Categories
Personal Development

Emotional Well-being whilst Remote Working

Remote working is something that is now offered by a lot of tech companies. Organisations such as Automattic (WordPress), BasecampBufferStripe and GitLab are all fully remote companies.

The benefits of working remotely include being more productive, a better work / life balance, and a positive environmental impact. But there are downsides too, especially if you have never worked remotely before.

Feelings of isolation, loneliness and being unable to “switch off” – as well as the lack of social support – are all things you might feel whilst remote working.

Here’s just a couple of ideas that I used to acclimate to remote working.

Set up your space

Make sure you have everything you need near you: laptop, coffee, water, good light, etc. Make sure you’re comfortable sitting for a while and make sure your screen is high enough. Perhaps stick your laptop on a couple of books to help bring the screen up to a more comfortable level. Give yourself a cuddly, action figure, small robot, pet, etc to explain your code to when stuck. It’ll help.

Take breaks

Roughly every 45 minutes stand up, walk about, stretch your arms, your legs and crick your neck like The Rock does before he goes into a high adrenaline action sequence. It moves the blood about and stops you congealing.

Go outside for lunch

Go and look at trees, birds, burning car tyres, whatever your local scenery is like. But GO OUTSIDE AND GET AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER*. For at least 30 minutes. Maybe even eat your lunch outside? Or down the road at that cafe. Just GET AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. Otherwise you’re likely to go peculiar. 

*Unless you can’t.

Get up in the morning

Actually get up and get ready as if you’re going into work. Don’t just slope into the lounge in your dressing gown and Uggs. It won’t end well. Seriously, get up, make your bed, have breakfast, shower, put on your going-to-work clothes, make a coffee and then sit down and log in. Preferably in that order.

Having that morning routine separates your work day from your not-work day and helps you with switching off at the end of the day.

‘Coming home’ routine 

Have a finishing off routine as well. It will bracket the day and help you with not having that always “switched on” feeling you might get. Switch off your laptop and put it away (even if it’s for 15 minutes and you switch it back on again – it’s the act of doing it that’s important).

The Human Connection

Call your parents to make sure they’re okay. Call you friends. It’s the CALL bit, speaking with other people will help with being on your own all day. Voice or Video. Chat on Slack (when not working / learning) and make sure you’re connected with the group throughout the day.

Final note

And remember, working from home can be a really nice way to work: you have your family, your comforts of home and all the baths you need, just right next to you.

(Duncan McKean is available for parties)

Categories
Recommendations

Podcasts

I’ve fallen into the world of podcasting and listening to radio plays whilst on my way to work or running or even chilling in the evening when everybody else has gone to bed. Some of them are excellent. Here’s the ones that I am currently listening to and can recommend:


The Case of Charles Dexter Ward / The Whisperer in Darkness

An awesome remake of some of HP Lovecraft’s greatest works imagined as a couple of paranormal experts falling into an eerie story that covers missing people, cults, Rendlesham Forest, weird buzzing noises, Government agents, memory loss, paranoia, witchcraft, conspiracy, family affairs, Summarian Gods, dead bodies, not quite dead bodies. The usual.

There’s an excellent monologue part way through where a historian explains and ties together a bunch of disparate things into a massive conspiracy theory reminiscent of the 15 minute monologue in JFK by ‘X’.

website // Apple Podcasts


REWORK: A Podcast by Basecamp

I’m obsessed by all things basecamp. It’s a great project planning app, they have a unique way of working that they write about. A lot. They have this excellent anarchic spirit of doing things their own damn way. A perfect role model for anybody wanting to start, build and run a good organisation.

The podcast just builds on this and has interesting interviews with different folks and how they work.

website // Apple Podcasts


Star Wars Minute

What’s that Duncan? A podcast where two people (plus guests) talk about ALL the Star Wars films one minute at a time? In release order?

Yes. That is correct. And it’s fascinating.

website // Apple podcasts


Blackout

Remi Malik (he of Mr. Robot fame) stars in this small tale of local radio DJ Simon Itani who survives a run-in with a shadowy gunman as a mysterious blackout rocks his isolated community.

It’s really quite tense listening to people slowly falling apart as their world slowly changes from the comfort they once knew.

website // Apple podcasts


Coexistence

It’s a sci-fi story based in a broken earth in a place called Tier City in some weird future where all the resources have gone. A drone pilot receives a package her estranged father that…

…and you’ll have to listen to find out. Really good sound editing. A bunch of interesting characters. Nicely realised world.

website // Apple podcasts


The White Vault

A dark little tale about a repair team that goes to a remote artic outpost and what they find there.

Genuinely creepy horror tale done in the form of a series of findings, recordings and reports. Warning: may contain claws. Black claws. Travel is not advised.

website // Apple podcasts


Welcome to Night Vale

Night Vale is a lovely town in the American Desert where you’d love to live. As long as you didn’t mine the Secret Police and don’t look at the hooded figures in the dog park. And it’s a very safe place to live as long as you know how dangerous librarians are and don’t become an intern to the local radio station there where regular broadcasts keep us updated with the latest news (and weather) from this remarkable and lovely little town.

ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD.

website // Apple Podcasts


Let me know what your favourite podcasts or recommendations are via Twitter.

Categories
Personal Development

Courses Completed 2019 Edition

I’m a great believer in adult education. Learning should not stop once you’ve gone through school. Lifelong learning is a great way to stay current, improve oneself and to increase opportunities in life.

I’ve done a bunch of online courses this year. Quite a lot of them were refreshers to make sure I still remembered how to do stuff (Project Management, HTML, CSS, JavaScript–I’m looking at you!)

Here they are:

DateCourse Duration
MarchSide Hustle: Develop the Skills you need to Succeed3h30
AprilWhat Is Programming?2h50
Godot: Beginner to Advanced4h19
Godot Game Engine — The Complete Course6h00
Intro to Unreal Engine 40h39
HTML, CSS, and JavaScript: The Big Picture1h28
Modern Java: The Big Picture1h58
MayHTML Fundamentals2h20
Beginner’s Guide to Project Management1h40
Fundamentals of Agile Project Management1h30
Play by Play: Visual Studio Live Share0h36
CSS Positioning0h50
Python: The Big Picture1h05
Kanban Fundamentals1h31
Less: Getting Started1h11
JuneGame Character Concept Design Fundamentals1h40
Play by Play: Software Development in Swift – Beyond IOS0h51
Swift Fundamentals3h48
Responsive Websites With Bootstrap 32h53
Play by Play: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript with Lea Verou2h15
Introduction to CSS2h9
JulyJavaScript: Getting Started2h46
JavaScript for Beginners1h30
HTML5 Fundamentals3h47
React: The Big Picture1h11
Vue.js: Big Picture1h06
Angular: The Big Picture1h07
Introduction to Logic Pro X1h39
AugustAlchemy Synth Fundamentals in Logic Pro1h22
Introduction to Ableton Live 92h09
Semantic HTML1h49
Learn JavaScript from Scratch1h06
JavaScript Fundamentals3h00
OctoberJavaScript Objects and Prototypes0h48
Python: Getting Started2h59
DecemberGetting Started with Django CMS1h02
Code School: Try Django0h36

I’m fairly sure I’m going to be doing more courses and it looks like the focus is going to be on Django (because I have this idea of a web app that I want to build for myself), Python (because it can do anything–web, games, scripting for OS software like Blender, Krita, Inkscape, etc…, security, all sorts) and maybe Ruby / Ruby on Rails (because I’m impressed by the work of Basecamp and because the language principles seem to fit how I think).

Categories
Experiment

Exploring AI in novel writing

I found this website called talktotransformer.com that uses AI to write articles based on keywords and the first sentence.

I thought it might be fun to add in the opening sentence of some of the top novels of all time to see what alternative versions might read like. Check it out.

Categories
Quick Note

Welcome to my Notebook

Hello! How are you?

Welcome to my all-new website. I’ve got rid of everything that’s no longer relevant to me any more. There’s a whole collection of old projects that no longer represent what I do and how I feel about things.

I’ve also decided that these pages from my notebook should be of use to people. I’m not the sort of person that can crow about their achievements. There’s no need for me to write posts about that. But I am interested in how things work and what they mean and how systems and processes work. And so I can use this platform to examine that.

Much more interesting.

The Newsletter

I’ve got a Mailchimp newsletter and I’m going to start using that to post out interesting articles and whatnot before they get posted into this notebook. So if you sign up to the newsletter then you get all these articles way before everybody else.

Playlists

I’ve also been collating Spotify playlists since 2013 and I’m going to shortly release them onto this website as creative inspiration. I have had to transfer them across to my musical alter-ego to access them, but I still have them.