Remote Working – definitely going to mum’s tomorrow

Serious or not, it makes sense to remote work at the moment if you can, for our employers anyway – they don’t want 90% of their workforce off with the flu.

I dont have a spare room, so worked from my bedroom with the laptop on a tray.

So, my first day wasn’t without it’s issues and interruptions:

“I’ll get up at half 5 to start before anyone wakes up”




“Just watch yer son for a minute”

1.30pm gym workout, low-tech:

3pm: “Hide the monsters are coming”

4pm, one down

5.30pm “Can we help”

6.30pm “Here, draw some pictures”

My tips for working at home:

  • Use a Pomodoro timer
  • Dont have kids

The Importance of a House-T0-Do List

One very effective and easy way to reduce stress and constant thoughts of ‘am I forgetting something’, is to set up a “To Do” board in the house. We have ours in the kitchen.

It’s handy for organising yourself, but the real benefit is when you sit down for dinner after work and your spouse reels off a load of jobs for you to do – “can you remember to…and..did you do…?”

Tell him or her to put it on the To Do list, and you’ll get it done.  If you can both agree on this, it makes life so much easier and you’re not constantly trying to remember stuff that you were told when you were hardly listening over dinner.

Here’s our, kind-of legible version:


Here’s a video, that is kind-of about the same thing.  Put ‘things-to-do’ into some kind of system or organisational-protocol that you have, so that you can forget about them until you need to do them.
Frees up your ‘psychic bandwidth’ apparently


Underfloor Heating?

Underfloor heating, always makes me think of Arsenal football club for some reason – I think, they were one of the first clubs to have under-soil heating; avoiding postponed matches during the winter.

Under-soil heating, may be a bit expensive and not massively practical in terms of the domestic market, however, under-floor heating is becoming quite trendy.

But is it worth it?

Some of the advantages of under-floor heating include:

1. The floor is actually warm, not the radiator on one side of the room.
2. The heat is more evenly dispersed throughout a given room, rather than heating an isolated area
3. It adds more space to a room, assuming radiators are ‘the other’ heating option being considered.
4. Underfloor heating can work at a lower temperature than radiators
5. It might; might enhance the home’s selling price
6. You don’t get dust mites gathering around and on the radiator, because you probably won’t have a radiator

1. Difficult to ‘retro-fit’
2. It can take longer to warm up (but you can just use a timer to get it going by the time it’s cold)
3. A cheaper system might not provide enough warmth, so you might end up fitting radiators anyway!
Underfloor Heating Options
Two main types of underfloor heating systems exist – electric and water ones. Water based systems are more expensive to fit, but are cheaper to run than electric ones.


I think I’ll stick to my wood-burner for now…but here’s an interesting infographic if you are a bit of a heating-engineer-geek or general nerd that enjoys sciencey images:

Home Birth ‘Review’

For your first child, I seriously would not bother.

We hired our birthing pool for 5 weeks for £90 which isn’t bad to be fair. Although it is basically a paddling pool (in fact my mate’s wife gave birth in a paddling pool rather than a ‘birthing’ one)


Everything was going great, until it came to the final stages – the bit where you have to do all that pushing…

Nothing was happening, so the midwives phoned an ambulance, which took well over an hour to arrive.

All the neighbours came out (even though most of them have never spoken to us) to see what was going on, and my wife was taken out on a chair in the middle of the road, which couldn’t have been the best experience ever.

She was exhausted, and in lots of pain by the time we got to hospital. What the home-birth groups and Daisy Foundation didn’t, apparently mention was the fact that once you are at a certain stage in labour, you can’t have any extra pain relief. Considering that 45% of home-births, for the first child, end up in hospital, it’s an important thing to consider.

So without any pain-relief (wasn’t allowed gas and air even, perhaps because of her shallow breathing) my wife was ‘cut’, and the baby was taken out with forceps.  She was in so much pain, it’s borderline traumatised me, so I’ve no idea how bad she must feel.

Anyway, all is well, that ends well. We did have to go back into hospital because baby lost a bit too much weight, and Jo had to feed her every 3 hours, but all okay now.  Thank God.

Puppy Update – Mr Chow has gone mental

So last week we picked up “Mr Chow” from a house/farm-house in Welshpool.
Mr Chow was initially, as quiet as a proverbial mouse, even resorting to hiding from us all behind the shoe rack.

Well a week later, the little bugger is hyper, and keeps, literally jumping on Ted – our 5-year-old springer spaniel.

I’m not sure if Mr Chow is playing, or if he’s already started trying to place himself in the Alpha Male position, but either way, Ted isn’t happy.

Obviously he can’t be jumping on and nipping at Ted all the time. He also insists on lying in Ted’s basket whenever possible, instead of his own.

Ted just growls at him, and every so often we have to give Mr Chow a time out for 5 minutes in his cage until he’s calmed down a bit.

Any ideas of how to chill Mr Chow are more than welcome.

Here’s a video of him being as tame as possible:


I think next time we think about getting another dog, we will consider the option of adopting one instead!

Although, I was interested to read recently, that dog ownership has a number of reported benefits including:
– Increased levels of happiness! Thanks to the interaction and love received from a dog

– A more active social life. People are much more likely to interact with dog owners for some reasons. If you have a dog and a baby in a sling, people don’t leave you alone!

– Increased immunity – because they’re always covered in stinky dirt and fleas and stuff

– More exercise – people with dogs tend to get out and exercise more


If you still don’t fancy getting up at 5.30am to walk the dog before work every day, the Aspinall Foundation for example, offer a range of beautiful animals to adopt. Every adoption package includes a personalised e-certificate, a species factsheet, a regular newsletter and animal updates.

Ambam the Gorilla
Ambam the Gorilla

I’ve always wanted my own gorilla!

Although Mr Chow is arguably a more practical pet.

Why are BT so sh!te?

Now I realise that this is very much a ‘first world problem’, and I’m not going to die or have a nervy B because I can’t get BT Sport, but…
Ever since I signed up and paid for my BT Vision Box, it’s been far from a great experience.

From ordering me 2 boxes, and charging me for both. To sending out an engineer after I cancelled the appointment with them (this is the best way to get someone to turn up I think, cancel, and then they’ll send them round anyway), to the recording of the UFC not working, to the disappearance of my BT Sport channels this weekend. It’s just not gravy.

Here are the highlights of my BT phone call, which lasted about an hour, before I got cut off anyway:

Here’s my friend’s blog account of his failed mission to get the internet in his new home:

Another thing that really annoys me, is their website. Specifically the section about the TV channels.

You think you’re getting something for £0BT customer service

Then it becomes £10 as soon as you click the red button:
Customer Service

Then before you actually realise, without selecting anything else, you are opting up to paying £27.99 per month, and a one off cost of £55.95

This might be great for Conversion Rate Optimisation, but it’s a typical example of why your brand is not longer held in great regard; no longer trusted, no longer out to help the customer (or potential customer). KPIs have blinded long term trust and reputation.

Now, you have to laugh at things like this, don’t get angry; there’s plenty that goes wrong in the world and this is really nothing major.
However, I would prefer it if businesses like this focused more on developing a good product, and less on sales and marketing. And maybe throw in a bit of customer service too.

Related article about Steve Jobs focusing on product, not profits

One final note – don’t be aggressive to the people that work in the call centres. They’re just the low-paid buffer between the customer and the big-money decision makers.
Having worked in a call centre for 5 years, I know how I’d bend over backwards to help the rare people that were actually nice. As long as you ask the right questions like “can I speak to your manager please?” if you’re not happy, and “please can you give me the address of the relevant ombudsman?” you should have the same result as you would get ranting etc.