As the UK tonight goes into police lockdown, I reflect on staying in my flat.
I have been working at home since last week Tuesday, a few days after most of my colleagues at BBC R&D. Like most of the country/world who could work from home, we work from home in the middle of Covid-19 pandemic.
For a lot of people working from home is very challenging, for a number of reasons including having kids, job which requires access to specialist equipment, trying to separate work and personal life for a long time. Theres also the mental, social and physical health sides of this all.
So I thought I’d share how I’m managing with staying at home most of the time. Of course take from it what you think is useful.
I now switched to my natural working time of 1030-11am till 7pm. I do get up and do all the things I usually do when going to work including getting dressed, having breakfast, playing podcasts, etc. Where usually I am in a rush for the door, I now relax playing a few podcasts in a row and across my flat.
Physically working I switch between using my standing desk in my bedroom and the sofa in the living room. I also have my dinner table but haven’t used that yet.
I take breaks when ever I want rather than a lunch break as such. It makes sense to me but I’m sure others will disagree
I’m using my Dell XPS 13 to the maximum memory wise (if I could add another 16gig to it I would, but it tops out at 16gig). Because of that I have to keep opening and closing the virtual windows 10 machine to check email. This is actually quite good because I’m answering emails then closing it while I do other things like writing gdocs, a lot of zoom calls.
Media beyond the news
Talking about media, I am currently playing podcasts as theres lots of podcasters recording from their homes, just like the mainstream media. At some point I will start listening to some of the audiobooks I have saved.
Been watching a lot of films and may start watching more TV shows but generally its audio in the morning and videos in the evening.
I have also ignoring most of the news media because I hate that news cycle and there is so much good stuff out there. For example Mydata just upload their videos, the Singularity University did a summit about Covid19, There was a activitypub conference with videos on peertube. This is just in the last few weeks.
I had also planned to do some training by watching and listening from Linkedin learning and other sources.
I’m very happy I opted for the 1gig bit hyperoptic fibre link, its paid for its self massively over the years and being able to share my media with friends is fantastic. I’m also considering using my icecast server to maybe put up a live web broadcast every weekend as its been a while since I did a mix.
I’m also considering getting more into gaming as I’m not much of a gamer, but do have a Xbox 360 and Playstation one classic. I actually do have a steam account but never used it so theres something I might explore. I’m also looking for a good gaming site for casual gaming which can be played together with my partner or friends, but is respectful of my data? Any ideas do drop a comment…
Staying in shape
I’m lucky to have a communal garden so can sit outside with minimal risk to myself and others. Its also where I’m going to start doing the diabolo now its getting warmer (thankfully). I have been outside a few times, mainly to get food, post letters and go riding in the pennies on the scooter. I am planning to do some more serious walking for shopping and exercise.
Been wondering if now is a good time to order those Rollerblades to go with my skateboard?
I don’t live with my partner but we are talking everyday. Its good and we find new and good ways to do things together over the phone and videochat.
I have always been in regular contact with my parents but also connecting with my sister more. Been thinking about the massive family I have and I should reach out to them more too.
I’m also making a very conscious decision to everyday get in touch with people I haven’t spoken to in a long time. Think about it, everybody is at home and likely will be very happy to hear from an old friend. Its not like they are out or on holiday. So far its been great and I expect it brings delight to others too.
Keeping my mind in gear
I have a large task list of things to do, not only because of covid-19 but generally. So I can slowly work my way through that while at home. Some of it is computer based, some internet based, some hardware and some physical DIY type things. Been thinking I should physically take up the art of motorcycle maintenance with my scooter.
Taking a look at the list, there is always something I could be doing and I ordered that raspberry pi 4 before this became a pandemic.
I’m taking time out to practice self-care, relax and sleep longer than usual which is helping a lot with my mental health. I’m avoiding the news cycle as mentioned previously but also avoiding lots of the facebook nonsense as I don’t need to use it now volleyball is off for the foreseeable future.
Its taken 4 months to reach me and I’m wondering if its worth it, but its going up on ebay pretty soon. It will be in its original box, untouched, unused and
If anyone is interested do get in touch. Otherwise I’ll post the ebay link soon.
