A Lengthy Reboot

By Richard Hsu
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Lockdown Living

Some random observations

  • Thanks to Zoom meetings, I got to see people for the first time. I have worked with them for years, talked over the phone, chatted, emailed, but only seen outdated profile photos before.

  • Thanks to Facebook, my mother-in-law has started and kept an Indian food festival going. This has necessitated a regular run at the treadmill too.

  • The Chinese:Indian food ratio was 3:1 before the lockdown. It's been reversed!

  • We played a lot of card games for the first few weeks: UNO, pair matching, poker, and rummy. Poker was a new game for us. I liked it but it was too serious. UNO is the clear favourite. The pair matching game exposed my poor remembering ability as I kept losing to everyone. Card games have since gone out of fashion. Maybe the arrival of Taboo will change things.

  • The Calendar app has become irrelevant. Now we just have working days and non-working days. The calendar entries do remind me of an alternative non-pandemic dimension.

  • Face ID irrelevant. The wife has the only device with Face ID but it doesn't work with masks on, so I have had to pay with my Touch ID phone a few times.

  • Gas prices irrelevant. From $1.40+/liter before the pandemic to $0.80/liter, and with most places closed (including offices), there is not much driving happening.

  • My computer moved to my bedroom. At night, the tiny blue led of the NUM Lock creates a disproportionately large circle of blue light on the ceiling. I kept staring at it and got sleep deprived. I finally covered it up with something1.

  • WhatsApp was already the de facto messaging app, it became essential during the lockdown. WhatsApp used to be $1/year, then FaceBook made it free hoping to use ads to make money. No ads yet but I am sure it's coming. I wish they just charged for it.

  • All of Toronto and likely many other cities are doing schooling using Google Classroom. It has its limitations but works well overall. This is another area where Microsoft had everything but just couldn't get it to work together. They already give free Windows 10 Education Edition and Office to students. They have online versions of their Office apps. I guess they are missing a Classroom app that ties it all together. Even if kids go back to school, I can't see all of them in school together, so distance learning is here to stay. It will be interesting to see how things play out.

  • I got an Apple Pencil (1st gen) a few years ago but it didn't see regular use. There is no off button so it keeps running out of charge, and charging is awkward2. But under lockdown, it has seen regular use, especially for classwork. It has also seen increased use for handwriting, for recreational art, almost all in the Paper app. For classwork, it has saved a lot of paper and eliminated the print-write-scan cycle for my daughter. Now that we use it more, we are in a habit of keeping it charged too.

  • The wife asked her niece so tomorrow you have school? She replied I have classes, not school.

  1. If I switched it off, it would have woken up the computer and I would have had to stare at the big Windows wallpaper instead! After that night, I make it a point to turn off Num Lock when I am done using the computer. 

  2. There are two ways to charge it. Both are badly designed. Plus, Apple Pencil is round-shaped so it rolls on a flat surface. But it works great. Very similar to a real pencil.