Patrick Triest is a Full-Stack Engineer, Data Enthusiast, Insatiable Builder and a Digital Nomad.
In College, He co-founded a startup and developed a self-destructing, encrypted voice messaging app with his colleagues.
In this interview, he gave an insight of how to become productive and stay fit as a digital nomad. He also reveals how you can handle bugs with a deadline on your project.
Now I suggest you sit back, get a glass of wine or juice and some snacks if available, and enjoy the details of this educative interview.
Patrick Triest Shares his Digital Nomad Experience
Godson: Good day, Patrick Triest, welcome to Cool Python Codes. Thanks for being here; it means so much to my community?
Patrick Triest: Thanks, Godson, I’m happy to be here!
Godson: Could you please kindly tell us about yourself like your full name, hobbies, nationality, education, and experience in programming?
Patrick Triest: My full name is Patrick Triest. I’m from the US; I grew up in the Boston area and went to school at Grinnell College in Iowa, where I studied Computer Science and Neuroscience.
In college, I was a leader of a student app-development group and also co-founded my first startup.
After graduating, I worked at a Silicon Valley startup for a bit (now defunct), after which I took a job with the data-intelligence startup (SocialCops) in Delhi, India.
I left that company a month ago, and I am currently focusing on a variety of projects, start-ups and personal pursuits (such as the blog), as a digital nomad.
My favorite hobbies are hiking, reading, traveling, and building things (not just out of code).
Godson: Can you narrate your first programming experience and what got you to start learning to program?
Patrick Triest: My first experience coding was actually not until college, in an “Introduction To Computer Science” course. The class was taught in Scheme (a dialect of Lisp), a functional programming language.
This class is where I first realized how much I enjoy the problem-solving nature of computer science, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Godson: Did you find coding difficult? If you did, can you tell us how you overcame all the challenges you had?
Patrick Triest: Generally, I don’t find coding to be very difficult. Whenever I do have issues, a few quick Google searches generally provide enough information to solve the problem without much hassle.
I would say that the more difficult side of things, instead of actually writing the code, is designing scalable project structures and architectures to make the code easy to work with.
The most difficult task that I’ve ever had coding was in refactoring legacy code bases, largely due to the general messiness of the code and project structures.
Godson: Which programming language do you know and which is your favorite?
I’m also pretty fluent in HTML5, CSS (and SCSS), and SQL, although those aren’t really “programming” languages per se.
It’s tough for me to pick a favorite since I don’t really view any language as being better than any other in an absolute sense.
For me, it comes down to what I’m doing with the language.
Godson: Which IDE makes you more productive?
Godson: What influenced you to have a blog?
Patrick Triest: A significant portion of my practical knowledge of building different types of software comes from reading various engineering blogs and tutorials online.
My blog is a way for me to give back to the community and to share some of my own knowledge and experience.
Godson: What do you plan to be writing on your blog?
Patrick Triest: I’m still experimenting with different types of articles right now since I only started the blog about 3 weeks ago.
My main criteria for deciding on a post subject are that the resulting article should be interesting, informative, and original.
Godson: How do you plan on making your blog to stand out from other programming blogs?
Patrick Triest: Mostly, through providing tutorials that are not just informative, but also have really cool and unique outcomes.
I would like to provide comprehensive tutorials on subjects that haven’t been covered very much in the past.
Godson: Can you tell us about your first startup that you co-founded in college?
Patrick Triest: It was a self-destructing, encrypted voice messaging app. I co-founded it with two friends in college and built the Android app. I’m currently working on a new project (Chipper Cash) with the same international (US, Ghana, and Uganda) all-star team
Godson: How do you work remotely as a digital nomad and do you code while hiking and traveling?
Patrick Triest: I usually live in each city for 1-3 months at a time. Generally, I scope out the best coffee shops and co-working spaces and rotating through them during the week, working on my laptop for 6-10 hours per day.
I don’t work while I’m hiking since I think that it’s incredibly valuable to unplug for a few days at a time. Usually, when I get back to work after hiking, the elusive solutions to all of the technical issues I was dealing with before are suddenly obvious.
Godson: Yeah, one can become creative by leaving work and looking for fun things to do.
Am curious, what do you build without coding?
Patrick Triest: All sorts of things. I enjoy carpentry, and I’ve built basic furniture and small buildings (sheds, etc.) in the past.
Sometimes I also like to deal more in electronics, for IoT types of devices (although this often still requires some coding I suppose).
I also greatly enjoy design work, and I build lots of mockups, logos, and miscellaneous images using Sketch.
See also: How to do a Logo with Python
Godson: Do you advise programmers to be digital nomads?
Patrick Triest: Sure, I think it’s a great opportunity to see new places and experience new cultures.
One great thing about software engineering is that there are plenty of opportunities to make money remotely, from anywhere in the world.
It might not be for everyone, however, since you need to be fairly independent, and to have a great deal of self-disciple if you intend to actually get work done as a digital nomad.
Godson: Are there restrictions for someone to become a digital nomad like an age limit, nationality, college degree etc?
Patrick Triest: I don’t think so. Again, it’s not for everyone, but I don’t think those factors should be an absolute limiting factor.
It should be noted, I suppose, that some nationalities might have more difficulty acquiring visas for some countries since immigration policies are often unfair.
