Photo by Atlas Green

Digital nomads: travel as a lifestyle

Around five years ago, I came across this blog called (it’s in Spanish and fairly different to what it is now). It was this “crazy” guy that quit his job at Microsoft (in Seattle’s HQ) to travel the world. I got really interested, read a lot of his posts and wondered how that kind of life would be. I mean, nowadays it doesn’t seem impossible to make your living online. No matter if it’s as a freelancer, working for a company that allows you to be anywhere or with your own online business. On the middle of all this reading and wondering, I moved to Dubai, made big changes in my life and kind of forget about it.

Digital Nomads

It hasn’t been until recently, when Aneesha started talking about the digital nomads thing. We talked about it and I found out that it was basically the same that Ángel (the guy who quit Microsoft) had been doing for the past few years. This made the idea grow again in my head and we started to look seriously into it. We signed up for a digital nomads group in Facebook. The group is full of people doing it or in the process of becoming a digital nomad. We’ve been reading blog posts about it. We’ve found out of digital nomads that are successfully doing it, traveling through Asia, Europe or the Americas and having a great time. We’ve also read about people that have failed. People that has been doing it for a while and had enough. Every person has it’s own story to tell. But I would say that the common message is this: no matter how it turns out, it is worth it.

Now, a concept of living in the road it’s something very “alien” for most of us. Becoming a nomad in the 21st century doesn’t seem to be the norm. It goes against everything we’ve been told by the system and the people in our environment: be safe. Get a good job. Get a house. Have kids. Do the right thing. What everyone does.

Thank god (or universe or whatever), my parents are not that way. They have taught me to look at every possibility, to question everything and to think things through. And the thing is, I have no major interest in a common life. Where’s the fun in that?

Yup, I want to be one of those crazy people

So now that I’ve told you all that, yes, I’m seriously looking into it. I feel life has way more to offer than a grey 9 to 5 work in an office. I’m not lying to myself and I’m not trying to lie to you. I might fail. It’s actually the most probable. But I’m not alone in this and failing seems less possible and less important.

It’s gonna take a while until we are able to do this. We need to plan, we need to save some money, and we need to sort a bunch of things. We’re aiming to mid 2020. It won’t be easy but I’m sure it’ll be a once in a lifetime experience.

BTW, the photo is by Atlas Green, check his work at Unsplash

Unsplash: The beauty of sharing Photography

Two weeks ago I received my much awaited Unsplash book. The book is a collection of high quality photos and essays that the guys from the Unsplash website put together. The spirit of the book was to give back to the people that has been contributing to their online community. You must be wondering what I’m talking about…

The Tumblr blog that became huge

Unsplash started as a side project for the guys at Crew, a small Canadian company. They had some extra pics from a project they were working on, and decided to setup a Tumblr with those pictures. The idea was simple, they would upload the pictures (10 to be exact) and anyone would be free to use them as they wanted. It didn’t matter if it was a personal or professional project. They also included a “submit your own photos” button.

Picture by Austin Neill, click on the picture to see his work

They thought it would be nice to post the link on HackerNews and make everyone know about it. After that, things escalated quickly. They had tens of thousands of visits in a couple of days. That was 4 years ago, and since then the site has grown to become an amazing community of photographers. And remember, all their photographs are free to use and high-res.

Why I think it is important

Photography on the Internet is a complicated topic. There are lots of great sites like 500px, Flickr (the old man), Instagram, etc. Thing is, you probably shouldn’t be using the photos from this sites without explicit permission of the author. If you need a picture for a project, you could go to one of those professional photo pages, but let’s be honest, the prices on those websites are insane. So that’s where Unsplash comes and changes the game. A website that represents the spirit of freedom and collaboration of the internet and brings it to photography.

Think of all those freelancers and small companies than can do good use of it. No, even better, check the Made with Unsplash section and see what creative people can do with the right tools and resources.

Picture by Samuel Scrimshaw, click on the picture to see his work

I’m might not be objective on this (yeah I’m in love with Unsplash since the day I discovered it), but damn, this is amazing. That’s why I had no doubts on supporting their book on Kickstarter. That’s why I will continue to follow their evolution and supporting their new projects. I think we all have to do our part when something as good as this comes out. I can only recommend you to check out the website and see how amazing people and the world are.

