Living in the cloud as a developer

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

As tech users, we live much more in the cloud than we think we have stuff all over the place. As we move on to a new decade, we passed the concept of local storage in our devices. The local storage on our devices started to serve large hard caches of our stuff. Our things consist of photos (which we produce most of them on our mobile devices now), documents we write or any other apps that are backed up by OS like iOS, Android that are already protected by automated backups to your cloud accounts.

So the digital work environment became very portable. And as the hardware advances, our need for powerful machines is moving to the streaming services even in hardware-intensive cases like gaming…

As developers, most of us don’t require very powerful machines to work with. Although there are exceptions like people doing development with crosses with gaming, 3d, video, production… But most of the engineers already work in teams that are heavily utilizing cloud services that are connected in a harmonious way to build our code remotely.

So our local development environments now are functions for comfort more than a requirement. I personally faced and forced myself to be in the “on the go” situation with experimenting to live on my iPad as a primary machine multiple times. Seeing all I need is a comfortable portable machine that can handle basic remote connectivity (like SSH, RDP…) and have some tools that we use for navigating our codebase and run our local development set up. Even the local development set up can be located in a remote instance and have access to the instance with many tools that make it feel like you are working on your local machine.

All these require a high level of connectivity. But we also work with tools most often than not requires connectivity. Regardless of the hardware, we carry is a high performing machine or not, our tools and workflow involve more around connectivity than the speed or capabilities of our local environment.

I also started to see a lot of web-based tools that are very close or in some cases unnoticeably good mimicking the native tools we use, like web-based IDEs that are now being integrated to github/gitlab that provides the comfort of a customized set up.

Judging by the majority of the engineering teams that utilize continuous development pipelines, these pipelines dictate how connected and collaborative our workflow has to be. This is the main reason every new addition or tweak in a generally accepted development journey now is connected and in the clouds.

WDS (World Domination Summit)

WDS - Welcome Adventurer

An unusual gathering happens every year in Portland, OR. Well at least it is going to happen one last time next year.

WDS is an event bringing radical, open minds to share world dominating ideas that creates impact on multiple fronts. General theme is to be, think unconventional, to explore different view points on both common and uncommon topics like housing, work, living free, being creative. All for having a purpose in life and work, being impactful to human kind, supporting communities. WDS built it’s own community too.

Snapshots from the WDS

Having so many interesting walks of lives gathered and opening themselves up to each other, understand each other, support each other, be vulnerable, share big ideas, seek ways to be useful, be better human beings. Many radical meetups, discussions takes place throughout the conference, and out of it, a lot of sparks happens. People open, listen, think and change in this conference.

It was exactly like what expected, to me. I didn’t radically change, but I made great friends, heard a lot of inspiring stories, took tons of notes, questioned things a lot…

I’ve observed (didn’t attend for dumb excuses) for 2 years. Then this year (2019) attended to the conference. I will attend the next (and the last one) as well.

Why I don’t like wearables? (that are attached to your body)

Men wearing wearable wristband (apple watch)

Prepare yourself for a cynical opinion 🙂

I find wearables (mostly wristbands and watches) too annoying and mostly useless. There is a stereotype I’ll follow in this article which, when someone says wearables, I think (and mostly criticize) wristbands. Let me put it out there that there are many versions of wearables that you can wear and carry. I’m happy and ok with most wearables that don’t need to be physically attached to the body and don’t need to be charged every day or every other day. In general, good tech is the ones that you don’t feel any different or do any different than how you live right now. Let’s get the stereotype wristband and likes on the table.

Activities? Meh!

I know I lot of people use to track their activities, like walking, running but I’m sure the majority of the people are not professionals or taking the activity tracking seriously. In my case, everybody I know wearing apple watches are not using them for that. Kind a novelty to have your walking tracked. You either walk or don’t. It’s like a wearable will make me go to swimming more often or not, of course, it will not.

Notifications – God no!

