An Interview with a Successful Developer: Lifestyle, Taxes, and Node.JS

Written by Irina Papuc Topics: Business, Learn to Code, Self Improvement IMG_0008

At Toptal, we’re always looking for the best freelancers around. But what makes a freelancer truly great? Luis Martinho, one of our top developers, is beloved by his clients — so we sat down with him to talk about freelancing, technologies like freelance Node.js and HTML5, and paying your taxes.

So, to start, how did you get into freelancing? Have you ever worked a full-time job?

“I had worked a couple of full-time jobs: some of them were relatively corporate, but the most recent was in a startup environment, specifically in the enterprise SaaS space, building sexy management software in the cloud. We had a very talented team and a very ambitious vision. After four years of growth, we had an exciting product in an exciting space, which was great, but I wasn’t very happy. I needed a lifestyle change. When we started, I personally did not understand how hard it was to “start up”. It’s not just the hours, because you work long hours in all sorts of environments and projects; it’s the stress, the responsibility, and the pains associated with creating something new. It’s not all flowers and rainbows. In the end, I decided that I wasn’t co-founder material (at least, not at the time). But the experience gave me a much deeper understanding of the kind of pressure faced by startup founders, and I know that I’ve become a better freelance software developer because of that.

Freelancing looked more and more like the life I wanted: it presented an opportunity to find interesting clients and projects while being rewarded for quality work.

I started looking for regular jobs: first in my hometown, then in the rest of the country, then in the rest of Europe. I managed to find some interesting projects, some interesting compensation packages, and some interesting locations; but I believed that I could have it all. So I began to look into freelancing. And as I kept looking, freelancing looked more and more like the life I wanted: it presented an opportunity to find interesting clients and projects while being rewarded for quality work.”

What was the toughest challenge that came about during your transition to freelance development work?

“Originally, I imagined a huge change would be the income stability that you expect from a full-time job, where you have a certain amount of money that you always get by the end of the month—and you get it, whatever happens. I expected that to be a major concern since I knew that being a freelancer meant that I wouldn’t always have clients. But that’s not really what’s happened—kind of surprisingly, at Toptal I’ve managed to always have a steady flow of clients without having to hunt for them. So, to be honest, the main challenge has really been to organize my schedule. I really don’t have any set hours to work. I basically make up my own schedule, and so I have to be more disciplined than I was before. I try to work more-or-less standard hours: I wake up in the morning, start working, have lunch at the time that everyone else has lunch, work in the afternoon, and then have dinner. I try to work a normal schedule, not pulling all-nighters, burning the midnight oil every day. This discipline was a big challenge at the start.”

But most people see loose hours as a benefit of freelance software engineering. What’s your take on that?

I’ve found that it pays off to be disciplined because I end up being much more productive if I have a set of routines.

“Certainly, it is a benefit. It’s cool in the sense that if you run into any problems, if you have to assist someone in your family, or you have this great opportunity for some kind of leisure activity, you can go after it and you can enjoy that opportunity. But on the other hand, I’ve found that it pays off to be disciplined because I end up being much more productive if I have a set of routines, because those routines basically guide me: I can cut to the chase and get more done during that time. It’s good to have that freedom, but I think it has to be used responsibly.”

Freelance software developers enjoy the benefit of flexible schedules and a different pay structure.

Your clients love you. What’s your secret?

“As a freelance software developer, it’s probably a good trait to be slightly lazy in terms of looking for the easiest, cheapest way to get something done; to be extremely annoyed by doing repetitive work, and so to continuously improve on your tool chain. For instance, you spend a lot of time in a terminal: you should seriously consider creating shortcuts, aliases, whatever saves you time and saves you typing. In the end, a lot of the tasks you do are not really rocket science; they’re just going through a couple of loops to get something done. If you optimize that stuff and get the repetitive work out of the way, you have more time available to do the actual rocket science.

If you get the repetitive work out of the way, you have more time available to do the actual rocket science.

You also have to have someone else handle hourly pay and billing, getting money from customers, and even getting new customers so that you can focus on doing great work. And that’s absolutely important. When you’re a freelance software developer, you’re working on delivery, but also on marketing and sales. And what you want to do—and what your clients want you to do—is to spend as much time on delivery, and as little time on marketing, sales, and even finance. You’ll always have to spend time looking for new freelance development clients when you’re working for old ones, and that’s not something the old ones want—and it’s not something you want. You just want to focus on doing your work well. So having someone else handle billing and finding new clients is something that you should be very happy about, and you’re very lucky if you find it.

Also, don’t forget: pay your freelance taxes.”

How do you keep yourself motivated on a daily basis?

They feel that you’re connected to them in a way that you’re not just sending over billable hours.

“What plays a huge part in my motivation is the quality of the clients. If possible, I try to be kind of picky. That is, I try to accept gigs that motivate me in terms of the technological challenge involved whether it be solving a hard problem or working in an interesting space. And it kind of just follows from that. I always work with a client thinking that I’m working towards a common goal: I try to see the bigger picture and see myself as part of the team. You’re never really part of the internal or onsite software development team in the full emotional way, especially when you’re out of the office, but you can still feel like part of the team in terms of the overall project and the quality of the work. And I think people on the other side (the client and the client team) feel that—they feel that you’re connected to them in a way that you’re not just sending over billable development hours, you’re really worried about whether they will succeed or if the quality of the work is good enough.”

What do you look for in a potential freelance software or web development client?

This freelance web developer is considering his many client options.

“Generally, I favor more recent technologies than older ones, and also emerging stuff—I wouldn’t necessarily say emerging because some of this stuff is current, but I’d rather work with someone making single-page applications and using Backbone.js andNode.js with Express or some MVC framework than someone who would be using Java Enterprise Edition-style.

I’m freelance, I would much rather have a client that has some asynchronous communication solution in-place. If you’re telecommuting, it’s much easier to get inside a team that’s using something as simple as a mailing list or has chat rooms in Campfireor uses GitHub as a collaboration tool (this last one works remarkably well). Altogether, if the client is not capturing the water cooler talk some way, you risk losing a lot of information and chatter that can impact your work.”

That’s an interesting point. Any other tips for telecommuting?

It’s harder to remember the guy that’s never in the building.

“You have to find a way to compensate for being out of the office. The solution I’ve found is to be proactive. For instance: analyze commit logs. When you’re telecommuting, you should set aside some time just to glance through and have an idea about what other people are working on. If you’re being aware of what’s happening in daily standups, notified through some project management solution, it’s a good practice to try to find hints about what the team is working on. Then, you’re more easily integrated. That’s obviously an additional effort on your side—you might be able to get out of doing it if they have a really good communication process in place, but it can be a good tip and it can save some problems. It’s harder to remember the freelance development guy that’s never in the building.”

Becoming a freelance software developer starts with communication.

What’s the most important quality of a freelancer?

“You have to be someone who can maintain a fluid balance between your personal life and your work. As a freelancer, it’s important to be responsive. But being responsive ends up having a big toll on your personal life. You don’t have to be checking your email all the time—you can just get notified, filter whether it’s important or not, and then you can just go back to enjoying time with your family or whatnot. You have to be a good context switcher. Context switching is usually expensive, but you need to make it cheap and fast, so that you can have a very high standard of service by being very responsive to emergencies but, at the same time, enjoying the company of friends and family.

You have to be a good context switcher. Context switching is usually expensive, but you need to make it cheap and fast.

For the usual freelance development arrangement, you have to know how to manage your finances conservatively. This hasn’t really happened with Toptal, surprisingly, but usually it’s very easy to go from feast to famine when it comes to software or web developer pay, even hourly. One month, you make a ton of money and suddenly you don’t have clients and you don’t have any more work. So you have to be disciplined: you need an idea of the average wage, and you need to spend that amount; all the excess needs to be some kind of cushion to help you sail through the uncertainties of doing this kind of work. This really isn’t that true for Toptal because the stream of clients has been really steady, but it’s still a good practice.”

As a freelancer, you take on a bunch of different software development projects throughout your career. So what do you do first time you’re given access to a new codebase? Lets say it’s a billion lines of code.

“I would try to be disciplined about taking a top-down approach. This means getting a feel for the overall structure of the codebase. That seems kind of obvious, but as you start trying to understand the code, you’ll be driven to what you’re working on at that specific moment and the specific task you have at hand. That will shift your focus from the top-down approach and will put you at the bottom trying to go up, assembling the pieces from the specific parts of code you’re looking at. That might be better in the short term for you to fix that specific bug or add that specific functionality, but in the medium term, you’ll wish you’d kept with the top-down approach. Then, you’ll have a much better view of the system and how the pieces interact.”

Being a freelance developer means taking a top-down approach to new codebases to start effectively.

You’ve done a lot of front- and back-end work. Do you think it’s important for freelance developers today to have both of those skillsets?

“Nope. I’ll be very honest: I think you can gain a lot from specialization, like if you’re ridiculously good with a ridiculously small set of technologies; but it’s just a personal choice. I’m curious, so I work with a lot of different technologies. And that’s why I end up doing both front-end and back-end freelance work.

Technologies will change — what’s hot today will be boring probably tomorrow or at least in 6-12 months.

Having said that, I think it’s crucial for a developer, throughout his or her professional lifetime, to try and learn as many technologies and paradigms as possible. Technologies will change—what’s hot today will be boring probably tomorrow or at least in 6-12 months—and one of the key skillsets for a freelance software developer is to quickly pickup a new technology or a new project. For that, it really helps if you have a systematic approach to learning new stuff and you practice it by learning at least one new language or framework or paradigm every year.”

You’ve done a ton of freelance work with Rails, Django, and more recently, Node.js. How have your experiences differed between the three?

“Uh oh, we’re going to get into a religious war here. I would say Node is quite different than the other two. When you’re first exposed to Node.js examples, you might have trouble getting into the event-driven paradigm. It’s something that might not be 100% natural to someone who’s been doing Rails work all the time. On the other hand, if you’re working with JavaScript, you’re probably developing for the browser and so you’re already familiar with the event-driven paradigm. Personally, in my freelance experience with Node, I’ve been using an MVC framework, so I haven’t developed core technology for Node; I’ve just been a standard user of a client-specific proprietary framework (comparable to Express).”

What are your favorite tools that too few developers are using?

Node.js freelancers have to think differently than Rails freelancers.

“Off the top of my head, WebStorm from JetBrains. It’s a JavaScript IDE that’s really worth looking up. The new Android studio released at Google I/O is powered by JetBrains software, not Eclipse or whatnot. I like Eclipse, but I’m having a really fun time with WebStorm. I’m still learning a lot of shortcuts—and that’s a practice that a good freelance software developer should have as well: learning more about their tools. I’m still learning more about my IDE. WebStorm has a lot of smart shortcuts, a good standard layout, and it also has some nice ZenCoding properties that let you write HTML as quickly as ever. All in all, it ‘s a good tool.”

If a freelance client wanted you to do a project with Rust or Go, or some new language with which you’ve never worked, what would you say?

No matter how good you are, there will always be setup time, and that can be costly for the client.

“I usually try to get my first contact with languages outside of client work, not on the client’s time—no matter how good you are, there will always be setup time, and that can be costly for the client. That being said, if the client told me, “Ok, we’re comfortable even if you don’t know anything about it”, I would see that as a great opportunity to learn something new. On the other hand, if the client had a demanding schedule, I would advise them to hire someone else or use a language that I was comfortable with so I knew I could be productive from the get go.”

What’s the biggest technical challenge that you’ve had to solve while freelancing?

“A freelance HTML5 project comes to mind. Digging into the HTML5 Canvas API to do some advanced graphics editor functionality, like doing lasso selection and freeform selection, where you crop a part of the image but leave out the rest, calculations with sets of pixels, things like that. This was kind of like MS Paint using HTML5 Canvas and implementing things like a brush: you’d think a brush would be something simple—it is if you just draw a line, but in this case you want to imitate a brush stroke, so I had to use a mathematical formula to simulate how a brush would contact the canvas and leave a blur with ink.”

HTML5 freelancers might find this new technology takes some getting used to.

Your favorite new technology that you’ve worked with lately?

“What I’ve been hearing about Meteor is interesting in terms of how they offer a complete head-and-shoulders framework for developing a single-page application. It handles the back-end as well as the front-end. I haven’t worked with it but I’m curious and itching to try it out.”

This article was written by Luís Martinho, a Toptal Python developer.

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Boost Your Productivity With Clever Travel Hardware

Written by Irina Papuc Topics: Self Improvement 18414811362_e985c582a6_o

Boost Your Productivity

So, you want to boost your productivity? Nevermind Game of Thrones, winter is not coming, at least not in the northern hemisphere. It’s summertime, and here at Toptal that usually means many of our freelance developers and designers are either on the road or getting ready to hit the beach.

When I started writing this, some of our people were in Portugal, trying to work out the math behind surfboards. Now it’s my turn, and I’m wrapping up my draft with a nice view of the Adriatic Sea, just a few miles away from the best windsurfing spot in Europe.

Yes, I’m a workaholic, so this might as well be a good time to cover the topic I had in mind.

I can probably guess what some of you are thinking:

This is a lifestyle post! This guy is going to talk about surfing, healthy food and excercise.

No. This is not a lifestyle post. As far as food goes, fresh fish and veggies are always a safe bet. Exercise? Well, cycling to a nearby village to try a marginally different fish dish and sample local wine counts as exercise, at least to me.

So, with all the lifestyle stuff out of the way, I can get back to my message and start discussing the logistics behind travel and remote work and how you can boost your productivity. You can buy capri pants, cheap flip-flops, and boonie hats everywhere, but beachside shops usually don’t carry quality hardware that can help you be more productive on the road, or save time and money for more enjoyable activities.

Caveat: If you’re an avid Apple user with a profound dislike of Windows, you may not like where I’m going with this. I don’t intend to bash Apple, but Cupertino simply doesn’t bother with cheap hardware that won’t be missed if it ends up in the water.

Travel Hardware: Myths and Moths

When you hit the road, what do you stick in your carry-on? And no, I’m not talking about shorts and Toptal shirts. You pack a fair amount of hardware, and I am assuming we all have our personal preferences when it comes to our kit. This is entirely subjective, so I’m not going to tell you your choice of hardware sucks.

If it works for you, stick with it. End of story.

Instead, I will focus on often overlooked gadgets and accessories that can make your life easier and complement your existing travel hardware to boost your productivity. I will try to stay away from expensive or exotic hardware that may be hard to come by, and focus on cheap stuff that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Boost Your Productivity. working on the road with spotty internet access can be a nightmare. Luckily, the hardware is evolving to keep pace.

Working on the road with spotty internet access can be a nightmare. Luckily, the hardware is evolving to keep pace.

The hardware industry has been making a killing on high-end laptops and notebooks for decades. They come in all shapes and sizes, from ruggedized Toughbooks that can withstand a low-yield nuclear blast, to sleek ultraportables that sacrifice performance and value for money, but look awesome and turn heads wherever you go. Whether you’re in the market for a powerful, portable workstation for virtualization and design, or a featherweight ultraportable that doesn’t skimp on performance, you are likely to spend loads of money on your primary laptop. I am not suggesting high-end computers are a bad investment because they cost a lot of money to produce, and in turn, they save time and boost productivity. Magnesium alloys, high-density batteries, powerful mobile GPUs and low-voltage CPUs cost a lot of money, and performance rigs will never be cheap. Virtually every major component in a high-end laptop costs much more than desktop components with comparable performance, and like all things in life, you have to pay a premium to get the really good stuff.

But does this principle apply to all portable hardware? It does not, and this is the myth I mentioned earlier. Useful stuff doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

The commoditization of IT has turned the market on its head. Devices that used to cost hundreds of dollars a couple of years ago are now being sold on supermarket shelves for $99, and you can get even better prices if you take your time to look for online deals. All of them have the potential to boost your productivity.

As I explained earlier, these cheap gadgets won’t replace your MacBook or ThinkPad. You won’t mothball them anytime soon, but you could get some hardware that will supplant them. You won’t have your full development environment or Adobe CC suite on cheap, secondary devices. At the same time, you don’t need a $2,000 laptop to check Slack, write a few emails, or tinker with spreadsheets while you’re sipping your Mojito by the beach. A convertible or hybrid device can handle basic productivity tasks at a fraction of the cost, plus many of them offer superior battery life and can be charged by a powerbank in your backpack. Why drain the battery on your primary computer just to attend a Skype meeting and draft a few follow-up emails? It’s overkill.

Would you use a massive chainsaw to trim a couple of shrubs in your garden? Of course not. Well, I might, but that’s just because I dislike my neighbors.

To summarize, you will still have to pay loads of money to get a proper primary computer, but you can save money elsewhere, and you can get more flexibility. Luckily, mobile computing has never been cheaper, and just a couple hundred bucks can buy you a useful yet nearly disposable device that can boost your productivity.

Wait, What The Hell Are Convertibles and Hybrids?

I spent the better part of a decade covering hardware, and based on my extensive experience in the field, I can confidently say that I have no idea.

These are not technical terms, they’re marketing talk. Every few quarters, chipmakers and vendors have to come up with new buzzwords to appease pitchfork wielding activist investors and analysts, but you can only come up with so many pointless buzzwords before you blur the lines between all sorts of product categories, throwing all rules and definitions out the window.

New chips and form-factors are turning inexpensive hybrid computers into useful secondary devices. Check them out and Boost Your Productivity.

New chips and form-factors are turning inexpensive hybrid computers into useful secondary devices that can boost your productivity. Check them out.

