Saturday, 22 June 2013

Referrals - How to Make Big Money in IT

"It is often said that hard work is a necessary condition for success. But it is rarely questioned whether it alone is sufficient. Hardwork iff Success?"
-My question to you, reader.

I know, I know, the title looks like a cheap advertisement line straight out of a self help book. And the meaning of big money is different for everyone, to me, a hundred bucks is pretty big money.  This entry will be most interesting to IT professionals who do contracts on the side and have a few good friends who are into the same thing. If you've established a reputation as a craftsman in your area, in real-life and even more importantly - online (e.g. on ODesk) then you'll come to a point when the problem is not getting the work, but having time to do it.

My area of expertise is creating complete (from login, product selection, checkout and all the way to the fulfillment system) e-commerce solutions for small to medium size companies. It is a good niche as existing solutions such as IBM WebSphere Commerce or Magento Commerce cost too much and require very skilled developers to extend and maintain (I can vouch on WebSphere, as I had a chance to work on it. Its great when you know what you're doing, but unless you've been working on it for years and your Dojo and JS (frontend) is in tip-top shape, as well as your understanding of JSP, JSF, EJB, data services, underlying DB (DB2/Oracle and uh oh, throw in OpenLaszlo for Management Center in there as well) is stellar AND you have an idea how this all fits together, its not going to go well. Thats why majority of work on WebSphere Commerce goes back to IBM, companies who buy the solution cannot extend functionality in a way that they need due to such a large knowledge and skill gap of their inhouse developers.

Back to the story - along came a situation where I was already working on a medium sized project ($5000), but was introduced to a client who required a project done in two months max, worth $15000-$20000. I couldn't dump the one I was already working on, yet I would very much like any additional money I could get. The way I went around the situation was referring the client to a friend in the industry who I could vouch for, for an agreed 10% cut of the fee (snooping around I found out that the standard referral fee in the industry is 5% though, so you should adjust your expectations on that). Once the project was done I pocketed $2000-something doing around 2-3 hours of work in total, and established a stronger business link with a colleague. Long story short, everybody profits with referrals, since next time its me who might have free time on his hands. Essentially, becoming a middleman like that is a way of extracting money from your network, and should push us all to expand and strengthen our networks (on effective ways to go about that I recommend you read "Making it Big in Software" by Sam Lightstone...and no I'm not getting any money on advertising Sam's work :)).

Yorkville St - Toronto nightlife doesn't get any more pretentious than this

I know I haven't blogged for a while, been busy with a side project I'm currently working on. The good thing is that after half a year of work I'm finally seeing some returns on it, and if I'm lucky its going to be my path to financial freedom.

As you might know yesterday was the last Friday Night Live at ROM this year. Decided might as well walk out my girl and see whats it about. The line was enormous but eventually we got in. The educational value of ROM to me was nill, but overall, I liked the pseudo-educational experience, rum-and-coke certainly helps absorb the works of the times past. A few people from the 30s crowd, but lots of hot, classy tail as well, just the way I like it (sadly I could only be a passive observer for the night). Mostly white and asian chicks, a few indian girls were present as well. Multiple pairs/triplets of girls, perfect if you know how to work that. Last call was at 11pm, and after that its pretty much time to roll out so we decided to hop to another joint.

Walked up to yorkville st to look for a restaurant/club to spend the rest of the night with my girl, and holy crap I was blown away. First of all, in all my years enjoying Toronto nightlife (since 2007 that is), I've never been on this street. The only reason we went here was because it was walking distance to the ROM. This place has the highest correlation of pretentious douches (its envy talking, I still love you mfkers :)) and sluts in Toronto. The guy in a maserati shouting YOLO to sluts on the sidewalk really took the prize (they actually responded positively...and yours truly can assure you a maserati is not necessary for a positive reaction in that approach, a newish 600 series bimmer can suffice). No holds barred, this place is the biggest collection of ballers (the true ballers, not the budget ones) I've seen, any self respecting and decent looking gold digger needs to add this hood to her map.

Had a glass of wine at Ciao, overall, great place, and not "too" overpriced. This is my drunk self judging so your experience will vary. To conclude - if you don't have a bottom-less wallet, and want less competition party on Bloor between Bathurst and Spadina, or roll to King St West. Younger and more gullible girls means higher chances for you to score.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Boomers' Retirement Plan - its Us Yuppies

The landlady came by the other day to pick up rent. Had a nice long chat with her...asked me if everything is alright and if I plan on buying a place of my own anytime soon. ``Advised`` me that is too early to buy at my age, and I'd better stick to renting from her (not that I would expect any other advice, or have any other course of action). Also told me about her deadbeat 40-something son with a failing business in Saratosa, Florida...I politely inquired about how is he able to live in such an expensive city on the gulf if he's not bringing in any money. Turns out he's living at one of their properties there, so it must be smooth sailing failing business or not. Apart from that, they got 2 more rental condos in Toronto. Living the dream, if they wouldn`t be so close to kicking the bucket.