Wearables are like demons in my head. Well, my phone is actually already like that. Wearables are mostly configured to notify you by default when you open them in the box. I know they are changeable, which I tried to make a silent apple watch. But then why am I wearing it, what’s the purpose of it now? I found only 2 passive notifications helped me when I was trying out different wearables:

  • Inactivity alert, where if you sit and don’t move for an hour, you get a nudge that will remind you to move your a** from the chair – which is great and impactful for sure. Instead, I use screen timeout tools that do the same thing (mostly).
  • Good old timer (wrist version of the kitchen timer). This is used for anything but in most cases my pomodoros (or focus blocks, way to GTD). I set the timer with Siri (in apple watch case) and get to work until I get the nudge. This was the only “real” use case I had – but for having a timer at $350+ cost is just dumb.

Health – Yes!

For seniors, wearables that do consistent hearth monitoring throughout the day is probably the most impactful way to use wearables in my opinion.

Sleep? Hell yes but no 😞!

What I loved on body-attached-wearables from the beginning was sleep tracking. But unfortunately “in theory”. Nobody got this right. Jawbone Up was my first and beloved sleep tracker worked “the best” but had a lot of room to improve. Then Jawbone stopped improving this feature (maybe nothing left to improve). Even though the hardware was fragile and gets broken after few months, I was happy to keep buying same hardware many times (I swear I had 10+ of same and different versions of Jawbone Up – I actually still have unopened box ones). But then Jawbone discontinues to sell them (well, I have 3 unopened ones, so I thought I was good for couple years), then they shut down the servers which made the mobile app to not work at all (because it’s a cloud/API based app) which basically made all Jawbone wearables garbage.

Then every single wearable copied but copied the shittiest version of sleep tracking including Apple. Even if Apple was nailed it, it’s just moronic that you have to charge your apple watch pretty much every day – and any real opportunity you have is when you sleep which you are (in practice) forced to not wear it. Please, someone, get this right…

If you really have to…

put something on your wrist to be cool or maybe really tracking your activities, please don’t make it rain! It’s just a waste. Now there is a sea of wearables does the exactly same stuff every other one does as low as $20 on Amazon. I recently tried Xiaomi’s 4th gen wearable which is pretty good – does my timer and alarm functions well (that’s enough for me but if you are interested, it does all the other things too), and I only need to charge almost once a month (well, I only wear it when I sleep).

I’ve been doing Screen-less (no screen) Saturdays more than a year now

I firmly believe screen-less or no screen time is a necessary concept for digital dwellers. Screen-less / No screen is very much like sabbatical practice where you don’t interact with technology as much, or to be more specific don’t interact with screens.

Let’s deconstruct this little bit.

Working with screens

I’m an internet worker which is my job to produce stuff for people to consume on their technological devices. It’s my job to think, create and bend the rules with computing and make technology smarter. Most of my day goes into research, write, plan, manage and do all of these on computer. Usually spend like 12-15 hours on screens.

There are so many occupations not centered around creating technology but using technology to create. By nature many jobs are very similar to mine, spending almost all the time behind screens while working.

Couch potato with screen

But there are a good chunk of humanity just “watching”. Probably majority of the people spending time on screens is just consuming. It’s a natural transition from non-interactive television era to screen time. Kevin Kelly has a great definition for this and he calls it “screening” not watching, not reading… We just scroll endlessly.

Too much screen time, too many screens to look at

Not just having A screen, we have screens everywhere. Phones, tablets, computers, tv screens for constant information for some jobs (like stock tickers, performance dashboards etc..) and finally wearables. We carry multiple screens with us all the fucking time…

Not a surprise everybody is ADD now

I’ve been doing reads on many different topics related with technology’s impact. Recently how screens affect little children since I have two little babies now, more curious on this topic these days.

