Working from home during a pandemic

With the sudden lock down of New Zealand due to Covid-19 I found rather quickly that I wasn’t really prepared to actually work from home.


Day to day at home i used a 13” Macbook Air, but its primarily a consumption device. I’d never really written anything of any length. It quickly become apparent I’d need a proper keyboard, mouse and monitor.

With all suppliers in lockdown I have to made do with what I already had to start with – an external Apple keyboard. Because it was old it come with a new challenge – USB only.

It worked for a while, but still found any serious writing or spreadsheet work to be quite difficult to do on such a small screen.

Fortunately, retailers were soon allowed to sell “essential” technology products by delivery, so I ordered:

  • A 21” monitor (with HDMI input)
  • USB-C to HDMI Cable
  • Basic wireless mouse

This combination actually worked really well, but I soon ran into USB-C limitations. I could have any combination of keyboard, monitor and power – but not all three.

After a bit of research I found a basic USB-C hub with passthrough power – this means I could run everything via one USB-C port.

So far its working well, and I’m slowing getting used to using both laptop screen and monitor at the same time. Usually I’ll put video conferencing on the smaller screen and whatever “work” I am doing on the larger screen.

I’d really like to go big-screen only but two things prevent this – my reliance on touch-id on the Macbook Air (who knew this would become a must-have feature) and the webcam for video calls.

At this stage I probably won’t some things on my wish list – a vertical stand for my laptop (in clamshell mode) or an external webcam – but its useful to know what I might need in the future.


I live with my flatmate in a relatively small two bedroom apartment. Most of of the shared livings spaces are taken up with her costume making supplies, so finding a space to sit and work was challenging.

Initially she cleared a space in her sewing room for me to use, but it got very hot after about 11:00 am (it was, after all , a conservatory), but more importantly was close enough to the shared areas that it proved distracting.

I rearranged by bedroom a little are repurposed a beautiful writing table I had used as a bedside table for its actual purpose – writing.

Its a little cramped with a monitor, keyboard, laptop and mouse, but it does the job.

I’m not in love with the idea of working in my sleeping space, but its has allowed me to be more productive.

The Right Way to Play a Scene

So many actors worry about the ‘right’ way to play a character or a scene.

They rush to a movie version or something they’ve seen on YouTube and copy it. But then you aren’t acting, you are doing the acting equivalent of karaoke.

In the short clip below Dave Grohl talks about how it learned to play drums and guitar not with lessons, but by figuring it out for himself.

Next time you are worried about how to play a scene, be like Dave Grohl. Do it your way.

Kiwi Story Time

The NZ Herald published an article about Kiwi Slang, so I thought I’d try and use all of their examples in a sentence. I didn’t quite mange it, but I did write a sweet as story.

In the original version some Australianisms crept in – I put this down to growing up with a neighbour who was originally from Australia – they used many of the Kiwi slang terms too, so they sort of all merged into one. I have re-edited the text to remove them in this version.

To be read in the style of Radio New Zealand story time.

A trip to the beach

A picture of a New Zealand beach

Barry packed his bag for the trip to the bach. Looking forward to the sweet summer ahead, his pack was already chocka when he realised he had forgotten his togs and jandals.

He looked through the mess in his room, until he found both jandals under his bed where the dog had hidden them. He sighed looking at the tooth marks. They were totally munted.

Mum came back from the dairy, and Barry asked if they could take a tiki-tour past The Warehouse to buy some new jandals. Mum agreed, and off they went.

It wasn’t long before they were right out in the wop-wops, and Dad’s “rolls canardly” was starting to sound a bit suss.

“I’ll pull over up ahead and take a look, eh?” Dad said to Mum.

“Ok Luv,” Mum replied, not looking up from her cross-stitch.

The car rolled to a stop in a picnic area next to a small, inviting, beach.

Dad opened the bonnet and eyed the engine. “I reckon the radiator cap is a bit dodgy.” he said out loud, to no one in particular.

“Hey Barry,” Dad called, “Grab the bottle of water from the boot will ya.”

Barry slipped on his new jandals and stepped into the hot summer sun. He found the water bottle, and handed it to Dad.

“Ta” Dad said, as he used the bottom of his T-shirt to delicately remove the hot radiator cap.

A sudden burst of hot steam erupted from the radiator, engulfing Dad’s face. “Bugger!,” he yelled, staggering backwards.

Dad filled up the radiator with water and got back in the car. “I reckon we’ll need to give it a bit of time to cool down,” he said to Mum. “I might have a snooze.”

“Why don’t you go for a swim, Barry?” said Mum.

Barry was stoked. He grabbed his togs and towel, and set off tramping through the tall seaside grass towards the inviting clear water of the beach.