Never mind that even doing all that, most companies still don't think you exist because you don't appear on credit checks. Granted, most of these can be done via mail (someone should really introduce the British public service to the interwebs one of these days), the bureaucracy in Berlin is hardly uniquely bad from a British perspective :)
All good points - from a foreigner's perspective in either country.
I think the key here is not web/non-web but the government in question having an intelligent, joined-up registration system.
In the case of Finland, once I'd registered with the tax office my address and other details should have been registered in the system. KELA would be notified - along with all my income details - and the magistrate and police would have up-to-date records. Done, one visit to one office.
You can also spend too much time optimising a relatively rare use case. Each of those steps require that you fill out a form and mail it off. The exception is registering for an NI number where you actually have to book and show up for an interview. That's it. You'll be prompted to do each when necessary, there's no benefit/penalty for doing each too early/too late.
There's a very frustrating mix of "concern for privacy" vs "being effective".
All these different agencies have their own databases (with slightly different fields making transfer of data between them a bit tricky) and they're not allowed to communicate apart from a few limited examples.
To get anything done I need to fill out a form, on paper. That same information needs to be filled out across many different forms, to different agencies. It's so bad that sometimes one form asks for the same information (address, date of birth) twice.
I'm not sure how governments could kludge all that data into one big database and protect people from hideous privacy violations that result.
Yeah, and getting hold of the HRMC or any of these bodies over the phone can be very difficult. Apologies for that. I once got hit by a HMRC error and it was impossible for me to reach them to correct it while they fined me. Of course, they didn't admit that it was their error and that I took too long to get back to them...
I've had a similar experience in Finland - the shitty salaries (and lack of interesting work that isn't somehow tied to the sinking ship that is Nokia) are one reason I avoid Finnish companies like the plague, and just work for foreign clients.
This is the reason Finnish companies don't advertise salary, which is common in the UK and US for example - it's all collectively bargained in some way out of your control.
Just a quick heads up. If you are interested in distributed systems, computational geometry or working on a custom WebGL app fire me an email, we might have something interesting for you at Tinkercad. Our tech team is based in the heart of Helsinki and we are actively looking for new talent.
If we aren't a good match for you I know a bunch of other interesting startups that I can put you in touch with. Ping me at email@example.com.
Not to hijack the thread too much, but with the sort of thing you're doing, I'd seriously consider reaching out to people from the demoscene. There's a pretty large demo culture in Finland, and they'd be perfectly suited to the task, particularly the computational geometry and WebGL side of things. I'd be interested myself if I were in Helsinki.
I was implementing a proof of concept in WebGL for my product and thought, I wonder if someone has implemented a WebGL modeler yet? After a bit of search ran across Tinkercad... Was a super impressive product, and don't know why more people aren't aware of it.
To be clear: collective bargaining normally only sets minimum conditions. You're free to negotiate for more, the employer just might not go with it.
And I know what you mean about foreign clients: the majority of my contracting revenue has been from clients in more progressive countries. Part of it is also that Austria is a small country (though higher population than Finland), so of course there are more potential good clients elsewhere.
I don't know about Austria, here it's a case of "well, this is the industry standard, why do you deserve more? - oh you're a foreigner? Just be grateful we even give you a job" (even if you speak Finnish).
So, most employers don't go with it ;-)
I'm quite happy with foreign clients as they pay better and the work tends to be more interesting - the only killer is the different timezones.
Yes, there is also a strong bias against employing non-natives (or at least non-Germanics) in Austria, orthogonal to the other issues, which was quite shocking after living the previous years of my adult life in the UK, which has a much more liberal culture. This bigotry is much less of an issue (I'd almost say a non-issue) in actual technology companies though. It's telling that the proportion of immigrants among the self employed is much higher than the total proportion of immigrants (though that effect is seen in many countries, and I don't know if it's much higher in Austria).
Interesting! This is nearly a 180 degree opposite in the Netherlands. Companies can't find the talent they need inside (because they pay them too little, but ok), so they try to attract foreigners. Foreign "knowledge workers" also get tax benefits for the first many years, and many employers (particularly consultancies and larger OEMs) have people specialized in getting foreigners a worker's visa.
Ah, the "30% ruling". For those that haven't heard of this wonderful piece of legislation if means you only pay tax on 70% of your salary if you qualify as a knowledge migrant. Yes, you get 30% of your salary tax free. There are also other benefits, e.g. you don't pay income tax on dividends from your home country.
It's not just consultancies and OEMs that will help apply for this - I work at a startup and I am classified as a knowledge migrant.
Any Django/Python devs who are interested in living in a beautiful city and only paying tax on 70% of your salary, please get in touch - we're hiring!
Usually when I explain this, I get downvoted by the HN Pythonista downvote mafia, but since you asked, I'll take that risk.
In essence, I think Python is the mediocre features of all languages combined. It's a mish-mash of ideas, badly mish-mashed together. I don't want to use a mediocre language.
- It's object-oriented, but not consistently so (len() anyone?)
- It's object-oriented, but not really the standard library (derive from dict? Oh, no, you should derive from UserDict then. dict isn't a class, didn't you know that?)