What I see as a consistent pattern, mostly conclusions on these reads is screens are bad for certain period of childhood causing loss on attention span, making our brains more distracted. I understand the reasoning that our brain is designed to “see” stuff in graceful progression. Especially movements we expect from nature is not suddenly disappearing or suddenly appearing stuff. Sudden movements is “danger” signal for brain. We produce minimal stress hormones when stuff happens fast because naturally fast movements trigger us to “escape” from danger by it’s biological nature. The fast moving images and flashing visuals that makes brain to jump between things is essentially damaging. This sounds so familiar – think a random tv program 🙂

It’s growing number of kids, people have ADD (attention deficit disorder).

Keep it cool, keep it under control

Best way to cope with this is to have regular “stops” from screens. It’s just plain straightforward plan. Don’t look at screens, don’t use your gadgets for a while. To me once a week for a day is just perfect. Maybe once in every 6 months or once a year it can be weeklong stop. It’s not new concept guys! We call this just weekend and holidays 🙂

Cool it down a little…

Getting lazy with technology

Not interacting with screens or more broad with technology completely for a day is also about breaking the pattern of technology supported laziness where we lost the connection and need for retention of basic information like directions or shopping list.

When I first did no screen, without realizing, I got into a situation that I booked a yoga class the day before for Saturday and when the class time came, I realized I never knew the address of the studio I went twice. It was a little scary that I didn’t know this information, I managed to go out and try few different streets until I remember the correct street. Following week, I started to note the directions of the places I wanted to spend my day.

Getting creative with no screen time

A lot of good came out of no screen days:

  • read much more,
  • workout in many different ways, running, yoga, biking, hiking,
  • farmers market, vintage shop, random exploration of my neighborhood,
  • having less serious plans and schedule for Saturdays,
  • catching up with friends more,
  • meditating,
  • writing, life planning

It’s been over a year now and it became part of my weekly routine.


I have few exceptions that I don’t practice no screen Saturdays, when I travel, when I have a deadline that shit really happened and it’s very important (I try to keep this 2-3 times a year max, otherwise there is always important stuff). I only interact screens very very briefly (not longer than a minute or two) to open music, I also keep “kindle” out of “screen” category because you can’t do much other than reading.

Why Written Communication is King?

Writing represents pretty much the biggest leap in human history. We started to make great things after we started documenting our wisdom and make it portable. Anything was written is made for communication even if it means communicating by yourself. People write, scribble to solidify their ideas, thoughts and there is no better format than written or drawn materials.

It requires a skill to write. And writing is definitely an amazing skill set that requires time, patience and practice to develop. A lot of people writing blogs which is a great way of sharpening this skill and one of the primary reasons I keep my blog open for years.

When it comes down to communicating with multiple people, written communication thrives. In many real-time communications, speaking, listening, discussing (etc), we listen/watch/read and “interpret” more than understanding things at that second. And in a lot of cases, people misunderstand things. A lot of details can be lost because of the immediacy of the communication. Writing and reading provide the best version to both sides. It allows communicator to materialize their ideas in plain form and it gives enough time to the writer to think, rethink, make errors and fix them on writers own pace. Same stuff happens on “receiver”s side. All of us take stuff differently and there is no better format than a written message, document etc…

This speed thing and difference is a very underestimated thing about how each one of us functions. Some of us think very deep and it takes time, some of us are very fast processors but may oversee things and miss stuff. It’s all normal, it’s what makes each one of us, us. But when it comes to two people communicating, it can cause errors.

Personally Writing

As I mentioned above, writing is a beautiful way to shape your thoughts. A way to make floating half-baked ideas to become complete or easy to follow. All writing stories has to be connected well in between of each sub-stories or sub-thoughts. So writing gives very creative ways to connect the dots. Therefore it makes you think better, thinks more connected and almost always makes you speak better because you train your brain to think that way. It rewrites your brain for that way of thinking. I see great benefits of writing stuff down even if I will temporarily collect them somewhere.

I use note taking apps on my digital devices, carry Moleskine notebooks on my backpack all the time. When you need to write stuff down, you need to have materials to do so.

Repeating same point above, writing speed is always slower than how fast we think. Some people (like me) thinks fast and because of we don’t have enough practice to speak, we mix our thoughts when we try to speak (without enough training) as we think. Because our thoughts fly fast, we try to speak fast and screw up sometimes 🙂 Writing gives perfect sight of slowly building sentences and progress on a topic in order, it builds the great skill to how to organize thoughts.

