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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.

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DaedTech Digest: The Final Verdict on Slow Travel in the Lower Keys

We’re packing up to leave the Keys in about 36 hours.  It’s been a wonderful time down here, where we’ve hosted friends and family, done a good bit of work, and had a lot of fun throughout it all.

I started our time here by chronicling our first impressions.  I’d like to bookend those by revisiting them, contrasting my experience after a few days with the experience after almost 5 weeks.

To recap, we’re staying on Ramrod Key, which is about a 40 minute drive from Key West.  This puts us near the midway point between Marathon and Key West, both serious vacation destinations.  Here in the middle, it’s more snowbirds and locals.

Tramping around the mangroves at sunset.

The People

Early on, I talked about encountering some derelicts and few people besides.  Naturally, since we’d just gotten there and hadn’t ventured out much.

While we would periodically encounter other derelicts during our time here, the ratio was no higher than you might expect anywhere else.  But we did have occasion to form an actual informed opinion.

We went to local tourist spots and ranged around the Keys, but we also discovered where the locals hang out.  And we went to hang out there with them.  (I won’t go into specifics here, since multiple people expressed to me that they prefer to keep these quiet so as not to find themselves flooded with tourists.)

A number of people are quasi-locals in the form of snowbirds or recent retirees.  These folks come from kind of all over the place.

And then you have the transplants.  These are generally folks who took the admirable step of saying “life in _____ is no fun, so I’m packing up and moving to the Keys to orient my life around fishing/diving/boating/whatever.”

As you might expect, the unifying theme here is a love for all aquatic (and, to a lesser degree, laid back life and warmth).

Compared to people on average throughout the US, I’d say that the locals here tend to be slightly friendlier, slightly more focused on living in the moment, more committed to “working to live” and very into the sea.  We met a lot of great people here.

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DaedTech Digest: How I Feel about Your Weather

In most of these digest posts, I either answer questions about slow travel or else I chronicle my life doing the same.  Today, though, I’ll do something a little different.

I’m going to offer kind of a philosophical take on slow travel.  And I’m going to do it using the weather as sort of a proxy.

In the Beginning: Schadenfreude, But Only a Little

This is now the 4th winter that my wife and I have spent mobile and mostly south.  The last winter I spent almost entirely in the Midwest was the winter of 2014-2015, during which I spent most weeks commuting back and forth between Chicago and Detroit.

That was a brutal winter.

Less of this

I routinely drove in blizzards and had flights canceled by blizzards.  And by the end of that winter, I vowed, “never again.”

Fast forward one year, and early January had us driving south with a (metaphorical) “Louisiana or bust” sign on our car.  We wouldn’t return until late April.

At first, when we made that lifestyle decision, we’d listen to the weather report of things at home with interest.  Oh my goodness, were we missing a blizzard?  Were the temperatures in the teens?

It was fun and sort of gratifying to go outside in jeans and a sweatshirt while knowing that we were missing out on polar vortexes or whatever.  So it’s not so much that we wished any kind of bad weather on our friends back home, but that we wanted our decision to have been the right one.  As my wife likes to say, we wanted to feel that we were “making good choices.”

The Gradual Path Toward Living in a Vacuum

I’m typing this, right now, from the Florida Keys.  Every day, the highs here range between about 83 degrees and 86, while the lows can vary anywhere from 74 to 78.  Sometimes it rains a little.

This is an example of a very insulated climate, relative to the Midwest.  A fishing guide told us that Key West is the only city in the continental US that has experienced neither frost nor 100+ temperatures.  I believe it.

We’ve also spent time in San Diego and the Sonoran Desert.  A lot of time.

Now, we’ve also spent time in places like Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.  When the polar vortexes roll through the plains and the Midwest, they also affect those places, as if both were weights on a string separated by about 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

But when you start to spend time in enclaves of the country unmoored from the weather most others experience, it becomes kind of surreal to you.  Think of the way some overeager factoid crafter might approach you and say, “do you know what the summer high temperature in Barrow, Alaska is?!  It’s 47 degrees!”

You’d just kind of shudder and shrug and think, “well, whatever, I guess them’s the breaks if you live there.”  It’s unreal to you.

My Take on the Weather These Days

We have people that work for us living in the Midwest.  And, of course, we have friends and family there as well.  As I’m typing this draft, those folks are anticipating a snowstorm on April 27th.

And I find myself completely unplugged from it, even after just 4 years.

Upon hearing that news, I vaguely thought to myself, “is that too late for snow in Illinois, or are people just annoyed by what usually happens?”  I can’t remember.  (And, as an aside, I’ve stopped thinking of Illinois or Michigan really as “home” and started thinking of them, like anywhere else we go, as places)

The nomadic life is wonderful and strange.

Until you go full-drifter, you probably won’t realize how much of your life’s rhythm involves commiseration over local stuff.  You and half the people in your feed are saying things like, “can you believe it’s snowing again?!”  Or maybe it’s complaining about local politicians or sports teams.

Whatever it is, it unites you in life’s mundanities.

I don’t have anything like that, really, anymore.  We don’t have a large circle of friends here in Ramrod Key to commiserate with about larger-than-normal jellyfish populations or sea grass or whatever.  And I no longer relate to or care about Illinois snow or local Michigan politics.

In a way, it’s like being in the bottom layer of inception, where time slows way down and wraps you in unreality.  Except, instead of a nightmarish, Hotel California situation, I actually have my wife, my pets, and frequent interactions with folks I like through remote channels.  So, it’s like living in pleasant fantasy land.

