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Simon Egersand

Simon Egersand

7 months ago

Working from home for more than two years has taught me a lot.

Since the pandemic, I've worked from home. It’s been +2 years (wow, time flies!) now, and during this time I’ve learned a lot. My 4 remote work lessons.

I work in a remote distributed team. This team setting shaped my experience and teachings.

Isolation ("I miss my coworkers")

The most obvious point. I miss going out with my coworkers for coffee, weekend chats, or just company while I work. I miss being able to go to someone's desk and ask for help. On a remote world, I must organize a meeting, share my screen, and avoid talking over each other in Zoom - sigh!

Social interaction is more vital for my health than I believed.

Online socializing stinks

My company used to come together every Friday to play Exploding Kittens, have food and beer, and bond over non-work things.

Different today. Every Friday afternoon is for fun, but it's not the same. People with screen weariness miss meetings, which makes sense. Sometimes you're too busy on Slack to enjoy yourself.

We laugh in meetings, but it's not the same as face-to-face.

Digital social activities can't replace real-world ones

Improved Work-Life Balance, if You Let It

At the outset of the pandemic, I recognized I needed to take better care of myself to survive. After not leaving my apartment for a few days and feeling miserable, I decided to walk before work every day. This turned into a passion for exercise, and today I run or go to the gym before work. I use my commute time for healthful activities.

Working from home makes it easier to keep working after hours. I sometimes forget the time and find myself writing coding at dinnertime. I said, "One more test." This is a disadvantage, therefore I keep my office schedule.

Spend your commute time properly and keep to your office schedule.

Remote Pair Programming Is Hard

As a software developer, I regularly write code. My team sometimes uses pair programming to write code collaboratively. One person writes code while another watches, comments, and asks questions. I won't list them all here.

Internet pairing is difficult. My team struggles with this. Even with Tuple, it's challenging. I lose attention when I get a notification or check my computer.

I miss a pen and paper to rapidly sketch down my thoughts for a colleague or a whiteboard for spirited talks with others. Best answers are found through experience.

Real-life pair programming beats the best remote pair programming tools.

Lessons Learned

Here are 4 lessons I've learned working remotely for 2 years.

  • Socializing is more vital to my health than I anticipated.

  • Digital social activities can't replace in-person ones.

  • Spend your commute time properly and keep your office schedule.

  • Real-life pair programming beats the best remote tools.

Conclusion

Our era is fascinating. Remote labor has existed for years, but software companies have just recently had to adapt. Companies who don't offer remote work will lose talent, in my opinion.

We're still figuring out the finest software development approaches, programming language features, and communication methods since the 1960s. I can't wait to see what advancements assist us go into remote work.

I'll certainly work remotely in the next years, so I'm interested to see what I've learnt from this post then.


This post is a summary of this one.

More on Productivity

Jano le Roux

Jano le Roux

2 months ago

My Top 11 Tools For Building A Modern Startup, With A Free Plan

The best free tools are probably unknown to you.

Webflow

Modern startups are easy to build.

Start with free tools.

Let’s go.

Web development — Webflow

Code-free HTML, CSS, and JS.

Webflow isn't like Squarespace, Wix, or Shopify.

It's a super-fast no-code tool for professionals to construct complex, highly-responsive websites and landing pages.

Webflow can help you add animations like those on Apple's website to your own site.

I made the jump from WordPress a few years ago and it changed my life.

No damn plugins. No damn errors. No damn updates.

The best, you can get started on Webflow for free.

Data tracking — Airtable

Spreadsheet wings.

Airtable combines spreadsheet flexibility with database power without code.

  • Airtable is modern.

  • Airtable has modularity.

  • Scaling Airtable is simple.

Airtable, one of the most adaptable solutions on this list, is perfect for client data management.

Clients choose customized service packages. Airtable consolidates data so you can automate procedures like invoice management and focus on your strengths.

Airtable connects with so many tools that rarely creates headaches. Airtable scales when you do.

