Bloating The ‘Digital’ in Digital Nomad


That was a part of my setup about a year ago.  It also doesn’t include a small box I had with smaller electronics, two keyboards, three mobile phones, two Arduino kits, a Raspberry Pi kit, a soldering kit, a printer, Xbee wifi kits and a lot of cables.

A bit after that I have another 21″ monitor – I’ve moved houses since that photo was taken so my desk was a lot bigger.

Edit: I’ve since moved and have shed quiet a bit of gear including giving away a few laptops.  But the really light 19″ monitor is great for hauling around – if only it was foldable though..

End of year finance check

Moving expenses from Toronto to Dublin

Moving countries usually rock the boat when it comes to personal finance. Dealing with all sorts of fees, making sure services like mobile contracts are all paid for and cancelled, buying new items, visa fees and other related costs, cost of flights and luggage, the list just go on and on.

I decided to sit down one night and keep track of all incomings and outgoings during the ‘approximate’ time of moving.

Continue reading End of year finance check

Starter tips to find a remote job if you have no remote experience.

Remote work comes very naturally to me. I was 11 years old when I had my first ever remote ‘job’.  This was to be a graphic designer for a Pokemon fan website.  I remember the moment when I wrote my ‘cover letter’ email on Yahoo and the thrill of getting a reply back.  Sure this wasn’t paid, but it was fun! And from that age, I was very comfortable with remote teams – collaborating with designers and developers via an online community since I was around 12/13 year olds.  I had built up an online portfolio of work and by that time I was 16, I started my freelance business (officially, including sole-trader status ) with my first paid work.  In my early 20s, I founded an online/web startup and I continued on freelancing even while moving to and travelling across many countries.  Since those early days, I’ve had so many remote positions – from full-time employee, to freelancer, to consultant, to operating my own company and startup.

Much of the advice that you find online in seeking remote work mirrors to the kinds of stuff that I did in my teens.

  1. Build an online portfolio.
  2. Develop your professional networks.
  3. Develop your band online (mine was under various names – “The Noire”, “Saint Agency”).
  4. Learn to operate under a business (in this case, I applied for my ABN at age 16).

All of these, I’ve learnt organically. Just go right in there and do it.

However, the following below are further tips and advice for those who have no remote job experience.

#1 Contribute to online communities

Online communities are a good way to establish your profile and learn how to work with others online.  Since the activities that you do in-office will be replaced by online tools and platforms, it helps to learn how to flourish and contribute in online communities.

#2 Work on your writing and online communications

Much of what you communicate will be in writing.  It is very useful work on your online writing skills.  At the same time, what is interpreted online can be different to what you intended as you type your responses.

#3 Show your personality online

Your hiring manager will most likely scope out what is available online about you. Make sure your portfolio is up to date, set up a domain with your full name and publish a website as your main online ‘hub’, and make sure your relevant profiles are all linked from this website.

Even if your work doesn’t require a portfolio or website, it helps to have all these online.  It’s a good icebreaker when you join new teams – since there won’t be that much ‘watercooler’ type conversations for others to get to know you, something like your own website is useful.

#4 Start developing skill sets of a remote worker

It doesn’t matter if you have worked in x for many years.  Being a remote worker will involve developing new skill sets and you must be able to take and board and learn these.

Some of these skills are going to be new and/or relevant to a certain industry while others are going to be transferable.  Transferable skills include:

  • Being a good remote worker means being able to work with a variety of people. Your teams are most likely not going to be in the same city as you are in, will not have your language is their primary language, will have very different culture and lifestyles as you are, will be a variety of individuals.
  • Being a good remote worker involves being a self-starter, self-teacher and an independent worker.  There are going to be certain personality types that will find full-time remote work not suited to their preferred work/personality type, and that’s fine.
  • Similar to freelancing, having excellent time and task management skills is important as you are largely working on your own and need to be disciplined in being able to work and delivering your tasks.
  • Flexibility to adapt to a team’s existing processes.  Processes and documentation are pertinent in remote teams since written documentation is one of the main ways to deliver information.  There may also be manual/automated task management tools and processes being the norm.

#5 It’s about how and what you can contribute rather than the remote aspect of the role

At this stage, remote work is still seen as a niche, a company perk, or somehow there is something about working remotely that transpires a lack of trust in some organizations.

I find that those wishing to switch to remote work tend to focus too much on what the company can offer them – a remote job.  Rather, job seekers should instead continue to focus on what they can contribute to the role and to the company.  Job seekers should only approach the remote aspect as an operational/logistical issue.  It is like the approach that I’ve seen from those that require work visas – rather than focus entirely on what the company can offer them (a work visa in their desired country), visas should be seen as a logistic/operational concern and that the primary focus should be on what the job seeker can contribute to the company.

Making your own definition of digital nomadism

On moving

Since 2014, I have lived and worked in five countries – the UK, Australia, Canada (Vancouver and Toronto) and now Ireland.  I don’t uproot myself every month or so, but instead opt to live in a place for months at a time as my home base.  From there, I would travel out to different countries and cities.

You set your own agenda – you can be as boring or as adventurous, you can stay in a place for a few days or a few years.  It’s not a race to go to the most places in one year.  Digital nomadism is a marathon, not a sprint.

On planning

I am a very meticulous planner, which ironically allows me to skydive right into a major decision that others may see as very risky.  My planning and preparation allows me to take risks like being able to move to a new country next month.  The amount of planning, and preparation that I do allows me to go to a booking site and book a ticket to move to a new country that same weekend.  So on the surface it looks like spontaneity…but really it isn’t.