- The language's evolution shines through even more than that of PHP. First it was "functions! short little functions! those are easy!" (except "print", come on, that's so common that we must make it a statement), then came some data structures, then came objects and classes, so they backported those datastructures onto OO stuff, but not entirely, and oh by the way here's some additional magic functions for some more magic because magic is cool! And lambdas cause hey, you asked. (note: if this isn't the real history of Python, then I apologize to the apostles; to me it feels like this is the history)
- It supports functional programming constructs, but in such a limited fashion that any code not written in a imperative style quickly gets very hairy and difficult to understand.
- It's batteries included, but half the APIs are hell (admittedly, this is getting fixed with the whole "for humans" hype)
- Package management is hell. easy_install isn't easy, oh and it's not installed by default so good luck figuring that other library's "getting started" tutorial out. But hey, you need pip for this! Doh, pip is the new best thing. Except for those database drivers there, they have an installer. Oh, and they'll only work on Python 2.7.1 32-bit, but they won't warn you if this doesn't match cause that would make the code longer! We hate long code. BTW, I've heard this is less bad on non-Windows, but still, what's wrong with a single package management system, shipped with the language?
- Its documentation is complete, but very limited. Few examples, a lot of information vaguely hidden in very short sentences. What are this function's argument's types? Is this index value here zero or one based? What type does it return, and why can't I click on that to get to that type's documentation?
Now, none of these are horrible sins. In all honesty, maybe I'm overreacting with the garbage man thing. But Python is so popular, and only growing in popularity, and IMHO entirely undeservedly so. If Python was as popular as, say, Lua, I'd probably have complained less.
For a language with pretty much the same "general" featureset (dynamically typed, big community, multi-paradigm, low entry-barrier), I think Ruby does it better on all fronts except docs. Though in reality I prefer C#, but that's simply an unfair comparison.
Any attempt to compare <insert your favorite tool here> with something else is going to make you disappointed. I am not a Python fan either, but Python has its own use cases for which its well suited. Its barrier to entry is low, and a lot of web frameworks are around.
To give you small example. Today I just solved a problem by chaining sed and cat statements through pipes, whereas the guy next to me considers usage of anything apart from Java as a waste of time. Any attempt to convince him why spending one whole day writing a Java program is not worth, when something like sed can do the task in minutes is futile.
Because your mind is trained to think in one specific language and its ecosystem, you find it difficult to embrace anything else. No matter what its merits are.
Python has its own warts. But it useful for a lot of problems.
Ehh, are you saying that you can't compare programming languages for their merits? Then why aren't we all using COBOL today? Taste? I'm not so sure.
> Because your mind is trained to think in one specific language and its ecosystem,
IMHO, someone who can only deal well with one specific language and ecosystem doesn't deserve the name "programmer". My suspicion is that it's people like this who call themselves "Rubyists" or "Pythonistas" and identify with the language like it's a football club. It's a novice thing.
Except for the Pythonistas of course, but they're not programmers.
Unfortunately this is all too typical of the tech scene in Finland. While there have been a few breakout successes (Rovio, F-Secure for example) and the tech talent in Finland is generally top-notch, much of the scene is dominated by a tight-knit old-boys network in the boardroom, unions and government.
Who do we have ? Jorma Ollila (again) - the arrogant twit who drove Nokia into the ground long before Elop took over. Siilasmaa, another face from Nokia. The same people involved in the Fruugo fiasco. Taxpayer money funneled through Tekes to support no-hope startups run by people who know the right people. Silly little committees - again taxpayer funded - to discuss the "future of IT in Finland" with nary a nod toward the genuinely successful startups.
The tech scene here is anemic, incestuous and poorly managed, propped up by taxpayer money through layers of government bureaucracy. Which is a shame because the tech talent is excellent. What's really needed is a more startup-friendly environment - a reduction in bureacracy, taxation reform, and a more small-business-friendly culture - but these are "hard" problems. Let's just have yet another worthless "steering group" and appoint the same guys we drink beer with in the sauna.
Every time I see something like this, I wonder- who made out with that money? Forget the commentary about why the startup idea was bust, why the website UX sucks, etc. Who made out like a bandit with $40MM in return for nothing? Whoever that is, this was a GREAT deal from their point of view.
P.S. Not surprising that government involvement plays a part in this. Sounds akin to Solyndra et al. here in the states.
Much of this comes from two unfortunate facts: Finland is far from any real markets (becoming less important thanks to the net), and there isn't much capital in the country outside of the public sector.
The latter means that the government has to be involved. Bringing in their heavy processes, risk (and therefore, succeess) aversion, and the old boys' network.
I would stay stop dancing with Tekes (state R&D funding org), and take a flight to Stockholm, Frankfurt, Paris, or London. Capitalize on successes like Rovio and emphasize that in Finland there is lots of mobile dev talent available thanks to MeeGo and Symbian getting ramped down.
A successful entrepreneur - as opposed to someone who loses their shirt - may be a visionary and a dreamer. But they take calculated risks. You have to know when to persevere, when to pivot, and when to give up - especially if you're playing with other people's money or your life savings.
Yes, vision and confidence are important, in order to bring employees, investors and customers on board. But unless they are grounded in reality, you will fail horribly, unless you are very, very lucky.