TRW: Preparation

TRW = The Remote Worker

This is a series that I am going to start and I’ll be adding the prefix “TRW:” to every post related to this remote worker experiment.

This week I will be clearing my desk of the two 21″ 1080p monitors that I have and will work solely from my 15″ MacBook Pro screen. It’s a luxury having two monitors and having that extra screen real estate definitely helps with the work that I do.

The problem is that I will not be carrying two monitors around with me, so I need to get used to working this wayย before I take off, as I do not want to waste time adjusting when I am already on the road.

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Shared post: The Question

The Question – http://wp.me/p8BssP-k

I had to share the above post from a blog that I am following because it totally came in handy once again today!

I was looking at buying a new GPS watch as a “special treat” for after my marathon next weekend. I then stopped myself and asked the question “why?”. 

You see, there is always a justification that comes first to trick yourself into believing that you need something new and shiny. “Oh well I did <insert activity here> so I deserve to treat myself to <insert thingy wotsit here>”. 

I’ve been a somewhat active runner since 2012, but starting on the first of January 2017 I put myself on a 16 week training plan for my first ever marathon! It will be a big accomplishment to run 26.2 miles, but does it justify spendingโ€‹ anywhere between $300-$600 on a brand new GPS running watch? For a second, yes! But then I revisited the blog post that I shared and I really thought about it and said no!

Back in early 2013 my wife bought me the GPS running watch that I have now, which is a Garmin Forerunner 110. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it and I once ran 4 runs in a week on a single charge and it didn’t even go below 50%. It also does everything I need it to:

  • Tells the time. 
  • Tracks my location & evelation. 
  • Displays my current pace & total running time. 

I know it does a few more things than that, but they are all the things that I care about and get value from. So, why do I need a new one? I don’t and instead of me thinking “I deserve it for all of the hard work!” I am now questioning how many more runs can I do with it? How many more milestones can I reach? How many more goals can I accomplish?

Until the device becomes completely unusable I will continue to use it without any desire to swap it out for no real reason. 

The Remote Worker

Starting on May 2nd I am going to be embarking on a 6 week trip for a combination of working remotely and taking some time off. I have worked remotely before as well as spending time doing so in another time zone, but never for this duration of time.

I have already purchased a local SIM card the country that I’ll be staying in, as my Google Pixel is unlocked, so I will not be paying Verizon $25 for every 100MB of international data I use!!!

The nano SIM that I purchased cost $3 and I’ll probably put $20 on it for safe measure and that should be all I’ll need for the duration of the trip for my phone at least.

My Mac will obviously hook up to WiFi and I doubt that I’ll ever have the need to use my phone as a hotspot because during the times that I will be working I’m either going to be at somebody’s house or the office when I reach that part of the country.

I’m looking forward to the trip and it will be interesting to see if the video conferencing platform that we use works as advertised by making me feel like I never left HQ ๐Ÿ™‚

Using my time wisely

To follow on from yesterday’s post here is a snippet from an article I read this morning: 

“While many others were playing guitar and watching movies and drinking (yes, it was a lot like a college dorm), Chris was reading everything he could about starting a company.” 

Here is the full article: https://www.redhat.com/en/open-source-stories/ai-revolutionaries/right-side-robots?sc_cid=7016000000127eZAAQ

It’s a really inspiring story and so now I’m going to find the thing that makes me tick, create a small & simple plan, and be disciplined about sticking to it. 

The Internet of Thingy Wotsits

Just as we started to heal from the overused term “cloud computing” we now have to deal with “IoT”, which if you didn’t already know stands for the Internet of Things. 

The blog fomotogo.wordpress.com outlines the way I have been feeling for the last 6 months or so, which is the feeling of being overly connected. 

I have been thinking about this so much that at the beginning of the year I was so sick and tired of owning a smartphone that I almost got one of these

However, I have to be more realistic and rather than shut myself completely out of this digital world I need to strengthen my willpower and work on the terrible habit of needlessly pulling out my phone and checking it every 5-10 minutes. 

I’ve already started to form a new habit of immediately plugging my phone into the charger on my nightstand when I get home and forgetting about it until the kids are in bed. It’s helped me shut off from work and wind down whilst we have dinner, then go through the bedtime routine of reading a story and talking what hammerhead sharks like to eat ๐Ÿ˜‚ My eldest is really into sharks right now!

However, this window of time where I am not using my phone is typically only 3-3.5 hours out of the day, so I have started to wonder if I can extend it. One thing that FomoToGo has really helped me to consider is asking myself “Why?”. If it was typing up this blog post right now I would have been perusing articles online about the next Google Pixel and iPhone, so that I can start anticipating months in advance which phone I should get next… Why!? What else could I be doing in that time? Let’s think about this for a moment…

I already have ~3 hours off, but I usually stay up a further 3 hours on top of that, so what could I do in three hours?

