I refreshed my blog theme (+ some news)

Posted on June 22, 2014
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It was about time I refresh the good old theme of my blog! Old, not even responsive. I earned experience with Twitter Bootstrap and responsive web design since then, so I couldn’t leave my blog like this. This is what it used to look like until today:

old-cyril-mazur

Ah, it feels better now, right!

I haven’t written on this blog for months, and I miss it. But you know, too busy with the startup life. Talking about it, here are the news about what I’m up to. I write because I need to release it from my heart.

I am not working on Forexagone.com anymore, we (the 3 initial co-founders) sold it last month. The ambience was becoming really bad, with conflicts of interest coming from my 2 co-founders, and a workload that was too much unbalanced whereas the profits were still divided into 3 equal shares. The situation was totally locked. I couldn’t develop Forexagone to its full potential without being the sucker in the team, that was so frustrating. I can’t work in these conditions, so better to just let go. I don’t regret this decision. Actually I feel relieved.

Curated max mind table for geoip timezones

Posted on January 25, 2013
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So I was playing with GeoIP and the free MaxMind databases (the GeoLite version). From the IP address, this database can determine a country and a region. And from the country and the region you can determine the timezone. MaxMind gives away the CSV file and coding examples with the correspondance country/region and timezone, and they claim the timezones names are standard IANA, but it’s outdated… (hopefully one of my early users was in a conflictual timezone, so I could find out about this). If you have an up to date OLSON database, then you’d like to take into account my curated list.

For example, MaxMind will give you “America/Indianapolis” whereas the correct IANA name for that timezone nowadays is “America/Indiana/Indianapolis”. From my test, I found 18 timezones names that are not IANA compliant, here is the list.

MaxMind name Correct IANA name
America/Indianapolis America/Indiana/Indianapolis
Australia/Canberra Australia/Sydney
Australia/NSW Australia/Sydney
Australia/North Australia/Darwin
Australia/Queensland Australia/Brisbane
Australia/South Australia/Adelaide
Australia/Tasmania Australia/Hobart
Australia/Victoria Australia/Melbourne
Australia/West Australia/Perth
US/Samoa Pacific/Pago_Pago
Africa/Asmera Africa/Asmara
Asia/Calcutta Asia/Kolkata
Asia/Istanbul Europe/Istanbul
Asia/Katmandu Asia/Kathmandu
Asia/Macao Asia/Macau
Atlantic/Faeroe Atlantic/Faroe
Chile/Continental America/Santiago
Pacific/Samoa Pacific/Pago_Pago

Or you can download the curated CSV file here: curated time_zone.csv MaxMind.

Nomad work in Ho Chi Minh City

Posted on August 9, 2012
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If you follow me, you know that I am a nomad worker. Co-founder at Forexagone.com, my business is 100% online after all, so I made the decision in 2011 to keep on travelling and working from different places, different countries… In most of the places where I went, I was experiencing work at coffee shops. Some places have good Internet connection, comfy chairs and all. Some other don’t. In Manila (Philippines) I discovered the practicality of coworking, and experienced it for nearly 6 months at Co.Lab Makati. I am now in Ho Chi Minh City (economic capital city of Vietnam) where I found no coworking space so far, but after some days I found this pretty cool coffee shop in the heart of District 1.

Phuong Nam Corp. is a library, they sell books, DVDs, video games and some office accessories. And they have a café on the side of the store (called Book Café) where people can usually read their books while drinking a refreshing smoothie or a coffee. The chairs and tables are all in good condition and comfortable, most of the tables have a power outlet nearby. It’s never crowded and there are no kids around so it’s pretty quiet. The staff is friendly, drinks are not so expensive so I always give a tip between 5 000 and 10 000 dongs (up to 50 cents), because after all I’m using the wifi and power and I stay long. I like and follow this “coffee shop working etiquette” when I order a drink every two hours as a mean to pay for my rent.

