Developing Perspective

#7 - Healthcare for Indies


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective.

00:00:03   Developing Perspective is a near-daily podcast discussing the news of Note in iOS, Apple,

00:00:08   and the like.

00:00:09   I'm your host, David Smith.

00:00:10   I'm an independent iOS developer based in Herndon, Virginia.

00:00:13   This is show number seven, and today is Friday, August 5, 2011.

00:00:20   The format of Developing Perspective is that I will cover a handful of links and articles

00:00:23   relating to iOS, Apple, those types of things that I've just found interesting in roughly

00:00:27   the last 24 hours. And then towards the end I'll have a more general discussion where

00:00:31   I pick a topic of note for the day and just discuss it more generally. The show will never

00:00:36   be longer than 15 minutes and without that, further ado, let's get going.

00:00:40   All right, the first link I have today is over on learncodethehardway.org. So if you're

00:00:48   familiar with Zed Shaw, who is a sort of a bit of a legend in the Ruby and Rails community.

00:00:55   Recently, he wrote a book called "Learn Python the Hard Way," which is very well received.

00:01:00   It's kind of a very methodical way of actually learning to program in Python in that case.

00:01:08   He moved to Python after having a bit of a fallout with the Ruby community.

00:01:11   It's a bit of drama, but more specifically here, it's just the interesting thing of someone

00:01:16   has taken that, with his permission as part of this project, a guy called Rob Sobers,

00:01:22   and taken that and turned it into learn Ruby the hard way.

00:01:25   So if you're ever thinking of learning Ruby,

00:01:27   getting into it, checking it out,

00:01:28   this is definitely a really interesting place to start.

00:01:32   It's a very methodical, kind of it's a 52 exercise approach

00:01:37   where you kind of go through all the different aspects

00:01:39   of Ruby and learn them kind of methodically step by step.

00:01:42   So definitely worth checking out if you've been thinking

00:01:44   about getting into Ruby, into Rails, Sinatra,

00:01:46   doing any of those kinds of things.

00:01:47   And as an iOS developer, I definitely recommend

00:01:49   if you're going to do any amount of back end

00:01:52   work for your application.

00:01:53   So you're like, oh, I just need something that does this.

00:01:56   It's a cache server.

00:01:57   It does a little user management,

00:01:59   those types of things.

00:02:01   Rails is a great tool for that, or especially

00:02:03   even some of the more lightweight things like Sinatra.

00:02:06   And so in that case, you should just go ahead and start here.

00:02:10   It's a great tutorial to get you going.

00:02:12   And then you just need to learn Rails

00:02:14   in terms of the framework, but you at least

00:02:15   understand the language.

00:02:17   All right.

00:02:18   Next, there's this great article over on rachelbaker.me,

00:02:21   which just captured something that always drives me crazy.

00:02:26   And I think she fairly eloquently described

00:02:28   that she had the problem with it.

00:02:30   And essentially, it's saying how the coupon code field

00:02:36   that if you're checking out from an e-commerce site

00:02:38   is just about the most awful thing in general.

00:02:41   Now, I don't sell a lot of things online,

00:02:43   so it's not something that I ever do.

00:02:44   But more, this is definitely one of those things

00:02:46   I get up on a soapbox and say the concept of having a coupon

00:02:49   code is just terrible.

00:02:51   What it does is you're telling your user,

00:02:53   there's a better price out there that someone else is probably

00:02:56   paying than what you're doing.

00:02:59   But you're not going to be able to get it.

00:03:01   You're overpaying for what it is that you're just signed up for.

00:03:05   And that's just a terrible thing as a vendor

00:03:09   to say to have to put that mentality into a user

00:03:13   or into one of your customers.

00:03:16   It's kind of like if you walked into a coffee shop, said, "Hey, I'll take a nice Americano.

00:03:21   Sure, I'll get it from Kenya."

00:03:23   And so how much would that be?

00:03:24   "Oh, it'll be $4."

