December Hack Night

It seems that I have found some consistency posting to this blog during Hack Night at the Reno Collective. A lot of people ask me what I do at the Reno Collective. I pretty much do the same thing I would do at home–I work. I am more productive at the collective because I am removed from a number of side-projects, books, chores, games, and toys that I have in my apartment. As a freelancer/entrepreneur/creative, I have learned to classify work using three categories: things I need to do, things I should do, and things I can do. When I work from home, I complete those tasks I need to do and then work on things I should do until I get bored or distracted. I never really get to the work that I can do unless I decide to work on the weekend. When I am at a coworking space, I complete what I need to do, finish most of what I should do, and then start looking at the other things that I can do.

The reason for enhanced productivity while coworking is not only that I am removed from my most common distractions, but also because I am surrounded by others who are being industrious and getting shit done. I feel like I am part of a community while I am here, and a primary characteristic of that community is working diligently.

This community is especially important to me during the seasons of less daylight because I find it difficult to remain productive after dark. Working 12-16 hours during the summer is easy when it stays light until after 8 o’clock, but for some reason, I feel like I am operating at ~<60% of optimal when it is dark by 5pm.

If you work from home and want to be a part of a community, join a coworking space. It’s the future of work!

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WordPress Wednesday Atop Megabus

I am writing this blog post from the top level of a Megabus! That’s right. WiFi on this bus is working, and I think this trip shows that Megabus finally fixed their Free WiFi Fail.

I’m a bit of a wanderlust, so I was thrilled when Megabus began offering services in Reno. I have taken a few trips since they came out west, but the Internet connection has been extremely poor if I was able to connect at all. When I experienced free WiFi and power outlets on buses back east, I was amazed and delighted! I imaged myself cruising the country by bus while working remotely from my laptop. I could start the Interstate Coworking movement!

Now that I am able to maintain a solid connection during the entire trip from Reno to the Bay Area, the remote abilities and coworking possibilities are endless!

Please share your Megabus experiences in the comments section. Would you be interested in a mobile coworking meetup?

I Moved to the Cloud

The Cloud is here to stay, and I’m moving there!

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I have recently had some technical issues with different laptops, which made my ability to work on-the-go more difficult to maintain. I was quick to realize and take advantage of the benefits of storing work, documents, preferences, and settings in the cloud.

The timing of this change in the way I work is very appropriate because I also recently upgraded my main communication device to a Motorola Moto G by Google. I am in love with my new device, and I am grateful that Google released it before they sold off Motorola to Lenovo.

Acquiring the Moto G gave me two strong incentives to become more Cloud Based. The ability to primarily use cloud telephony through Google Voice and an extra 50 GB of space on my Google Drive. Thanks big G!

Dealing with PC fails made me learn to sit down at any laptop with an internet connection and be able to pick-up where I left off on a different computer. Before flash drives were everywhere, I was in the habit of emailing documents to myself or keeping files stored on an FTP server. Without using cloud services, keeping documents and folders synced across multiple devices is a challenge and a hassle. Too many times have I loaded my work documents on a flash drive–only to discover an hour into working that I forgot to include one important file.

In addition to the way I work and store documents, moving to the cloud has greatly improved my ability to communicate. I am not embarrassed to say that I was a very late adopter of smart devices. I was just never really impressed with anything that was out there. When I got my Motorola, I did not migrate my number that I have had for 13 years. I kept my dumb-phone and its number, and I now use that as my home phone. I connected my smart phone to my Google Voice number that I have had for over 5 years. Google Voice is great, and inspired me to refrain from calling my Moto G a ‘phone’. I refer to it as my Cloud Device because that term more accurately describes the way I use it. It has a phone app (Google Voice), but I don’t even use that as much as the other features.

My favorite thing about using cloud telephony is the way my number follows me from computer to computer and device to device.  Whenever I am logged into Google and someone calls me, it starts ringing on the computer first. I can answer it on the computer, or wait a few more seconds for it to start ringing to my mobile device. The same works for video chats through Google Hangouts. Between a standing desk, multiple laptops, a tablet, and my new smart cloud device, Google Voice makes it easy to manage my calls.

So this story explains how I have moved to the cloud. When I want quite time, I can set all my communication programs to send to message, and anyone who wants to get in touch with me can use my home phone.

//insert clever cloud welcome mat greeting here

Thoracic Bridge to Health

Today I discovered a great new way to stay healthy while working at a computer. It is called the Thoracic (Thor-ass-ick) Bridge, and it is a pretty basic stretch that takes less than a minute.

I have previously written about Standing Desks and How Working w/ Tech Impacts Health. Today for WordPress Wednesday and to makeup for missing YouTube Tuesday yesterday, here is another health tip. In the future, watch for an article about how to protect your eyes from too much technology.

This is the video that I found via @Facebook via @lifehacker via @YouTube via Max Shank via Ambition Athletics.

Craig–Friend to Freelancers

Happy Freelance Friday Friends!