I have sold the untouched chromebook sorry…
I recently was able to cancel my flights to South Korea and Japan answering the question I prompted about flying to the far east during the Cornoavirus outbreak. My parents will be happy as they were worried. They weren’t the only ones but myself and my partner talked about it a lot. A point she made stuck with me, will a lot of the attractions, places and experiences in South Korea and Japan be mainly shutdown? The idea of going to a mainly dead rollercoaster park in Japan sounds great but will it actually be open? I noticed a tweet from Brian Suda about the Japanese government stopping large public events to stop the spread of the virus.
We were still going up till the point when Lufthansa changed our flights out again. There was a big change and I got a email asking me to confirm the change. I needed to read through the changes so didn’t click ok I’m good with this still a day later. In between a while bunch of new deaths happened in Italy and Flybe went under. People started taking things a lot more seriously as it was clear the incubation period of the Cornoavirus was something of a nightmare with people not showing signs of infection for 3-7 days. I was keeping an eye on the British FCO site, but noticed Lufthansa changed their policy.
Once I saw this I was straight on the phone to Lufthansa who were very helpful saying I could get a complete refund, then directed me to Expedia where I had booked my flights. After 2hrs 20mins waiting on the line for Expedia. A couple of call backs I finally got the verbal confirmation that my whole holiday would be cancelled and I would get a full refund.
The next day my partner did similar and after long calls and having to call back the next day was told the same. However within a day she got a confirmation email and told the money will be refunded in 5-7 days.
Days later I still haven’t received my conformation email or any refund (expect that not to come quickly). So I called up again today, this time after getting cut off (but it taking only 50mins on hold) I got verbal conformation again. But even at the moment of writing this, there is still no email.
I did notice they now (in the last day) have a form to do it without calling up… I’ll be filling this one in too.
I’m sure its all fine but I’ll fill the form because 3 times is a charm?
Although we are keeping an eye on the worldmeter for the virus, as we may take advantage of one of those very cheap flights to somewhere with minimal infection?
I finally got my email from Expedia… Took a long time but finally I can relax.
I booked a holiday to Korea and Japan last year. Thinking this would be a great idea and the flights were a decent price. Interestingly I was thinking about a stop over in Hong Kong for a week but it was getting expensive so decided against that.
I’m looking on the brightside of it all, ignoring the media hype engine. But the notion of a pandemic does make think its likely a bad time to go away on a flight, let alone to two super crowded places?
I do think things will be ok but the risk of getting caught up in something which is developing fast doesn’t seem like a great holiday, especially if having to self quarantine in a hotel room for a week!. Add the potential health risk to myself, partner, family, friends and the general public.
Right now if the airline refunds the flight, then Korea and Japan can wait I think? What would you do?
Recently I hosted a person from mainland China in my Airbnb. Its certainly not the first time and unlikely the last. They were nice, quiet and respectful of the rules.
But I was talking to a few people and they asked me if I had thought about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)? I laughed it off but honestly I did think for a bit before accepting the booking. The thinking wasn’t long especially because I wasn’t happy to ask the question and somewhat discriminate on the grounds of nationality (this is also against Airbnb’s policy)
Talking to others, they felt I wasn’t taking it seriously. Although I will say more people die of the flu and TB than COVID-19! The frenzy in the press is getting insane.
So I had another look at the policy and noticed a addition for the Coronavirus outbreak
Looking deeper into the new policy I found this part…
For reservations with guests travelling from mainland China to destinations outside of mainland China
The extenuating circumstances policy applies to any reservations booked on or before 1 February 2020, with check-in date of 1 April 2020 or earlier. This applies for guests travelling from mainland China with reservations outside of mainland China, or hosts outside of mainland China with guests travelling from mainland China.
Other scenarios that require documentation
Regardless of reservation date, the extenuating circumstances policy applies to reservations of all global hosts or guests who must change or cancel travel:
- In order to comply with disease control restrictions implemented by relevant governmental or health authorities;
- In order to perform medical or disease control duties in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak;
- As a result of flight or ground transport cancellations initiated by an airline or ground transport provider due to the COVID-19 outbreak;
- In the event that they are diagnosed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 by a medical or health authority.
We ask that all community members be mindful of respect, inclusion, and our nondiscrimination policy when interacting with other members of our community.
