Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, August 26, 2022

Four Things

Here are some useful and interesting things from a recent review of web pages I bookmarked and tagged for later review.

1. Although Steve Friedl's classic guide titled "So You Want to Be a Consultant" is written from an IT support perspective, I think almost anyone who does (or wants to do) freelance work should go through it. (And I don't think it would be far-fetched to say much of this applies to any kind of trading relationship.)

Perhaps the most important theme in the 11,000-or-so-word piece is the importance of building and maintaining good relationships with your customers, which I see as an application of fact that there are no conflicts of interests among rational men.

The piece is clearly written and sometimes employs anecdotes from the author's long and varied experience. Consider this one:

I was brought in by a new customer to evaluate another consultant's work. I found him to be technically competent, but the customer felt he was too secretive and generally difficult to work with.

So they could get rid of him, they asked me for a proposal to provide around 20 hours/week of consulting, and even at a discounted rate it would have been good work: it was a very slow time for me.

But during my evaluation I met a low-level guy on the help desk, and it was apparent fairly quickly that he was the perfect guy for the job. He was young, but he had good training, good experience, and had simply been smothered by the other consultant and not allowed to grow in his position.

During the meeting with the customer, I told them they did not need me: they would get much better service for much less money by using their own staff. They were flabbergasted to hear this, but it turned out to be exactly the right advice for them.

I understand they have been thrilled with Joe. [emphasis in original]
Friedl follows up with an short explanation on why this was good for him and his customer, long-range:
I lost the project, but gained a reference and helped a very nice young man take a big step early in his career. And you never know when one of those managers may go elsewhere and need the services of a consultant who's demonstrated that he looks out for his customers.
This he follows with one of his consulting maxims, which are all pithy, memorable, and worth taking in at some point.

2. Being an avid fan of open source software, I have long kept an ear to the ground for the arrival of a phone operating system that isn't Android or iOS. One candidate I happened upon recently is called /e/.

The review had a promising-enough title: "An Android Alternative For Mobile Phones." But my one-line review of the review is, "/e/ is an open-source phone OS with the wrong emphasis."

That emphasis is "unGoogling," that is, removing or disabling code that sends data to Google servers and offering non-Google default services, including for search.

I'm more interested in having better control over what my phone does than worried about whatever snooping Google might do, so switching to /e/ would make little sense for me. It might for you, and it is good to know that there are Android forks out there that people are able to use without much difficulty.

Image by Ashkan Forouzani, via Unsplash, license.
3. On the subject of phones, I have one with a broken screen on my hands that I am done with. I can't tell what it's doing as a result, so I have no way to wipe it or to tell if I have done so.

If you ever find yourself in such a situation, you may want to peruse "What to Do With a Broken Phone to Keep Your Data Safe.

4. Pandemic knock-on effects had me home with my kids for most of the last half of the summer. Wanting to make the most of school being back in session and to establish a rhythm, I recalled a phrase I'd heard in a Cal Newport podcast.

That phrase is "Fixed-Schedule Productivity," and although the idea is simple, Newport comes up with lots of very helpful elaborations I wouldn't have thought of. I experimented with it this week and am going back through his post on the subject before I plan next week.

-- CAV

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