BTW, the cover picture is by Kalen Emsley, check his work here

Giraffe Tongue Orchestra - Ben, Brent and William

The turntable series: Pau, giant ninjas and more

Here there’s a list of the music I’m enjoying lately. I will post regularly my new discoveries and albums I think are worth listening to. Also if you want, you can have a look to my small (but growing) Bandcamp collection here.

Rodrigo y Gabriela – Rodrigo y Gabriela

You know when you see something recommended online several times but there is something about it that doesn’t quite fit? That’s what happened to me with Rodrigo y Gabriela. That name was telling me not to listen to it. But recently I was exploring Bandcamp (my new obsession) and I came across them so I said: why not?

Well, it turns out that the hype with this Mexican duo was completely justified. They are excellent musicians. And more importantly (for me), they have an original sound. They are a classic guitar duo but they have stated that some of the their biggest influences are Metallica and Led Zeppelin. So their sound is not classic guitar nor rock or metal, and it’s all of it at the same time. Really cool.

Pau Vallvé – Abisme Cavall Hivern Primavera I Tornar

I’ve been a big fan of Pau for a long time. He is my favorite Catalan artist by far. He is a great songwriter and music in general. He plays multiple instruments what I think influences a lot his music as he tends to experiment with multiple layers of sound. And well, the influence of Radiohead and similar artists is obvious, but he has developed his own sound.

I believe music is an universal language and though his lyrics are good, the fact that they are in Catalan shouldn’t be a barrier for anyone to enjoy what he does. By the way, there are videos of him using a looper that are really cool.

Giraffe Tongue Orchestra – Broken Lines

Ben Weinman from The Dillinger Escape Plan and Brent Hinds from Mastodon together? I’m in! The first single sounded a bit strange as it didn’t sound like a combination of what this guys have been doing, it was something completely different. But when the album finally came out, I started to see what made the band great. And after listening to the album a several times I started to notice a Dillinger riff there, a Mastodon touch on this other song. When I finally realised I was completely ‘hooked’ to the album.

Twelve Foot Ninja – Outlier

This band was my big music discovery from last year. These Australians are brilliant, and their music is influenced by so many genres that you never know what your gonna get with the next song. Last August they launched their second album that, honestly, blew my mind. Songs like “One Hand Killing”, “Point of You” or “Monsoon” are outstanding and completely different of their tracklist neighbours.

I saw an article on Metal Injection where they were being called “the kings of weird”. Pretty accurate if you ask me. And I like weird refreshing music more than anything else. By the way, their first album called Silent Machine it’s also excellent and worth listening to.

God of War Ascension for Playstation 3

A year of gaming – Part II

Hi there! This week I’m finishing my list of games played in 2016. You can see the first part here. Let’s continue:

  • God of War Ascension (PS3): The last game in the series is a prequel of the main trilogy that tries to explain why Kratos revealed against the gods. This episode is very impressive, it’s difficult to believe that a PS3 is capable of doing this. On the game play, is a replica of what we saw in GOW3. It’s a good game, tremendously spectacular, but it’s a constant déjà vu.
  • Gods Will Be Watching (PC): A game about extreme situations and difficult decisions. I think the story is really interesting and well developed. The game play is good and it makes you think, but it’s not a game for everyone. Difficult as hell, a lot of people will get frustrated before finishing the first level. I highly recommend you to get a look to the original jam entry to get a glimpse of what you’ll get in the full game. The game was developed by a friend of mine, Jordi, and his partners at Deconstructeam.

    Hay cosas que molan demasiado que te lleguen 😀

    A photo posted by Francisco Cañete (@francisco_caal) on

  • Guacamelee! (PS Vita): Holy guacamole! I loved this game. It’s a Metroid-like game, mixed with the fighting system of Super Smash Bros. Inspired by the mexican “El dia de los muertos”, the art and music are absolutely sensational. The dialogues are funny and the characters very charismatic. It doesn’t innovate too much on anything but I had a great time playing it. Available on a million platforms.
  • Jak and Daxter (PS3): I never had a PS2, so I have quite a lot of “HD versions” of PS2 games. Jak and Daxter has always called my attention, mainly because of the people behind the saga: Naughty Dog. The game is an old school adventure-platformer, a genre that I particularly love and that unfortunately, is not very trendy nowadays. The game is great from start to finish, and I can’t wait to play the rest of the saga. Also available on PS2 and PS Vita (apparently this version is pretty bad).
  • Medievil (PS Vita): Since I saw this game on a magazine on the ’98 I’ve been wanting to play it. Didn’t have a Playstation at the time so I never could. This year I had the chance and, though I can see the great game that once was, it has aged pretty badly. Camera and control are not great and makes the experience quite unsatisfying. With all it’s flaws, if you’re curious, you can give it a try. You can play it on any post-PS2 Playstation and obviously on the original PSOne.

