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posted by martyb on Tuesday March 10 2020, @04:30PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the all-the-better-to-identify-what-can-be-outsourced? dept.

Dustin Kirkland has written a blog post about telecommuting for over two decades. He goes into a lot of detail about his particular setup. He closes asking what other people's remote offices look like and what, if anything, he missed.

In this post, I'm going to share a few of the benefits and best practices that I've discovered over the years, and I'll share with you a shopping list of hardware and products that I have come to love or depend on, over the years.

I worked in a variety of different roles -- software engineer, engineering manager, product manager, and executive (CTO, VP Product, Chief Product Officer) -- and with a couple of differet companies, big and small (IBM, Google, Canonical, Gazzang, and Apex). In fact, I was one of IBM's early work-from-home interns, as a college student in 2000, when my summer internship manager allowed me to continue working when I went back to campus, and I used the ATT Global Network dial-up VPN client to "upload" my code to IBM's servers.

If there's anything positive to be gained out of the COVID-19 virus life changes, I hope that working from home will become much more widely accepted and broadly practiced around the world, in jobs and industries where it's possible. Moreover, I hope that other jobs and industries will get even more creative and flexible with remote work arrangements, while maintaining work-life-balance, corporate security, and employee productivity.

See similar article at the BBC.

How much, if any, can you work from home? What tools are on your "gotta have it" list? What cautions, suggestions, and resources do you suggest for your fellow Soylentils?


Original Submission

Related Stories

Scrutiny Needed for Teleconferencing Software and Their Backing Companies 16 comments

Zoom has had a meteoric rise as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. Jitsi and other useful teleconferencing tools are not very well known, though still widely used. Nearly all the buzz has been about the newcomer instead, but few have actually evaluated it. One group has. The Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, at the University of Toronto, has investigated Zoom briefly, covering both the technology, especially its lack of encryption, and the company itself:

Key Findings

  • Zoom documentation claims that the app uses “AES-256” encryption for meetings where possible. However, we find that in each Zoom meeting, a single AES-128 key is used in ECB mode by all participants to encrypt and decrypt audio and video. The use of ECB mode is not recommended because patterns present in the plaintext are preserved during encryption.
  • The AES-128 keys, which we verified are sufficient to decrypt Zoom packets intercepted in Internet traffic, appear to be generated by Zoom servers, and in some cases, are delivered to participants in a Zoom meeting through servers in China, even when all meeting participants, and the Zoom subscriber’s company, are outside of China.
  • Zoom, a Silicon Valley-based company, appears to own three companies in China through which at least 700 employees are paid to develop Zoom’s software. This arrangement is ostensibly an effort at labor arbitrage: Zoom can avoid paying US wages while selling to US customers, thus increasing their profit margin. However, this arrangement may make Zoom responsive to pressure from Chinese authorities.

In a nutshell, throughout the mad rush to adopt teleconferencing software, due diligence has been largely abandoned and licenses left unread and software unevaluated. More scrutiny was needed, and still is needed, when acquiring and deploying software. That goes double for communications software.

Previously:


Original Submission

SoylentNews Community -- How has SAR-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) / COVID-19 Affected You? 325 comments

A lot has already happened this year. SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) which can cause COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease 2019) has been making headlines shortly after it was first reported. The first cases were reported to WHO (World Health Organization) on 2019-12-31. The virus spread. It began as an epidemic in China . The world watched apprehensively. Reports surfaced of cases in other countries and the the apprehension grew. For many folk, it turned to fear when it was upgraded to a pandemic: WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 11 March 2020: "We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic."

We have seen increasing efforts to stem the spread of the disease. Efforts have run the gamut. Closing of borders. Cancellation of sporting events. Conferences cancelled. Churches and other places of worship also closed. Schools closed. Panic buying of household goods and supplies. Supply chain disruptions affecting manufacturers. Restaurant, bars, and other such establishments closed. Work-from-home policies established and enacted.