My writing might have a bitter taste to it, and I do notice it seeping through. Back in 1989 my family bought a townhouse in Edmonton...for a meagre (relatively speaking) price of ~$55k. Thats with my dad bringing in ~$40k/yr at the time. The difference between the landlady and my family is that we didn't have an aim to become landlords or perhaps have not recognized the opportunity at the time. Now I'm wondering how is it possible for any young professional to buy their own 1-2 ($350k-$450k in a good area) bedroom condo in Toronto (not even considering a townhouse/house atm) without being a slave to the bank for the next 10-20 years. If you're interested to see some calculations on the topic, I got some in a previous post. In short, buying my own condo would leave me with savings of $121 left per month, for the next 10 years, which isn't exactly pretty. So of course, I, as countless others, rent from the boomers who were able to capitalize on the opportunities in the 80s and before that. They don`t need to rely on their retirement savings, invest in stocks or bonds, create businesses or do anything at all. They already got their best investment in front of them - its us yuppies.

I consider myself quite well off for my age, I have a nearly new econobox car, can afford to get out, dress well, treat the girls, engage in personal projects, went on a vacation last year. But I can`t help but be disillusioned when I can`t even come ``home`` at night and that I`m not a person but a high yield bond. In feudal system the term would be a serf. Maybe I`m overly ambitious...but is having a place of your own a grand ambition?

If any other yuppies would like to pitch in their thoughts, you`re more than welcome too.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Working for Free

This is a short post about exactly what the title says - working for free. I can't say I often thought about whats it like to work for free (probably because I've never done it), until a couple of weeks ago. Our intern asked me to help fill out his hours in the new reporting system, and voila, my eyes wander to the "RATE" field. I don't know if I could contain my surprise (as well and disappointment and bitterness) when I saw that the guy's rate was a grand of $0.00/hour. Yup, for four months he was putting in good work for us, for FREE. The funny thing is, whats the point of putting in the hours if you're not getting paid for them?! Oh well...I guess someone else gets billed for them and somebody higher and mightier gets paid for them.

How is it even possible to to live in Toronto, go for coffee breaks and for drinks with your coworkers while not getting paid. You have to be really well off to afford to do that. And yet I wonder, how many other people are here in this city, getting fucked up the ass their work experience this way. Doing work and hoping that after they'll be able to land a real job here or elsewhere. But what are they gonna fill out on their job application?

 Shitty Corp. Sept/12-Dec/12 $0.00/hour, requested rate: x/hour?

Is the recruiter really gonna consider giving them that x/hour, or say - "aha, another sucker! We'll start this one on the bottom."

Maybe its just that I believe that people should be fairly compensated for their work, and its not part of the neomodernist thinking (yeah I made that term up), but I can't understand this system. How can this fraud just continue going on and on, people giving their time, and hence their life, for "experience". Unpaid internships/volunteer positions demand real effort, dedication and time but give back no real compensation. Such scams just should not exist in this day and age.

Friday, 2 November 2012

$30/hour is Nothing in Toronto

"There are three ways to make money. You can inherit it. You can marry it. You can steal it."
- Italian Proverb

I've chosen the least popular, but the most common of all, to work for it. After all its hard to think anything else when you hear “The max I can give you is $30/hour”. Thats how much I was worth to them with nearly two years of internships and a year of consultancy at a start up (e-commerce development, e-commerce over mobile devices) before being bought out and given the boot. That’s how much a large corp. values a young professional in Toronto. And hence, the name of this entry "$30/hour is Nothing in Toronto".

A friend of mine recently asked for help on a placement aptitude test with a Big Co. in Markham. This reminded me of my own interview with Big Co. that had occurred over a year ago, ironically the test I had to take was called "identify the best". In my mind it was difficult for me to tie being identified as the best, but being offered a barely average wage. This was a software development position (involving, besides that: consulting, onsite client work, customer outreach). Did I mention unpaid overtime? If you want to guess the corp - think the really big one with high turn over rate and slow invisible workforce cuts. Either way, have you ever noticed how time slows down when you feel the adrenaline from getting a job offer? In bare seconds (perhaps even faster if you've been out of work for a while) you can weight all the pros and cons, and the decision seems apparent without any conscious calculation at all.