Bonus, if writing in a foreign language it gives the best way to practice vocabulary. Also, there are millions of tools on computers, mobile devices that correct and highlights misspelled words, even grammatical errors that trains you slowly. If you type same error 5 times, you start to fix it and it will be gone very soon. So, when learning a new language. I encourage you to write stuff in that new language.

Writing in Business and in Teams

Written communication is one of the essential elements of running a business. This is a skill that every professional has to master. This becomes vital especially if you are a manager or an executive of a business. Is the extreme side of this example, we can think about legal matters. In the legal world, there is nothing other than written evidence and explanations. In some cases, we write anything happened between two parties in “contracts”s. Of course, legal writings has its own category and maybe a boring example but it magnifies the importance of this in business.

On the less legally binding but still important matters like business decisions, business plans etc, written documents are the best way to inherit any information that needs to be implemented in the business.

Written artifacts in business and team communication also brings consistency of the communication. If you are trying to build systematically designed process around communication, the consistency can be varied a lot depending on the leader. Agreeing on a format and treating that like a template is the best way to bring consistency of repetitive tasks. I’ll write more on this later in specific cases.

Another reason of written docs use in running a business is the scalability and mobility of the information. What I mean by the mobility of information is how easy to move a know-how from an individual or a group of individuals to another. Let’s say you trained someone to be a killer project manager or marketing person. How much of know how can be moved to another person? Does it require the same amount of training? How much of that information can be documented and requires a new trainee to read an learn early on? Or when implementing a business process change to 10 different people in different teams, how easy to train multiple designers at once? At the end of the day, written documents become the guidelines, archives and historical artifacts of the business.

The last point on writing communication in business; if you are an open and transparent team, written communication is a must because of availability and accessibility of written communication is unmatched. Especially, digitally communicating teams are already halfway there. Having slack to talk, quip or google docs like tools to document and trello like project management tools are already very easy to search, scan, monitor, track progress of anything written.

Working from home as a father and sleep in biphasic or polyphasic cycles

For last 2 years, we have re-structured our company and teamwork process to become very (digital) nomadic. We have reconfigured all of our communication and project management processes to be remote-friendly. In fact, 7 out of 10 of our team members work completely remote. 2 of the team members that I’ve been working for last 2 years that I haven’t met in person 🙂

I took parental leave from my company last few weeks and now I’m back to work. Before I was fully coming back, I was trying to figure out how my early baby-care schedule will be working out with my work schedule.

First I re-read some of the old topics that I used to research about sleep patterns, work and focus management experiments I used to do. I’ll talk about them in this post. Then I started to create some alternative ways to define work, baby care and sleep blocks around the clock. This planning can get so anal if you want to. I kept it logically working with my existing baby-care schedule that I adapted last few weeks (since the babies arrived). Now, let’s dive into them.

Thinking about sleep schedule

Sleep is probably the #1 topic for new (or repeating) parents when it comes to newborn or young babies. I think people are doing this wrong for uncontrolled reasons. Having required working on certain hours definitely makes this harder to manage because if you have a full-time work that required you to be on-site or on specific hours, you don’t have any option to work and have to be concentrated within those hours and continue doing your baby care shift at evening, night.

Since I have the luxury to define my own hours of when to sleep, when to be awake, when to be working and when to be resting, I approached this from the “mad scientist” mindset. This actually comes from the “creative” or “scientific” geniuses that are well known in living or experimenting with alternative “sleep patterns”.

For people are foreign to the topic, there are very analytical methods of different ways to plan your “resting” hours for your day. Sleeping is not always necessarily has to be 1 block of time for 8 hours of sleep for everybody. A lot of people does multiple blocks of sleeping. Well-known example of this is “siesta” in Spanish/Italian/Latin cultures. This falls under biphasic sleep (twice daily). But there are more challenging and weird versions of this pattern as known as polyphasic sleep pattern (more than 2 times a day). The main reason for many people trying alternative sleep pattern is to decrease total hours of sleep and provide similar/enough resting time for the body, so you can save extra hours to live longer days.

