Yes, that's right, I'm self-employed, but I've had it. After 20 years coding compromised crap for a living, after 7 months of doors slammed in my face and blank stares for daring to suggest that some (ok, most) websites I encounter could (ahem) use a little work, or that things could be simpler, or could take advantage of the past 10 years of technical advancement, well, I've had it. The only people who want webservices will only buy them from an IBM/Accenture suit (at twice the price I might add), the only people interested in XML standards haven't a penny in their pockets.
Ok, I'm sure there are decent projects out there, perfect clients, people with a clue or two are probably reading this right now, but I do know that I no longer know how to connect with such people. It used to be easy, it used to be that they found me and we'd chat and next thing we knew we were sitting down to do good stuff, but that doesn't happen any more. I just meet other unemployed techies or people soaking corps for $500/day training seminars on topics they themselves barely understand, and even of those I have met over the past 20 years, well, it sounded great in the chat and great on the design table, but once we presented it to the inmates in charge of the asylum, it almost universally went horribly wrong. There's been exceptions, real professionals I've had the pleasure of working with, but they are the exceptions.
I'm going to go learn to drive a fork-lift or some other real job that my family and neighbours can actually understand and appreciate, one that actually helps people ... instead of inventing new and novel ways of carving up demographics to serve eyeballs to advertisers and pussyfooting around self-appointed demi-gods who fear most being accidentally exposed for what they are.
The turning point? A number of things of which the constant rejection by headhunters and potential clients and universal exclusion because I won't use Microsoft where it's not an appropriate choice, these are only a part. One camel's straw was the big news service provider who's chief web programmer had never seen either Perl or a CGI before, and when faced with a constant called "$day" and taking the notion he wanted a cutoff of 5-minutes instead of a day, well, redefines the length of a day thereby creating more work for himself (for which he is lucratively paid) -- the script I gave him took me an hour to write, but has taken over 40 hours and still counting to get installed ... and yet he's employed and I'm persona non grata.
I don't want to single him out because he's the norm and I'm; the freak. This industry has no use for the likes of me. My questions underline the failings of the demigods, my code challenges them to keep abreast of the technology, and we can't have anyone questioning their authority.
So ... I no longer get referrals, and I get no business, and that's it, we're out. I have been an actor out alone, a ruthlessly small business on the bleeding edge of computer possibilities and internet innovations, and, well, it seems no one does this sort of stuff this way anymore.
What do I have to show for it? A long string of two decades of projects where I advised one way, the in-house-tenured demi-gods insisted it had to go another way, and a year or two later, the project fails because of the demi-god's unnecessary constraints, and while they've moved on up the corporate ladder, I'm left holding the keys to another failing IT project. So long as I do this for a business, I'm doing it for money and that means the people with the money call the shots. I do wonder, if they were so expert in the first place, why pay me big money in the first place?
I'm no longer interested in answering that question. I'm no longer interested in contributing to this facade and farce called the Digital Economy. I might dabble here and there as a hobby, but the domain now belongs firmly to the big corporate interests or to tiny personal labour-of-love unfunded micro-projects. Maybe it's just mid-life crisis of looking back over a life spent doing all the things I didn't want to do, but to feed the family and feed my soul, I've got to find me a job that is actually of real service to people, that helps make this planet a better place, and that does some good with my life. Because I ain't doing that sitting in this chair day after day.