Contract or permie? Quick app to compare contract rates to permanent salaries

I've always had a spreadsheet to help me compare a daily contract rate to a "standard" salary, to ensure I'm always comparing like for like when considering jobs. A newer wrinkle has been recruiters quoting "package" salaries, which just means you need to multiply by 0.91 to get the "standard" salary (ex super). But it's always been confusing.

I've recently been sharing my spreadsheet with friends who've been considering contract jobs. The spreadsheet was fine, but a bit clunky and I'd only ever bothered to make it convert daily rate to "standard" salary.

To make this work a bit better, I created ContractOrPermie.com, a little one-page application I wrote to allow you to quickly and easily compare contract rates with standard salaries. It's only really suitable for Australia.

As well as nicely solving this particular problem, I also got to try out Twitter Bootstrap, which means it looks great in all browsers without me having to futz around with CSS. I'm hosting it using the new functionality Amazon Web Services have launched to allow static file hosting at the root of a domain using Amazon S3 (in the new Australian data centre).
Anyway, check out ContractOrPermie.com and let me know what you think.

Home alone Dad, forced to fend for himself

Holly's out to see The Hobbit so I'm home along with the kids. Improvised Ploughmans of:

  • Home made bread I baked earlier
  • Leftover Xmas ham (almost finished)
  • Selection of cheeses we didn't eat over Xmas
  • Atomic Pale Ale
  • Tomato, walnut and pomegranate molasses salad (home grown tomatoes, recipe from Casa Moro)
No need to send rescuers. Though a link to the stream for tonight's game would help.

Early start

Ruby has me out of bed at 0530 this morning so everything moved along earlier than usual. Got to daycare and realised we had 35 minutes to kill so we stopped for smiley babycinos.

Amazon just killed the hosting business in Australia

Amazon finally launched their Sydney data centres yesterday and I really wouldn't want to be in the hosting business in Australia. Their pricing is amazing. Same price as Singapore for everything, same price as Ireland for everything except data transfer. Mostly cheaper than even Northern California.

Here's my quick and very un-thorough comparison just looking at the base casual pricing and the smallest (most expensive) tier of data usage:

Resource Virginia Ireland Singapore Tokyo Sao Paulo Sydney
Micro  $      0.020  $     0.020  $           0.020  $    0.027  $          0.027  $     0.020
Small  $      0.065  $     0.085  $           0.085  $    0.092  $          0.115  $     0.085
Medium  $      0.130  $     0.170  $           0.170  $    0.184  $          0.230  $     0.170
Data/GB  $      0.120  $     0.120  $           0.190  $    0.201  $          0.250  $     0.190

There's still space for high-touch supported hosts (waves at the ever-awesome Bulletproof), but they're going to struggle getting much basic, budget business now.

Upside for Australian users of cloud services is you can expect many cloud services to very rapidly improve over the next few weeks as companies that rely on AWS hosting move into the new data centres.

Praise be to the Microsoft Natural Keyboard

I've been typing for a very long time. I was originally taught touch typing using an old-school manual typewriter in Year 3 by a nun. I spent much of my childhood dicking around with computers starting with the Dick Smith Wizzard, learning to program. My teenage years were (mis)spent chatting on bulletin boards, then the Internet.
File:Dick Smith Wizzard.jpg
By the time I left high school I could do about 140 words per minute at typing so my first real job was doing data entry for a mail order porn video company, typing in peoples' orders for, erm, adult entertainment. To this day I can type a credit card number in about 5 seconds without looking at the numeric keyboard.

Once I got a real job I found my wrists started getting sore from all the hours at the keyboard. Real ergonomic keyboards cost an absolute mint so I started trying out Microsoft's recently-released ergonomic keyboard, borrowed from someone at work who'd tried it and given up finding it too weird. Once I stopped crossing-over for the "b" key, I really got used to it and I haven't been without a couple since.

File:MS Natural Keyboard Pro.JPG

I've owned about every iteration, including the diabolical "Elite" whose sin was to change the layout of the arrow keys. I tend to own one for work and one for home, and end up having to buy a new one every 1.5 years or so as they wear out. Not bad given the amount of work they seem, and I often eat my lunch over them. I had one die when our ceiling collapsed in our London flat a few years back, it never really got the grit out and half the keys stopped working a few days later.

This email was prompted by me having to run out and buy yet another. A cluster of keys on the left-hand side had stopped working. Yet again they've changed the grade of plastic on the keys, though they seem okay. It's a bit less clacky too.

So thanks Microsoft. At least you've got one product that has mostly been superb! Now if Logitech would just bring back the superb Trackman Marble FX I'd be very happy!

Logitech TrackMan Marble FX

Music I've been enjoying

For those of you who don't religiously observe my last.fm feed, I've discovered some awesome new music recently, from a variety of sources. And I don't mean The Wiggles. Blame Louis for that...

Grimes
If you haven't discovered Grimes yet, you should definitely check her out. Quirky and catchy. At first I really didn't dig it, what with its reverb overload a la mode, but there was some hook in it that kept me coming back. Now I'm hooked. Sadly all her Sydney gigs sold out in minutes and I missed out.

Hidden Orchestra
On a totally different tack, this collective from Edinburgh are a jazz orchestra with more in common to hip hop and post rock than jazz. Kind of a more electronically influenced version of The Necks. In fact, if The Necks ever programmed All Tomorrow's Parties (dream ticket!) these guys would definitely be on the bill. Love it. And the new album is awesome.

Zoey Van Goey
Staying in Scotland but sounding more like a band in the Canadian orbit around The New Pornographers (listen to You Told The Drunks I Knew Karate to see what I mean), these guys have beautifully catch pop choruses and harmonies. If this song and cute video doesn't put a smile on your face, you need a heart transplant. Discovered through their link to fellow Wegies Belle & Sebastian and The Delgados.

Civil Civic
Finally one of the bands introduced by a colleague. They're somewhere in the same area as Ratatat, possibly somewhere out near Tortoise? I dig it anyway.

First Sydney FC home game of the season

Saturday night was the first Sydney FC home game for the season. A lovely warm afternoon and 35,000 people packing the stadium. Given the last home game last season had around 7,000, it was a very different experience having that many people around. We're used to spreading out across a dozen seats with the kids and all our kid equipment. Not so this time, very few empty seats. We couldn't even force our way into our usual spots in The Cove it was so jammed with people.

I spent the second half of the game walking Ruby around with a pram to get her to sleep. She slept through Del Piero's amazing free kick goal and resulting pandemonium. The view from higher up was quite a bit better anyway, as you can see from my photos.

Gonna be an exciting season if Sydney can get their shit together. We looked good in the last 20 minutes but were pretty poor the rest of the time.