A valuable tool that I use as a freelancer and an entrepreneur is Craigslist.

I’m no wizard at using Craigslist, but I am learning quickly. I’m probably better than most. I wish they would put some R&D into User Experience and update their platform. Maybe a nice Public API regulated by the GNU Community would help to clean the site up and get rid of some of the 50% that is scammers and schemers.

This post is about my experience on Craigslist. I would love to read about experiences from other people if they’re willing to read mine and give me some notes on it.

Posting an article on my blog helps to start the conversation with myself. Then I start researching and reading about whatever topic I’m writing about. In this case, I just posted 2 more ads on Craigslist before I finished writing that last sentence.

CL is a great way to organically connect with the local community to make deals with strangers. The site uses old school, simple technology to replicate the old school, simple industry it replaced–newspaper classifieds. The main competitors for CL are thrift stores and eBay. Earlier this week, I sold an old Vizio tablet through CL. I did a factory reset on the device, met the guy at the library, he checked it out and gave me my full asking price–CASH!

If you have a side gig or do a freelance business, you should always be posting ads on Craigslist. It doesn’t cost you anything, you can post ads in any city you want, and the more clever you are when writing your ads, the more people you’ll get to respond.

What’s your Craigslist experience?

How Tech Fails Impact Health

Happy Freelance Friday folks! Today, I have been thinking about how an office technology failure has impacted my health this week. Since my office is also my home, some other freelance tech workers might be able to relate.

My home office setup is pretty good. I have two separate workstations. In my bedroom, there is a desktop using the Standing Desk I built. I use this computer primarily for writing and gaming. Sometimes for reading when I feel like standing. I feel more creative on my feet, and I can dance while I work.

In my front room, I have a 32-inch screen on a stand with a sitting desk in front where I put my laptop. In this setup I use dual screens–TV above the laptop. I use this workstation for control panel management, reading news and blogs, doing research, website maintenance, social media, Web 2.0 platforms etc. I have to sit while multi-tasking.

This is how I work to stay healthy. I usually spend 30-40% of my time at my standing desk and log about a half mile a day walking back-and-fourth between my workstations. Sometimes I setup obstacles in my apartment so I have to step-over or duck-under things. I also have a 6ft piece of bamboo that I use to stretch with throughout the day.

Last week, the computer at my standing desk had a mechanical failure. The timing of the fail was a double bummer because I had just purchased a Humble Bundle of games for Steam. Most people, especially techies, know the stress & anxiety of technology failure. The adverse health impacts of stress are well documented and so are detrimental health problems associated with sitting in front of a computer all day and not really exercising.

Because the computer at my standing desk was down, I had to sit all week. I was hardly getting-up and moving around going between workstations, I did not make any obstacle courses, and I only stretched with my bamboo about twice a day. Not being able to game this weekend is also going to bum me out, but at least I’ll have time to get my desktop PC working again.

I made a makeshift raiser stand for my wireless keyboard so I can write this article  on my TV whilst standing–my laptop below. Being eye-level with the TV isn’t bad, but having to stand on the cold, hard tile is brutal and my laptop screen is now useless. I hope this is the last article I have to write with my keyboard on top of an old printer box.

Freelance Friday

I wanted to use this Friday to give a shout-out to all the freelancers out there. I know it’s tough and dirty sometimes. Freedom is worth it! Freedom to chose the gigs you sign up for. Freedom to chose the projects you want to work on. Freedom to learn and grow towards what you think is interesting in this  incredible industry of the Internet.

I have been doing freelance tech work exclusively for the past three years. I have been doing it on the side for the past ten, and did it exclusively for a year at the end of high school into college.

Being a Freelance Tech Consultant is not so glamorous as some people may think. Doing the dirt work is exactly that–dirty! After a few years experience, some people find the more desirable jobs like c-panel management, content curation and distribution, web development, consulting, etc. The good tech work is out there, but most freelancers spend a few years at the bottom and know what I’m talking about.

Here is a List of My 8 Favorite Things about being a Freelance Tech Guy

    1. Crawling under dirty desks and through the dirty cable nests behind PC towers.
    2. Smokey, dingy home offices filled with pet hair, dust, ancient technology, and stacks of useless papers.
    3. Working in the dirty basements, attics, and crawlspaces where the network cabling is.
    4. The endless, mindless clicking and captchas of Amazon Mechanical Turk to make rent.
    5. Virtual Windows XP environments that run legacy software managing ancient databases.
    6. Graveyard and swing shift to bring down systems and servers after hours.
    7. Opening and sorting hundreds of computer boxes before running initial setup and software configuration.
    8. Running initial setup and software configuration on hundreds of computers. (One or two or more always fail right near the end so you have to restart the process and wait after everything else is already finished!)

There are also platforms like www.elance.com and www.fiverr.com to add extra revenue sources, but I don’t have any experience with those sites yet.

Happy Friday! Keep up the good work and remember–It’s all about the user!