Lets see, excluding (largely useless benefits and miserable 2 week/yr vacation time): 
$30 per hour = $62,400 per year = 0.78($62,400) = $48,672 after tax/per year. $4,056/month. Lets say we forget RRSP and all that bull.

Here's a table of monthly expenses that went through my mind of how far that amount can get me, with current arrangements highlighted.

With Parents Rent 2bdr Condo with a Roomate Rent 1bdr Condo by Myself Buy a 2bdr Condo (Mortgage + Fees + Utilities)
Living Arrangements $0 $750 $1,300 $2,500
Food $0 $400 $400 $400
Car Insurance $300 $300 $300 $300
Gas $200 $200 $200 $200
Cable + Cell Phone $40 $80 $80 $80
Entertainment* $500 $300 $300 $300
Activities (Gym, Group Classes) $155 $155 $155 $155
Total Expenses $1,195 $2,185 $2,735 $3,935
Left over $2,861 $1,871 $1,321 $121
* Entertainment expenses would be higher if I had to move back with parents, meaning hotel fees on lucky nights.

Are there any objections to any of the above being necessary for proper life for a guy in his 20s? I mean, not just surviving, I am sure its possible to survive on $10/h, everyone who serves coffee in Timmies does, but living life. Being able to live in a nice place in a decent area, being independent of the public transit system (essential, unless your date is an artsy enviromentalist and thats how you get her to the restaurant), progressing physically and mentally, enjoying the night life this city has to offer (one of the few upsides in toronto, imo). I am not demanding anything outrageous like financing a new M5/S5, with a grand/month just for that and another one for insurance, what I am demanding is being able to live in the first world, and not in a third world within the first world. Being able to get up everyday and tell to myself what a wonderful new day it is, instead of dreading another 24 hours of drudgery.

I am not even asking for a proper wage to get on the property ladder in this city, which is impossible for anyone but trust fund babies and lottery winners. Selling myself to the bank for 30 years is not a consideration obviously. Check out FML Listings for "gold nuggets" of Toronto's real estate market and how much they go for, and tell me if its realistic for a young professional to get a place of his own in this city.

Am I demanding? Yes. Privileged? No. Requiring the employer to pay what you're worth is not a privilege, its an option which should be a right. Unfortunately the majority of friends I keep in touch with (from the uni days, not the startup days, these two groups are entirely different in ability and character) hold a different opinion - the man with the money is king and any scraps of the table are good enough. The sucker for punishment attitude never got anyone anywhere except to the bottom.

I wondered, how long would it take me to save at that rate (assuming raises at big co just keep up with inflation) to save for a 25% downpayment on a $350,000 2bdrm condo? Thats an optimisitic price on the outskirts of the city. On the younge line, a 2bdrm condo goes for $450,000 on first bid, check out It would take 46 months. Nearly 4 years to switch from renting with room-mates to being a mortgage slave for the next 10 years with $121 in my pocket at the end of the month. Now try telling me that $30/hour is something in Toronto.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Filipina Caregivers are Sеx Slavеs for Canadian Seniors

Disclaimer: this article might make you depressed and lose hope in humanity. I included something to lift the spirit at the end!

First of all this entry is not some out of control aspect of my imagination, this entry grounded in reality. How often do you see a young Filipina caregiver with some old wrinkled senior about to kick the bucket? Do you think their relationship is solely professional? Let me tell of you of a discussion I had with a Filipina who works in the industry during my flight to the Germany.

This summer finally managed to get the time and throwaway cash to visit my relatives in my partial historic homeland, Ukraine (the topic of 2nd generation immigrants will be explored later, too many gold nuggets there to describe them all here). Transfer through Frankfurt, OK. Got a seat next to two ladies, a Filipino and a Russian. Eventually they start to chat amongst each other, I listen in, the Filipina is very talkative. Turns out they both take care of seniors here in Canada, will try to summarize the Filipina’s experience below:

Came to Canada on an agreement, tied to one company. Working 6 days/week, practically no breaks, full day caregiver work. Cooking, cleaning, watching them take their meds. First assigned to some 90 yrs old, senile guy of Georgian/Jewish/Georgian-Jew descent, she never figured it out. His son is a cop (the kicker is coming later), wants nothing to do with daddy. On the very first day told her he loved her, tried to snuggle up to her, was attempting to kiss her arm. Barely got him to stop by threatening him with his walking stick. As time goes the senile fuck is coming onto her stronger and stronger. One morning wouldn’t eat till she promised him she’ll sleep with him that night. Told me she did that cause he’s so senile he wouldn’t remember what you tell him five minutes later. That night, he did remember (she stays over at his apartment to monitor the guy). Imagine that, you’re sleeping after a hard days, ungrateful work when some 250lb shit plops at you. That’s what she felt. Pushed him off, the guy falls on the ground, isn’t moving. Thought she killed him.