This is why many scientists or creatives try these patterns to get more hours of working/thinking/creating for their peak creative years. Some of the well knows are Da Vinci, Edison, Tesla, Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson. There are many ways to do this alternative sleep patterns but there are know models:

To learn more about polyphasic sleep patterns:

So here is my formula that falls under Biphasic Sleep Pattern that I worked out with my own schedule:

Thinking about work schedule

Our team works in different timezones from different continents and with our clients being almost on the other side of the planet, everybody works in their own hours except our team synchronizes once every day at 10:15am EST. We do a very short standup usually averages around 5-6 minutes. Other than this we only focus on the deliverables and weekly milestones that are usually set up at the beginning of the week. Rest of the week, we keep collaboration between team members based on people’s availability without a strict model.

This allows me to define my own work hour blocks and breaks that I want to work at. So based on the splitting my sleep, I split my work hours into 2 main blocks with a long break in each work hour blocks. So I designed 4 blocks of hours on the remaining hours of the sleep to focus on my work.

The drawing below shows the work blocks and their sprints in it. I’ll talk how I think about these sprints when I sit down to work below.

How to create focus in work hours since baby-care can be super distracting

This is pretty much how to focus, how to plan your own time and this topic itself is a separate topic to cover with many alternative methods. I’ve been working in tech almost 15 years now and I’ve experimented with many many methods including the ones touches to the project management, provides team focus and better collaboration. Last few years the methods that is remote work friendly become more appealing for me.

I like the pomodoro framework with adding few extra tools and adjusting the strict-pomodoro with few changes. This was a model I worked many years ago and we did the team-pomodoro for a while couple years ago in our team with busy lights and team dashboards that plays well with our adjusted-Kanban style project management.

So, essentially I split my work hours to pomodoro blocks. Which is 25-minute work + 5-minute rest (30 minutes) sprints that gives me 15 pomodoros a day. Pomodoro is just a mental checkpoint for me. To me more important to think about, how to minimize distractions. With many “screens” that we carry and wear, it becomes so much easier to get distracted even if you lock yourself in a room to work. Below, few tips I follow when I execute my pomodoros.

1) No mobile device to be vibrating, flashing screen or making sounds while working in pomodoro. A simple way to do this is, disable your notifications – using don’t disturb on mobile phones is the easiest way to do this. Put your phone/tablet etc facing screen down on the table is enough way to achieve this. Don’t use wearables that vibrate – or disable everything. I only use apple watch in airplane mode for the timer.

2) Define with pomodoro blocks that you will use communication tools, email responding, slacking, trello, social network etc… Only allow yourself to use these apps/sites. Use a tool to restrict your access to social networks, email sites even apps to use on your mac/windows. I use “Focus” app to block distracting apps and sites that show an alert even if I forgot and try to open these apps or sites.

3) Stop when pomodoro ends. 5-minute breaks are essential and don’t look at the screen on your break. Drink water, stand up, lay down on the couch but don’t interact with screens while on your short break. Use a visual or strong vibrating wearable for your pomodoro to make you annoyed if you don’t walk away from the computer. I use apple watch and it’s basic timer to get me very very aware of the timer is up with haptic feedback. I tried jawbone up and other alarms – phone alarm or pomodoro timers on mac. Nothing is as strong as my solution for me.

Becoming tech father

I’ve recently had twin girls and I’ve been in the process to become a parent. Have been reading and following tons about what to expect in pregnancy as well as rising a child. Obviously, one of the active conversations everybody is having in many different aspects is; how technology affects a child’s development. My opinion is, there is a lot goes into how technology affects a person’s education depending on how kids are exposed to the technology itself.

