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Old 20-07-2012, 13:43   #1
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Software Development While Living Aboard

The best job I ever had was creating a data base application for some one in Antigua, while sitting on my boat in St Thomas Harbor.

My wife met this fellow at the grocery store who said he needed some computer help, We met at a restaurant in St Johns where he described the problem. I wrote an application in his office for a couple of weeks. After I left he wrote me and asked for some more features. I did these feature additions while on the boat in St Thomas, burned a CD and Fed-Exed it to him. He paid me enough money to keep me criusing for a couple of months.

I thought, now if only I could get another gig like this... My question is "are there any of you out there doing this" and "how do you get your jobs?"

Thanks
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Old 25-07-2012, 11:00   #2
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Re: Software development while living aboard

The only problem with writing software on a boat is you have to double the number of 0's, as opposed to the 1's. They keep rolling overboard. (This is in contrast to writing software for naval aircraft...there, you need more 1's, because they are so skinny that the impact of carrier landings makes them drop out of the computer.)
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Old 25-07-2012, 11:10   #3
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Re: Software development while living aboard

My stuff was compiled so the ones and zeros looked different, after the compiler was through. It kept them battened down and on board.

The real problem was keeping the computer battery charged. The solar panel couldn't keep up so If I used the computer while on the boat and charged it from the electrical system, then I could not start the motor, didn't have a battery switch.
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Old 25-07-2012, 11:56   #4
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Re: Software development while living aboard

As a software developer (for almost 30 years), it seems like the perfect job for a cruising lifestyle -- stop in port, get assignments, make contacts, then work as you cruise (assuming you have people to help you run the boat). In a couple years I will have 1. solid web/java/server-side programming experience and 2. access to enough of my money to buy a boat. I'm hoping at that point I can pull this off. Maybe we need a worldwide floating consulting company.... there's got to be a lot of us. We just need someone with connections everywhere to bring in the short-term contracts in exotic locales.....
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Old 25-07-2012, 12:08   #5
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I am currently looking at getting in to mobile app design. The nice thing about writing iPhone apps is that you really can do it everywhere. I've got a few ideas, and who knows...
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Old 25-07-2012, 12:24   #6
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Re: Software development while living aboard

shhh... This is my plan (dream) as well. We want to keep this quiet since we don't want to flood the market with a ton of floating programmers!

My favorite job after college was writing software. In a few years when I partially retired and begin to sail full-time, I hope to write software again.

I am thinking about getting connected with some local consulting/contracting firms here in MN. Since I will be up here 4-6 months a year, I can build the contacts and work history with them. I hope to demonstrate that I can write a software remotely from the Caribbean.
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Old 25-07-2012, 19:52   #7
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Re: Software development while living aboard

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shhh... This is my plan (dream) as well. We want to keep this quiet since we don't want to flood the market with a ton of floating programmers!

My favorite job after college was writing software. In a few years when I partially retired and begin to sail full-time, I hope to write software again.

I am thinking about getting connected with some local consulting/contracting firms here in MN. Since I will be up here 4-6 months a year, I can build the contacts and work history with them. I hope to demonstrate that I can write a software remotely from the Caribbean.
As a MSP resident who is also a few years from possibly retiring, I think you need to keep me posted if this works out for you.

I've actually been considering Chesapeake Bay -- lots of defense contractors and high tech people and, from reading this board, some of the best sailing in the US.
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Old 25-07-2012, 20:37   #8
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Re: Software development while living aboard

my plan.
- currently writing a killer MVC SAAS app (just quit my stupid job working for self centered egocentric idiots, 4 weeks to go till 70hours a week on my IP, YAY !)
- have a business partner (GUI / Kendo expert) who isnt interested as yet in sailing the world
- contract 1st level support and more mundane jobs like data importing, CSS x-browser, mobile target design out
- sell system, build business and have an income generator while travelling (else sell the whole plot and start again doing something else on the boat)

I took my 6 and 8 year old to look at a 43ft cat the other day and they cant stop talking about wanting to buy a boat... another year (give or take) of 70 hours a week and woohoo
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Old 25-07-2012, 21:47   #9
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Re: Software development while living aboard

Start with trading ... will take you 10 years or so to get a working solution for yourself. But then you don't need anyone except your captain, cook and butler.
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Old 25-07-2012, 22:58   #10
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Re: Software development while living aboard

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will take you 10 years or so to get a working solution for yourself.
600 hours each so far and our first sale goes live in 2 weeks in a cut down form. 2nd at the end of august with 2nd release of functionality.

