DaedTech

Stories about Software

By

DaedTech Digest: Living Our Life at the Isle of Palms Beach

The Charleston metro area is great, as I briefly described a couple of weeks ago.  And, since then, we’ve seen even more of the city, treating ourselves to some additional excursions and adventures in the city proper.

But today, I’d like to talk about where we’re actually staying, and what life there is like.

We’re in a town called Isle of Palms.  Not surprisingly, it exists on an island — a barrier island, to be exact.  And Isle of Palms is maybe a 15 minute drive from Charleston proper, and 2 towns over.

If you live in or around a major city, you might map this to a bustling suburb, but that’s really not the case.  Charleston is actually quite a small city, and these beach outlying areas really do not feel like suburbs.  They feel like, well, beach destinations.

So it’s like we’re staying in the kind of house you might have gone to with your family as a kid for a beach week during spring or summer vacation.

Living at the Beach

As I mentioned last week, we’re setting aside some time where we’re not going full tourist and not working.  We want to relax.  And, where better than the beach?

So our life here has settled into a nice, sustainable cadence.  We’re working as we normally work, whether at home base or vagabonding, but we’re enjoying more success in not over-doing it.  This, combined with not booking our free time with wall-to-wall excursions, has given us some enormously enjoyable downtime.

And we’re making the most of it.  This has included:

  • (At the risk of living a cliche) a lot of long walks on the beach in pursuit of impressive streaks of 10,000 step days.
  • Taking chairs down to the beach and reading.
  • Having a beer or two at a few different breezy establishments along the coast, while we look out at the ocean.
  • (For me only) jogging along the coast every day.

Now, before you think that we’re living the life described in that Beach Boys song that lists every Caribbean destination in existence, understand that it’s actually not super warm here.  Daytime highs have ranged from the mid-50s to the mid-70s.  So a lot of these beach excursions involve shoes, jeans, and a hoodie.

Also, understand that it is apparently “sand gnat” season here.  These things put mosquitoes to shame.  If I’m not careful to put on bug spray for night beach visits, my forearms wind up covered in itchy welts.

So, it’s not tropical vaction.  But it is warm-ish, peaceful, beautiful, quiet, and surprisingly private, for a beach destination at spring break.  We’re packing up to head to Atlanta in about a week.  But our time here at the scenic Isle of Palms beach has been restorative.

Picks

  • Here’s a fun thing that happened to me: a mention from Tim Ferris regarding an article I wrote some time back.  It’s in reference to an article from his blog about learning to write code.
  • I’ve been poking around and learning about dev.to, which I’m starting to like.  It’s a nice contributor-driven content community, but without the horrible people that such a thing usually attracts if it gets big enough.  In other words, it appears that the community actually enforces human decency.
  • Finally, here’s a local spot if you’re ever in Isle of Palms, called the Windjammer.  I mentioned having a beer or two and watching the surf, and there’s no better place to do it.  They have tall chairs facing out of their back patio for exactly that purpose, and they even have a sand volleyball court on their ground floor.

The Digest

  • Hey, look — I wrote stuff this week!  Not only did I get back to publishing stuff on the DaedTech blog, but I wrote a post for our entry level programmer site, sharing my opinion on what it takes to be a good software engineer.
  • We also published another episode of the Freelancers Show this week, where Jonathan Stark and I discussed the idea of generating leverage with your business by creating systems and standard operation procedures.
  • And I uploaded a new Youtube video for Hit Subscribe.  If you want to learn to tell how hard it is to rank for a given search keyword, check it out!

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

By

Should You Take a 100% Pair Programming Job?

Pair programming.  Understanding of this topic may vary among the readership.

Some of you might have the vague notion that it means two programmers working together… or something.  Others of you might have a more solid grasp of particulars and a vocabulary that includes terms like “driver-navigator” and “expert-novice.”  And, a few may even understand the full origin story of pair programming as a core plank of the eXtreme Programming (XP) approach.

Hey, Look, a Pair Programming Reader Question

I’ll soon return to that origin story.  But first, let’s look at why I’m talking about this at all.  I’m actually gearing up to answer a reader question:

I was interviewed by a company that [does] full pair programming.  I hate the idea of spending all my day with somebody looking at me writing code.  What do you think about it?

