DaedTech

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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.

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DaedTech Digest: So Long, Austin, and Thanks for All the Wildlife

For the last… 7, weeks, I think… we’ve been in Austin, Texas.  In that time, I’ve settled into answering slow travel questions in the digests except for last week, when I described killing a scorpion.

Now, though, I’m going back to a little journal blogging.  We’re on the move again because our lease is up.  But we’ve had a great time in Austin (technically, unincorporated Hudson Bend, on Lake Travis, but with an Austin mailing address).  In no particular order, here are some things we’ve done.

I’m not sure whether or not we did our part to “keep Austin weird.”  But I do feel as though we got a nice taste of life here, and that we enjoyed it.

But the thing I might miss most about staying in this fun house, near a lake, and in the woods, is the wildlife (scorpions notwithstanding).  From our balcony, we have seen an armadillo, a huge owl, a bunch of bats, a skunk, buzzards, hawks, a fox, miscellaneous dogs and cats, and a family of deer that lives in our back yard here.

As I’ve said before, I love doing the tourist thing.  But sometimes, the best part of a place we stay can be the ambiance and general vibe as you sit around reading or working.

In a nod to that idea, here’s a shot of a doe looking at me calmly from about 20 feet away, out of our kitchen window.

 

Picks

  • I picked this in the Freelancers Show episode that we just recorded, so I’ll pick this again.  I’ve been actively consuming Youtube channels to learn more about the medium, and I really like this guy, Jarvis.  It’s a mix of programmer topics and other stuff (he was, for a while, I guess, a programmer at Google).
  • Speaking of Youtube, if you’re looking to get going there, this tool, TubeBuddy, can help you navigate best practices and channel optimization.
  • I’ve been reading this book, The Runelords, lately.  If you like fantasy/sci-fi, it’s an interesting fantasy story, with a really unique system of magic.  Imagine a world where you could confer your strength or your smarts or your sight onto another person, to make them twice as effective at each, respectively.  Now, imagine the political ramifications of such a thing being possible.  It makes for a fascinating book and world.
  • Oh, and if you want to go on the Austin Taco Tour, you should totally do that.

The Digest

  • On a relatively recent Facebook Live, Amanda and I broadcast from a scenic spot and talked about what we read, listen to, and watch.
  • Here’s a new episode of the Freelancers Show, where the other panelists and I discussed how to raise prices on existing clients.
  • And, finally, here’s the latest in my “Time to Joy” series on Youtube, where I record my journey from finding a tool to having it installed and being useful for me.  This episode’s subject?  CodeRush.  Watch to see how long it took me to go from zero to joy with CodeRush.

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: How a Simple Scorpion Can Burst the Travelers’ Bubble

This week, on the slow travel digest, I’m going to move slightly away from answering reader questions.  Instead, I’ll just talk about something people probably wouldn’t think to ask.

When you spend months at a time on the road, weird, local stuff tends to happen the way it does when you move places.

If you’re a “vacation twice a year” sort of traveler, you have limited road weirdness.  There’s a good chance that you’ve never dealt with “blew a flat in the rental car” or “had a pipe burst in my hotel room.”

Should something like this happen, you might well regale friends and family with it for years.  “I was once vacationing in Europe, and I lost my passport, and you wouldn’t believe…”

This style of travel comes with sort of a cocoon of expectations that, by and large, things will go right.  This is because:

  1. It’s a pretty small sample size compared to your regular life.
  2. Travel usually means vacation, which frequently means splurging and luxury.  And less “life happens” things take place in this context.

Spend a lot of time traveling for work, or doing commuter travel, and the odds swing somewhat.  But you’re still in something of a cocoon, even if you’re like me and have encountered both rental car flat tires (more than once) or hotel plumbing issues.

Not so when you slow travel.  But you don’t realize that at first.

A little over 3 years ago, Amanda and I did our first slow travel stint.  We left the banal midwest and went to a place in the woods in Southern Louisiana.  As we unloaded the car in the dark, tromping through a bit of underbrush on this wooded property, I remember fleeting thoughts about the poisonous snakes they have — snakes that aren’t a thing in the midwest.

