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DaedTech Digest: A Vagabonder’s Winter Season Retrospective

Last week, I teased the idea of a winter retrospective on our vagabonding adventures.  This week, I suppose I’ll deliver.

Now, when I say “winter,” I loosely mean “everything from when it starts to get cold until it stops being cold.”  So, we headed out from our Michigan place at the end of September, and traveled pretty constantly until last week.

I will note that we did return “home” (ish) in November and stayed in the Midwest until New Years.  The purpose of this unplanned return was to sell our old townhouse in the Chicago suburbs, so we actually spent a good bit of time staying at that townhouse, and then hotels in the area.  So, with the logistics, transit and moving, and the fact that our original plan involved Key Largo in November and December instead of a Michigan-Illinois mish-mash, I’m just rolling the whole thing into one giant ball of transit.

Whew.  With caveats out of the way… Everyone likes to take a data-driven approach these days, so let’s do that.

Our Vagabonding Season, by the Numbers

Alright, here are the raw stats of our travels.

  • 2 countries
  • 22 states
  • 233 days of moving around
  • 4 homes occupied (5, if you count the place we own in Michigan, and 7 if you count places we stayed for ~10 days instead of a month)
  • 1 property sold
  • 0 bomb cyclones or polar vortexes experienced
  • 8,211 miles driven
  • 1 scorpion slain
  • 1 anteater walked
  • 2 outstanding, distinct styles of US barbecue sampled in-depth
  • All 127 mile markers of the Florida Keys driven past.
  • 0 cats eaten by alligators

Let’s break that down now, with a qualitative analysis.  And, if you’re so inclined, you can read back through the digest history and see me blog about all of these places.

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The Renaissance of the Problem Domain as a First-Class Concern

Hey, look at that — I’m writing a blog post again!  Seriously, apologies for the lull, but, hey, life happens.

Enough of that, though.  Let’s dive into some realio-trulio, software related content.

I Read an Interesting (Horrifying) Tale This Morning

Lately, instead of starting my day blearily looking at my phone and the emails that have trickled in while I slept, I’ve been starting each day with unstructured reading and chatting.  I randomly read my feed, talk to people on Slack, watch a Youtube video, or take some research flight of fancy.

Anything goes as long as it’s:

  1. Not completely mindless
  2. Not directly related to work I’ll do

I can’t recommend this practice enough, especially for the self-employed set.  It stimulates creativity and sort of gets all of the things that normally distract me out of the way.

But I digress.  The real point of this mini-anecdote is to say that I read a blog post from Uncle Bob Martin this morning.  It’s a compelling read, as his posts generally are, and it talks about the recent Boeing crashes.

Here’s something that jumped out at me, though, somewhat oblique to the narrative, and relatively mundane in an otherwise pretty grim tale.

Rather, programmers must [have] intimate knowledge of the domain they are programming in. If you are writing code for aviation, you’d better know a lot about the culture, disciplines, and practices of aviation.

And then, this, at the end:

We have to know the business domains we are coding for.

Huh.

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DaedTech Digest: Our Glorious Return to the Frozen North

I am typing this from home.  Or, at least, I’m typing it from a house that we own.  We’ve always thought of it as our lake house, despite opting to make it our primary residence as far as various municipalities are concerned.

This puts in southwest Michigan, kind of in the middle of nowhere, and definitely in the woods.  And it’s nice to be back!

I was going to do a winter retrospective this week, but I thought I’d tackle the subject of coming home instead.  Maybe I’ll do the winter retrospective next week.

The Trip Home

As I mentioned last week, our last vagabonding stop was the Florida Keys before spending a week in Raleigh to visit a client.  So the final leg of our cold season journey involved a single (long) day trip from Raleigh to here in Michigan.

That was a minor adventure.  The vent system in our Jeep is on the fritz, and it crapped out an hour or so into the trip.

Now, this might not sound like a big deal, but when you’re traveling with cats, you can’t really roll the windows down.  And, even though it was probably 40 degrees or something for you northerners, Monday in North Carolina saw highs around 90.  So we sweltered.

But, as luck would have it, the temperature dropped 50 degrees during the course of that drive, as we headed north and the sun headed west and down.  So, by the end, we were actually cold in the car, with the window cracked to prevent the windshield from fogging, rather than to keep us from dying of heat stroke.

But we made it.

We made it to a house that was more or less in good working order.  Eh, give or take a weird smell from mineral deposits in the water heater and a sagging deck by the lake there.  The place held up pretty well for a house relentlessly attacked by ice-nadoes and bomb cyclones and whatnot all winter.

So we did what anyone used to 80 degree weather, beaches, and sun for the last bunch of months would have done upon arriving in the frigid north.  We made a fire.

Luckily, the cold spell lasted only a day, and now I’m out jogging in the 75+ degree weather to which I am accustomed.  And, I’m doing it back home where I can take power tools to anything in the house that displeases me, rather than calling an AirBNB host to come fix it.