So I take no joy whatsoever in your weather woes, nor even a feeling that I’m making good choices.  I just sit in my cocoon of vagonding and think of you and the inhabitants of Barrow and conclude, “wow, that’s hard to relate to.”

More of this

Picks

  • My disdain for the job interview is pretty well known to anyone who reads this blog, but it looks like I’m not alone.  I loved this post.
  • If you’ve ever felt the pain of wanting to give something personal, but having distance or expediency make cash a much better option, this site, Giftly, gives you the best of both worlds.  It’s a way to send cash, but packaged in the form of curated suggestions for things to do with the gift, at your option.

The Digest

It has been a rough few weeks for me in terms of time to create content, so I’ve got another anemic digest.  But don’t worry, more fill flow soon.

  • I published a Youtube video for Hit Subscribe about how to make your blog posts rank better by breaking up text in them using a variety of techniques.
  • In a Facebook Live recorded in Isle of Palms, we talked about the different kinds of content that we offer with Hit Subscribe.  It’s actually a lot more than just blog posts.
  • And, finally, speaking of slow travel, here’s a house tour of our place at the Isle of Palms beach.

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: Taking a Vacation While Vagabonding

Thanks, everyone, for your patience these last few weeks.  I’ve been eking out some digest posts, but have taken a bit of a hiatus from dev- and consultant-centric content.  That’s because I’ve been on a vacation doing, among other things, some deep sea fishing.

So I figured I’d do a post about the idea of vacation as a vagabonder.

A lot of people think, given the places we go and the touristy things we do, that our life is a constant vacation.  But, in a way, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Specifically, I don’t think we’ve ever taken a vacation, per se, while vagabonding.

In a way, that would make no sense.  We’re paying a premium to stay in an AirBNB, so it would be ridiculous to fly somewhere for a week.  Anything we do, we do it locally.  And, because of that essential connection and lack of travel, there’s a tendency to limit tourist stuff to the weekends.

Anatomy of a Vagabonding Vacation

But, for the past week or so, I did take a vacation (ish).  This fun bit of life was prompted by my brother and sister in law coming for a visit.  When you’re staying somewhere as scenic as the lower Florida Keys, people give a little more weight to your invites to come stay.

I must admit, I did a little work on several of those days, but mostly I did not.  I unplugged and enjoyed local attractions, including Key West, a fishing charter, the Bahia Honda beach, and a lot of good food, drink, and local fishing.

In a weird way, I took a “staycation.”  I know, I know — that sounds crazy.  But, think about it.  When we go places for a month or more, they become home, albeit somewhat temporarily.

I set up my work environment, get a PO box, and do all sorts of other, decidedly non-vacation-y things.  The place really does come to feel like home, and my career a work-from-home scenario.  So having people out and taking time off is a delightful kind of staycation.

It was my first time doing it, but hopefully not my last.  It really kicked our exploration of local, off-the-beaten-path places into high gear, such as this key without a name.

Picks

  • Speaking of the mail (earlier in this post), I’ll throw a pick for our virtual mail provider, PostScanMail.  Your mail goes to them, they open it, scan it, and show it to you, and then you pick what you want them to do with it.  It’s a great, low-friction service.
  • In order to get around MLB blackout restrictions, I re-upped with NordVPN.  They’ve really made the whole “hide your location” thing pretty turnkey.  No more messing with the network adapter settings or setting up VPNs or whatever.
  • If you’re ever driving down through the keys toward Key West, keep your eyes out on Cudjoe Key for Moritas Cuban Cafe (it’s hard to see from the road).  The owners were great, the outdoor seating pleasant, and the food some of the best Cuban I’ve ever had.

The Digest

Once again, a pretty slow week, given that I was on vacation.  But nonetheless, here’s some new stuff I scrounged up.

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.

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DaedTech Digest: Good Times, New Habits

Kind of a light digest this week.  I’ve been on the move, and we’re taking sort of a vacation.  I mean, the work rolls on, but we’ve got folks visiting us, so I’m trying to do the vacation thing, in my spare time.

However I fare, this will result in a sparse digest post this week.

As I mentioned last week, we’re spending our time in the lower Florida Keys.  And we’re definitely enjoying it.  Life down here is slow-paced, consistently-temperatured, and pretty.

In fact, life down here is so nice that it’s inspired me to slightly re-structure my work life.  Instead of rolling out of bed and getting started immediately, as has been my habit, I’ve slowed things down.  Now, I get up, make a coffee, and read outside for half an hour or so, on the patio, before really getting going.

And I’m enjoying that immensely.  Not only is the quiet time nice, but I actually feel more productive once I start working.

So find a way to take some time off and to clear your head.  Maybe it’s for an hour, like I’ve mentioned, or maybe more.  Maybe even a full day fishing charter, as pictured below, with Amanda fishing for yellow tailed snapper.  But whatever it is, make it something.

Picks

  • I feel that it almost goes without saying… but, in case I haven’t mentioned it, Trello!  You can use it for anything from the humble to-do list to elaborate workflows.
  • Another longtime favorite of mine is the 538.  If you like an equal-opportunity, data-driven breakdown of sports and politics, without the BS, you’ll enjoy.

The Digest

  • Here’s a Facebook Live we did about how writing can improve your overall communication skills.
  • And here’s another Facebook Live about what getaway week is like in the life of a slow traveler.

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend,