Working from home in a Pandemic - a year of tech purchase...

8:41 AM


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When we suddenly found ourselves working from home, while home schooling our kids in a lockdown a year ago, we dove in without much preparation or idea of what it would take to make it work. 

We woke up one morning facing that reality, knowing that we were pretty much stuck with whatever we had at home because to add to the misery, all tech equipment had been declared non essential and banned from sale, even on Amazon. 

In our household this meant me relinquishing my home office space to hubby, and loosing my laptop time, and my phone privilege most of the day (the joy of parenting a pre-teen in lockdown). 

Last year in March, we went in this lockdown gig with hubby's office laptop, our home laptop, 2 iPads and a few assorted earphones and a bluetooth speaker.

The home laptop was fine until the charger decided to misbehave making us live weeks with the fear the whole thing would spontaneously combust, it also had a broken speaker that made it impossible to watch school video without earphones or a bluetooth speaker. The speaker on hubby's laptop was too low for him to attend zoom call. My old iPad 4 didn't work with most of the app and tools the school needed us to use, and I clang to my new iPad because that was the ONLY work tool I had left the whole day long. 
For a few weeks things were extremely dicey and there was a game of musical chairs and tech constantly playing adding to the stress of being stuck at home 24/7. 

We've all been there this past year, and we are all still doing it. When we all realised in those past 12 months though, is that when everyone works from home, and never really steps out, a few tech upgrades are needed. 
I count my blessing that in February 2020 I made the decision to buy a new printer to replace our old broken one. The plan back then was to print my own stickers from home and sell them on Etsy. Life clearly got other plans and it ended up being used to print all the worksheets the school sent in the last few weeks of the academic year. Printing worksheets on a photo printer is totally overkill, but at least we had a printer. 

The instant some relaxation came as to what could be opened and sold, I pleaded with Maple to deliver a new charger for my MacBook Pro because we were all concerned something would burn or explode at that point. It was just before Amazon was allowed to ship, but brick and mortar non-essentials got allowed to sell and deliver things like electronics.
I still find it a bit baffling that it took 8 weeks for the government to realise that if they wanted people to work from home they should make electronic stores essential enough to operate. 

As soon as the restrictions on Amazon got lifted, I purchased this : 

A pair of noise cancelling headphones : Infinity Glide 500 because 3 months of living in closed quarter with both hubby and daughter taught me that getting those private, quiet moments to listen to some music or watch a movie were rare and one of the luxuries I missed the most. It's hard to find peace when your whole flat resonate to the sound of office zoom calls, online classes and the TV blasting in the living room. Normal earphones never filtered the noise out and my iPad didn't have a earphone jack compatible with either of the earphones we had, and I lacked a bluetooth set. 

I kid you not, I'm using these headphones right now at 8am to type this blog post because Hubby is a serial alarm snoozer and he can sleep through his phone alarm which will resonate through the whole flat distracting me every 10 minutes. I'd rather type a blog post to the sound of meditation music than any of the alarm clock sound on his phone. 

The next tech purchase was buying myself a new iPhone because I ended up not having access to my old one most of the day. My 11 years old daughter used it non stop to chat with the friends she was no longer allowed to meet in person. So I did what most parents did this past year : give her my old phone and bought myself a new one. 
The relief of not receiving 5000 WhatsApp messages with poop emojis at all time of day and night is real let me tell you! 
I never thought I would have to let my daughter have a phone before she turned at least 13, clearly I was way too optimistic and all it take is a pandemic to turn things around! 

Later that same year, we went on an earphones shopping spree again, hubby's Bose bluetooth were on their last leg and he replaced them with Tagg Inferno ones. My daughter feeling left out decided she wanted noise cancelling headphones too and wrote "Purple headphones with wire" on her list to Santa. 
Santa obliged and brought her a set by Rockpapa on Christmas day.

Then more recently, yours truly decided she was fed up constantly compromising her work schedule to accommodate everyone else in the home. I nearly went a whole 12 months constantly surrendering my laptop rights so my daughter could attend classes and hubby could do a few online courses in the evening. Out of 16 hours of wake time, I only had 2 hours a day to do all the things I needed to do on Photoshop. Frankly I'm surprised I let it go that long before deciding to buy my own laptop! 
I ended up buying a MacBook Air at the end of February and is the best purchase I made so far, my life and productivity is back. 

Just before I bought it though, I also bought an external hard drive because I suddenly realised that if anything was to happen to our laptop I would lost years of artwork and designs and uploading everything on Google drive didn't make sense as I would be close to maxing my 100GB plan and upgrading plans to store these would become costlier in the long run than buying a 1TB drive. 

The new MacBook brought a new challenge though: no USB ports. Apple did away with those and replaced them with C-ports so I ended up buying an adapter so I could plug my external drive. I also bought a bluetooth mouse because the trackpad sucks to work in Photoshop, and I might as well get a mouse that does away with the USB receiver, I got this super cute Logitech Pebble mouse. 

I got it in pink because if I am going to be dealing with this pandemic crap longer, I might as well get to do it with a stylish mouse that matches my's those small things I tell you! 

We ran into speakers issues last month again. My daughter was using a 10 years old Bose docking station we had from the days we used iPods to connect to the laptop to attend her classes. The internal speaker on the laptop had been fried for years, and the old docking station connected via an auxiliary cable was a viable solution. 
Sadly nothing last forever, and the docking station suddenly stopped working, frankly we are surprised it went for 10 years, our iPods didn't last that long. 
So I went on Amazon again and found a compact, very portable bluetooth speaker from Infinity it fits in the palm of the hand, has 5 hours of battery autonomy, and the sound is crystal clear. 

It is so cute and nice that I ended buying a second one in blue to use in my bedroom. It's so small I can even take it in the bathroom, put it on a shelf and shower with music on. We are living the lockdown life to the fullest I tell ya! 

Working from home when you are just one person doing it with everyone else going about their business away from home is easy, but suddenly having the whole family doing it and never stepping out at all brings a lot more challenges and when you are forced to live that reality, you end up realising quickly how much of role tech plays in our everyday life and how grossly unadapted most of us were. 

Don't get me started about space, this is the constant we can't change, even though I currently dream of having an art studio at home, for now the home office in the early morning and the dinning table the rest of the day will have to do. 

The tech is not all that we upgraded in this past year, living at home nearly 24/7 has highlighted the fact that an organised and optimised home decor and storage system can go a very long way. 
That will be the topic of another blog. 

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  1. How we all have got adjusted. How much ever we video conference, it can never be a substitute for seeing people and interacting with them in person.

    1. I totally agree, and I think it is having a huge detrimental effect on kids. I don't think distance learning should ever become a thing, one year of it has done too much damage already. I've seen the behavioural changes in my daughter, and it's a bit disturbing, even more so when a kid is hitting puberty and need their social interaction with peers more than ever to develop their own sense of self.


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