Fair programmer market value

I sometimes get asked “As a programmer, how much is my per hour rate?” or in another form “What’s my market value?”

The simple answer to this is that your market value is whatever price you agree to get paid for. That sounds like very passive so I’ll rephrase it.

Some people would say I'm overpaid, but I'm not. I'm paid exactly what the market will bear, which means I'm paid what I'm worth. - s2e04
Some people would say I’m overpaid, but I’m not. I’m paid exactly what the market will bear, which means I’m paid what I’m worth. – s2e04

Anything’s value, according to a market, is the highest price someone is willing to buy it at and the lowest price someone is willing to sell it at. It’s what we call the market clearance.

Your value is whatever price you agree to sell yourself at. If your price is above market clearance, then you might be overpriced. If your price is below the market clearance, then you are underpriced.

I would argue that on a personal level, the market clearance should not matter much on fields where there are massive demand and not enough supply (e.g. programmers). The market can usually bear the price.

Then the matter of market value becomes agreeing upon a price and that increasing your market value is simply agreeing to a price higher than your current.

Setting a higher price is simple, but not easy. What makes it so hard to ask for more?

Of cats and cups

Everything in this world is a duality. It’s both something and nothing, ethical and unethical, rational and irrational, good and bad.

The secret to happiness and success is by realizing that the world is both black and white and that humans interpret which shade of gray it is.

The cup is both alive and dead and the cat half-empty and half-full.

It’s not just money.

I don’t really want to post this because I believe that people do not deserve to hear about other people’s drama but I think it’s just gotten really unbearable for me. So, bear with me.

It’s been more than half a year now and I’m near broke again. This is the 5th time this year, I think. I don’t know, I’ve lost count.

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9 Things to keep in mind when making a decision

I’ve had the ‘privilege’ to make some difficult decisions in my life (with more to come). Some of them were decisions that brought me a lot of opportunities. Some of them were mistakes that I just have to live with. Regardless, I don’t have a lot of regrets.

Here are some of the things I try to keep in mind when I make a decision:

  1. Good data does not guarantee a good decision.
  2. You will always have incomplete information.
  3. Always take into account opportunity cost.
  4. A true binary option decision is rare. Look for a third option.
  5. Not deciding is a decision in itself. At least acknowledge that you’re deciding to not decide.
  6. You make the best decision based on all available information that you have and then face the consequences, good or bad.
  7. Good or bad is in the eye of the beholder.
  8. No decision is really final. Even supreme court decisions can be overturned.
  9. You are human. You’ll make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself too much.

Mac OS X: How to change your network settings based on Wifi SSID

Ever since I’ve seen Mac OS’s Location profiles (I think it was 2007), I’ve been wondering why the hell GNU/Linux didn’t have something like that. It was really convenient.

About a year after (maybe), Ubuntu switched to using NetworkManager which had something better: network profiles tied to the wifi network. Now I’m on Mac, I’ve been wondering why doesn’t Mac do that?

Good thing that the Internet fixes this.

I found this script through this SuperUser question.

Install it via Terminal by:

cd ~
git clone https://github.com/rimar/wifi-location-changer.git
cd wifi-location-changer
cp locationchanger /usr/local/bin
cp LocationChanger.plist ~/Library/LaunchAgents/
launchctl load ~/Library/LaunchAgents/LocationChanger.plist

If you don’t have git, you can copy the scripts below and save them in the paths provided with respective filenames:
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Personal Finance: The software that I use

I’ve talked about the personal finance wisdom I’ve picked up so far and as I’ve said, you can’t improve things you don’t keep track of.

“But keeping track of finances is hard!” you say.

Yes, indeed; but with the help of software (or four), I’ve managed to keep track of all of my expenses for the past year without fail.

1) Good ole’ Spreadsheet
Nothing beats the good ole’ spreadsheet. I use this to keep track of my credit card. I’ve devised of a system on how I pay for my credit card in a way that allows me to pay for certain items in particular. This means, the amount I pay to my credit card is exactly the cost of one (or more) items. When I pay my credit card Php 2,433.45, it was for 6 different things I’ve bought 3 months ago. This way, I avoid the anxiety of not knowing what I’m paying for, and this helps me keep track what exactly I’m using my credit card on.

