A Coders Letter From The Jungle

For more than a year ago I quit my apartment and my job to live a life with my laptop in the Swedish forests.

I did this to code on my startup idea: Blockie.io. The major part of five months I spent there.

Was it necessary to live in the forest to code? No, but it was necessary to go all in.

Even dough I got badly food poisoned on the fourth day of my adventure it was the best time of my life.

Unexpectedly I got a lucky break appearing on The Listserve and a lot of media coverage to follow my leaving everything behind and setting forth. This put me in touch with a lot of nice people. And thanks to this I got to know a really talented coder via Twitter. This guy became a co-founder of Blockie.io and he started pushing some really top quality code, from Brazil.

My forest life had it’s ups and downs, but I was really alive out there. Combining nature with hacking, and feeling the lightness of the heart that only comes with having very few possessions. Every materialistic object I cared about was right there with me.

Unavoidably, fall came and it became hard for me to work when is was too cold, wet and dark. I simply couldn’t charge my gear with my solar panels any longer, and more and more time was put into gathering wood and keeping the fire going, because it was cold.

Nights were becoming really cold hitting the freezing point at times, I only had summer gear.

Ultimately, I had to linger back to town to decide where to go next. I did not expect less from family and friends than to let me crash with them, since I did not have any apartment of my own any more. Nor did I have a stockpile of cash to get one. I actually had burnt through all my credit at the bank at this point.

I had come a long way with the coding in the forest but the project was to be a huge challenge that was going to demand everything. I realized coming back to civilization that leaving everything behind was only the beginning.

We set out to launch a crowdfunding campaign. It was a lot of work, we did not get any larger volumes of cash by it, but we did get some good feedback, connections and warmthy support from people (and some cool T-shirts).

So, homeless, moving around with ff, no money but debt, no job, no investors, I was more or less lost.

To tell you the truth about two years earlier I had a similar feeling of lostness when I hit a firm brick wall working on a project for two years that turned out not to work. Smack! Vulnerable, I was pray for employers who hauled me in and kept me in the cage of “9-6″.

Embarrassed to say, but I did give up on entrepreneurial adventures at that point. I even recall an email to my mentor excusing myself for seeking some kind of security in life. And that a 9-6 job is good to have if you want a mortgage on a house and what have you excuses. His reply was plainly “Good luck!”.

So now, two years later, once again I was more lost than ever. But security in life? No, not interested any more. There was no way other than the entrepreneurial path, even dough life will take detours, always return to your path. I guess that was what the words “Good luck!” meant.

So first I had to take on some work to balance the books after my return from the forest. But the adventure that I set out to accomplish was yet not over; Blockie was still not launched! I could not settle down in any way. My whole body was itching to get out there again and finish the job.

Through some friends and a lucky coincidence on Facebook I managed to borrow a house in the Costa Rican jungle. Man I had only been outside Europe once before, and that was due to a mistake.

It’s a pretty nice house up on a mountain with a spectacular view. It has a gas stove, but no electricity. It has an inside and a roof, but the no proper door.

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It has water, from a 900 meter long hose that comes from a spring higher up in the mountain. Needless to say, this hose is not bomb proof, or any other proof for that matter. It brakes often and I have to go and fix it.

I’m thinking of applying some proper engineering to that hose. So if you own a HVAC company and want to send me some tubing, let me know.

Bathroom? Sure, look for the hole in the ground 10 meters into the jungle.

Electricity? Absolutely, my good old solar panels are up for the job; they give enough for full time coding.

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Internet? Oddly enough, I have pretty good 3G coverage here, it must be because I’m high up.

Food? There are bananas and mangos growing here. Down the mountain there is a small village where I can buy tinned stuff. I can order a taxi from there out to the Pacific coast, where there is more stuff. But everything has to go UP the mountain.

The language here is Spanish, which I do not yet speak. I communicate much through Google Translate.

Friends? Well here comes the catch. The guy owning this place lets me borrow it for four months if I take care of his three horses and his dog. So, yeah, there are friends..

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I spend the days clearing out dung, walking the dog, combing the horses, reaping bananas and some other chores, and of course, I code!

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I get about 50 hours worth of coding a week. And those are top quality totally undisturbed hours, since internet is turned off most of the time to save batteries.

I’m soon one month of four into this adventure.

I sleep in my hammock one level above the dog. He is guarding the door that doesn’t close, every night. He is a good dog, and he makes funny noises when he sleeps.

We go to bed shortly after sunset because we have no lights. At five o’clock the sun raises, and so do we.

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I’m coding for all I’m worth. Even when I’m clearing out horse dung I’m mentally bending on it; Something is happening on the internet. I’s starting to grow limbs and neurons and it’s coming for us.

Stay prepared,

Thomas Backlund
By a candle, in the jungle, Costa Rica.

 

Spring time is forest time!

Finally spring is coming to Sweden and within a month it’s #foresthacking time again!