The changes have been many, widespread, and continuing.

Reading about all the ways that "other people" have been affected is one thing. It seems different, somehow, when it hits closer to home and affects us directly. With many of our usual social activities curtailed or cancelled, it is easy to begin isolating and lose perspective. SoylentNews arose from a troubled period (the SlashCott) and a community has formed from that challenging period.

How have you been affected? Have you been infected? Had a family member or friend who was? Helped neighbors who are struggling? Hunkering down and isolating? (In a basement is optional.) Are you suddenly working from home and finding it challenging to manage your time? Still working on site, but now have a faster commute due to all the other people staying home? Catching up on watching TV shows? Reading more SoylentNews? How has your life changed?

From a somewhat different perspective, how have others helped you to cope... and how have you been able to help others? One of the potential impacts of social distancing is isolation and depression. I count myself fortunate, indeed, to have served this site for over 6 years and for all the people I have gotten to know, here. For those who may not be aware, SoylentNews has its own IRC (Internet Relay Chat) server. Feel free to drop in to #Soylent and just say "Hi!"

Social distancing is permanent when you're dead. So, practice good hygiene and stay safe.

Previously (oldest first):
China Battles Coronavirus Outbreak: All the Latest Updates
2019-nCoV Coronavirus Story Roundup
Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Roundup
Coronavirus Roundup
Coronavirus Roundup (Feb. 17)
Roundup of Stories about the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus and COVID-19 Disease
COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 - CoronaVirus) Roundup
CoronaVirus (SARS-CoV-2) Roundup 2020-03-12
Working from Home: Lessons Learned Over 20 Years


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Freeman on Tuesday March 10 2020, @04:38PM (6 children)

    by Freeman (732) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @04:38PM (#969154) Journal

    While a telecommute job would be nice, a telecommute job is a lot easier to ship overseas. Whereas a job that needs a warm body is still quite safe from that kind of thing for a while longer. So long as your physical presences isn't related to something that a robot could easily do or something that could be easily cut.

    --
    Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by RS3 on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:37PM

      by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:37PM (#969200)

      Sounds good, but is only somewhat true. One of my current occasional jobs is IT/server admin. I do it mostly from home or wherever I can remote access. However, sometimes (rarely really) a reboot hangs, or HD dies, or machines need dust blown out, or change/upgrade something in hardware, or reconfigure Ethernet, build up new machine, etc. About a 15 mile drive if needed- not too bad most times of day.

      True, you could have remote people doing as much as they can, and some local grunts doing hands-on, but that would be pretty bad management. Might save $, but if something goes wrong, esp. with communication between remote and local workers, you could have a disaster.

      So it really depends on the specifics of the work, communication, criticality, etc.

      And talk to Boeing about managing local and remote software developers...

    • (Score: 2) by EJ on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:46PM

      by EJ (2452) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:46PM (#969208)

      I disagree. A job that can be done 100% remotely still needs to be the type of job that can withstand social differences to be outsourced.

      If you telecommute, but live in the same city, your boss doesn't have to worry about an earthquake, tsunami, wildfire, or quarantine situation that only affects you.

      In my situation, I can telecommute often, but not always. That's the best of the scenarios, IMO. I'm only fifteen minutes from the office, and there are some situations where I have to come in to take care of things.

      Even if your job can be done 100% remotely, you may still have to deal with customers who want to work with someone local.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by driverless on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:07PM

      by driverless (4770) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:07PM (#969252)

      Shit, the oatmeal sums it up in one cartoon [theoatmeal.com], see in particular "The Horrible". Hooba porkrind!

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:11PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:11PM (#969259)

      your physical presences isn't related to something

      Managers seem to prove their self worth via a half day of meetings per week. They don't want to get shipped to India any more than you do, so in person is "required". The commute is glorious without rush hour and its a fine excuse to go out for lunch.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @07:02AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @07:02AM (#969532)

      Not really. The floor below me at work is now filled with warm bodies from India. Well, mostly India. So many of them are trying to get permanent jobs. They now have a bridging process. If this continues my country will be Indian. Even now they deliberately hire based on skin and country of origin to promote multicultural policies.

