The Actuator – May 13th

Our local Starbucks reopened this past Thursday. Mobile orders only and only one person at a time is allowed inside to pick up their order. It felt almost normal to visit the shop. I look at this as the beginning of businesses opening up again. There will be a period of adjustment as we adapt to the new normal, but we’ll get there.

As always, here's a bunch of links I hope you find useful. Enjoy!

Google and Facebook employees can work from home for the rest of the year
Google used to be proud of the fact that they kept remote workers to a minimum. Now that everyone’s working from home, it will be hard to get everyone back to the office.

Microsoft now blocks reply-all email storms to end our inbox nightmares
I can’t understand why this wasn’t implemented, say, 20 years ago.

Scientists Release Genetically Engineered Moths for First Time
What’s the worst that can happen?

Most of Zoom runs on AWS, not Oracle – says AWS
I am shocked, shocked to discover that Oracle put out a misleading PR statement.

Singapore Officials Using ‘Robodogs’ To Enforce Social Distancing In Parks
I’m starting to think we’re living in a Westworld simulation.

Google, Apple Reveal More Contact-Tracing Details
Neither company has plans to monetize any data collected. Well, not right now. Just wait until we’re about six months past rollout.

Michael Dougherty Made a Video Tribute to All of the Horror Movies Moments Guiding Him Through the Pandemic
Enjoy this and see how many movies you recognize.

Either someone dropped a perfectly good mask on accident, or Thanos snapped his fingers.

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Anonymous
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  • I'm not surprised Google & Amazon have many more folks working from home.  I work for a hospital system and virtually everyone in our I.T. department who had an office or a cube was sent home.  It's a change of policy forced on us by doing the right thing and isolating from COVID-19 to help ensure our hospitals wouldn't be overwhelmed (or AS overwhelmed) when the surge of cases hits our area hard.

    I didn't want to work from home due to worry about the social isolation, missing out on over-the-cube-wall technical info, humor, or just plain camaraderie.  But when EVERYONE went home, that worry went right out the door.  We chat in Teams, use soft phones on our computers, enjoy each others' video conference backgrounds.  And we get the job done every bit as well as we did prior to going home. 

    Actually, I think a good number of things are BETTER from home.  Certainly I get more sleep, therefore am more alert and I participate even more than when I drove the 30 minutes to work and played parking-roulette to maybe find a place and maybe not be able to park anywhere within many blocks of my office.  I'm eating from home three times a day instead of two (or even three) meals from a restaurant or work cafeteria or drive-through fast food joint.  I'm available for contractors to consult on several work projects I have going on for my home & driveway, I'm here when the electric company and phone company need instructions for moving buried cables, I'm able to have the septic tank pumped out and can supervise from my desk through the window, the plumber can do the annual tankless water heater maintenance while I'm here . . .   And for none of these things do I have to disengage from work, or take PTO.  Personally, working from home is a wonderful thing, as long as everyone else is doing it.

    Now our team's former office space is being considered for redeployment for other urgent projects, and I'm totally fine with that.  If/when one or more of us needs to be onsite, there'll be hotel / transient worker cubes available for us to sit and use.  And hey--no more endless meetings where others are attending but not focused, and no more death-by-PowerPoint.  COVID-19 is good for SOMETHING.

    But Google & Amazon will have to ensure their employees' work gets done, and done securely.  Communities will need to get serious about upping the ante for rural broadband initiatives if they want to keep employees at home--which is saving my employer hundreds of thousands of dollars in office cleaning, building maintenance, security concerns, HVAC needs, etc.  Not to mention it completely negates the insufficient onsite parking situation for employees.

    I'm totally up for working from home for the rest of my professional career.  But hey, Century-Link!  I know I'm rural, but there's high speed fiber buried right out past my driveway, that you won't terminate for my neighborhood's use because we have too low a density of homes. You've sent it up the road to where more people live close together, to get more buck for your work.  While I'm making by with copper DSL connectivity that never tops 10 Mb/s download and 356Kb/s upload--and is occasionally only transmitting 2 or 3 Mb/s down and 60 or 80Kb/s up.  That's not a great way to support the nation.  And you're charging me the same as the folks getting 100 Mb/s or 1 Gig into their homes.  Something has to change . . .

Comment
  • I'm not surprised Google & Amazon have many more folks working from home.  I work for a hospital system and virtually everyone in our I.T. department who had an office or a cube was sent home.  It's a change of policy forced on us by doing the right thing and isolating from COVID-19 to help ensure our hospitals wouldn't be overwhelmed (or AS overwhelmed) when the surge of cases hits our area hard.

    I didn't want to work from home due to worry about the social isolation, missing out on over-the-cube-wall technical info, humor, or just plain camaraderie.  But when EVERYONE went home, that worry went right out the door.  We chat in Teams, use soft phones on our computers, enjoy each others' video conference backgrounds.  And we get the job done every bit as well as we did prior to going home. 

    Actually, I think a good number of things are BETTER from home.  Certainly I get more sleep, therefore am more alert and I participate even more than when I drove the 30 minutes to work and played parking-roulette to maybe find a place and maybe not be able to park anywhere within many blocks of my office.  I'm eating from home three times a day instead of two (or even three) meals from a restaurant or work cafeteria or drive-through fast food joint.  I'm available for contractors to consult on several work projects I have going on for my home & driveway, I'm here when the electric company and phone company need instructions for moving buried cables, I'm able to have the septic tank pumped out and can supervise from my desk through the window, the plumber can do the annual tankless water heater maintenance while I'm here . . .   And for none of these things do I have to disengage from work, or take PTO.  Personally, working from home is a wonderful thing, as long as everyone else is doing it.

    Now our team's former office space is being considered for redeployment for other urgent projects, and I'm totally fine with that.  If/when one or more of us needs to be onsite, there'll be hotel / transient worker cubes available for us to sit and use.  And hey--no more endless meetings where others are attending but not focused, and no more death-by-PowerPoint.  COVID-19 is good for SOMETHING.

    But Google & Amazon will have to ensure their employees' work gets done, and done securely.  Communities will need to get serious about upping the ante for rural broadband initiatives if they want to keep employees at home--which is saving my employer hundreds of thousands of dollars in office cleaning, building maintenance, security concerns, HVAC needs, etc.  Not to mention it completely negates the insufficient onsite parking situation for employees.

    I'm totally up for working from home for the rest of my professional career.  But hey, Century-Link!  I know I'm rural, but there's high speed fiber buried right out past my driveway, that you won't terminate for my neighborhood's use because we have too low a density of homes. You've sent it up the road to where more people live close together, to get more buck for your work.  While I'm making by with copper DSL connectivity that never tops 10 Mb/s download and 356Kb/s upload--and is occasionally only transmitting 2 or 3 Mb/s down and 60 or 80Kb/s up.  That's not a great way to support the nation.  And you're charging me the same as the folks getting 100 Mb/s or 1 Gig into their homes.  Something has to change . . .

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