Since my babies are very small and won’t have the difference to have or not have technological additions to their life for a while, I’m thinking how I would use tech as a tool in my parenting. I’ve been adjusting my lifestyle and adapting my tech skills to taking care of my new babies. One of the things I’ve been reading was how engineer/developer dads approach to many different aspects of technologically enhancing their early parenting experiences. Most of these are obviously about optimizing the process of nursing babies, getting an early education with technological products.

New entrepreneurs are born with kids

(Not the kids that born but the parents becoming entrepreneurs)

Often we see a lot of new ideas and products come out of these raising-child struggles and ideas around improving ancient methods of childcare. We see many fun examples of them in Shark Thank 🙂 I really enjoy watching a lot of tech-dads or tech-moms seeing an inefficiency in the process and come up with a new way of doing this never changing life cycle of humankind. I totally get why childcare ignites entrepreneurial mindset.

Every human being born the same way, raised same way at least it’s very similar despite the cultural differences at least early on in their life. This creates an amazingly similar pattern to be worked with for an entrepreneurial thinking. And best, most parents repeat this cycle multiple times.

A new area to geek on for tech-parents

Not all the custom-made solutions make its way to being a new product or service. Most often, you see these small iterations shared conventionally. With the internet, now these conventional wisdom is out there in blogs (like this one). And many parents are sharing their experiences, how they overcome certain obstacles or struggles in their parenting journey.

This is particularly convenient for tech-parents. I’m sure I’ll be participating on this like others. In fact, I already made experiments with some hardware to enhance my fresh baby-care journey.

What this means in the internet, software world is pretty much a lot of new apps and some hardware supported software or services. Since geeking on this is essential, I will be sharing my experiences soon (within the tech-related topics).

Digital Nomads

The term “Digital Nomad” becoming more and more popular in every year within last decade, maybe more visible in last 5 years. It has become well known and accepted as more people shared their nomadic stories on their blogs.

We can say it’s more like a lifestyle change than a temporary thing for most people. There is a pattern on the personas accepted this lifestyle. They are working mostly in the tech industry, usually creates stuff, standalone or not needing constant collaboration with a team or don’t have physical dependencies (sourcing materials etc). People like sysadmins, developers, designers, digital artists…

The term “nomad” explains the lifestyle factor more than being digital because it’s all about being location independent. Working from everywhere at any time (often working all the time for entrepreneur versions). Does it sound great right? Executing is not necessarily that great 🙂

I’ve been experimenting with different elements of becoming a digital nomad in last year period. Each of the following topics below deserves a much deeper explanation but I’ll summarize them now. I’ll write about each one separately later. Continue reading “Digital Nomads”

Little more about me

Hey English readers,

I recently started to write in English on my site which I usually write about web development (usually web projects, PHP MySQL based in the back-end, anything in front-end).

Before I start to translate old articles or write new ones, I would like to talk about myself, about my background. Hey, who doesn’t want to learn about who they read right?

Anyway, I work in a startup called Moonit as a Web Developer and we built Moonit iPhone App around 1,5 years ago. We also have a website basically mirrors the mobile experience. So we are a mobile-first company and app laboratory. We’re proudly in New York City and we have this view from our office:

I’m from Istanbul, Turkey, I worked in couple different digital agencies most with shiny and well-known brands, which was fun and good challenges in a different way beside of working in big teams. I worked a long time as a freelancer on my own or with couple fellows as small teams for the total of over 10 years. I worked as back-end developer, front-end developer and some very light UI designer before. Now, I’m doing mostly product design and mobile UI design. You can check out my portfolio for more on what I did before.

Feel free to shoot an email to fatih at this domain to say hi.

Hello (rest of the) world

Hello fellows,

This is the introduction letter of my website’s English version. I’ve been writing articles/tutorials and sharing my development experiences with a local group of web developers under this domain since 2002. I got covered some of the well known and modern (at least all of them were modern when they were written 🙂 ) for common web development problems and techniques.

Anyway, now I’m starting to write all in English beside Turkish. You can switch between Turkish and English versions of the articles if there are linked articles in both languages.

You can also check out my portfolio

Cheers to all techy geeks 🙂