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Meet Joe Bloggs

Episode 21: Working From Home

6.45am: Years of routine mean I wake up at 6.45 am on the dot, even when I'm working at home (for the first time in months) and there's no alarm clock belching electronically into my ears. Get up automatically and go downstairs to make tea for me and Mrs Bloggs, who's not working at home today, unfortunately.

7.00am: On my way back up to the bedroom, with two cups of tea, decide to switch my PC on. Once it's booted up it makes sense to check the news and travel reports. Fire up Firefox and start surfing.

8.00am: Finish reading the article on JPython versus Groovy. Close down all twelve tabs of Firefox. Leave downloads on in the background. Realise that tea is ice cold. Back to the kitchen.

8.15am: Mrs Bloggs in a foul mood because she's going to be late for work. No time to drink her tea. Leaves the house reeling a long list of chores to be done that day. Makes me repeat them out loud so that I won't forget: put a wash on, empty dish washer, book table at her favourite restaurant for dinner tonight…

8.16am: Check on progress of downloads. Fire up Firefox to see what's new at TechBookReport, Newsforge, Slashdot, Artima, Java Today…

9.00am: Time to dial-in to the office. Fire up the VPN client. Nothing doing. Close it and try again. Still nothing doing. Check properties and settings. Realise that there was an email last week about an update to our VPN software. Can't dial-in to get the email. Change some settings anyway. Check current state of network settings: IP address, subnet mask, gateway address etc. Lose internet connection.

9.45am: Internet connection back on. Remember that we can use web access to Outlook now. Works on the sixteenth attempt. Waiting while folders synchronise.

10.15am: Find the relevant email in only five minutes. Skip the instructions and hit the download link. New VPN client downloaded. Install fails and reboots machine.

10.50am: Repeat process of logging into email via Firefox and this time read the instructions. Print page and then click on the alternative download link.

11:20am: VPN connection to work finally established. Realise I've not had breakfast. Make a flask of coffee and bring cornflakes, bowl and milk back to my machine. Load up Outlook and scroll through emails. Kill all the spam that's made it through the filters. Kill all the emails that I don't like the look and which I can reasonably claim to have been filtered as spam. Read all the technical newsletters, jokes and office gossip. Look at the rest of the emails and flag those that I need to look at, respond quickly where I can and decide which ones to really work on today.

1.15pm: Lunch time. Have more cornflakes and another cup of coffee. Flask almost empty. Decide to switch to tea. Go to the kitchen, fill kettle, grab tea bags and milk and take them back to my machine.

2.30pm: Get an email from Kevin. He's decided that his novel, The Sperminator, is unpublishable. I resist telling him that it's more likely to win him a prison sentence than a publisher. So, he's putting aside the 115 chapters he's written and is starting on something commercial. It's a story about a young wizard starting life at a school for wizards. The boy is called Parry Hotter and the school is called Bogwarts. What do I think? I ask him what the book's called. He mails back and says that he sees it as a series and is open to suggestion as to titles.

3.30pm: Having trouble sorting out a subtle bug in some Java code. So far it's defeated everyone who's looked at it. Decide that the code is so impenetrable that we'll be better off writing the class from scratch. Look to check if there are any unit tests for it but can't find any. Draft an email to the rest of the team pointing out that we need to create tests for every bit of code in production. Draft an email to Kevin with some book titles: Parry Hotter Gobs In The Fire; Parry Hotter and the Chamberpot of Secrets; Parry Hotter and the Pensioner of Aberdeen; Parry Hotter Orders a Pizza; Parry Hotter and the Half-price Prints.

3.31pm: Kevin responds to my email. He's deliriously happy. He's glad that I understand him so well. I swear if I was in the office he'd be wanting to snog me. Decide that he can rewrite that class seeing as he's in such a good mood.

5.00pm: Get an email from the boss wanting to know about one of our internal projects. He's been looking at the time sheets and sees that a lot of time has been booked to the Sue Doc project. Who is Sue and what is the problem she's been having with documents?

5.30pm: Write a long and boring email about a user called Trevor who needs a way of sorting and storing complex legal documents relating to intellectual property issues. These are letters threatening to sue people who infringe our patents. Because of changes in the law following Enron and Worldcon there are compliance penalties for those companies who fail to keep an archive trail. The email is so boring I need to make another flask of coffee to keep me awake. Send the email to the boss. Then draft an email to the rest of the team to tell them to stop spending so much time working on the Sudoku server and client system we've knocked up.

6.15pm: Mrs Bloggs arrives. Still in a foul mood. Demands to know why I'm not dressed yet. Not impressed with the cornflakes all over the floor. Asks about the list of chores. Not impressed when I tell her what a hectic day it's been and that I was on the phone for hours keeping the company running single-handed.

6.30pm: Mrs Bloggs decides that she's eating out whether I've booked a table or not. I've got ten minutes to get washed, dressed and ready to go.

6.31pm: Close the VPN connection to work. Fire up Firefox and decide to catch up on the news before I switch the machine off…

6.45pm: Door slams and Mrs Bloggs is gone. Realise there are still some cornflakes left in the box. Decide to check out TechBookReport, Newsforge, Slashdot…


Who Is Joe Bloggs? Read other episodes here

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