Also, having a college degree and professional experience will help in finding well-paying work.
Godson: Which skill set does a programmer need to be a digital nomad?
Patrick Triest: Having self-drive and self-discipline are probably the most important skills. An entrepreneurial streak will help, as well as openness to new cultures.
Finally, having marketable tech skills and demonstrable professional experience will certainly help you make money while you travel.
Godson: As a digital nomad, how do you keep fit?
Patrick Triest: I usually try to find a good gym wherever I’m living. I’m currently in Chiang Mai (in Thailand), which has lots of cheap gyms available, and also plenty of places to take Muay Thai classes. I also enjoy jogging and hiking, as well as walking everywhere, as long as it’s not too hot.
Godson: Based on your experience, which is the best laptop for a digital nomad?
Patrick Triest: I use a 2013 MacBook Air. I need to replace it soon since 4gb of RAM is really not enough these days.
It is, however, a great laptop for travel since the battery typically often last 10+ hours. I also tend to prefer the macOS ecosystem of software, as a personal preference.
I would recommend not focusing too much on computing power when selecting a laptop for remote work/travel since less powerful laptops are generally smaller and have better battery life.
When I need to perform a computation that’s heavy task, I generally just spin up a server on AWS, GCP, or DigitalOcean, and SSH into it in order to run my code.
Godson: For a programmer that wants to be a digital nomad, can you tell them how to go about it?
Patrick Triest: Sure, the most important part is to have a plan and to set goals for yourself.
Make sure you have a way to sustain yourself. Get a job that allows remote work (these are increasingly common in tech), or acquire a few clients for freelancing *before* you start traveling.
Make a plan that includes the first few locations to stay in and calculate a realistic and balanced budget for each location.
Do your research first. Nomadlist is a good resource (but take the scores and prices there with a grain of salt, since it’s not always 100% accurate).
Once you know where you’re going, I recommend finding Facebook groups of digital nomads in that city, in order to start connecting with people. They’ll be able to point you towards the best short-term lodging and working spaces.
If this all sounds intimidating, you can also go through a program such as Remote Year. This comes with a higher price tag than doing it on your own (better suited for remote tech company workers than for freelancers), but they’ll handle lots of the logistics, and you’ll have a fun community of fellow nomads to travel with.
Beyond the logistical preparations, make sure you set realistic professional and personal goals for yourself so that you can hit the ground running with a real purpose once you arrive somewhere new.
Godson: One of the nightmares of any programmer is finding errors (bugs) in his program…How do you handle bugs in your program to meet up with deadlines?
Patrick Triest: I’d have three major pieces of advice for this.
The first is to avoid the “I’ll do the hacky solution now and fix it later” mentality. It is always much more time-efficient to do it right the first time, since the hacky solutions rarely get fixed “later”, and are likely to cause major issues (in the form of bugs, poor performance, and developer productivity) down the road.
The second piece of advice is to utilize TDD (test-driven-development) or BDD (behavior-driven-development).
Including a test suite with your code (and ideally writing tests *before* writing the code itself), is a great way to catch bugs early on, and will provide some assurance that future code updates don’t break existing functionality.
The third piece of advice is “take your time”.
Make sure that you understand the code you are writing. Do thorough research instead of making guesses on the correct way to do something.
Don’t be afraid to take a few hours to refactor your code structure.
Always add comments. An hour spent polishing code today can save multiple days of work in six months.
Godson: As a digital nomad, how do you run your schedule to be more productive and have time to gym and hike?
Patrick Triest: Generally, I set realistic goals/tasks for each day, week, and month. By deciding on the tasks ahead of time, I have a schedule to hold myself to, and I’m able to allocate time for non-work related activities by gauging my progress throughout each day/week/month.
Exercise can be a massive productivity booster, so I generally find it important to make time for the gym, even on days when I’m falling behind.
I use Trello and Google Sheets to manage my tasks.
Beyond this, I focus on forming good habits (regular exercise, healthy diet, healthy sleep schedule) in each location I visit in order to build a productive lifestyle.
One great thing about travel is that each new location provides a “reset”, and a chance to revisit and fine-tune these habits; to break bad ones and form better ones.
Godson: How can someone that’s reading this interview contact you?
Patrick Triest: They are welcome to comment on any of my blog articles (if it’s in reference to a specific article subject) on, or to my email: patrick.triest@gmail dot com
Patrick Triest: I love learning new things, so I really don’t mind the fast pace of changes. Generally, once learned, these changes improve my productivity with a given language/tool, so I’m happy to learn and integrate them into my own projects. The only thing that I’m wary of is the hype-storms that can form around unproven technologies; I usually avoid adopting technologies that are under 2 years old, or that have no proven track record of actual production usage.
Godson: It’s nice having you here on Cool Python Codes. Any word of advice for an upcoming App developer, Python programmer, and digital nomad?
Patrick Triest: Never stop learning, and never stop having fun!
I believe you enjoyed this interview with Patrick Triest. Indeed a lot of lessons can be tapped from this conversation.
As for me; I learned a great deal; one quality of Patrick I admire most is how he is open to new cultures. I also love how he stays fit, sleeps well and he’s still productive.
Here is my personal advice to you.
Let’s have the rest of the conversation via the comment section.
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