Two Weeks In

It’s been two weeks since I returned to work, and quite a bit has happened. Far too much to cover, really, so I’ll just put some highlights out there.

The combination of returning to work (and school) while trying to keep my wits together has been devastating to any kind of creative endeavour, so I’m trying to set aside an hour a day for doing the bare minimum in my personal projects (correspondence, reaching out to people who are long overdue feedback or low-hanging fruit like simple fixes).

But it’s not quite working, as I can’t get anything satisfactory done.

What has been working for me in that sense is reading. Since the evenings have been chock full of chores and late night calls, I now pick up my Kindle instead of my iPad most mornings, and read a chapter or two of something over breakfast–but after that it’s back to work.

The Grind

Work has been so mind-wrenchingly tiring (and tiresome) that the first weekend in I ended up falling asleep while reading the Economist and woke up at 7 PM.

And this weekend I only sat at my desk for as long as it took to clean it, partly because I’m back spending up to 10 (or more) hours a day inside that room and I’m starting to instinctively avoid going in there.

Eternal September

Again, this time and intensity is not about being remote. It’s about being unable to have a sane, productive schedule due to the sheer number of meetings required to do in the stuff I’m involved in and the way it keeps growing.

As an aside, Microsoft has a particular challenge here as there are always people changing roles–either individually or as part of a re-org–and rotating in and out of customer or project assignments. Consulting adds an entire pecking order of project management activities to that mix, so we sync a lot, to the point where I’ll go through three or four sync calls “first thing in the morning” as timezones woosh overhead.

Dilbert still nails it as far as I'm concerned.

Since there is as yet no fixed schedule for most things and I can’t cut down on the number of daily conference calls, just finding the time to think about how to do some things has been a challenge.

But there’s one thing that’s in everybody’s minds these days:

On COVID-19

The 7-day average has clearly shot past 600, thanks to 850 new cases a couple of days ago.

As you can see above, we are now well on our way to a thousand new cases a day (which I expect will happen next week).

This is hardly a surprise as people continue to gather at restaurants, public events and bar districts without masks.

There is muted debate about religious gatherings (which are a staple of the season and have already brought a few thousands of people together at the Fátima Sanctuary), and as further evidence that the inmates are running the asylum, news headlines are somewhat evenly split between COVID-19 coverage, yet another football lobbying scandal involving high-ranking judges and conditions in schools.

This was the first full school week (which is posing some interesting challenges).

But the real concern I have with it is that I see kids leaving school and taking off their masks almost immediately, bunching just outside in droves.

iOS 14

Upgrading to iOS 14 was a quiet affair in many ways.

I find it weird that App Library and “normal” widget behaviour is “missing” from the iPad, but am mostly OK with the changes in Springboard, even if it is quite buggy in landscape mode on my XS.

Not having my entire display lock out due to an incoming call is a godsend, even if I think that particular notification should somehow be at the bottom of the screen (within my thumb’s reach).

As to other devices, the only complaint I have is that I still can’t watch 4K videos on YouTube. I surmise those stars haven’t aligned yet. And sleep tracking is… OK, even if there isn’t much decent sleep to be tracked these days.

Most of all, I like it that I no longer have to manually set my watch to theatre mode every night, and I like the nice touch of getting a notification when it is charged in the mornings.

What I don’t like, however, are the bugs. I can deal with the “dot zero” ones (14.2 is being tested already, so I’m optimistic), but I’m a bit annoyed at some long-standing ones that aren’t getting fixed.

For instance, every now and then Screen Time approvals on the watch stop going through (for at least a year now), and it seems every time I update watchOS I have to un-pair and re-pair the watch for them to resume working (which I just did today, after three days of constant frustration from the kids).

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