Because I quit my apartment for real last spring I have been living with friends and family during winter but now it’s time again for some serious #foresthacking!

This time I will be going without car and with much less stuff overall. I want to be more mobile. I also invested in a hammock to be able to sleep at every beautiful lake I see without having to find a sweet spot for the tent.

Of course the laptop and solar cells are coming with me this time again since I am still coding on Blockie.io!

(ps. you cannot comment here because all of the spam coming in)

 

Crowdfunding on Indiegogo.com

blockie-forest

Blockie.io has come a long way, but we still need a few months of undisturbed work before we can launch. That is why we launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com. So if you want to create your back-end services really easy and quick without doing any actual coding – you should check it out now!

 

 

Exited the forest

On the 9:th of october I exited the forest after five months of forest hacking.

It was getting darker and colder and that was having an impact on my productivity. So it was time to leave. Luckily the development of Blockie.io had come as far as I had set out. It was time to take it to the next phase.

So in about a week we’re launching an IndieGoGo and you could then see the results.

Just when I was about to leave – all these creatures came pouring out of the shrubberies.. Gonna miss you too guys.

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What’s up

I’m just moving in on month five of forest hacking. Still love it. Summer has been good to me.

Yesterday I figured in Dutch news, they were here some time ago and did the interview.

I plan to have some interesting things to show in mid October about Blockie.io. You could follow @BlockieIO on Twitter.

There has happened a lot of forest related stuff as well. Had a very interesting meeting with a guy who has lived in the forest for 5-6 years. I don’t think he ever is moving back to any city ever. He’s just done with it.

Summer is still on, but the winds are getting cold and nights are much colder now.

Total alignment of the organism

Dear Readers,
Last two weeks have been interesting. I’ve met some people, had visitors come out to me and coded like a maniac. It has also rained very much on me.

Total alignment
Coding is really coming good. There has been a lot of challenges and tough decisions to make about the development and design of Blockie.io. I don’t have enough data to draw any conclusions but my feeling is that the environment and being enabled to fully focus and totally zone out without distractions at all is very beneficial for the project. Solutions to hard problems come faster to me now than ever before. I would like to think that not only some parts of my brain are involved in creating this but the whole organism that is me is totally aligned in creating Blockie.io, because I am where I am and the focus is dead on. Success or not, nothing else.  The project has not only come longer now than before I moved out into the forest, but it has also gotten a lot better. I am wondering if meditation is something similar you could undertake to be totally aligned.
I’ve shown some screen shots to some people and it seems like I’m on the right track with what I’m doing.

It has gotten colder in the forest the last week, not sure if it’s only due to the rain or if summer is over already. Where I’ll live when the forest gets to cold and dark, I do not know.

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I suck at blogging

Hi,

Not much updates from me lately, some on twitter dough @thomasbacklund.

What has happened lately.. I’ve been in the forest.. I’ve been one week on the sea, kind of vacation, but of course worked a couple of hours a day.

Anyway, coding is coming really good. I’ve actually got a “complete” system now that works. This means I have stared using Blockie.io to develop Blockie.io. I can tell you that developing on Blockie.io is really fun!

Btw: When you take a leap of faith – make sure leave with enough velocity.

LeapOfFaith

Interviews followed by big trouble

Last week I had two interviews in the forest. One Dutch team and one Swedish team.

Kind of absurd feeling when you’re in the forest and suddenly you’re the center of attention and there is a camera guy risking it all by walking out into the water almost holding his camera over his head while he’s going for the best angle..

I really enjoyed the company. Then I had a telephone interview for a Swedish newspaper.

I guess the media wave is calming down soon so I could really get back to #foresthacking.

But then there came big trouble when my car broke down. Very bad timing.
I got towed to the shop and managed to get a rental car for some days on the insurance.
Some days later the mechanics calls me back and says they do not have time to fix my car before they go on their vacation.
That really sucks. So I’ve been trying to get hold of another mechanic who actually wants the job and can do it soon.

So still I’m not sure when or even if the car will get fixed. And soon I’ll have to return the rental car and then I’ll be really stuck in the forest and moving and provisioning will be much harder.

Still haven’t got my S4 back so there are no dramatic pictures of the car brake down..

 

 

 

Visitors in the forest

I had a rough week with sickness to the stomach, a lot of rain and my Samsung S4 broke down.

Then on Thursday Gunnika from 52Adventures came out to visit to make an interview and take some photos. Very nice with some company.

The following Saturday my cousin Per came to visit and stay the night. He brought elk beef and other nice things to eat. It was great doing some catch up and relaxing.

Then I relocated and found a sweet spot by a wind shed. Those times are nice when you get surprised of how (almost) perfect a place could be.

This weekend I was up in Stockholm with friends and family to engage in Midsummer festivities. That was really nice but it’s time to get back to the forest now.

Stopped for a coffee to speak to a pre-customer to Blockie.io and get some ideas and feedback. Great meeting!

Thomas IMG_0561 IMG_0607 elkbeef