00:03:25   And the guy walks up behind, orders the same thing, holds up a piece of paper with a number

00:03:29   on it and says, "Oh, for you, $3."

00:03:32   You'd feel like, "That's ridiculous.

00:03:34   I want the $3 deal."

00:03:36   It's the same thing.

00:03:37   It's just the way you're treating your customer is not conducive for them to trust you, for

00:03:41   them to feel like they're really getting their money's worth.

00:03:44   really getting the best that you have to offer.

00:03:50   So my next link I have after I get off that soapbox

00:03:57   is there's a great little site put together.

00:04:01   I'm not actually sure who it's by,

00:04:02   but the site is talking about all the different and cool

00:04:06   things you can do with Mac OS Automator.

00:04:09   So if you're not familiar with it, it's basically,

00:04:11   there's this application called Automator

00:04:13   you just sort of create these workflows, which are essentially your programming.

00:04:16   You're creating these applications and scripts that run and do all kinds of different things

00:04:21   with your files, with data on your system, all kinds of things.

00:04:25   And this talks about a way that you can create all kinds of new things that they've added

00:04:32   in line that you can do with the automator.

00:04:34   So for example, here's some of the things that you can now do.

00:04:38   You can create these sort of web applications now, where it's an application that's just

00:04:42   to wrap around a site, kind of like something that you'd see with like fluid or something

00:04:47   that's much more lightweight, much more easy to do. They're having different encoding things

00:04:52   now where you can convert between different media formats in an automated way. You can

00:04:57   add annotations to media. You can even export EPUB books that are compliant with the iBookstore,

00:05:02   which is pretty crazy. You just give it an RTF and it'll give you back an EPUB document,

00:05:07   which is pretty cool. And there's just all kinds of things like that that it's just very

00:05:12   interesting to see that's been added in Lion and so definitely worth checking

00:05:15   out for some of those lightweight tasks. I often use Automator for things where

00:05:19   for example I'm processing a PDF I extract it into different

00:05:24   files and then make thumbnails of those files and things like that. So it's

00:05:28   definitely worth checking out Automator if you're not familiar with it and even

00:05:31   if you are seeing what's new in Lion. Alright so next I was going to talk just

00:05:38   You've probably run across this if you're sort of at all online recently.

00:05:42   There's this thing called the Noun Project, which I believe started as a Kickstarter application,

00:05:48   but it's kind of an interesting thing.

00:05:50   It's a little bit dubious in some ways, but basically it's a project where they're trying

00:05:54   to create an icon for every noun essentially in the world.

00:06:00   So it's just a very broad, you know, non-specific project.

00:06:06   And then most of those, I believe,

00:06:07   are their licensed under a Creative Commons license.

00:06:11   So you're able to use them.

00:06:12   You just need to attribute them, I think.

00:06:15   So just an interesting place as a developer,

00:06:17   if you're kind of looking for that one kind of out

00:06:20   of the normal icon.

00:06:22   So it's not just one of those things

00:06:24   you buy with these great icon packs.

00:06:26   Like there's a great one by Eddie Wilson.

00:06:29   I think that was the one I used, which has tons of things.

00:06:33   But if it's something very specific, it's like, no, I need

00:06:36   I need a spider, I need a video camera, I need the sun, I need a maple leaf, a Canadian

00:06:43   maple leaf.

00:06:44   Whatever that is, you could probably find it in here, and then it's licensed under a

00:06:47   fairly liberal, but it's not totally just free public domain, but it's still a little

00:06:54   bit better than you might find, than having to commission it individually on your own.

00:07:00   Okay.

00:07:01   And then the last link I have today is something over on Matt Ryle's web blog.

00:07:07   This is a response to an earlier Build and Analyze episode where they were complaining

00:07:13   about the challenges of wireless networking.

00:07:17   And what Matt did is he kind of walked through at a fairly low level kind of why that is,

00:07:22   why wireless networks are so much slower than wired networks, why if you have the option

00:07:26   you should always plug into Ethernet.

00:07:28   And there's all these kinds of very low level and interesting things.

