Stories about Software


The Digest: First Impressions of Florida’s Lower Keys

I realized something this week.  Specifically, while I field a lot of questions about slow travel as part of the digest, I don’t spend a lot of time specifically chronicling places of interest.

But that’s exactly the content I’d want to read if the roles were reversed.

So, I’m going to create the content I want to see in the world.  And, while I’d advise against this strategy for content marketing, it’s perfectly fine for a hobby blog.

And thus I give you my initial impressions of the lower Florida Keys.  On Monday, we left Atlanta Georgia and drove about 12 hours south to arrive in a little key called Ramrod Key (it’s okay, I snickered too the first time I heard it).  We’re now staying in a nice elevated house on a canal that empties into the sea.

We came here because neither Amanda nor myself have ever experienced small island living.  She’s never been to the Keys, and I’ve only previously spent about 3 hours here, in Key West, at a cruise ship port of call.

So far, so good!  Here’s my take, less than 72 hours in.

The People

I’m starting with this one because it was the first thing, chronologically, that I could speak to.  We drove in well after dark, so I couldn’t really see much.

But we did stop at a gas station, earning ourselves a slice of life.  I kinda expected local people to have a “Salt Life” vibe: divers, surfers, fishermen.  And, while that’s probably true in a lot of cases, the people at the gas station seemed more like… hobos.

We went in to pick up a few sundries, not knowing if our AirBNB would have anything stocked.  And, while there, we encountered a number of loiterers and other ‘shoppers.’  They were buying varying ratios of Red Bull, bad beer, and chewing tobacco, and some of them were yelling about whatever upsets drunk people that are missing teeth and hanging out at a gas station.

Beyond that, we haven’t encountered too many other folks directly, just yet.  We’re in a neighborhood with nice houses, on the water.  And here, we’ve been waving politely to neighbors, who seem like the sorts of people that would be in a neighborhood with nice houses, on the water.

And, the people at stores and whatnot have been nice enough, and undifferentiated from other places.  So, I guess, too early to get a definitive vibe.

The Food

Here, I have very little idea.  We got groceries the first day, and have been cooking at our place.

The only sense I have so far is that there’s a little “grocery” in walking distance, which is really just a place that has a few sundries and serves Cuban food for lunch.

We’re pretty close to Cuba, so I think that counts.  And the food smelled good, but I have yet to eat it.  Will report more later.

The Local, Physical Area

This, I can speak to with a bit more authority.  We came to this area because we wanted to experience Caribbean and island living.  And, we’re certainly getting both.

Granted, there’s a road that runs through the keys (route 1), so you can always drive off of the island.  But, still.  I can easily walk in any cardinal direction and quickly hit the sea.  In fact, I’ve already mostly circled the island’s perimeter in my daily jog.

As best I can tell, the island has 2 restaurants, a hotel, the Cuban food ‘grocery,’ and a landscaping business.  Beyond that, it’s just a handful of houses.

We can drive over to the next keys in either direction at any time (or walk along A1A if we wanted).  And there are bigger keys within 15 minutes driving that have proper grocery stores (Winn Dixie) and such.  But it’s a really interesting thing to be on an island with so few things.


The more we travel, the more I tend to notice wildlife, even including birds, which I’ve never historically cared about.  So, I’ll talk a little about that.

We’ve learned that the Keys is home to alligators, crocodiles, “Key deer,” sea turtles, and various other exotica.  We’ve seen none of those things so far, but I’m hoping to report later that we have sought them out and seen them.

But here’s what we have seen.  There are huge iguanas and little skinks that roam around here, everywhere.  You will probably trip over one if you come.  We’ve also seen pelicans, some kind of giant buzzard, grackles, and lots of fish in the harbor.

What we haven’t seen any of is palmetto bugs, which is great.  We saw them in both Austin and South Carolina, so it’s weird not to have seen any yet here (knock on wood).  We’ve also seen no scorpions.  Apparently, there are some here, but they’re not super common.

I think I’ll wrap my first impressions here, and leave off with a picture.  And, if you’re wondering anything about what life here is like, fire away in the comments with your questions!


