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Brief DaedTech Hiatus Because I’m Attempting a Vacation

Hello DaedTech readers.  I’m typing this on a Monday night, which is usually when I’d be prepping a reader question post draft.  I don’t have one of those.  I do have a half-done developer to consultant post, but I’m not going to be prepping that either.

Instead, I’m just going on vacation.

If you read my digest posts, particularly the recent ones, you might think that my life is sort of one giant vacation.  In a sense this is true.  Being location independent gives us the freedom to go pretty much anywhere.  And we capitalize on that.

However, owning businesses, especially young, bootstrapped ones, has an implication of its own.  It means that, no matter where you go, you’re always at least kind of working.  So, while my workload has varied considerably and we have schedule flexibility, it’s been probably 14 months since I’ve taken more than 3 or so days off in a row.

Our goal is to break that streak over the next couple of weeks.  We’ll see if that actually happens, but we’re going to do our best.

As a result, look for DaedTech to be pretty quiet over the next couple of weeks — probably just digest posts, if that.  But, if you really find yourself craving DaedTech posts, you can always give me a follow on Twitter, because I’ll queue up a couple of from the archives tweets per day.

So have a good couple of weeks, and look for me to fire it back up after Memorial Day weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: Business Cats on the Road

Welcome to yet another Friday edition of the DaedTech Digest.  This thing where I write about the digital nomad life is gaining some traction, both in positive feedback and in post views.  So let’s keep at it.  I’m building a backlog of questions to answer, so fire away with those via email/social media/whatever.

Today’s question: how does this all work with your pets?

The short answer is “not ideally, but we manage.”  Amanda and I have two cats, and we haul them around with us on our adventures.  We travel pretty lightly, so about 2/3rds of the cargo space in the Jeep is dedicated to cats as we travel. Our luggage (including my computers) takes up the rest and then also occupies the roof rack cargo carrier.

From there, it’s really just a matter of filtering AirBNBs/VRBOs that allow cats and then confirming with the owner ahead of time.  (Protip: write them to make sure they specifically allow cats or dogs.  These sites, for whatever reason, just have a single “pets” filter. Some owners might allow cats but not dogs or vice-versa, and you wouldn’t know without asking.  We’ve been burned by this here and there, including last week for a place in Napa where they canceled on us for having cats, rather than dogs.)

Is this a great arrangement for the cats?

I honestly don’t know, but they seem content.  They’ve gotten pretty used to long haul travel. Both of them are fine in the car, as well as everywhere we stop.

It sometimes takes them a day or two to settle into a routine.  But I think, on the flip side, that they appreciate the extreme variety in birds just outside of the window.  This supplies them with plenty to get really worked up about.  Here in San Diego, there are wild parrots everywhere, including often right outside of our bedroom window, and the cats get really excited about them, batting and making clicking noises at the screen.

This is a picture of one of our cats, Butters, calling a meeting to order just as we arrived in San Diego from Phoenix.  We were tired from 5 hours on the road, but Butters, a consummate business cat, was ready to settle in that very night and start conducting one-on-ones.

A business cat

Come on in and have a seat, please.

 

What about vagabonding with the cats when you fly?

Amanda and I have wandered pretty extensively around the US by car.  But we haven’t yet done an overseas stint where we brought the cats.  At the top of our list for next winter, though, are Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Thailand, so stay tuned.  We may well have a follow-up post in 6 months where I describe sneaking a cat past TSA in the back pocket of my jeans.

Picks

  • A couple of weeks ago, a contributor to a Taiwanese tech blog translated my post about getting a programming job without a degree into Chinese.  You can check that out here.
  • I’m also going to pick the Freelancers Show on DevChat.TV.  I was the guest in the latest show and I have since started as a panelist (regular) on the podcast.  So throw us a subscribe!
  • If I’ve never mentioned them before, you should give Toggl a look for any and all time tracking needs that you have.  It’s freemium and cheap when it’s not free.

The Digest

Have a good weekend!

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How to Avoid the Standard Corporate Hiring Process

Every Tuesday, for the most part, I do reader question Tuesday.  Because I’ve been answering reader questions for an astounding amount of time now (more than 4 years, apparently almost as long ago as I started Pluralsight), sometimes those questions build on prior posts.  This is one of those.  This reader question builds on a post I wrote (in response to reader interaction).

That post was one I wrote after a lot of people shared a post with me about someone quitting Google and wondering what I thought.   What I thought was that I’d write a long piece of advice about how to avoid Enterprise Silicon Valley whiteboard interviews.  Don’t feed the beast, as it were.

The Reader Question: How to Shrug Off the Crushing Weight of the Pyramid

I mention that post because the reader quotes something I said in it.  “If you develop a specialty with business value, nobody will bother to interview you. They’ll just call you and offer you a contract.  That’s how my life has worked for years now.  No reason you can’t do this too.”

The reader quotes this, and then asks the following:

How does one get enough public recognition of their ‘speciality with business value’ for this to start happening?