So, convertibles, detachables, clamshells, 2-in-1s, hybrid tablets… What are they really?

They’re basically cheap computing devices, usually based on tablet hardware platforms. Their design and form-factor vary wildly. I know this is a very broad definition, but this is a broad product category.

Tablet hardware, Ewww! That’s not gonna work for me!

I agree, at least to some extent. These devices can’t and won’t replace your primary computer, but they’re not supposed to – that’s the point. They are secondary devices, stuff you can fall back on in case your primary fails, or if you need something lighter and more portable for menial tasks. However, if you think all these devices are underpowered and useless in a professional setting, you’re probably wrong, and once you try one of them you may be in for a pleasant surprise.

I had a chance to try out a few tablets, hybrids and ultraportable notebooks based on Intel’s latest 14nm Atom x5 and x7 processors (codenamed Cherry Trail). These processors are cheap and tiny, but they can still run circles around most 5-year-old laptops. Whereas a high-end mobile processor costs a few hundred dollars, the price of Atoms is measured in tens of dollars. This does not necessarily mean you end up with terrible performance. These highly integrated chips have four physical CPU cores and integrated graphics capable of handling everyday tasks, media consumption, and even running some casual games.

Don’t be fooled by the “quad-core” moniker. Yes, these are quad-core processors, but the architecture is different, and four Atom cores are usually much smaller than a single CPU core used in Intel’s Core-series chips. This means performance is much lower, but since these are 14nm parts, power consumption is ridiculously low. This means the processor can be cooled passively, and a vendor can get an Atom processor for the price of a beachside lunch. In fact, sometimes vendors pay next to nothing for them, because Intelsubsidizes its platforms, although the chipmaker tends to use different nomenclature for this controversial business practice. Last time I checked, they were referring to it as “contra-revenue”, and didn’t like people using the s-word, which is exactly why I am using it.

While a thoroughbred Core i5 mobile processor requires 15W to 35W of juice when it’s running at full load, tablet Atoms can get away with just a fraction of that, on the order of 2W to 3W. This obviously has massive implications on battery life. A few years ago, I had a chance to review one of the first Atom-based hybrids, designed by Asus. One of the biggest problems I encountered during my review was battery life. I had a hard time draining the bloody thing in my everyday routine. It was like a Duracell Bunny; it offered all-day battery life and then some. Better yet, it could be topped off using a standard microUSB charger, although it took a while to fully charge. Intel was clearly onto something, and its engineers from Israel to California obviously did an exceptional job designing this new breed of Atoms.

Atom processors aren't the toys they used to be. They can Boost Your Productivity. The latest generation offers sufficient performance for many applications and scenarios.

Atom processors aren’t the toys they used to be. The latest generation offers sufficient performance for many applications and scenarios.

That was three years ago, and things are even better now. The latest crop of 14nm Atoms is even more efficient, so battery life should not be an issue, even if you get a dirt-cheap “whitebox” device.

But what about the rest of the spec?

This is what a typical low-end hybrid/convertible/2-in-1 tends to have under the hood today:

  • Atom x5 or x7 series processor – usually an entry- to mid-level x5 chip
  • 4GB of LPDDR3
  • 32GB/64GB of eMMC storage – eMMC storage is slower than proper SSDs, but eMMC 5.0 drives can be quite fast and won’t bottleneck the system
  • microSDXC card reader
  • FullHD IPS touchscreen – usually ranging from 10.1 to 12 inches. Some devices also support stylus input, in case you need to sketch stuff or just doodle something
  • Optional 3G connectivity – 4G is still quite rare in this product category, but that’s changing fast
  • 6000mAh to 12000mAh batteries – this largely depends on display size and the form factor
  • Windows 10 – Apple users probably won’t like this, and neither will the Linux crowd
  • Proper full-sized keyboard with touchpad

Big brands usually market such devices at about $500+, but if you want something really cheap and expendable, you might want to consider Chinese vendors, as you can get something with this sort of spec for $200+, and you’ll usually get slightly better specs than if you go for a big brand device. Some of them use virtually the same components as big brand devices.

Personally, I rely on a compact 10.1-inch “detachable” based on a more powerful Core M processor, with a pretty good stylus which I use sparingly, mostly to annoy our illustrators with my half-baked ideas. Core M devices cost more than Atom-based hybrids, but they offer superior performance and can actually replace your primary computer in some situations (especially if you get a bigger device, as 10 inches isn’t going to cut it for most people).

Unfortunately, Apple users don’t have nearly as much choice.

If they insist on avoiding the traumatic transition to Windows, they’re limited to the MacBook Air series or the new iPad Pro, neither of which are cheap or expendable. Of course, you could use a standard 9.7-inch iPad for some tasks, but in my experience, the relatively small 4:3 screen and the necessity to carry around a Bluetooth keyboard leaves much to be desired. If you’re an Apple user, and if you can live with Windows from time to time, you’re probably better off getting a cheap Wintel hybrid with a proper, full-sized keyboard. It all depends on what you’re going to use these devices for.

Google apps and all sorts of web apps look and behave identically on Apple and Windows. This obviously makes a potential transition from OS X to Win a bit less inconvenient, given the secondary nature of these computers.

Boost Your Progress With the Internet: 4G Stands for Gotta Get Global Gear

So, you packed your laptop, tablet, camera, Kindle, smartwatch, and a bunch of other devices, and hopefully, you didn’t forget the chargers. You’re good to go, but you’re traveling abroad and you’ll have to rely on wireless data when WiFi access is not available.

A few years ago, this was a massive problem, because cellular data plans were expensive and pre-3G standards did not offer a lot of bandwidth. This limited our options and forced us to be on the prowl for decent WiFi networks, or even use stone-age hotel Internet (I still have my sawed-off LAN cable somewhere).

Now, it’s not only possible to get relatively good cellular data abroad, it’s something that we take for granted, and the cost tends to be negligible. You’re usually just a Google search away from a cheap pre-paid SIM card that can get you online at 3G or 4G speeds, depending on where you’re traveling (4G coverage is still spotty in some regions, and may be limited to impractical or expensive post-paid mobile plans). You can also get inexpensive portable 4G routers and modems, as well as unlocked dual-SIM phones.

Boost Your Productivity with faster Internet. 4G/LTE is the fastest mobile broadband standard. Dozens of different standards are employed around the globe, resulting in compatibility issues.

4G/LTE is the fastest mobile broadband standard. Dozens of different standards are employed around the globe, resulting in compatibility issues.

However, there are still some pitfalls to avoid.

Just because a device is 3G or 4G compliant, that doesn’t mean it can use every 3G and 4G network. In fact, the vast majority of them can’t. These are very broad standards, and telcos use different frequencies and bands in different countries. Things get exponentially more complicated if you travel overseas. Instead of explaining how and why we ended up with loads of different spectrums and standards, I’ll just suggest you do some research on your own. Here’s a good place to start, and you can check out this LTE frequency bands sheet on Wikipedia while you’re at it.

Unfortunately, I cannot help you here, because there are too many variables in play. I could write a huge essay that still wouldn’t explain it well enough. You will have to check the frequencies and bands for every device and potential destination yourself. Once you figure out where you’re likely to travel, and which standards your mobile devices need to conform to, you can start shopping.

The next question is whether you really need a mobile 3G/4G router. What about a cheap phone for tethering instead?

Hardcore geeks and geekettes may be inclined to take the router route, just because they tend to focus on specs. Dedicated routers have a number of obvious advantages, and since this is an engineering blog, I see no point in explaining why proper routers trump smartphone tethering.

However, that does not mean we should dismiss unlocked dual-SIM smartphones because they have quite a few things going for them as well. In fact, they’re probably a better choice for most people. They tend to be cheaper, more compact and offer more functionality and flexibility. If you don’t need to connect loads of devices at once, and don’t expect to go through a few gigabytes of data a day, a simple smartphone should suffice. Your AirBnB or hotel room will have WiFi anyway to take care of “heavy” stuff.

There are a few points you need to consider:

  • Are you going to travel with a few coworkers or go solo?
  • How often will you be away from WiFi access and for how long?
  • Will you even consider accommodation without broadband access?
  • Would you rather have a dedicated device or a smartphone Swiss Army Knife?
  • How much money are you willing to spend?
  • Can you live with 3G connectivity rather than full 4G speeds?

Personally, I prefer backup phones over routers because I rarely find myself in a situation that would necessitate the use of a mobile router on the road. While routers look better on paper, I simply don’t need them, but that’s just my routine and may not be applicable to everyone. A good “world-mode” 4G router usually costs $200 to $300, and for that sort of money, you should be able to pick up a great backup phone. Cheaper routers are available as well, but they usually can’t deal with 4G bands, whereas most cheap phones can.

Dual-SIM phones are a good alternative to mobile routers. They are cheap, unlocked, and can prove very useful on the road. They also Boost Your Productivity.

Dual-SIM phones are a good alternative to mobile routers. They are cheap, unlocked, and can prove very useful on the road.

Android phones are clearly the more frugal option, yet they can augment or even replace your primary phone in an emergency. You also end up with a lot more choice.

For example, you can buy a very compact phone, or an oversized design with a 5.5- to 6.5-inch screen that can double as a tablet. If you’re an avid outdoorsman, you can get a ruggedized smartphone that can take a lot of punishment and won’t die if you soak it in mud and water. Some vendors offer smartphones with oversized batteries, rated at 6000mAh or even 10000mAh. These devices are designed to double as powerbanks, allowing you to top off your iPhone or Nexus anywhere while providing tethered connectivity. However, that’s just marketing. This is why you really need a big battery in your cheap travel phone: 4G connectivity consumes a lot of power, especially if you are going to tether more than one device and use up a lot of bandwidth.

I recently bought a backup/travel phone and decided to go for a dual-SIM all-rounder: a big-brand device that doesn’t skimp on performance yet doesn’t cost much. It packs a 5.5-inch display, aluminium body, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (expandable), 4000mAh battery, and a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor under the hood. It’s even got a fingerprint scanner and a decent 16-megapixel Sony camera with PDAF, although these are hardly priorities for a backup device.

It set me back about $150. Do you think I overpaid? Because I don’t. You can boost your productivity by doing the same.

Getting Online and Staying There

No matter what you do and what sort of platform you prefer, you are bound to need extra power for your gadgets. This is the great equalizer between iOS and Android, Linux and Windows – all toys need a socket.

Luckily, the industry has done much to standardize DC chargers, so the days of worrying whether or not your device will work on a different continent are long gone. You do, however, need a multi-socket adapter if you are traveling overseas, but I guess that goes without saying. As far as smaller devices go, USB is the ubiquitous standard. All you need are the appropriate cables or adapters and you’re good to go (micro-USB on most devices, USB Type C on next-gen devices, Lightning for Apple devices).

It sounds simple, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

First off, please don’t buy the cheapest power supply units, adapters, cables or anything that plugs into your DC port. It’s just not worth the risk.

For example, with cheap USB cables and chargers you can face the following headaches:

  • Lack of support for fast-charging standards, namely Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 and 3.0
  • Lower than declared output
  • Horrible cables incapable of handling 2 amps or more
  • Questionable reliability
  • Safety/security concerns

Before Apple users start making fun of their Android counterparts and their cheap micro-USB chargers, they probably need to consider the following: Apple’s own chargers and cables tend to get the worst imaginable reviews of any Apple product, and here’s a good (or bad) example of what I’m on about. So, if you want to bash non-Apple users, I suggest you just show them your MagSafe connector and you’ll win by default.

With chargers out of the way, let’s take a quick look at so-called powerbanks. These cheap and practical devices come in a variety of capacities and form-factors. Every self-respecting geek should have one in their travel bag, period.

You should be able to get a good powerbank for $20 to $40. This should be enough to get a unit with dual USB output rated at 2A or more, with capacity ranging from 10,000mAh to 20,000mAh, and Quick Charge support to boot. Many are based on 18650 batteries, so a unit with four 18650 cells on average delivers 10,000mAh, which is enough to charge an average phone three or four times. Some DIY designs also allow you to charge 18650 cells, which comes in handy if you have other devices compatible with these cells (flashlights, laser pointers, bicycle lights, and so on).

While many people may not be familiar with this battery standard, it’s actually been around for ages. Laptop batteries of yesteryear were basically three to eight 18650 cells soldered to each other, so chances are, you already used them without even knowing.

A lot of new powerbanks also support Quick Charge, USB Type-C output, while others feature integrated wireless chargers. Also, if you’re an iPhone user, or use a big-brand Android device, you should have no trouble getting ruggedized cases with an integrated battery, which will protect your device and give you an extra day of battery life.

The Ultimate Travel Hardware Guide to Boost Your Productivity

Sorry, but I haven’t got one. It all depends on your needs, your hardware, and lifestyle. It would be presumptuous to assume otherwise.

Must-have gadgets for every geek backpack: check out how they can Boost Your Productivity.

Must-have gadgets for every geek backpack: check out what they can do for you.

However, I can think of loads of inexpensive must-have items for every geek backpack.

  • High-quality multi port USB charger
  • Extra USB cables and adapters for all your devices
  • Universal AC socket adapter (or two)
  • 10,000mAh+ power bank
  • SIM card removal tool, nano-to-micro SIM adapter
  • MicroSD to SD adapter and/or compact MicroSD USB reader
  • HDMI adapter (hardware dependant)
  • Spare phone and/or mobile router
  • Spare flash drive, memory cards
  • Backup headphones
  • Bluetooth mouse with spare batteries
  • Cable and hardware travel organizer

All items listed above should weigh just a few hundred grams and take up a little space in your bag, provided you organize them properly and can boost your productivity. Their overall cost, save for the spare phone or router, should be around $100. A secondary dual-SIM phone should add about $150 to the total. All of these items are readily available online, via Amazon, eBay, or Chinese e-commerce platforms like AliExpress.

I took the liberty of including a few bits that aren’t directly related to productivity, such as memory cards and corresponding adapters, since I assume most don’t rely solely on their smartphones for photography. I did not include toys and gadgets that many of us take to the beach, like action cameras or fitness trackers, but much of the travel hardware listed above should help you deal with them as well.

But what if you want a bit more to boost your productivity? Well, having a secondary computer is always a good idea. I’m a fan of redundancy, and I hate having to sort out hardware issues on the road. At today’s prices, you just need a few hundred bucks to get a good Atom-based backup machine, provided you don’t insist on using a MacBook all the way. The same goes for smartphones. It’s always good to have a backup, but more importantly, a cheap dual-SIM phone can be used for tethering.

This article was written by  NERMIN HAJDARBEGOVIC, a Toptal Technical Editor.

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Psycho-Cybernetics – Maxwell Maltz | Book Recommendation & Hidden Gems #4

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Books, Deep Thinking, Self Improvement Psycho-Cybernetics

Psycho-Cybernetics – Sounds Crazy

Psycho-Cybernetics…Where to start. This book is just totally awesome. After a couple of chapters I found myself saying ‘this is the best book I’ve ever read’. It’s true, quite a lot of books do get me excited when I get into them, but this one was particularly special.

I found myself writing a lot of notes right at the start of the book. It has very exciting ideas with apparent and practical revelations.

Today we will be talking about the very largely read:

Psycho-Cybernetics book by Maxwell Maltz – Click Here to Get Your Copy

I really hope you enjoy this post as there are some real golden nuggets in here.


Summary & Recommendation

Psycho-Cybernetics is all about the following quote:

The building of an adequate self image is something you should continue throughout a lifetime

It is full of excellent practical acts to build the best self image one can. It has a lot of amazing and inspirational stories and, as someone that is slightly obsessed with self improvement, I can say that it massively delivers on that idea.

Chapter after chapter is a golden gem with such excellent advice and mental activities that can help anyone improve themselves. 

As I mentioned above, it might very well be the best book I’ve ever read. There are so many examples and stories of the amazing implications of thinking positively and ignoring all negative thoughts and things. It is something I will frequently read.

Now, I know you must be eager for me to stop my meanderings and get into the juicy bits of brain work. Enjoy all the hidden gems below.


Hidden Gems

  • Our own self image has a lot less to do with our looks than we realise. We could be beautiful but internally believe we are ugly.


  • A large breakthrough of Psycho-Cybernetics is about synthesising experiences in the laboratory of the mind. One can be more confident and successful in what they do, as they have already done it and succeeded in their mind. The nervous system can’t tell the difference between real and synthesised experiences.


  • Reading a book and acquiring information is passive. Experience helps one grow. One should always do a books activities. Write down the bits that speak to you. Use imagination and memory to experience during or after reading.


  • It stresses the importance of having a self – something that I very strongly believe in. Psycho-Cybernetics makes a reference to a wonderful T.F.James quote from Cosmopolitan Magazine:

Understanding the psychology of the self can mean the difference between success and failure, love and hate, bitterness and happiness. The discovery of the real self can rescue a crumbling marriage, recreate a faltering career, transform victims of “personality failure.” On another plane, discovering your real self means the difference between freedom and the compulsions of conformity.


  • So many of the topics are very similar to my belief of self. We can only act the way our ‘self’ reacts. E.g. a failure type self will always find circumstances to confirm failure.


  • Mini wins create big successes – one of my favourite quotes. We need to give ourself as many mini wins as possible to not only feel better, but train our brain to more easily be able to do the small and large tasks.


  • Not to sound too science fiction, Psycho-Cybernetics has an extremely fun way of looking at how the brain acts. It discusses how the brain is a machine that could technically be replicated one day.

