A big thanks to John Glaser of Compass Box for making life under lockdown just a little bit better. Sunday was a virtual whisky tasting event hosted by the Compass Box founder himself. I purchased the special sample box with little bottles of Spice Tree, Story of the Spaniard, and Peat Monster. The first two I love. The last, not so much. But that is all part of the adventure here. We were given a little bit of company history along with our tasting. It was a great way to spend a little time learning about an awesome company that produces fantastic whiskies. I look forward to more of these events.
A large number of people around the world have a new reality. This reality may require them to work from home if they are fortunate enough to have a job that can be done remotely. For many of them, this is uncharted territory. It can be difficult to separate your work from your home life. You find yourself wandering around the house. You spend too much time on social media and check the refrigerator much too often. If you have children, it’s even more difficult as they probably don’t appreciate that you are home, but you are working. So, interruptions tend to be frequent.
My wife and I have been working remotely for many years. Our children have moved out. So, for us, the new reality looks a lot like the old one. Fewer trips out to the store. Also, no travel in the near future. That part is a letdown. But in the grand scheme of things, trivial. It is a bit worse for my oldest son. He’s to be married this summer and the members of his wedding party are mostly from out of the country. Probably not going to happen. But he understands that many others have real problems right now and ours really aren’t so bad.
The good news is that virologists have declared that it is safe to hug your pets. Which is good. Because that was going to happen regardless. Social distancing is for people, not puppies.
Back in 2013 I got my first Raspberry Pi. I’ve always loved playing with cool new computers beginning with my first Vic-20. I immediately began looking for interesting projects to use it for. One of the first things that I came across was the idea of mining a new thing called Bitcoin. So, I got that all set up and played with it for a couple months. I didn’t get very much. But that was fine with me. It was just an interesting project.
At the end of 2013 I saw a new tool for mining. It was called the ASICMiner Block Erupter. Sounded awesome so thought it was worth the $35. That took a lot of work to get up and running properly on my little Linux box. Which was great. I love solving computer problems. Once it was running, I left it going for about a month. Probably burned more electricity than the Bitcoin was worth. But again, it was more of a challenge and a learning experience.
When those few months were over, I had something like .09 Bitcoin in my wallet. Couldn’t do anything with that amount of Bitcoin as it wasn’t worth much and nobody really took it at that point in time. So, the wallet got left sitting on the SD card in my Pi.
Fast forward a little over 6 years and I stumbled across the wallet while looking for a new project for some of the new Raspberry Pi computers. The first thing that I had to do was update my wallet software. It wouldn’t let me sync up anymore as it was not considered secure at this point. That was easy but I had to let the computer run for a few days to get everything all back in sync. I just left the computer going in the corner and almost forgot about it again.
Once all blockchain syncing was complete, I decided to see if I could buy anything with it. Turns out I could. The first purchase was a 3-year license for Nord VPN. I use it as a supplement to my TunnelBear when I travel. But that didn’t take much so I kept looking for sites that took Bitcoin instead of trying to just cash it in. This was another project. Seems Bitcoin is still not the coin of the realm on the internet.
Then about a week ago I was checking on a site to buy a couple American Silver Eagle coins. These are coins made by the US government and they are each 1 troy ounce of silver. Many people buy them as an investment. I mostly just think they’re awesome. They can also very quickly be converted into cash. Still easier than doing it with Bitcoin it turns out.
The coins sell for a couple dollars over the spot price for silver. When I bought them the spot price was $17.50 and I got them for the equivalent of a little over $20 each. There’s a discount for using Bitcoin at SD Bullion over using a credit card. That was awesome to see. They shipped all my coins next day and I received them two days later. Great service from these folks.
In the end what did I get back from my total investment back in 2013 of around $60 for the Raspberry Pi and all necessary components and another $35 for the Block Erupter? 3 years of my VPN software which is awesome. Also, about $700 in silver bullion in the form of 37 American Silver Eagles. Not a bad return on investment. Especially this year.
I spent this past December in Holbæk, Denmark with friends. Everything that has become so familiar to me during my previous trips was suddenly very different. I walked along all of my favorite paths and yet, they were new to me. I must have been a little lost in my explorations as I simply forgot to take almost any pictures. I have a grand total of six photos from the entire month. I’ll do better next time. Promise.
Here are the summer and winter photos of one of my favorite pathways.
I’ve spent the week in Lake Forest, IL for company training. It’s only a three hour drive from Grand Rapids, Michigan so I rented a car and drove over instead of flying. Less hassles and yep, still like to bring lots of gear when I can. Think I need to start getting bigger rooms!
Hotel wireless was, well, hotel wireless. So not able to get any work done using that. Luckily for me, my phone and tablet can each be used as a hotspot and serve up 4G service using T-Mobile. I was able to work with no issues what so ever.
My connection also allowed me plenty of bandwidth to take some courses using my Udemy account that my company thoughtfully provided to my team. How awesome is that? Never stop learning folks.
Nothing ever goes quite as planned. I arrived in Copenhagen on July 5th expecting to get settled in to my friend’s apartment over the weekend and prepare for working from there for the month. No sooner did I land than my company laptop died. Motherboard was toast. I spent the next 3 days wiping my personal computer clean and installing dozens of programs for work. It was that or head straight back to the states. Not going to happen.
After a lot of work and stress, I was up and running on Monday morning office time and I was able to stay in Denmark for the month. Sorry that I didn’t get any posts up but I did have other things on my mind.