Airtable's flexibility makes it a potential backend database.

Design — Figma

Better, faster, easier user interface design.

Figma rocks!

  • It’s fast.

  • It's free.

  • It's adaptable

First, design in Figma.

Iterate.

Export development assets.

Figma lets you add more team members as your company grows to work on each iteration simultaneously.

Figma is web-based, so you don't need a powerful PC or Mac to start.

Task management — Trello

Unclock jobs.

Tacky and terrifying task management products abound. Trello isn’t.

Those that follow Marie Kondo will appreciate Trello.

  • Everything is clean.

  • Nothing is complicated.

  • Everything has a place.

Compared to other task management solutions, Trello is limited. And that’s good. Too many buttons lead to too many decisions lead to too many hours wasted.

Trello is a must for teamwork.

Domain email — Zoho

Free domain email hosting.

Professional email is essential for startups. People relied on monthly payments for too long. Nope.

Zoho offers 5 free professional emails.

It doesn't have Google's UI, but it works.

VPN — Proton VPN

Fast Swiss VPN protects your data and privacy.

Proton VPN is secure.

  • Proton doesn't record any data.

  • Proton is based in Switzerland.

Swiss privacy regulation is among the most strict in the world, therefore user data are protected. Switzerland isn't a 14 eye country.

Journalists and activists trust Proton to secure their identities while accessing and sharing information authoritarian governments don't want them to access.

Web host — Netlify

Free fast web hosting.

Netlify is a scalable platform that combines your favorite tools and APIs to develop high-performance sites, stores, and apps through GitHub.

Serverless functions and environment variables preserve API keys.

Netlify's free tier is unmissable.

  • 100GB of free monthly bandwidth.

  • Free 125k serverless operations per website each month.

Database — MongoDB

Create a fast, scalable database.

MongoDB is for small and large databases. It's a fast and inexpensive database.

  • Free for the first million reads.

  • Then, for each million reads, you must pay $0.10.

MongoDB's free plan has:

  • Encryption from end to end

  • Continual authentication

  • field-level client-side encryption

If you have a large database, you can easily connect MongoDB to Webflow to bypass CMS limits.

Automation — Zapier

Time-saving tip: automate repetitive chores.

Zapier simplifies life.

Zapier syncs and connects your favorite apps to do impossibly awesome things.

If your online store is connected to Zapier, a customer's purchase can trigger a number of automated actions, such as:

  1. The customer is being added to an email chain.

  2. Put the information in your Airtable.

  3. Send a pre-programmed postcard to the customer.

  4. Alexa, set the color of your smart lights to purple.

Zapier scales when you do.

Email & SMS marketing — Omnisend

Email and SMS marketing campaigns.

Omnisend

This is an excellent Mailchimp option for magical emails. Omnisend's processes simplify email automation.

I love the interface's cleanliness.

Omnisend's free tier includes web push notifications.

Send up to:

  • 500 emails per month

  • 60 maximum SMSs

  • 500 Web Push Maximum

Forms and surveys — Tally

Create flexible forms that people enjoy.

Typeform is clean but restricting. Sometimes you need to add many questions. Tally's needed sometimes.

Tally is flexible and cheaper than Typeform.

99% of Tally's features are free and unrestricted, including:

  • Unlimited forms

  • Countless submissions

  • Collect payments

  • File upload

Tally lets you examine what individuals contributed to forms before submitting them to see where they get stuck.

Airtable and Zapier connectors automate things further. If you pay, you can apply custom CSS to fit your brand.

See.

Free tools are the greatest.

Let's use them to launch a startup.

Maria Stepanova

Maria Stepanova

3 months ago

How Elon Musk Picks Things Up Quicker Than Anyone Else

Adopt Elon Musk's learning strategy to succeed.

Photo by Cody Board on Unsplash

Medium writers rank first and second when you Google “Elon Musk's learning approach”.