When you sit down to plan and prepare your life, you have the ability to take further control of your own life and your definition of what it is like to be a digital nomad.

On careers

I largely worked remotely as a consultant and as a bona fide full-time employee.

One of the genuine concerns that has been at the back of my mind, and I’m sure it could be in yours, is potential career risk.

My first overseas move was to Canada in my early 20s.  While in Canada, I signed a couple of major contracts for my work back in Australia and I was also freelancing remotely.

The second was the move from Australia to the UK.  My contract had ended and I moved the following year.  I had some confidence in my cashflow as there were client work that could be done remotely and it had to be remote anyway since it was on the other side of Australia.  But they didn’t like that I was now on the other side of the world.  Unfortunately, Australia hasn’t warmed up to the notion of remote work that on the second time I was offered a new position that could be done remotely (and the organization also advocated remote work) it was retracted when they found out that I would be overseas.

Other than the two examples from Australia, my career has definitely flourished in tangents unimaginable should I have stayed in Australia. I have exposure to new industries, new clients and customers, new work cultures, new ways of life and of work I have absolutely no regrets leaving.

I am not saying that Australia is a bad place to be.  But I have the capacity and the privilege to do all this, so why not?

When you jump into this type of lifestyle then you are opening up to new opportunities, new experiences and new challenges.  You define your own version of what is career success.

On finances

Having made some financial mistakes in the past has helped me grow into a better person when it comes to managing personal finances and investments.

Digital nomadism is an expensive activity and requires being able to put together and customize various pieces together.  And those pieces are definitely going to be personal finance and investment related.

Luckily for me, I enjoy reading and learning about this but for others, it’s either a complete bore or some sort of necessary evil.

For me, my digital nomadism has sacrificed a certain level of financial stability that I could have very much gained in the past 10 years.  Is it a deal breaker? Well, it’s at a level where I am aware of this potential issue and I am actively seeking out to learn more and educate myself.

I’m also confident that I am able to reach my financial goals.  Although there are some days where I want to just make things easier…

The key here is having a personal finance compass – to solidify and be aware of long-term goals, to continue to pursue it, and to be aware of straying away from such goals.

Defining your own digital nomadism

Am I a typical nomad? No, not really.  In my suitcase there are designer dresses, a large monitor screen for my work, half a suitcase filled with shoes that I will probably only wear once. So no, I’m not the minimalist backpacker type.  I draw the line when it comes to heavier items like homewares, books.  I define my own ‘nomadism’ but that’s OK.

Musings on Life Scripts and Lifelong Goals

I have moved in and out of so many social circles.

I feel like I play the part of an observer, and I observe these circles.  I observe what is socially acceptable, what is unacceptable, what is desired.

And it changes depending on where you are, how you grew up… basically the building blocks of constructing your social reality.

What’s really crazy is that due to many factors out of your control, your reality is already shaped.  If your ancestors decided to migrate to Scotland, rather than Wales, your parents decided to send you off to boarding school, or some other human-level decision made all have the ability to change your social reality.

I was thinking about the social construct of “The Dream” and how it differs yet still share commonalities.  For example, popular notions of what is thought to be The Australian Dream, The American Dream, and The Canadian Dream all lead to some level of real estate investment, consumerism and the focus on individualism.

And yet, these Dreams have subtle differences.  Take suburbs for example.  If you have never lived in Montreal you are not going to be familiar with the notability around Westmount.  If you have never lived in London, you are not going to have the awareness of the name “St John’s Wood” evokes. For South Africa, it is Sandhurst.  And so on.  And yet many individuals (and in turn, families) completely mold their entire life for the sheer psychological thrill of living in this areas.  Sure, maybe they will construct various artifacts to rationalise this.

The same goes for even the small decisions in life.  Eventually, everything adds up.  Eventually things decay.  Even a primarily home real estate decays … or depreciate in value hence why it is not considered to be an investment by asset managers.  And yet it’s one of the most powerful or at least common ‘scripts’ that can take over our lives.

And yet, I can’t bring myself to the reality of this.  Why? One of my long-term and lifelong dreams is to be able to live in at least four main geographical regions spanning the world. The desire to enact on this script is strong enough that it’s the every day driving force that helps pushes me to do what I do.  If today is not helping me get closer to that goal, then it’s a day wasted and a day lost.  If I ever find myself veering off this script, then I need to get back on that path and it needs to be ASAP.  If something is happening in my life that is negatively affecting my ability to reach this goal, I take that away from my life.

I think it’s very important to have these truly lifelong goals, otherwise it’s so easy to just give up when things get tough.

And on that note, once I have a taste of what it’s like to be on the road on these types of goals… then it gets easier and easier to add more lifelong goals.

Kubernetes Workshop at Google Dublin HQ


I went to the Kubernetes workshop held at Google Dublin HQ.

You can follow along with the 101 workshops before making your way to the individual workshops.

I’m familiar with the Google Cloud Platform but most of my time was spent crunching datasets using BigQuery.  The workshop had me spending ample time on Google Cloud Shell which to be semi-OK to use but I found some parts of it not that user friendly.  For example, I wanted to come back, highlight the results and make an offline copy but pretty much found it impossible to highlight what I needed on the shell to copy and paste in my clipboard.

Anyway it was a fair bit of time on their shell and getting acquainted with the kubectl syntax.

Following from one of the workshop sections you can also deploy an image to Docker.