Bill Farrar

Portfolio Site and Blog

Where I Am

January 20, 2012

So, part of the purpose here is to figure out and communicate where I am, where I want to be, and how to get there.  So let’s start with the easiest of those three.

Currently, I work for a county agency as their primary technical employee.  I have someone who ostensibly reports to me.  The county structure is such that there is a primary IT department, the Data Center — they handle the network, server management, mainframe computing, and set standards for PC deployment, etc.  Our agency is large enough that we have unique needs.

So our IT department was born.  We do primary support for people — fixing computers, both hardware and software. Part of that is just customer service, some is figuring out who in the Data Center can solve this problem.  We do this because we have other systems — everything from trouble ticketing to security systems to signage — that we handle instead of the Data Center.

I am the primary — and only — coder on many of those systems, and I also make purchase decisions about what kinds of software — from small to enterprise — that we buy.  I or my employee run the projects for install and maintenance on them, and I create and manage the IT budget for our agency, which — ignoring payroll — has been as much as $1 million in the six years I’ve been here.  We get our money from sales tax, so the past couple of years have been lean,  and that’s a different challenge.

Every day is a bit different, I’ve got my hands in a lot of different kinds of software and uses for things.  I’ve fixed computers in jails, repaired a 20 year old computer (that was still mostly running!), migrated our systems from really old ColdFusion and horrible database designs to more modern PHP based systems. I work with people who know computers really well, and some for whom they are alien and strange, and domy best to  support them all with all my knowledge and respect.

It’s a great job, really.

So, why am I unhappy? Why am I looking for work?  Well, when I got here, that wasn’t the description for the job.  There was less to it, and it was mislabeled and underpaid.  So I came here as a temp — first as a 1099 employee, then through a county-approved temp service.  Then through another when they lost their county contract.  Since I’m a contractor — or more accurately, a temp — I don’t have all the real authority I should have.   I don’t have those wonderful county benefits that are the real lure  to working here (as the county government has probably the lowest salaries for positions in the area).

And I’ve been in this position for six years.  My boss who was trying to get me hired is retiring, and the new boss is understandably busy getting her feet under her.  It’s going to be months before they open the position up.  Honestly, I’ll apply if I’m still here.

But I’m tired of waiting.  So it’s time to move on.  To where, though, is the question. Running away is bad, but running toward is good.  I’ll post that on Monday.

Bill Farrar
Bill Farrar
Full stack developer with over 20 years in web technologies and over 30 years as a software engineer and designer. Senior systems analyst and team lead, spending time running projects and mentoring peers.