                                         There is no stopping horny old men!

Eventually he gets up, and starts “chasing” her all over his apartment. Remember, its dark as fuck, she didn’t turn on the lights. The whole night she spent crawling from under table to table as he was poking under with his walking stick trying to get her out.

She told us she did talk to the old fuck’s son afterwards, and guess what – he paid her $250 for her additional “help and troubles”, and that was that. Bravo copper! Not that I realistically would expect him to take any action against his own father, but still. To be honest, I was chuckling when I listened to her story, but imagine the fear she felt.... Maybe the title “Filipina Caregivers are Sеx Slavеs for Canadian Seniors” is a bit exaggerated, but it is not a longshot extrapolation from this incident. Things like these are rarely discussed and more often than not sweeped under the carpet since they don’t have equal rights and protections. Modern day slavеry. When I get a bit more time, I’ll write an entry concerning different immigrant groups, and their overall treatment by this society, since being on both sides of the fence, I am quite qualified to write on that topic.

To finish on a positive note, if you're looking for a nice hot caregiver, I'd check out our own local Canadian ones, right here, on Nanny Services. Just search 21-26 age range.

Here are my picks:
                                  Erin, you better have stripper pole at your place for this one!
                                 Alison. (Eur)Asian persuasion style? No doubt great massages                                                   alternating with delicious Limburgish vlaai desserts.
Kelsie: a village girl with a heart and very likely some other special skills.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Drunk Driving Corrects Declining First World Birth Rates

For my first blog entry I wanted to share something personal, yet relevant to all. Today being the morning after some crazy Halloween parties, the topic I want to share is the one of drunk driving.This isn’t just an entry about how pouring down 3 heinekens and 2 shots of grey goose helps you get pussy at the weekend rave, or intercept it when its mindlessly walking around at 2 am, trying to hail a cab. It goes further than that. I am exploring the societal aspects of drunk driving.

The supposed cons of drunk driving are well know – getting yourself and/or someone else killed, but how come noone has stated the hidden societal benefits?! That, ladies and gentlemen is because we live in a nation where politically correct cowardice and do-(little)-gooder attitude prevails. I’m gonna state an argument which might sound absurd at first look but is sound – drunk driving helps, not retards the population growth rate. Let me follow up with a short personal anecdote….

On a cold November night my mates and yours truly went downtown Toronto to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Obviously drinking heavily to shrug the cold, not noticing the amounts while enjoying the good camaraderie. Had an amazing time at the Bier Market, then walking around King st getting in a few shots of good rum mixed with coffee. Everyone’s having a great time, except the birthday boy had too much and needs some food from a local MCd. Leave him there with the rest of corp. and take a buddy of mine to go look for the car. Don’t remember where I parked, miss it completely, and keep walking up on Spadina. We catch up to two girls, I blurt out – “Are you girls having a good night?”. One (first rate – pretty face, slim physique, jacket covering up to the butt, nylons) stops and laughingly says yes, the other (second rate) pulls her away. Long story short, we did stop them and convinced to go for some food together (2:30 am already). Gave them a lift to second rate’s home (parents home unfortunately), the chick took my number, called me up n I got hers. Arranged to meet for drinks next weekend.

Meet them for drinks, fun double date, drinking games, lots of fun info exchanged (they slept together last weekend, and share a bed every time they stay over at second rate’s), make out, petting.  Decide to go to take a walk in a park to get the booze out, first rate and myself lose my buddy and second rate. No answer from my buddy, guessing he’s already in on the 2nd rate. My girl and I go to the car, crazy kino while walking, she wants it bad. Takes off her shoes, nylons, starts coming on to me, I take her bra off…rdy to go but my little friend isn’t up for performing right now. Decide to drive her to a hotel and enjoy some good time together.

Long story short – drunk dick not responding to advances of this sweety, plastic is definitely in the way. Decide to just sleep it off and do it in the morning. Wake up in the middle of the night (probably more like early morning), head full of booze, but the bayonet is ready. Fuck her on and off till morning, no condoms, nothing. Drive her home in the morning, never answered my calls afterwards.
Moral of the story: possibly one more person added to this planet and this country’s miserable birth rate slightly corrected. For every person who dies in DUI, more are born because of it. Another counterproductive, silly law debunked.

T.O. Denizen out