I did have time to take long walks every single day. I almost exclusively photographed the various pathways and trails that I walked each day. None of those typical tourist pictures for me this time around. I’ll be sure to post those on my web site. https://timstauffer.me if you are interested in those.
The lesson for everybody here is that you can always find a way to make things work. If you want to travel and work from anywhere in the world, you can do it. Also, yes I carry a lot of gear when I travel, this is why.
Thanks all. Promise to post much more often now. Here and my other sites as well.
It’s almost that time. I’ll be hitting the road again for a while. I’m heading back over to Denmark where I’ll be spending some time in my favorite city, Copenhagen. I also hope to spend a few days in Aarhus. I would also like to begin visiting all those places that I see reaching out to nomads and expats, trying to get them to consider moving to their village or island. I’ll be sure to take plenty of pictures this time. I really need to start practicing my photography more.
I have my flight to Copenhagen booked. I’ll be flying
through Iceland again which is always interesting. The airport there is always
a bit chaotic, but I always get where I’m going so all is well.
I just got my haircut. Yep, every year before I hit the road whether I need it or not. Saves space in the suitcase as I will not need to pack a brush or comb. Don’t judge me. I’m a busy guy.
I picked up some of the local Danish currency in case my credit cards don’t work right away. I’ve had that happen too often and it’s always quite a hassle.
Immunizations. Here’s a new one. I’ll be staying with a friend who is undergoing radiation therapy, so they have a compromised immune system. So, I set aside my dislike for the American medical system and went in for some shots. The lady there asked if I had current immunizations as she couldn’t find any listed for me. I told her yes, I got my polio and MMR in 1964. She was less than impressed. I then made sure to also mention my most recent one. They pulled us all out of class and gave us shots for smallpox in the early 70’s. The nurse stared at me a second and said flatly “I’m just going to mark down that you have no immunizations and we’ll go from there”. She then left the room for a few minutes and soon returned with a tray full of needles. I’ve certainly had my immunizations now. I can assure you.
Anyways. I think that I’m good to go now. Stay tuned.
The island of Arranmore, or Árainn Mhór in Gaelic, is one of the latest places to market themselves to digital nomads and expats looking for somewhere to settle down. According to a recent article on CNN “With a population on the wane since the 19th century, the picturesque Irish island of Arranmore is down to its last 469 residents”.
The people of Arranmore have reached out to the world, especially Australians and Americans, hoping to persuade them to give island life a chance. They boast of high-speed internet and beaches free of the crush of tourists.
I now have quite a list of villages, cities, states and countries actively working to lure both digital nomads and expats. I do believe that I need to begin to visit these places and do the scouting work for all of you potential new citizens. You’re welcome. More to come.
For now, if you have questions about this program you can get more information here. #ComingHome
It’s almost June. Time for me to update you on my goals and
how well I’ve stuck to them.
Linux – I have made some progress here. I took a couple classes from Edx and worked through a YouTube playlist by tutoriaLinux. Both were helpful and I think I’m making some strong gains. For now, I’m sticking to Ubuntu. Once I have that down a bit better, I’ll play with a couple other distros.
PythonProgramming – I managed to get in one class on Python and watched a couple of useful videos. I’m not ready to get a programming job with it, but I am moving forward and that’s something. Just keep swimming, swimming…
Italian – Very little progress on this one. I did make it through a few more sessions of my Fluenz training. I’m halfway through the second level. Now that I have a 4k monitor I do need to run it from the website though. The installed version shows up as a tiny, pixelated box on this monitor. I’ll try downloading some content before my full day of travel back to Copenhagen and see how that looks. Yep, heading back to my favorite city.
Filmmaking – A big zero on this one. Haven’t even shot a video for YouTube this year except a screen capture using OBS Studio. Don’t think that counts. I’ll get to work on this one. Pinkie swear.
Music Production – Again, very limited time dedicated to this. I did update my FL Studio and bought some Maschine expansion packs that I liked from Native Instruments. I have planned out the type of music that I want to create and have a theme in mind. Now have some sounds that may help to inspire me.
I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been struggling with a few challenges that have kept me off the road. Then I realized that it was all part of the digital nomad experience and that I should fill you folks in. So here is today’s challenge.
A few months ago I sat down with a sales consultant for T-Mobile. I told him that I would be doing a lot of travel and that 24/7 access to my network and client sites was critical. I let him know that mostly I would be in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. He set me up with a plan that would handle that. Then I said that I wanted the absolute best cell phone and tablet for the job. Something like $1700 later I had a Samsung Galaxy Note9 and Galaxy Tab S4 and was ready to roll.
I tested the coverage and hotspot feature while traveling around the US. Everything looked good. I have spent months getting all of my multi-factor authentication clients set up and working. I now have a ticket for my next flight to Copenhagen in hand.
Guess what I found out today during a last minute ‘confirm everything’ checkup? My phone and tablet will not work in any of the countries that I am traveling to this year. But don’t worry, T-Mobile is willing to sell me another phone and tablet that will work and add them to my account. Are you freaking kidding me? Sure, I’d love to give them more money since they’ve been so good to me up until now.
I purchased a new router last year and left it at a friends apartment outside of Copenhagen. I will have that available while working. So that is covered. I do still need a phone for the trip since my transportation application for bus and train rides will need to be on it. Guess I’m buying a prepaid when I arrive. Can’t let something like this stop me now.
Anybody have a suggestion for a short-term phone carrier in that region? T-Mobile said that I can’t replace my sim card and get coverage. I need a new device. How awesome is that?