So I think I did the right thing. Its not right to discriminate on the location. My guest was fine! However for those worried, you know what I’ll be doing if anything negative happens to my health (ha!)
This design of rollercoaster (Maurer Rides SkyLoop / XT 150) as experienced on Ukko and Abismo. Is thrilling at first but its re-ride-ability is super low. I think I managed 11 rides and that was too many.
The other one I’m also not a fan of is the intamin AG ZacSpin Ball Coaster, as discovered first on Kirnu and then Insane. I was able to manage much more rides but having to balance the car with my weight, means the car is spinning a lot more than expected.
I’m more likely to go on them more than most people but you won’t see me on them 30x times, like the hypercoasters. I guess its more thrill vs experience?
Hi I’m Ian and I’m referred to by ‘he/him’ pronouns
Here is my user manual, as first discovered in Cassie Robinson.‘s blog post and written about in my new years resolutions for 2020. Everything is work in progress and I may move this to a page instead of a blog entry.
Conditions I like to work in
- I like a medium busy working environment. I find it hard to work in dead silence.
- I like having my own desk space but pretty flexible as I can work in coffee shops or on my sofa.
- I like to wear headphones and listen to music mixes, podcasts or audio books while working if its too quiet.
- I like flexible spaces, with adjustable seating
The Times/Hours I like to work
- I am trying to start my work day at 10am, I am not a early riser at all.
- I work best in the afternoon and evenings
- Think better at night
- I don’t mind being contacted at most times but I will likely only respond when not busy or have the time. I expect people to respect my decisions when I decline calls.
- My calendar is private but I prefer if things are set in my calendar so I don’t double book myself.
The best ways to communicate with me
- Text or instant messenger (signal & text) is the quickest way to get a response from me, but you will get a quick and short reply.
- Twitter Direct message isn’t the best due to the changes Twitter made to their APIs making my Android & Linux clients slower to get direct messages.
- Mastodon is better than twitter for communication
- I will answer my phone and prefer to talk over more complex issues
- I deal with emails all week and usually respond within a week, unless I’m busy
- Narratives are generally better than raw data
The ways I like to receive feedback
- I’d rather have conversations than leave things unspoken or at an inauthentic level.
- I like receiving feedback face-to-face
- I respect people with humanity & respect, and expect the same back
- I see all feedback as a learning opportunity so I like any feedback to include examples and also suggestions on how I / it could be better/different
Things I need
- I love ideas sessions with people, where we can freely think about what is possible without the if’s and but’s
- I do need a little time to reflect
- I need longer paper work in digital form, so I can re-shape it or have an app read it to me
- Authenticity, I find it harder to take people seriously if there is no authenticity
Things I struggle with
- Too much critiquing and logical reasoning drains my creative energy
- If I don’t understand the bigger picture, I find it harder to understand why I should be involved.
- I find unnecessary opaque processes draining
- Maintaining the status-quo
- Surface level conversations over a longer period of time
Things I love
- Hearing what others are working on and connecting up the dots of what we are doing together
- Human conversations over administrative tasks like replying to emails
- Understanding peoples experiences and influences behind projects
- Team away days
- Blue sky thinking
- Working on the cutting edge
- Working “in the open”
Other things to know about me
- I am an ENTP
- I have dyslexia
- I use interconnected, narrative and dynamic reasoning to make decisions on problems which are logically taxing.
- I approach problems in a learning as doing way
- My favorite saying is “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
- I bring my whole self to work (we should chat about what this means)
- I am quite expressive and say what I feel and mean quite openly.
- Fairness and justice matters to me. If I think someone is not being treated fairly, or someone is having an unfair impact on others, I will call it out.
- I believe hyperlinks subvert hierarchy, with a rich network of people.
Its been 12 years since I’ve been blogging my new years resolutions and I’m still going.
- Head further a field with the scooter
Missed this last year, so its high time for a ride into Europe. I have plans to stay with a friend in Rotterdam then drive around and maybe into Belgium & Germany for some coasting. However, more importantly if the secondment was to go ahead. I’d highly likely drive my scooter in the Netherlands.
- Visit another new country
Fitting with the previous one. Luckily last year, I finally got to Italy for the first time, but that was pure chance I think. There’s a lot of places I need to go including Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, etc in Europe. One thing I’m doing for sure is South Korea & Japan (again) in April with my partner this time.