  • Read a book
  • Learn a new language
  • Start an online class
  • Tackle some jobs around the house e.g. things that need fixing, as I already do the regular stuff (laundry, dishes, etc) once the kids are asleep ๐Ÿ˜€

You get the idea though. In the world that we live in the good side of technology enables us to do more than ever before, but without asking “Why?” It’s easy to let the Internet of Thingy Wotsits overrule our lives by becoming a big distraction to us. Things like social media, binge watching, the comments section etc. 

I need to take a more disciplined approach to this like I have done with my marathon training. My marathon is only 2 weeks away and I have been training since January 1st. It’s required a lot of focus and dedication and it has taught me a lot about myself. Once the marathon is over I’ll have even more time on my hands and the last thing I want to do is immediately slip back into old habits. 

One unintentional benefit of me switching to Android and using Google services in general is that once I have run this Pixel into the ground I don’t plan on getting the latest and greatest smartphone that money can buy. On the other hand I’m certainly not going to buy that LG Revere 3 either ๐Ÿ˜Š I’ll get a capable device that checks enough boxes to not leave me in the dark ages, but not so good that I feel the need to be attached to it all the time. 

Similarly to the phone I also have a desire to do the same with my computer. Work provides me with a laptop, but a part me wants a very basic device that, again, is capable, but not high end. It just needs to be good enough for a bit of browsing and have an SD card slot to upload pics from my SLR. I’m not sure what kind of laptop this is yet, so I’ll be doing some more research over the coming weeks. Part of that research will also involve asking “Why?”, especially when our household already has a 2013 MacBook Pro, two tablets, and three smartphones! 

This is going to be one of those ongoing things, so I’ll tag each post with “FomoToGo” if you’re interested in following my progress. 

The photo backup saga

For a so called rambling technologist I have been rather quiet lately, but I’m back now and have a few projects going on that I felt were worthy of a post. 

The first and most important project is the one I alluded to in the title of this post. I was the first victim of this particular problem, but now it’s affecting my wife, sister-in-law, and most recently my mother-in-law. It’s the problem that Google likes to make fun of in their Google Photos commercials against iPhone users with the infamous “Storage full” error. 

When it just affected me nobody seemed to care and so I quietly went off into the abyss in search for a solution for myself. After reading up on multiple solutions I decided that Google Photos was the best bet because not only does Google Photos work well across both iOS and Android, but it works swimmingly well in the browser too. From a PAT standpoint it received the golden stamp of approval. 

What’s doubly awesome is that the mobile apps on both platforms provide really awesome tools for managing and editing your photos and videos. It even automatically creates albums and mini videos containing photos and snippets of multiple videos into a single “show” like a highlight reel of a given day/event. It does this all by itself and 99% of the time the end product doesn’t even need editing, as it all fits together nicely. If you wanted to modify one of these auto-generated highlight reels it’s super simple and a joy to use, which is simply super!

Now, the real magic is the option to actually be able to wipe your phone clean of ALL local copies of your photos and videos to free up space. Apple claims to store everything in the cloud, but when I looked at my wife’s iPhone the manage storage section said she was still utilizing 3.5GB of disk space for iPhoto despite having ~80GB’s remaining on her iCloud storage plan. At first I thought it would be a case of identifying the photos & videos manually and deleting, but that is not the case. First of all it’s not 100% clear what is local and what is in the cloud. Second of all once you have positively identified a local file you can’t delete it without a message saying “This video will removed from all devices”. Why!? Why would you remove it from all devices when we are paying for cloud storage!? Apple should provide an option to delete the local copy and keep the backup version in iCloud or do what Google does and provide the same “Free up space” option which checks to see which photos and/or videos are stored locally, backs them up to the cloud, the proceeds to delete the local copy once it has verified that everything is safely in the cloud!

My conspiracy theory is that Apple would rather my wife ditch her 64GB iPhone 6s and buy a 128GB iPhone 7. However, it is most likely a shortcoming in their ecosystem, but from what I’ve read online there appears to be no fix in sight. 

So finally I said enough is enough and I have taken everything I have learned from my transition experience from iCloud Photo Library to Google Photos and will be applying it to my wife’s setup. 

This isn’tโ€‹ the end of the iPhone for my wife. By doing this we are in fact prolonging the life time of her existing iPhone as we can now free up space properly. It does, however, solve the photo sharing hassle between my Google Pixel and her iPhone as we now use the same photo backup provider. 

So that’s it for today. I’ll write up about some other things that I am doing later on. 

Ciao!