WAFO-6 Market Square Balcony

Market Square Balcony

After grabbing a pizzolo from Mosi across the street, I came over onto the 2nd floor balcony of Market Square to work.

This bench is under overhead cover, so provides cover from the rain, and some glare. It is still pretty bright in this location, but at full-screen brightness I’m working in a focused fashion. At the cost of some battery though.

There is #TELUS wifi in this location, and I’ve got at least 2 bars. An OOKLA speedtest shows me 9.26 Mbps Down, and only 2.84 Mbps Up, so likely a little choked for Zoom, but this afternoon I have no meetings!

Plenty of coffee and snack solutions are nearby, but what about bathroom access? Hmmm, not yet sure if the business owners in the Square allow customer-access to the loo, but I am packing my building pass, so can easily hop up Pandora Street if needed.

WAFO-5 Imagine Ice Cream @ Breakwater

On Thursday morning, I wound up working just outside the Imagine Ice Cream shop, which is below the Breakwater Cafe.

While there may be Wifi available here, I chose to tether with my iPhone so I could get decent enough bandwidth to spend 90 minutes on Zoom. I had the umbrella out to take some glare off the screen.

The Breakwater Cafe is open for coffee at 9 AM, Wednesday through Sunday. Customers can use their washroom.

WAFO-4 Picnic Coffee

Among my favourite patio spaces in the downtown core, at 1021 Fort Street.

Great eats and coffee beverages, plus much more if you check out the menu! A very creative gang is at work in the kitchen. Have you tried the charcuterie boxes? I digress….!

This space has WIFI from the Picnic coffee shop, #TELUS wifi, and various other networks seem to be around here. If you’re a Shaw customer, then I gather you would have plenty of WIFI access all over the downtown core, so keep that in mind.

The bathroom is available to customers only.

Note the portable umbrella I’ve got popped up, that cuts down glare on the screen. The umbrella is in my portable kit, for situations just like this.

The location in the patio is basically right on Fort Street, so there is quite a bit of traffic noise. If you’re having a busy day of Zoom meetings, you might want to pick a quieter spot, depending on the quality of your mobile audio headphones / microphone / noise-cancellation setup.

WAFO-3 Home patio

All the convenience of home, in this location on the back patio!

This is a fair-weather location only, as there is no overhead canopy to keep the rain off. I use the portable umbrella on the table to keep the glare off the screen.

I’ve got a WIFI network in the back half of the property, that works really well back here. I also have a power-outlet just next to the sliding door, so no worries about packing battery banks to this location.


WAFO-2 Macchiato Café

The café is located at the corner of Blanshard and Johnson in downtown Victoria. I came over for a late lunch, and grabbed a seat out on the Johnson Street side of the patio. The WIFI network called “Mac Guest” is available out on the patio.

Working outside is often a challenge due to the glare on the laptop screen. This seat was next to a planter that has a ledge that cast a shadow at the time I day I was there (between 2:30 and 3 PM Pacific).

The coffee, sandwiches, salads, and snacks are all good – and competitively priced. The washroom is available to use for customers. I don’t believe there is a power outlet on this patio, so keep that in mind.

Patio table at the Macchiato Cafe in downtown Victoria.

WAFO-1 Market Square courtyard

I came downtown on a rainy afternoon to grab a coffee at MOSI on Lower Johnson, then park somewhere out of doors and undercover to avoid the raindrops.

This bench is down on the courtyard level of Market Square. I grabbed WiFI from #TELUS, although there are many WIFI networks down here that you (or your laptop) may already know.

Many coffee options are nearby, including Hey Happy, and Shanzee’s Biscuit Cafe (serving Drumroaster Coffee at time of writing).

Yah, ergonomics of sitting on a bench for a while aren’t the best, but I like to do a change of scenery to re-charge the brain-waves, and to support my own notion of flow. I eventually finished the coffee, and got chilly on this rainy afternoon, so headed away after a couple of hours of work.

Mobile IT worker kit

working remotely

Working from home over long periods of time isn’t really my jam. As a subscriber to agile methodologies, I figured I would embark on an experiment to see if I could find ways to work out of doors in these challenging times!

Working away from home does have its challenges, so here are some notes I took along the way. Getting through the day may have these considerations:

  • Have a face-mask (or 2) for those times you may be unable to keep your physical distance from others
  • Hand sanitizer – stick a small, highly-portable bottle in your kitbag, for easy access!
  • Find a well-ventilated work-space
    • outdoors is ideal
    • if indoors, then make sure a door is open to the facility (or 2 doors like at some local cafés I have noted elsewhere)
  • What about electrical power
    • Leave home with a full charge in your laptop
    • If possible you may be able to find a plug on a wall somewhere, but this is a challenge!
    • Portable power-bank for USB device charging (like a RAVPower portable charge bank) 
    • Portable power-bank, for battery boosting, construction sites, etc
      • Heavy duty power-bank
      • note that you may need a power-inverter if you don’t get the right sine wave out of a unit like this!
  • Network connectivity
    • Proximity to a WIFI source at a public building (City of Victoria, BC Govt., GVPL), coffee shop, restaurant, etc.
    • consider use of a device like a Rocket Hub, which gives you a monthly subscription to wireless data services
    • Use ShawOpen, if you are a Shaw customer
    • Telus Wifi may be available – though not as ubiquitous as Shaw 
  • Refreshment
    • bring a snack pack, and consider your needs for all-day coffee / tea / kombucha
  • Bathroom 
    • this can be a challenge!
    • many places of business are take-out only, and bathrooms are not available
    • make sure you know where public bathroom facilities are!
  • Screen visibility
    • laptop viewing can be hard out of doors
    • find a position where you can reduce glare on screen
    • an umbrella can help 
  • Clothing
    • I tend to dress in layers, so can layer up or down as needed given the ambient conditions
    • Hat – always pack a hat of some sort, I would say!
  • Seating
    • outdoor patio seating at some establishment to keep you comfy
    • conside a portable camp chair, or some sort of folding chair if you are parked on a sidewalk, as in the photo above
    • a cushion for outdoor use may come in handy

WordCamp 2013 notes

I attended WordCamp 2013 (Victoria, BC) this past weekend, my first time at the event.  As a WordPress enthusiast, I was looking forward to meeting some like-minded folks, to network, and learn some techie stuff about WordPress.

I really enjoyed the Experts Panel which was a solid un-moderated hour of Q & A.  I have an interest in how to build out WordPress network sites that can handle a lot of concurrent read and write traffic.  There is a lot of information online about clustering WP, setting up caching servers, database performance tuning, webserver tuning, etc.  At the panel I learned that:

  • high-volume sites are often hosted using nginx, instead of Apache (does that turn LAMP into LNMP?)
  • there is the scalingwp.wordpress.com web site
  • object-caching can be performed with memcached and APC
  • there is some debate about fastcgi mode WP
  • among the core WP developers, Mark Jaquith has online info about scaling WP, even on a budget.
  • another core WP developer of note to research scaling WP is Pete Mall
  • there are consulting agents out there that can provide scaling skills, who have been there and done that
  • HTTPS configuration in WP is not necessarily a slam-dunk.  You may have to resort to hacking plugins, as the whole framework is not necessarily united on how to provide HTTPS links
  • lots of talk about HyperDB for database scaling

I also enjoyed a session by John Overall on 10+1 essential plugins for WordPress.  That is where I learned about the LoginRadius plugin for social identity integration – a neat Canadian SaaS startup!  John posted the slide show on the Meetup site I think….

Ben put up a blog post with his notes from the session here.