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comment Why do companies tell me they want me as an in-house employee, not as a contractor?
To clarify the last point, if they hire the contractor through a placement firm that has the contractor on staff (i.e. receiving a W-2) they are not treated as a contractor for IRS purposes. Thats why you see postings for short term contractors with CORP to CORP only because they do not want to open up the can of worms that exists with IRS when hiring indviduals as contractors.
comment How do you decide site availability requirements?
If it truly is an open system that must accept data from all comers, uptime shouldn't mattter. I could say my available hours are 9-5pm Monday thru Friday and how would that effect anything in an open system? More to the point is, without a very well-defined message/submission format (and I mean very) that the counties can process, this is bound to fail and if the counties don't have an electronic submission system now, those standards are going to be both hard to come by and expensive (they could probably build their own submission system for only a marginal additional cost).
comment Switch from C# to Java, which “gotchas” I should care?
I'm not going to down vote for this, but being honest that 99.9% of .NET code is written in a Microsoft-written IDE of sometype, just roll your mouse over the Interface declaration and tooltip will clearly say that is an interface and not a class that is being inherited.
comment Minimum billable time unit - industry standard for contract programming?
I don't write my contracts, I work for a global consulting firm, but I also mainly work on longer engagements (think months) and have an expected 40hr/wk bill, so my hours tend be treated more like a normal employee (ie Dentist appointments happen type of thing) and both sides agree not to nickle and dime each other (I might work 38hrs one week, but 45 the next and the bill would be for 2 40/hr weeks). I generally only bill over 40 hrs unless the client has conssistently been requesting additional work, and then generally beyond 50 hrs. So my situation might be a little different than yours.
comment Stored Procedures a bad practice at one of worlds largest IT software consulting firms?
It's at least significantly more expensive (unless your on MySQL) and in many places I've worked getting another SQL Server Enterprise Edition license is like pulling teeth