Random Quote Moment:

‘A human being always acts, feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment’


  • Spend half an hour a day imagining yourself sat in a plain room watching a motion picture of the self you want to be/know you are/could be. Pay attention to all the small details: the feel of the chair, the volume of the screen. This will immensely help towards achieving that imagined self that you want to be.


  • Physical relaxation allows mental relaxation and de-hypnotises us from negative attitudes and reaction patterns. The author recommends using mental pictures to relax. Create a mental picture of something beautiful of a time you felt most relaxed. Sat on a beach, staring up at the stars or being mesmorised by a Justin Bieber concert. We’re all unique.


  • Psycho-Cybernetics compelled me, and pretty much asked me, to create thought exercises of exact scenarios that I want. Either to create good experiences that are as fruitful as real ones OR to visualise an end goal with positive emotions to easily achieve it.


  • We never do the actions, we merely decide fully to do the actions and our mechanical mind does the rest.


  • The book strongly recommends a process to creativity: define what you want to create. Gather all the facts. Spend quite a bit of time wanting it and thinking about it. Then do something completely different and let your subconscious do the work. Don’t try and do any of the work in your forebrain. Take a nap, shave, have a conversation about something different with a friend etc.


  • 5 rules to assist your creative machinery:

1. Research and worry about a decision before making it. Then forget about it after making it. E.g. Don’t worry about a roulette wheel after the wheel starts spinning. Works in personal situations too. If you decide to do something, fully commit and don’t worry (e.g. Dentist or social event).

2. Create the habit of consciously responding to the present moment.

3. Try to do only thing at time.

4. Sleep on it.

5. Relax while you work.


  • Smell. Listen. Look. Create a habit to be in the moment.


  • A practical note for life: relax whilst doing any task and let your sub conscious do the work. Your brain should merely be issuing the command and relaxing.


  • Negatives should be glanced at but positives should be focused on. Just like driving a car. A great metaphor of what to focus on to succeed.


  • Forgive by forgetting and realising that a grudge should never have been held: the only way to truly forgive and be peaceful.


  • Regret is useless as it is an attempt to do the impossible: change the past.


  • Using verbs to describe negative situations is a lot more beneficial and doesn’t lead to low self esteem. For example, one should say ‘I failed to do this ‘ instead of ‘I’m a failure’. Once again proving the importance of the words we habitually use to influence our lives in a positive way.


  • Mentally visualise how to do something before doing it to form an unconscious habit that takes over whilst actually doing it. For example, mentally swing the golf club many times before actually taking a shot and you will be more relaxed when you actually take the shot. Not doing this can result in you overthinking and letting your brain get in the way of your subconscious – something we have all experienced before!


  • It his a lot of the same concepts as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Click here now to get this incredible book. One prime example is the idea of: know something as absolutely true and it will become true.


  • There is a secret power of imagination that is rarely used by individuals. Practising scenarios in ones mind is guaranteed to have positive effects and assist in ways that one can only imagine.


  • Develop a nostalgia for the future. Great advice to stay excited about life. Being excited and having goals to work towards keeps people young. Concentrate on the exciting things in the future. Have goals that get you super excited and know you’ll achieve them – Also, don’t forget to enjoy the journey on the way! 


  • You are in control of your thoughts and can choose what to think about at any second. That means if you catch yourself thinking some worrying or negative, (as I was when I thought to write this note!), you can put an instant stop to it and decide to be in the moment, think about a great memory or get excited about the future. We have more power than we realise to change our own happiness.


Psycho-Cybernetics = Life Changing

Seriously, it really works! I was feeling quite upset about a personal situation whilst having lunch with a friend, decided fully and immediately that I wanted to be happy, and I was. Don’t ever underestimate your own control.

Thanks again for joining me for these outcries of self improvement. These books really do influence my life in such awesomely positive ways and I hope the hidden gems shine tiny lights of inspiration for you too.

Go work that brain and create a life that you adore,


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News Feed Eradicator for LinkedIn – No More Distractions!

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business, Self Improvement News Feed Eradicator

News Feed Eradicator for LinkedIn – The Distraction Saviour

I have been a massive fan of the News Feed Eradicator for Facebook for quite some time.

I loved being able to nip on to Facebook…send my little insignificant post that will change the world and then get back on to the important work that makes me happier and makes my life better. OK, there is a tiny distraction on that Facebook extension – an inspirational quote. Not something I would call a distraction though!

I first heard about the the Facebook News Feed Eradicator on Tim Ferriss’ awesome podcast. I’ve already recommended you check that beauty out. But here is a link to the exact episode that makes the life changing recommendation.

This article would be fairly useless if it didn’t link to the News Feed Eradicator Chrome Extension now wouldn’t it?


Click here now, now…now to check it out, download it and give it a pleasant review.



So, Why Should The Other Social Medias Be Allowed To Distract!?

After a very long time of using this Facebook News Feed Eradicator, I asked why there isn’t one for the other social medias. Especially the one that I end up trawling through for way too long: LinkedIn.

Yes, it’s great to keep up to date with the business world and find any opportunity you can to connect with people.

But, I personally find business more distracting than my personal relationships. I get so excited by technological advancements that most of the articles on there pull me away from the important task I’m on! Not any more! Not with Mr News Feed Eradicator for LinkedIn.


Why Do We Get Distracted?

There is no point playing the blame game as it’s really not your fault that you get distracted. We have a very limited amount of concentration and as soon as it has been drained…it’s gone for the day!

Everything on our screens is made with the full interest of trying to grab our attention. The colour of the boxes, the pictures that appear…everything! You wouldn’t believe the amount of work and split testing that goes into research like this as well.

I can honestly say that they succeed…if you let them! So why not get the upper hand and remove the distractions completely. Remove your news feed and there is no way that those pretty little pictures and words can distract you.

Give it a go, and I promise you won’t look back. As always, please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts! Perhaps you feel a little distraction is good?

All the best,

Jason McNesbitt from the Nesbitt Web Conglomerate

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How to Work Remotely and Still Be the Best

Written by Irina Papuc Topics: Self Improvement 14898304299_ba230273d4_o

The Remote Worker’s Tool Belt

Starting a new remote or work from home gig, be it a contract project or a full-time job, can be a little intimidating if you’re used to going into an office day after day.

But this style of employment is growing in popularity, with some very notable companies lending it their endorsements.

I’ve successfully worked remotely using these tools for years now on projects of various scales and durations. With this post, I hope to enumerate some of the best practices that I’ve picked up for working in a variety of situations. The remote and work from home guide here ranges from specific recommendations for software and hardware, to tips for hitting your team’s deadlines.

The Remote or Home Office Setup

I can’t stress enough the importance of having the right office setup. It will both make you more productive and appear more professional. For example, a headset is crucial for avoiding echo during online calls; little things like this go a long way when working as a remote.

Here are some toolsfor working remotely that I consider essential within my own home office:

  • Headset. I really like wired headsets in particular because they don’t run out of battery at critical times. You’ll be wearing it a lot, so make sure you get something comfortable. I have two iMicro headsets: one for my desk and one that I pack in my laptop bag. As a laptop bag headset, it has two great qualities: because it’s USB powered, I don’t have to worry about keeping the batteries charged, and it’s very cheap to replace if it gets broken in my bag. Actually, I find this particular headset a little uncomfortable for long conference calls; if you’re doing a lot of those, then I recommend the Corsair Vengeance 2000: a comfortable, wireless headset with battery capability, allowing you to work all day. (By the way: none of these are referral links.)
  • Quiet place to think, with a door that shuts–especially if you live with other people, and especially if you have a family.
  • Stable Internet connection, or good backup connection. For example, I have DSL and have setup tethering on my phone if the DSL goes out. If you’re constantly having Skype issues or dropping calls, you’re becoming both less reliable and less professional in the eyes of others who might be trying to manage several remote employees.
  • Skype. This is good for adhoc conference calls, instant messaging with clients, or even creating low ceremony chat rooms.
  • SkypeOut, which lets you take and make calls from your phone to Skype contacts. This is awesome, especially for times when you’re away from your computer and (you’ve miscalculated a time, client has an emergency, etc.).
  • Electric kettle. Sometimes I want hot coffee but, don’t want to disturb my flow to get some.
  • Gallon jug of water. For the kettle, or for drinking. For long coding sessions, or long conference calls.

A depiction of an ideal remote or work from home office set up.

Some of these sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of remotes who don’t hit all the marks here. As developers, we need a quiet space to think, uninterrupted. And as remote workers, we need a quiet place to host conference calls, meetings, pair programming sessions, etc., uninterrupted. Just working on your couch is probably not a good long-term remote work solution.

Software Tools

There are a bunch of good software tools out there to supplement your typical development environment and help you overcome the challenges associated with remote work. Here are a few that I really like:

  • AwayFind, which is good for urgent emails, particularly last minute messanges from an attendee of a meeting, as it forwards their messages to you via SMS.
  • Time Zone Converter, for working with clients and colleagues around the world. I like Time And Date’s World Time Clock, Every Time Zone, and World Time Buddy.
  • Chat/IRC rooms for everyone on the team. This could be formal (e.g., a Campfire room) or just a Skype chat room (in Keep It Simple, Silly) style.
  • Bug tracker–this deserves its own section, so see below.

When planning meetings, always confirm both time zones. And when you get an invitation, you should always do the math backwards and make sure you come up with the same numbers. If the meeting involves multiple time zones, I like including the UTC time also. Since everyone should know their offset from UTC, this is yet another check to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

I was on a decently-sized Rails team a few years ago. Several team members worked remotely for at least part of the time, and the team culture was that much work would be done in the evenings. I proposed setting up a chat room through the offical team leader at the time, pointing to Campfire or some other paid chat service. Several weeks went by with no action and I decided to setup a Skype chatroom with just the developers, to test my theory that a chat room would be an asset for the team. This experiment proved very successful – so successful that we just kept using Skype chat instead of another solution. This Skype chat room was still in use when I left the project almost a year later. Sometimes, simple can be the best option.

Later on, during a critical deadline for the same project, we set up a Skype chatroom that included the developers, business analysists, the project managers and the client, so questions could be addressed quickly by the general group. While not as active as the developer-only chat room, it still worked really well. Skype chats can be moderated and controlled by some group chat commands, setting chat roles and setting access permissions, which allows you to really customize the chatroom to your use-case. Even a setup of such simplicity can improve remote productivity.

Remote Work Best Practices: Bug Tracking

I like to know three things from a bug tracker I’m using:

  • What am I working on right now?
  • What’s on my plate for the next release of this software?
  • What are the entire team’s deliverables for this release of the software?

Each of these has a purpose.

First, “What am I working on right now?”: When you work in a traditional office, you have background chatter–this gives you have a general idea of what everyone else is doing. An explicit marker in the bug tracker system stating, “Yes, I’m actively working on this right now”, can introduce a similar pattern and feel to remote work.

Secondly, “What’s on my plate for the next release?” means, “What bugs I’m responsible for” or “What bugs I’m handling”. There’s certainly some back-and-forth in every team, but it’s also good to know who to ask if you want to grab a bug, or need some help with finalizing your bugs for the release.

It’s also possible your team doesn’t work like this at all: for example, your workflow might be where each developer is only assigned one bug to start with and picks off the unassigned pile when their one bug is done. This can be productive as well.

The “Next release of the software” doesn’t have to be anything big–I’ve been on teams where the “next release” meant, “3 days from now, we’re going to release a new alpha build for the client”. But it’s still good for everyone to know what’s coming up in this new release. Especially if you pick off unassigned tickets when your current ticket is complete.

I’ve included some recommendations for specific bug trackers at the bottom of the post.

Remote Work Best Practices: Team Communication

For some, team communication is the most intimidating part of working remotely or from home. But this will only be an issue if you let it be.

In an office, as you stroll by everyone on the way to your seat, there’s a bit of banter, people saying “Hello”. Your coworkers know you’re at work because they see you, over there, at your desk, working.

Remote workers need to be slightly more explicit–nobody knows that you’re working unless you tell them. But if you establish the right communication practices, your colleagues will be available at the press of a button, rather than a stroll across the office, down the elevator, etc.

These tips apply more for a remotely managed employee as part of a bigger team, but may be useful if it’s just you as the sole developer.

Making Your Presence Felt: Don’t Go Invisible

I picked up several of these ideas from the Wide Teams Podcast Episode 48.

At beginning of the day, get on IRC (or whatever tool your team uses) and say “Hello”, chat about how people’s days are going, etc., etc. Even if it means getting on IRC and asking about kids, weekends, sports teams, or weekend hacking. When people know you’re currently hard at-work at home, you don’t become invisible. Build a relationship and let people know that you are there.

Chat with people on chat and make sure you stay involved with your colleagues. This is different then when you bump into people in the coffee room, etc., etc. You need to explicitly reach out and stay in touch so that when you commit code or need assistance, people are ready.

‘Starting day’, ‘Lunchtime’, and ‘Be back’ Messages

Along with making your presence felt, you should also let your remote teammates know when you’re notworking. Just like in a traditional office setting, you don’t want to disappear for the rest of the day and leave your colleagues hanging.

If you’re on a team with a number of other developers or managing remote employees, it makes sense to check in when you start your work day. A simple “Good morning, everyone” to let people know that you’re at your desk ready to start work on the project, and no longer at home or in bed.

Sending “Be back in 1 hour” messages for lunch or work breaks during the day is nice too. Remote work is great for many things, but one worrysome scenario is that you ask your colleague a question and receive no response. Are they not responding because they’re away for 30 minutes? Or because they are deep in the zone and not listening to chat? Maybe in a meeting? “Be back in…” messages can alleviate these concerns and smooth out the workflow.

When you’re done for the afternoon, let people know when you’ll be back. Maybe it’s “See you all in the morning”, or “Be back later this evening to get [x] done”. But like the “Back in 1 hour” messages, they set a certain expectation to which your team can adapt.

There’s an interesting startup called Sqwiggle that may solve some of these problems (although I haven’t tried it myself yet). In addition to taking a picture of you every few seconds, it also lets team members click on your picture to start video/audio chatting, as well as providing a text chat component. The idea behind the picture is to see, at a glance, if you’re at your computer or not. (There’s nothing worse than trying to chat with someone online and not hearing back quickly. Are they caught up with something else? Deep in the zone? Don’t see the chat notification? In the bathroom right now?). I heard about Sqwiggle on the Wide Teams Podcast Episode 83.

On Projects Where You Can Setup the Best Practices

Remote freelancing gigs are always different. (That’s part of the appeal!) Sometimes you’re brought into an existing team of developers purely as staff augmentation. Maybe this team has been together for some time and, in that case, they’ve already established communication practices.

On the other hand, sometimes you’re the only developer on the project, working with a non-technical client. You can setup your own software development best practices and have some control over how to run the operation. Below are some best practices from my decade or so of remote work experience. Mostly, these are targeted at half-week (20 hours/week) or full-week schedules (40 hours/week).

Standup Meetings

There’s something to be said about holding standup meetings to talk about the state of the project. These arevery common in traditional offices, but there’s no reason why they can’t be productive for the remote team: they’re just another way to enforce communication between the two parties: client and developer.

A traditional stand-up meeting asks what you were working on yesterday, what you’ll be working on today, and if there are any obstacles in your way. This format may or may not work given the size of your team: if it’s a single developer project, then these actual questions make no sense.

How often you should have a standup meeting is really dependent on team size and culture. However, here are my recommendations:

  • 1-3 developers: 2 standup style meetings a week
  • 4+ developers: daily standup meetings

With 1-3 developers, these questions are mostly self-evident: you know what each developer is doing because it’s easy to track their individual work as they plow through tickets: everyone knows what everyone is doing, because there’s just not that many people doing work.

With larger remote teams, there are more parts in motion: you want to make sure that nobody is stepping on anyone’s virtual toes by replicating work, or making incompatible changes.

Given Toptal’s per-week payment structure, two meetings a week gives the client enough time to express concerns about the project before they feel cheated out of a weekly rate. Just having one meeting a week could mean that the client is unhappy about the quality of work, and the developer has no time to adjust the deliverables.

Advanced remote teams may have other methods of keeping all the stakeholders on the same page without scheduling an actual meeting while they work from home. I still like getting on the phone/Skype/Hangouts with someone and having a meeting that way.

For small teams, two standup meetings a week works really well: course corrections are made quickly, but developers still have something substantial to report during each meeting.

Delivering on the Next Release Remotely

Depending on the size of the project, I like deliverables sent to the client weekly for small (1-2 developer), and bi-weekly for larger (3+ developer) projects. This rhythm gives developers enough time to complete sizable chunks of work, including an interface (or improved user experience) for the client to see.

For non-technical clients, the only metric by which they can guage progress is what they can see on the screen.

It’s important for developers to remember, especially with non-technical clients, that progress you can visualize with a user interface is often the only thing that matters to the client. Non-technical clients don’t care that you pushed out 500 lines of code this week, or that you had a hard time interacting with some web service; the only metric by which they can gauge progress is what they can see on the screen. That’s not to say that doing good work on the back-end is irrelevant, but rather that you need to make all this good work tangible in the eyes of the client.

This image depicts the importance of deliverables, especially in a remote work situation.

Which is why I like weekly or bi-weekly deliverables. Anything shorter than that often puts the developer in a hard place: maybe they get stuck doing back-end work for two days and don’t have time to finish the interface, so they have nothing to show the client.

Depending on the type of software project, not all of these client releases will be released to the public. For example, if you’re working on a Rails project, you may want to deploy approved changes immediately; on the other hand, with a mobile app, you may call a release “1.3a10”, but the current release is just part of the bigger feature set of a new 1.3 version of the software that will be deployed later.