- Make some changes to the flat
As mentioned previously, I have bought a few bits for the bedroom including a new desk. I bought a lot of my furniture when I first moved in and its time for a few changes now I’m much more settled in.
- Host film nights at mine
I have my new projector, the surround sound system and even the popcorn machine to go with it, so its time to actively do some film nights. For real this time!
- Spend less time in the UK / Live in a new country
As mentioned previously I’m putting together a strong case to move to Amsterdam for a year. Unlike previously its not just because of Brexit. There is a unique opportunity under the BBC to bring together other public focused organisations for a wider “public service centric network.“
This also fits with my previous resolutions around being a stronger advocate for New forms of Value/Public Service Internet/Team Human; and even more with find the others. Making this a reality is going to be difficult but if it works out its going to be amazing for many reasons I can only imagine right now.
- Find the others and connect them
Directly related to the previous one. I mentioned in my 2019 new year resolutions about #teamhuman. Its not so much team human per-say but a more non-perfect human outlook on the world. There was something which Eric Nehrlich wrote a long while ago. Find the others, its been echoed by Douglas Rushkoff here and here.
- Play a new sport somewhat regularly
I love Volleyball and could play it over and over again, but I know people around me don’t dig it as much. So I’ll try a new sport as long as its not Football, Rugby or Cricket. Mainly to bridge between people around me who may like to play something different. Currently Badminton, Basketball or Netballl are looking most likely. However with moving to the Netherlands,Korfball and Handball (which I played in the past) could be new options?
- Drink more fizzy water
I have fallen love with carbonated water. Maybe its the amount of time I spent in Berlin but regardless its great stuff and much more healthy than most of the stuff I use to drink. I decided to invest in a SodaStream after seeing the amount of plastic water bottles I was recycling. This year I’m going drink a lot more carbonated at work, home, out and about. Its 25% health related and 75% because cold fizzy water is just the best!
- Look after myself better
I’m going to start walking more, I noticed how many more steps I do when going for coffee with colleagues at work. Parking in the multistory and walking to work actually adds another 1500 steps daily. Manchester is pretty walk-able and public transport is pretty good to be honest. I’m still waiting for the UK transport laws to change to allow things like electric scooters. This also fits with my drink more water one.
- Be even more aware of the environment and what I can do to help
Following the fizzy water one too, I’m far more concerned by our lack of ability to recycle and reuse what we have around us. We recently had compost bins in our flats which were emptied into one large compost for the recycling. However if one person misused the compost, the compost would not be emptied and was left rotting. As you can imagine over 200 apartments, that compost wasn’t emptied for weeks.
So I’m going to see what else can be done from my end. Maybe theres somewhere else I can drop my compost? Maybe there is something else which could be done? Who knows but its worth explore.
- Put my money/resources where my values are, with platforms like Patreon
Theres a lot of things I like reading and listening to and its about time I started supporting their use and development through systems like Patreon. A few years ago I finally kickstarted the Pebble 2 smartwatch, till that point I never joined Kickstarter. In an ideal world, they would gain support through the public service network but we are a long way from that in certain countries. One example I keep thinking about is the Guardian which have lots of options for payment and will take anything to support journalistic freedom.
- Change my email signature with important information
I’ve been thinking about adding pronouns to my different things for a while. I have already added them to my mastodon profile and will slowly add them to other profile information where I can.
Theres been a lot of talk about work life balance and self care recently and I agree with lots of it whats been said. But I also would add a level of self awareness can really be useful if possible; to this end I’m going start he-himby publishing a user manual for myself, which will be linked to in my email signature and elsewhere. Outlining all the meta things which can’t fit into a signature.
- Head further a field with the scooter
2019 has been quite challenging for me and I know many others!
Looking from the Quantified Self point of view
- My sleep deficit over the whole year has massively decreased to 36 mins, My average sleep this year has been 7 hours 20mins (down from 2018). Average deep sleep has been 4.03 hrs now only 48% of my sleep.
- According to Gmail I have had 54,325 conversations, have 33345 emails in my inbox and sent 7241 emails this year
- Have 111,540 photos and 3,971 photos albums in Google photos.
