Archive

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Doing Business as an independent consultant?

28 February 2011 2 comments

1099 worker, IC (Independent Contractor), or Consultant, call it what you may, there is an overhead that must be considered. If you accept a contract gig for $25/hour, your net will likely be 35% less because you are responsible for paying self-employment taxes, which constitute the portion an employer would normally pay (visit the IRS‘ page for the Self-Employed). On top of that, some contracts you might be quick to sign may include sections pertaining to contractor or subcontractor indemnification. Look up indemnify here for a quick refresher from that business class you may have taken years ago. As an oft overlooked item, for a fledgling technical consultant, indemnifying oneself, or buying commercial insurance may be prudent.But how do you do that, and how much does it cost?

As a consultant, you are a professional and your services are commercial, so you contact a commercial insurance broker.  But before you make contact you need to brush up on insurance jargon such as Workers’ Comp, E&O, Umbrella and Excess. Beyond that I suggest a visit to the California Department of Insurance, and more specifically the Guide to Commercial Insurance. One quote I saw online suggested that the premium for commercial insurance might be $1350.00 but it didn’t clarify if that was annually, semi annual or monthly.

I will seek some quotes from local commercial brokers and post my findings here in a future blog entry.

Accounting Applications for a 1099 Contractor

31 December 2010 Leave a comment

Accounting for my income as a 1099 Contractor will be crucial for financial solvency, but my requirements are still solidifying; they include:

  1. Mac Compatibility
  2. Simplicity or keeping it simple
  3. The ability to calculate and facilitate taxes.
  4. I’ll need to calculate Self-Employment taxes, and percentages for withholding’s
  5. I’ll need help to make proper deductions for valid expenses like using my car to drive to the job site, and job-related excursions in my car
  6. I don’t need Accounts Payable & Receivable support, since I merely accepting 1099 payments, although I anticipate a weekly stream of payments for hours worked (hopefully many hours worked since volume may help net income).
  7. For expenses, it would be nice to have an iPhone app that permits me to enter (expense) transactions remotely

The candidate pool might include

The requirements are expanding and the candidate pool grows…

Categories: Uncategorized

Adapting to Mac

7 December 2009 3 comments

I’ve been teaching myself a thing or two about Perl, as I intend to use it for cross-platform sys admin work.  At my day job I have need to use perl on Windows servers, Solaris servers and a smattering of Ubuntu servers, plus a base of Windows XP workstations.  The home network is Snow Leopard server, Ubuntu server, one ailing Vista workstation and a MacBook Pro.  The scripting tool most apt to span this breadth of systems is Perl, in my opinion.    Since I have been adapting a new Apple infrastructure in the home network and Perl is native on the Snow Leopard platform, it was a natural choice.

I started learning Java programming over a year ago and was introduced to the Netbeans IDE, and have enjoyed and appreciated the benefits of and IDE (Integrated Development Environment).  Netbeans, however has no support for Perl, so I searched around and decided on an open source tool called Open Perl IDE by Jurgen Guntherodt. Unfortunately the same IDE is not available for Snow Leopard, so began this weekend’s quest for a suitable alternative; candidates that evaluated were Xcode, Affrus and Padre.  While my searches on "apple perl ide" had few hits, I did discover that Xcode could work with some customizations, however I was looking for something with a shallower learning curve. Xcode is an AppleScript development tool bundled with Snow Leopard, that Apple owners can install if desired.  I read good words about Affrus, but could not get it too work.  Well, that’s not entirely correct.  Affrus loaded and color coded the syntax of a sample Perl batch, but the "Run" feature continuously threw an error that "Perl failed to launch." I probably did something wrong, but it wasn’t Perl itself, because the batch tested fine from the command line.  A requirement for me was turn key functionality, and Affrus didn’t measure up for that.  Padre, on the other had, installed and "ran" my test batch on the first try.

Installing and evaluating apps is good, but the act of doing so is also a learning experience.  That lesson will come later, when I need to unintall Affrus. Moving forward, Padre will be my Perl IDE in my cross-platform sys admin adventures.

Categories: Uncategorized

Changes

3 December 2009 Leave a comment

My laptop died and I made the move to a unix based laptop… I bought a MacBook Pro. 

I spent a bundle and got all the bells and whistles, but what made me decide to make the change?

I saw that Mac ad where there are two actors, one representing "Windows" and the other guy is "Mac." Windows proudly proclaims that Windows 7 is "out" and it won’t have any of the problems that Vista had, and then there’s a flash-back, and the Windows guy says Vista is "out" and it won’t have any of the problems that Windows XP, and so on back through the varied Windows versions.   Frankly, I haven’t had that many problems with my Vista based laptop, but it grabbed me and I thought it clever

I had a need to learn the Mac platform and be able to support it down-the-line, so I made the plunge.  I also bought a macMini Server, and I’m immersing myself in building an snow leopard server infrastructure for my home network. 