This is where the remote bug tracker best practices come into play. With bug tracking, the client knows:

  1. What’s on the team’s plate for this deliverable
  2. If it’s been completed
  3. If the work has been approved by the client.

The client knows what to expect from this release, and developers know what work is ahead of them.

If your remote team is mature enough to use continuous deployment and/or Kanban then that’s fine. However, these are both very advanced techniques that are more suited towards organizations with a strong, developer-based culture. Most organizations, where custom software development is seen as necessary but costly, are probably not ready for either of these techniques. Why’s that? Two things I’ve seen is that the client can’t keep up with the number of changes developers want them to review, or priorities change too rapidly for development to get any one thing done.


If you do happen to walk into a team where you’ll be establishing the best practices, I’ve listed some tools below for managing your remote work. Keep in mind that these are just my recommendations: certainly, this guide isn’t for everyone; and if you don’t like these tools, there is probably a tool that fits your needs better.

  •, in weekly mode. This is a time tracker + bug tracker + project estimation tool that sends clients daily emails when you work on their project and lets them see how things are going in terms of progress and budget. This is great for projects of 1-4 developer/months in size.
  • App Trajectory is a bug tracker for small teams with a focus on estimating and breaking the project down into one-to two-week chunks (iterations). App Trajectory can tell you how much work you’re completing in an iteration, and how many iterations until all the known work is complete. This is great for projects 2-12 developer/months in size.
  • Pivotal Tracker is a bug tracker tool for clients with a focus on Agile methodologies. This is great if you are doing formal Agile iterations or have a project size measured in developer/years.
  • FlowDock for chat. Flowdock offers some advantages over plain IRC or Skype chat: in addition to integrating with popular services, it also lets you tag conversations for quick reference later. FlowDock also keeps a list of status activities (code checkins, etc.) which are separated from general chats. (I.e., in the web interface, automated status updates are on the left, while chats are on the right.)
  • Again, Campfire is also great for chat.


Getting started with remote or work from home can be quite an adjustment, both for you and the client. I’ve had it go very right, and very wrong. But, when it goes right, it can be an excellent way for clients or employers to solve the “talent crunch” problem, and create a wider range of opportunities for developers who live outside major technological centers or “startup” hubs. There’s a whole world of efficiency to be gained from developers working together remotely with the right best practices in-place.

This article was written by Ryan Wilcox, a Toptal Ruby developer.

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Wheat Belly Book Recommendation & Hidden Gems #4 | Dr. William Davis

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Books, Self Improvement Wheat Belly Book

Wheat Belly Book


Warning: Following the Guidance of The Wheat Belly Book May Make You Feel Amazing

Thanks for joining me again for the Wheat Belly book recommendation. This is one of my favourite topics in life: diet and nutrition. If you know me, you’ll know how obsessed I get with the different fuels that feed our body and my belief of how much of an impact they have on our body.

To summarise the Wheat Belly book and entice you to keep on reading I will provide you with the following sentence:

If you want to feel more awake, lose weight and understand the fuel of your body more then you have to read this book!

So, if that floats your boat and you’re drooling at the idea of losing weight (irony), then enjoy the summary and hidden gems below of:

Wheat Belly book by Dr William Davis – Click Here to Get Your Copy

Summary & Recommendation

This book will get you excited about how amazing you could feel so definitely comes highly recommended from my humble self.

You’ll be amazed by not only the weight loss impact, but the medical issues that have been resolved by removing this white demon. I enjoy the humour of dislike towards wheat induced people. A fun style of writing that makes it very easy to read.

Reading it made me begin to wonder if most of our foods are empty calories with minimal benefit….Is that something you have ever pondered before? I’ll leave you to read the book and decide for yourself.

I’ll summarise the general findings of it: modern wheat is very genetically modified to create a lot more of it. It results in spikes insulin that make us tired, more hungry, gain weight and have an array of health issues. It’s cheap and fills us up.

This is such a hot topic that I don’t think it needs anymore of a recommendation. After reading it, you’ll be looking out for the wheat belly everywhere and feeling content at having a better understanding of what causes it. Onwards to the gems hidden in the book.

Hidden Gems

  • Wheat stayed the same for thousands of years and changed into something unrecognisable in the mid 20th century and yet still has the same name: Wheat. The book nicely explains the differences before and after to give great insight and explanation


  • GI level of food is the most important thing to look at (and I’d always avoided it!): glucose is unavoidably accompanied by insulin, the hormone that allows entry of glucose into the cells of the body, converting the glucose to fat. The higher the blood glucose after consumption of food, the greater the insulin level and the more fat is deposited


  • Click here right now to view a great GI index of common foods. In conclusion, wheat is the same, sometimes worse, than having a spoonful of sugar


  • Wheat has morphine like effect. You may have experienced it before. Having that big baguette at lunch knocks you out like a punch from Mike Tyson. It is also an appetite stimulant! That means that eating wheat will make you more hungry. I know I definitely crave more food after eating a lot of wheat. Me thinks this is a bad thing!


  • Removing wheat is pretty much guaranteed to improve moods, reduce mood swings, improve concentration and allow for deeper sleep within a few days or weeks


  • Gluten binds to the brain’s morphine receptor. That’s right, just like heroin. Induces a reward, kind of euphoric feeling. If this is blocked or avoided, people often experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms


  • There is the usual story of large companies (pharmaceutical and food) having a sway over clinical trials to avoid the truth and promote/not create bad press for their products


  • My business mind was running whilst reading this book, as per usual. It made me want to create the idea of: What wheat / – an app and website that explains what you can eat and the effects of it. What do you think?


  • Mountains of scientific evidence explaining the negative impact of wheat. This book articulates it, puts it all in one place and gives everybody a very good reason to put down that boots meal deal sandwich. Some of the studies were done decades ago which is why it is so surprising that it isn’t more common knowledge.


  • It got me super pumped about the low carb dream. The evidence is impossible to ignore.


  • Is gluten free worth it?: NO. Gluten free could be used temporarily to avoid the brain side affects of gluten wheat such as the euphoric high and addictive/withdrawel qualities. However, it still has the same, if not higher, glucose/insulin response so will still end up storing more fat.


  • Is rice ok? Yes, gluten wise. Long grain and brown rice are fine as they don’t increase glucose and insulin much but other types of rice can increase glucose as much as bread


  • Unless you’re very interested in the topic, I recommend reading just the first 25% of the book and skipping the sciency bits. It’s quite easy to flip to the next chapter when biology kicks in.


  • Warning: It is an anti carb book disguised as an anti wheat book. The author explains that one should remove wheat and replace it with healthy natural foods such as meat, veg and nuts – not other carbs!


  • Carbs are the biggest reason for appetite. Removing them will result in an individual being able to go for days without really feeling hungry. Imagine not having your life ran by the fact that you need to top up on sugar (carbs) every 2 hours. Life changing freedom!


So What Should You Be Eating?

As I was nearing the end of the book, I got the urge to write out a nicely refined list of what can be eaten to have the following benefits:

– a consistent level of energy and appetite by reduction of glucose/insulin spikes

– reduction of ageing due to lack of small LDL particles being created 

– avoiding all allergic reactions to gluten

It turns out that the author had the exact same idea as when I got on to the next page, I found a very similar looking list. Useful stuff! Check out the list below:

– As much meat as you want (not cured such as bacon, sausages or salami). Cook at lower temperatures for as little time as possible

– as many eggs as you want

– as much fish as you want

– as much cheese as you want. Full fat.

– as many vegetables as you want

– as many raw nuts as you want

– some fruit (preferably berries). E.g. 10 blueberries or 3 wedges of apple or orange. Not dried fruit.

– some quinoa or oats. E.g. 1/2 a cup

– some brown rice. E.g. 1/2 a cup

– some potatoes. E.g. 1/2 a sweet potato

– some legumes. E.g. 1/2 a cup

– some cottage cheese, yoghurt, milk and butter. E.g. 1 serving a day. Unflavoured and unsweetened

– some soy. E.g. 1 serving a day

– use the following oils generously: extra virgin olive, coconut avocado and cocoa butter

Recommendation In A Recommendation – My Favourite

If you are interested in this topic then I highly recommend you check out Grain Brain by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg. It is very similar and stresses the same points as the Wheat Belly book. You grab your copy by Clicking Here.

Grain Brain concentrates more on the effects of wheat/gluten on the brain and is an excellent read. It explains the non visual effects of gluten such Alzheimer’s etc. in a very understandable, albeit, medical way.

The Wheat Belly Book is Totally Worth It

The Wheat Belly book is worth it just for the list of easy to make recipes at the back! Great low carb ideas and a surprising amount of sweet treats. I can’t wait to try them.

Thanks for joining us again. I hope these books are having a positive impact on your life. I know they certainly are on mine! Until next time…

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Learn to Code: Toptal’s Quick And Practical JavaScript Cheat Sheet: ES6 And Beyond

Written by Irina Papuc Topics: Learn to Code learn-to-code-3

JavaScript: What is ES6?

ECMAScript 6 (ES6) is the latest standard specification of JavaScript, the programming language of the Web. Since HTML5 and the birth of Node.js, the runtime that allows us to run JavaScript on the server or desktop, JavaScript has gained a unique momentum. There is a growing adoption rate among enterprises, embracing it into production, and thus its newest features were greatly awaited.

We created this cheat sheet as a list of ES6 features we use everyday. Trying to be comprehensive but concise at the same time, new API methods are left apart. For those who need them, make a quick search by yourself or try to explore the MDN documentation to catch the latest experimental APIs. However, some the most bleeding edge characteristics like async and await from the next specification draft (ES7) are included. This is because of most of us developers are going to use a transpiler like Babel anyway to get advantage of the newest JavaScript.

You can test out some of the mentioned tips by running the node REPL with this command:

node --use-strict $(node --v8-options | grep harm | awk '{print $1}' | xargs) #ES6

Or, use directly a babel-node to get the most of Javascript in your console.


Download JavaScript ES6 Cheat Sheet


JavaScript (ES6 and Beyond) Cheat Sheet


> const EULER = 2.7182818284
> EULER = 13
> 2.7182818284

let vs var

> var average = 5
> var average = (average + 1) / 2
> average
> 3
> let value = ‘hello world’
> let value = ‘what is new’
// -> throws TypeError: Identifier 'value' has already been declared

Warning! If array or object, the reference is kept constant. If the constant is a reference to an object, you can still modify the content, but never change the variable.

> const CONSTANTS = []
> [ 2.7182818284 ]
> CONSTANTS = { ‘euler’: 2.7182818284 }
> [ 2.7182818284 ]

Be aware of Temporal Dead Zones:

> console.log(val) // -> 'undefined'
> var val = 3
> console.log(val)
 // -> 3

Because it’s equivalent to:

> var val
> console.log(val)
> val = 3
> console.log(val)

Variables declared with “let/const” do not get hoisted:

> console.log(val)
// -> Throws ReferenceError
> let val = 3
> console.log(val)
// -> 3


Binary, Octal and Hex Notation

> 0b1001011101 // 605
> 0o6745 // 3557
> 0x2f50a // 193802

New Types

Symbols, Maps, WeakMaps and Sets

Arrow Function

> setTimeout(() => {
…  console.log(‘delayed’)
… }, 1000)

New Scoped Functions

> {
… let cue = 'Luke, I am your father'
… }
> 'Luke, I am your father'

Equivalent with Anonymous Function

> setTimeout(function () {
…   console.log(‘delayed’)
… }.bind(this), 1000)

Equivalent with Immediately Invoked Function Expressions (IIFE)

> (function () {
… var cue = 'Luke, I am your father'
… console.log(cue) // 'Luke, I am –
… }())
> console.log(cue)
// Reference Error

Object Notation Novelties

// Computed properties
> let key = new Date().getTime()
> let obj = {  [key]: “value” }
> obj
> { '1459958882881': 'value' }

// Object literals
balloon = { color, size };

// Same as
balloon = {
  color: color,
  size: size
// Better method notations
obj = {
foo (a, b) { … },
bar (x, y) { … }

String Interpolation, Thanks to Template Literals

> const name = 'Tiger'
> const age = 13
console.log(`My cat is named ${name} and is ${age} years old.`)
> My cat is named Tiger and is 13 years old.

// We can preserve newlines…
let text = ( `cat

Default Params

> function howAreYou (answer = ‘ok’) {      
 console.log(answer) // probably ‘ok’


new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
  request.get(url, (error, response,  
  body) => {
    if (body) {
      } else {
}).then(() => { ... })
.catch((err) => throw err)
// Parallelize tasks
   promise1, promise2, promise3
]).then(() => {
   // all tasks are finished

Classes, Inheritance, Setters, Getters

class Rectangle extends Shape {
  constructor (id, x, y, w, h) {
    super(id, x, y)
    this.width = w
    this.height = h
  // Getter and setter
  set width (w) { this._width = w }
  get width () { return this._width }
class Circle extends Shape {
  constructor (id, x, y, radius) {
    super(id, x, y)
    this.radius = radius
  do_a(x) {
    let a = 12;
    super.do_a(x + a);
  static do_b() { ... }

Destructuring Arrays

> let [a, b, c, d] = [1, 2, 3, 4];
> console.log(a);

> 1
> b
> 2

Destructuring Objects

> let luke = {  occupation: 'jedi',
 father: 'anakin' }
> let {occupation, father} = luke
> console.log(occupation, father)

> jedi anakin

Spread Operator

// Turn arrays into comma separated
// values and more
> function logger (...args) {
 console.log(‘%s arguments’,
 // arg[0], arg[1], arg[2]

…Go Destructuring Like a Boss

> const [ cat, dog, ] = [
‘schroedinger’,  ‘Laika’, ‘Nemo’, ‘Dori’]
> fish // -> [‘Nemo’, ‘Dori’]

Or Do a Better Push

> let arr = [1, 2, 3]
> [...arr, 4, 5, 6]
> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

…And Destructuring in the Future    ⚠ ES7

{a, b,} = {a:1, b:2, c:3, d:4}

Async   ⚠ ES7

async function schrodinger () {
return new Promise((resolve, reject)
  => {
   const result = Math.random > 0.5
   setTimeout(() => {
     return result ? resolve(‘alive’)
     : reject(‘dead’)

Await   ⚠ ES7

try {
console.log(await schrodinger())
// -> ‘alive’
} catch (err) {
// -> ‘dead’

Export   ⚠ ES7

export function sumTwo (a, b) {
return a + b;
export const EULER = 2.7182818284
let stuff = { sumTwo, EULER }
export { stuff as default }

Importing   ⚠ ES7

import React from ‘react’
import { EULER } from ‘./myexports’
import * as stuff from ‘./myexports’
// equivalent to
import stuff from ‘./myexports’
// { sumTwo, EULER }


They return a objects that implement an iteration protocol. i.e. it has a next() method that returns { value: < some value>, done: <true or false> }.

function* incRand (max) { // Asterisk defines this as a generator
while (true) {
// Pause execution after the yield, resume
// when next(<something>) is called
// and assign <something> to x
let x = yield Math.floor(Math.random() * max + 1);
max += x;

var rng = incRand(2) // Returns a generator object
> // { value: <between 1 and 2>, done: false }
> // as above, but between 1 and 5
> // NaN since 5 + undefined results in NaN
> // No one expected NaN again?
> rng.throw(new Error('Unrecoverable generator state.'))
// Will be thrown from yield

This article was written by Jesus Dario Rivera, a Toptal Javascript developer.

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Bootstrapped: Building A Remote Company

Written by Irina Papuc Topics: Business DCF 1.0


The Dream: Building A Remote Company

If you ask me, working remotely rocks. I’m currently writing from a small beach bar located on a remote island in southern Thailand. Looking up from my laptop, I see nothing but the endless ocean and its crystal clear blue waters. I’ll be enjoying this morning undisturbed and focused on my work because the rest of the team hasn’t even gotten up yet. Time zones work out really well for distributed teams.

My colleague Thomas recently talked to 11 thought leaders in project management about the impact of remote work on a company; some scrum experts argued that distributed teams could work together effectively while others came out strongly against it.

I understand the concerns; you can’t just open up the office doors and release everyone into the wild. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll end up with a thriving business. Marissa Mayer at Yahoo famously axed remote work in 2013 after feeling that some employees abused it.

So how does a tech company get this working remote thing right? Read on. The following is based on our story at Planio and how we made it work.

The author, Jan Schulz-Hofen, working remotely on an island beach.

Enter Planio, my remote company

There are a number of things which motivated me to start my current company. Breaking away from client work while retaining all the benefits of being a location independent freelancer was one of them.

In 2009, I was sitting in the shadow of a cypress grove situated in a beautiful Mediterranean-style garden overlooking the rolling hills of Tuscany, working hard on a new side project of mine: Planio.

It’s a project management tool for people like me: developers. Planio helps make client projects more organized and transparent all while reducing the number of tools and platforms needed to do the job. Planio is based on open-source Redmine (an open source Ruby on Rails-based software project), which I’ve used remotely with my own clients since its very beginnings. So, in a way, remote work is already in Planio’s DNA.

Fast forward to today, and my small side project has grown into a real company. We’re a team of 10 now, serving more than 1,500 businesses worldwide. We have an office in Berlin, but many of us work remotely.

In this article, I’ll dig into the principles, tools and lessons that have helped us along the way. After reading it, I hope you’ll be able to architect your software company so it’s remote-friendly right from the start.

“Talk is cheap. Show me the code.” – Linus Torvalds

Every Thursday we have an all-hands conference call where we discuss what we did the previous week and what’s coming up next.