00:07:32   It reminded me back in college when I had to take a digital communications course.

00:07:36   Some of the things that you kind of look at there, where it's the different collision

00:07:39   avoidance things, where two devices are trying to send data at the same time and how they

00:07:43   get around that.

00:07:45   You kind of see very easily how wide it is that wireless is just so slow when compared

00:07:50   to Ethernet.

00:07:51   And so it's just definitely a good thing.

00:07:53   It's just very geeky and low level,

00:07:56   but it's kind of a fun little read.

00:07:58   If you're at all interested in that,

00:08:00   and kind of understanding why it is

00:08:01   that your network is just so much faster when you plug in,

00:08:04   especially for sustained transmit.

00:08:08   The difference isn't quite as noticeable

00:08:10   when you're working on, for example, going from just

00:08:13   like, oh, hitting a web page.

00:08:15   And it's lots of small requests over a lot of time,

00:08:18   and a lot of the latency is coming from the network itself.

00:08:21   or if you're doing something like a sustained file transfer,

00:08:23   always use Ethernet if you can.

00:08:27   All right.

00:08:28   And lastly, I think we'll move into the general discussion

00:08:31   here.

00:08:32   And this kind of started from this week's Build and Analyze

00:08:35   episode number 36, where they were talking

00:08:38   about some of the challenges and differences about being

00:08:40   self-employed.

00:08:42   And I just have some experiences in here

00:08:43   that I hope thought may be helpful to other people

00:08:46   if you're an indie like me and kind of getting

00:08:48   started in iOS.

00:08:49   And I think, especially if you're in the United States,

00:08:51   this will apply.

00:08:52   If you're international, it probably

00:08:53   isn't quite as relevant.

00:08:55   But one of the things they were talking about--

00:08:57   and I've heard it many, many times--

00:08:59   is how the biggest challenge to being independent in the US,

00:09:04   in many ways, is health insurance.

00:09:06   It's the one thing that is an incredibly high cost that

00:09:10   is so different than what you're used to if you are an employee.

00:09:14   So in the United States, if you're an international listener,

00:09:16   basically, you're mostly in health insurance.

00:09:19   So coverage for medical care is provided largely

00:09:23   by your employer.

00:09:25   And by that, I mean your employer

00:09:26   will pay for either most, if not all,

00:09:29   of the cost of a health insurance policy

00:09:31   that allows you to see a doctor and not pay full price,

00:09:35   essentially.

00:09:37   But if you're an independent and you suddenly lose that,

00:09:40   you lose access to someone paying for that.

00:09:43   Obviously, in some ways, you were paying for that anyway,

00:09:45   because rather than getting that money as salary,

00:09:48   was coming, your employer was paying for it.

00:09:51   But still, it's something that you just--

00:09:53   when you're not actually paying it,

00:09:54   it's very amorphous and nonspecific.

00:09:57   And when you go independent, all of a sudden,

00:09:59   that's something you have to do.

00:10:00   You have COBRA, which you can use,

00:10:02   I think it's for 18 months now, which essentially means

00:10:05   you can continue paying into the policy

00:10:07   that your company had, which is typically cheaper,

00:10:09   because it's a large group policy.

00:10:10   If you have a group policy with 50 people in it,

00:10:13   it's typically cheaper per person

00:10:15   than just a one person or a one family plan.

00:10:20   But still, that runs out after a little while.

00:10:22   And so typically, I know a lot of people

00:10:24   who've been independent, doing the COBRA thing,

00:10:26   doing the COBRA thing, and then suddenly it runs out,

00:10:29   and they look at what it's going to cost.

00:10:30   And you're talking about thousands of dollars a month

00:10:34   that it can cost to get an individual plan,

00:10:37   and that's if you're healthy.

00:10:38   If you're not healthy, if you have

00:10:39   any kind of pre-existing conditions

00:10:41   or medical conditions or anyone in your family does,

00:10:45   you have all kinds of challenges and it can be very, very expensive to get insurance.