Picks

  • On the return trip, Amanda and I started listening to the audio book Ready Player One.  I haven’t finished it yet, but as someone who grew up RPGs and reading fantasy books in the 80s, it’s a real laugh-shot of nostalgia.
  • I’ve historically had a… complicated… relationship with Quicken.  I’ve relied on it heavily to keep my books for 2 decades, but its user experience is somewhere between that of the DMV and the business side of a rumble strip.  But as of Quicken 2019, you can sync your finances with their server, giving you the ability to quickly log a receipt from anywhere, as if using Expensify.  I no longer keep receipts in my wallet, and consider this a game-changer.
  • Amanda and I visited the Duke Lemur Center while we were in Raleigh.  For something like $25, you can wander around visiting the different lemur exhibits, and there are tour guides stationed everywhere to answer all of your questions and talk about the different animals.  If you like cute cat-monkeys, you will not be disappointed.

The Digest

Now that I’m home, I plan to make good on my threats for more content.  But, since that didn’t apply to the past week, here’s another embarrassingly sparse digest.

  • We published a video on the Hit Subscribe Youtube channel, where we talk about the case study website we’re building with Hit Subscribe.
  • And, badly in need of a haircut (I would get it literally the next day), I joined Amanda to do some Q&A with common questions for digital nomads.

And, as always, have yourselves a great (holiday, in the US!) weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: A Business Trip and Detour to the Research Triangle

A week ago, I was watching the sunset over the Florida Keys.  As I did that, I wrote a post summarizing my take on the area, in detail.  What I didn’t mention is where we were headed next.

It was Raleigh, North Carolina.  And I’ll talk about that, briefly.

A few weeks ago, Amanda and I faced a logistical problem.  The drive from Rarmod Key to our house in Michigan takes something like 24 hours, which, given our cat situation, does not lend itself to a single trip.

So our logistical issue was, “three legs of 8-ish hours or 2 legs of 12-ish hours” and, in either case, where might we enjoy stopping for a few days.  We thought about places like Jacksonville, Savannah, Charlotte, and… wait a minute.  Charlotte is fairly close to Raleigh… and we have a client/partner in Raleigh!

On kind of a whim, I reached out to see about a visit.  And, before I knew it, we’d not only decided to do it, but scheduled some useful sessions to lay out some new mutual opportunities.

With that scheduled, we decided to make a week or so of it.  We arrived last Saturday night (Sunday morning) and have been enjoying local sites, warm weather, delicious barbecue, and walks through the piney woods near our hotel.  Oh, and Amanda and I each had to shop for some business casual clothes because our vagabonding life is pretty much shorts, flip-flops and T-shirts.

So we’re here enjoying the area for a few more days before completing the journey back to Michigan.  And, that’s the story of how a couple of slow travelers turned a random stop-over into a fun business trip.

Picks

  • I recently discovered that Gatorade makes a zero calorie drink, and I like it a lot more than I would have thought.  I historically liked to drink the zero calorie Sobes and Bais, so if either of those is up your alley, give Gatorde Zero a try.
  • I’m going to throw a pick to the idea of taking some time each morning to have coffee and let my attention wander.  Instead of immediately trying to be productive, I’ve started to allow 30-60 minutes to socialize on Slack, read random articles from my feed, and generally just poke around the internet.  Rather than being wasteful, this has actually really help me get all distractions out of my system and focus for the rest of the day.

The Digest

  • On the Freelancers Show, several of us discussed the subject of using a CRM for your freelance practice.  You should give it some consideration, even if you think it might be overkill.
  • In this video, I talked about why we started a remote-only company and why slow traveling is important to us.  I was taking time off when we recorded this one and had just gotten done swimming, so I was a little looking a little rough.
  • And, in another Facebook Live, we talked about the site we own, makemeaprogrammer.com.  This includes why we built it, what we hope to do with it, and what this has to do with content marketing.

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Reader Question Round-Up: TDD, Yagni, Expert Beginners and Efficiencers

I was just scrolling through the front page of DaedTech and realizing it’s been a really long time since I posted non-digest content.  I’d pardon you if you thought I’d given up software-related content altogether.

Don’t worry, though.  I haven’t.

What has actually happened in my life is this, over the last four weeks (including this one):

  1. Vacation
  2. DaedTech consulting (on top of Hit Subscribe)
  3. DaedTech consulting (on top of Hit Subscribe)
  4. Hit Subscribe client onsite visit

So basically, a vacation followed by an all-too-familiar situation where I work a full time job and then another part time job.  In that situation, I made a few conscious sacrifices, one of which was non-essential content production.

I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

Easing Back in with a Round-Up Video

I am actually in the middle of that 4th week, so I’m not out of the woods just yet.  But I did get that content itch, so I figured I’d split the difference and do another video answering reader questions.  I hope to return with some normal, ranty blog posts before you know it.

Truth be told, I’m actually having a lot of fun with the Youtube videos and getting a lot more efficient at creating them.  And I’m plowing through my backlog at a workmanlike rate, with the oldest unanswered questions now less than a year old.

At this rate, I might get caught up at some point.

Anyway, here’s the question roster, including time-stamps.

  1. 1:02 How to Reconcile YAGNI and TDD?
  2. 5:27 How to Get Expert Beginners Learning Again?
  3. 8:52 Resources for Thinking Like a Programmer?
  4. 12:22 What Has Changed to Make the Efficiencer Path Easier to Follow?

And, below is a frame of the video.

By the way, four of these video round-ups in, you can probably see that I’m reasonably committed.  So, if you have a question you’d like to see me answer, either in video or post format, fire it my way: email, tweets, DMs, Slack messages, blog comments or Youtube comments.  Your choice — happy to log them in any format.