    Did I mention I’ve been #gaming a lot this month? I finished these to games recently. I’ve loved every minute of Motorstorm and it makes me wonder if the #ps3 games are as good as Artic Edge. Bigbig Games were amazing on #psp With Medievil I had a love-hate relationship. The game is great, art and music are really good and the style it suits me completely. But god, that control and specially camera are really bad. Every jump in this game is a challenge. Anyway, good game overall that hasn’t aged well #psx #psvita #medievil

    A photo posted by Francisco Cañete (@francisco_caal) on

  • MotorStorm Arctic Edge (PSP): For some reason, PSP is one of the best platforms to play arcade racing games. I have a few of them, but never expected this game to be so good. Gameplay is excellent. All the technicals aspects of the game are remarkable. It’s a really fun game. Also pretty long, with lots of content and variety due to the different types of vehicles. BigBig Studios were PSP magicians.
  • Murasaki Baby (PS Vita): Very weird title where you help a very disturbing baby to cross a Tim Burton type of world. Very interesting aesthetics for a very simple and short game. Control is exclusive through the touchscreen and the back touch panel. A rarity that doesn’t shine on any aspect.
  • Prey (Xbox 360): Prey is such an underrated game. It’s better than 95% of FPS available on 360, but being a game of 2006, the game has gotten lost amongst others. Original gameplay mechanics with the use of portals, gravity manipulation and really weird weapons, the game is totally worth it. It’s also available on PC.
  • Tomb Raider (Xbox 360): I’ve always liked this saga. The first game is, in my opinion, one of the best platformers ever. For this reboot, the guys at Crystal Dynamics decided to switch to an Uncharted type of game. And the results are outstanding. In fact I think it improves what was seen in the Uncharted PS3 trilogy, and takes a new step in the right direction. More open environments, a little bit of backtracking, the addition piolet, etc. Overall the game is outstanding, impressive in graphics and really, really fun. The only negative aspect is something that I talked about in the previous post: story and gameplay feels detached. The story is trying to make you feel that Lara is struggling and doesn’t wanna kill any living thing. But when you’re on command, you kill dozens if not hundreds of enemies. Here they have something to improve in the next episodes. Available on Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and PC.
  • Ultimate Doom (PC): It has taken me more than 20 years to get serious with this game. And what can I say, it’s fame is completely justified. The level design, control, weapon design, etc. is just outstanding. The father of the FPS genre it’s simply one of the best games ever designed. Available for literally everything.
  • Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End (PS4): I could say lots of things about this game but I’m gonna be quick and simple: is the best game in the saga. And saying that is a lot. Gameplay, level design, graphics, audio, story, characters, acting… Everything is so good that is hard to believe. I would like to mention something that I think it hasn’t been talked enough of this game, and that’s the rhythm. It is so, so good. It goes fast when it needs to, and it takes its time when needed. A true masterpiece in lots of aspects, Uncharted 4 sets up a new standard to measure quality on action-adventure games.

So those are the games I’ve finished thĺis year. I’ve played other stuff, like some Borderlands co-op with my brother, some Fallout 3, I started The Witcher III (what I’ve played is amazing), and some other stuff. Special mention for two other (mini) games by my friend Jordi and his team, Zen and the Art of Transhumanism and Supercontinent LTD. (I’m a character on that game!). You can play them for free so I wouldn’t miss the opportunity.

That’s it for 2016. 2017 promises to be a very interesting year in gaming where I’m gonna be playing lots of new and old stuff. But that’s a story for another post.

Playstation4, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 controllers

A year of gaming – Part I

Gaming is clearly my main hobby. Every year I finish a good number of games, so I thought it could be good to make a little summary of what I played in 2016. This past year it’s been quite peculiar. I’ve managed to play 21 games but I finished around 60% percent of them between the 2 first and the 2 last months of the year.