My article idea seems unoriginal. Lol

Musk is brilliant.

No doubt here.

His name connotes success and intelligence.

He knows rocket science, engineering, AI, and solar power.

Musk is a Unicorn, but his skills aren't special.

How does he manage it?

Elon Musk has two learning rules that anyone may use.

You can apply these rules and become anyone you want.

You can become a rocket scientist or a surgeon. If you want, of course.

The learning process is key.

Make sure you are creating a Tree of Knowledge according to Rule #1.

Musk told Reddit how he learns:

“It is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang onto.”

Musk understands the essential ideas and mental models of each of his business sectors.

He starts with the tree's trunk, making sure he learns the basics before going on to branches and leaves.

We often act otherwise. We memorize small details without understanding how they relate to the whole. Our minds are stuffed with useless data.

Cramming isn't learning.

Start with the basics to learn faster. Before diving into minutiae, grasp the big picture.

Photo by niko photos on Unsplash

Rule #2: You can't connect what you can't remember.

Elon Musk transformed industries this way. As his expertise grew, he connected branches and leaves from different trees.

Musk read two books a day as a child. He didn't specialize like most people. He gained from his multidisciplinary education. It helped him stand out and develop billion-dollar firms.

He gained skills in several domains and began connecting them. World-class performances resulted.

Most of us never learn the basics and only collect knowledge. We never really comprehend information, thus it's hard to apply it.

Learn the basics initially to maximize your chances of success. Then start learning.

Learn across fields and connect them.

This method enabled Elon Musk to enter and revolutionize a century-old industry.

Recep İnanç

Recep İnanç

3 months ago

Effective Technical Book Reading Techniques

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Technical books aren't like novels. We need a new approach to technical texts. I've spent years looking for a decent reading method. I tried numerous ways before finding one that worked. This post explains how I read technical books efficiently.

What Do I Mean When I Say Effective?

Effectiveness depends on the book. Effective implies I know where to find answers after reading a reference book. Effective implies I learned the book's knowledge after reading it.

I use reference books as tools in my toolkit. I won't carry all my tools; I'll merely need them. Non-reference books teach me techniques. I never have to make an effort to use them since I always have them.

Reference books I like:

Non-reference books I like:

The Approach

Technical books might be overwhelming to read in one sitting. Especially when you have no idea what is coming next as you read. When you don't know how deep the rabbit hole goes, you feel lost as you read. This is my years-long method for overcoming this difficulty.

Whether you follow the step-by-step guide or not, remember these:

  • Understand the terminology. Make sure you get the meaning of any terms you come across more than once. The likelihood that a term will be significant increases as you encounter it more frequently.

  • Know when to stop. I've always believed that in order to truly comprehend something, I must delve as deeply as possible into it. That, however, is not usually very effective. There are moments when you have to draw the line and start putting theory into practice (if applicable).

  • Look over your notes. When reading technical books or documents, taking notes is a crucial habit to develop. Additionally, you must regularly examine your notes if you want to get the most out of them. This will assist you in internalizing the lessons you acquired from the book. And you'll see that the urge to review reduces with time.

Let's talk about how I read a technical book step by step.

0. Read the Foreword/Preface

These sections are crucial in technical books. They answer Who should read it, What each chapter discusses, and sometimes How to Read? This is helpful before reading the book. Who could know the ideal way to read the book better than the author, right?

1. Scanning

I scan the chapter. Fast scanning is needed.

  • I review the headings.

  • I scan the pictures quickly.

  • I assess the chapter's length to determine whether I might divide it into more manageable sections.

2. Skimming

Skimming is faster than reading but slower than scanning.

  • I focus more on the captions and subtitles for the photographs.

  • I read each paragraph's opening and closing sentences.

  • I examined the code samples.

  • I attempt to grasp each section's basic points without getting bogged down in the specifics.