So to clarify a little here, we’re talking about a company that subscribes, full stop, to the XP rule that “all production code is pair programmed.”  For all intents and purposes, this means that dev teams pair program 100% of the time as a rule.

Should you take a job at such a company?

It’s honestly hard for me to say for any given person since my advice would be so very tailored to your individual personality and preferences.  So rather than immediately give a thumbs up or down, I thought maybe I’d explore the topic of pair programming more broadly.

Since my publication of Developer Hegemony and subsequent departure from a traveling consulting/training life, I’ve made this blog increasingly one about software developer empowerment.  Today, I’d like to look at the subject of that pair programming through that relatively uncommon lens.

I want to examine not whether pair programming is a Good Thing (TM), but whether it’s a good thing for you, as a software developer.

Read More

By

DaedTech Digest: Keeping Ourselves Entertained

We’ve now been in Isle of Palms, near Charleston, South Carolina, for two weeks.  Last week I talked about our journey from Texas and settling in here.  This week, I’ll talk entertainment.

There’s a certain cadence and pattern to your entertainment as a slow traveler.  I wrote once about how I consider myself a perpetual tourist.

So the cadence usually involves settling in, picking the quintessential tourist things to do, and then scheduling those.  Then, once you’ve gone through all of that, you start to look for lesser traveled, but still unique, local stuff.

You tend to keep your foot on the gas because, almost by definition, your time everywhere is fairly limited.  I mean, we could always stay places longer if we felt like doing so.  But the point is to experience and then to move on.

The upside to this approach is clear: a lot of variety, a lot of experiences, and a lot of fun.  But the downside comes in various forms as well: little time to rest, a tendency to overspend, and the risk of feeling that you could always be finding more things to do.

The Decision to Relax

So on this trip, we’ve changed it up a bit.

In the first place, we’ve decided to take a day or so each week just to relax.  We’re at the beach after all.  In the second place, we’ve stopped worrying as much about “what are the local must-dos” and decided instead to feel no obligation.  We’re just doing as the spirit moves us.

And this has been a lot of fun.

This past weekend, we booked two different AirBNB experiences, neither of which cost very much and both of which involved adorable and interesting animals.  The first experience involved bottle feeding baby goats.  And the second one, as pictured below, involved taking an anteater for a walk and interacting with other exotic animals.

None of this was uniquely Charleston, per se.  And none of it was what people might consider iconic around here: sailing, visiting Hilton Head, or whatever.  It was just fun, unique, and what we felt like doing.

So here’s to a form of slow travel where we work in a feeling of “relax and take what comes.”

Picks

  • Sylvia, one of Hit Subscribe’s authors, is going to be doing a webinar for Scalyr about containers as a service.  Sign up and check it out!
  • As I’ve been adding music to the Youtube videos I create, I’ve been relying on Youtube’s official library.  There’s a song creator called the Mini Vandals whose stuff has been great for this purpose, so I wanted to extend some appreciation and suggest you look for their stuff.
  • Amanda and I have been re-watching episodes of The Office on Netflix.  Man that was a good show.

The Digest

  • On a recent episode of the Freelancers Show, we tackled the issue of nervousness about pricing.  Do you get nerves when quoting a price to a client, thinking they’ll balk?  Give a listen.
  • Here’s a video I did for the Hit Subscribe Youtube channel.  Check it out if you want to learn how to plan posts for your blog that will bring in organic traffic.
  • And, finally, here’s a video we did for the Hit Subscribe Facebook Live series on how we’ve grown personally as a result of owning/running the business.  Looks like it was a relatively chilly February day back in Austin.

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

By

DaedTech Digest: Settling into Charleston

It was a big, fat whiff last Friday.  But let’s dust ourselves off and move on, picking up this week with the DaedTech digest.

Last week was a busy week, which was why I didn’t post at all.  We moved from Austin to Charleston, South Carolina, and we did so mid-week, without taking a break from work, exactly.  Amanda and I didn’t work during the car ride or anything, so it was more a question of making up the work from the Tuesday and Wednesday that we spent driving on Thursday though Saturday.

Needless to say, none of this was conducive to a digest post.

