How to become a digital nomad; tales from a web developer

NEW YORK–How do you become a digital nomad? If you care to listen to the speakers of Cafe Numerique (Beligan for digital), you’ll find out how the world is getting smaller the way people from all over the world are finding each other, doing business and sharing ideas.

Organized by local teams once or twice month, the teams choose a topic, look for speakers and a place to welcome their community. Last September 23, New York featured Adam Romer as speaker on the subject of being a digital nomad.

Established in October 21, 2009 in Brussels, Belgium, the digital cafe talk emerged in Life, Mons, Namur and Charleroi and beyond Belgium before expanding to 18 cities to date. The concept is simple. The organization thinks of a topic and invites anyone in general to share their thoughts. Cafe Numerique is composed of Aida Kalanderi, Julie Govaert and Luis Mercao.

In last Wednesday’s talk, Romer, a website developer, took us to different places where he has lived for the past year or so. He discussed how you can be digital nomad like himself. He discussed about mail services, travel-and tax-friendly states like Florida, Texas and South Dakota.

“You don’t have to live where you register your business,” he said, adding points about banking and how manage one’s business and personal accounts.

Even better, he added, is geoarbitrage; what he calls “when a dollar isn’t a dollar.” This simply means the affordability of other places and where your dollar goes a long way.

He could not stress enough how important it is to get internet connection at all times and how, having 4G in a remote location, allowed him to work on a mountainhill underneath a starry night. How one can work in such beautiful locations, based on the photos he showed, is beyond us. “Get a unlocked phones and use a Sim card as well as LTE connection.”

Romer addressed the elephant in the room–safety and security, giving the following pointers:

Be aware of your surroundings
Don’t be an easy target
Stay out of places you don’t belong
Get travel insurance
Don’t be conspicuous

Even when you’re off the grid, he said it’s important to create a routine, because the temptation to wander off will be harder to control. “Create a routine. Explain (to people) that you are not on vacation.”

Codecademy workshop keeps tech meetup scene interesting

NEW YORK–Tech meetup groups have taken most of the summer off, but Codecademy took the quiet time to hold an HTML and CSS workshop of its newly released web projects last August 20 at its office in midtown Manhattan with the people behind it in attendance–Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski.

Now home to 24 million users since its inception in 2011, Codecademy has a large user base learning coding in a more engaging and interactive way. Last night, Codecademy talked about the importance of learning coding with web projects in mind instead of just learning coding.

For those who haven’t heard of it, Codecademy is an online interactive platform that offers free coding classes in 8 different programming languages, including Angular JS, Javascript, jQuery, Python, PHP and Ruby as well as markup languages HTML and CSS. It also provides a forum where enthusiasts, beginners, and advanced coders can come together and help each other.

The founders believe in providing education opportunities to everyone. That has been central to its goal for years and it’s not going to change, but it also has to find a way to sustain itself. It’s tricky for Codecademy because people are used to it being free.

Question is, Can it sustain itself as a free coding site or does it need to monetize itself eventually? Fortunately, it has always raised money to help keep its platform free. It raised $2.5 million in Series A funding in October 2011 an $10 milion in Series B fundin in June 2012. The latest round was for an unspecified amount.

Beyond the platform, Codecademy’s actual physical workshop is doing tech meetups a favor. It’s helping keep the tech meetup scene alive– as people who pursue it may just produce the websites they want to demonstrate to tech meetups in the city someday.

Matching social enterprises and developers for a common good

RapidFTR in Uganda from Rapid FTR on Vimeo.

By Dennis Clemente

When you meet Vanessa Hurst, you’ll notice her smile; it’s a perpetual smile that makes her effective in playing matchup. She has been matching developers and social entrepreneurs in her meetup, Developers for Good (, since 2010.

The meetup gathers all organizations of all different needs and stages and those with limited technical skills, even the underfunded.

Last January 30, ThoughtWorks (, the tech consulting company, hosted the event in its 15th St office, kicking off the informal talk with the presentation of its company espousing its mantra: “To better humanity through software.”

ThoughtWorks’ Chris George took the stage first, talking about two of its three-year-old projects, RapidFTR ( and Democracy Now! (

RapidFTR is a mobile app that helps aid workers collect, sort and share information about children in emergency situations with CouchDB as its initial backend. It has recently moved toward the Android platform.

The other project, Democracy Now!, is an independent media organization that George says “pushes a lot of stories that mainstream media is not discussing.”

“We used some of the early versions of Ruby on Rails. We are still changing the codebase today, but it has provided its challenges, as we provide a more updated experience with the latest technical tools out there,” he adds.

The attendees then took their turn about their own social enterprises, so the developers present in the meetup could find out how they can extend their knowledge and technical expertise on prototyping, forming a technical strategy or even when planning projects.

Unlike most meetups where enterprises have running sites already, Hurst’s meetup had attendees who clearly needed extra hands to launch their enterprises. Bill Graham ( is on a mission to initiate a program that seeks to improve education on a global scale with volunteer developers out there.

Smaller in scale but already up and running is, a children’s publishing and educational software company, focused on meeting the needs of urban schools. Recently named a groundbreaking startup by O’Reilly Media and included in its publishing startup showcase, it plans to launch an adaptive reading platform for tablet devices. It is also looking to hire a CTO. Email founder Daniel Fountenberry at

Maria Yuan’s site aims to help people get involved in elections. She first envisioned her site when she received email alerts about IPOs while working on a campaign in Iowa.

It occurred to her that people could receive email alerts about biils that were up for vote in Congress or the State’s legislature. So, she thought, why not have this same function and more for people to have a say on these matters?!

It was also interesting to hear from a more established social enterprise,, which stands up for the rights of the whole music community, from composers to performers. The organization reportedly provides over $1 million each year in grant support for the creation and performance of new work and community building throughout the country.

More attendees spoke up about their own social enterprises – and how they need both developers and non-technical people to help them get their ideas rolling. For them, the Developers For Good meetup helped them network with the right people.

Hurst’s Developers for Good started in 2010 when Hurst said she grew frustrated working for a financial services company. She initially volunteered her database skills before practicing “what I love” now.