As you’ll see, I play in a lot of different platforms and all type of genres so I’m pretty sure you’ll find something on the list that suits your taste. By the way, I divided the post in 2 parts, with Part II coming next week. With that said, let’s see the list:

  • Advance Wars Dual Strike (Nintendo DS): Turn-based strategy with excellent gameplay. Dynamic but with a lot of depth. Overall one of the best games I’ve played this year. To say something bad about it, story line and characters are pretty awful.
  • Alan Wake (Xbox 360): Mixed feelings here. I loved the story and the narrative style. The gameplay is also excellent. The problem comes when you see that gameplay and story goes in different directions giving the game a lack of cohesion. If you’re not bothered by this (like me), you’ll enjoy the game a lot. BTW it’s also available on PC.


    A photo posted by Francisco Cañete (@francisco_caal) on

  • Asura’s Wrath (PS3): This game is weird. It’s like watching and anime and playing some fighting and on-rails shooting scenes. My recommendation is to try the demo first and see if you like the amount of craziness and exaggeration than the game displays. I had a great time with (most of) it. Also available on Xbox 360.
  • Bionic Commando (Xbox 360): This game taught me a lesson: buy stuff from the early days of the PS360 generation if you wanna find original gameplay. The use of the hook and the mix of shooting and fighting mechanics pushes you to use your imagination to solve the situations that the game proposes. Worth playing if you look for something different. Also available on PS3 and PC.
  • Call of Duty Advanced Warfare (Xbox 360): From the originality of the previous game to this. Just gonna say, if you like the series mechanics, you’ll most likely enjoy the game. At least this time the story was properly told, but it still feels like eating a Big Mac.

  • Call of Duty Ghosts (Xbox 360): Do yourself a favor and don’t play this.
  • CouterSpy (PSVita): Cool 2D stealth game. It’s simple and entertaining but it becomes repetitive pretty fast. Worth a play if you find it cheap. It’s also available on PS3, PS4, iOS and Android.
  • Dead to Rights Reckoning (PSP): Low budget action game with B movie type characters and story line. Mediocre and short.
  • Forza Horizon (Xbox 360): One of my favorite racing games ever. The game is absolutely outstanding. The open world game it’s so well designed that you can spend innumerable hours just driving around. In my opinion this game is a must play for everyone that has a minimum interest in racing.
  • Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360): Like every year since I left my country, I go back for Christmas and during those days I play a game in co-op with my brother. This year we finished the main Gears of War trilogy, and in my opinion this is the best game in the series. Impressive on the technical front, this episode is also the best in gameplay, script and art direction. A great game that you should play if you own a compatible Xbox (360 or One).

That’s it for today, next week I’ll finish the list on Part II.

Visiting the family on Christmas

My objectives for Q1 2017

When I decided to build my own website, I thought it’d be a good idea to set quarterly objectives for myself (not necessarily related to the web). I’ve seen other people doing it, and it seems useful for them to keep track of what they want to do and what they accomplish. So you can expect a post every three months doing a little review of the previous quarter and new objectives for the new one. Let’s see what I have for Q1 2017 😀

  • Build a website: technically, I accomplished this already. I bought the domain yesterday and setting up a WordPress hasn’t exactly been a lot of work. But I plan to do some work on the web, add new plug-ins to improve it, etc. Also I plan to build my own theme from scratch. Let’s see how that goes.
  • Start an exercise routine and stick to it: honestly, shouldn’t be difficult. I did it last year and it worked well until I got injured. Stupid leg 🙁 Anyway, I wanna go to the gym thrice a week (at least). I don’t have any particular target in mind, just get my legs to work and lose some weight. No hurry with this.
  • Blog once a week: No need to say anything else here, right?
  • Finish my Unity Prototype: Most people doesn’t know but I’ve been working on a shoot’em up prototype in the last few months. It’s been a tough experience in general. Had a lot of issues with Unity but I’m close to accomplishing what I wanted: a prototype that may be shitty but can be played from start to finish.

    Shmup boss demo
    That’s a non-finished boss. I think the routines are quite good 🙂
  • Build my first prototype with Game Maker Studio: my experience with Unity hasn’t been great so I’m gonna try GMS. I’m excited about this.
  • Getting my #*!$ driving license: I really need to do this. No more excuses. I’m 31 for god’s sake!

So yeah, that was my list. In three months I’ll come back and see how many I’ve done and how many I failed miserably 😀