I got in touch with some former colleagues today. The research system I helped to build and maintain during the 1990's had fallen on hard times during the last couple of years. The database died about two years ago, and it hadn't really been up since. There are a couple of grad students continuing to work on the system, but they only seem to possess a fraction of the skills necessary to make it all work. So, I revived the database last March, and then intermittently did a little programming to port key parts of the system to run on a brand new database server. I completed the final step to bring the system back up today.
In the process, I had to call up a few former colleagues to settle a few issues. What did I encounter when I did this? Welcome. Surprise. Skepticism. Why the hell are you still doing this for free??? You should be charging money for doing this!!!!
I suppose they are right. In another, better world, I would be charging $75-100 an hour to bring the system back up. I view it as paying off a karmic debt, however. The two faculty members who set up this project were also on my dissertation committee, and put up with 3-5 years of extra time (paying me all the while) after I screwed up royally with my first dissertation topic. They paid me when I passed normative period and could no longer hold a research assistantship... by letting me take a leave of absence, and making me staff. They put up with a change of dissertation topic, with few questions asked. In short, I feel like I owe them for the time and the space I needed to complete my dissertation and become Dr. Geek.
All things must come to an end, however. I think about six years of tech support about zeros the balance on my karmic credit card. I've probably been more responsible than nearly anyone for keeping parts of this project going for the last six years. This recent effort is probably my last, though. I'll be an information resource to answer questions, but that's it.
So am I casting my pearls before swine? I'll let you decide.
on 2006-11-01 at 9:16 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond