Would you make your art if you were the last person on earth?

Great question by Derek Sivers and my answer is yes, 100%. However, I would probably do less of it because without other humans gone I’d be driven back to the stone age and have to turn my life into being a hunter gatherer.

Funny antidotes aside, of course, I would still make art and it’s like asking a pro skate boarder if they would continue to skate if they were the last person alive. It’s the enjoyment of it, not the sharing it.

So yes, I would still create art, but I’d be sad that I couldn’t share all my cheesy drawings that hopefully generates a smile from you.

TDD Man – Saving the world one test at a time!

You vs You

I like to mountain bike as much as I can. Typically that means two or three times a week and since my broken hand last year I’ve never fully recovered to the pace I was before. It’s not been so much speed as it is my cardio, I can ride a lot faster than I’m going if my heart rate would stop maxing out.

The past week I’ve been trying to supplement my mountain bike rides with a trainer and I’ve been using Zwift. The idea behind Zwift is fun and it’s neat riding with other people.

zwift.jpg

Over the coming winter, I’m planning on doing some longer training programs and now I’ve been doing an “intro to Zwift” program where it sets your FTP and gives you the basics of the app.

So far it’s been fun to do but I don’t feel the stats it is generating is accurate. From all the research I find on the internet, my FTP is low, my heart rate is high, and a couch potato is in better shape than me.

I’m not sure if it’s my trainer and setup or if I’m really just that out of shape. But it is pretty demoralizing how you can be giving it everything you have, about to puke, and be passed by someone going 20 miles per hour faster.

I guess that is par for the course on the internet but I have to remember I’m not competing against random people. I just want to improve against myself and to be honest that is hard. I’m made to compete and I want to win, even if I don’t have the cardio to do it.

Red Bull pump track championship at Poston Park

This weekend George Poston park in Lowell NC held a Red Bull pump track championship qualifying round.

It was super hot and the sun was beating down on the spectators but it was great to see how fast the people could around the track. Here a few photos from the event.

I definitely hope they make this a yearly event because I’d love to come out and be more prepared like bringing an umbrella and lots of water.

Video: We Recreated Every Apple Wallpaper

This is a fun little video from a group of friends that went on a road trip to recreate every Apple wallpaper. Yes, it’s kind of a weird thing to do but just having a reason to go on a road trip with your buddies is good enough for me. I find so much value and inspiration just from the conversations when I do weird trips with my friends.

 

A love letter to my website

Tobias Van Schneider writing about why you should have your own website:

In contrast to our personal websites, we don’t own our social platforms. They own us. On top of eating our time, our emotions and our focus, they are demanding our privacy. Whether we realized it or not, we signed away our rights when we signed up for these platforms. We not only give giant tech companies our personal data – we allow them to use, sell and share our content in whatever way they wish. Soon, we will see the repercussions of freely giving away our data and our work. When it comes to creativity and self-expression, the loss is already apparent.

On social media, we are at the mercy of the platform. It crops our images the way it wants to. It puts our posts in the same, uniform grids. We are yet another profile contained in a platform with a million others, pushed around by the changing tides of a company’s whims. Algorithms determine where our posts show up in people’s feeds and in what order, how someone swipes through our photos, where we can and can’t post a link. The company decides whether we’re in violation of privacy laws for sharing content we created ourselves. It can ban or shut us down without notice or explanation. On social media, we are not in control.

In my opinion, social media keeps winning because it’s easy and we are all lazy. Every day it seems I’ll have a random thought and I think, hmm I should Tweet that. Before long this gets ingrained into your routine and it’s hard to break it. That’s why for the past week or so I’ve been trying really hard to instead of sharing on social media, to write a quick blog post and just publish it here.

Remote: Work from anywhere

Outdoor Office

I’ve been a remote worker for about a decade now, and I love parts of it like not fighting traffic, being always around for my family, and occasionally working from anywhere. Unlike a lot of people, I like my routines and having a designated workspace is one that I  need. I’m okay working from someplace different for a few days, but eventually, I start missing my home office. I want the solitude and the feeling of it being “my space.”

Not everyone is wired like me, and that is what makes remote work so great. If you are the type where you can work from a coffee shop every day, a park, or a strange city, then you can. Or if you are the type that wants their regular spot with the option of sometimes switching things up, then you can have it too. Just like today, the weather is perfect where I live, so I worked from the patio.

I can’t see myself ever wanting to work a job where I have to go to the office every day. Thankfully I may not ever have to.

How sound works

Back when I was doing a podcast I never could seem to get the echo out of my office. Not being an audiophile I just couldn’t understand exactly how sounds works. If you are like me and would like to learn the basics on improving the acoustics in a room watch this short three-minute video. It’s the best explanation I’ve seen.