  • Throughout the entire reading period, I make an effort to make mental notes of what may require additional attention and what may not. Because I don't want to spend time taking physical notes, kindly notice that I am using the term "mental" here. It is much simpler to recall. You may think that this is more significant than typing or writing “Pay attention to X.”

  • I move on quickly. This is something I considered crucial because, when trying to skim, it is simple to start reading the entire thing.

3. Complete reading

Previous steps pay off.

  • I finished reading the chapter.

  • I concentrate on the passages that I mentally underlined when skimming.

  • I put the book away and make my own notes. It is typically more difficult than it seems for me. But it's important to speak in your own words. You must choose the right words to adequately summarize what you have read. How do those words make you feel? Additionally, you must be able to summarize your notes while you are taking them. Sometimes as I'm writing my notes, I realize I have no words to convey what I'm thinking or, even worse, I start to doubt what I'm writing down. This is a good indication that I haven't internalized that idea thoroughly enough.

  • I jot my inquiries down. Normally, I read on while compiling my questions in the hopes that I will learn the answers as I read. I'll explore those issues more if I wasn't able to find the answers to my inquiries while reading the book.

Bonus!

Best part: If you take lovely notes like I do, you can publish them as a blog post with a few tweaks.

Conclusion

This is my learning journey. I wanted to show you. This post may help someone with a similar learning style. You can alter the principles above for any technical material.

You might also like

Vanessa Karel

Vanessa Karel

5 months ago

10 hard lessons from founding a startup.

Here is the ugly stuff, read this if you have a founder in your life or are trying to become one. Your call.

#1 You'll try to talk yourself to sleep, but it won't always work.

As founders, we're all driven. Good and bad, you're restless. Success requires resistance and discipline. Your startup will be on your mind 24/7, and not everyone will have the patience to listen to your worries, ideas, and coffee runs. You become more self-sufficient than ever before.

#2 No one will understand what you're going through unless they've been a founder.

Some of my closest friends don't understand the work that goes into starting a business, and we can't blame them.

#3 You'll feel alienated.

Your problems aren't common; calling your bestie won't help. You must search hard for the right resources. It alienates you from conversations you no longer relate to. (No 4th of July, no long weekends!)

#4 Since you're your "own boss," people assume you have lots of free time.

Do you agree? I was on a webinar with lots of new entrepreneurs, and one woman said, "I started my own business so I could have more time for myself." This may be true for some lucky people, and you can be flexible with your schedule. If you want your business to succeed, you'll probably be its slave for a while.

#5 No time for illness or family emergencies.

Both last month. Oh, no! Physically and emotionally withdrawing at the worst times will give you perspective. I learned this the hard way because I was too stubborn to postpone an important interview. I thought if I rested all day and only took one call, I'd be fine. Nope. I had a fever and my mind wasn't as sharp, so my performance and audience interaction suffered. Nope. Better to delay than miss out.

Oh, and setting a "OoO" makes you cringe.

#6 Good luck with your mental health, perfectionists.

When building a startup, it's difficult to accept that there won't be enough time to do everything. You can't make them all, not perfectly. You must learn to accept things that are done but not perfect.

#7 As a founder, you'll make mistakes, but you'll want to make them quickly so you can learn.

Hard lessons are learned quicker. You'll need to pivot and try new things often; some won't work, and it's best to discover them sooner rather than later.

#8 Pyramid schemes abound.

I didn't realize how bad it was until I started a company. You must spy and constantly research. As a founder, you'll receive many emails from people claiming to "support" you. Be wary and keep your eyes open. When it's too good to be true. Some "companies" will try to get you to pay for "competitions" to "pitch at events." Don't do it.

#9 Keep your competitor research to a minimum.

Actually, competition is good. It means there's a market for those solutions. However, this can be mentally exhausting too. Learn about their geography and updates, but that's it.

#10 You'll feel guilty taking vacation.

I don't know what to say, but I no longer enjoy watching TV, and that's okay. Pay attention to things that enrich you, bring you joy, and have fun. It boosts creativity.