      What about my culture?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @02:09PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @02:09PM (#969617)

        Don't worry. Just like you, your culture is being replaced.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by legont on Tuesday March 10 2020, @04:47PM (25 children)

    by legont (4179) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @04:47PM (#969159)

    I've worked from home for 7 years. I was going to the office part time over the last two, but as of last Friday I am required to stay home. Going to the office is prohibited.
    On technical side it is easy. Backup everything - two internet providers, two modems, two firewalls, two independent phones. Ideally if something goes down you want to be able to switch to something working and deal with the issue later. It is easy for me because all the real data and resources at at the company servers anyway so I just need a dumb environment.
    It is harder psychological. You have to be disciplined and work scheduled hours, which may be difficult because of wives, girlfriends and children. Many females just can't grasp having a man around not doing as she orders. I have a basement and simply go there and don't come up during office hours.
    At some more difficult point I went as far as taking a hike in the morning and the afternoon simulating the commute. Yes, don't forget physical while at home.
    Having said that, I do enjoy it a lot. As many of us, I am an introvert and don't like people too much.

    --
    "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:03PM (7 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:03PM (#969169)

      My wife is ok with it, it's the girlfriend that gets in the way.

      • (Score: 5, Funny) by hendrikboom on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:54PM (4 children)

        by hendrikboom (1125) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:54PM (#969187) Homepage Journal

        It is so convenient when your wife and your girlfriend are the same person.

        • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:59PM (3 children)

          by nitehawk214 (1304) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:59PM (#969217)

          Even moreso when they are both imaginary.

          --
          "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @09:56PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @09:56PM (#969311)

            are pixels imaginary?

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @07:06AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @07:06AM (#969535)

              2D wife
              See also; waifu

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @03:10PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @03:10PM (#969654)

              Try voxels. Holo-waifu.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by driverless on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:10PM

        by driverless (4770) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:10PM (#969257)

        My wife is ok with it, it's the girlfriend that gets in the way.

        But it's convenient that way, wife at home thinks you're with your girlfriend, girlfriend at work thinks you're with your wife, and you can be offsite engineering a GaN charger to put on Kickstarter when it's done.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @04:55AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @04:55AM (#969490)

        That's because you haven't achieved his level yet. He has multiple wives and multiple girlfriends. What concerns me are the children.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:30PM (5 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:30PM (#969180)

      As much as I bitch about Comcast, I've only had to switch to use my 4G cell service once since 2013... they're "good enough" and, comically, over 10x faster than the service I get at my desk in the office.

      --
      John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
      • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:39PM (3 children)

        by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:39PM (#969202)

        That's bizarre. What's the office bottleneck?

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:51PM (2 children)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:51PM (#969211)

          What's the office bottleneck?

          Just your basic massive multi-national paranoid holding company mentality. The "mothership" doesn't trust the newly acquired business units so all packets go through a filter in the main office over leased lines, and our site initially leased our lines 20 years ago - I started bitching, LOUDLY, about the outdated bandwidth about 2 years ago and maybe, maybe next year they'll get around to re-evaluating the "campus needs" in that year's budget, if we're not bumped by higher priority things.

          --
          John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
          • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday March 10 2020, @11:45PM (1 child)

            by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @11:45PM (#969345)

            Wow, bizarre. I'm too much of an optimist- what are they afraid could happen?

            Could they put the filter boxes in local offices and access them remotely?

            Maybe you could suggest this and get a bonus for saving the $ wasted on the leased lines.

            Otherwise connect locations through VPN?

            I'm sure I'm missing something.

            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday March 11 2020, @02:13AM

              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday March 11 2020, @02:13AM (#969420)

              What happens, in practice, is people stay home and work from there... which is ultimately much less secure.

