Incompatible with contracting
My eleventh JavaOne conference (11 = 10 + 1, 2004 to 2014) was splendid. It was worth attending this event and meeting all the people involved in the community. Now here comes the gentleman’s but. My attendance came at some cost beyond the financial obvious, hotel and plane ticket. It appears going to conferences are seriously incompatible with the motivations around business of contracts. One cannot have freedom and escape obligation to professional work. Despite, all of the knowledge that we have learned as professional developers, designers and architects, if your client requires you to be on site and you are not around, it can be taken that attending conferences like JavaOne 2014 in certain minds is taken as an illustrious and salubrious adventure for your own benefit. On the hand this is fair assessment, a client pays a contractor to be available, around for a burning need, and it is balanced with team work, morale; and deadline and commitments. At the back of mind, there are two schools of thought. One way is not to care too much about clients, but then a contractor will find they have a devalued reputation and lack of repeat business. The other way is never to take time off or away from project work for a client and then rely on contracts ending or finishing exactly before or after a major conference like JavaOne.
So what to do in 2015? How can I resolve contracting and conferences? I believe the answer, obviously, to reduce the conferences that I actually attend to the minimum that I can unfortunately. It means that I will consider whether JavaOne 2015 is going to be viable or not.
The keynote question and answer session with a Twitter hashtag, #j1qa, which obviously has long expired, featuring John Rose(far left), James Gosling (inner left), Brian Goetz (middle), Brian Oliver (inner left) and Charles Nutter (far right). The chair was Mark Reinhold.
Ten years ago, when I worked investment banking in the good times. I could pretty much rely on 6 months J2EE contracts lasting as long as that term. At Credit Suisse bank, I managed six month contract renewals at a breeze as long as I perform and finished project work on time. In 2014, the climate is more restrictive, the pressure on high profile projects and the uncertainty of business means that contracts lengths are typically 3 months to start with and that cannot guarantee renewals, and if you think that permanent employment solves the dilemma then you are incorrect.
A contract is a temporary and by definition that implies a contractor is treated as a temporary resource, but a permanent person can also be removed at short notice in the United Kingdom, if you have less than two years with the employer. When you think that the typical IT employment last about two to three years before somebody changes job, then you can see even permanent people have to be extremely careful with their holiday planning and entitlement. Yes you are entitled 25 days or more, but if you fail to give forewarning and mess around with the program delivery managers project plan too much, don’t be surprise if a ton of bricks eventually comes tumbling down.
Frustrating as it is, and still more than year from the next JavaOne conference, the next one is late October 2015, from Sunday 25th to Thursday 29th, I can’t say with real confidence that I will be there. I will, of course, submit some Calls For Papers, when the time approaches, but it will be dependent on client requirements if I can attend or not. If I do attend, then I probably cannot stick around California and see friends. Even for the UK and European conferences, I can only see trouble ahead with more conflicts. I already decided that I will not be at Devoxx in Belgium. There are also issues when the conference planning is late, the confirmations are validated less than three months before the event, project managers are already looking at their schedules for resourcing and if a contractor is going to disappear, then they are more easily replaced with somebody who will be around to fix their present pain, which is what work is more often than not about. I have found that client’s typical do not have the attitude of kindness, it is about the budget and time. That’s is the way the business world is running now, and the only conference speakers who can give up the time as the developer advocates, the people who paid to speak or promote at conferences. Independents are finding it harder and there will be no improvement in this situation. I just can’t find seem to find that benevolent, technology loving and business client, who understand me for what I am 🙁
Addendum: Earlier this year, I attempted a campaign: ITMustChange2014, I think it definitely failed in this regard.