Wowsers, we are already halfway through the year and what a terrible year it has been. Hopefully, it will get better soon.

I hope you and your family are all well and coping in these strange times.

This months update has more personal than web design notes and this is because I've not done any web design work for a while now due to covid-19. Hopefully, this will change from next month once the kids finish school and I can then work on some side projects and hopefully get new contract.

Health and Fitness

After many failed attempts at getting fit, I'm trying something new - running!

Sort off, I have started the Couch to 5k program, so it's just light jogs - but it helps build up your stamina and improve fitness.

I'm doing that Monday Wednesday and Friday and then I do either a 15 min HIIT work out or yoga - this means I have Sunday as a rest day. I also doing some weights on run days.

In the past, I think I've tried to do too much at once - at the start of lockdown - I was doing weights, yoga and HIIT workouts and my body was not coping with it all.

I'm hoping this new training will help me get fitter.

Podcasts

Anyone else struggling to listen to podcasts now that they don't have to commute to work? I'm so behind on podcasts now. I tried listening to one whilst mowing the grass, but my cheap Bluetooth earphones died halfway through a podcast - they're ok earphones for now - they've been ok when running.

Anyway, back to podcasts. I can't listen to podcasts while working either. Would be good to hear how freelancers, that have been working from home for a while, before lockdown, have been listening to podcasts.

Music

All it takes is one vinyl and that's it - the vinyl buying bug returns. I've bought several 'new' vinyl over the last month to add to my eclectic vinyl collection.

Bought some dance and drum n bass tunes. I already have a load more vinyl in my Discogs basket! Tip: always check eBay for the same vinyl - sometimes you can find it cheaper there than on Discogs.

Are you on Discogs - find me on there as trulyjuan

Home Network Improvements

Since lockdown started I've been doing a lot of #OneFixADay DIY fixes around the house and garden - and one project that I have done a lot on is my home network.

One of the main issues we have in our house is WiFi - it struggles to reach everywhere - but also, I had several access points throughout the house and this seemed to cause more issues than it sorted.

I also didn't like how we had bits of network kit all over the place - the router is in the living room because that is where the BT broadband comes into the house, I also have a switch there to connect the TV, PS4, surround sound, SkyTV box, Vera Edge Plus (home automation controller) and my pi-hole raspberry pi etc.

We also have network switches in other rooms to extend the network to other parts of the house and more access points.

So I bought and installed a small network cabinet in our cloakroom and have been installing network cables from different areas of the house (externally) - two cables from the living room - to move the BT broadband socket to the network cabinet and another for a network port for the switch to provide connectivity for the TV and the other equipment in the living room. Installed a new network cable to the office (loft above double garage) to replace the old one that had been chewed by mice and finally, I needed a new network cable to go into the kitchen, via the loft, from the network cabinet - this is so I can connect a switch to it, above the kitchen cupboards so I can connect my Sonos speakers to it. This was needed because the WiFi signal to the speakers gets interrupted a lot, especially when we use the microwave, which cuts off the music.

To fix the WiFi throughout the house, I also installed a new WiFi access point and removed all the old ones. I installed a Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC-PRO, this covers the downstairs but I may need one to improve the WiFi signal upstairs.

Selling stuff on eBay

One positive thing to come out of being in lockdown has been the opportunity to work on clearing out our garage and selling a whole bunch of things we no longer needed. It's been good to finally make a start on clearing the garage, but also to know that these things I've sold have been given a new lease of life, rather than ending up at the refuse centre.

Improving my home office

I think remote work is going to become the new normal for me - so its time to work on improving my home office if I'm going to be working from home more than two days a week, which is normally the most I get when I have contract work.

First thing I've started is doing a big tidy up and clean.

Since I only ever usually work from home a couple of days a week, my office had sort of become a bit untidy. Lots of things from the house had made its way into my office.

Also, since I'm hardly ever in my office and always working in clients' offices, the office had been gathering dust and become a home for spiders too.

I've now started looking at how to make the office feel a lot nicer, more homely - rather than just a room above the garage. I'm thinking about giving the walls and ceiling a new coat of paint, fill in the holes and maybe even a feature wall behind my desk.

Hardware

I'm also looking into getting a new monitor - my current one is a 21" Samsung that was given to me for free when I left my last permanent role about 6 years ago! It's not a great monitor - I need something that is a lot sharper and can show nice and crisp fonts on the screen so I can read code without having to lean forward to get closer to the screen - which is terrible for my posture.

Also, considering on getting a much better chair - currently looking at a refurbished Aeron as it been recommended by loads of people or an Autonomous ErgoChair 2. There is a big price difference between those two - but I will be getting one to replace my £150 (a previous version of the MARKUS) chair I got from Ikea about five years ago - now £150 for me was not what I would have considered a cheap chair but now that I have been using it a lot more - I've realised its not a great chair for my posture - it does look nice though!

Finally, I got a new desk mat - it goes under the keyboard and mouse and leaves plenty of room either side. My old mat was a third of the size and the mouse kept hitting the edge of it and it was very annoying. I use these to dampen the sound from my mechanical keyboard.

Learning

I bought the Eleventy from Scratch course by Andy Bell - I've only done a few lessons so far, but it's very well written and full of knowledge bombs - I've already learnt new things.

I'm fairly new to 11ty - I have only built one website (this one) with it, so when I saw Andy was building a course for it, I bought the course, and to my surprise, it's not just about 11ty, it covers a lot about web design - so its a great refresher.

I'm planning on using what I build as part of the course, as my 11ty starter framework for future websites.

Work

Not much happening on the work front at the moment - since lockdown I've not been able to work because I've been homeschooling our children - whilst my wife has had to go back to teaching in school.

I have, however, as I've said previously, been working on a new website for a friends' martial arts club - I'll be getting that finished in July.

And just at the end of June - I have gained a new web hosting client via a recommendation by another client - they have had a bit of trouble with the current host.

They have said they want a new website design and a new Content Management System that is easier to use than WordPress. It could turn out to be my third 11ty based website.

That's all for this months update and thanks for staying with me until the end.

Once I'm back to working on web design stuff these updates will get less personal and more about work.

Articles Read

Posted on , by in personal notes