Photo credit: Kathy Ponce https://www.flickr.com/photos/candlescents/3670671547

Tips for Remote Employees, their Peers and How to Unmute Yourself

Working as a remote employee for almost a year, I have been observing some common behaviors that can make the communication between remote employees and their peers either great or very challenging. Here are some tips based on my own experience, and while the bonus tip at the bottom of the post sounds a bit unimportant, believe me, it happens more often than you can imagine so I provided some screen-shots and solutions to the question “How to unmute myself?

Here are some tips for both remote employees and their peers.

Be considerate

  • If a meeting changes, or you cannot make it, cancel or decline at least 24 hours in advance. When you are a remote worker, planning and being ready for a meeting sometimes might take a little more than just attending. Be considerate and make sure you communicate well in advance of any changes to any scheduled meetings.
  • Have a goal for the meeting and be clear as to what your expectations for the meeting are. Attending a meeting without a clear vision about the meeting’s goal or what your contribution to it is, can be very frustrating. This sometimes causes people to feel frustrated and be lost during the meeting.
  • Start on time. Whoever is organizing or hosting the meeting should setup the conference call or video conference before the meeting starts. Everyone else should show up on time.
  • Be aware of time zones. This is one item that we must not forget when working with a remote team, try to setup meetings during mutually workable hours.

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Alfred Edward Chalon [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Programming: A short history of computer languages

What is computer programming

The action or process of writing computer programs, that is the definition of computer programming. Unfortunately that doesn’t tell us much.

In a more descriptive way, programming refers to the act of describing processes and procedures by developing a list of instructions and commands for a computer to execute. The type of objects that these instructions manipulate are numbers, words, sounds, images, and the like. The goal of manipulating these objects is to make a computer perform a task and get results which would be nearly impossible for a human being to perform in a timely and accurate manner. The tasks we instruct a computer to make are usually very repetitive and can involve million of calculations in a short period of time. Continue reading

At The Centre Pompidou Paris, France

Creativity is You

If you let the fear of the unknown stop you from even starting, you won’t start

Creativity is YOU. It is not an activity but what you bring to it when you give yourself permission to make mistakes and not be afraid of it.

Creativity is on everything. When you don’t feel like being creative or think there is no room for creativity with the task at hand think again. Creativity is not something you learn or something you can turn on and off. Creativity is something that happens when you start doing something. To trigger creativity you might want to try things without thinking too much about the end result. Also, having some sort of limitations and/or restrictions usually triggers some creativity. Continue reading

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Remote employees: Best tools for collaboration and communication

Working remotely has become a common way of working for a lot of professionals, and while it is a lot easier to do this than years ago, working remotely still has some challenges. The one thing we can all agree with is that not having to worry about a busy and/or long commute is awesome (see photo above). The ability to stay connected to your peers and be able to collaborate seamlessly is necessary for remote teams to be successful. All companies use email and most use some sort of instant messaging tool, but this isn’t enough.

In recent years, many software companies have created multiple tools to make remote collaboration and communication easier and less intrusive, below are some of the tools I consider the most useful and enjoyable for the remote employee and remote teams. Continue reading

There is an entire medieval town hidden behind a giant rock

There are many countries and cities around the world that I have been lucky to have traveled to. However there are many more I haven’t and this little Greek town is one of them. Hope you enjoy the info and beautiful photos of this interesting island.

There is a town hidden behind a giant rock, the name of it is Monemvasia a municipality in Laconia, Greece. Monemvasia was separated from the mainland by an earthquake in 375 AD. The majority of the island’s area is a plateau about 100 metres above sea level, and the town of the same name is built on the slope to the south-east of the rock, overlooking Palaia Monemvasia bay. Many of the streets are narrow and fit only for pedestrian and donkey traffic. A small hamlet of about 10 houses lies to the northwest. Continue reading

Small-groups as the antidote to bad meetings

small-groups antidote for bad meetingsBad meetings, meetings from hell, or whatever you want to call them, we’ve all experienced those and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you experience bad meetings in a daily basis. While there are endless tips, blog posts and even books about how to have good meetings and ways to avoid meetings from hell, none of the advice seems to fix the underlying issue. Most people who attend meetings don’t need to be there. If you look at most articles about making your meetings more successful and productive, they tell you to have an agenda, to have a clear objective, to use time wisely, to store distractions in a “parking lot”, to have shorter meetings, etc… However, the reason we have to do all of those things is because in most meetings, you have people who are not supposed to be there, people who don’t bring any value to the meeting, and people who either don’t have interest in the topic being discussed or the knowledge to help and contribute to the meeting. Continue reading

Trip to the border

theundocumentedengineer_423x675There I was in a bus on my way to Matamoros from Guadalajara, Mexico. It was a winter night, on December 27, 1995. I remember a movie playing inside the bus, don’t remember which one as I was too busy with my thoughts, watching the hilly scenery outside the window. The trip lasted about 12 hours and by the time we arrived to the city of Matamoros, it was about 7:00 AM in the morning.

One backpack and about $800 pesos is what I had on me. It is probably the lightest I have traveled since. The $800 pesos was one full month’s worth of my salary working as a courier for a travel agency in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the time, I was contributing to my family’s income and didn’t have much left for savings; the $800 pesos were a risky investment in a dream for a better pay in the United States so I could contribute more to my family. Continue reading

Kickstarter: Our project failed

greenThis is the message I received this morning from Kickstarter about my campaign failing because it didn’t get funded:

We’re sorry to report that your project, The Undocumented Engineer, didn’t meet its funding goal.

We know how much hard work goes into running a project. You’ve made tremendous progress by launching and working to build a community around your idea.

As you’re figuring out your next steps, don’t forget to keep your backers in the loop. They’re your biggest fans and are probably interested in following along with your progress. You can post an update or send them a message to let them know about your plans for your project.

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Trip to Oahu and Maui, Hawaii

Aloha!

Oahu is one of the most popular islands in Hawaii, also, the one with the largest population. This island is a very attractive destination to people looking to see a piece of paradise, with the option to have all the amenities of a big city such as shopping and a great variety of restaurants and hotels. However, there are other islands like Maui which offer in my opinion, a better option for those in search of a more adventurous experience, and the feel of true island living.

Waikiki beachBoth places are great for vacationers and travelers looking for water adventures such as surfing, snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, etc. If you are looking to just lay down on the beach and enjoy a great view in and around the beach then perhaps Oahu is a better option. If you are looking to do some exploring, hiking, and have an adventurous road trip, then Maui offers all of that. Continue reading

The Undocumented Engineer

Kickstarter: Day 10

It’s been 10 days since I launched my first kickstarter campaign for my first book. These series of blog posts are a story of my journey with my first kickstarter campaign.

These are the things I’ve tried up until today to get more people to back my campaign:

  • Emailed my entire email list. Twice.
  • Have tweeted multiple times from different accounts about the campaign.
  • Tried unsuccessfully to get influential people to re-tweet or tweet about my campaign.
  • Emailed friends and acquaintances directly to ask them for their support.
  • Have posted the video, book cover and excerpts from my new book multiple times on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Have written three posts about my failure to get people to back my kickstarter campaign. This is the third one.

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