2) Toshl
This is, by far, the easiest software I’ve used on mobile. It really helps me record my expenses the moment I make them or shortly right after. I’m on Pro, as I need the multiple incomes, but the free tier is plenty useful by itself.

3) Splitwise
If Toshl helps me keep track of my expenses, Splitwise helps me keep track of personal debt. I know who owes me and exactly how much. I also know who I owe and exactly how much.

It’s made our – me and my roommates – lives easier. Someone’s paid the electricity? Record it in Splitwise. Someone’s bought groceries? Splitwise. When someone sees their debt ballooning, they pay in cash and record it in Splitwise.

I also use this to keep track of reimbursements, along with a spreadsheet.

4) YNAB
This was a new addition. Recently, my expenses now closely track my income which means I don’t get to save as I did before. On top of that, my savings has been wiped out because of an emergency. So, I needed to budget and budget well. But more than the software, what’s more useful is YNAB’s methodology. The methodology takes some time getting used to as it’s an entirely different mindset on how to approach budgeting. Good thing that the software makes applying the methodology really easy. The full price is pretty steep though (USD 60), but it’s an investment.

YNAB is pretty redundant with Toshl, but I like the ease of use of Toshl so I’m keeping both. I just consolidate Toshl’s entries at the end of the day and record it on YNAB in consolidated categories.

That’s about it. I’ll talk about my workflow and how I manage this mess of numbers in the next post.

7 Personal finance wisdom from a 20-something

Ha! Bait title!

Here are some sound personal finance wisdom I’ve picked up along the way, in no particular order.

1) Don’t fly a ship you can’t afford to replace.
From Eve Online (aka Spreadsheets in space) and is probably the first thing older players will tell new players. Basically, if you can’t afford to buy two of the thing, don’t buy one in the first place. It’s a good rule to live by, which is precisely why it’s hard to live by.

2) An asset is something that puts money in your pocket. A liability is something that takes money out of your pocket.
From Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. If there’s anything in the book you should take away, this is it. It is an oversimplification but it should be enough for quick assessments when you’re not sure if a thing is an asset or a liability. If an “investment” doesn’t pass this acid test, then it’s most likely a liability, no matter how persuasive the salesperson in front of you is.

3) Only budget money you currently have.
Rule number 1 of YNAB. (I’m currently on the free trial, hoping for a discount in the next 7 days.) You only get to spend money that you do have. No matter how it feels, credit card is not free money.

4) You can’t improve things you don’t keep track of.
Mostly related to weight loss and exercise, but totally applicable in personal finance. How can you budget properly if you don’t know where you’re spending your money?

5) Income – Savings = Expenses
As opposed to Income = Expenses + Savings. This highlights that you should set aside for savings first, before spending the rest of your money.

6) Cheap, Fast, Easy/Good: Pick 2.
This is true for software projects and this is true just about anywhere. Realize that people will be willing to pay if you can either save them time or save them effort.

7) Opportunity cost and sunk cost
I’ve written about opportunity cost. Sunk cost goes like this: I gave you Php 100 and you spent Php 20. Any future spending decision should be made as if I just gave you Php 80. The Php 20 you spent is now irrelevant. Sunk cost is interesting because keeping this concept in mind helps remove emotions from any financial decision.

These are principles I’ve put into place, mentally, such that when I have to make a financial decision, I only need to consult these principles and see if spending on something is compatible with my internal spending principles. There are loopholes in there if you look close enough, but for most of the time, these will suffice.

Up next, I’ll write about the tools that I use to keep track of my finances.

Freedom within boundaries

I eat whatever I want, as long as it fits my calorie and nutrient goals.
I can spend on things I like, as long as it fits my budget.
I can do whatever I want, as long as I do things that I should.

It’s a bit counterintuitive with the common definition of freedom, but it is pretty freeing.

Legend of Mana: A story about love

Legend of Mana just popped into my head lately. I re-read the storyline again [1] and I was like “Holy sh*t, this game had a really cool storyline.”

It was about love, and all its beauty and nastiness. It was a pretty mature take on a topic as cliched as they come. I sort of got to relate to it back then, but I was too immature to really appreciate the message.

