(when all you want is a really smart software geek in a cube)

Maybe your project is fairly well organized but you just need someone to come along, take over a cube for a few weeks or months, and make the application work. You're reading all this business about critical this and that, and you're going sheesh, talk about pretentious! Is this guy going to come here and write some code or isn't he?

The answer is yes.

I love doing this! I'm really good at jumping into an existing team, figuring out your procedures, and completing features or resolving defects while making it all a bit easier for the next person.

What makes it work

You know the kind of developer who's all about the heads-down, slide-a-pizza-under-the-door, hacking all day and not talking to people? Doesn't want to answer questions? Resents having to deal with the suits?

Okay, that's not me. I'm more like the guy who, you know, you can drop by my cube to show me some ugly code and we'll refactor it together. Or I'll show you a couple different ways to solve a problem depending on how much time you have and how important the runtime performance is.

So what I'm saying here is there's some skills transfer going on. I don't hoard and I don't pick fights over details. Most departments, when I'm done with their project, report that they had fun working with me (and my stuffed animals) and learned a thing or two. I blog about this all the time.

The nuts and bolts

Windows and .NET

I've done lots of development with .NET, going back to the 1.0 days. Currently I'm using Visual Studio 2008 most of the time. Hardly anybody asks for C++ anymore, and VB is kind of a semi-legacy thing, so practically all my greenfield development on .NET is with C#.

WinForms and ASP.NET both. Not so much WPF and Silverlight yet.

Also, I just wrapped up migrating a cool scientific application, something very special-purpose used in about a dozen places in the world, from legacy VB to VB.NET with a sprinkling of C# in the new code.

Mark's work at [my organization] was always well thought out and usually exceeded customer expectations. His abiliy to translate client requirements into production-ready applications was an asset to my team. —Kathy Crowley, PMP


I especially love working in Open Source environments, and have always been down with all kinds of Unix systems. I actually ran a 0.99 Linux kernel back in the day... on a 40MHz 80386 CPU. (Great times.) Straight-up C code. I hacked around a little with the Cyclades multiport serial driver once. That was cool.

Remember when the first prominent rollouts of vertical-market Linux applications started hitting the hotel chains and retail stores? Two of the really big ones—those were mine. If you stayed at a budget-priced hotel since about 1997, or if you bought engraved items at a mall, you've probably seen my applications in action.

Currently, I'm into FreeBSD mainly because it's what my virtual hosting service provides. Which comes with the usual sendmail, Apache, MySQL, PHP, and so on. You're actually looking at a FreeBSD server right now.

For server-side projects, when I get to pick the platform, I like to use Linux or FreeBSD servers. The implementation language can be C++ or Perl, PHP, or Ruby/Rails.


It's funny, people care so much about a point release in this database or that, but from a development point of view they're so so so similar aside from a few syntactical idiosyncrasies. At least 90% of the database code I see (and write, and maintain) doesn't go beyond simple SELECT statements with a couple of nested JOINs, and your typical UPDATE or INSERT logic. So I'm sorry, forgive me for appearing dismissive here. Believe me though, developers who don't specialize in a particular database... we do kind of laugh behind your back about this. With some uncommon exceptions, SQL is pretty much just SQL.

Bottom line, I've done substantial projects against current versions of Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle. Which is where most of the market is in Windows shops. In Open Source land, I'm also up to date with MySQL.


Because of my very low overhead—it's just me and two bad cats here!—I'm happy to help with your software project for only $84 per hour if you are within commuting distance of Cleveland, or if we can work together virtually. If there's travel, you pick up reasonable expenses and we're good.

On the other hand

Does paying by the hour make you nervous, because your budget is only so much? Go to the Critical Results Partnership page and let's see if we can put together a fixed-price plan that works for you. If your enterprise is relatively small and you need to keep costs predictable, consider getting me All Up in your business.

Next Step

[Mark photo]

Call me now at 216-661-2000 to get started, or use this simple contact form:

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