Book Café is located in the Vincom Centre mall (which is the most recent and modern mall in the city, and also the most expensive, located in District 1) at basement 1. Check it out if you’re travelling over Ho Chi Minh City and need a space to work for a day or two, this place will do.

Also, if you have any tip on a coworking space in here, thanks for dropping a comment :)

My secure home-based NAS for nomads

Posted on June 11, 2012
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I am a nomad, which means I change location a lot, and thus I need to travel light. The only thing I need for working is my laptop and an Internet connection, so virtually I can work from anywhere in the world, and that’s actually what I am doing. But there is a drawback when everything which is valuable to me (work files, personal pictures…) is in only one place: my laptop, which is in my backpack. If I lose my bag (or if it gets snatched, which is likely to happen here in the Philippines), I lose EVERYTHING and it’ll be very hard to recover from this.

Of course, one solution is that notorious “cloud”, where you store all of your data in a remote location, somewhere in the Internet. Yes but, you are giving your personal/work data to a third-party company (being accessible to third-party people you don’t know, and thus don’t trust). And even though they might be honest, you’re never sure this company is not going to close, or to get hacked. I am the cautious (paranoid?) type of guy, I like my data to be safely stored in a place where no people can access it but me, like “physically” can’t even access it.

Why I don’t want to follow your pattern of lifestyle

Posted on May 31, 2012
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Some may call it destiny, but I don’t like it. Destiny means you can’t change what you’re intended to be, when in fact, you can! Here is the story of my life. I come from a small town in the North of France, where I spend my young years. There, most of the youth will study 2 or 3 years, start working as early as 22 and until they get 60-65 and get retired. The luckiest will study 5 years and end up they career as a manager or such. In the mean time, they get married, make kids, buy a house and have a savings account… In the mean time, it’s every day the same: a 9 to 5 job, 5 days a week, and they can spend the weekend watching football on TV. Luckily, they have 5 weeks a year of vacation leaves for possibly having the chance to spend some days on an over-crowded beach in the South of France.

Good practices for sending emails from your web server

Posted on April 16, 2012
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On Forexagone.com, we like to do everything ourselves, meaning we don’t like to use many third-party services to handle our work, so we are sure that everything is tailored to our needs, well integrated and working all together. For sending our emails, we decided to do it ourselves as well and not use a service like mailchimp or such. I learned much throughout my research and work on implementing the necessary technical stuff, so I thought it’s a good idea to write my learning on my blog, so it will be like a reminder for me, and it could help others who want to do the same.

Nota Bene: this post is not about the email marketing strategy itself, it is only about the technical setup for sending emails from your server and doing it right.

Like me, you have your own reasons for sending emails from your own server and not using a third-party service. If you decide to do so and go on reading this article, you would like to know the benefits of implementing the things I describe. There are many benefits.

  • it lowers the chances that your emails land in the spambox of your subscribers (heck it is important!)
  • it makes you comply with the legislation (can vary from the country but better too much than not enough)
  • it makes your subscribers happy
  • it shows a professional attitude

My list of good practices might not be complete and I excuse in advance, but they are already pretty important to carry out.

The nomad worker outfit

Posted on March 13, 2012
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There are many aspects of my life that have changed since I decided to be a full time traveller, and I had to make many adjustments to the way I work in order to fit with my new lifestyle. The two new constraints I have to deal with are:

  • I can’t carry much (one suitcase less than 20 kilos + one backpack)
  • I must be able to manage my business with the same efficiency, like when I used to be sedentary

Therefore, there are a few items I had to buy, some others I had to throw away, and I started to make bigger use of the Cloud. I carry all of my office in my one backpack, which includes the following:

  • 1 macbook pro 15″
  • 1 huawei e5 (see my post: Nomad Internet with Huawei e5)
  • 1 notebook + pen
  • all the necessary accessories such as: power cable, iPhone cable, earphones, USB cables, USB sticks…

Co.lab Manila, my new office

Posted on March 4, 2012
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Whether you are a freelance worker, a young startup entrepreneur or simply belong to the category of people who don’t need to go to an office for working, then you should definitely give a try to coworking.