At the beginning, we spent a lot of time discussing ideas before deciding on what to do, but we found that it’s a lot harder when some team members are on a poor quality telephone line and you can’t see them.

Now, we often just “build the thing” and then discuss it – we create a working prototype with a few core ideas and then discuss that. For instance, we recently hit some performance issues with our hosted Git repositories. Instead of discussing and analyzing all the possible ways in which we could potentially save a few milliseconds here and there with every request, my colleague, Holger, just built out his suggested improvements in a proof-of-concept on a staging server to which we directed some of our traffic. It turned out well and these ideas are going into production.

This method focuses everyone’s minds on action rather than talk. The time invested in writing code is paid back by less time spent talking in circles.

Use Text Communication

Real-time communication punishes clarity. Instinctively calling a colleague when you need something is very easy, but it’s not always your best course of action. I can’t remember the number of times I’ve started writing an email or a Planio ticket for a problem only to solve it myself just while writing it down.

Zach Holman, one of the first engineering hires at GitHub, agrees: “Text is explicit. By forcing communication through a textual medium, you’re forcing people to better formulate their ideas.”

Text communication also makes you more respectful of each other’s time, especially when you’re living multiple time zones away. Immediate communication can be disruptive; the person might be in the middle of figuring out why the last deployment went wrong. With an email, s/he should be able to consider your write-up at a more convenient time.

Be as Transparent as Possible

Time spent worrying about office politics isn’t conducive to shipping working software, and transparency promotes trust. It’s no coincidence that many remote-by-design companies, such as Buffer, have radical transparency. In the case of Buffer, it shares revenue information and the salaries of all its employees.

Automattic, the company behind, also emphasizes transparency. In his book, The Year Without Pants, Scott Berkun shares his experience working remotely for Automattic, and that all decisions and discussions are internally available to employees in its P2 discussion platform as part of its emphasis on transparency.

The chat feature in Planio works in a similar way. Discussions are open for everyone to see and chat logs are linked automatically from the issues discussed so nobody is left out; even new hires can read up on what previous decisions were made and why. When I started building the chat feature, I considered adding a feature for chatting privately with others, but when we discussed it as a team, we ended up leaving it out because we wanted to keep team communication as transparent as possible.

I think transparency is critical for remote teams. For example, imagine you’ve just joined a team of remote developers. Perhaps you’ve never met your new colleagues. You don’t know the unspoken rules of behavior. You might be worried about whether you’re doing a good job. Are your teammates actually being sarcastic or do they really mean their compliments? Is everyone privately discussing how good of an engineer you are?

Digitalize Your Systems

We choose our services based on what they offer by way of online platforms, from telephone providers to banks (many of them will even offer a small financial incentive for going paperless, plus it’s great for the environment, too). I’m lucky to have a lawyer and an accountant for Planio who are comfortable sending emails or messages with Google Hangouts instead of summoning me to their offices. (I strongly recommend you ask about this at the first meeting.) Bonus points for getting them to sign up with your project management tool and become a part of your team!

We’ve even digitized our postal mail; at Planio, we use a service called Dropscan that receives our letters, scans them and forwards the important ones to the appropriate person. You don’t want to your friend to pick up and read them out over Skype. If you cannot find a mail-scanning provider for your city or country, some coworking spaces offer virtual memberships to maintain a physical mailing address while you’re away.

For those companies sending out mail, there are services available so that you never have to visit a post office again. We use a German printing company with an API that automatically sends a letter along with stickers to each new paying Planio customer. It’s something people love, and we don’t have to print and mail a thing. International alternatives include Lob and Try Paper.

Digitalize Your Systems

Should You Have a Digital Presence Mandated?

In a co-working space on the tropical island of Koh Lanta, Thailand, I noticed that someone in a support role for a major e-commerce platform was constantly on a live video feed with the rest of the team. Sqwiggle offers a similar “presence” functionality for remote teams.

I suppose mandating that all employees are on video while working might be based out of a fear that employees abuse remote work arrangements. In my experience, that’s not the case. At the tropical co-working space, there’s a certain urgency in the air, despite the laid-back clothes and coconut drinks. People are quietly focused on their laptops; it’s as if they want to make sure remote work delivers results, so they can stay out of a fixed office for good.

We found that we don’t need a digital presence because we have a great level of trust among everyone on the team. I also think that it’s paramount to respect everyone’s privacy. If your company is moving from an all-on-site setting to remote work, a digital presence might help the more anxious managers to overcome any trust issues.

Choose Bootstrapping over Venture Capital

Most venture capitalists are looking for outsized returns, so they’ll prefer an intense short burst of 12-months’ work from a team over a more sustainable pace. Front App, a startup funded by the Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator, rented a house in the Bay area for their three-month stint in the Y Combinator accelerator program. The goal is to optimize for evaluating a business idea quickly.

Given the outsized return mindset, you may have a hard time convincing a venture capitalist to fund you when you’re working from a beach in Cambodia. This is why many venture-backed startups (such as Buffer or Treehouse) that use remote work built leverage first. Buffer was profitable before taking on investment while Ryan Carson, the founder of Treehouse, had already proven himself with a previous startup.

Here’s a better way than venture capitalism: bootstrapping. It means financing your company with revenue from initial customers. In my opinion, it’s by far the superior approach because it enables you to build your company on your own terms and remain in control. However, it often requires working two jobs or freelancing on the side while you get your company started. It took me about two years working on both Planio and client projects (via my software development agency LAUNCH/CO) to get going, but it was well worth it.

Bootstrapping also forces you to build a business that generates revenue from the very beginning, which I find much healthier. Hint: Building a B2B SaaS makes this much easier than creating a consumer app because businesses are far more willing to pay monthly subscriptions if it adds value. You have to sell a lot of consumer iPhone apps at $0.99 to cover monthly payroll for even the smallest of teams.

Choose Bootstrapping over Venture Capital

Bootstrapping forces you to build a business that generates revenue from the very beginning.

Price your Products Strategically

One of our first clients was a massive technology company with billions in annual revenue. Obviously, I was delighted that they’d choose us over much bigger, more established competitors. They’re still a happy customer, but we have moved away from very large enterprise accounts; I’ve found that they require a lot of hand-holding and in-person meetings before they’ll become a customer.

As Jason Lemkin points out in his article on scaling customer success for SaaS, when you have big enterprise accounts, someone will have to get on a jet to visit them twice a year. If you’re a small company of two or three people, that person is going to be you, the CEO, the CMO and the CSO all rolled into one overworked hamster.

Keeping your pricing model within the rough bounds of a $49/$99/$249 model as suggested by developer-turned-entrepreneur Patrick McKenzie means avoiding having to hire an enterprise sales team, and having to earn the massive amount of capital required for it. You, the customer, don’t expect the CEO to pop in at Christmas with a box of chocolates when you’re paying $249 a month.

Build on Open Source

A venture-backed business based on proprietary software is great when your play is a “Winner Takes All” game and own the market. When you’re a bootstrapped company, open source software can give you reach and leverage you could never have achieved, otherwise.

There’s precedence of profitable tech companies building a business around open source software; Basecamp famously open-sourced Rails, guaranteeing themselves a supply of highly qualified engineers for the rest of eternity. GitHub has become a unicorn, leveraging the open source project Git that Linus Torvalds started to manage the Linux kernel sources. Our friends at Travis-CI started as an open source project, ran a crowdfunding campaign and then turned it into a remote-focused bootstrapped business (which also campaigns for diversity in tech through its foundation).

Planio is based on Redmine and we contribute many of our features and improvements back to the community. This works great in multiple ways; our contributions and engagement in the community help advance the open source project and Planio gets exposure to potential new customers. For us, it’s the most authentic way to build a brand; by showing our code and taking part in open technical discussions, we can demonstrate that we know our stuff!

Hire Proven Professionals

Hiring a fleet of interns every year makes sense only if you’re intent on scaling up your employee count as soon as you hit the next round of funding.

Outsourcing tasks is easy if it’s copy-and-paste, but you don’t want to outsource your DevOps to someone with the lowest hourly rate when you have thousands of customers relying on your servers. You’ll want proven professionals, such as those at Toptal.

Matt Mullenweg, the founder of the popular open-source blogging platform WordPress, stated that by focusing on quality means that his company, Automattic, predominantly hires experienced candidates who can handle the unstructured working environment of a remote company.

That means it “auditions” candidates by paying them to work on a project for several weeks, then hire them based on performance. Automattic has found this method is far more effective in finding the right candidates than traditional CVs and cover letters.

Emphasize Quality of Life

Work takes up a massive amount of our time, year in and year out. It should not be something that you just do to be done with; you’d probably end up wasting a huge chunk of your life. The best source of motivation and the main ingredient for great results is a work environment that’s inspiring, enjoyable and fun. Travelling, learning and engaging with people from different cultures makes work feel less of a sacrifice or necessary evil (at least in my life) than when working a nine-to-five office job.

Emphasize Quality of Life

Work takes up a massive amount of our time, year in and year out. It should not be something that you just do to be done with.

It’s not just about travelling the world, though, there’s the personal freedom aspect. Parents get to spend more time with their kids, thanks to avoiding a two-hour commute. You don’t have to live in Silicon Valley to earn San Francisco wages. Maybe, your significant other gets a great job opportunity abroad, too. You’re not faced with the painful choice between staying at your job and continuing your career or becoming a “trailing spouse” with limited career options.

At Planio, even though many of us work remotely, we all try to meet up at least once a year in a fun location. Last year, we spent a few weeks of summer in Barcelona, and several of us met here in Koh Lanta, this year. I’m still looking for ideas for the next destination, so let me know if you have any travel tips!

What tools, ideas or techniques have you found that make working remotely easier and more effective? Leave a comment below.

This article was written by JAN SCHULZ-HOFEN, FOUNDER & CEO @ PLANIO and friend of Toptal.


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Learn to Code: Wisdom and Tools for the Journey

Written by Irina Papuc Topics: Learn to Code learn-to-code-2

Learn to Code

Programming is a great skill to have. It is hugely rewarding on both a personal and professional level, giving you the ability to build and tinker and invent. It can open doors to all kinds of career paths with great benefits, be it a respectable paycheck, freedom to work when and where you want, or all of the above.

It’s no surprise that more and more people, from all kinds of backgrounds, are deciding to learn to code. But, each person who tackles the task is soon faced with an unpleasant reality: Learning to program is hard.

Complicated and confusing, at first, much of coding doesn’t make any damn sense. Contrary to expectations, the feeling of “I don’t get it,” may persist unabated long into the journey, making once bright-eyed beginners feel hopeless, lost, and ready to give up.

The moral of the story is this: Be prepared. The path to programmer paradise and learning to code is a long one, and without the right mindset at the beginning, it can quickly lose its appeal.

In this article, I’ll attempt to give you some guidance on what to expect on your journey, how best to go about it, and what tools and resources you may find helpful along the way.

The journey to programmer's paradise begins with a single step.

What to Expect

Maybe it’s obvious, but the first thing to make sure you wrap your head around is that programming, at its core, is a technical discipline. The earliest skills you learn will require a lot of “exactness” and “correctness,” and trying to cut corners will get you nowhere. You will have to learn at least a little bit of math, as well as a lot of things that might feel like math, such as procedural logic.

The point is, learning the foundations of programming takes a lot of focus and practice. However, countless people, techy and non-techy alike, have made this journey before you so do not be discouraged. As we will see, there is an abundance of resources for people just like you to help make the process as easy as possible.

Learning programming ain't easy.


The learning curve to learn to code is steepest in the beginning. There is a huge amount of “fundamentals” to absorb, including the various parts of a programming language (expressions, variables, data types, operators, loops, conditional statements, functions, classes), and the techniques for understanding how much of your computer’s time and memory space your code is going to use (complexity). You will write a lot of code that doesn’t work the first time, so you will have to come to terms with the bane of every programmer’s existence: debugging.

Once you’ve learned how to write code, you will be able learn how to write robust code. Making code efficient, easy to read and understand, and easy to expand on, is an art, and one that is constantly evolving. You will be able to start exploring different software philosophies, and go from simply being a “coder” to being a “software architect.” This is also a process that takes a lot of time and practice, but the better you get at it, the more you will find opportunities opening up for you.

How to Learn to Code

Each person’s journey to programming paradise is different, but there are some good principles that all travelers can benefit from. Here is the basic process I recommend if you are just starting out:

1. Choose Your Destination: Pick a Language, Any Language

If you are serious about learning to code, the language you pick really doesn’t much matter. Most popular programming languages share the same fundamental concepts, and by the time you’ve really gotten the hang of programming in your first language, picking up a new one will be easier than the first time around. If you are learning through a university degree program, or similar, your language will probably be chosen for you.

In any case, unless you know exactly what you want to do in the long run, there are only five languages I recommend considering, which strike a balance between ease of learning, versatility of the knowledge gained, and an abundance of long-term job prospects: Ruby, JavaScript, Python, C, and Java.

Here are some general notes on each, to help you decide:

Interpreted Languages

Interpreted languages are easier to get started with. This is because their source code can be run as soon as it is written. In contrast, compiled languages require an extra step between writing and running the code.

As a result, interpreted languages allow for faster coding, but they do not use computer resources as efficiently, and it is easier for bugs to go undetected. They are best suited for applications where performance is not a priority. These languages are very popular for web development. In fact, one of them, JavaScript, is the only language that can be run directly in a web browser, contributing to its rapid rise as one of the most lucrative languages to know.



  • Extremely flexible syntax.
  • Easy to get started with.
  • High demand makes for well-paying jobs.


  • The flexibility can obscure much of the underlying processes.
  • Slow performance makes it a poor fit for high-end applications.

Commonly Used For




  • Only option for in-browser software.
  • Critical to every modern website.
  • Extremely high demand equals an abundance of well-paying jobs.


  • Complex syntax can sometimes be confusing.
  • More challenging than Ruby or Python for beginners.

Commonly Used For




  • Elegant, minimalist typing syntax is beloved by practitioners.
  • Easy to get started with.


  • Slow performance means poor fit for high-end applications.
  • Poor scalability. Language design makes for problems in large applications.

Commonly Used For

  • Web back ends. See Django.
  • Scientific research and academics. See SciPy.


Compiled Languages

When code is compiled, it is converted from human-readable code into optimized machine code before it runs. The result runs much faster and more efficiently than interpreted languages. The compiler that does this must, as part of its job, make sure that everything that has been coded “makes sense,” and, as a result, it can identify and prevent many types of bugs that interpreted languages are susceptible to.

For this reason, it is harder to get away with mistakes or bad code with these languages. They will force you to gain a deeper understanding of what is really going on “under the hood,” and you will learn much more about how a computer really works. The price is that these languages are more labor-intensive, and typically more challenging to learn for beginners.

Compiled languages are used in applications that require performance and reliability, including embedded applications, which may run on hardware with tight resource limitations, and large, complex applications, where even a small bug can wreak havoc.


  • Can deliver better performance than any other “high level programming language.”
  • Will teach you the most about how a computer works.


  • Probably the hardest to master from this list.

Commonly Used For

  • Operating systems.
  • High-end video games.
  • Embedded systems.
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence.


  • Most widely-used language, overall.
  • Strict typing forces a clear and efficient way of thinking.


  • Complex syntax can be cumbersome to read and work with.
  • Considered by many to be old-fashioned, monolithic, and approaching decline.

Commonly Used For

  • Large-scale enterprise applications.
  • Web development.
  • Android development.


HTML and CSS: Not Programming Languages

It should be noted that HTML and CSS, which are used in pretty much every webpage that has ever existed, are not programming languages. They are presentational languages, used to define how something should look and what it should contain, but not how it should behave. Nevertheless, they may be a good place to start, because they are much easier to pick up, and will teach you how to type things correctly. In addition, if you plan to do any web development, you will have to learn them at some point anyway.

2. Start Small

Learning takes time, and there is a lot to absorb. If you try to build a complete application on your first day, it won’t work out. To spare yourself the frustration, start by solving small, simple problems, and work your way up.

For example, the first program that is traditionally written when learning a new language is the “Hello World” program, which simply prints the words “Hello World” to the screen. In most languages, it is almost impossible to write a simpler program, and clearly this program does little of actual use. However, it still incorporates many of the fundamental parts of the language, and so it is perfect for introducing oneself to how the language is typed.

From here, you can write something that adds or subtracts some numbers, then something that takes input from the user. You can then learn about conditionals, which are a way to make decisions, and loops, which perform repetitive tasks. Soon enough, you will be ready to build your first object, and at that point you can start to experiment with building complete applications.

3. Be Patient

The core concepts of programming can be quite challenging. Many of them are not at all intuitive if you don’t know already know how the computer works at a deeper level.

For example, when I was starting out, I found debugging to be an infuriating process; it didn’t feel like programming. Instead of writing new code that did cool new things, I would spend an entire day scouring something I had written, trying to figure out, “How did I f*** it up this time?” scratching my head and ready to give up. Eventually, I would discover I had left a single semicolon out somewhere, or used a tab instead of a space, and by the time I got my code to work again, it would be the end of the day. I would feel like a total idiot; it would feel like such a waste of time.

Learning coding takes a lot of perseverance, especially on the days you feel like you aren't getting anywhere.


This sort of thing is going to happen to you, and it will drive you absolutely nuts. So, one of the keys to success is this: be patient, and go easy on yourself. Some of the best advice on the subject recommends focussing on the process, not on the goals. If you focus on your eventual goal (“I want to build a website by the end of June”) you will get discouraged, and feel like a failure. By letting yourself take as long as it takes to make progress, you will be more successful.

