isotopp image Kristian Köhntopp -
February 21, 2022
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On the morning of Saturday, 22nd February 2020, two years ago, my colleagues and I woke up to the a message from the company that said:

“Spaces” Closed for Operations 23 Feb - 28 Feb

During the morning hours of Saturday, 22 February, a fire occurred on the first floor of the “Spaces” building. The fire was extinguished promptly but due to smoke and residue particles that spread throughout the building, we will not be able to open “Spaces” for at least one weeks time. The closure of the building is required to ensure we fully inspect the building, our equipment, clean the office of all smoke damage and residue and more importantly, ensure we have a safe working environment to return to.

It then took exactly one month instead of one week to fix that, and the planned reopening of the building fell on the exact day of the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. So it has been today two years ago that I worked in an office the last time.

I wrote into a company forum one year ago:

We will be keeping this up until at least October, and I would be surprised if we are not going to be doing this for much longer the way this country handles Covid.

Anyway, this is the cluttered mess of my Desk at home:

Home machine, and lab equipment to the left, company Mac on the desk during the daytime, bunch of books left and right. On top, the stick for my Internet Spaceship. Under the desk to the right, the file server and gaming box.

It is very… lived in. I do change things too often for any pretty cabling or other cleanup to hold up.

At least it has a decent view. That one hour commute to Spaces did pay off with a much more rural and spacious environment for home.

But at least the view from my Desk is decent…

I am sitting on a Dauphin Shape XXL, a proper office chair instead of some gaming thing, and the desk is an older IKEA standing desk, motorized. I have cabled Internet at my desk, Wifi by Unifi in the house, and we have a 500/500 Mbit fiber connection at home, because faster Internet is not available where I live.

Life ain’t bad.

Never has been, actually.

Going back, I always had a desk to work on at home. In Berlin, an entire room (which also had an office desk for my wife).

Geek wife doing geek wifey things on her Berlin desk.

In Karlsruhe, my GF and I had work desks in an office room, and actually almost never did use our living room. We sat back to back, because that makes it easy to roll over and look at the other screen to check things out and help.

In Kiel we had an office/living room double room, but the living room really saw use only on Tuesdays ever other week for the Tuesday meeting, when a bunch of Geeks were coming around for cooking and talks.

And even as a student, having a working desk was more important than a proper living room, actually.

1996 computer science student desk (see below – 1)

When I am thinking about it, I believe it’s because of my Dad. He had a Ham Radio license, and “his” place in the house always was his shack, with all the electronics, the radios and antenna controls, basically a desk and a workbench next to it. You’d find him more often there than anywhere else in the house.

Why do we even have living rooms? It’s a social convention that is hard to break. I know that I would be in for a fight to the blood suggesting that we get rid of ours, but seriously? “My” space is that desk/shack shown above, and not the living room. It’s the place that I’ll fight for.

Discussing this elsewhere, a friend sends me Space – A cluttered life: Middle-Class Abundance . The video discusses space use in American middle class families, who seem to have lives centered around the kitchen/eating space, which makes a lot of sense.

  1. That 1996 desk. That version of me had a Euro-ISDN semipermanent connection to my provider (128/128 kBit/s) and I also spent 50 Deutschmark for my own /24 provider independent IPv4 range. All my machines had public addresses. The machine is a Nextstation with 24 MB of memory, and a 25 MHz 68040 CPU, running what later would become MacOS X. The white tower next to it has a 1 GB SCSI HDD full height (the two top slots), a 1x SCSI CD-ROM drive (Caddies required) and a SCSI QIC drive for DC 6525 tapes (525 MB/tape). My body hides the full height tower case for the Dual-Pentium Linux box, you can only see the beige case of the b/w monitor it has. We were using BNC based 10 MBit/s Ethernet at that time. This box also has the ISDN card. Unfortunately the driver had a memory leak, and we were losing a bit of memory every time the ISDN link goes up or down, because some driver internal data structures are allocated and never deallocated. The loss accumulates to around 1 MB per week.