First edition of NomadConf.eu

An unconference in trains throughout Europe to grow your professional nomadic practices.

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First edition of NomadConf.eu

The first edition took place on Thursday 17 August 2017 and Friday 18 August, between Paris and Bordeaux. Participants were @matti_sg, @pblayo, @krichtof and @cranedemorse.

What happened

Departure from Paris

Departure by train at 8:30 AM. We meet right in the car. Krichtof misses the train after an alarm failure and takes the 8:53 AM train.

Paris → Bordeaux

Informal breakfast at the TGV bar to meet and define the schedule for the 3-hours trip.

First exercise:

  1. Tell us your expectations for these two days.

To learn from this experience, and figure out how to work remotely in the future and charge for the time worked on the train.

Meet new people.

  1. Write at least two a priori that you have on working in the train (by completing the sentence “I think that working in the train…”). Don’t share them!

TGV Paris Bordeaux

We start working, each one in his or her place, at 8:55am. We set up a meeting at 9:55 in the bar to share:

  • The biggest obstacle we encountered (which prevented us from being as productive as when we are sedentary).
  • A surprise we had.

We try making a conference call between two high-speed trains by involving @Krichtof from his own train. The result is not convincing, we move on to Slack’s written channel.

Impediments

Not being able to access the internet, for doc search. I managed to get around it by reading the code I already had on my laptop.

Nothing to do with the mobility situation: I have several sessions on my computer and switching between my personal and professional sessions I missed some important interactions.

Nothing to do with the mobility situation either: the project I’m working on comes to life around 10am, so this first iteration was in a way “disconnected” from the teams. I didn’t get enough sleep last night, so it was very hard to read (the activity I switched to for this first iteration).

Surprises / discoveries

I missed my train 😉 I realize that I always have a sensitivity in my ears, which sometimes causes discomfort. But it’s still bearable.

Julien gave us tea at the train bar, it was Kusmi Tea. I still thought there was only Lipton, I think that in the future I will be able to have some good tea at the bar!

Our conductor’s name is Christelle. Seriously, no special surprises. Or the paradoxical version: I’m surprised not to be surprised. Aaaaaaaaaaah!

Bordeaux, day 1

Bordeaux Station

@Krichtof’s train being faster than the one initially planned, we meet in the station. We walk towards our accommodation by sharing our experiences of the morning.

Lunch in a restaurant found while walking. We get to know each other better while discovering local specialities, in order to better understand the professional and personal contexts of each participant.

Bordeaux Restaurant

After the meal, we make two groups: one prefers to settle down immediately at the apartment to work, the other prefers to work outside.

Remote office Apartment

At the end of the day, we decide to go to the BdxCoin meetup recommended by the local community Okiwi. We meet about fifteen local practitioners of agility, software development, cryptocurrencies… Some of whom we knew via Twitter. The aperitif turns into dinner, and we return to the apartment around midnight after having learnt everything about buying and selling Bitcoin.

Evening

Bordeaux, day 2

When we wake up, there is no electricity! After about ten minutes, the culprit is finally identified: the power strip on which the fridge was plugged has burned overnight. One can legitimately say that the NomadConf team approached death, and merely avoided it thanks to an earth leakage circuit breaker.

Burned socket

Krichtof had brought a portable speaker and introduces us to Vulfpeck. Work at the apartment in the morning, video-conference in the bathroom.

Philippe is full of imagination

Check-out, lunch and work in the delicious bakery at the foot of the building. We walk to the station for a break, making quick sightseeing visits.

Visits

Working session in the station to test that environment.

High seats in Bordeaux train station

Departure at 4:34PM to Paris, we schedule iterations again, then we conclude this first session of NomadConf.eu, short but successful.

TGV Bordeaux - Paris

Initial a prioris and their adjustment

@pblayo

  1. Costly to access the internet in terms of data/battery.
  2. It’s going to be complicated to do my standup with my teammates / annoying for the people around.

Battery and data

Linking battery and data might seem counter-intuitive, but it turned out surprisingly accurate by the first learning I did: my Sony Xperia shares its 4G very badly in hotspot mode. It is therefore better to share the data via a USB cable.

The consequence is that by default my phone will pump energy out of my computer when giving it its 4G.

This brings me to my most counter-intuitive discovery of the conference: my phone drains battery from my computer faster than a power outlet can charge it!

Data

The 50 MB of my Orange package died the first hour of travel. I put 2 € in 200 MB extra. I hesitated to put 6 € directly into 1 GB extra. I wanted to iterate to discover and learn, but maybe that’s why appear.in cut off the camera access at the end of the conference.

I discovered appear.in thanks to @matti_sg when the train was leaving Paris and I then kept on using it throughout the trip to share my screen and do remote pair programming.

Battery

My phone didn’t have any battery issues. The access to power outlets in the stations avoided battery problems for my computer but I had some concerns around 14 % and 24 % left (with things to do that needed more).

The noise I make for others

This is a second discovery for me: I am very careful not to disturb others when discussing a professional topic. So I looked for sufficiently isolated spaces in trains and in the apartment. Which led me to do a lot of pair programming in the bathroom.

Talking with my teammates was thus very easy in the train in an empty car because there are benches for four people with tables. In the train, 70-80% of the return trip, I sat on stairs in front of the toilets, and this quickly proved to be uncomfortable.

Conclusion

I also enjoyed the informal discussions on topics unrelated to nomadism and meeting the local community in Bordeaux.

@matti_sg

  1. I’m more productive in a train than I am in an office.
  2. It’s less comfortable than in the office.

1 was true, but I discovered that I was even more productive in a train station. I think it’s mostly due to the stability of the wifi network, and maybe a little bit because I could work on my own.

2 was also true 😉

Conclusion

I am very happy to have completed this first edition of NomadConf!

@krichtof

  1. Complicated to work without internet and without doc.
  2. Kids who make noise (I put this a priori opinion because @matti_sg asked us to write 2 😉).

1 is the main obstacle I encountered. I managed to get around it thanks to an offline repo, which allowed me to see examples of code.

Very happy to have discovered Zeal (Dash on macOS) thanks to @matti_sg, a tool for indexed offline searches. I’ll get started with it tomorrow.

Another tool discovered is SublimeText’s multiple edition feature (with multiple cursors). It seems that there are some plugins under Vim that mimic this functioning… To be continued!

Conclusion

It was also nice to meet a local community in Bordeaux last night. I was able to see IRL some people I followed on Twitter or read on Slack.

In short, 2 fun days: slightly_smiling_face: To do again!

Initially proposed route

From Thursday 17 August 2017 to Wednesday 23 August,in France, Spain and Germany, for about €800 (price of tickets and accommodation, food not included).

See the route

Segment Departure Full fare Full fare Duration of trip
  Paris Thursday 17 August at 8h30 69 € 3h
  Bordeaux Friday 18 August at 3pm 36 € 4h30
  San Sebastián Saturday 19 August at 7h30 55 € 5h30
  Barcelona Monday 21 August at 7.30 am 69 € 5h
  Lyon Tuesday 22 August at 10h 56 € 6h
  Frankfurt Wednesday 23rd August at 2pm 49 € 4h15

Unfortunately, too few people were available to cover the entire journey. Rather than cancel, we preferred to reduce the scope and test the conf with a first edition!

We took advantage of the conclusion of the conference to reflect on how to increase participation in future editions.

Make it more visible than the price depends on the duration

  • 2 days 200 €
  • 5 days 800 €

Rename to NomadConf.eu

A more transparent name and thus easier to find by a search engine and more tempting to follow by clicking on a link.

Done on October 30, 2017!

Write this report 😉

Done on November 12, 2017!