Last night in South Florida. Ending turned out sorta like the last guy that brought his talents here. Strong start. Poor finish. But I’ll be back soon.

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Opportunities Appear Where You Least Expect

While the nature of my work affords me the opportunity to work from home or in local coffee shops/internet cafes, I have always found the office environment more comfortable (minus the dress code and rigid hours). I enjoy talking with others about their day, challenges or frustrations. I’m not ashamed to say that most people’s work days are far more interesting than mine (even I get bored by too much talk about coding). It’s one of the reasons that I prefer co-working locations such as StrongBox West in Atlanta. 

I’ve worked out an agreement with my uncle’s law practice, when I am in North Carolina. In exchange for office space/equipment/internet access, I provide limited technical support to the office staff and help in automating their work flows (they push a lot of paper unnecessarily, even for a law firm!).

Until I began engaging the office staff on a daily basis I was blind how much opportunity there is here for developing my own business. What started as a simple project in office automation has turned into a fun and exciting business opportunity. This is going to be a fun summer!

My Nomadic Lifestyle Setup – My Stuff

The toughest part about creating a nomadic lifestyle is having access to the things that I need when/where I need them. Since I primarily migrate between Atlanta and Carolina, I had the following questions:

  • What do I really need and what can I get rid of?
  • What about things that I need to access infrequently?
  • Should I carry them with me or just keep

I decided to get rid of most of the things I didn’t need to transport. This included lots of books, clothes and shoes. Once I started looking at the other things I used frequently, I came to some simple solutions for my locations (Atlanta, Carolina and elsewhere)

  • Clothes – Travel with a week’s worth (1 bag). 
  • Books – I keep e-books on my iPad or on DropBox.
  • Coffee grinder & French Press – Inexpensive enough that I can keep one in both locations. Everywhere else I go, I’ll just drink local coffee.
  • Drum kit – I will keep my electric set in Atlanta and get an acoustic kit for Carolina. 
  • Golf clubs – One set in Atlanta. One in Carolina. When traveling from either locale, take the set with me or rent when I get there.

Going through this process has helped me to simplify things by focusing on things I really need/want. I’m sure the specifics will change somewhat when I start extending my stays in other locales but I think this setup will work for now. 

My Nomadic Lifestyle Setup – My Tools

I had a conversation with a good friend recently about leaving his current company and possibly starting his own business. Our talk turned to tools that would allow for collaboration and remote work. He was familiar with many of the cloud-based tools available but wasn’t sure which he should use. I shared my current toolkit and decided to provide it here as well.  Even if you aren’t a software developer, you may find many of these tools useful.

Hardware

  • 17" MacBookPro – My primary work machine. If I plan on doing any dev work, I bring it along. While it is larger than necessary for true mobility, its size allows me to view multiple applications without constant switching .
  • 27" iMac desktop – This computer remains at my permanent address. It provides a larger workspace when I am working out of my home office and serves as a backup when my laptop is unavailable (twice in the last 3 years). 
  • iPad (1st Gen, 32GB , 3G) – Many argue that it’s not for content creation, but I find that it is sufficient for most tasks (I draft most of my blogs posts and even wrote a children’s book on it). It also serves as a test device for application development and a repository for all of my digital media (eBooks, WWDC videos, podcasts). I got rid of my television as well because I can stream movies/shows on it (Bonus!).
  • iPhone 4 – As an iOS developer, this is another required test device for me. My first Apple device was the 3G model and I upgraded to this model when I started developing for iOS full-time. I probably would’ve kept the 3G otherwise, since the iPad runs the same apps.

Software

  • Evernote – a ubiquitous note capture tool. I use it for everything from design notes to bookmarking pages from the web (no more synching between browsers). The notes are synched between all of my devices so whenever I need to access information, it’s there. Notes are also accessible from my iPhone/iPad.
  • Github – a cloud-based repository that I use for source control. I used to use Subversion (and Visual SourceSafe before that) but I find Git much easier to use and more effective for collaborating with others on projects. I haven’t tried to use it for non-programming projects so if I weren’t a developer, I probably wouldn’t find this tool as useful.
  • Dropbox – another cloud-based storage service that allows me to sync documents between machines or share with other Dropbox users. I use it to store music and video. The files are even accessible from my iPhone/iPad.
  • GoogleDocs – web-based tool is for document collaboration with others, allowing simultaneous editing without having to send versions back and forth via email.
  • Pivotal Tracker / Rally – web-based project management tracking tools that breaks projects into stories (smaller well-defined deliverables). The tools even tracks my velocity (how fast I am accomplishing tasks) and adjusts the schedule accordingly. A great way to learn about how much time it really takes to get things done.
  • Things – this tool is closer to a traditional to-do list but allows me to group tasks into projects and projects into areas of my life (personal, work, family, home, etc.). I can quickly place a task on the list of things to be done today, on a specific date or an undefined someday. It allows me to capture something that I want/need to do and forget about it. It also allows me to immediately see what I need to do next once something is completed.
  • Pomodoro – I have trouble focusing on only one thing so this tool helps me tackle tasks in smaller chunks of time (25 minutes) with breaks in between. 

    The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both.

    Multiple Attributions (Zen Buddhists texts, James Michener, L.P. Jacks)