Me, Myself, and I

From the moment we are born we see the world through our own eyes. Everything we see, everything we do, everything we think is from our point of view, and it’s easy to become selfish. I always notice it when I start thinking things like…

  • What can they do for me?
  • Why are they treating me this way?

Because so much of the world is focused on self an easy way to stand out is to actually care about other people. Change the questions…

  • What can I do for them?
  • How can I improve their lives?
  • Who can I introduce them to, to better their career?
  • How can I train someone to be better?

I know it’s simple and rather cliche, but by truly focusing on others with no hidden agenda you’ll gain more friends, followers, and change more lives than you can ever imagine.

Advertising

I always assumed people hated online advertising because of the tracking and the sleazy way companies target you after you’ve seen an ad. That’s also why I generally dislike it and like to rely on more direct sales with my stuff.

As an example, for the past four or five years now I’ve been running a weekly Laravel Newsletter and each week I allow one or two ads. There is no tracking, it’s just an image, some copy, and a link to find out more if it interests you. Ethically I feel like this is a good balance. It pays for my time, for the software required to send the email, and the subscriber gets it for free, so we all win.

I think the majority of people are fine with this setup but you know how that one naysayer can get under your skin, well that happened to me last week. I had someone complaining that having ads in this was unacceptable. Of course, I responded back asking if they’d be willing to pay a monthly fee for it with no ads and I’ve heard nothing back.

Like it or not advertising is important to the web. Without it, so much of the stuff we enjoy reading wouldn’t be possible. Especially from the small publishers who do not have the backing of big money.

Used books

I like books and to save money I started buying used ones off Amazon. You can find some really good deals and even though it takes a few days or weeks to arrive you never really know what you are going to get.

Today, Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson arrived and when I opened it I found tons of underlines and markings from the past owner.

To me it doesn’t really take away from the book. Instead it’s like some random person whom I’ve never met is showing me what is important to them. I think it’s rather cool.

I might feel different if I paid a lot but this particular book was only around $5 including shipping, plus it’s only in pencil so I could always erase it if I wanted.

9/11

This year Laracon was back in New York and I had the ability to take the family to the 9/11 memorial and below are some of my favorite photos from that visit.

9/11 such a solemn place and the only attack on US soil that I remember. In fact, I still remember everything about that day. Where I was at when the preliminary news reports came in, watching the second plane, the shock after. It was surreal.

My kids were both born many years after this and they couldn’t really comprehend the importance of it all. I imagine it’s like me as a kid reading about the attack on Pearl Harbor. The farther you are away from the event the less it affects you. Just like today, I can’t comprehend the war and conflict that continues to happen every day throughout the world. It brings perspective to how lucky I am to be born where I was.

Rush hour

This morning I had to drive into the city during rush hour. Having worked remote for the past decade it was eye opening and a little bizarre.

On a high level it’s strange that a million people all get in their cars at the same time and drive to a 20 square mile spot with some buildings. It’s even stranger when half those workers could just be working from someplace else and not having to deal with the stress.

I know more and more companies are moving to a remote workforce which would alleviate a lot of the wasted time but more than anything it reminds me the city planners struggled to plan for the amount of cars on the road.

Personal Blogs?

We all know the mantra, own your space yet we all seem to love our walled gardens. At first it was Medium and we all gave them content only for them to take advantage of it. Instead of learning our lesson now everyone seems to be moving to dev.to or whatever flavor of the month is.

Social media is no better, just today I seen someone on Twitter who had their account revoked because of too many dmca takedown requests and fake complaints. They lost years worth of stuff they posted on it, lost all the followers, etc.

I know creating your own space is hard especially because it feels like your writing and no one is going to read it. Lately, I’ve actually been hunting for personal blogs and I’ve found a lot of great stuff.

If you have a personal blog let me know in the comments as I’d love to give it a follow in my RSS reader. I’m looking for the unique sites, not just programming and tech, but blogs across the board. If you are interested in and write about fishing, raising kids, making art, anything, I’d like to read it. Post a comment below so others can find it.

Breaking Records

Today, with the Laravel 6 announcement the Laravel News site had the single best day according to WordPress stats. It’s fun to see these things even though I rarely look too deeply into stats. Usually I’ll check the month over month stats, or the year trend lines and I like to see them going up, but I’m not to concerned about the day to day traffic.

What I do find funny is in one day that site probably got more traffic than I get here in a month. It makes sense because I tend to just ramble on here and share whatever is on my mind that day, where that site has a true focus and purpose.

If you are getting started with a new site keep it focused on the main topic and eventually the traffic should start coming in, but if you are blogging for yourself and to share with the world just ignore stats. Show up and write, who cares.