  • Not sure if I’ve picked this before, but if you’re a lifestyle entrepreneur (or aspiring one), the TMBA podcast is pretty interesting.
  • Weird as this is, I’ll throw a pick to Twitter as a source of local, time sensitive info.  We had a power outage here our first day, and the only place I could find good info was through Twitter, with people talking about the cause of the outage and the estimated time to fix.
  • I’m also going to throw a pick to Prime Photos.  As we get more and more stuff in it, I really enjoy seeing what I was doing on all sorts of dates in years past.

The Digest

  • For the Hit Subscribe blog, I did a write-up on the specifics of content marketing for software companies (or software solopreneurs).
  • We recorded an episode of the Freelancers Show, about things not to do as a freelancer, even if it seems like everyone else is doing them.
  • And here’s a Facebook Live that Amanda and I recorded about why content marketing is important.

And, as always, have yourselves a great weekend.



Reader Question Round-Up: APIs, Your Own Business, and Discrimination

I seem to have settled into a pattern of alternating between video round-ups and written posts.  And, I’m good with that.

So let’s follow that pattern once again.

Over the weekend, I posed another Youtube video where I answered four more reader questions.  Here are those questions, as sort of a teaser.

  1. 00:01:14 Should you treat all of your code like an API?
  2. 00:03:21 How do you make sure everything you’re doing is legal when you start your new business?
  3. 00:07:06 What do you do when someone wants to invest in what you’re doing or buy you out?
  4. 00:11:53 What do you think of that Google Manifesto guy, James Damore?

Those timed links will take you to the specific question in the video.  But, you could always just watch the whole thing below.

Also, a quick thank you to those of you sending me new questions these days, and to those of you patient enough to wait for answers to old ones.  I was definitely remiss in my response time to these when I wanted to do a blog post for every question.

But I think this new format is helping encourage me to produce more response content and to get them answered more quickly.  And that, in turn, is leading to a new influx of questions.

Keep ’em coming!


DaedTech Digest: The Closest I Get to Business Travel These Days

I didn’t do a digest post last week.  And I can’t offer any kind of logistical or overworked excuse.

Amanda and I just decided we wanted to go out for a date night, so we tried a local brewery, played some old school video games, and had dinner out.  By the time we came home, it was almost midnight, and I went to bed instead of writing a digest post.  C’est la vie.

Farewell, Charleston, and Thanks for All the Fish!

That being said, there have been logistics this past week.  Oh, yes, there have been logistics.

We packed up last Friday, loaded the car Saturday morning, and then headed out.  Well, first we went to the beach for a while, and then we headed out.

Our next stop?  Here in Atlanta, where I’m typing this week’s digest.

But we’re not in Atlanta for a month.  We said goodbye to Charleston, and our next slow travel destination is actually a place called Ramrod Key, near Key West.

We Do Short Stops Sometimes, and It’s Always Weird

No, Atlanta is just a stop over because I wanted to see the Cubs play while they’re here in Atlanta.  So we figured we’d stay for a week, instead of doing a protracted, mid-week relocation with a baseball game or two in the mix.

What’s it like when we do something like this?  A week or less during slow travel life?

Well, frankly, it’s weird.  It’s kind of like a business trip.

We arrived last Saturday night, unpacked, and took it easy.  On Sunday, we did the tourist thing, meandering around downtown Atlanta and sightseeing.  But, since then, I’ve spent all of my time in our AirBNB and running miscellaneous errands nearby, without really doing anything interesting.  (We are heading to the Cubs game shortly, though, and we will go a-touristing again this weekend before departing for the Keys).

And that very much reminds me of business travel over the years.  You go somewhere and snatch sightseeing while you can.  But mostly, you work, and hope you won’t be too tired for the odd trip to the local zoo or nightlife area.

So that’s condensed slow travel.  When you go somewhere and live for 1-4 months, you experience the place while working, living like a local.  But when you cram it down to 8 days, you experience it like a visiting regional manager.

And, on that note, please enjoy this view of Charleston from Ft. Sumter.  Seeing Charleston at a distance seems uniquely appropriate for a “Goodbye Charleston” post.