In retrospect, it was easy enough to lose the storyline as you get involved in the minutiae of killing monsters, picking up exp/gold/items and solving puzzles. The grind to this game was really endless.

Gameplay-wise, it was pretty unique. The battle system was kind of like a side-scrolling beat ‘em up. It was also the first time I encountered farming, pet making/raising, and item crafting in just one game. I haven’t seen anything quite like it in recent times.

I’ll probably get around to buying a PS3 within this year because of this.

[1] http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/256525-legend-of-mana/60846866

WARNING: SPOILERS!

Simply put, and fairly obvious given the introduction speech, this game is about love. More specifically, its about both the positive and negative effects of love, and if it is worth the struggle to bring love back in to the world.

This is first hinted at in the introduction with the story of the Mana Tree burning down and mankind growing afraid of love. The purpose of the game is then given with the line “I am love! Find me, and walk beside me.” Thus you begin your quest to bring love back into the world.

Now, rather than just bring love back in, the Mana Goddess apparently decides that you need to see all sides of love, good and bad, before you can make the decision to bring it back. This is the purpose of the three major story arcs that you must complete- each one is an example of the dangers of one specific type of love. Listed below are the three arcs and the aspect of love they best represent.

The Fairy Arc- Romantic Love
The main focus of this arc is the romantic relationship between Matilda and Irwin, and the resulting havoc it wreaks on the world. Nearly all of Irwin’s destructive actions are based on his relationship with Matilda, from stealing her power to Matilda refusing to stop him because she loves him and respects his decision, even if it means the end of the world. Irwin sums it up nicely at the end when he says he needs to be freed “from a spell named Matilda”.

The Dragon Arc- Familial Love
In contrast, the conflict in this story arc arises from Larc desiring to be reunited with his sister, Sierra. The sole purpose of him helping to bring Draconis back into power is so that he can once again walk the mortal world, even if it means threatening the world with destruction. Finally, at the conclusion of the quest line, he decides to suffer through his punishment, even if it greatly delays his reunion with his sister.

The Jumi Arc- Communal Love
The Jumi arc is probably the most complicated, but best implemented, symbol of the harmful effects of love. Prior to the beginning of this quest, Florina had been sacrificing her own life for the benefit of her people. Had this continued, there would have been no conflict. However, Sandra, who had a close relationship with Florina, grew to hate the Jumi for sacrificing someone she loved for their own survival, and kidnapped her. Enter the hero, who, after the quest is completed, sacrifices his/her own life out of love for the survival of the Jumi. The consequences of this sacrifice are brought home to the audience when they see Bud and Lisa’s response to the hero’s supposed demise.

Other than these three arcs, this theme is referred throughout the game by many different characters *cough*POKHIEL*cough*. Once the character witnesses one of these arcs, the path to the final test opens.

The final battle of the game is merely a symbol of the character deciding that Fa’Diel is once again ready to welcome love to the world, despite the darkness that it brings. The character’s fight with the Mana Goddess’s “dark half” shows that life is once again ready to embrace love. I think the Mana Goddess’s final speech is the best way to conclude this, so I’ll leave it in more capable hands :-D

I am the light. I am the darkness. Half of myself is what you have fought in the past. I create, I destroy, and I create again. I am love. Not all of me is just. Not all of me is pure. That is only half of myself. Those who desire my other half cross their swords. People’s freedom is lost, and my truth is buried. I shall show you my darkness. You must defeat me. You will become a hero. Open the path to those who search for me.

Standing on escalators

In Ayala, there’s this escalator that always pisses me off.
Not so much because it’s a one-lane escalator (in Ayala!), but because inevitably
there’s going to be someone who’ll stop walking and thus forcing everyone
to just stand there and wait.

“Maybe, she’s just tired.”
“Maybe, his legs hurt.”
“Maybe, she’s having girly pains.”

Oh the thoughts that I force myself to think to calm myself down.

Then the slow ride is over and I’m calmed down.

Good thing that the next platform has twin, dual lane escalators.
Then somebody stands in the left lane of the “fast lane” elevator.

Rage.