I experienced coworking for the first time as recently as last week, when moving in my first coworking space here in Manila, Philippines. It’s called Co.Lab, and they have two locations here in Legaspi Village (Makati) and in Barangay Kapitolyo (Pasig). Coworking is a style of work in which you share your working environment with other work-at-home professionals. Unlike incubators or standard offices, they include a social dimension that makes the whole thing almost non-formal and encourages collaboration, meetings and exchanges. It’s warm, it’s young and it’s full of creative energy!

People I could meet at Co.Lab so far have the following profiles: freelance web-developers/graphics designers, professional bloggers, subcontractors for foreign companies, web show directors, startups, internet entrepreneurs. I can see many advantages working near this kind of people: I meet people who have the same interests and maybe lifestyle, I meet potential business partners, I can share and exchange ideas of projects, I can listen and learn from a wide variety of profiles (which happen to be international profiles also), I can help and/or ask for help with high skilled people who work in the same field, and I can also possibly make friends!

I think I found something cool there, and wherever my life brings me in this world, I will definitely always look for a coworking space around me to spend my days in from now on. By the way, I happily heard that the first coworking space in Strasbourg, France (the city where I used to live, study and work for a couple of years) is going to open its doors soon in March 2012 at Rivétoile. Check it out if you’re an independent professional from Strasbourg, I know you’re many and it’s worth giving it a try.

The perpetual traveller kit, a tribute to minimalism

Posted on February 24, 2012
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One of the big things I undertook last January was to start a new lifestyle, like completely. I wanted to become a perpetual traveller, a nomad, I wanted to be free and have no strings attached in any ways. So what I did: I sold up everything I ever used to own, including my furnitures, most of my clothes, my computers, my car… I left my flat, and redirected my mails to my parents’ place. All what is left can now fit in a single suitcase of 20 kilos, ready to accompany me everywhere and anywhere. But I had to choose judiciously the items to keep with me at all time. Here is my conception of the perpetual traveller kit, the essential things that I cannot afford to leave behind.

My new life as a nomad web entrepreneur

Posted on February 17, 2012
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I just arrived in Manila (Philippines) one week ago, with absolutely everything I own in my life which is: a 20kg suitcase and a backpack. I spent the last two months selling everything else I used to own: furnitures, PCs, car, clothes, and any other material thing that was just taking space in my flat and that I was never using. I actually realised that I didn’t need more for living than what I could make fit in my suitcase (well, I am compromising a little actually, as I can’t have an as diversified wardrobe as I would like to, but it’s a compromise I can accept).

So here I am, with only the strict needed belongings for my living, that give me the flexibility and freedom to move from a location to another if I like with just one flick of a finger. That’s my choice, I believe that owning nothing but being free to move everywhere is what’s good for me. As long as it doesn’t affect my work. Like I was doing last year during my trips in Asia and the USA, I can adjust my working habits to be sitting in a Starbucks with a 3G dongle and be as efficient and productive as if I was staying in my home town in France.

So here I am, in Manila, capital city of the Philippines, where I will stay for an undefined period of time during which I will take care of discovering and learning everything possible here. I spend my days in a coworking space called Co.Lab Manila, which gathers a couple of startups, internet workers, entrepreneurs and freelancers sharing the same working space and commodities for a small fee compared to renting a real big office. For lunch I try to go out and discover new local restaurants as much as possible (Filipinos are fond of fast food restaurants and street stalls, I am still looking for vegan or organic places here ahah). For dinner I also try to go out as much as possible and get around my neighbourhood. And of course last weekend I was hanging out in a nightlife district with my Filipino girlfriend and her friends. I had lots of fun there!