  • One of the things that a dinosaur (and content marketer) like me finds most annoying about Instagram is the lack of support for uploading from desktop.  Luckily, Gramblr exists as a free tool to help you trick Instagram.  Erik 1, Instagram 0.
  • Fellow Freelancers Show panelist Jonathan Stark is offering a 10 day challenge to get you in the habit of systemizing things in your life.  If that sounds interesting at all, I’d definitely sign up, becuase I employ this same technique, and it’s immensely helpful for making my own businesses more efficient.
  • If you’re a craft beer fan and find yourself in Atlanta, definitely give this place a try: the Torched Hop.  Not only do they have a ton of really delicious beer, but the food looks good (we just stopped for a quick flight and didn’t actually try it) and the ambiance is wonderful.

The Digest

As always, have yourselves a great weekend, folks.


Software Career Anti-Patterns: Career Development by Coincidence

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a hot take.  And, to be fair, this is probably a lukewarm take, at best.  I’m taking a slightly aged tweet, and I’m going to react to it in a slightly oblique way.

Here’s the tweet.

I do have opinions on this tweet, and I’ll get to those momentarily.  But, as I go through this post, I’m actually going to relate it more to a different facet of the programming world.  Specifically, I think this has an tangential-but-important tie-in with how we tend to fetishize skill in the tech world, in spite of it being not that important in the scheme of things.

But let’s put a pin in that.

Conference Speaking is an Content Marketing Activity

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you might have seen me write about this exact topic.  I titled the post, “Conference Speaking Isn’t Good for Your Career Until You Make it Good,” and that title serves nicely as a spoiler for the content.

My premise is somewhat softer than Brianne’s, in that I neither discount speaking outright, nor do I make an ad hominem implication that youth and naivete govern speakers’ decision-making.  My take is less that conference speaking is pointless and more that people tend to do it quite inefficiently.

In a professional context, conference speaking is a marketing activity and, more specifically, a content marketing activity.  You deliver value for free (in most cases) with the idea that investing your time and effort this way will pay off later.  Other activities, including ones that Brianne mention also fall into this bucket.

  • Writing blog posts
  • Building FOSS utilities
  • Starting a Youtube channel
  • Building a social media following

And Conference Speaking is Uniquely Prone to Content Marketing Inefficiency

Now, as someone who spent years creating content inefficiently, I have plenty of perspective here.  I wrote a blog like a journal, instead of an asset, and it led to all kinds of opportunities and new careers.  So, I did it, and it worked, albeit less efficiently than it could have.

So against this backdrop, I’ll offer my own spin on Brianne’s comments, which I think make sense.  When you miss the point with blog posts, software, social media, videos, etc, you can always rework that content into more efficient forms.  You can’t do that with speaking, which is ephemeral.

In other words, while all forms of content marketing activities are prone to these inefficiencies, conference speaking makes it uniquely hard to course correct later.

Read More


Reader Question Round Up: Micromanagers, Finding Work, and Entry Level Gigs

I’m now officially getting back into the content groove, I think.  Last week I wrote at length about the subject of pair programming.  And this week, I’m doing another reader question round-up.

I’m opting for the video format again for a couple of reasons.  First, because I’m frankly having fun with it.  And, second, because I think it works well for questions that I’d struggle to write a full length post about.

I know, I know.  That seems hard to believe.

But, seriously, things like “how do I find an entry level Java development job” don’t really inspire me to bang out 2,000 words.  And so they wind up just sitting in the backlog, gathering dust. I figure I might feel like writing about them later.

So I think this is a good compromise and a good way to do some topics justice.

This Week on the Round-Up

Now, without much further ado, I offer you a frame of the round-up.  If you’re interested, the topics I cover in this video are as follows.

  1. What do I do, as a consultant, when a line manager tries to micromanage me?
  2. Name some better ways to find work as a freelancer than just blasting out “hey, I’m free” to your network.
  3. How do you get a job as an entry level Java developer after getting your degree?
  4. How do you use Javascript for something that’s going to have to last a long time?

Give it a watch below, if you’re so inclined.  I included a couple of movie clips in this one for variety.  So kudos to anyone who gets the references.