Living in a world where you're not allowed to go outside

I expect we're all finding present times to be weird and unsettling. Generally I have as little to do with the outside as I can in normal times but it's different choosing not to go out to being required to stay inside. The fact that if I run out of something or forget something or just feel like going and getting some product there and then while I could go out for things it feels like an irresponsible and dangerous thing to do so like every one I'm just staying inside limiting my trips to shops as much as I can. I've tried ordering things but the system is so overloaded it's hard to get any sort of delivery or even pickup at most stores. I did manage to snag a delivery slot at safeway for today ordering last week sometime so that was lucky.

Restaurant delivery stuff like UberEats and so on seems to be running ok I've used that a couple of times doing my best to tip well as I don't envy those guys having to be out and about taking that risk. They instituted a leave at door option which sometimes works depending on if they can park and or get in. It feels like some of these restaurants that were not really delivery places before are going to be struggling.

I miss the routine of going to work every day that separation and structure it gave the days seem to blend together a bit and I've really lost track of what day or month or year it is. I also had got into the habit to get plenty of walks in every hour or so when I went for coffee I'd walk round while I drank it so I was getting my steps in, at the moment I've been trying to keep active and such but I'm inside a lot more.

I've been trying to differentiate my working time from play time by sitting down in my living room for work and using the work laptop for that, even if the screen is disappointingly narrow, rather than use my gaming rig and sitting up in the loft all the time. I'm getting a lot more use out of my coffee machine than I usually did a pack of grounds could last me months but these days I'm going through them pretty quickly.

Just before the outbreak I got a thing I backed on kickstarter which was a hilariously expensive tripod for my DSLR (a fancy lightweight job that compacts down to a small size for carrying about yet remains sturdy strong and capable enough to actually be of use with mirrorless DSLR with a larger lens on it). I set it up by my window so I could take pictures of the outside and the various birds I saw (mostly collared doves and crows as they are the only ones that sit still long enough for me to get a shot of them) using one of those mirror based reflector zoom lenses 500mm ish with a telephoto doubler. It gives me a pretty long view out the window even if the quality of those cheap reflector based lenses is not great low f stop no autofocus very shallow depth of field so almost everything you take is out of focus and produces somewhat muddy images with a lot of distortion artifacts even when they are in focus. I do feel a bit rear window and wonder if I will see perry mason kill someone and then bury them on the building site out the back of my window.

I'm part of a book club that meets one or two times a month and with shelter in place we've transitioned to a zoom based video conference version we've been having every week. It help give that human contact I would have gotten at work and the video gives you a face to face aspect as well as views of many many cats. I've also been having fun with zoom's virtual background feature where you can give it an image and it'll do it's best to composite it into the background like you had a green screen. It works pretty well and so far I've broadcast from space, the pyramids, and a desert island. It's interesting to talk to everyone about how they are doing at least one them had their husband get the virus and maybe got it too without testing it's always hard to tell they were both fine after it but it was sobering to know people who have caught the thing. Everyone seemed to be having trouble reading the books we picked out I guess these are times when we are looking for humor and comfort and I guess the picks we had didn't fit well in the changing landscape.

We've been using similar methods for work to communicate since way before this as we are a multi site operation with teams across the world working on the same project but mostly those are audio only as there are just too many people and too distributed to allow for video or people are presenting something anyway. We've been using it more than we had and a lot of people seem incapable of muting their mic which when they have a lot of background noise kids screaming while they run a blender or some sort of farm machinery in the background is kind of annoying.

Been using my VR gear a lot more regularly as a way to go somewhere without actually going anywhere. I've been using the Oculus quest with things like Beat Saber, Synth Riders, OnShape, and others to get moving and get some exercise. On the more game end of thing there have been some excellent new titles out with Half life Alyx and The Room Vr being personal favourites I also got round to playing Defector which I picked up around christmas but didn't play and was a fun if a little weird and janky in places Spy action thriller game a bit like playing a James bond movie. I even spent an evening playing Minecraft VR multiplayer via the Oculus link which worked ok but occasionally would cut out leave the head tracking working but showing a black screen to the display and require restarting, for some reason Minecraft VR doesn't work in Revive so I can't use the Index to use it. Minecraft in VR is a very different feeling than normal 2d variant the sense of scale is quite different with you standing about 2 cubes high the world feels a lot bigger in VR and the mobs are quite a bit more terrifying. One of my friends convinced me to get "From Other Suns" which is some vr sci fi ship based multiplayer thing but so far we've not actually tried it out.

I've been tinkering with VR for sculpting using a variety of programs mostly Oculus Medium. I'm still at the learning the tools and techniques stage but I think I'm improving a bit. I've tinkered with sculpting for modeling in blender as it's very powerful for organic shapes and even some hard object modeling but it's very tricky to get good results with a mouse and hard even with a tablet. With VR you can make the model as large as you like and since it's there in front of you in 3d space it makes more detailed precision work possible. Things like tilt brush have always been an amazing demonstration of how magical and creative you can be in a room scale vr but they don't work very well for producing usable models. With medium and some of the other vr modeling apps it feels like they are sophisticated enough that they could produce usable meshes. They probably would still need a retopology pass but that's more down to getting the polycount back to a realistic level. Ultimately I want to try modeling something in VR that I can then take and 3d print probably on the new resin printer and then maybe paint up or some such. Maybe try the same diorama thing I tried with making models painting them then encasing them in epoxy I did in the past I'm not sure.