How do you circumvent the dev hiring layers to reach the person making the hiring decisions?

For example, if I put ‘saved my company 300k p/a by identifying and fixing wasteful processes’ on my CV, it won’t help me get past the keyword filtering internal recruiter, or the dev interviewers who are more concerned with your knowledge of how generics are implemented in java or how the GIL works in python.

In my company, the individuals above have veto power over hires that involve programming, regardless of how much you appeal to the PM or business owner.

There’s a lot of ground to cover here, so let me say a few things up front.

The resume bot 9000 is the only one that cares about your resume skills section.

You Have to Change the Rules of the Game from What You’re Used To

Let me first say that there are a lot of concepts in here that go away when you have a specialty with business value.  I suspect the reader/commenter understand this, but I want to make sure that everyone does.  When you have such a specialty and appeal directly to buyers, here are the things that stop being part of your world.

  • Recruiters
  • Resumes/CVs.
  • Keyword filtering (or keywords) and concern about tech stacks
  • Non-business-focused dev managers (and the idea of a layer or layers of “veto-ing techies”).

These things don’t matter or affect you because you don’t deal with them.

I could tell you about how my life has shaped up this way and about how I tend to deal with companies.  But I’ve been contracting and consulting for a long time.  I think it’d be more interesting here if I told a story about employment.

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DaedTech Digest: How I Work on the Road

I skipped last week’s Digest Friday, so my apologies for that.  Let’s get back on track.

I’m continuing with the theme of using the Friday digests to talk a little about remote/location-independent life.  I know a lot of you in my feeds and social media seem interested in this kind of thing, and some of you ask me questions about it.  So, a couple of hundred words and a photo per week seems like a good way to address that.

Last time I talked about where we stay and how.  Today I’ll briefly cover the idea of work.  People often ask me how that goes as we wander around.

Well, for domestic travel, we generally load up what we need into our Jeep (including our pets) and drive.  This gives me enough space to bring my desktop tower setup and 3 monitors, to which I am admittedly addicted.  I also haul around a folding table and chair just in case our lodging lacks adequate desk space.  As a result, I can set up shop anywhere.

From there, it’s just a matter of filtering the AirBNB/VRBO rentals to make sure they have a good internet connection.  I also message the landlords ahead of time to stress that lack of reliable connection is a deal breaker.  Between these two precautions, we’ve always had good luck.

So that’s really it.  I haul my setup around with me and work from “home” the way anyone would work from home.  But my home at the moment features extremely nice views, like this one:

Picks

  • If you ever want quick hitting, easy explanations of digital marketing and SEO concepts, give Moz’s whiteboard Friday a look.
  • I’m going to give a shout out to Alexa for a couple of reasons.  First of all, you can now apparently dial any phone number you want with her.  And secondly, I’ve been enjoying easy integration over bluetooth with my phone for playing audio.
  • Here’s something we get a good bit of lately: low calorie (and high protein) ice cream called Halo Top.  You won’t confuse it with the hard pack stuff at Coldstone Creamery or whatever, but it’s pretty tasty and for a fraction of the calories.

The Digest

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Explaining The Pyramid Corporate Opt-Out to Others

If you haven’t read my book, Developer Hegemony, let me briefly describe one of the main themes from it.  In it, I say that the standard corporate model is horribly ill-suited for knowledge work and thus represents a bad deal for knowledge workers.  Or, software developers should (and probably will) look to start an exodus from large companies — especially ones that aren’t software companies.

I lead with this because the context is necessary for this week’s reader question to make sense.  This one came from the Developer Hegemony Facebook group (feel free to join, if you’d like!), and I bumped it ahead of the usual FIFO model I have for reader questions.  It’s just been rattling around in my head a bit since I saw it.

The Reader Question: Convincing People Corporate Unsuitability

So, here’s the actual question.

Hey, does anyone have any tips for trying to explain this stuff to friends and family?

I’ve found that former coworkers tended to be skeptical at best or furious at worst when I explained what I’d managed to figure out about the whole corporate pyramid. And of course, I just sound like a huge greedy jerk when I try to explain to non-tech people why I walked away from a guaranteed $200-$250k a year.

Maybe I should just throw in the towel on bothering to try and lift the veil for anyone else, haha. Once I get up and running, I’ll just point anyone who asks to Mr. Dietrich and John Sonmez’s books.

Hopefully, you can now see why I mentioned this core theme from my book about the standard, pyramid-shaped corporation.  He’s asking how he might persuade others, presumably without doing what I did and writing a book on the subject.  So let’s look at that.

There are two main modes of persuasion here, if you will:

  • Convincing personally interested friends, family, and acquaintances that you did the right thing (for you).  These are the people asking, “hey, I see you quit your job to do something else — what’s the deal?”
  • Convincing colleagues and former coworkers that they should do something different (for their sake).  This is you saying, “I’ve figured some things out and you should listen to them.”

Let’s treat these separately.

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