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 way before I take off, as I do not want to waste time adjusting when I am already on the road.


Shared post: The Question

The Question –

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 spending​ 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 🙂

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:

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 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 😂 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 😀

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 😊 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. 

Call me bat shit crazy, but…

I hate spam email, so I have tried a few things to try and combat it.

The first thing I tried was setting up an alias within my primary iCloud email account, but I have grown to like my alias so much that I don’t really want to use it for spam (spam includes those mandatory accounts that you have to create even if you are using the service just once! Grr, those things bug me!!!).

I then setup a Gmail account, which I currently use with all of my social media accounts as well others e.g. Strava, Geocaching, and the like.

However, the Gmail account is in my name and there is nothing about it that hides my true identity. So, here is where the crazy part comes in to play. What if I were to setup a new email account (provider has not been decided as yet) that is setup with a completely nonsensical username that I will forward to my Gmail account, which in turn forwards to my primary email address?

Is that going too far?

Social Networks

Just like how I used to have an email address with every service provider I also have a social network account with Twitter, Facebook, and Google+

In each of these social networks I follow the same friends, family, tech companies, brands, and people of interest.

I also have my Twitter account linked to Facebook, but G+ remains as it’s own little island.

Each of these platforms are unique in their own way and each has their distinct advantages. I plan to continue utilizing all three, but rather than following the same people and companies in each one I have decided to break them up like so:

Advantages: All of my friends and family are on Facebook, so it is easier to utilize this platform for more personal things e.g. My wife and I just had our first child and it has been awesome to share pics with my family overseas.
Disadvantages: Even though I can “Like” the tech companies and brands I enjoy there is no sense of community on Facebook to ask questions and provide answers to other peoples questions.

Advantages: Short, sweet, and to the point. I will use Twitter as my hobby platform. I follow a lot of runners (professional athletes & casual runners alike) as well as following Runner’s World, Running Times, Trail Runner Magazine etc. so it’s nice to get quick short blurbs on the latest and greatest news and tips.
Disadvantages: Same reason as Facebook, but replace “Like” with “Follow”.

Advantages: Communities! Communities! Communities! Communities! Communities! (Think Steve Ballmer). Google+ has an awesome communities feature that allows you to join certain groups and discuss whatever it is the topic may entail. This is a great way to seek answers to any question you have or join a particular conversation that you can contribute answers to. This is going to come in handy when learning new technologies, so that I can collaborate with people that have first hand experience as opposed to just plain and dry documentation.
Disadvantages: Nobody I know in real life actually uses Google+ on a regular basis, so there’s no point trying to use it for friends and family.