More to come.

Categories: Uncategorized

The CCNA Lab Stack

16 August 2009 Leave a comment

I made the decision and bought a stack of two switches and two routers from CiscoKits.com.  The kit was $369, the shipping as $49 and the extended warranty was $34, so I spent the better part of $500.  But I’m investing in my future, and that is the bottom-line.  The two switches are Cisco 2924 modular 24-port devices and the routers are 2501’s.  I already had two 3640 routers and a PIX 515, but the kit came with documentation and cables and transceivers.  The transceivers will permit me to simulate a WAN connection, and I’ll probably get one or two more to grow the set of lab scenarios.

The equipment was shipped UPS ground, but it arrived in two days.  I suspect that the warehouse is somewhere close.  Nonetheless, I was pleased that it arrived as quickly as it did.  CiscoKits.com has proved itself to be a reliable vendor.

Categories: Uncategorized

Google’s Consumer Cloud for Documents


Recently I started using the Google documents and calendar tools, and they’re impressive.  I created spreadsheet based on a white paper from the CSA (Cloud Security Alliance) about an idea I had to create a cloud services provider-ranking (in progress), and a document with my initial brainstorming for the Mozilla Design Challenge Summer 09 (haven’t decided whether to participate).  I managed to hide one document, and share the other with someone else. That person who I shared the document with didn’t have a Google account, which means that any collaborators you choose must join the Google cloud to participate.  I still need to log a few more hours of use with both documents and calendar, especially the calendar as I have a need to plan and organize my System Administration tasks.  I’m not certain that the calendaring tools are sufficient for my project planning needs, but I’ll give it a try see where it takes me: I’ll blog about the calendar later as I’ve gained more experience with it.

Using Google Documents, it was handy to be able to open the document with the online tools while in the cloud, doing all the composition, editing and saving there. More about the editing features later in this post, but first it is important to discuss the aesthetics.  The Microsoft Office Live Workspace offering is similar, but the Google Docs offering had more of an opensource look-and-feel, and has a cleaner design in my humble opinion. The ratio of white space to occupied space is easier on my eye and I find Google’s layout more efficient. I don’t have OpenOffice loaded anywhere to see if integrates with Google Documents, but I read that it does. That read was an older post, however, regarding the integration of Google Docs and OpenOffice, and I think it was more of an export-import feature or add-on rather than actual integration:  I suspect that current OpenOffice users have a cleaner integration with the Google Cloud services.  With Microsoft’s Office Live I have direct integration from Excel and Word, whereas with Google Documents the entire application lives in the cloud.

Google Docs is growing on me too, even though I’ve spent hundreds of hours using Office Live.  The feature set with Google is higher while in their cloud, than in Office Live’s cloud. 

My Google Docs

  Versus my Microsoft’s Office Live Spaces

My Systems Administration Planning workspace

Google Documents Editing Features: The cloud-based pool of document editing features is smaller than the desktop application but I found it sufficient. As I create a new document the toolbar has the usual tools: styles, fonts, font sizes, bold, italics, underlines, text color, back ground color, link insertion, ordered and un-ordered lists, indentation, text justification, and spell check. There are also menus: File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, Table, Tools, and Help.

Google Doc_File Menu

There’s another nice feature that recently discovered, that I’ll blog about later: Forms. Briefly, I created a form that I can share with others, and the results can be emailed to me.

These screen shots grabbed from Firefox using the ScreenGrabber Add-on.

Categories: Uncategorized

Ubuntu


When I first learned about Ubuntu I thought it sounded funny, but is is actually a Zulu word meaning "humanity to others." (ref. Wikipedia, 2009).  Recently, I’ve had occasion to build a couple of Ubuntu servers, and have been pleasantly rewarded with a polite installation of a solid operating system. On these servers I’ve been loading BI applications, one called Jasper Server and today I’m working on the installation of Pentaho, both of course, are the community editions. The server installation does not install a GUI by design, as the designers believe that the server is better suited without–called "headless" in the nix or Unix/Linux industry.  An ubuntu-desktop package can be loaded but you’ll need to reconfigure the x-server component to adapt to your video card.  The rigs that I’ve been loading the Ubuntu Server on are older servers, HP LP1000r’s to be precise.  Since the Ubuntu server installation is headless, all the BI apps must be configured from the command line in Linux, so if you’re up for it then you’re not command-line-shy and you have a Linux quick reference card handy for such essential tools as ‘man’, ‘cat’, ‘ls’, and ‘pwd’. 

Categories: Uncategorized
%d bloggers like this: