Re: Home Alone

Subject: Re: Home Alone
From: Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- FS -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 1997 23:12:06 +0800

Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM> said:
> * Be in the office on a predictable schedule, so people can see you, and
> so you can wander around and discover what's going on. Bob found that
> one day per week was often enough.

And be prepared to grit your teeth when people say "That's right, it's
your day off tomorrow."

> I tried to keep the intensity level high. Since I *could* get lots of
> work done in the home office, I strove to always accomplish this.

Yes, the flexible hours and lack of interruptions make it possible to
keep that high intensity. You just have to find what jobs are well-
suited to your doing them at home. For me, it's tasks where I don't need
outside information but I do need to get into the 'flow' and not be
interrupted. Examples: indexing, document conversion, applying review

I don't have direct Net access at work, so I save up all those inter-
esting leads people post here and on framers and UTEST, and do all my
Web and FTP work from home.

> I consider a portable phone, a fax machine, voicemail, and email to be
> minimum requirements for a home office.

Someone else thought the portable phone unnecessary, but I find it very
handy when I'm dialled-in to the office server on my home office line,
and need to talk to someone about what I'm seeing on the screen.

> You should strive to have a setup that's equivalent to the work
> setup -- and learn how to be a system admin for it, whatever it is.
> (I have three PCs -- each with a different version of Windows -- and
> a SPARCstation at home. I like the SPARCstation best, but it's a boat
> anchor unless you have UNIX system administration skills.)

I'd *love* to have a SPARCstation at home, but the sysadmin aspect makes
me hesitate (and the price, of course).

> I don't hold with the idea that you can get away with slower, less
> capable computers at home than at work. Even if you work only one day
> a week at home, you'll find that virtually all your high-energy work
> is done at home, and you're crippling yourself if you use pokey old
> hardware. It's better to put the old junk on your desk at work and
> take the good stuff home.

I can think of one exception to the old-junk rule: years ago I used a
dumb terminal to run a copy of the UNIX software I was writing up. When
I got Windows, I started using its Terminal applet instead. What a stupid
idea. After a couple of years of frustration, I suddenly woke up and
put the Liberty terminal back on my desk. (In fact I'm doing my mail on
it right now.)

I still can't run our software in GUI mode over the phone line (not yet),
but for the days when I'm at home the Liberty terminal is more than
adequate for running it in CUI mode. I have a big, readable, dedicated
screen, gainful employment for my semi-retired 14.4K modem, a PC
dedicated to FrameMaker, and no more keyboard mapping hassles.

One of our guys swapped a few hours' labour for several terminals that
a client didn't want any more. We've had years of service from them.

> Other than that, you need peace and quiet, an adequate work space,
> a good stereo, and a well-stocked refrigerator, and you'll be all set.

. . .and six hours of cricket on the radio.

Stuart Burnfield (slb -at- fs -dot- com -dot- au) Voice: +61 9 328 8288
Functional Software Pty Ltd Fax: +61 9 328 8616

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