- Tasks wise I have 267 open tasks and completed 2,876 over the year
- Been on 52 trips including Manchester, Edinburgh, London, Bristol, Guernsey, Madrid, Amsterdam, Venice (first time in Italy), Berlin, Helsinki, Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, Nottingham, The Hague, Bath, Newcastle this year.
- According to Trakt, my most played show is Supergirl and film was John wick 3, Most listened to podcast is the Daily Tech News Show.
- I spent 655 hours watching films (16.2 a month) and 300 hours watching TV series (37.5 a month)
- This year I started a gratitude diary which now has 7,303 words
Regardless of the data he’s the review of my new years resolutions from 2019.
- Head further a field with the scooter
Again I missed this one and its very unlikely this will happen before the UK leaves Europe. Theres still an idea of visiting my friend in Rotterdam then drive around and maybe into Belgium & Germany. But this may change massively if I move to Amsterdam?
- Ride a roller coaster in yet another country
This also didn’t happen this year, although I did go to Madrid again and ride lots of coasters in the scorching 41c sun. Also I decided to give the rollercoaster park in Helsinki a miss this year. Next year I’ll be in looking out for coasters in other countries including South Korea.
- Look after myself better
Didn’t do so badly but theres a lot of room for improvement. I do a lot of walking when away from home but Volleyball isn’t as intense as it use to be due to not being in the team now.
- Spend more time in the UK
This happened I think and my partner agrees.
- Enter the bake off at work
This is a yes, I baked some banana bread with chilli chocolate inside and it was very nice except when I took it to work things didn’t quite turn out as expected. But I did get six peoples vote and there’s photos of the caroline reaper chocolate volcano cake here.
- Explore more about the brain using neuroscience
This needs some work, as I didn’t go to any events this year at all from memory.
- Do more with my Estonian e-residency
I did extended my e-residency another 2 years and I do use it as ID when entering some physical businesses. Its not quite what I was thinking about but it slightly counts. I did also look into using it as another form authentication for some services and finally setup a email address for it.
- Explore the future of decentralised and distributed systems
I spent a weekend at IndieWebCampBerlin and the following days at Republica19. It was quite an amazing and my follow up to R&D with a lunch time lecture with this presentation.
- Make some changes to the flat
I finally started by finally removing the filing cabinet to the local dump, getting a large Billy bookcase in my partners new car (with the roof down in the Manchester rain). I bought a sitting and standing desk which is smaller but yet to put it up due to having the existing one still in place. I didn’t realise my Jerker desk is over 20 years old! I’ll be offering it on ebay in the new year if anyone is keen to have it?
- Host film nights and more dinner parties at mine
This needs to happen in 2020, I had a couple of evening with my new projector, but nowhere what I was hoping for. My partner and friend had not seen Inception so we had fun with that one evening. Another friend suggested she had never seen Kill Bill, so that could be a back to back session with the projector and surround sound system.
When it comes to the dinner parties front, theres been a bit. Likely the best was the chocolate tasting party which was great.
- Work on the dating book
Since Hannah offered her copy editing skills to help make it a real book, I have done what I can. She suggested ghost writing the book and we have agreed thats a way forward. When I last spoke about the book, I saw 11+ chapters of my previously badly written nonsense, rewritten and re-imagined. Its going to be amazing!
- Be a stronger advocate for Team Human
This is summing up so much of 2019 for me. Not only in daily life but in work. Its appeared in presentations, in talks I’ve given and the way I go about things. Ok its not really about team human but new forms of value or rather. Its one of the reasons why I’m considering a secondment.
Happy holidays to my friends, family and followers…
Looking forward to spending more time with you in the 2020’s
Here is my holiday card for the festive holiday period; for family, friends and followers. Happy Holidays and although I’m concerned about 2020 from a political and technology point of view. I’m also aware 2020 is a new decade to really embed some of the smaller changes into our future.
Enjoy the festive period and lets fight for the future in the decade of 2020. 2020 needs to be about humankind or even #teamhuman not faceless corporations, fake promises, lies and political manipulation. The era of human values and when we reverse global warming.
Recently I have had a number of experiences while eating out which have caused me some real concern. I have an allergy to quite a few things as most of you know if you been following my blog for a while.
A colleague suggested I should blog about my experiences in different restaurants while a friend also pointed out that I should be reporting them.
I like both ideas I just need to find more time to do both.
