It seems right that I should mention the pandemic on my personal blog; I doubt very much that I will say anything original or interesting, but it would seem strange to look back on my writings from 2020 and see nothing about COVID-19.

I had to check this, but I have been staying at home since Monday 15th March, save for occasional walks around the park. (UK schools closed on 20th March, and we officially announced the lockdown on 23rd March, but our house started a bit early due to having a mild cough.) That’s 52 days at home for me so far, or 7 weeks and 3 days.

Yet, due to the miracle of modern technology, I have been working full-time over this period. This has not been stress-free.

We do not suddenly have copious free time; but, still, there have been some highlights. Recently I dug out a couple of Raspberry Pi boards and tackled some challenging (for me) projects - I got seL4 to run, and now I’m learning ARM assembler to debug it (but have concluded I will need a JTAG interface to make progress). At the weekend I programmed a set of red/amber/green LED traffic lights using Scratch while my daughter ignored my feeble attempts at home education.

This pleasant bread-making, home-schooling, online shopping, remote working life contrasts starkly with the reality of what has been happening in our hospitals and care homes. This is the paradox of lockdown - we are isolated, so don’t see the horror. The imagery of war has been overused already; but this crisis can too easily feel like one of those distant wars, in a far-off land that happens to look like our local hospital.

Tim Retout

A solution architect

By Tim Retout, 2020-05-06