4. Practice Practice Practice

Like any skill, getting good at it really comes down to practice. There is nothing like doing something, to learn how to do it! Even if you can only spare a few hours a week, if you keep practicing regularly, you will, one day, find yourself knowing how to program. Eventually, you will develop an intuition for things, and something that took a whole day at first (like tracking down a bug), may now only take a few seconds.

When you feel like you have more or less gotten the hang of the basics of programming, a great way to get practice is to start your first project. Think of a simple application you’d like to build, such as a to-do list, or a calculator (again, start small), and give it a shot. This will teach you how to solve architectural and design problems, and build different pieces so that they will fit together into a working whole. These are the essential skills that will allow you to truly call yourself a programmer.


Depending on your goals, learning style, and means, you may want to use different resources along your journey. To help you determine what methods are right for you, here’s a quick summary of some of the tools you can use, ordered, roughly, from more structured learning to less structured learning.

These tools and resources will help you learn to code.

Structured Learning

This is the category of options that provide instructors, homework, tests, grades, deadlines, and real consequences if you don’t make your studies your highest priority. These are the options where you will have to go to class or flunk out of the program.

Formal University Degree

The most costly but, for many, the most valuable option, a formal university degree will give you the best foundation for a thriving career in programming and computer technology. You will receive recognition for your accomplishments in the form of your degree (a major leg up when entering the professional marketplace). But more importantly, you will emerge with a deep and thorough understanding of all things computer, and your abilities to write truly top-notch, effective software will reflect this.

Here are some of the things you can expect to learn in-depth from any decent university program, and that may be more difficult to find thorough instruction for elsewhere.

  • Electrical Circuits – The basic physics underlying virtually all computer hardware.
  • Digital Logic Circuits – How to represent truth and logical constructs with circuits.
  • Microprocessors and Computer Systems – How logical circuits are combined to make a programmable computing machine. What’s happening on all those little metal pins and printed wires.
  • Operating Systems – How to program a computer to manage, organize, and protect itself, and enable the safe operation of multiple applications.
  • Databases – How to store and copy large amounts of data without losing it, corrupting it, or making it impossible to search through.
  • Networks – How different and unrelated computer systems can talk to each other.
  • Higher Mathematics – Including Calculus and Linear Algebra. Essential for any career in advanced or cutting-edge fields.
  • Signal Processing – How to cross the boundary from the analog to digital worlds, and vice-versa.
  • Numerical Methods – For when real-world problems don’t fit neatly in a computer.

Computer science and engineering school will kick your ass, and you will have to sacrifice and dedicate yourself to completing it. But the rewards will be well worth it. I struggled to earn my own degree, but the day I received it remains one of the proudest days of my life.


So-called “bootcamp” programs have emerged to fill the needs of those who do not have the time or resources to pursue a formal degree, but are willing to work hard, and at least learn the minimum necessary to start a software development career. In both cost and required commitment, they fall between a formal degree and the self-directed options discussed below.

Bootcamps typically involve 8 to 12 weeks of intense study and cost around US$10,000. They cover a lot of material in a short amount of time, during which you will have to sacrifice most other pursuits. But, they promise to prepare you for real-world software development, and put you on the fast track to a career in programming. Many bootcamps culminate in career days, or otherwise attempt to place you in a paying job soon after graduation.

Bootcamps are a relatively recent and explosive phenomenon. As such, it is still hard to measure their success rate, and many have yet to develop a proven track record of placing graduates in jobs. With that said, the available programs can only be expected to get better as this burgeoning new industry continues to grow. As long as you do your research carefully, you may find this is perfect option for you.

Most bootcamps are local programs, so you will have to see what is available in your town. If you live in a major metropolis, perhaps you can find what you’re looking for on this list, or this one.

Semi-Structured Learning

More and more resources are becoming available every day for those who work best with an element of structure and guidance, but do not have the time or resources to commit to a formal degree or bootcamp program. These options are typically offered entirely online, and many are completely free! As the high demand for such services has become apparent, these tools have grown rapidly in sophistication and value delivered. Courses in software development have naturally driven much of this evolution, as learning and teaching software through software has obvious benefits.

So you want to be a programmer, do ya? These tips and tools will help you get started.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

MOOCs are an amazing resource and are making major strides in leveling the playing field for quality, affordable education. They offer much of the structure and guidance of the world’s best formal university classes, but are available online to anyone, anywhere, who has an internet connection. Many popular MOOCs are also entirely free, although for an additional price (and commitment to studying), formal credit can also be earned for many classes, equivalent to university credits.

There are many first-rate MOOC platforms available online with courses taught by professors from the world’s most prestigious universities, and community platforms so that you and your classmates around the world can help each other learn. Here are some of the best-known providers:

Be advised that, as advertised, these courses offer university-level coursework, so you better be prepared to work hard to get through them!

Guided Tutorial Websites

If you like structure and guidance, but don’t like deadlines, there are a lot of great online platforms that provide automated, step-by-step training through a wide range of delivery methods. Some are driven by video tutorials, some by text. Many include interactive code editors for you to practice on in your browser. These give you great flexibility to learn at your own pace, be it a half-hour of practice at the end of each day or a 10 hour marathon on the weekend.

While many of these platforms require a paid subscription in order to access all the content, most offer free trials so that you can get started right away, and decide for yourself whether it works for you.

This is just a short list, so search around and see what else is out there!

Unstructured Learning

For those who want to find their own way to learn to code, or improve their knowledge on their free time, without the pressure of structured lessons, the following tools provide a self-directed approach. Even if you are going to take one of the above approaches, you may find many of these resources helpful for supplementing your learning or providing a platform for practicing.

Drill Websites

If your goal is just to practice solving programming problems, the internet, once again, has you covered. The following sites offer ever-expanding sets of coding challenges, along with interactive coding interfaces, for solving problems, having your solutions graded on the fly, and comparing how they stack up to other users’ solutions.



Learning programming passively has limited practicality, but if you want to absorb some of the deeper concepts, learn to code between meetings or with a glass of wine in the evening, these lecture series are some of the best out there. If you like this sort of thing, check out what else is available on YouTube and around the web.



Even with all the wonders of technology available, for many people there is still nothing like a good book to dive into and get a deep understanding of a topic. If you like learning this way, check out Toptal’s List of Top Free Programming Books.


In Closing

Learning to code is a very personal journey. Everyone starts with different resources and different goals and encounters different challenges and opportunities along the way. Don’t worry about what others are doing, or how they got there. Even for experienced programmers, the journey itself never ends, as there are constantly new things to learn.

Once you've become a programmer, a world of wonders awaits you.

So, my advice to you is, take it slow, and enjoy the journey! There is a lot to explore, and a world of wonders awaits you. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Here are some good shoes. Good luck!

This article was written by NICK MCCREA, a Toptal Ruby developer.

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Hanoi Airport Transfer | The Cheap & Fun Way To Get From The Airport Into Hanoi

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Self Improvement, Travel Hanoi Airport Transfer

Hanoi Airport Transfer

Hanoi is an excellent place to visit. The new capital of Vietnam is modern and has a lot going on which can be quite overwhelming. You might be worried about your Hanoi airport transfer but you really shouldn’t be!

Read below to see, in my opinion, the best way to get from the airport to the centre with little hassle, very little money and a lot of entertainment. Oh, and keep reading if you don’t want to get scammed at Hanoi train station!

Arriving At The Airport

Unlike some other countries in South East Asia, going through passport control in Vietnam is easy. There is no need for an arrival/departure form and you can just stroll through as if it were your own country.

You will get a 15 day stamp on arrival for free. Upon arrival, go straight to passport control. Ignore the visa application desk that is in front of the passport control. Queue up, hand over your passport, give a nice smile and you’ll be in the country in no time. 

Collect your bags and head straight out of the main exit. Be prepared to have your first entertaining moment! Depending on the time of day that you land, there should be enough people queuing up in the arrival lounge with signs and big smiles to make you feel like Lady Gaga.

I recall it looking a little like the below:



The Fun Hanoi Airport Transfer Steps

1. Turn left straight out of the exit and keep walking until you get to a sign that says 07 bus

2. Follow that sign to the bus seating area

3. Sit and wait for a full size bus to pull up with the number 7 in red on the side. Ignore the small yellow carts

The journey costs 8,000 dong which is about 25p. Way better than a $20 taxi or 50,000 dong mini bus.

It takes about an hour to get to the bus station. There will be many stops and many locals. One of these nice locals actually gave his seat up for me! Bearing in mind I’m far from a pregnant woman or one of the distinguished elderly (27 year old fit male).

The bus should drop you about 1 mile away from the city centre. You can then get a much cheaper taxi or do what we did and take a walk through the city to explore. It took us about half an hour to walk to St Joseph’s Cathedral – including a necessary stop at a cafe en route.

In conclusion: it was well worth the experience for a lot less money! The bus gets very full and is fun when people pile on and off politely.

There we go, your Hanoi airport transfer is complete and was way cheaper and more fun that just jumping in a taxi. Check out the Hanoi airport transfer guide by Clicking Here. You can ignore the first 2 links and just click on Public Bus – The fun one ;).

Your Bonus Train Scam Tip – A MUST READ

It’s always annoying when somebody takes advantage. Especially when you’ve arrived in a new place and are already confused. Read the below to make sure you don’t get screwed by the Hanoi Train Station.

We encountered this scam whilst booking a train from Hanoi to Hue. This is actually the same train that goes all the way down to Saigon stopping at many places on the way. Read the guide below to learn how to buy tickets without being scammed:

1. Enter the Hanoi train station and turn left.

2. Completely ignore the tourist ticket section on the right – they will massively overcharge you!

3. Go to the proper ticket desk.

That is all! We unknowingly went into the tourist ticket section and were politely greeted and sat down by a seemingly nice woman. We were told that there were only 2 sleeper beds left that weren’t near each other. Opposite sides of the train actually. She called somebody on her mobile which seemed suspicious as the system is all computerised.

We were quoted 2.5 million Dong by her which didn’t quite add up with what we had read online so we nipped over the road for a quick discussion, can of coke and free wifi. We went to the proper desk – number 2 or 3 if you’re going south as we did. It only cost 1.5 million dong! A full 1 million Dong cheaper than the previous quote by a formal employee of the train station in the tourist trap area. This is a saving of around £31 for 2 people! Totally worth it.

The official ticket area was cheaper but does come with a bit of a warning of something we’ve noticed a lot in Vietnam: The locals don’t know how to queue and may shove you out of the way whilst you are mid way through buying your ticket. Once again, very entertaining and worth it!

Enjoy the savings. Oh yeah, and if this is your first time in Vietnam – Enjoy their driving too! It is a very unique style that involves constant beeping to keep everybody aware of the fact that they exist.

Safe travels!

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Learn to Code: The 20% of Coding Knowledge You Need to Create the Best 80% of Websites & Apps

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business, Learn to Code, Self Improvement learn-to-code

Hello World!

Welcome to the first piece in what I hope to be a long and prosperous blog series titled ‘Learn to Code’.

I am always amazed by how complicated people make website & app development sound. They often refer to it as a task left for the enlightened Computer Scientists when in fact, it’s something that anybody from any background can do with the tiniest bit of knowledge. I will be using Pareto’s 80/20 rule in all of its glory by teaching you the 20% of coding knowledge that allows you to create the best 80% of a website & app.

What To Expect

The series will include explanations, activities to follow and videos to quickly and efficiently provide you with the only skills you need to create websites that look as good as the professionals.

So, sit back, follow the activities and learn the skill that can provide you with the best possibility to create the life you want. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how many bloggers and website designers have quit their job, retired away to tropical paradise and lived a fulfilled life that one can only dream of whilst sat in an office.

The kind of things you should look forward to learning are:

  • How to Create Your First Bootstrap Website in 1 Minute
  • How to Copy From the Best By Adding Bootstrap/Bootsnipp Examples to Your Website
  • How to Quickly Add a Google Map to Your Website
  • How to Obtain FREE Great Quality Images for Your Website
  • And Much, Much More!

Looking forward to hearing all your feedback and providing you exactly what you want and need.

Speak soon!

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Revolut | Travelling Soon? Check Out This Necessary Money Saving Tip

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Self Improvement, Travel 8273660863_d12ede1f82_o

Revolut Review

Travelling Is Expensive Enough Already – Let’s Use Revolut To Save Some Money

For those of you who frequently read this blog, you’re probably aware that I’m currently enjoying a 5 month adventure around South East Asia with a fairly small bag, my Revolut card and, of course, my MacBook Air (these posts aren’t going to write themselves you know!).


As always, before my trip I did plenty of research of things to buy, what to wear and most thankfully how to save money whilst traveling. This lead me to an excellent discovery of a company that are doing something very innovative. This post is all about that company and how they can save you money and be totally awesome.


Enter Revolut

The company is called Revolut and you can read more about them by clicking here.


To summarise (in a travelling context):


Revolut can provide you with a Debit MasterCard that allows you to spend money anywhere in the world FOR FREE

Revolut Use MasterCard for Travelling

Check out the 2 scenarios below where this solutions shines:


1. You go to any country in the world, let’s say Italy. Try the local cuisine by visiting an enticing looking restaurant by the river. Enjoy a lovely steak with a well earned beer (travelling is a chore) and ask for the bill. When the bill arrives, you hand over your Revolut card, enter your PIN and walk away knowing that you’ve paid a very generous exchange rate resulting in you paying no more than you should. That’s right, you paid JUST FOR THE MEAL!


2. You arrive in Brazil and in all excitement forgot to exchange any money…or chose not to. As soon as you’ve collected your bag you run over to a suspicious looking ATM machine with it’s delightfully evil green flashing light. You put your Revolut card in and take out way more Brazilian Real than you know you should be carrying on you. Hop on the wifi as soon as you arrive in your hotel, check your Revolut account on the phone app and realise that you haven’t been charged anything for that withdrawal and once again, have received a very generous exchange rate.


Let’s Do Some Exciting Mathematics

I plan to be away for 5 months and have estimated this entire trip in SE Asia to cost me around £4,655 (gotta get specific with those estimates – oh, and £35 a day in case you’re interested). Let’s say that £1,500 of that is used up on travel. And, let’s also say I’m a rather relaxed person and didn’t exchange any money before leaving Blighty (slightly true).


That leaves me with £3,155 spending money that I need to get by either using an ATM or my card.


My HSBC Advance account charges 2.75%  each time I take money out OR use my Debit/Credit card to purchase something. I am going to 8 countries and suspect I will need to make 2 ATM visits at each country (I never seem to get the right amount out the first time!). In reality, it will likely be more times than this! To be generous, I’ll average that I’ll do 20 ATM transactions.


£3,155 divided by 20 (transactions) is £157.75 taken out of an ATM each time.

2.75% charge on each of these transactions is £4.34 (rounded).

£4.34 charged each transaction, 20 times, is (drum roll please):


£86.80! – Do you have any idea how many meals and beers that is in Thailand!? Madness! This shows the usefulness of beautiful Revolut.


Yes, it’s true. I do these type of calculations all the time and LOVE it. I am half tempted to put a mistake in there to make sure you’re all paying attention ;).


How It Works, How To Sign Up & All That Jazz

OK, so you’re sold on the idea of it? Awesome. Let me explain how to easily sign up and get the free money debit card you’re drooling over.


1. Download the Revolut App On Your Phone

Download Revolut App To Save Money Traveling

First things first, either go to by clicking here OR search for their app on your Android/iOS app store to download the Revolut app.


2. Upload a Bank Card OR Bank Account Details

Add Bank Card To Revolut To Avoid Bank Charges

Upload a bank card OR add a bank account so you can make payments straight into your Revolut account. Adding a bank card is extremely easy. You can use the camera to scan the card straight in and it automatically adds it without you needing to type anything.

It is worth me mentioning that this is all very secure – your card/bank account will only be used to top up your account and will never make a transaction without your own doing.


3. Top Up Your Revolut Account

Top Up Revolut Account To Save Money

Top up your Revolut account using the card or bank account mentioned above. I just did £10 at first to try it out and it worked perfectly. You can even play around with the exchange rates at this part to see how good a rate you get exchanging into Dollars and Euros.

As soon as I got to this stage, I accidentally converted £10 into dollars and back again. After doing this, I had £9.99 in my account. Which means that I got pretty much the perfect exchange rate both ways! If you went into any Bureau De Change then I’m sure you wouldn’t come back with only 1p less.


4. Order Your Debit Card

Order Revolut Card And Save Money

Ordering a debit card (Mastercard) from within the app is easy as well – and is completely free. Just click on the Card tab at the bottom and follow the process to have a card delivered to you. The button will say something like: Deliver the Card To Me.

You’ll notice that you can actually use the card already without having a physical one being delivered. This is great if you plan to buy anything online in a different currency. For example, purchasing that shirt that only exists in America! I’m talking about the Becket from Mizzen+Main if you’re interested.

Note: The card may take up to 8 working days to be delivered due to high demand. It’s popular!


5. Use The Card

Avoid Bank Charges With Revolut

Use the card to take money out at ATM machines or pay for items/meals using your card. You can get your PIN by clicking on the Card tab at the bottom of the app and clicking on the Show PIN button


That’s It! You won’t get any of the usual bank charges and the money will be converted straight into the local currency for free, at a very good exchange rate. It seriously works and has saved us a lot of money already so go check it out.