Being a startup founder may be one of the hardest professional challenges you face, but it's also a great learning experience. Your passion will take you places you never imagined and open doors to opportunities you wouldn't have otherwise. You'll meet amazing people. No regrets, no complaints. It's a roller coaster, but the good days are great.

Miss anything? Comment below

Sam Hickmann

Sam Hickmann

7 months ago

Improving collaboration with the Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats was written by Dr. Edward de Bono. "Six Thinking Hats" and parallel thinking allow groups to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way, improving collaboration.

Fundamental ideas

In order to develop strategies for thinking about specific issues, the method assumes that the human brain thinks in a variety of ways that can be intentionally challenged. De Bono identifies six brain-challenging directions. In each direction, the brain brings certain issues into conscious thought (e.g. gut instinct, pessimistic judgement, neutral facts). Some may find wearing hats unnatural, uncomfortable, or counterproductive.

The example of "mismatch" sensitivity is compelling. In the natural world, something out of the ordinary may be dangerous. This mode causes negative judgment and critical thinking.

Colored hats represent each direction. Putting on a colored hat symbolizes changing direction, either literally or metaphorically. De Bono first used this metaphor in his 1971 book "Lateral Thinking for Management" to describe a brainstorming framework. These metaphors allow more complete and elaborate thought separation. Six thinking hats indicate ideas' problems and solutions.

Similarly, his CoRT Thinking Programme introduced "The Five Stages of Thinking" method in 1973.

HATOVERVIEWTECHNIQUE
BLUE"The Big Picture" & ManagingCAF (Consider All Factors); FIP (First Important Priorities)
WHITE"Facts & Information"Information
RED"Feelings & Emotions"Emotions and Ego
BLACK"Negative"PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting); Evaluation
YELLOW"Positive"PMI
GREEN"New Ideas"Concept Challenge; Yes, No, Po

Strategies and programs

After identifying the six thinking modes, programs can be created. These are groups of hats that encompass and structure the thinking process. Several of these are included in the materials for franchised six hats training, but they must often be adapted. Programs are often "emergent," meaning the group plans the first few hats and the facilitator decides what to do next.

The group agrees on how to think, then thinks, then evaluates the results and decides what to do next. Individuals or groups can use sequences (and indeed hats). Each hat is typically used for 2 minutes at a time, although an extended white hat session is common at the start of a process to get everyone on the same page. The red hat is recommended to be used for a very short period to get a visceral gut reaction – about 30 seconds, and in practice often takes the form of dot-voting.

ACTIVITYHAT SEQUENCE
Initial IdeasBlue, White, Green, Blue
Choosing between alternativesBlue, White, (Green), Yellow, Black, Red, Blue
Identifying SolutionsBlue, White, Black, Green, Blue
Quick FeedbackBlue, Black, Green, Blue
Strategic PlanningBlue, Yellow, Black, White, Blue, Green, Blue
Process ImprovementBlue, White, White (Other People's Views), Yellow, Black, Green, Red, Blue
Solving ProblemsBlue, White, Green, Red, Yellow, Black, Green, Blue
Performance ReviewBlue, Red, White, Yellow, Black, Green, Blue

Use

Speedo's swimsuit designers reportedly used the six thinking hats. "They used the "Six Thinking Hats" method to brainstorm, with a green hat for creative ideas and a black one for feasibility.

Typically, a project begins with extensive white hat research. Each hat is used for a few minutes at a time, except the red hat, which is limited to 30 seconds to ensure an instinctive gut reaction, not judgement. According to Malcolm Gladwell's "blink" theory, this pace improves thinking.

De Bono believed that the key to a successful Six Thinking Hats session was focusing the discussion on a particular approach. A meeting may be called to review and solve a problem. The Six Thinking Hats method can be used in sequence to explore the problem, develop a set of solutions, and choose a solution through critical examination.

