Quarantine

One month of quarantine/self isolation

It is now official. I have been working from home for one month. Friday the 13th was my first day away from the office, a rather auspicious day to kick things off.

The first week was a little strange, but now, after these four weeks of getting set up and settled in, it feels like the norm. I have my work machine set up at home, with the same monitor config I had before. That's because this is the machine I had at work.

I've had the ability to work from home for several years. And on occasion, due to weather or appointment, I have benefited from it. But, that has been for one day and at most I might miss a meeting. If there was a lot of activity, I would simply go back into the office.

Now that I've been at home, and working with teammates over Slack, Email, and Zoom, as well as working on my own automation projects, I quite like this change.

Make no mistake, I don't like the reasons for this situation, but I am extremely grateful, and thankful, that we are both capable and allowed to work from home and shield ourselves.

I've settled in to this new working environment and like it quite a bit. I love not being stuck in traffic for the commute to work and back.

I love the extra time I have at the end of the day for exercise. I walk across the room and start to ride my bike. I have time to exercise and more time at night for myself.

I'm also not saddened by the money I am saving by not using gas and not eating out. Not quite how I wanted to save money on groceries, but that is happening as well.

At this point, I'm saving money, I have an extra 2 hours a day by not driving into work, I can work on the same projects and in the same way as I did when in the office, I have plenty of technology to keep in touch with my team, and I have a dedicated workspace with dedicated machines to get my work done. In essence I feel I am working the same at home as I did when in the office.

I was actually thinking, if my company asked my opinion on whether or not I would like to keep working from home, I would have to say yes. I have gained far more than I have lost.

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Chin up! It could always be worse

Even with the doom and gloom, you need to look on the bright side, things could always be worse. Not only could you work for a POS company like Wells Fargo, it could actually be the year 2000, which is the technology they seem to be using.

If this were 20 years, or even 10 years ago, things would truly be in upheaval. We have tools like Slack, Zoom, and others so we can hold conferences with dozens of people not only in different parts of the city, but different parts of the country. The technology to host that was abysmal 10 years ago.

We have an Internet backbone that can actually support this traffic. We previously had DSL, which was great at the time, and fast compared to dial-up, but egad, there is no way you could conduct business over that connection.

Sure, it can be a little saturated at peak times, but it's working 95% of time, so it's easy to host meetings, see people, share screens, draw on a virtual white board, and discuss complex topics, in real time, as though you were in the same location.

Sites and services are so easily connected through web portals. Even using a VPN solution is so much better than it used to be.

Let's not forget, we have the old standby of email, which is damn near instantaneous. It doesn't have the word instant in the name, but email still makes it across the country in seconds.

And we have file sharing like never before. With Google, Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive, you can give files to people in the blink of an eye.

With that, we also have online Office. Google and Microsoft both have cloud versions, so you can still get on with tasks regardless of how powerful or not your computer happens to be.

Go back for a moment. Think back to 1999, and ticking over into 2000, when people thought their machines were going to reset, shut down, or explode because they weren't sure machines could handle the new year.

Make no mistake, it is tough for certain sectors of business. All the technology in the world doesn't help serve food to an empty restaurant.

But, let us be thankful for what we do have. We can easily connect to work. We can still do our jobs. We can still talk with our team. We can still write code, query databases, share files, and get work done. It's different, but it's working. And in my opinion, it's working well.

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The introverts guide to surviving the quarantine

So, you find yourself stuck inside with very few options of going out that don't result in torches and pitchforks. All your plans for frolicking outside during the warmer spring days have been thwarted. Sporting events have been cancelled and the latest shows are shutting down. What is there to do?

In a word? Plenty.

There is an abundance of enjoyable ways to spend your time whether you're in the house with your kids, or spending this time in true isolation.

When it comes to things to do, first and foremost, don't forget to exercise. Working from home is a challenge under the best of circumstances. You still need to get up and move around. The small amount of exercise from walking to the office, going up the stairs, trips to the break room, were all beneficial.

Fear not, you can easily meditate and do yoga without leaving the house. You can lift weights without going to the gym. And I ride my bike in a trainer without leaving the house.

If you don't have weights you can easily order some kettle bells, resistance bands, or a medicine ball. It doesn't have to be extravagant to be effective. You can even order an assault bike or rowing machine right to your door. I know because I've done it. Ok, that is somewhat extravagant.

[Books:]

There is absolutely no shortage of books available. You can jump over to Project Gutenberg and Librivox for hundreds of public domain titles full of adventure, mystery, ghosts, and dangerous criminals. I highly recommend Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters, and Jerome K. Jerome, just to name a few.

For more modern titles, Amazon and Audible jump to the top of the list. There are tens of thousands of modern titles as well as titles from independent authors. Kindle Unlimited is a great choice for sampling dozens of authors.

There is also plenty to choose from in the fan fiction arena. You may have to do a little searching, but it's absolutely out there.

[Movies:]

Clearly it's Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Then there's YouTube, Apple TV, Disney+, etc, etc, etc. Lots of rubbish on YouTube these days, but once you get a line on something, you should be good for awhile.

[Music:]

Music is by far the easiest to come by. There is streaming on Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Apple. It's all online these days. I'm not even sure you can buy a CD anymore, can you?

[Games:]

Don't forget to take a break and enjoy some entertainment. There are thousands of games available. And unlike years gone by when you needed to go to a store and buy a CD to play something, all you need to do is download them.

Steam and GOG have an enormous catalog. There are the classic city builders, dungeon crawlers, first person shooters and casual games. Not mention all sorts of interesting combinations of the above.

It started with tablets and that is still a choice. Mobile gaming is huge and may be easier on the budget. The Apple Store and Google Play have games galore that you can easily pick up and put down when you need a break.

You may not be able to watch or play any sports at the moment, but there is plenty happening online. I'm sure there are hundreds of thousands of Rocket League games being played today. Not mention online racing, online adventuring, online FPS.

If you are feeling bold, there are tools to make your own games. You can go for full on toolkits like RPGMaker and Lua. Or you can pick up text based alternatives in the Choose Your Own Adventure style with Inky and Inform.

This might be the perfect opportunity to bust out with a virtual online D&D session!

[Forums:]

Now is a great time to get involved with a project and find others of like mind and interest. There is no shortage of community driven forums to discuss topics whether it be art, science, games, coding, crafts, machine learning, book reviews, and dozens of other topics that don't even come to mind at the moment.

[Chat:]

Just because we are isolated doesn't mean we can't talk to each other. There are plenty of meeting places like Discord, Twitch, YouTube streaming, TeamSpeak and others.

[Tripping the Wikipedia:]

Get from one end of Wikipedia to the other by following links. Pick a topic, something broad, then start digging in. Follow the links for products, people, acquisitions, and other related items and see where it takes you. It's quite entertaining to look up some of the foundations of the computer industry. There are lots of interesting twists and turns.

As an example, work your way through AppleSoft, Xenix, John Romero, Douglas Adams, Photoshop, VisiCalc, Ultima, Diablo and Rocket League.

Point is, there are still plenty of avenues to explore for entertainment and communication. There are projects galore out there. There is help to create music, art, code, writing, podcasts, and hundreds of other things. All you have to do is look and ask. Don't get hung up on the idea of being isolated or working from home. Still plenty to do from the comfort of your own home.

There is one thing to keep in mind though. You don't need to wonder if you're alone in this. We're all alone in this together. We're all isolated together.

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