After a 1400-ish mile drive spread over 2 days, we settled in last week.  And, by Sunday and Monday, we got to go out and explore a bit.  We’re staying on an island called Isle of Palm, just outside of Charleston, and we’ve had a chance to explore the island itself, Charleston proper, and the nearby countryside (more on that below in the form of a gator pic).

It’s been great!  While tornadoes, bomb cyclones and polar vortexes have been enveloping the rest of the country, we’ve been enjoying very mild weather, ranging from the high-50s to mid-70s.  Life is slow paced and extremely quiet where we are, and we had a great time poking around sleepy Charleston.

But perhaps nothing holds a candle so far to our exploration of the grounds of a former plantation/current wildlife park.  We went out looking for creatures and we found all sorts, including this gator that I got a photo of from maybe 10 feet away.

It’s always fun and an adventure to settle into a new place.

Picks

  • I’m not sure if I’ve ever thrown this one a pick before, but I’ll show some love for LastPass.  It’s been an easy-to-use, cross-platform mainstay of my life for the last bunch of years.  If you’re still a password manager hold out, give it a look.
  • I picked this on a recording of the Freelancers Show, but I’ll also pick it here: AirBNB experiences.  It’s a really great way to take advantage of local knowledge and entrepreneurs offering interesting tours and experiences.  We booked our taco tour of Austin this way, and in Charleston, we’ve booked experiences walking anteaters and bottle-feeding baby goats (pictures to follow).  When you travel, if you want something interesting to do, give this a look.
  • If you’re ever in the Charleston, SC area and you want to go find some gators, like the one above (as well as egrets, herons, peacocks, and more), check out where we went: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.  A great way to spend an afternoon.

The Digest

  • How do you get started freelancing later in your career?  I tackled this question with the other panelists in an episode of the Freelancers Show about getting started freelancing your 40s.  (I’m not 40 yet, but assume I am for that episode)
  • I did a video for the Hit Subscribe Youtube channel about how to fix up old blog posts to improve how much traffic they bring to your site.  Give that a watch if you’ve got a blog and are interested in more passive traffic.
  • Here’s a Facebook Live that Amanda and I did, where we answered questions about content marketing.

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

By

Reader Question Round-Up, Video Edition

Alright, it’s time to come to account for my haphazard posting performance of late.  I attribute this to a couple of factors, and I list these not so much to make excuses but to explain myself.

  1. This has historically been a blog about software, consulting and software consulting.  And I neither write much software nor consult very frequently these days.
  2. Due to the unexpected (but awesome) success of our content business, I trade in blog posts all day, most days.  So, for me, writing blog posts is sort of like a pastry chef knocking off of work and coming home to crank out a gourmet coffee cake.  (Or, a bad one, depending on your taste in bloggers)

All of this is to say that I’ve had a bit of blogging malaise of late.  So my posts have come intermittently and without much in the way of social promotion.

To Blog-Post or To Video?

On the flip side, I’m exploring new content media, largely as R&D work for Hit Subscribe.  This has led me to do a good bit of work in video, which is surprisingly fun.

Now, as any long time readers will recall, video isn’t exactly new for me.  I spent a year or two on a Chess TDD odyssey with something like 20 hours of screencasts in the book showing folks how to test drive code.  And, before that, I made 4 video courses for Pluralsight.

But I hadn’t touched the medium outside of screencasts, and I hadn’t even done that in a year.

Well, now I have.  I’ve started posting videos to Hit Subscribe’s Youtube channel (check it out if you’re so inclined — I’m doing a “time to joy” series where I explore how long it takes to get going with dev tools and techs).  And I’ve found myself enjoying it more than I thought.

So I figured I’d spice things up a little back over here at DaedTech by starting to clear out my prodigious reader question backlog, video-style.  Here, in the frame below is the result of that — a video-edition of the reader question round-up.

I’m planning to do more of these, at least until I blaze through my backlog.  But I might do other videos as well, centered around the theme of this blog which seems, these days, to be developer empowerment and related topics.

And here’s where I’ll leave things.  I think the biggest driver for content here, whether written or video-recorded, will be your questions.  I love talking about software, consulting, and developer empowerment topics, but I don’t live them day to day anymore.  Thus I won’t have all that much to say unless prompted.

So please, fire away with any questions, in the comments, in the comments of the Youtube video, or wherever.