It’s Not All Fun And Daisies

A WARNING: The ATM scenarios described here are very real and true BUT there are some ATMs out there in the big wide world that charge you for taking money out. These are exactly the same as the ones you see on the high street in a city in England. As you know, it’s probably better to walk another 100 feet to go use a free one! These charges come from the bank that you are taking money from and can be avoided by doing what you do in England and avoiding the ones that charge. Sometimes it’s worth having a quick Google of the area to find ATMs that don’t charge.


Citibank: I know that Citibank don’t charge so recommend you nip in and get some currency using your Revolut card whenever you’re passing by one of these.


Enjoy The Savings

I seriously hope you find this useful and sign up. The Revolut card has been a life saver for me on this trip as I love to be as efficient as possible.


Please comment below now to let me know your thoughts and enjoy the savings.


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Book Recommendation & Hidden Gems #3 | ‘The Alchemist’ Summary – Paulo Coelho Books

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Books, Deep Thinking, Self Improvement Paulo Coelho Books - The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho Books – The Alchemist


Recommendations, Revelations and Hidden Gems

Hello fellow readers and welcome to the third book recommendation. That’s right, we’ve hit the hat trick. This summary is for the best of Paulo Coelho Books.


First of all, it’s worth mentioning that this book was an absolute delight to read. It is the second fiction book I’ve read in about 3 years and leads me to believe that I should probably read more as it was very enjoyable.


Jump aboard the whistle stop tour adventure summary, complete with hidden gems, of:


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – Click Here to Get Your Copy


Summary & Recommendation – My First Read Of Paulo Coelho Books 

The Alchemist is an adventure story. It is a very smooth read and as you may be able to guess from reading this far, is very highly recommended. The short paragraphs used are an excellent style of writing that makes it very easy to follow and allows the reader to never bore of a specific scene.


The book gives very realistic internal monologue describing the protagonist’s entire thought process on this incredibly captivating journey.


There are wonderful common themes with uplifting philosophies such as:

  • Following your dream
  • Enthusiasm being a universal language
  • Loving what one does
  • And many more


It was incredible to read such inspirational fiction, especially considering I usually stick to the business, marketing and self help genres!


Hidden Gems

Now on to the life impacting parts. As always, listed below:


  • To continue doing what you already know isn’t success. We have to take on new adventures and constantly challenge ourselves. This may sound like obvious advice but is so poignantly described in this book


  • I was struck by the boy leaving new friends he made without saying goodbye and realised how large this was considering mobile phones definitely didn’t exist at that time! It made me yearn for the simplicity of a goodbye being a goodbye until the two individuals met again


  • There is a lot of acceptance of death due to it happening in the pursuit of following ones destiny. Very inspiring


  • I remember writing in my journal in previous years to ‘pay attention to the signs of the world’, and this book is a big testament to that. Not in a magical way at all, but in more of an awareness of the way that the world is all connected and there are usually obvious signs telling one what direction they should head in. For example, if you keep noticing talk about an activity that you’re interested in doing (skiing, stand up comedy, playing an instrument), then take the world up on it’s offer and dive into it. This may also just be linked to a yes man philosophy and making sure one is open to new activities and opportunities. Either way, seems like grand advice to me


  • A wonderful sentence is repeated throughout the book that I had to include here: ‘when a person really desires something, all of the universe conspires to help that person realise their dream


  • I enjoyed the relaxed nature of the main character doing nothing but sitting and thinking for much of his time. This made me reflect once again on our modern obsession with constant stimulation and the fact that time can be passed very enjoyably by just sitting…and thinking. Get that old brain heated up. It’s like meditation in disguise


  • There is a beautiful, real life example of something that we are all familiar with. The main character repeatedly goes through periods of being distracted from his goals. BUT, in his case the focus always returns at unexpected times. I think we should all reflect upon our goals and make an attempt to establish when we are being distracted and whether a change in direction is necessary


At around 100 pages this is a quick, immersive and enjoyable read that I would recommend to everyone. Turn off that TV for one evening and get through this beaut in a few hours – You won’t regret it.


Thanks for reading and as always, please comment below if you’ve read The Alchemist, any other Paulo Coelho Books or would like to discuss any of the points made. I hope you enjoyed The Alchemist summary.


P.S. Bonus revelation: Wouldn’t you agree that our generation has an amazing creativity and innovative advantage considering we can put any song in the world on straight into our ears at any volume and quality we desire? Something to be extremely grateful of me thinks!


P.S. The above revelation happened whilst listening to One Direction. Bring on the abuse.


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Esther Perel Book Recommendation & Hidden Gems #2 | Mating In Captivity

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Books, Deep Thinking, Self Improvement Esther Perel Mating In Captivity Review

Mating In Captivity by Esther Perel

Recommendations, Revelations and Hidden Gems

Hello one and all.


Thanks for joining me for the second rendition of my book recommendations. This is for the great Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel.


We will be taking a slight transition by adding the hidden gems found in the books as well. This approach has been influenced by the ever so inspirational Tim Ferriss and Derek Sivers. I highly recommend you check both of them out as they keep me pumped all day long. That’s right, it’s a recommendation within a recommendation. Just like Inception for recommendations.


Anyway, digressions over. Enjoy reading my recommendations and hidden gems of:


Mating in Captivity by Esther PerelClick Here to Get Your Copy


A slight confession before we continue: I had the idea to include the hidden gems of books when I was about 75% through this one SO, a lot of the gems are done on retrospect and I can guarantee that the list will be a lot larger, better and comprehendible for future books :). You trust me right!? Good.


Summary & Recommendation

An excellent read for anyone that wants to actively sustain an intimate relationship long term. The points are blindingly obvious, but very often ignored and the book is very well written – no joke, the language was nearly on par with something as complex as Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan!


Hidden Gems

If you know anything about me, it’s that you’ll know I’m a list man who wants to get straight to the 80/20 useful aspects of any article SO, in that spirit, please find the hidden gems below.


  • It’s healthy in a relationship to acknowledge ‘the third’ & play with it. The third is the attractive waitress, slim hostess or anyone that makes your heart beat slightly faster than usual. Feel confident that You are chosen by your partner over all these other possibilities. This concept adds spice to our relationships as it’s a realisation that we don’t own our partners


  • Sex has different appeals to different individuals. Some experience the effect of losing their minds,  others enjoy an improvement to their ego and others lust after excitement & adventure. It’s good to find your drive to manage your own expectations


  • I found that reading this book strongly reaffirmed my belief in the importance of keeping a self, having our own habits and individuality. I thoroughly believe that a relationship can only work if both participants have their own life outside of their relationship. This book didn’t directly say it…but definitely hinted many times at that fact


  • Spontaneity cannot survive in the long term. A couple must act to make sex happen instead of just expecting it to happen magically. Early ‘in the moment’/’spontaneous’ sex for couples was a result of hours/days of preparation and thought. Spontaneous sex doesn’t exist. We won’t be loved and wanted just because we’ve put the time in – we need to seduce and act


And that’s the gems list. Take ’em, leave ’em and definitely spread ’em (yes yes, a funny play on words for a book about eroticism).


Esther Perel TED Talk

If you are interested in any of the topics discussed in this post then you should definitely check out Esther Perel’s TED Talks. She has a couple of TED talks and they can be found by clicking.


OR, if you just want to watch the TED talks, you can find them below:



Thanks For Stopping By

That’s all for this one. A short and enjoyable read that provides the reader with an opportunity to assess the motives within their relationship.


I hope you enjoyed this post and please comment below if you’ve read Mating in Captivity or are interested in any of the points made.


Thanking you kindly for reading.


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Minimalist Packing List | 5 Months in SE Asia | Travel With Well Under 10kg

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Self Improvement, Travel Minimal Packing List | SE Asia

The Minimalist Packing List

Apologies – This Packing List Post is a Bit Delayed

I’m one week into my trip so now seems like a great time to post my packing list. The reason for the delay is due to a determination to cover as much of Bangkok as possible. Now that that has been ticked off the list, it’s time to get out on that sun filled balcony and get on with the long overdue blogging.


My Hand Luggage Packing List

My hand luggage allowance was a strict 55 x 40 x 20 cm and only 8kg!

Check out the picture and my list below to see what I’ll be surviving with for the next 5 months in South East Asia.



I will be taking a 35 Litre Karrimor Bag purchased by my beautiful girlfriend especially for this trip



2 x Jokey Boxers

1 x Exofficio Boxers – That’s right. 3 pairs in total. I still think it’s one too many…

1 x Long Sleeve Sun Protecting Top

2 x Swim Shorts – One pair, by Quicksilver, are made from recycled plastic and dries extremely fast. I’m not hating the funky design either

2 x Cotton T Shirts

1 x Microfibre Towel – These dry so fast. If you’ve never used one, give it a go!

Marmot Windproof Jacket – This thing weights 5oz and feels very comfortable

Running Trainers – Well used and very comfortable for walking in

Nike Sports Sleeveless Top – This material is made for high intensity sport so will be perfect for warm weather

Nylon Sport Socks



MacBook Air + Charger

Waterproof Laptop Case

Sony Earphones

Backup Apple Earphones – I couldn’t think of anything worse that being stuck in a jungle without earphones

iPhone 5s + Charger

USB Portable Charger


Sony A6000 Camera + Charger



2 x Earplugs – I’ve tried many and the simple yellow ” ones work great

1 x Foldable Toothbrush

Sleep Master Sleep Mask – This is made of silk and is extremely comfortable. I highly recommend it. I cuddle it

Silk Sleeping Bag Liner – Useful for the colder parts of the journey such as northern evenings and sleeper trains

David Lloyd Locker Padlock

Passport – Seems like a wise thing to bring


Malaria tablets – Doxycycline. I look forward to taking them

Thin Paul Rossi Wallet – I wanted a Big Skinny wallet but couldn’t get it delivered in time


Additional Purchases – Still Within The Hand Luggage Allowance

I’ve been here for just over a week and have accumulated a few more items, listed below:


Long Sleeve Shirt

A Sleeveless Vest Top

A Crazy Patterned Elephant Notepad – * Necessary item

Super Comfortable and Completely Fake Flip Flops – The unofficial official name for them


That’s all folks. The bag weighs well under 10kg and has been very comfortable to carry around. Yes, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, there are more technological items than clothing. This is something that I’m very happy to accept :).


I hope you enjoyed the list and accept the challenge to pack even more minimalistic and let me know about it in the comments below! Also, if you enjoyed the photo on this blog, you can check out Cory Rose Burfoot’s Instagram by clicking here.


Thanks for reading.


P.S. This blog post was written on a beautiful balcony in stunning weather watching an incredible sunset whilst, as I’m sure you can imagine, loving life!



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What Podcasts Consumed Me in 2015?

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Deep Thinking, Self Improvement Podcasts 2015

Podcasts of 2015

A Healthy Addiction

I know, what you’re thinking. The correct terminology is that podcasts are consumed by us. But, I really feel that it is the other way around as I got so hooked listening to these that I must have averaged about 7 hours a week of listening during my commutes & runs.
So, check out my best Podcasts below and please let me know if you love them (or hate them!):


The Tim Ferriss Show

Click here now to get the Podcast!

He is my go to inspirational guy and has loads of awesome guests on the podcast – Think Arnold Schwarzenegger, Neil Strauss & Jamie Foxx . He tries to ‘deconstruct excellence’ by asking people about their daily habits and mentality hacks. This is easily my winner of 2015 and has never failed to give me the boost of enthusiasm needed on some dark, dark days.


The Infinite Monkey Cage

Click here now to get the Podcast!

This is the very entertaining Podcast by Brian Cox and Robin Ince. Very sciency and very funny. I’m always surprised by just how intellectual Robin Ince is! If you enjoy light and funny discussions around scientific topics then this is the Podcast for you. They cover an awesome amount of concepts and explain it in laymen terms so it can be enjoyed by all.


TED Radio Hour by NPR

Click here now to get the Podcast!

This is just super awesome. They cover a different topic each episode and use extracts and interviews from TED talkers. You’ll be inspired, amazed and constantly learning. It is a very well produced show and Guy Raz’s voice fits it perfectly. This is what I listen to when I want to relax more and just drift off into a world of innovation and novelty.


We’ll Add in a Bonus One

Tony Robins – Unleash The Power Within

Click here now to listen!

As you can see from the image below, this man is a beast:


It’s a funny title and super American you will definitely agree that it is very inspiring. Tony Robins has the ability to break life down into very understandable chunks and make anyone feel happy to be alive. This podcast extract is from a book and tour with the title. It includes the importance of positive self talk and actionable ways of nailing life. I definitely recommend listening to this just once to see what impact it has on your life.
Thanks to the talented Emily Smith for reminding me to recommend and post as regularly as possible!


Enjoy the listening and keep on learning,



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Book Recommendation #1 | $100 Startup – Chris Guillebeau

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Books, Business, Deep Thinking, Self Improvement the_100_startup

My First Recommendation

I love to read. I love to recommend. I sometimes fear that my recommendations often don’t inspire the amount of action that I intended, so, I have decided to recommend to the Internet as I hear that there might be a couple of people out there using it…

Enjoy the first Nesbitt Web book recommendation below:

The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Having recently finished the excellent Nassim Taleb’s ‘Antrifragility’, I can honestly say that this was a pleasantly short read. The $100 startup provides easy to follow steps in a logical order for anyone that wants a coherent how to guide of taking action and creating your own startup. Included are a generous amount of anecdotes and examples from people all around the world. These examples are very entertaining and short enough to hold your attention but I did struggle to relate to a lot of them and gained much more insight from the guide aspects of the book, as opposed to the examples.

I must admit that the title is slightly misleading, as that majority of the startups mentioned in the book start of with higher costs. On a far more positive note, the book joined the ranks of many others that cause me a very beneficial frustration:

‘I can’t go more than 5 pages without picking up my laptop to make some notes or do some work!’

I would definitely recommend reading the $100 Startup if you want a quick fix of inspiration to get working on your world changing idea.

Don’t forget to check out the accompanying website for The $100 Startup for useful resources:

Keep your eyes on the prize (assuming the prize is in a book)


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News Feed Eradicator – Your New Year Anti-Distraction Treat

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business, Self Improvement News Feed Eradicator Screenshot

How News Feed Eradicator Changed My Life

Happy New Year You Beautiful Bunch!

My gift to you is a recommendation that has massively improved my productivity AND happiness. High claims, I know. But it really does help and it’s called News Feed Eradicator.

Can you imagine a world (film trailer) where you can go on to Facebook just to chat, check out event invitations and do some marketing without being distracted by all of the useless posts that provide nothing but misery and mild entertainment? Well, there is definitely a solution so simple that you’ll kick yourself for not thinking of it: Block The Posts.

The best way to do this is to use an amazing Plugin called News Feed Eradicator. Install this using the link below and all of your news feeds will be replaced with inspirational quotes – Quotes, I know, it’s almost too good to be true. You MUST know how much I love my quotes by now!

Give it a go and install below, you won’t regret it:

A special thanks to my friend Laurie for bringing the usefulness of this epic plugin to my attention. Oh, and a small thank you to the beetles for giving me great music to rock out to on this early 2016.


Nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey Jude

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A Business Idea a Day – Day 17

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 17

I know what you’re all thinking, ‘when is Jason going to give us an idea that pushes the boundaries of legality?’. Well my potentially law abiding impaired readers, the idea below is the one for you…


Idea #17

Content Replacing App



This is one for the cheaters among you. Okay, perhaps it can be used for good as well as evil. The idea is a fuzzy logic based application that would be able to take some copied text, and replace words proficiently enough to still convey the same meaning, but be classed as unique content by anyone, especially Google’s robots, that reads it. This is a step way beyond just using a thesaurus – I envision an extremely useful service that could quickly create unique content whilst still maintaining coherency among the masses.


Epiphany Moment

I read so many articles that inspire and excite me to the point where I would love to make similar sounding arguments and call it my own. There is no point reinventing the wheel. This idea occurred to me during a late night article reading session, whilst loosely working on website content. University students – Don’t get too excited…It’s just at the idea stage, currently!

Calling all students…And anybody else that would like to create unique content, by using other pre-existing content. Cough plagiarism cough?


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A Business Idea a Day – Day 16

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 16

If I thought that any of my previous ideas had the potential to be annoying, then I obviously hadn’t paid enough attention to this one. I apolagise in advance to the world if this gets created…


Idea #16

App to Send Alarms to Other People



This is a very simple one. Give your brain a rest and let other people organise your life for you by being able to send you alarms. There are a lot of nice customisation features that can be added such as: location based alarms that only go off when an individual reaches a location or allowing the person sending the alarm to choose what annoying, or relaxing, noise/song is played when the alarm does its job!


Epiphany Moment

This idea appeared to me in a half dreaming sleepy state (as I’m sure many genius ideas do!). I was panicking about whether I had set my alarm or not to make sure I woke with enough time to be hygienic and complete my morning rituals before work and it occurred to me how wonderful it would be if alarms could be sent to me to eliminate the need to organise quite so much of my life. You could even have the option to auto accept alarms! Dangerous, but it could be fun.


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A Business Idea a Day – Day 15

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 15

Do you want to easily be able to find any type of business, locally, without a hassle ever again? Well create the following idea and you will be helping humanity by making one step towards that goal…


Idea #15

Directory Website with Affiliate Links



This is a money making idea that many have already ventured into. There are still a vast amount of categories that either do not exists, or have not been done well on the Internet. A few examples of potential ideas that I’ve heard mentioned are: Equestrian Centres, Nail Salons and Sports Therapy. A directory website is basically a one stop place to go to for all of the information required to make a decision on the topic being searched for, e.g. should I go to that nail salon.


