28 June 2020 – 15 weeks working at home

I’ve been working at home for 15 weeks now. My last update was after just two weeks. I am now well ensconced in my study, and settled into a routine. I don’t know how good that routine is, but it is one.

Over the last while I have also upgrade the study somewhat. I now have a legit green screen. A giant green sheet that covers a bookcase a couch, and the door out. I’ll be honest, I have probably put too much effort into it. I have a lamp to ensure even lighting of the background.

My default background is actually a photo of my study, it adds to the surprise when I am suddenly sitting in a fire pit surrounded by flames, or on a rollercoaster. My niece also likes it when I can transport to different places on Skype, or being up photos of the planets behind me to talk about them.

Like the Hulk being always angry – I am always on the green screen

Most people seem to avoid using their webcam on video chats now. I don’t mind having mine on, and I hope others find it easier to talk to me rather than my initials in a grey circle. Most people read the posters on my wall behind me and ask me about them.

Over the last while I have managed to finish quite a few blog post from my Europe trip last year:

Photography

My routine each day involves getting up, getting on the work VPN, checking work emails, showering, coffee, first meeting of the day. Sometimes the first meeting for the day gets moved earlier in the routine. Occasionally before even checking working emails. I have attended some work video conferences in my dressing gown, but only when I know I can get away with it.

In the evening I’ve made a real point to have a walk every day. I’ve adjusted my standard walking route, taken out a Pokéstop, but added a walk along a field and past a pond. I’ve tried to get a photo or two each day, even if it is just the sunset.

I’ve also enjoyed shooting with a new Ricoh GR III, it goes in my pocket each evening for my walk.

What have I been watching?

Westworld, season 3. I really loved this season. There was a very real danger they had jumped a shark and headed off in the wrong direction, but they didn’t. This is probably one of the only times a TV show has added such a large number of characters and yet somehow managed to tie it into the plot.

Season 3 Newton GIF by Westworld HBO - Find & Share on GIPHY

Aaron Paul – who has struggled with type casting since his iconic role of Jesse in Breaking Bad, has been typecast again. But he is really good in this. I don’t want to say too much because of #spoilers, but I really enjoyed the themes in this season, including the app Rico, and what the origins of the app are revealed to be.

Thandie Newton (Maeve) continued to be an absolute boss, I really enjoyed her story – as I have every season. This would have been a really good series to binge all the way through in one sitting, each of the story lines ran in parallel before converging in a rather spectacular way.

The other thing I loved from season was the sets, and location shooting in Singapore. In an after show behind the scenes short they discussed where was best to shoot that looked like the future, and they had chosen Singapore. They aren’t wrong, and it really looked fantastic. The other location was the ‘City of Arts and Science‘ in Valencia, Spain – which required absolutely no enhancement to look like it was from the future.

Season 3 GIF by Westworld HBO - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Floor is Lava – a new action game show on Netflix that I cannot stand. I can see why people are enjoying, but I really struggled to get through the first episode. I don’t like that all the contents just have to yell All. The. Time. I think it has been badly edited – for something that is based on a race, there is no on screen clock – which means they can mess with the editing, a lot. All the participants call the props the same name, because they were clearly told by producers off-camera what to do. I mean, who actually calls a stick and ‘staff’?

And, I keep thinking they are going to break an ankle and that just makes we feel unwell the whole time.

At Home Alone Together – My favourite addition to Wednesday-night-ABC-TV-night. It is exactly what I needed in the current climate. What has really glued it together has been the irreplaceable Ray Martin. Ray’s long and respected career means he doesn’t need to do this, but he did, and he was willing to take the absolute piss out of himself.

But it isn’t all about Ray. It has been nice to seen Tonightly alumni back on the ABC. The special guest appearance from Senator Briggs was brilliant, with the all too real caricatures of the Australian media.

Other things, Snowpiercer on Netflix, not bad. Not brilliant, but not bad at all. Space Force on Netflix, better than Snowpiercer. Funnier than most critics seem to give it credit for.

My evening viewing remains Stargate, but I am now up to Stargate Atlantis. It’s good, but the first season really feels like the first season of a TV show, instead of 9th in a franchise.

Devs, a miniseries that is hard to describe without any #spoilers. A tech company with a founder of questionable morals and people skills. An engineer who’s partner disappears after being promoted to a secretive section that focuses on applications for quantum computing. A character that is basically Mike from Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul. Drama / thriller. I am enjoying it so far.

On YouTube along with Overwatch League (more on that in a minute), I’ve really been loving Jelle’s Marbles Runs. I don’t know how, but the commentary really makes the races exciting. I really don’t get how the marbles don’t just travel around the course at the exact same speed all the time, and I think that is is. I end up watching so closely for the overtakes that I get completely sucked in.

What have I been listening to?

With no commute, there has been less time for podcasts. My evening walk isn’t overly long, but I have still been (enjoying is the wrong word) engroused by Behind the Bastards.

