23 Apr 2006 MichaelCrawford   » (Master)

I'm Looking for Work

If you could use a seasoned software consultant who takes pride in his work, have a look at my resume and cover letter. I am available immediately, and will take onsite work anywhere in Canada, or offsite work from my own fully-equipped office.

C#, ASP.Net and Mono

I bought Jesse Liberty's Programming C# after a recruiter in Halifax told me that the only way I'd get a contract anywhere in Atlantic Canada was to put C# on my resume. I chose it after reading its favorable review at the Association of C and C++ Users website. I'm very pleased with my purchase, and recommend it highly - I'm confident that I'll be able to code C# .Net productively within a week. The only other book I think I'll need anytime soon is the C# Cookbook by Teilhet and Hilyard. I'm also liking what I see of C# so far.

I am not at all happy that I might have to work for The Dark Side of the Force. But as Kuro5hin's V said, "Ideals don't pay the bills". May is going to be really tight and June is projected to be about $1400 short of what I need to get by, so last Sunday I sent my resume to every body shop in the Dominion of Canada. There's lots of C++ work starting from Montreal on to the west, but in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, there is nothing for me unless I learn C# well enough to convince a client I'm good at it. I'm willing to relocate for the duration of a contract but it sure would be nice not to have to.

But maybe there's a better way: Mono. It is an Open Source .Net runtime for *nix. I'd like to know if Mono is mature enough to drive a high-traffic web application. One writes Windows C# applications in ASP.Net; it seems Mono supports ASP.Net as well. How well does it work?

Since I can't claim to have ever been paid to write C#, I had intended to write a simple but useful sample program while I studied Liberty's book. I would then place its source code and installer on a CD, and a hardcopy of its source code in a binder to give potential clients. But then I thought, what could be a better calling card than to send them the URL to a commercial website that runs a C# ASP.Net application that I wrote myself?

I'll be damned if I host it on a Windows box though. I've been with the same web hosting service for nine years. I'm completely happy with Seagull Networks, and they run Slackware. I don't know yet it they'll be OK with installing Mono for me. I'm still waiting to hear back from them about it.

I guess I'll need an ASP.Net book too - Programming C# just has one chapter on it. Jesse Liberty also wrote Programming ASP.Net. The third edition covers ASP.Net 2.0, but the second edition covers 1.1, the version that Mono presently supports. There don't seem to be any books about ASP.Net in the ACCU book reviews yet.

I'm not ready to tell you what my website will do, but it will offer web-based services that would be useful to many businesses. I'm going to offer some of them for free, with some more complex and valuable ones for a modest subscription fee. So I also need to know how to process credit card transactions in a secure and automated way - for all my nineteen years as a software engineer, I've never coded so much as a shopping cart. I'm different that way. When I asked in my Kuro5hin diary, the recommendations included WorldPay, Authorize.net, 2Checkout.com and PayPal.

I won't use PayPal for the reasons given at PayPalWarning.com - it's not just them; PayPal seized the funds belonging to a merchant I do business with myself, and wouldn't give them back. WorldPay looks like the best, but the $399 signup fee they quoted me is going to be tough to come up with unless I get a good contract first. 2Checkout.com only costs $45 to sign up, and someone at K5 said it was "nice and easy", so maybe I'll go with them until my website gets more users. I don't expect it would be hard to change credit card processors down the road a bit.

(It is a sign of the times that 2Checkout.com's list of ineligible websites includes those offerring "IT Certification Test Exams and Study Aids".)

And don't worry, I will eventually release at least some of my site's source code as Free Software.

Looking for a Job in the Great White North?

Here are all the Canadian job boards I've been able to find so far. Links to any others are greatly appreciated:

Dice is a US board but has a few Canadian jobs and allows one to specify Canadian provinces in postal addresses. Jobboom is mostly for Quebec, and Career Beacon mostly for Atlantic Canada. Workopolis is the easiest to use, and seems to live up to its claim to be Canada's biggest job board.

Craig's List requires you to select just one city to search in - each Craig's List city has its own subdomain. There doesn't seem to be a way to search an entire country all at once. Also, one can only post resumes to specific cities, there is no way to make one's resume show up everywhere. I don't understand this, as the most common reason people relocate is because they've found a new job somewhere far away.

Craig's List does have the advantage that it allows on to search specifically for telecommute and contract jobs. Dice allows that too - it has the most fine-grained search facility. A very common problem most job boards have is that there's no way to limit searches to perm or contract, or telecommute or onsite. The best most can offer is to use the word "contract" in one's search query, which always turns up some bogus hits.

That's all for now. I'm sorry to have gone on for so long. I hope you found some of the links helpful.

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