DaedTech

Stories about Software

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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.

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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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Org Chart Types: A Guide for the Aspiring Consultant

Org charts and org chart types.  How companies structure reporting relationships.  The stuff of Dilbert cartoons and tales of disaffected corporate woe, but also the glue that holds most organizations together in some semblance of order.

A Reader Question about Types of Organizational Structure

I’m overdue for answering a reader question, so let’s answer one about org chart types.  This arose out of a post I wrote a while back about how to become a management consultant.  In that, one of the pieces of advice that I offered was to become well versed in different organizational types and structures.

This led to a pretty natural reader question.

After reading your post on becoming a management consultant, I’m wondering if you have useful resources for tackling three of the areas you encourage learning:
1. Business Organization Structures

I’ve elided the second two things he asked about because speaking to all three would make for a pretty disjoint blog post.  So today, it’s all about the org chart.  (Not to be confused with organizational structures like LLC, S-Corp, etc, which I won’t talk about here).

So let’s define the actual purpose of org charts, and then walk through some of the most common examples.  I’ll structure this post by how a company might adopt these structures at different points in its maturity.  But first, I’ll speak to the philosophical why.

And I’ll try to do it all while striking a healthy balance between cynicism and exposition.

Read More

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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.