Thursday, January 29, 2009

Working At Home

Here at the end of January in New Hampshire, in a lot of ways winter is just catching its stride. Winter here has followed a fairly predictable pattern: slush in November, confused weather in December (some deep cold, some snow, some days above freezing) then a period of bitter cold in January, followed by snow through February in March. As February approaches, the weather is getting warmer, and I'm seeing more and more snow in the forecast.

I took the unusual step this past year of buying snow tires, and so I am more confident when driving on snow, but it is still unpleasant. Yesterday I wound up driving home before the snow got too bad and working at a little desk upstairs. It took me a while to get into working mode, but I got a lot done. It's gotten me thinking, though, about what I need out of a workspace.

Sadly, I need an internet connection. When writing network management software, this is frequently useful, but my research also requires it for a stupid reason: I'm currently using Matlab as an experimental tool, and the license manager has to phone home periodically. I'm looking into writing a few tools in Java that will let me do what I need, but there's a LOT of vector math and I use the graphing routines in a weird way, and I don't relish the thought of either writing my own routines or learning someone else's idiosyncracies.

I also need coffee, which you wouldn't think would be a problem. I own about a dozen different methods of preparing coffee: several drip-brew systems, two press-pots (one glass, the other mesh), a cold-brew system, an espresso machine, a moka pot, a teabag sort of thing, several instant coffees and espressos, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. However, I find that there is some difficulty there. I've got to balance making it easy enough that I don't lose my train of thought, but not so easy that I drink a whole pot in a single morning. I've toyed with the idea of getting one of those Keurig machines, but they're so wasteful. On the other hand, BJs has started to carry the k-cups in bulk for a price of less than .50 per cup for Green Mountain coffee and Newman's Own, both of which have dark-roasted coffees I enjoy.

Most of the other things are incidental: paper, pens, dwarves, sticky notes, a trashcan. This post is already pedestrian enough without going into these things. It does make me curious, though -- surely a number of you have home offices. What do you find that you can't live/work without that I might not be thinking about (and thus may not have next time I'm snowed in)?

Oh, and for anyone else spending time inside and needing some good books to read, let me suggest Charlie Stross's science fiction, or Margery Allingham's Campion mysteries.

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