So I thought I’d start by blogging about a few recently and maybe in the future create batches of blogs with the worst offenders reported to the environmental health agency.
I didn’t have a big problem with Wagamamas and not really had too much of a problem in the past. This time I wasn’t that pleased about the fuss while taking my order (chilli chicken) and finally when the food came out. Wagamamas draw numbers on your paper place-mats which is fine and helpful. This time I got a big A which later when asked meant allergy (I could have guessed that) but the one I was more confused about was the AA to the side of it. Later they explained that AA meant Against Advice to reflect how I had asked for the standard chicken not the super plain chicken with nothing on it! There was no way I was doing that!
My meal took a long time to come out, compared to my colleagues.
It was fine and to be fair I took the mick a little when they came around and kept asking how I was doing.
In short less fuss would be nice, I felt a bit crap about the whole against allergy thing. Like it would be used against me if anything happened. Its not as bad as the Leaf sign a contract thing however so it was minor
The next day after the whole Wagamamas thing, I went to lunch with a friend. Having Chinese at lunch quite different for me but I went with it. Been interested in the results of having a larger meal earlier in the day.
Now to be fair I didn’t actually disclose my allergies because of the fuss the day before and I ordered 3 meats (pork, chicken and duck) with egg fried rice. It was pretty straight forward and checked with the waitress if there was peas in the fried rice, which was a no.
It wasn’t long before I could feel my stomach feeling rough from the food. The back of my throat was feeling scratchy and I was consuming a lot of free tap water. Time to pop a single antihistamine see if it will get better. About 10mins later it was getting worst, I needed to take 2 more antihistamines and head home.
At home I was sick, luckily not violently sick but enough and soon after I was out for the count for about a 90mins.
It was my fault for not saying but I didn’t want the fuss of the day before.
I never really had a problem with Las Iguanus, like Wagaamams these chains are not too bad about having allergy menus. Because of Manchester Chinese Restaurant I decided to disclose when the waiter asked if anyone was veggie or gluten intolerant.
The results were a little usual.
Usually they switch so only the manager can take my order, everything has be explained to me about trace amounts in the kitchen… etc.
This time I had to read a disclaimer on a tablet and click yes I understand. I looked for the whole we are not responsible and you wave your rights stuff but didn’t see anything like that. I was quite short but also small. I have good eye sight so could read it all clearly. Once I did that, I could look at the allergen menu on the same tablet screen. Lots of scrolling back and forth but what I ordered was so simple (Tacos with meat and veg) it was pretty much allergen-less.
Afterwards my food took a long time to come out but was good. It was clear they were busy and although I had to click the button it was reasonably quick and didn’t need the manager to check through things.
This place is what prompted me to write this blog today. I went in for lunch and choose something which was meat free. At each table there is a tablet with the menu and the ability to order from there. I looked at two things (mac & cheese or vegetable tart/frittata).
At the bottom of the screen was a message saying…
Food Allergies and Intolerances Please speak to our staff about the ingredients in your meal, when making your order. Thank you.
So I did and it was an awful experience. I just don’t understand why the ingredients are not listed on the tablet. It could be perfect but no…
First there was no Mac & Cheese so that was out. Then I wanted to know what was in the frittata? They couldn’t tell me. I was low on time so I ordered and check if it had most of the things I expect might be a problem. No Nuts, Beans and Peas I was told. So I ordered (I should have left and gone elsewhere but I already had my flowering tea). When ordering I had a problem with the menu, as I had to add 2 salads to it too. In the end I choose Mushroom & Greens and then Tabbouleh. Checked again about the common stuff which might be added.
No worries, when it finally came it looked like it had pesto on it. Checking before I touched it was basil. Started eating the salad and it was fine. However when I took a bite of the frittata, my spidery senses went wild.
I asked they what is the ingredients in the frittata which seemed to be made on site or not far away. They couldn’t give me an answer except vegetables and pastry. Not at all helpful in anyway. I gave them my allergy card and the chef went back stage to check if it was ok. They returned with a box full of tabbouleh and a new frittata, muttering something about some cross contamination. I paid and left with my food box, later I had the tabbouleh no problem but one bite into the new frittata, instantly sent my allergies going.
It wasn’t all bad the tea was very good…
Expect more of these in the future.