Government says stay in doors, how I make it work

Working from home
Me on my Dell XPS with that hinge camera

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.

Work wise

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.

The Manchester futurists which I’m a part of are considering podcasting while events are not allowed. So look out for those. I did float the idea of techgrumps again but no dice yet.

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?

Staying connected

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.

The status quo is gone and its not coming back

Flattern the curve of health careI tooted/tweeted a few days ago…

We live in incredible times…
#COVID19uk

There is a lot of panic & uncertainty at the moment with the global pandemic of Covid-19.  But there is also a number of opportunities which are fundamentally changing our society, some good and some bad. To me its clear the status quo is gone, there is no way we can go back to the way we use to live (just like world wars). Simple things like our use of remote working is going to shape culture, society, human existence going forward; that is clear!

There’s been more chatter about universal basic income, but with a stronger emphases considering the huge numbers of people on low income, in the gig economy and self employed; hit hard trying to manage with the chaos. This could be the trigger for it to happen, at least in the short term.

Physical distancing and self isolation has forced those who scoffed at virtual connections into rethinking their position. People are understanding physical distancing is similar to a long distance relationship and similar lessons apply with social distancing. We are learning a lot more about each other, likely more than we do in the workplace. The idea of bring your authentic self to work applies even more when someone is looking through a webcam into your living room; mess, pets, family members and all.

Videoconf-whoopsie

The uptake of video conferencing has been huge and our reliance on the internet has been truly cemented with groups of people who used it ad-hoc finally embracing it out of necessity. Its actually become the number one way and this could have positive effects for the environment.

Online food delivery has really come into its own. On top of this contactless payments has really come into their own with cash being rejected for health reasons (yes I am very aware of the problems with cashless services however its a powerful counter point looking at the public health angle). Maybe this might finally convince America about the merits of a public health system? Ok thats not going to happen but now would be a very good time for it. Especially with so many americans just one pay cheque from poverty.

Our encroachment on nature urgently needs to change but we may have left it too late. Its clear the impact we made on the environment is biting back longer and harder. There are many who have suggested we are due a pandemic but are we ready for more of them one after another? Its also worth saying they will stick around and adapt/morph, so we really need to change our outlook. This could be bring us together more like a common foe (think Watchman) but you would have thought the environment destruction of our planet would have done that already? Flying has already facing a massive backlash but in the face of Covid-19, expect even more changes, if the airlines haven’t gone bust.

The  role of public service health and public service broadcasts has been very clear throughout but also the lack of resourcing them. Flatten the curve is a key message which people are getting their head around. Not just in the UK but across the world. Talking of public service broadcasting, this initiative: culture in quarantine, is pretty amazing and extremely quick for the BBC. There’s certainly some links to the digital public space.

The sheer amount of misinformation has forced the GAFFAs to do something but they are playing catch up on the trusted space to the public service broadcasters. Of course private companies have been throwing what they can to support people remotely working with lots of deals, even if the deals can convince/trap people in the long run? The calls for the end of public service broadcasting have gone strangely silent

John Oliver presents from a short staffed studio with no audience

Its absolutely fascinating to see the mainstream media shows adapt to the pandemic by using the exact technology bloggers, podcasters and videobloggers have been using for over a decade. We are watching news reporters from their homes and once we get over the first shock, it becomes the norm.

Its also around the time of crisis when data ethics is dashed to the wind. Its also when you see new laws sneaked in under the radar. Sometimes the crisis is a cover for what was always wanted.

However its been so impressive to see the local community driven support networks which have sprung up. DotEveryone’s Cassie’s recent posts is a good read looking at the tension for these networks, as theres a long way to go. (thanks Laura and GJB for the links). Douglas Rushkoff is right on the money with his conversation with Helena Norberg-Hodge, who talks about localfutures. All this nicely intersects with open source culture.

The term Stay Safe, Stay Connected is being used so much more than ever. It might be a halo effect but people are more concerned about each other than a month ago.But its perfect…

Stay safe, stay connected!

 

The global connected village at Mozfest

Mozfest 2014

In two weeks time (November 7-8th) I’ll be spacewrangling once again in for Mozfest 2015.

Sometimes I think I must be crazy but its always amazing how everything comes together on the weekend. You are literately fielding the water with your hands into channels, but far down the river, it all collects into a massive lake of tranquillity and calm.

This year, we are not just running an area, like last year. Oh no that was too easy (I of course joke) nope this year its the global (connected) village which is about 5-6 connected spaces.

What is the Global Village? A collection of self-contained but interconnected places from around the world where participants at Mozfest meet, learn and tinker with tomorrow’s places. The Global Village cultivates leading practitioners to build, teach and advocate for an Internet of things that empowers its users.

Turn off your screen. Close your book. End that meeting. Pick up a sketchpad, a pair of scissors, a hot-glue gun, some parcel tape and come cry “If We Build It They Will Come.” This is a springboard for tomorrow and welcoming place for those inclusive citizens and communities.

The spaces each take a part of the home (note I say home not house) and are then run by friends of  For example our big space which connects to all the others is a library (or even study if you restrict it down to a house). Each unique space will explore the future of that space and challenge the typical notions which make up the future home. The spaces will be littered with provocations and there will be themes around narrative, diversity, inclusion, connection,  wellness and humanity.