Agile development with ORM (Entity Framework), any solution that takes 10 years to get to market in this day and age is already going to be obsolete...
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Old 25-07-2012, 23:16   #11
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What's up with all us Minnesota programmers thinking the same thing! When we all leave "in a few years" to sail and code, they won't know what hit them.... :-)
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Old 25-07-2012, 23:43   #12
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Re: Software development while living aboard

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600 hours each so far and our first sale goes live in 2 weeks in a cut down form. 2nd at the end of august with 2nd release of functionality.

Agile development with ORM (Entity Framework), any solution that takes 10 years to get to market in this day and age is already going to be obsolete...
Ts ts ... always the same with these programmers. May be you haven't noticed but software development business will dramatically change in the future. That part in which you hope to benefit - technical knowledge - will be provided by cheap labor. Lets face it - basic computer science, application programming knowledge - not such a big thing and can be done by a lot of folks.

The real asset is the business knowledge - but how do you want to keep yourself up-to-date far off cruising ?

"Trading" = securities trading where your goal is to create weekly/monthly income. To master that takes a little bit longer then to google "how to connect jdbc oracle java sample code". But at the end - you are basically free ... I mean - really - really a free wo/man !

That being said from a IT dude which is/was in business since 1980ish.

To ALL : Forget it - unless you are lucky - there is just too much risk (one-man-show, limited avail., jump-the-boat) for the client. Further there are lots of companies out there providing such a service.
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Old 26-07-2012, 07:32   #13
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Re: Software Development While Living Aboard

@Zonker: You make some very good points. For sailing, passive income (investments) is always better than active income (working). I understand that the software industry has changed and will continue to change with off-shore development in low-cost countries becoming the norm.

My overall strategy is mixture of all of the above. I have significant investments that will provide a mix of capital growth and income. I plan to supplement this with real-estate investments for more steady passive income. In addition, I hope to do part-time software development for small, boutique firms. There are still an enormous amount of small and mid-sized companies being serviced by local IT consulting/contracting firms. I understand that my billing rate for the IT work will likely be lower than it was a few years ago. But I actually really enjoy the work. In all I think the strategy will enable me to begin this next phase of my life at the age of 55.
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Old 26-07-2012, 07:39   #14
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Re: Software Development While Living Aboard

The problem with trading or day trading is it requires a good internet connection. Some thing that it hard to get in Tortola, or the Pitcairn Islands. Especially difficult in mid-ocean.

Especially for my attitude, getting an assignment and then coding on the boat, in fair weather or some pleasant anchorage, then delivering it to the customer via ftp once I reach civilization would be better.

Of course as Zonker says anyone doing this work might compete with the low paid, highly educated hordes in other climes. So in order to be successful I'd need to have developed relationships with customers prior to setting off. They'd know from my previous performance that I deliver good quality software on time and with in their constraints. The problem comes once you leave site of land, and communication become sporadic, maintaining that good relationship.

Furthermore when its a choice between coding for 16 hours on the boat or swimming around in the reef, then sipping Mai Tais afterwards in the shade, it might be hard to be as consistent while cruising. :-)
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Old 26-07-2012, 19:43   #15
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Re: Software development while living aboard

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Ts ts ... always the same with these programmers. May be you haven't noticed but software development business will dramatically change in the future. That part in which you hope to benefit - technical knowledge - will be provided by cheap labor. Lets face it - basic computer science, application programming knowledge - not such a big thing and can be done by a lot of folks.
Sort of, without al least a competent person steering the development i shudder to think of the end result, the only thing you can rely on getting coders from o-desk is that they say and think they know more than they do... (well, thats pretty much true of all developers and perhaps people)

The $4.99/hr people with a doctorate in particle physics (recent application) usually aren't quite what they say.

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The real asset is the business knowledge - but how do you want to keep yourself up-to-date far off cruising ?
Very true, however i have years of experience and would be working with businesses all the time, hopefully it won't fall out my ears at the sight of an atoll.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zonker View Post
"Trading" = securities trading where your goal is to create weekly/monthly income. To master that takes a little bit longer then to google "how to connect jdbc oracle java sample code". But at the end - you are basically free ... I mean - really - really a free wo/man !

That being said from a IT dude which is/was in business since 1980ish.
To me that amounts to using capital to live off the world, i don't think i'd be happy just doing that even if i had the free capital to play with.

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To ALL : Forget it - unless you are lucky - there is just too much risk (one-man-show, limited avail., jump-the-boat) for the client. Further there are lots of companies out there providing such a service.
Easy answer, ally yourself with people who have an irrational fear of the ocean and want to pay off their house mortgage I probably won't be advertising that i'm on the other side of the world unless i can sell my product to cruisers...

If you make a product that is the same or has no benefits to the client then it won't be a success, this is true wherever you are.
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