              Bitching loudly and moving the needle on the bandwidth of the leased lines is about as good as I can hope for from my perspective, and I don't want to march in on IT and start suggesting how they do their jobs - I just tell them that a 2GB image download started at work at 10am doesn't finish until after 2pm, started at 6pm it might finish by ~6:40, but the same 2GB download at home is more like 5 minutes.

              Thing is, 95% of the headcount at the location never moves that much data, they just do e-mails, training apps, and various other things that the lame bandwidth serves "adequately" so the IT bean counters get their bonuses by not spending more than they have to, and not wasting effort on change.

              --
              John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
      • (Score: 2) by legont on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:10PM

        by legont (4179) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:10PM (#969256)

        I do it more often mostly because falling trees or poles cut both - power and internet. My laptop over t-mobile G4 works well enough to get through this.

        --
        "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:38PM (9 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:38PM (#969182)

      Many females just can't grasp having a man around not doing as she orders.

      After 20 years I have mine trained: she never orders me to do anything. Unfortunately, she still believes that she can have my attention any time she walks in the room which can be difficult when trying to work from home. When it gets too bad I intimate that I could get more done with the interruptions I get at work (in truth it's a little worse there...) and she tends to back off, but never seems to learn that lesson long-term.

      --
      John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:18PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:18PM (#969193)

        This one's easy for me -- she also works from home, telecommutes to her previous job which was in a different state. We both make the mistake of expecting the other's attention *right now*, but not very often anymore. Now I walk into her work space (or vice versa) and see what's on the screen before interrupting.

        Working from home works out great for both of us.

      • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:42PM (7 children)

        by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:42PM (#969206)

        Maybe she feels like she's missing out on something interesting? Maybe you could get her involved a little, kind of like taking a kid to work day? She'll either understand better and respect your concentration, or she'll get very bored and leave you alone? Or...

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:58PM (6 children)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:58PM (#969215)

          Maybe you could get her involved a little, kind of like taking a kid to work day? She'll either understand better and respect your concentration, or she'll get very bored and leave you alone? Or...

          Tried that, no joy. Best I've managed is to abandon her during work hours for her tech support needs, she can actually do these things without me and we've proven that time and again when I'm either out of town or at work, but she still would rather I do them for her...

          The interruptions are usually "little things, just want your input..." or, worse, venting about her family/friends relationship frustrations. Once she's managed a solid interruption I'll just drop what I'm doing and give her 100% full attention which usually gets the message across and her needs at least somewhat met within 5 minutes or so, if I don't do that I'm liable to get many more little interruptions over the coming hour or two. Still, on those rare days that I'm doing "something big" I try to tell her how 4 hours of solid uninterrupted time is worth more to me than 12 hours with interruptions every 45 minutes, she says she understands but doesn't always act like she does.

          --
          John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
          • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Tuesday March 10 2020, @07:08PM (4 children)

            by nitehawk214 (1304) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @07:08PM (#969222)

            Maybe try wearing headphones when working? I don't work from home, but I find that having headphones on when at my desk tends to reduce the number of interruptions I get. Often I am not even playing music or anything.

            --
            "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:35PM (2 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:35PM (#969273)

              I wear industrial grade, -34dB ear muffs while at the office that do a pretty good job of silencing all nearby conversations. I've done so for years.

              This doesn't stop 100% of my coworkers from starting to talk at me without even making eye contact first, despite the 100% outcome of them having to repeat the first part of their sentence.

              • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @01:05AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @01:05AM (#969382)

                Try putting blinkers on and obnoxious signs everywhere about being a bit more fuckin' polite, you assholes.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @07:18AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @07:18AM (#969537)

                Care to share what you're using? I have a few pairs of the 3M Peltor X5A [3m.com], but it seems they're only rated -31dB.

            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday March 11 2020, @02:07AM

              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday March 11 2020, @02:07AM (#969415)

              Headphones, or the office door closed, will shift the balance at work from worse than home to better than home - unfortunately they don't seem to move the needle at home.