Over the last couple of weeks they have produced a series on the origins of policing in the US, and the long history of systemic racism that continues to this day. It is impossible to overstate exactly how rooted in racism American law enforcement agencies are. Official, on the book, agreements with the KKK to provide personnel (thugs and gangs) to patrol cities in KKK robes instead of police uniforms. I mean, they were free to wear police uniforms, but were officially allowed to wear KKK robes instead. I am not making that up. Swift conversions of ‘slave patrols’ into official police forces after the American Civil War. Replacing lynchings with state-sanctioned capital punishment.

Last year I watched Watchmen – a staggeringly magnificent series – and like many, many white people it was the first time I learnt about the Black Wall Street Massacre, which has come up in the latest episode I am still working through. It is horrific how close to reality Watchmen was.

Despite what it may seem like with the protests in the US, and the behaviour of their President, America does not have a lock on ingrained, systemic racism. It is something that remains a real issue in Australia, despite what our leaders always tell us is “the most successful multicultural society in the world.”

Being a cis white male working in IT, I don’t have a clue what it is like for trans, women, queer, disabled, or people of colour to live everyday. All I can do is be an ally. Call out and and be vocal against *ist and *phobic behaviour. Educate myself to try and better understand what it is like for others. Vote for people I think will try and address it in parliament, and not ignore it.

That is something that gives me pause. There have been riots and protests before. The fact that hardly anyone turned up to Trump’s first rally was wonderful. I just hope everyone that is angry with what the world has become is able to vote and change who currently holds power. In the US, in Australia, in the UK. There are so many countries with so many issues. Also, the environment is still completely broken.

What have I been playing?

Doom: Eternal. I bought this on my Xbox.
1 – hoping I don’t get RSI using the controller instead of a mouse and keyboard.
2 – being able to easily play it in front of the TV.
3 – my Xbox does the 4K gaming thing, which does look amazing, it does however mean I need to download 50GB of game files to play in 4K … because they aren’t on the disc. This still drives me insane.

I’ve really enjoyed Doom. The sound track is great, the game play is great, and it does look amazing. I can play offline and the story mode is good. I’ve never been great with a controller for an FPS, but I managed to get the hang of it after a while, and I switched the look stick so that up was down, and down was up – flight sim style. I don’t know why but I just have to, no I don’t use a mouse and keyboard the same way.

(I also can’t stand “natural scrolling” on a Mac and am pissed Windows adopted it as the default for fresh installs. I am too old to change and that is just the way it should be.)

Many years ago Blizzard released a brand new game, with original IP, that wasn’t anything like what they produced before. Overwatch. They had the very well produced cinematics, that Blizzard are known for. It looked good. It looked interesting. But it is an online-only, competitive FPS, and I have never been good at competitive FPS games. I much prefer playing story or plot based games offline. It means I can progress at my own rate, and I don’t need to invest the hours others seem to be able to be competitive and enjoy it.

Over the last while I have started watching a bit more Twitch. After watching Garphield (Adam) play Overwatch near the start of lockdown I thought it looked fun, and I might give it a go.

Turns out, it is great fun.

I’ve found Overwatch a lot more approachable than other FPS games, like Counter Strike, or CoD / Battlefield (neither of which I have ever played). This is something Blizzard really did want to deliver on, and I think they did. Making it possible for people like me who don’t play games 24×7 to enjoy it.

Overwatch is unique with 3 player classes, and lots of characters with different skills, mechanics and abilities. It means I can play, and even contribute to the team doing well without doing that strange mouse flicky thing to just get headshots all the time.

I spend most of my time (basically all my online play) as either a tank or support. I enjoy them because I don’t need to have pixel perfect aim with characters I play.

The other thing I really like is it is an objective based game. The goal is not to kill the most, and there isn’t even a leaderboard in the game. At the end of the game it doesn’t show all of everyone’s stats to everyone else. In the game it is possible to tell who is doing well, or who isn’t – but the emphasis is on the team doing well together. It does mean when I have a bad game the people yelling at me are my team complaining, not the opponents gloating. That isn’t fun.

When I first installed it no my home theatre PC (the computer connected to the TV and sounds system) I tried the training level with an Xbox controller. It wasn’t good. The game fully supports controllers, but it was a real challenge for me to move quickly and accurately – something that offline games like Doom can be more forgiving in.

I needed to use a keyboard and mouse, and I also wanted to sit comfortably on the couch. I took my funny hutch thing I had built previously to put a mouse and keyboard on my coffee table, and added two legs 😀

In a world with no sport, I have also enjoyed watching The Overwatch League on YouTube. The mechanics, player classes, and complex characters make it fun to watch.

3 Replies to “28 June 2020 – 15 weeks working at home”

  1. For the last couple of months I’ve enjoyed spending Fridays at home and working. It’s not something I can do every day but it’s nice to have a day when I don’t have to wear a business shirt and trousers. It would be much more comfortable in summer rather than winter.

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