We Live Here Now

Where we are, and how we got there.

Blog Reconstruction

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Our “lifetime hosting account” turned out to not be measured in human lifespans. So when the ISP went down, so did we!

I’m currently rebuilding this site with some of the old posts, and I hope there will even be new ones someday. For the next few days, here’s where I’ll be slogging away with the intricacies of markdown, git, heroku and Octopress.

In the mean time, please enjoy the view with me:

Going Independent: An Interview

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I enjoy telling our story to my colleagues, friends, and even acquaintances—it makes for a great ice breaker. Recently I led a short session at the XP Days Benelux Conference, designed for people in my particular niche of the software industry called “Extreme Personal Finance”, in which I introduced a group of about 75 people to out financial philosophy and showed the relationships between those ideas and the ideas in our particular school of software development. This means that mainly people in the software world learn about our story.

One such person, Matt Heusser, had been writing articles about “The Jimmy Buffet lifestyle” and asked to interview me on the topic. Here is the result, an interview about going independent, not just from your job, but from working altogether.

Travel Tip: In Case of Delayed Bags

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I live in constant fear of “delayed” bags. Sure, it’s annoying to be without clothing, toiletries and other road items, but “delayed” bags (as opposed to truly lost luggage) have have a high probability of catching up to us. This often occurs when our bags didn’t make a connecting flight and will need to be sent on the next plane to the same location. The airlines will send it out to our hotel at their expense, and hotel front desk staff will receive it on our behalf and letting us know. It’s a pretty common event, and it’s not the end of the world.

But because we sometimes only pop into a country for a few days, my fear is that in the event of delayed bags, we may be off to another destination before our luggage turns up.

When we’re on the road, we can be flying as often as a couple of times per week. And since it will typically be weeks or months until we return home, labeling our luggage with our home address is useless. I’ve instead switched to labeling “In case of delayed bags …” because really, that’s the only reason we need identifying information on the bags at all.

Instead of the typical luggage tag, I will typically write a detailed itinerary:

  • 2011-01-15: YYZ —(AF306)—-> CDG —(AF2911)—-> BUC
  • FINAL DESTINATION: (Hotel Name, Address, Phone)
  • 2011-01-20: BUC —(KL1192)—-> AMS —(KL691)—-> MUC
  • FINAL DESTINATION: (Hotel Name, Address, Phone)

In other words, please don’t send my bag to a hotel in Bucharest if I’m already on my way to Munich!

It’s true that this “In case of delayed bags” labeling strategy depends on reasonable, thinking humans. But I’m hoping that giving explicit instructions might save a bit of back and forth in the event that something does happen. Any staff member from any airline or airport can come across our bag and know which airline is responsible for it and where it should eventually end up, even if the airline’s tag is missing.

How Much Do You Really Earn

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The 30-second version

  • Keeping your job costs you money and time.
  • You probably don’t consider these costs when you think about how much money you earn.
  • Most people’s “true” hourly rate is half what they think it is.
  • Your “true” hourly rate also represents how long you have to work to earn $1.
  • Expressing the cost of something you might purchase in terms of the energy you must exchange for it could really change the way you feel about spending that money.
  • Coffee can be more expensive than a computer.
  • Understanding the value of our life energy was an instrumental part in our journey towards financial independence.

The Details

I have referred to life energy value of money before, most recently in an article about an LCD projector we bought to use as a mobile TV. In it, I said:

A portable TV capable of 1080P for less than CAD 600. Not bad, and an easy value to compute. Even at 8 minutes of life energy per dollar (approximately $30k/year salary), the entire setup costs you 80 hours of pre-tax energy, and I’ll bet you’ll enjoy the projector for more than two weeks.

How did I compute this number? What does it mean? Let me tell you.

An LCD Projector Is Cheaper Than a TV

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We have just purchased our first compact LCD projector, the iSival 720P projector, model MP720B1. The demo we saw on Youtube removed most of our doubts that it would work for us. Since I teach public and private courses and one can never be too sure about the projectors on site, I wanted a projector I could take with me, and this one works quite well.

We have also installed it as a TV in the bedroom. Normally I don’t like having a TV in the bedroom, but this configuration works too well to pass up. Projecting onto the slanted portion of our bedroom ceiling;we have a steep A roof—we get a good picture of around 80-90 inches, which beats our TV by a decent margin. The picture sharpness doesn’t match up, but it performs well enough to enjoy thoroughly.

We paid a total of USD 434 + CAD 105 or around CAD 540 for the projector, shipping, and import fees. We bought it directly from the manufacturer iSival Instruments.

We had some difficulty connecting it to my MacBook Air: the computer wouldn’t detect the projector as a display without re-booting. Fortunately, a little testing revealed the solution:

  1. Connect the adapter (DisplayPort to DVI in my case) to the cable (DVI to HDMI in my case)
  2. Connect the adapter/cable to the projector, then
  3. Connect the cable to the MacBook Air. This sequence works for both DVI/HDMI and VGA connections. I plan to purchase a DisplayPort/HDMI adapter in order to get direct HDMI output to the projector.

A portable TV capable of 1080P for less than CAD 600. Not bad, and an easy value to compute. Even at 8 minutes of life energy per dollar (approximately $30k/year salary), the entire setup costs you 80 hours of pre-tax energy, and I’ll bet you’ll enjoy the projector for more than two weeks.

A Few Tips to Help You Get Away From It All

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We recently spent three months living in Mazatlán Mexico as an experiment in living away from home. We’ve previously written about our goals, the cost of living, and running our businesses from a remote office, and even how to maintain a house from 4600 km away, but what would it take for you to do it, too?

If you have now caught the bug of living remotely, then let us share with you a few tips to help your experiment have a better chance to succeed.

Home Maintenance From 4600km Away

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We recently spent three months living in Mazatlán Mexico as an experiment in living away from home. We’ve previously written about our goals, the cost of living, and running our businesses from a remote office, but what happens when something goes wrong back home?

A little roof problem damages the ceiling

Out of Office: Mazatlán Style

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We recently spent three months living in Mazatlán Mexico as an experiment in living away from home. We’ve previously written about our goals and the cost of living, but we could never leave Canada if we couldn’t keep our businesses running.

DSS - Mexico Office

Diaspar Software Services, Mexico office

The Cost of Living in Mazatlán Mexico

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Summerside PE offers quite a low cost of living, and for the time being, any other place we try to live will need to compare favorably on basic living expenses. For our purposes, “basic living expenses” includes housing, taxes, insurance, food, electricity, heating or cooling, and communications. Put differently, we need to be warm, dry, fed, in contact with the world around us, and mildly entertained. We evaluated the financial aspect of our experiment on this basis.

Villa Serena

Villa Serena, Mazatlán, México