              --
              John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
          • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by RS3 on Tuesday March 10 2020, @11:31PM

            by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @11:31PM (#969340)

            Wow, very romantic. I've never been married (technically) but I've had girlfriends who doted on me. I didn't know how much I would miss them. You're quite blessed.

    • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Wednesday March 11 2020, @03:04PM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 11 2020, @03:04PM (#969650) Journal

      > Many females just can't grasp having a man around not doing as she orders.

      This is my own experience with my wife. When we're both home, it's often a honey-do every few minutes. I almost never ask anything of her. I tested this one evening by trying to play a 3 minute time limited game over and over. In the space of an hour, I was able to finish only one. Every other game I had to abandon so I could attend to yet another honey-do.

      My parents, in contrast, did their own things. Dad would spend his time in the garage, and Mom would do housekeeping stuff. She wanted him to help her more, but somehow, there was always automobile maintenance that had to be done. As for me, Dad took a lot more of my time than Mom ever did, to help with the car repairs. A very few times, when I wasn't available, he got her to help him with car repairs. That was only for things that couldn't be done by one person.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by canopic jug on Tuesday March 10 2020, @04:54PM (2 children)

    by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 10 2020, @04:54PM (#969163) Journal

    What cautions, suggestions, and resources do you suggest for your fellow Soylentils?

    The BBC link is just an advertisment dressed up as an article. The cause is that too many executives there are the BBC are "former" microsofters to get any truth out of them in regards to tech, especially standards. So that makes the link a prime negative example of the biggest warning heon the topic of distance work. That is the necessity to ensure that all solutions are based on open standards so that people can work independent of platform and location. An open standard is one for which:

    • the specification is adopted and maintained by an independent, not for profit organization
    • ongoing development is through an open, public process
    • the specification is published wholly and completely, free of charge with no constraints on copying, distributing, or using it
    • the copyright, and eventual patents, are available irrevocably on a royalty-free basis
    • no contraints on re-use

    The risk otherwise is that carpetbaggers, frauds, and charlatans (looking at Redmond there) will use the rush to separate fools from their money and tie their machines and their data into proprietary silos unfit for purpose. That's a double blow when the tools are both unfit for purpose and locked into a specific vendor. We need the opposite. We need commodity services to get the ability to swap out components of the work environment for ones best suited to the task, not just suited to the vendor's sales bonus. Only open standards can achieve that.

    There was a lot of recognition 15 years ago, pre-Facebook, among most of the multinationals and a few governments about the importance of using open standards to create commodity markets. Most involved at that level have retired or moved on and it's essential to bring that knowledge back post haste. It's really the only thing which will allow people to work remotely without locking the whole team into an expensive silo where the vendor decides on your company's budget.

    --
    Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:27PM (1 child)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:27PM (#969179)

      Not remote work, but messaging layer software, I had a sales call the other day where the "pitcher" absolutely astonished me by basically crowing about how "locked in" our colleagues who had chosen their messaging layer had become, they basically had no choice but to continue with the proprietary licensed and monetized solution due to all the effort expended on tools and infrastructure around the messaging layer. While I don't necessarily think that supported licensed software is a non-starter, cases like this illustrate how a vendor can ratchet up fees to near painful levels basically at will once the customer is "locked in." For us, if we're going to have our new products talk with our colleagues' "locked in" products, we're looking at $25K to start plus ongoing commitments of, well, basically whatever the vendor decides they can squeeze us for in the future - since these products have a 10-15 year lifespan, 2-5 year development cycle, and they overlap generations where each generation is expected to interoperate with the previous one, we'd be looking at at least 20 years of lock-in to whatever solution we choose. I can't see how anyone could believe it's good business to hand that much power to your vendors.

