@darrinholst

#blog #ruby #javascript #paleo #lol

What Remote Means To Me

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I have been fortunate enough to work remotely full time for going on 5 months now and I have a few thoughts on it. Most of my thoughts mirror what Jason Fried and DHH said in Remote. It's a really short read that gets to the point much like their other books. I recommend it for not only the person that wants to work remotely, but also for those people that manage remote workers. Management of remote workers plays a big part in the success or failure of it.

Another book I would recommend is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Although I don't have any statistics, I think that introverts lean more towards enjoying and thriving in a remote environment. This book is good (and probably better) for the extrovert that doesn't understand us hermits. I learned a lot about what drives extroverts from reading it.

Remote work is not for every type of person or every type of business, but given the right combination of those two and it can be a satisfying and productive work environment.

The Commute

Remote work means that an hour is not spent in my metal coffin (bonus points if you identify the movie reference Johnny) every day. My math shows 1 hour x 5 days x ~46 weeks x ~40 years = over a calendar year in your car. I would rather use that time getting my 10,000 steps and saving the tremendous amount of money that is sunk into transportation costs. The reduced stress from the lack of a white knuckle drive in a typical Iowa winter is a bonus too. 90% of drivers believe that they are a better than average driver.

Hold my beer and watch this shit. WHEEEEEE!

Family and Time Management

Working remotely means being able to help get my kids ready for school. It means being able to take them to school when my wife is sick. It means helping my 5 yr old with a puzzle for a few minutes at 10am.

I don't condone the eating of smurfs. They are calorie dense and nutrient poor.

The time I actually do work stays the same, I just get to choose how to slice up my day now. I'm not stuck with 8-12, 1-5 with 2 15 minute smoke breaks.

Health and Nutrition

Remote means giving a shit about what foods I put into my body and not settling for the usual lunchtime crap. Yes, I'm aware that I can pack a lunch, I've tried it...a lot. I'm also aware that it's a heck of a lot easier to just go upstairs and make something at lunchtime instead of guessing what I'll want 6 - 18 hours ahead of time. Save money, eat healthier, stay away from people making food for you for the vast majority of your meals.

Lunch is an event. Ask me about intermittent fasting sometime.

Pajama Time

For all the things that remote work means to me, it does not mean working in my jammies while watching The Price is Right. I do actually get up at the same time every morning, shower and put on big boy clothes usually beginning around 5:30am. That said, all bets are off at 4pm when Dr. Oz comes on.

Dr. Oz is going to look sweet on this baby!

There is a stigma that is attached to remote workers that we work less. The thing is we know this so that tends to make us work more than we normally would at the office. 40 hours is an important number that shouldn't be exceeded. Watch out for overwork, it's as bad or worse than underworking. RescueTime is a good way to keep track of where you spend your time. Give people the tools they need, stimulating things to work on and sit back and watch the human nature to want to do great things work.

Carving Out Your Space

It also does not mean lounging on the couch with my laptop. I have a dedicated space where I stand roughly 90% of my working day.

Rustic theme with custom hardwood floors...er desk

This is important and it's one of the reasons remote work failed for me when I tried it over a year ago. I would work from coffee shops or at the kitchen counter or on the couch. Once I setup the space where I work it's like a switch is flipped in my brain that says 'I do work stuff here'. I rarely do any personal stuff in my work space which keeps the work/home boundaries more defined.

background-color: transparent;

Transparency is key to a successful remote working environment and more important if you are the minority in your company as a remote worker. Everyone should know what everyone else is working on. I am still working on this piece, but things like hipchat and face to face communication on a regular basis should be incorporated. (Yes, I do get out of the house. How else would I get crickets for the bearded dragon and my Trader Joe's coconut oil?)

Working remotely has a long way to go to become mainstream (if it ever does) especially in the era that we're in now where the top of the ladder still believes in the factory worker model. It is changing though and it's a way of working that I've found to be the most sustainable and satisfying for me. All I am saying is give remote a chance.

P.S.

There is a whole other topic that I intentionally skirted. How do Agile practices fit into all of this? I ignored it for now because I haven't come to a conclusion yet. It may need a rethinking.

Your Largest Organ

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Ever since I can remember I've had skin problems on my hands around this time of year. Problems start with annoying peeling of large chunks of skin and end with cracked, bleeding, and painful hands. I've tried countless lotions and medications, but none of them fixed the problem, they just lessened the pain at best. So here I am for a 3-4 week period in the fall with nasty, greasy hands waiting for this year's episode to pass and thinking 'that is just what my hands do'.

Enter my latest fad of being health and diet conscious. It started (as far as I can tell) mid-summer with my Jawbone UP and making me more mindful of my standard programmer lifestyle. It progressed through calorie counting, getting the 'proper' ratio of macro-nutrients as determined by our all knowing, ever loving government, learning that's all a bunch of crap, the 4 hour body for fat loss, and finally the holy grail of paleo and my favorite flavor of paleo: the primal blueprint.

My fad is now nearly 5 months old and is entering the phase where it's just the way I live. Which brings me back to my hands which are perfectly normal now. I'm about a month past the time that I normally have these problems so I'm calling this one a great success. I'm pretty confident that your diet can fix most of the problems that we encounter today dealing with our bodies. It's frustrating to believe and experience this while the vast majority of people are oblivious to how important their diet is.

So I'll just end it with...

Works On My Machine

CameraSync

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Ever since my wife decided to dunk our camera into a strawberry daiquiri 2 years ago we have been an iPhone as a primary camera family. Remember back when you used to have an electronic device that it’s primary purpose was to take pictures? The current iPhones are good enough now to be a primary camera for most people which is great for convenience. My problem had always been getting those photos off of the phones and into my library.

My phone was fine since I’d remember to plug it in every week or two and get the pictures off. My wife’s phone was a different story. First, I’d remember to plug it in every couple months. Second, she takes a bunch of photos...some of questionable quality. Combine that with my ocd-like behavior of needing to tag every photo resulted in marathon photo tagging sessions. That sucked.

Then I found a small app called CameraSync.

CameraSync

CameraSync does what the title says, it syncs your photos to the cloud wirelessly. So I set it up on both phones to sync new photos to a Dropbox folder and now the photos just magically appear on my desktop. Small batches FTW.

But there’s more! CameraSync also does that cool background job thing once you enter a geofence. I set it up to sync every time I arrive at my house. So now there is zero interaction with the app, it just does it’s thing by itself.

Heroku's Ugly Secret +

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In mid-2010, Heroku redesigned its routing mesh so that new requests would be routed, not to the first available dyno, but randomly, regardless of whether a request was in progress at the destination.
The unfortunate conclusion being that Heroku is not appropriate for any Rails app that’s more than a toy.

Great analysis of Heroku's routing.

I love the service that Heroku provides, but I probably wouldn't put too many of my eggs in their basket.

The Riddle of the Gun +

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As I said at the outset, I do not know how we can solve the problem of gun violence. A renewed ban on “assault weapons”—nearly the only concrete measure that anyone is talking about—will do very little to make our society safer. It is not, as many advocates seem to believe, an important “first step” in achieving a sane policy with respect to guns. It seems likely to be a symbolic step that delays real thinking about the problem of guns for another decade or more. By all means, let us ban these weapons. But when the next lunatic arrives at a school armed with legal pistols and a dozen ten-round magazines, we should be prepared to talk about how an assault weapons ban was a distraction from the real issue of gun violence.