Happy Labor Day

Today we celebrate Labor Day, which as a holiday seems to be used to represent different things. The original intend was to celebrate laborers, the backbone of society, but today it seems everyone just uses it to signify the last weekend of summer.

For me, it reminds me that life is a marathon not a sprint. Yes, work is required, and I believe you should strive to be the best you can at it, but it’s only one part of your life. Family, hobbies, interests are all more important and in this day and age when everyone want’s to be “the self made man” those get put on hold.

As the saying goes, no one on their death bed cares about their work. If you got really sick today could you look back over this year and see that your priorities were in the right spot? If not change it. If so, keep it up!

First Website

This week my friend Jack McDade made this tweet showing a screenshot of the first website he created that he made more than $1,000 on:

This got me thinking about when I first got started and I remembered a design I did for a motorcycle dealership back in 2001 that ended up leading to my first paid site. So even though I didn’t actually get paid for this one, it led to my first paid design. Here it is in all its glory:

skgastonia-2011.png

Now, to get the full effect you have to see it on the web.archive because the clouds are an animated gif with lightning bolts.  Thanks, Macromedia Fireworks!

It just amazes me how much back then felt like the wild west. You would copy/paste code from random forums, or peoples personal websites. No package managers, no great training resources. Just you searching for hours on how to solve problems. In some ways, I miss those days, but if I started fresh today I think it’d be so much easier.

Off the grid

Where I live (Charlotte, North Carolina) it’s hard to get off the grid. Most places have wifi, and we have cell coverage almost everywhere. That’s great if you work on the go or if you like to do adventurous stuff alone.

This past weekend I took the family camping in the Pisgah national forest and it was deep enough into the wood that we had zero cell coverage, no internet, nothing. We were completely isolated.

One of the downsides was food and directions. I didn’t bring food or a grill to cook so we drove into town but not being able to research restaurants or find directions was a little jarring, but we were able to get cell service after about a 15-minute drive back out of the woods. So it wasn’t terrible.

There was no reason to scroll Twitter, check email, or anything online. I just sat there by the fire and enjoyed my family with nothing taking my mind away.

I know we can all do this at any time by turning on airplane mode, but it’s not the same. Being isolated with no chance of cheating is freeing. If you ever have the ability to give it a try. You might enjoy it too.

Fryingpan Lookout Tower

This past weekend we as a family decided to go camping up in the Pisgah National Forest and spend the day Saturday tubing down one of the rivers. We reserved a camping spot, threw the tent in the truck, and headed out as soon as school let out Friday. The drive up started out great but as soon as we reached the mountain the rain came. We decided to just power through and take our chances so we kept driving.

Luckily it hadn’t rained a lot at the campground, the ground was wet, but not soaked so the tent went up just fine. We went to bed hoping for a dry Saturday.

Unfortunately, when we woke up it was cool, overcast, and drizzling. Not the best weather to be stuck in a river for four hours. At this point, we pulled out the map to find something else to do and I remembered the Fryingpan Tower that I’ve been wanting to visit ever since I first heard about it.

Before we continue I think it’s worth pointing out that North Carolina is home to two different Fryingpan Towers. The most famous is the “Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower” which is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The “Fryingpan Fire Tower” that we visited is in the mountains on the other side of the state and gets its name from Fryingpan Gap. One is spelled with one word, the other with two. Outside of this, I have no idea why they are named the same.

Out of all the fire tower’s in NC Fryingpan is probably the easiest to access. It is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway and only a mile hike up a gravel road. A perfect walk for kids and those that might not be in the best of shape.

As we started our walk it was overcast and I was hoping as we reached the tower the clouds would lift giving us some amazing views of the mountains. Instead, the weather went the other direction and the cloud cover rolled in even more. Visibility dropped to maybe 30 feet which made for a unique experience and some cool photos that you would be able to get otherwise.

Fryingpan Tower
Fryingpan Tower
The balcony closed off
The balcony closed off
Fryingpan tower looking down
Looking down from the top
Fryingpan Tower
Fryingpan Tower
Fryingpan Tower
Fryingpan Tower in the fog.

I went with the goal of looking out over the mountains and taking in beautiful views of the scenery, but instead, I think I had an even better experience because of the fog.

It just goes to show you that as long as you keep an open mind and are willing to embrace the moment even when it’s going wrong, you might just have an experience that will stay with you forever.

 

IMG_4003.jpeg
The foggy gravel walk back to the car

 

Camping and Mountain Biking

For the past few years, I’ve been a part of a weekend guys trip where we camp, ride our mountain bikes and just have fun. This past weekend we did it again and I wanted to share some of the pictures from the weekend.

I know we all get tied up with work and home life but if you have the opportunity, take a weekend off and head to the wilderness with your friends.