Epiphany Moment

In the latter days of University, I embarked on a directory website project. They are time consuming and a strong bit of advice would be that you are interested in the topic that you are making directories for! Sadly, nothing came to fruition with our idea but there are still many directory opportunities out there.


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A Business Idea a Day – Day 14

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 14

Keep reading. This isn’t really an idea to lose sleep over, or is it…


Idea 14

Sleep – What is Natural



The idea would be some kind of blog or book to research the natural times of activity for oneself. No clock. No Phone. It’s time to see when you work, how much you sleep and how you live your life without the influence of knowing what time it is. There could be some kind of hardware device that tracks the information so you can see the results afterwards.


Epiphany Moment

This has always been something that I would love to embark on and that I believe would be a pleasure to read. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment of inception but do spend a bit too much of my day contemplating what we would naturally end up doing without the man made constraints such as time and priority.


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A Business Idea a Day – Day 13

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 13

It’s time for lucky idea number 13. This one has the potential to be slightly controversial…Don’t be shy now!



Conversation Word Counter (The Self Involved App)



Now I really love the idea of the app. Communication is so important and it’s so easy for one to get wrapped in their own life and steal a disproportionate amount of attention to discuss their escapades. I will openly admit that I am sure this has been me on occasions and I fear it being too frequent an event. The app would use our very unique voice tones to distinguish how many people are talking, and the full statistics of who is talking and when. As well as just the social benefit, it could be used in all kinds of serious manners for understanding the psychology of people’s self worth and desire for attention.


Epiphany Moment

Many occasions have jolted this idea back to my attention. I think of it every time I am witnessing and analysing a focus of attention on one individual that is conversing with a group.

The idea is purely for curiosity purposes and should have no implications of there being something wrong with a good story teller – We all love to sit and listen at times.!


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A Business Idea a Day – Day 12

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 12


This idea could break phones. I bet you’re enticed now aren’t you!?


Idea #12

Punching Power App



This idea is a way of emulating those punching arcade games…but in the virtual world (which is evidently the place that we prefer things to be anyway…). The accelerometer on a phone can be used to find out how fast somebody is punching. The faster the punch, the higher the score, the more manly you are, the more women you get, the more you succeed and are fulfilled. OK, I may have lied about a few of those…


Epiphany Moment

I was out drinking in a fine establishment that had one of these physical punching machines and was impressed by the crowd forming around the masculine unofficial sport of punching a machine. I had the idea of creating an app to provide the same thrill that one receives when being able to prove that they can punch harder than somebody else, and so the punching power app idea was conceived.

I’ll assume you’ve all figured out how a phone could end up getting broken by the creation of this idea. Let me know your thoughts. Is this app idea manly enough for you? Are you manly enough to like or comment on it?


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A Business Idea a Day – Day 11

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 11

We are stepping away from geeky ideas and going for more of a giant idea that could change the world. Ambitious? I would say that it is not ambitious enough…


Idea #11

Availability App



A simple app that states whether you are available and where you are so people can organise to do stuff with you. So, instead of doing a status update, you could have your current situation selection from a small list such as: home and relaxing, home and bored, out and busy, out and looking for entertainment. This coupled with your location would instantly provide opportunities for spontaneous fun with friends. It would be a way to quickly see which of your friends are free and where they are.


Epiphany Moment

I was in London at the time and wondered how many of my friends were in the local vicinity and whether they wanted to do something. Obviously all of this can be done through Facebook and all of the other social mediums but I think it would be great to have a system with the sole purpose of sharing and seeing availability and location.

Possible names, as I love names:

Locate Free, Available Me, Free Me, WAYUT (What Are You Up To)

…OK, perhaps I’m not on form with names today. Let me know your suggestions!


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“A Business Idea a Day” – Day 10

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 10

This is a slightly geeky one so bear with me, unless of course, you are a geek and like the sound of this idea. If you do like it, share share share, and comment. Oh, and like it :).


Idea 10

Simple Mobile App to Query Database



OK, geeky time. There are a few different types of databases out there, MySQL, MS SQL (shudder), Maria DB, Mongodb etc…I think it would be great to have one app that has the ability to be setup to connect to all these types of databases and do the usual select, update and delete. It would need a very intuitive and simple design that lets even inexperienced database managers set up their connection and perform (possibly disastrous, we’ve all been there!) queries. Imagine being able to provide information during a meeting by quickly performing a select query on your phone. The possibilities are endless…kind of.


Epiphany Moment

I was having one of those days where there was work to be done, but the laptop seemed a bit too far away (AKA, 2 feet in front of me). I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to run this quick update query from my phone using an app. I searched and couldn’t find anything that could fulfill this purpose. Please let me know if your investigations prove me wrong!

I have to ask all software engineers that have made a hilarious/disastrous database mistake to step forward and share their story…Don’t be shy! Let me put it this way, backups are made for a reason!


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“A Business Idea a Day” – Day 9

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 9

It’s that time again. Get your thinking hat (the word cap didn’t feel English enough) on and dream big.


Idea #9

Spotify for Audio Books



Now this has been done slightly with Audible by Amazon but not anywhere near to the extent that I dream of. It can be explained very easily in one sentence…Spotify for audio books! It would be great to have the exact same choice and functionality of Spotify. If Spotify can do it, then you (or another entrepreneur with more determination) can do it!


Epiphany Moment

This occurred to me just over a year ago when Spotify was really taking off. I love reading and end up doing a lot of driving and walking. These times could be wasted if they aren’t used productively so it seems like a great idea to be able to listen to a nice distracting piece of fiction OR motivational/inspirational book.


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“A Business Idea a Day” – Day 8

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 8

Okay, the business ideas haven’t been shared as much as I’d hoped, but that doesn’t there has been a lack of creativity coming up with them! There are many ridiculous, entertaining and brilliant ideas to be shared in the future…If you don’t believe me, try this one out:


Idea #8

Guess Who with Pictures of Friends



This would work best as a Facebook integrated game. When signing up to play the game, you will choose one of your profile pictures, enter a few attributes about yourself (preferably things that link to the picture that you select! E.g. are you wearing glasses, do you have a beard, are you a man etc.). The rest of the game is like a distant childhood memory. Play by trying to guess which friend it is by the art of eliminating attributes about that friend. Please try to avoid any offences descriptions!


Epiphany Moment

We all loved the game Guess Who when we were younger. So why should that fun disappear now we are mature and ‘past the age of playing games’. This idea popped into my head when I was having a distracted moment from important work to stare at my list of online Facebook friends. I realised that those little profile pictures squares look quite a lot like the squares on Guess Who…So I decided to see that as another business idea born. Make it, and I promise I’ll play it!


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Ever Wanted to Make an App? It’s FREE and EASY! Read on to find out how…

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Learn to Code book

Glad I got your attention. I won’t beat around the bush with a long pitch of why you need to read this. Instead, I’ll stick to some quick facts:

Actually, before the facts…Click here now if you are sold on the idea already and want to get the free guide


On to the facts

– Learn App Dev was written by a highly experienced Developer with years of experience explaining coding to the people with little to no coding knowledge

– This FREE, 78 paged, 9,238 worded eBook with a lot of pretty pictures will walk you through all the wonderful steps of making an Android/iPhone/iPad/Tablet app

– Your input would be greatly appreciated as I want this guide to be a real source of information for people and use it to provide a way to get extremely useful knowledge in to the hands of people that would love to have an app but wouldn’t dream of committing to the ‘apparently’ difficult task of making one.

Help support Yourself and Others by spreading the word, reading a bit or giving it your all and making an app yourself following the simple steps within the guide.


P.S. you’ll be learning a lot more than how to make an awesome app…there are some great inspirational quotes in there too!

P.P.S. There is obviously a 100% money back guarantee with this free eBook.


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Poem | Optimism’s Darkness

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Learn to Code Dugald_Stewart_Monument_BW_1024p

I dream of the day that thoughts aren’t occupied by you.

A ridiculous torture I’m compelled to put myself through.

Moments of minimum consciousness express more than any apparent woken moment.

Has life really been played out so wrong?

Lying with the stereotype of normality and assurance of no feelings involved.

Consistently believing the lie until it becomes old, then a feeling, so cold.

Which aspects of life enlighten you? The money, the euphoria, the moments lost in the eyes of another?

Calmness is a talent learned by experience.

Sadness given to those who rely on disobedience.

Do I lie to myself now, or later?

Can a moment of euphoria be maintained forever?

You can spend your entire life chasing the chase.

Life becomes very funny when you study your own motives for actions.

I am not strong. I am not in control.


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“A Business Idea a Day” – Day 7

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 7

Happy Friday all. We are getting into the flow of the new year so now seemed like the perfect time to enlighten you with a new business idea…


Idea #7

Soundtrack to My Life



OK, time for another music influenced idea. Less of a business one and more of a life dream. I think it would be a wonderful service for a composer to create soundtracks for peoples lives. A single piece of music that encompasses a persons unique personality and ups and downs of life. I know I would certainly be interested in it.


Epiphany Moment

I spend quite a lot of my time listening to film soundtracks and would honestly say that it is one of my favourite genres of music. There is a very specific track for the movie Madagascar 2 that I feel has an excellent blend of ups and downs that could really represent a lifetime. It was whilst listening to this track that I thought up the idea of Soundtrack to My Life.

Got a business already and want a beautiful website or app for it? Click here to contact me Now!


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The Secret to Happiness – It’s a lot easier than you think!

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Deep Thinking Very-Funny-Animal-Faces

Search for Happiness

The search for happiness should really be high on everyone’s priority list, but alas, it usually gets ignored as concentration falls on the zombie like activities of casually drifting through life in an unconscious state. In the rare occasion of waking up from this state, we have very temporary attempts to improve our happiness and live a more fulfilled life, usually with little success. This post won’t be providing a long list of ingredients to be followed as the only guaranteed way of happiness – It is more of an observation by a conscious individual with unique thoughts.

Most of us spend a lot of time searching for happiness in external places. We treat our affluent desires by purchasing materialistic goods, attempt to become as fit and skinny as possible and save the world by increasing our charity spending from £10 a month…to £15. A few of the more determined happiness dwellers will try and achieve the happiness internally – Just like the majority of self help books tell us to. The truth is that all of the above could lead to the golden grail of happiness, depending on one important factor:

This factor is our own defined image of ourselves. (In bold for a very important reason!)


The reality of the way you act

Happiness is directly correlated to the fulfillment of the image you create of yourself. Think about that for a minute. The easiest way to do that, is to treat yourself as a third person. The leading character in your own, hopefully not horror, movie. Treating yourself as a third person will allow you to look subjectively and truly see exactly what you wear, how you act and what activities you do. For example, ‘I eat sugary cereal in the morning and go for a run twice a week’. This is an important step to our own defined image of ourselves as it is the reality part of it. This reality is only half the puzzle though. The second half relates to your desire of your self image.


Your own self image of the way you act

This desire is often the delusional concept we have of ourselves. To use an example that is similar to our previous one, our desirable habitual routines become: ‘I eat a high protein breakfast and run five times a week’. I’m sure we can all name a few people that have similar sounding habits which the majority of people are fully aware aren’t being fulfilled. The interesting thing is, that these people will actually believe they are achieving their desires, at least on a conscious level. The unconsciousness cannot be so easily fooled by such delusional thoughts, and this is exactly what causes internal conflict which in turn, causes unhappiness.


The moment you’ve all been waiting for

OK, those are two interesting observations, but how do they relate to leading a happier life. Happiness is directly linked to how closely the reality of ones actions relates to ones self image. To put it in an easier to understand way – Analyse your actions and make sure that the reality of what you’re doing is as close as possible to what your self image is doing.

A simple concept that can lead to a great improvement of life.

Happiness is defined by the difference between the reality and desire of yourself – The closer the distance, the happier the person.


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“A Business Idea a Day” – Day 6

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 6

Happy New Year all. I would say that we are long overdue our next innovative business idea. Read below to find the idea that could make you driven and rich.


Idea #6 – (Website currently available)



A website that has information on all current adverts. It would have to have very separated sections for different countries. It would be an excellent way to answer those questions you want to know about adverts such as: What song is on that advert!? OR who was that actor endorsing that product!?


Epiphany Moment

I’m not sure about you but I have had many occasions where I couldn’t remember a specific piece of information about an advert, usually the music! Whilst having my small intake of media (adverts), I saw one that had incredible music…So I tried to look online to find more information about it but I seriously struggled. I think having one easy to find website that has all of that information in one place is exactly the kind of thing that modern Internet exists for.

Got a business already and want a beautiful website or app for it? Click here to contact me Now!


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“A Business Idea a Day” – Day 5

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 5

The festive seasons are nearly past us but a business mind never stops. This idea is one of my favourites so I hope you all LIKE IT or let me know your thoughts.


Idea #5

Listen to Music Together



An app that allows numerous amounts of people to listen to music at the same time. It allow for a social connection and you can talk whilst it’s on. It could potentially be called Euphoria based on the euphoric feelings when walking and listening to music. The app could automatically get quieter when somebody begins to talk. Relationships can go for walks separately, whilst miles away from each other, and listen to the same playlist/speak to each other over the music easily.


Epiphany Moment

I am a very large fan of walking and enjoying the beauty of the world through music and scenery. One time when I was at my favourite part of one of my walks, I had the idea of sharing that moment with another human and being connected with them. One of the best ways to do this would be to be able to talk, share and know that the other person is there and listening to the same thing. It can sometimes be comforting to just be on the phone to somebody and not actually talk much. Imagine the same idea, but with beautiful music in the background

Got a business already and want a beautiful website or app for it? Click here to contact me Now!


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“A Business Idea a Day” – Day 4

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 4

It’s almost Christmas and seemed like a grand idea to release another business idea before we all go off to have a jolly time and relax from work.


Idea #4

The Right Click Stylus



A stylus used for mobile phones that has a simple button on it that the user can click to perform a right click function. This would allow for far greater functionality. This kind of technology should bring the tablet and mobile phone one step closer to replacing desktop computers, something that I don’t believe this can occur yet due to the speed in which large amounts of data can be manipulated.


Epiphany Moment

It always seemed strange to me that so much functionality is lost by not allowing a right click on mobile devices. One simple example could be to bulk select things by ‘right clicking’ then performing an action on all of the selected items after. It is an idea that I dreamt up a long time ago when styluses were more fashionable, but, I don’t see why they can’t make a comeback if the right kind of functionality exists.

Got a business already and want a beautiful website or app for it? Click here to contact me Now!


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“A Business Idea a Day” – Day 3

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 3

Happy Friday morning all. It’s a Friday, it’s close to Christmas, but that doesn’t mean there is any reason to stop coming up with innovative ideas to improve our lives.


Idea #3

Diet Chocolate



It may sound a bit odd at first, but I always find it hard to believe that there aren’t more sweets available that taste almost as good as the original, without the negative health effects. This idea is very simple. diet chocolate to provide the exact same satisfaction as diet coke. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the big dogs at Cadburys start providing this one.


Epiphany Moment

This idea occurred to me when I realised how much of a sweet tooth I had, especially when trying to avoid things like chocolate. The best way to please this urge whilst causing minimum harm was to grab a diet coke. I want to do exactly the same with a nice after dinner dessert, such as chocolate.

Got a business already and want a beautiful website or app for it? Click here to contact me Now!


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“A Business Idea a Day” – Day 2

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 2

Two days in a row – We’re going for a new record here.


Idea #2

Hilarious Fake Teeth App



It’s time for a funny, unconventional and pretty much useless idea. A fake teeth app that automatically recognises when the camera is in front of somebodies mouth and displays a hilarious set of teeth on the screen to make it look like they are the actual person’s teeth. Ingeniously simple.


Epiphany Moment

When YouTube has provided all the laughs it is going to give, we all end up at one point or another turning to our phone apps for a good laugh. It was one of those boring days when I put a photo of a funny set of teeth in front of a friends mouth and realised that this is an activity that should happen automatically using a phone app. I’ll keep my eye out for this one appearing on the app store.

Got a business already and want a beautiful website or app for it? Click here to contact me Now!


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“A Business Idea a Day” – Day 1

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Business Business Idea a Day 1

Let the business begin. Read on for the first idea in a series called “A Business Idea a Day”…


Idea #1

In Car Drum Game



Now, this idea is definitely up with my favourites. It could take one of two forms. Either an app on a tablet (preferred), or a physical piece of hardware to be hit with sticks. The idea is to allow the passenger, possibly children, to emulate playing drums whilst enduring a car journey. The app/game could be connected to car speakers to allow a variety of drum kits and also allow the user to play along with songs.


Epiphany Moment

One of the first purchases I made after becoming employed straight after University was an electric drum kit…and I have never regretted it. Drumming is great fun and surprisingly easy to pick up with a bit of practice. My idea is to provide this practice during a time that could easily end up being very laborious and boring – car journeys!

Got a business already and want a beautiful website or app for it? Click here to contact me Now!


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My Life Keeps Changing – Or Does It?

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: Deep Thinking

Every time in life feels like a different time to previous life. I mean, why shouldn’t it? Your cells are all being replaced so quickly that you are physically quite a different being.

This doesn’t explain why our mentality changes so much though. Or why we consider ourselves in such a unique and different position to what we were in before.

I would consider this to be a beautiful notion of life that allows us to keep enjoying things even if our situation has changed very little, or not at all. Which, let’s face it, is a far easier outcome to end up with than any of us would be willing to admit.

To dream by night is to escape your life. To dream by day is to make it happen – Stephen Richards


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