Everyone may don the Blue hat to discuss the meeting's goals and objectives. The discussion may then shift to Red hat thinking to gather opinions and reactions. This phase may also be used to determine who will be affected by the problem and/or solutions. The discussion may then shift to the (Yellow then) Green hat to generate solutions and ideas. The discussion may move from White hat thinking to Black hat thinking to develop solution set criticisms.

Because everyone is focused on one approach at a time, the group is more collaborative than if one person is reacting emotionally (Red hat), another is trying to be objective (White hat), and another is critical of the points which emerge from the discussion (Black hat). The hats help people approach problems from different angles and highlight problem-solving flaws.

Jayden Levitt

Jayden Levitt

2 months ago

The country of El Salvador's Bitcoin-obsessed president lost $61.6 million.

It’s only a loss if you sell, right?

Created by Author — Using Toonme

Nayib Bukele proclaimed himself “the world’s coolest dictator”.

His jokes aren't clear.

El Salvador's 43rd president self-proclaimed “CEO of El Salvador” couldn't be less presidential.

His thin jeans, aviator sunglasses, and baseball caps like a cartel lord.

He's popular, though.

Bukele won 53% of the vote by fighting violent crime and opposition party corruption.

El Salvador's 6.4 million inhabitants are riding the cryptocurrency volatility wave.

They were powerless.

Their autocratic leader, a former Yamaha Motors salesperson and Bitcoin believer, wants to help 70% unbanked locals.

He intended to give the citizens a way to save money and cut the country's $200 million remittance cost.

Transfer and deposit costs.

This makes logical sense when the president’s theatrics don’t blind you.

El Salvador's Bukele revealed plans to make bitcoin legal tender.

Remittances total $5.9 billion (23%) of the country's expenses.

Anything that reduces costs could boost the economy.

The country’s unbanked population is staggering. Here’s the data by % of people who either have a bank account (Blue) or a mobile money account (Black).

Source — statista.com

According to Bukele, 46% of the population has downloaded the Chivo Bitcoin Wallet.

In 2021, 36% of El Salvadorans had bank accounts.


Large rural countries like Kenya seem to have resolved their unbanked dilemma.

An economy surfaced where village locals would sell, trade and store network minutes and data as a store of value.

Kenyan phone networks realized unbanked people needed a safe way to accumulate wealth and have an emergency fund.

96% of Kenyans utilize M-PESA, which doesn't require a bank account.

The software involves human agents who hang out with cash and a phone.

These people are like ATMs.

You offer them cash to deposit money in your mobile money account or withdraw cash.

In a country with a faulty banking system, cash availability and a safe place to deposit it are important.

William Jack and Tavneet Suri found that M-PESA brought 194,000 Kenyan households out of poverty by making transactions cheaper and creating a safe store of value.

2016 Science paper

Mobile money, a service that allows monetary value to be stored on a mobile phone and sent to other users via text messages, has been adopted by most Kenyan households. We estimate that access to the Kenyan mobile money system M-PESA increased per capita consumption levels and lifted 194,000 households, or 2% of Kenyan households, out of poverty.

The impacts, which are more pronounced for female-headed households, appear to be driven by changes in financial behaviour — in particular, increased financial resilience and saving. Mobile money has therefore increased the efficiency of the allocation of consumption over time while allowing a more efficient allocation of labour, resulting in a meaningful reduction of poverty in Kenya.


Currently, El Salvador has 2,301 Bitcoin.

At publication, it's worth $44 million. That remains 41% of Bukele's original $105.6 million.

Unknown if the country has sold Bitcoin, but Bukeles keeps purchasing the dip.

It's still falling.

Source — Nayib Bukele — Twitter

This might be a fantastic move for the impoverished country over the next five years, if they can live economically till Bitcoin's price recovers.

The evidence demonstrates that a store of value pulls individuals out of poverty, but others say Bitcoin is premature.

You may regard it as an aggressive endeavor to front run the next wave of adoption, offering El Salvador a financial upside.