Is this something I need to worry about as I stomp around here?

Turns out not.  We unloaded our car with 0 snakes encountered and 0 alligator fatalities.  And we didn’t see any of that sort of creature on day 2 or day 3, either.

We went on hikes in forest preserves, poked all around our property, and went exploring without a care in the world.  We were actually hoping to see some of these exotic creatures, albeit from a safe distance.  But no, not really.  Not without visiting a gator farm.  The most exotic things we saw were crawfish holes.

Slow traveling means that you’re moving places for small amounts of time, and you’re embracing the quirks of life there.

So you settle in and then find yourself thinking as if you’re in the traveler cocoon.  But then you see a hairy spider the size of a softball living in a nook of the house.  Or, like us last night, maybe you go into the bathroom and see an actual scorpion, and think, “wow, how exotic… and in the place we’re staying.”

And suddenly, you’re no longer in the travel cocoon.  You’re an actual person living in an actual place, where actual wolf spiders and scorpions are things that locals (you now being one) have to learn to deal with.

If you’re not living a slow travel life, you might go on AirBNB or VRBO or whatever, and light into a host the way you’d light into a hotel if a tarantula wandered in during your stay.  But that’s not fair, anymore than it’d be fair for you to live somewhere for months without accidentally breaking something.

You can expect a long weekend getaway to be local-pest free.  But don’t expect that for multi-month stays, no matter where you are.

A lot of our pictures are sunsets, national monuments, new cities, and good food.  But sometimes they’re just pictures of a scorpion on the floor.  Such is the vagabonder life.

 

Picks

  • I don’t love the user experience, but I’m gradually coming around to appreciating Canva for, among other things, helping me generate graphical pull quotes when I fix up old blog posts.
  • I’m pretty proud of Hit Subscribe’s new results page, which I think is fair game to pick, since I actually had nothing to do with creating it.
  • In honor of a taco tour that we’re taking tomorrow in Austin, I’m going to throw a pick to the general taco scene in Austin, with a special nod to the ubiquitous breakfast taco.

The Digest

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: How Nice (or Not) Are the Places You Stay?

I’m going to keep the answer train rolling here with the Friday digest.  Last week’s question was about how we sort out exercise on the road, and the week before that, I tackled what we do if (when) we break something where we’re staying.

This week, let’s deal with another one.

Are the AirBNB/VRBO places you stay nicer, the same, or not as nice as what you’re used to at home?

This is one of those questions that’s easy to ask, but surprisingly complex to answer.  I mean, obviously this is going to vary according to budget (and “niceness” of home) in the abstract.

But, if we assume kind of a set budget, then it really starts to vary by destination.  For instance, of all of the places we’ve ever stayed, Ocean Beach, in San Diego, earned us the least “bang for our buck” in terms of the place.  This is because the location was so good.

Now, this is not to say that the place wasn’t nice.  On the contrary, we really liked it.  But it was more expensive to get that level of niceness, than in remote areas, or even less choice locations in nice cities.  And it earned us a lot less space.  By contrast, when we stayed in rural Vermont during the fall, we had a comfortable house that could probably have fit 8 of our San Diego condos in it.

All of this is to say that a lot of factors come into play.  “Niceness” (amenities/swankiness) is just one.  You have to weight that against the amount of living space, the location, and the cost, among assorted others.  And, things get even more nebulous if you expand the definition of “nice” to include things like spaciousness and location.

In the broadest terms, I’ll say that I find our standard of living to feel fairly consistent, whether home or away.  But then again, Amanda and I tend to grow where we’re planted, so we could probably make even something pretty rustic or questionable work and feel happy.