      --
      John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @07:26AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @07:26AM (#969540)

        IBM tried to do this to us. They had us locked into their products which included licences that the business came to depend on. The day came to evaluate the cost. Yes, we were locked in. But. There were open source alternatives. True, other products didn't have the integration or features, but they were free. The change was painful for some. Most switched easily.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Snotnose on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:02PM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:02PM (#969167)

    Works well for me for short periods, like a day or two. But then my start time starts getting later and later, my quitting time earlier and earlier, and lunch (and cat, and potty) breaks longer and longer.

    When I've done it all I needed was a compiler and a thumb drive (to transfer files back and forth, much faster than my internet).

    To be honest, when I've done it it was always for a reason. Mostly to get away from the interruptions at the office so I can Get Stuff Done (tm) quickly.

    --
    Forget the past, ya can't change it. Forget the future, ya can't predict it. Forget the present, I didn't get you one
  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:18PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:18PM (#969176)

    Starting around 8 years ago, I chanced into a 93% work from home role, with ~2 days every 6 weeks on-site (single hop 4 hour flight) for face-to-face time. We let that stretch to 9 weeks once and all concerned agreed that it was too long an interval away, even with a weekly dedicated 1 hour conference call and e-mails / Skype on-demand as-needed.

    That role has morphed into something with an office 10 minutes from home, and upper management that's less than enthusiastic about "remote work" but starting to come around, and my direct manager is very much in favor of work-from-home though lately he's only getting to do it a few days a week. Even though they disliked work-from-home, they failed to provide me a desk to work at for ~2 months after I transferred and, since I was already setup for work from home, I started at 80% work from home in this location - coming in for a few hours a week and meeting with whoever was necessary to meet with in conference rooms, and/or squatting in open cubicles. Being so close to the office, I do tend to drive in at least 2-3 days a week, though rarely for more than 4 hours - which helps to miss the rush hour traffic, and, then, there are the occasional meetings called by "teammates from other silos" which have been known to run to 5:30pm, thankfully that kind of "team spirit" has been averaging less than 3 events per year.

    As for space/equipment, I dedicated a 4' corner of the master bedroom to a workstation which has the added benefits of an en-suite 30" monitor and decent speakers, which we typically use about twice a year - preferring to keep entertainment in the common spaces of the house. The monitor is more often used to watch the "bus cam" since the school bus pulls up on a blind side of the house the camera gives early notice of bus arrival and time catch the kids. There's a work imaged laptop which gives me all the IT approved stuff and VPN access, then there's my home system which consists of a couple of NUCs running Ubuntu - one upstairs for work, and one downstairs running the living room entertainment system / NAS hub. The locking door is important on occasion, maybe 2% of the time, but during that 2% it is semi-critical to the "professional image," otherwise the kids are invited in to see what's going on - they're usually quickly bored and leave on their own. Clear phone connection can sometimes be a problem even with voice over WiFi (Comcast is the weak link in that chain), in extreme cases I'll get out of the house and walk around the yard for better cell signal - that has always worked well enough, but of course you lose screen sharing capability then.

    Every case is unique - in our previous house I would have taken over the 4th bedroom as an office, less than ideal, but that's how the space was chunked up there. Other houses we have considered would have gotten a separate structure in the backyard - one already had a much larger than needed structure that we thought would make an ideal office during the day / family AV entertainment cave in the evening.

    Covid-19 has been an unspoken motivator for a recent shift to more work-from-home, since upper management still frowns whenever it's mentioned. Still, after having lost more than one star team member due to a lack of willingness to accommodate remote work, we've managed now to retain two team members who moved away but were willing to work remotely. There's also a push from upper-upper management to cut travel expenses, so of course Covid-19 is the perfect excuse for that, and most of us are fairly competent with the conferencing software even if just used to meet with colleagues from other sites, support from vendors, etc.

    Like green energy and sane healthcare finance, remote work coming, slowly.

    --
    John Galt is a selfish crybaby [huffpost.com].
  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:55PM (6 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 10 2020, @05:55PM (#969188) Journal

    I have a grueling ten minute commute to a brightly lit office. (eg, an office building, a room with interior and exterior window and door that closes; door is almost never closed)

    I have nice equipment to work with. Numerous different servers here in the building, including a pretty nice one in my own office (room).

