6 Months & 12 Countries Later: My major takeaways, travel hacks & places you gotta see to believe

In March of this year (2013) my wife and I quit our jobs, gave up the lease on our apartment, sold half our stuff and threw the rest in storage to take off on a trip around the world.

I loved my life. I was making great money working in an industry I was passionate about. I had a sweet apartment in the heart of the most beautiful/inspiring cities in the world (even after everywhere I've been). Deciding to leave it all not only seemed foolish, but it was one of the scariest and most difficult decisions I've made in my life; which is precisely why I knew it had to be done.

Travel always seemed like an activity for trust fund babies, hitch-hiking hippies or people trying to escape their miserable lives. For me, none of the stereotypes fit. I have some savings that I worked my ass off for, I love to shower and I certainly wasn't escaping or looking to "find myself"; in fact quite the opposite. My biggest fear was actually losing the pieces of myself I had worked so hard to build. But in the back of my mind I always knew I wanted to see the world. I wanted to see how other people live and discover first hand whether "living the American dream" is really all it's cracked up to be. Instead of waiting until retirement, I'd rather do it now so I could enjoy it more and have the stories and experiences to carry with me my entire life.

For anyone considering going on a similar adventure, here are a few things I had to figure out before we left, a few things I learned along the way and an exhaustive list of the places we went and things we experienced.

Read the rest of the post here...


Growing up, the reasons for "Why am I here" and "What is the purpose of life?" always felt so obvious. I was here to be an entrepreneur (or at least thats how I interpreted it). Becoming an entrepreneur made perfect sense given my relentless obsession with learning new things, creating value, building things, making things better and solving problems.

Having accomplished this and grown up a bit, I realize that building products and businesses is simply a means to an end. In the grand scheme of things I believe:

The purpose of life is to contribute to evolution

While some embrace it more than others I believe its the reason we’re all here. If like me you wield an unhealthy dose of evolutionary drive, the task at hand seems daunting. We live in a world where nothing is good enough and everything can be improved endlessly. Luckily the tools, resources & processes are more accessible than ever before. We live in an amazing time. Now more than ever, there is nothing we can’t do.

Technology has changed the evolutionary process forever. We are realizing that technological evolution is simply an extension of biological evolution. Technology is the evolution of evolution and its evolving exponentially. If things seem crazy at times, that’s because it is. We are going through a rapid transformation from biological to technological beings.

We feel it happening all around us. Its changing the way we think and behave. Technology is becoming part of us, making us stronger, faster and smarter. Soon it will be embedded within us.

As the drivers of technological evolution it is up to us to steer it in the right direction. To all the entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and tinkerers in this space; congratulations. You’re work is having a profound impact on mankind and future species to come.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." - Charles Darwin

Backup Your Brain

When I built BrainBackup back in '06 my goal was to document my life so I could revisit later and see how I evolved. By making it a public forum I could share what I was doing and hopefully meet people with similar goals and interests. At that time a blog was the best tool for the job, but it's clear now that blogging couldn't possibly capture the massive amounts of data I generate.

So what happened? Friction.


Post Images To Tumblr Using PhoneGap And jsOAuth

Took over a month but I’m finally posting images to tumblr from my PhoneGap app. What a nightmare! PhoneGap only outputs Base64 encoded images and the Tumblr API only accepts “URL-encoded binary contents" (whatever that means). After a month of trial and error and picking apart a ton of other people’s code I finally got it working. I’ve never worked with raw image data before so there was a ton to learn. Quite honestly, I still don’t understand all the conversions going on. One thing’s for sure, I’ve been manually diffing binary data for too long. You get use to it I guess. I don’t even see the code. All I see is blonde, brunette, redhead.


Life's Too Short

Awesome ad campaign for a job search site.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short


The earlier you go to bed, the easier it is to wake up.

Eating breakfast makes your brain work better all day.

Drinking water makes you feel better.
Which leads to my new favorite quote, "Water is the secret ingredient to life".

If you can hold off on the caffeine until later in the day, its more effective.

Google Projects

Google ProjectsThe discovery of Punch, the mysterious new Google Docs format reminded me how badly we need Google Projects. Google Projects is my name for their Project management application which MUST be in the works. If not, then something is wrong. It seems like the natural evolution of things right? Create a bunch of really well built applications for running a business, then drop one super app on top to seamlessly integrate them all together. Here is how I propose Google Projects should work.

Visit projects.google.com then:
  1. Add a new project
  2. Name the project
  3. Describe the project
  4. Set Goals for the project
  5. Set a due date for this project
  6. Share the project with other users
  7. Click “Create Project”
Note: This is a new application, not a new file format. Google Projects should not be under “Create New” in gDocs.

Once the project has been created, a bunch of things happen automagically for each user:
  1. A new task list is created for this project
  2. A new folder is created in Google Docs for this project
  3. A new calendar is created for this project
Now that a project has been created, you can start adding tasks. Tasks are the center of project management. Google Tasks was originally intended to be a simple to-do list, so its going to need some kick ass new features:
  1. Super tasks
  2. Assign tasks to other project members
  3. Set tasks status (assigned, in progress, complete)
  4. Comment on tasks
  5. Nudge
Think of Super tasks as a groups of tasks. You can kind of create these already within Google Tasks by tabbing them over, but I added this as a new feature because I think it needs to be reworked. Super tasks keep members working together on related tasks until the Super task is complete. Super tasks will have their own due dates and are automatically closed out once all the subtasks are complete.

Commenting on tasks is my most requested feature from other project management tools. If I create a task, then assign it to you, you’re more than likely going to have questions about it. The other features of Tasks are pretty self explanatory. The “Nudge” feature is a nice way to tell someone to get off their ass and finish something. Think of it like a Facebook Poke.

The center of Google Projects is the activity stream. Each action taken within the project is aggregated together on the Projects home page where they can be “Liked” and commented on by members of the project. Maybe the stream turns out to be Google Buzz (my second most requested feature of Google Apps for your domain)?

Besides some permission/notification settings the last and probably most important feature of Google Projects is the icing on the cake: Search. Search within a project or through out all of your projects. This helps tackle an important question that pops up constantly “Why did we do it this way?”. Search your project, read through the comments and find out.

Google Projects IconSo no UI yet, but I did stumble on a cool icon for it. The goal is to keep Google Project simple and fun. What do you think? Is Google working on this? Any must have features I left out? Do you need this? Would you use it?

How To Add Your Foursquare Checkin History To Your Google Calendar

Here's a cool Foursquare trick that I haven't seen anyone mention. Foursquare makes it super simple to add your check-in history to your calendar. Just go to foursquare.com/feeds/ (login) and copy the .ICS feed. Should look something like... http://feeds.foursquare.com/history/xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.ics

Foursquare Google Calendar FeedNow head over to your Google Calendar. Under "Other Calendars" click "Add->Add by URL". Paste in the feed you copied from the Foursquare website and click "Add Calendar".

Thats it! Now you'll see your past checkins on your calendar. It would be cool if the checkins were set to Repeat Yearly so next year I could see where I was this year. Maybe someone knows how to hack the feed to do it?

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