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.

Quantified self heads into the mainstream

Quantified Self Europe 2013

Thanks to Rosie on Twitter, for alerting me to the BBC’s Science Club programme better known as the Dara O Briain’s Science Club. I had never heard of it before and to be fair when I watch it, I thought it was going to be crappy. However it was good, almost like the BBC had taken science very seriously. And now I understand why people are comparing Dr Helen Czerski to Brian Cox.

Science Club explores how powerful, affordable technology is ushering in a new era of DIY science that everyone can get involved in. Science journalist Alok Jha is in California to see how citizen science is being used to save lives in the early detection of earthquakes.

Dr Helen Czerski goes to Brazil and discovers an ingenious innovation – in an attempt to eradicate a killer disease, mosquitoes have been modified to self-destruct. In the studio, Dara and Professor Mark Miodownik get to grips with an inflatable crash helmet, a beat box made from vegetables and capture lightning in a box. And the team delve into tech hacking to see how stripping down and re-using technology promises to change our world

The whole theme of the show was DIY science and there was plenty of it including a whole piece on the Quantified Self. The piece wasn’t the amazing but did a good job of explaining the basics, what you could do and what people are already doing. As I said it wasn’t bad at all. Well worth watching…

Then…

Jasmine today (Monday) tweets about BBC Horizon: Monitor Me.

Dr Kevin Fong explores a medical revolution that promises to help us live longer, healthier lives. Inspired by the boom in health-related apps and gadgets, it’s all about novel ways we can monitor ourselves around the clock. How we exercise, how we sleep, even how we sit.

Some doctors are now prescribing apps the way they once prescribed pills. Kevin meets the pioneers of this revolution. From the England Rugby 7s team, whose coach knows more about his players’ health than a doctor would, to the most monitored man in the world who diagnosed a life threatening disease from his own data, without going to the doctor.

The likes of these shows talking about what people are doing with the quantified self in a more public setting is certainly driving adoption in the mainstream. Hopefully the core principles will stay…