    The first major problem to work from home would be: Windows.

    I don't have it. I don't want my house infected by it. At work there are people responsible for maintaining that thing.

    I can't imagine being able to work at home without distractions. The office is relatively quiet.

    The biggest thing: I can keep work at work, and home at home. The boundary is clear. People have my cell number if there is an emergency, and I'm only minutes away from the office.

    --
    I notice that for each booster shot, they use a fresh needle?!? Don't they know about re-usable boosters?
    • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:34PM (4 children)

      by acid andy (1683) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:34PM (#969199) Homepage Journal

      The first major problem to work from home would be: Windows.

      I suppose ReactOS and Wine wouldn't suffice?

      --
      Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:38PM (3 children)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:38PM (#969201) Journal

        To run an entire suite of Microsoft Enterprise products? Outlook? Sometimes Excel and Word. (Although I do use LibreOffice.) Teams. Skype. And other assorted bits.

        Microsoft? The company known to sabotage its software not to run on DR DOS ? (Back in early 1990s or late 1980s)

        Not something I would want to bet on.

        I would probably instead ask for a corporate laptop, which would be equipped with all the standard apps and security, including our VPN, Bitlocker, corporate antivirus, etc.

        --
        I notice that for each booster shot, they use a fresh needle?!? Don't they know about re-usable boosters?
        • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:44PM (2 children)

          by acid andy (1683) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:44PM (#969207) Homepage Journal

          Yeah I was pretty sure that was the case but thought I'd just throw down the comment anyway. I've never tried ReactOS actually. I must admit running code written by M$ under Wine does really creep me out. A separate machine is the way to go.

          --
          Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
          • (Score: 3, Informative) by Freeman on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:18PM (1 child)

            by Freeman (732) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:18PM (#969264) Journal

            No need to be creeped out by Wine or running M$ code on Linux. In fact, it's essentially sandboxing your program.

            As far as ReactOS is concerned. It is not ready for prime time. You can tinker with it, but it's still in Alpha and lots of things don't work quite right still. It's leaps and bounds better than it used to be, but it's got a long journey ahead.

            --
            Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
            • (Score: 3, Informative) by acid andy on Wednesday March 11 2020, @03:46PM

              by acid andy (1683) on Wednesday March 11 2020, @03:46PM (#969667) Homepage Journal

              https://wiki.winehq.org/FAQ#How_good_is_Wine_at_sandboxing_Windows_apps.3F [winehq.org]

              Wine does not sandbox in any way at all. When run under Wine, a Windows app can do anything your user can. Wine does not (and cannot) stop a Windows app directly making native syscalls, messing with your files, altering your startup scripts, or doing other nasty things.

              --
              Where did that thought come from? And that one? What about this one? Woah, man...
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:40PM (#969203)

      Well put. For your sake I hope that you aren't forced to work from home during this virus crisis|scare event.

      As counterpoint to your situation, I'm now in my mid-60s and have always worked from home, an engineering consultancy with a few others who also work from home. Over the years I've done spells of up to a month at a variety of different customer sites and have seen plenty of bureaucracy, office politics and bs at all of them...enough distractions that working there just seems like it would not be productive.

      The walk downstairs or across the house to my office is effortless and I can't imagine commuting to work. Most of my local driving/bicycling is during off-peak hours, but every now and then I have to drive during the local rush hour, which isn't any fun at all. I enjoy driving my stick shift car and suspect that avoiding rush hour has a lot to do with this.