If you don’t have a ticket for Mozfest 2015 yet, its time to get one before they sell out.

When 6 wasn’t enough, theres Sense 8

One gunshot, one death, one moment out of time that irrevocably links eight minds in disparate parts of the world, putting them in each other’s lives, each other’s secrets, and in terrible danger. Ordinary people suddenly reborn as “Sensates.”

Cloud Atlas was great but few people got it and watched it. The Wachowskis undetermined have put together a fascinating TV series for Netflix called Sense8.

Its almost like 6 connected peoples stories over 3hours wasn’t enough… So they went for 8 hyper-connected stories told over 12 hours.

By all counts the reviews are reasonable good and I’m enjoying it so far (on ep2).

Targeted for being connected?

E3 2006 090

Little news which slipped under the radar in the UK was Kevin Rose the guy from Diggnation, founder of Digg and now one of the people involved in Google Ventures. Was targeted by a number of protesters over the anti-tech tensions in San Francisco.

The Digg founder said the protesters raised a banner reading “Kevin Rose Parasite” and handed out pamphlets to his neighbors that read, in part: “Kevin directs the flow of capital from Google into the tech startup bubble that is destroying San Francisco. The start-ups that he funds bring the swarms of young entrepreneurs that have ravaged the landscapes of San Francisco and Oakland.”

The rapid growth of the local tech sector has sparked a series of protests in recent months, as concerns grow over economic inequality, evictions and neighborhood gentrification.

Gentrification… its that word again. Remember when I wrote about gentrification in a post a while ago?

Of course its bad Kevin was targeted, but the protesters certainly picked the wrong person.  Having dropped out of education at college age, he worked his way into the tech scene by appearing on TV and clawing his way up the ladder before taking the risk with a few initiative’s.

The irony of the protests wasn’t lost, as Kevin pointed it out for them shooting on Google phones.

Maybe its time to refresh the post which still isn’t up at Singleblackmale. This seems like a good opportunity to give more emphases to my point about the rich, educated and connected

They are feared, with their weird glasses geeky, electric cars and new data ethic. They use cafes as workplaces, bars to conduct meetings and workplaces to “chillax”. They don’t believe in business hierarchies and believe you can quantify everything from relationships to sex…

Cloud Atlas trailer

I remember hearing about this book and thinking this would be good as a film. Well unknown to me, they made it a film which is coming this year. Not only that its by the Wachowski brothers. Yes I can hear the boo’s and hsss’s from here. But frankly I will give them there dues because I still love the Matrix trilogy (yes I still like reloaded and revolutions, not as much as matrix one of course) and I found Speed Racer actually rather good.

Theres a section at the end of Speed Racer which is very much like the tailer for Cloud Atlas. Emotional and gets you caught up. The premise that everything is connected is of course interesting to me and many others. Amazing that its such a long trailer.

Selling the internet of things

Love what Alexandra does and writes but this certainly got me thinking about the internet of things and how you market it and sell it to others.

At the moment, anyone from IBM to Bosch is interested in making their products connect to the internet. This will have an impact on marketing only in as much as it will make communicating these emmerging products a real challenge. Youtube, & Vimeo are going to be a big part of the equation because explaining a thing that does something is better done through video. E-commerce and online PR will also lead the way for a really long time as the retail space tries to adjust to hybrid devices. Understanding where a connected lamp like GNL sits in John Lewis is a nightmare. Existing clients who have some new and kooky thing they’ve made might wish to take a leap of faith online before committing their supply chain to these experiments. These are all choices and a world that advertising can help navigate. It’s going to get very exciting.

Shes right and I remember Pyria and Alex’s experiential digital lifestyle store, Digital Wellbeing DWB. Even captured it on video in a few places (really need to port my stuff from Blip.tv to Youtube one day soon).

Inspiring media with Touch

connecting people

If you’ve not seen Touch your missing out. According to Rachel Clarke its already on Sky and not far behind its American showing either.

“Touch” is a preternatural drama where science and spirituality meet in which we are all interconnected. The show follows a group of unrelated characters. One of these is Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland), a widower and a single father who is haunted by an inability to connect to his mute and severely autistic 10-year-old son, Jake. Martin has tried everything he could do in order to reach his son, but at no success. To spend his time, Jake has cast-off cell phones, disassembling them and manipulating the parts. This allows him to see the world in a different way entirely. Martin is visited by social worker Clea Hopkins. She insists on doing an evaluation of the living situation. Clea sees Martin as a man whose life has become dominated by a child he can no longer control.

Touch is seriously great and really seems to fit with inspiring media which is really coming into focus right now.

Last year the film The Tree of Life was released and caused a little stir. Its one of those films you either love or really hate…

Likewise, Touch will be one of those things you either love or hate. A few people have already said they loved the pilot episode but now its going nowhere fast. I can see what they are saying but I’m usually so wrapped up in the episodes it doesn’t bother me. Tim Kring is also the kind of person who tends to come good with well thought out layered narratives.

Or at least I hope…

Touch does (ironically) touch the current zeitgeist of our hyper connected times.

It all fits with my own thoughts… Slide 48 onwards in the TEDx Manchester talk the story of me and a great tune I’ve been loving for a while, the string which binds us by Arnej