Work from home Monday

July 1st, 2008 by dusty

This past Friday, Omaha was hit by a rather sizable storm, complete with 90+ MPH winds, sideways hail, and all that fun stuff. Most of Midtown Omaha (the area around the BrightMix office) was hit pretty hard. As an example, the picture to the right was taken by a good friend of ours, Dave from SecretPenguin. His backyard was hit pretty hard, but thank goodness nobody was hurt!

However, the storm did initially knock power out for 100,000+ people. As of this morning, there were aparently still 20k+ peeps without power, including yours truly, BrightMix. As a result, today we had the first official work-from-home Monday! Here I thought I would outline some of the tools of the trade, that make it possible for us to work nearly as (if not more!) productively as a remote (and powerless) team…

What works?

  • MacBook Pros! – Ah yes, the official computer product of BrightMix. We recently purchased a shiny new MBP for Erin #1, bringing our total to 7, or 1 per person. This makes it trivial for people to work from home, a coffee shop or a beach. Doesn’t matter, the work can get done!
  • Campfire – Our chat program of choice. Its great because you can leave the room, and come back and get caught up on everything that has happened up to that point. As a disconnected team, we’re able to use it to keep track of what everyone else has going on. We love it, even though it is a bit of a cesspool lately 🙂
  • Hosted SVN – Thank goodness for not hosting our SVN at our office (which, remember, has no power). We currently use LiquidWeb for this, because the setup is dead simple, and its rock solid. Not exactly performant, but rock solid. You can use a LiquidWeb coupon code we’ve got if you want to setup there as well – we enjoy it.
  • Freshbooks – Web-based time tracking software, allows us to continue to be billable during the outage. Also since its the last day of the month, it allows me to do invoicing!

What doesn’t work?

Even though we have a lot of great things in place to handle such an outage, there are several things that break down for us…

  • SQL Server – We do a good deal of ASP.NET development, and we don’t each run individual SQL databases, but rather connect to the BrightMix SQL Server. This is great normally, even remotely, when all you have to do is VPN in… no dice with no power though…
  • VPN Access – No power = no VPN. See above for why this is crappy
  • Quickbooks – I suppose I could run QB from my Mac, and then I’d be totally remote-capable, but I don’t want to buy it again. And, this normally wouldn’t bother me (who cares if I can’t enter receipts for a few days), but as I mentioned before, its the end of the month, and I want to send invoices 🙁
  • Refrigerator – Yes, we lost all the goodies we had in the fridge/freezer…. like chicken nugs. And popsicles.

All in all, it was a good an productive day! Good thing, because its looking like tomorrow will be official work-from-home Tuesday! Who knows, this might just stick!