      One of the other threads mentioned backup internet--I'm fortunate that my sister's house is about 2km away and I keep an older laptop there which is (mostly) in sync with my main computer. If there is a problem at my house, I can work from the other house, use that internet, etc.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by mhajicek on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:16PM

    by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:16PM (#969192)

    For those of you who flip bits for a living the barrier to entry is probably a few thousand dollars, maybe up to tens of thousands if you're getting fancy. For me, to do it right, would take about 1/4 million. Might be able to scrape by on $100k, or if I wanted to get fancy I could easily put a million into it. I make Titanium bone plates and surgical devices on a five axis machining center.

    Fortunately I now have an eight minute commute and don't interact with very many people on most days.

    I feel bad for those whose job it is to interact with dozens or hundreds of people every day.

    --
    The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:59PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 10 2020, @06:59PM (#969218)

    I've been working from home for more than 10 years now and I agree with most of the points made in the article. A dedicated office space is essential and I would go as far as saying this must be behind closed doors if you have young family in the house. This also makes it easier to define when you are "at work" and when you are not and I personally find it helps me compartmentalise my time and ensure that I'm fully focused on work when I'm supposed to be. I worked for myself previously and still have the full office furniture that I bought back then.

    My company supplies a standard work laptop and I hook it up to a spare port on one of my existing monitors. All data is accessed over a corporate VPN and the applications are a mixture of locally installed, remote Citrix and remote Secure Desktop. Luckliy my broadband is rock solid and I've never had any problems with anything running remotely - if anything the network is far faster when at home than the crowded Wi-Fi in the office. Various co-workers have stated that they couldn't work at home permanently due to the isolation/loneliness but I've never found that much of a problem. I'm constantly on Skype and on calls/in meetings throughout the day - the advantage being I can keep working with my headset on rather than sitting in the room doodling.

    I carry the extra costs of electricity, heating and lighting without complaint because compared to the cost of the commute these are negligible. And given that my office is a 3.5 hour round trip away the time savings outweigh any of the negatives I can think of. I'm lucky that my manager supports me and has no problem with my homeworking, several others in the organisation have insisted that colleagues limit their homeworking to one day a week and we've lost some good talent because of those petty rules.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by VLM on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:09PM (1 child)

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 10 2020, @08:09PM (#969254)

    Nice chair

    Tea pot

    Significant battery backup infrastructure.

    A door. You can't speakerphone or videoconference without a door.

    If you have work that can go fully mobile, work at a park, weather permitting.

    I like the giant whiteboards in the article

    Its very easy to set up a home office while spending approximately nothing that is far superior to the "work at office" people which will make them VERY jealous.

    Monitors are cheap why the linked article only has two and not five is a mystery.

    Despite advice in the article, Brother brand B+W lasers are simply superior. Yes HP was technologically golden in the 70s but that ship has sailed and I'm not using a 1970s oscope but a 2020s printer so ...

    Spare parts. Your old system and new system as a minimum. I assure you the old system will be powerful enough for videoconf and reading PDFs and similar.

    Figure out some music streaming solution that works for you. Supposedly no human beings use anything other than spotify anymore, but whatever works for you.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12 2020, @05:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12 2020, @05:28AM (#970115)

      ...Brother brand B+W lasers are simply superior.

      What is your preference for color laser printers?

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @12:11PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11 2020, @12:11PM (#969591)

    Everything useful I've accomplished has been accomplished at home. I only go into the office to satisfy people in suits who insist I sit there. Between the sales guy who spends all day yelling into his phone, the helpdesk guy whose phone spends all day yelling at him, the guy with the chronic cough in the next cubicle, the manager whose sense of self-worth is measured in number of interruptions produced, and the general distraction produced by being crammed into a 1955 style bullpen with a hundred other people, it's basically impossible to get anything done. No wonder people spend so much time in meetings - at least they can pretend to be doing something useful. After all this, I go home and do about three hours of actual work.

    The only time I've accomplished a significant amount of actual work at an office, it was when I was working on hardware rather than software and I had to be in the facility to physically work with it. Even then - the design stuff all had to be done at home. The lab was for testing and assembly. In terms of software, I can set up a server or install an OS upgrade or something, but actually developing working code - it's just not possible.

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