00:10:50   One thing that I would recommend, and this is something that worked very well for me,

00:10:54   was to rather than, if it's at all possible, if there's a legitimate and honest way that

00:11:01   your spouse works and contributes to that business, to your business, that you look

00:11:08   and investigate how likely and realistic it is for you to set up your health insurance

00:11:15   as a group plan.

00:11:17   So for me, my wife does consulting work,

00:11:21   which is not at all really related to the iOS development

00:11:24   and the app creation and all the other things

00:11:26   that are our core business,

00:11:29   but she legitimately works for the business.

00:11:32   We set it up so that she is working for our business

00:11:36   rather than working on her own

00:11:38   and having us be two independents,

00:11:40   we're two people together.

00:11:42   And that allowed us to get a group health insurance plan,

00:11:45   which seems to have dropped the cost of the insurance

00:11:47   that we have by probably about,

00:11:50   we pay about a third of what we would pay otherwise,

00:11:52   which is pretty substantial.

00:11:54   I mean, we're saving at least $1,000 a month, if not more.

00:11:59   And so there's, you know, maybe it's slightly more

00:12:01   complicated, a little bit more tricky bookkeeping

00:12:03   that it's not like we have these two separate things.

00:12:05   There's now one big entity that does apps and iOS consulting

00:12:09   and also does something else totally different.

00:12:11   But if you're in a situation where you could

00:12:12   realistically do that, the savings is large enough that it's definitely worth investigating,

00:12:18   worth trying, and trying to make something like that work.

00:12:21   Obviously, that's not a catch-all.

00:12:23   That doesn't always work for everybody.

00:12:24   And so if that's the case, it's kind of unfortunate, in which case some of the things to also look

00:12:29   into are whether your local chamber of commerce has a group plan thing.

00:12:33   A lot of areas, if you join the local chamber of commerce, as a member there, you can buy

00:12:39   into a group policy there.

00:12:42   worth looking into.

00:12:44   It's also something to consider in terms of trying to maybe

00:12:47   create a cooperative or something like that.

00:12:49   If you and a couple of other independent developers

00:12:53   are all kind of good friends living in the same area,

00:12:56   et cetera, you potentially may be able to sort of group

00:12:58   together, create an entity that you all work for,

00:13:01   even though it makes the accounting a little bit more

00:13:04   complicated.

00:13:05   You're all considered to certainly still keep

00:13:07   your own revenues and so on.

00:13:09   It's just an entity that would let it pass through,

00:13:11   but it would allow you to all be employees.

00:13:13   So just some things to think about on the health insurance

00:13:16   front, because the amount of monies that you're talking

00:13:19   about is such that it's definitely worthwhile.

00:13:22   It probably saves us between maybe $12,000 and $20,000

00:13:26   a year by doing this.

00:13:28   And so it's definitely worth investigating,

00:13:31   even if there is an additional overhead cost,

00:13:34   an additional bookkeeping cost.

00:13:35   I'd be very surprised if you end up

00:13:37   spending more than $10,000 on the additional accounting work.

00:13:40   you're probably, it's a couple thousand dollars, but it's still a big win overall.

00:13:43   So definitely just something to think about.

00:13:46   It's also something if you have, you know, any opportunity I ever have to talk to anybody

00:13:50   who may have some impact on policy, you know, living in DC, or by DC, it's something that

00:13:57   happens from time to time.

00:13:58   So the number one thing I'll always say is the number one thing that is problematic as

00:14:03   a developer is not being able to, or as an independent, is not having access to affordable

00:14:09   healthcare. In theory some of the changes to the recent healthcare laws will improve

00:14:14   this but we'll just have to see what happens with that. But anyway, that's just kind of

00:14:18   the sidebar for today. Hope that's interesting, hope that's helpful. As always, if you have

00:14:22   any questions, comments, thoughts, corrections, hit me up on Twitter. I'm @_davidsmith. Make

00:14:28   sure you let your friends know about the show if you like it. And otherwise, I hope you

00:14:32   have a good weekend, happy coding, and I will talk to you on Monday. Bye.