaller vs bigger) to earn a living doing such a job? Or do you think doing solely this is not enough to earn a living?

Location matters, but I also think it depends a lot on how you market yourself. A small mountain town won't have enough clients interested with the means to pay for those services. A resort destination (Hawaii?) could be really good. I think that is why I want financial independence though, so I can worry a little less about how much I can earn.

From reading it sounds like yoga teachers are plentiful since a lot of people practicing naturally progress to getting certified. Starting wages can be very poor because of this. That's where I think marketing can be the differentiating factor. Travel around India learning, maybe write a book or blog about yourself. Get on reality TV and become a minor celebrity. Have a very well respected lineage. Just some ideas to bring in more clients.

Big cities are definitely the safest.

I'd be a magician traveling worldwide and performing for large crowds.

something in the lines of fitness coach + nutrionist + physiotherapy (aka "actually helping people") OR lumberjack in the far north (aka "i've had enough of all this" :))

I want to be a Lion Tamer.

Residential architect or dog walker / doggie daycare operator.

I would become a teacher of some sorts. Probably secondary school.

Investment banking so I can help Startups IPO etc.

Teach, either software, or critical thinking, or language.

Porn star. No shit, either. I mean sex, drugs, and booze (or coffee) are prominent and if you have that OCD type behavior you are MORE than built for it. Why not, if you are gifted and shaved down .... Id do it

I would go into filmmaking or become a doctor. Maybe...

Open a used bookshop

Product designer. :)

Teach martial arts.

Which discipline though?

Jiu jitsu

Charter sailboats in Caribbean, Mediterranean, etc

I want to be a Game Designer like Hideo Kojima!

Become a novelist and write adventure stories.

Living abroad and teaching english.

Or, teaching engineering.

Write plays, fairytales, poems and novels.

Distill whiskey.

I would love to open a distillery and make Rye.

Architecture Motorcycles Cooking/chef

I would buy a coffee shop if I could!

FBI Agent. Any interesting crime work.

pay isnt there

Audio engineer or full-time musician.

osteopathic medicine, high problem solving to meeting ratio - must like people.

CNC operator or something like it.

A cat nanny.

park ranger or physics teacher


Well I did a BA in Philosophy in the late 80s, and it's served me well as a developer. Software development is just applied ontology really...

I studied Philosophy as well, with a heavy scholastic leaning, Thomism, and object oriented programming makes the most sense to me. Although not a programming language, that's probably why Powershell makes a lot of sense to me because it is all very focused on concretes.




Well, seriously: to own a winery.

what about a gigolo's funded winery? think about the possibilities

Bizarre, but I will think about it


I want to be an artist.

Movie director, no doubts

Retail. Work at Walmart.

Mechanical engineering

Pro event photography.

Primary school teacher

professional rock climber

assuming I could live on the crap money, of course

High school teacher.

Surfing instructor.

Fly fishing guide.

Investment banker.

Executive security


I'd design and build concrete shell homes with basalt reinforcement bars and transverse light-transmitting fibers, for the rural and suburban markets, and factory-manufactured home modules that are rack-mounted and transportable via intermodal shipping containers and forklifts, for the urban market.

One of the disappointing things I have learned is that many municipalities limit the visible height of residential buildings from the average grade level to its highest point to only 30 or 40 feet. That means, in combination with the depth of the frost-heave line, that spherical shells are not possible for a family-sized home, and the only feasible tornado-resistant shapes would be severely-flattened ellipsoids and toruses. I had a hypothesis that I really wanted to test regarding the humidity problems experienced with geodesic dome homes, but that one zoning issue makes testing it pretty much impossible.

I have been pretty disappointed with all of the stick-built homes I have ever lived in, with regard to maintenance and infrastructure issues. In short, I'm sick of paying through the nose for cheap, slipshod crap. If I'm going to pay through the nose anyway, I'd rather get something that could survive a nuclear strike on the nearest strategic asset, where I would never have to use a plunger in any toilet because the architect never talked to a master plumber, and never need to tack up visible wires because the existing wiring plan stinks, and also never have to carry the laundry up and down two flights of stairs because no one bothered to minimize the distance between that particular appliance and all the bedroom closets.

I just want to rebel against the existing market conditions in housing. Realistically, I would likely be an abysmal failure in that sector, and would have to return to software development--with my tail between my legs--in less than 5 years. But I'd also get a kickass house out of it, which would slowly reveal its agonizingly severe problems over the following 10 years, which would have bankrupted my company anyway, had it succeeded. Then I'd write a book about my experience, which would sell 30 copies. I'd become a bitter old geezer, and none of my co-workers would talk to me unless they had a question about our crufty, legacy C++21 module that everyone else is afraid to touch. My best friend would be a red Swingline stapler. I would be buried with it. Then concrete shell homes would sweep the nation in a flurry of unexpected popularity. I would get frequent reports about it in "The Special Hell for People Who Don't Really Deserve It, But We Torment Them Anyway, Just for Fun", which would be effectively indistinguishable from my pre-demise existence as a software professional, except Special Hell gets 3.5 weeks of PTO, and Columbus Day off, because even pure evil has limits.~


Be a musician.

Charter pilot

Lounge singer

Horse racing!

Elon Musk ^^

read the Ashlee Vance biography, his life.. its brutal!

Bar tender.