Picks

  • In a nod to a video that I link in the digest, I’ll throw a pick to NCrunch, one of my all time favorite tools: a utility that runs your unit tests continuously and paints your IDE with the results.
  • I’ve picked them before, but I’ll throw ahrefs another one, since it now lets you to conduct keyword research on media other than Google, such as Bing and YouTube.
  • If you find astronomy (or, astrology, I guess) interesting, but have never really bothered to memorize constellations and such, here’s an app to try: Skymap.  Put this on your phone (Android only, I believe) and launch it, and you can wave your phone around while it identifies constellations, stars, and planets.

The Digest

Hey, look, I finally did some stuff this week!

  • Over at our site for aspiring programmers, I did my best to answer the hard-to-answer question, “is programming hard?
  • I’ve also started a new series on the Hit Subscribe Youtube channel, where I’m going to be taking a look at how long it takes to go from 0 to “up and running happily” with a developer tool.  For the first one, I took a look at NCrunch.  If you’d like to see those when they come out, feel free to give us a subscribe over there.
  • Also, I uploaded a Facebook Live video to our Youtube channel with a “what is content marketing” explanation for beginners.  As you can see, we’re now getting fancy with an animated intro.  I actually built that myself after wrangling for hours with a horrible piece of software called Adobe After Effects.  My blood, sweat, and tears are in that animation.

And, as always, please have yourselves a great weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: What Do We Do about Exercise While Traveling?

Another week, another digest post.  Continuing the theme from last week, I’m back to answering people’s questions about our slow travel lifestyle.  (BTW, if you have a question about slow traveling, comment below or tweet it at me).

This week’s question is pretty straightforward.

What do you guys do about working out while you slow-travel?

Amanda and I both have regular exercise routines.  So this concern definitely applies.

Let’s start with me because my situation is simple.  I jog 2-3 miles a day, probably 5 days per week or so.  I’ve been doing this for years, and, for a number of those years, my exclusive preference has been jogging outside.

So for me, the slow travel to warmer climes actually makes things easier.  If I’m in the north during winter, and the world dumps snow on us, jogging gets complicated.  Similarly, getting demolished by a polar vortex would keep me inside.

But in the mild south?  I can just step outside and jog, no problem.  The only peculiarity that I encounter is that the US south seems not to be big on sidewalks.  But street jogging is perfectly fine.

For Amanda, life is a little more complicated.  She lifts weights at the gym, having a membership to Anytime Fitness.  So the first, best option is if one of those is nearby.  That’s often the case.

When it’s not, she joins a gym temporarily, which is difficult, since the main gym business model is to trick you into signing up, attending for a month, and never going again, but still paying.  Still, lacking an Anytime Fitness nearby, she navigates that, signing up for short term membership or else going through the cancelation hoops.

So, yeah.  Working out on the road isn’t really that big of a problem.  And, you can find yourself with a jogging path like this one I had in Ocean Beach, San Diego.

Picks

  • I had a chat with Dave Rael today, catching up a little, so I’ll throw a pick to his Developer on Fire podcast.  He interviews a lot of influential folks in the tech world on there.  I’ve made a couple of appearances myself.
  • If you’re looking for a way to manage/schedule your social media, Hootsuite does the job pretty well.  I think you get a few accounts for free, but I pay for it and am able to manage all of my social media posting, both DaedTech, personal, and the Expert Beginner (as well as some client social media) all from a single place.
  • Amanda gave me an early Valentine’s Day present and signed us up for a curated taco tour in Austin.  First of all, yes, Taco tours are, apparently, a thing.  But secondly, check out AirBNB’s newish “experiences” thing if you haven’t already.

The Digest

  • On a new Freelancers Show episode, we interviewed Liston Witherill about sales strategies for freelancers and business owners.  Some great stuff and tips in there.  I particularly enjoyed the idea of setting concrete goals for each step of your sales process.
  • On this Facebook live, recorded about a month ago, we talked about slow travel and picking a destination for the winter.
  • And, on the next week’s Facebook live, we talk about a week in the life of slow travelers, while we’re on the move.  This is our first episode recorded since arriving in Austin.

And, as always, folks, have yourselves a great weekend.