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.


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 🙂

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. 

Happy New Year!

Howdy folks! It’s your friendly neighborhood Platform Agnostic Technologist here wishing you the happiest of new years!

To kick-start the new year I have switched to a Google Pixel phone and started over with an entirely new Google account. 

I didn’t want to instantly upload all of my files and photos because there’s a lot of clean up that needs to be done and if I don’t take this opportunity now, then I know I’ll get lazy and never take the time to do it properly. The only thing I have imported, though, is my music collection from iTunes into Google Play Music. 

The switch to Android did make me nervous I must admit. My entire family and nearly all of my friends use iOS, so I would miss out on the ease of sharing photos via iCloud Photo Sharing, simple messaging via iMessage, an email account I have used since the days of .Mac, the integrations between iOS, watchOS, and macOS as well as just the plain and simple fact of learning something new. 

I have dabbled with Android in the past when I had borrowed a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 running Android KitKat and then my ISP sent me a Samsung Galaxy Tab running Android Lollipop just for being a loyal customer. I still use the Tab here and there, but neither of them felt compelling enough for me to switch to Android full time. 

What appealed to me about the Pixel was that like the Nexus devices of years past it would be running pure Android and it would be the first Android device to be running version 7.1 of the new OS codenamed Nougat. However, unlike the Nexus devices the Pixel was designed from the ground up by Google. HTC is the manufacturer, but there is not a single hint of HTC on the device itself or when you compare it to other HTC phones out there. 

Another cool thing is that I was eligible for a free Daydream View VR headset! I’ve played around with it quite a bit and I have to say I absolutely love it!! More on this another time. 

The main reason for the switch was to finally break free of my iShackles. Now, I don’t want this to sound like I’m bashing Apple and that I am 100% against them because that is not the case. The problem I’ve always had when trying to live a plagtech lifestyle is that I’ve always ended up right back where I started, so this time I need to make a big change. 

When you look at the history of this blog most of the changes I have made were related to applications that I used and if I did switch between Operating Systems it was at the desktop level, but historically I have always stuck to the same mobile OS. This is where I think I have failed to commit to any of the other changes, which is why this time I decided to switch up the phone I am using and see where this takes me. 

One major benefit of Android over iOS that I like already is being able to use VLC player. We have a number of movies on DVD that we purchased legally and rightfully own that I ripped into digital format. I’ve always had to rely on VLC on my laptop to play them because VLC player was short lived on iOS. Well on Android this is not a problem because VLC player works perfectly fine and seeing as my Pixel has 128GB’s of storage I have more than enough room to store the movies, especially the ones that keep my son happy 🙂

The other benefits to switching to a Pixel is that I get the benefit of pure Android without having to change carrier, updates come directly from Google, the monthly installments are 60% cheaper than what the iPhone 7 would have cost me, and I get unlimited storage on Google Photos for full res pictures and 4k videos.  

One of the other reasons/benefits of making the transition to Android in general is that in the next 2-3 years when it’s time to get a new phone I have the freedom to explore multiple manufacturers. One thing I am already envisioning is that I could buy a phone from WileyFox outright as well as unlocked to use in other countries versus paying my current carrier an arm and a leg in international roaming and data fees. As everything is tied to my Google account I am not restricted to one type of phone anymore. The same goes for Android Wear too, but I’ll hold off on mentioning wearables until Android Wear 2.0 is released. 

Lastly, before I wrap up this wouldn’t be a true plagtech post if I didn’t end with a list of the apps I currently use, so here goes:

  • Email = Gmail
  • Calendar = Google Calendar
  • Browser = Google Chrome
  • Photos = Google Photos
  • Music = Google Play Music
  • Movies = VLC, Netflix & Netflix VR
  • Messaging = Messenger (native Android app), Facebook Messenger & Slack
  • Notes = OneNote
  • Health = Strava, Garmin Connect, MyFitnessPal & Google Fit

Fedora 23

I have been reading through a number of my older articles and a couple of things stood out. There are multiple “I am back again!” posts, which just means I am insane and can’t stay away from plagtechism.

A second thing was my previous attempts to use Linux as my primary OS. These experiments were cool and even though I ultimately came back to OS X I want to try it again with Fedora 23.

I have my SSH keys setup properly and ready to use with my jump host, the git server, and my knife environment is all good to go for Chef.

This time around I have opted to use Google Chrome as my browser of choice for both work and personal browsing. I like being able to switch between the two profiles in one browser whereas Firefox currently only lets you sync with one account.

One of the reasons I think my previous attempts failed is because I would was using a really old Dell D420 that was a slow Core2Duo with 2GB’s of RAM. I no longer have that laptop and now have the Dell E6430, which has a Core i7, 8GB’s of RAM, and an SSD.

Screenshot from 2015-11-22 11-55-13

I am out of my Vulcan mind!

I just got settled into a harmonious digital lifestyle of all things Apple when suddenly I decided once again that the world of technology is too vast to stick to just one kind! 

It’s me. I can’t help it. I just have to try different things! But the thing is… I love it! I love using all Apple technology, as everything really does just work, but the truth is I like switching it up every once in a while too!

Here is my current setup:

  • Primary laptop: 15″ Retina Display MacBook Pro running OS X El Capitan. 
  • Secondary laptop: 14″ Dell E6430 running Fedora 23. 
  • Workstation: Supermicro running Windows 7 Professional. 
  • Phone: iPhone 6 running iOS 9.1

Why all of these machines? Well, here is where you’ll think I am out of my Vulcan mind, but each one serves a purpose. 

The MacBook Pro is what I use mostly for personal computing and work stuff when I am not in the office. It is setup to use my personal iCloud account and I use Photos to ship all of the pics from my SLR and videos from my GoPro to my iPhoto Library in iCloud. 

The Fedora laptop is for all of my experimental stuff like learning Swift, Python, and the internals of Fedora/Red Hat Linux. Messing around with this machine comes at no risk because if I royally screw it up I’ll just reinstall Fedora. 

The Windows 7 Pro desktop is my primary work computer when I am in the office. It’s the ultimate GTD machine, as I have the latest version of Office installed and I love using Outlook to organize my tasks and emails. Nothing beats it as far as I am aware. 

Lastly, the iPhone is of course the best mobile phone you could possibly ever buy! I have previously tried other platforms and none of them offer an experience that comes anywhere near iOS. 

So there you have it! Plagtech is back and I’ll be writing more posts about the applications that I use across each of the aforementioned platforms. 


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.