Transition to working from home | 2020 Year In Review

transition to working from home

Well that’s it, another year has passed us by and we move into 2021. I think everyone would agree it’s been a year unlike any other because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but how has your transition to working from home gone? For me, I’ve worked from home before so I was a little more prepared than the average person. Our company has a flexible work location policy and I’ve worked from home to help balance out the after hours work I do when migrating and maintaining systems. We have two kids and it’s been great to be around our home to help a little more.

Time Balance

It can be difficult to focus on your work when you have kids in the same room. Ask anyone who has brought their kids to work for an event, very little actual work gets done! I’ve been doing ok this year with this, I’m able to put earbuds in or move to another part of the house that isn’t as loud. The greater challenge I have though is just balancing all the “stuff” around the house. I’m naturally a maintainer, not really O.C.D. but I’d much rather pickup toys off the floor every hour rather than shovel them at the end of the day. The greatest challenge I’ve had working from home is to try and ignore what’s going on around my house after I return from a bathroom break.

What I Missed Most

The thing I’ve missed most this past year is a little time in the car commuting (45 minutes each way). I’ve typically listened to the news or podcasts during my commute and I just can’t seem to replicate that at home. With two young kids I’ve pitched in keeping them busy, making meals, transitioning tasks, so I haven’t been able to recreate a time for myself. I really miss that. Sorry podcasts companies, you’ve lost an active listener over the past year!

Workstation Setup

One big challenge I think most people have, is where to work? I don’t have a home office, I’ve typically setup in different spots around the house when working from home and didn’t have a dedicated space. The first few months I spent a lot of time standing at our dining room buffet using an Amazon box and laptop stand (I know, quite techie for an IT professional). Although it’s rather basic, it keeps my screen at eye view and my bluetooth keyboard and mouse are at the right height when standing. Most days I will spend about half the day like this.

After a few months though I mounted a monitor to the wall in my basement and use that space when I need to use a second screen. This space has proved very valuable when I get on meetings and could use a little more quiet time. Here is a couple items that have helped me:

  • Jabra Evolve 65e – these earbuds have good range moving around the house, loved quality and battery life, stay in good when picking up kids or working out, but the mute button is key! Not many models offer this, I love being able to mute/unmute without standing at my computer.
  • LED Ring Light – like most basements ours doesn’t get much light, this has been needed to have higher quality video.
  • Background – I’m a big soccer fan, I’ve collected scarves from teams all over the world. I had an idea to create a backdrop with these, it’s been a great conversation starter! (see picture above)


Overall I learned how to transition to working from home and be just about as productive as in an office. I think it’s very hard to calculate productivity, at times being in the office is not productive as you run into people unexpectedly. It’s much easier for me to shrug off one of my children who I will see at lunch, or dinner, or bed time, or…you get the point. I miss the face-to-face interaction with co-workers, but having a great video meeting solution keeps us connected. Well that’s my 2020 Year In Review, check out the General section to keep reading on where I’ve been since starting this website.

Apple CarPlay | Installation and First Impressions

Apple CarPlay update for iOS 13


I drive a 2012 Volkswagen GTI, it’s the second GTI I’ve owned. I upgraded from a 2007 because of a great 0% financing plan available at the time when I traded my 2007 in. That reason aside, I upgraded because the 2007 didn’t have any bluetooth features. It’s a little comical to me know as I write this, but yes cars didn’t have bluetooth in the early 21st century. Now in 2019 Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are becoming the standard. I drive about 300 miles a week, my commute each way is about an hour. I’ve been wanting Apple CarPlay for years now, here are my first impressions on the install and upgrade.

Upgrade to Apple CarPlay

I didn’t really consider many of the aftermarket options for CarPlay, I didn’t want something that looked like it didn’t belong to the Volkswagen brand. I was doing some searching and found a seller on eBay that was selling the original equipment manufacturer from Volkswagen. Many of these on eBay are from foreign sellers, but the one I found was located in the United States. For $250, seemed like a steal to me to get an upgrade like this. I checked a few popular Volkswagen forums to find many others sharing a good experience. The model I purchased was the RCD330 CarPlay version 6RD035187B. It came with the radio antenna adapter and CVBS reverse camera adapter. I don’t a reverse camera, so I didn’t use that.


The install was easy, just about anyone could do taking their time. It took me less than 10 minutes. Here were the steps:

  1. Use a thin piece of plastic like an old credit card to slide under the frame. I used a spudger that is used to take apart computer casings. Just start at a corner and start working your way around, apply a little pressure up to pop the points away.
  2. Once the frame is removed you will find 4 Torx 20 screws to remove – 2 on each side. After those are out, you can slide the the head unit out.
  3. Now just unplug the current model, and plug in the new model. You will need the radio adapter to convert the 2 cream colored cables to a single cable. The black rectangle of cables plugged right in. The green cable was not needed.
  4. Slide it back in, turn the car on to see if everything works. If so, put the screws and frame back in and you’re ready to go!

First Impressions

Wow, what an upgrade! It’s hard to explain the simplicity of this, but your phone is now on a screen completely adapted to your driving experience. Since the software runs from your phone, the experience is just like the iOS version you have installed. Quick access to many of the apps you use every day like your Phone, Maps, Music, along with many others like Pandora, Waze, etc. Plugging in your phone will charge it while you drive, it’s a downside to have to plug it in but nice to have for charging on long drives. There are future versions of head units that now support wireless CarPlay! But for now, here are the basics of Apple CarPlay if you haven’t seen it before. Be sure to consider it for an upgrade or future car purchase!

Pictures of the install