April 17th, 2020

children of dune - leto 1

work in the time of coronavirus: a summary

So for once, the state made either a wise decision or got an amazing deal from Dell when supplying us for work at home; my work laptop is fucking incredible. It's a Dell Precision 5540, for Dell is generally our supplier of choice when it comes to tech. I do not argue they have some weaknesses in their home lines (I love mine, but that's local loyalty, I know how to fix most of the basic stuff that goes wrong, and I have Parts People, who are all former Dell employees who specialize in repair of Dell computers and are the only people I let touch mine) but their business class are among the best.

I've only occasionally worked on Latitudes, and I wasn't particularly impressed but generally, we order mid-range latitudes for basic work, not tech work, and for just doing business functions, they're great. Compared to my Alienware or XPS--yeah.

I was not ready for a Precision workstation; frankly, I'm not sure anyone is.

The processor is only an i7, though no complaints, but this sweet baby comes with 64G RAM, a 1T drive, and 4K display, touchscreen, but those aren't hugely impressive in themselves. Except for the 64G RAM--which outside desktops you generally only find on laptops on the high of the high end standard--when I did a comparison, and the Precision uses the same model as my XPS, actually, just way more G (if I could have gotten that much RAM in my laptop, hell yes I would have paid for it, RAM is more valuable than processor speed--at a certain minimum standard of processor--in ninety-nine percent of what I do and can compensate for a poor processor in fifty percent of cases).

However, even taking into account all that beautiful RAM, they don't act the same. A lot of what I do the first month after I get a laptop is slowly working out the memory leaks, the unnecessary processes, updating to current or getting rid of programs and drivers I don't need, making registry changes, and the thing is, only maybe fifty percent of what applies to one laptop works with another even if they have the same operating system.

I never really thought about it--computers gonna computer--and honestly, the guys who build the computers and install the software are not exactly well-paid so solidarity, they're not paid nearly enough to act like each computer is a masterpiece. So now I'm thinking that during the software installations of the standard Windows system, programs and program configurations, and drivers, are basically 'whatever guy created the standard installation for this line' and the poor guy is probably paid minimum wage and has five seconds to put together that standard installation. Sometimes, they do literally nothing at all, and sometimes, they do too much and much of it wrong. (Again, I don't blame them for that;

Precision--not so much. From the sheer lack of much in the way of tweaking I've had to do so far (no installation is perfect), the Windows and basic driver installation that Dell did is several orders of magnitude more precise and thorough than any computer I've ever gotten. Now granted, that's kind of all they do for state machines, which is pretty bare bones: Windows and required drivers, the drivers and config programs for the wifi/display/hard drive/etc.

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In other news, we had to make an exception to strict Stay at Home/Social Distancing Rules in family; my middle sister and her husband are both essential but can't work from home. My sister has four kids, but the eldest is eighteen and while usually she splits time between my sister and ex-BIL, she's been with him only since this started; of the other three, one is twelve and the other two are six and five respectively. They were in daycare, but after talking to Child (and Mom and me, but wisely Child first) she took them out of daycare (it did close soon after) and now they're at my mom's during the day while Child babysits/homeschools them, her 12 year old, and my youngest sister's 12 year old. He's also announced he is never, ever having kids ever and any future husband is gonna have to deal. I can understand.

(Of course, even that went to hell when I threw out my back so badly last week but it was still all limited to the same family members Child was interacting with regularly as well as me so not exactly a big escalation.)

Granted, this is not ideal, but it's about fifty times safer than any daycare for the kids--if there was one with openings that she could afford and that's doubtful--and that goes double when Mom's at risk and working from home. She can't watch them all day while working--and don't repeat this but she's also over sixty and maybe needs to take it easy just during the crisis?--so everyone is being careful.

So work starts in like thirty minutes, and while I am still not in love with work from home, I am partially reconciled by the fact that 'going to work' now consists of 'walking a few feet and logging into my work laptop while still brushing my teeth'. I think the arrival of the rolling, variable height laptop desk will complete my more cheerful resignation to my fate. Partially because I like to get things I can customize with cords and clamps and all manner of things, but also because I will not have to do all my work from a good-posture-inducing but extremely hard even with a memory foam seat cushion and memory foam pillow beneath me chair. I already configured one side of the sofa for ideal back position for work, but without that desk, the laptop has nowhere to sit close enough to work on it.

These are the times I deeply regret that when Mom bought her new dining room table and asked me when I wanted her to return mine, I said "oh, no rush, whenever!"

That's gonna haunt me.

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