My trusty Nintendo Switch has been by my side for a bit of quick gaming here and there. I played Animal Crossing a bit but found it got a little boring and it felt like I was just doing busy work. I tried out City Skylines on there which seemed to work pretty well for a game that was mostly mouse controlled on the PC. I mainly played Diablo 3 again running the latest season with a Barbarian build which is a lot of fun idle smashing of enemies with a big hammer.

Watching a lot of videos and some netflix was fascinated by the Tiger King documentary something where all the main players seem to be some stripe of monster all with their bizarre cults of personality and it just gets more and more crazy as the episodes progress with the real victims being the animals themselves. They just did another episode with basically a bunch of skype calls with some of the people involved hosted by joel mchale from his living room by the looks of it. I'm not sure that was necessary it felt a bit like a cash in "let's add another episode as people want more" sort of deal although it was interesting to see some of the people free from the editing and narrative impositions of the documentary allowed to give their opinions on the show and how it portrayed them. They also kept asking who they wanted to play them in the presumably inevitable Tiger King The Movie, which I'm not sure is something we need making. I guess I should try and watch the Witcher at some point too.

I guess we will run out of new TV and Movies at some point as there is nothing being made that can't be done via a conference call or filmed on an smart phone and what we have is what's left in the pipe and gradually depleting.

At least books and such will keep being made as authors all stay at home anyway :D

Anyway I didn't really have a point it was mostly just a rambling stream of consciousness set of thoughts so I should probably quit while I'm ahead. Stay safe everyone try not to go too mad :)


Anyway I didn't really have a point it was mostly just a rambling stream of consciousness

I'm glad you did! I enjoyed reading through your experience. I've been enjoying the pictures you post on Google Photos; I am a sucker for hills. Since I was an air cadet, if I see a hill, I want to walk up it!

I've been tinkering with VR for sculpting using a variety of programs mostly Oculus Medium

I'd like to see them! I'm fascinated by the jump from VR to 3D printing - neither of which do I have room for!

Here's how things are in Lang towers.


Amazon orders seem to arrive somewhat randomly and delivery food shopping (we use Ocado) is sporadic too. We've managed to get delivery slots last-minute and I've only needed to do one big-ish run to Sainsbury's in town on foot.

Food delivery

Our favourite delivery places are all closed (Sushi, Wagamama etc). We tried a bistro thing but the food was poor and expensive.


I miss the office for the same reasons. Also I miss the banter in the office; where you learn more about the people you work with. I miss that the most. Working from home is doable - I'd say we're at about 90% efficiency but mostly due to having kids around. We're all laptop'd and our business continuity plans covered outbreak; so we're operationally much the same.

I sit at the same desk for both but my work laptop is differentiated from my gaming box, so that's a happy separation. I don't have anywhere else to go in the house, so I am kind of stuck. I bought a new chair and I'm happy to be here! So being stuck isn't so bad.

We have extended our morning standup to include banter; do a weekly all hands (there are 8 of us), which are kinda useful and a bit silly and we also do a "all hands" gaming session after it where we play a party-like set of games, which have gone down really well. I've done some pretty in-depth and intense training over Slack, so that's gone quite well. I feel more for the people whose job it is talking to the clients; because they would have done a lot of face to face.


Being spring, this is the time to upgrade/fix the drones but they're all working and ready to fly! I could update the firmware on them all (I probably will do) but to really do that properly I need to take them out and do maiden flights. So I've not really bought anything new; I'm sort of saving up for VR but don't have anywhere large enough to use it bar sitting down. Even beat-sabre waving might be a push.


Barely any. Got to fix that. Need to carve out some time to do it.


Felix and I have played a lot of Deep Rock Galactic and I enjoyed running up Minecraft the other day. Beyond that, only the SNG staples of GTAO, Rocket League,


I got 3 episodes into Picard, which was cool but not been near the telly long enough to get back to it. Been watching films with Felix: Battle of Britain, Bridge on the River Kwai and Apollo 13. Mostly due to his interests.


It's been hard for them. We have no garden, only a little bit out the back between the houses, where we've put a water table for Ning. Felix has a daily schedule which includes a challenge, creativity time, quiet time, a walk outside etc. It involves a fair bit of screen and LEGO time but it's good enough. He, like Ning, is definitely fed up of it all. Kate's work is on pause because there are no places for her to securely do telephone sessions. Her course is on pause for Easter, I think they'll end up doing zoom calls on a Monday. I'll need to take those off as holiday as we will have no childcare. We'll make do, it's not that big of a ballache.


This has become something of a time anchor for me and I love it. The game selection is a bit thin right now but I care less about that than I do about the goal-stealing-banter I get from it.

brainwipe's picture

It's a very weird time. I totally agree with the losing track of days etc. I didn't actually realise it was Easter until Wednesday last week...normally I'd be counting down to the long weekend, and we normally have something planned just before or just after it.

Slightly unusually, I'm probably spending a bit more time outside than I normally would at this time of year. I'm on shortened hours right now, so I've re-arranged my working time to be 7am-1pm (in normal times I would leave the house about 7am to be in the office for 7:30...however now my commute is carrying my cup of tea upstairs), and once I'm off the clock I'm taking my government-mandated solitary outside experience to do my training on the road...normally at this time of year I'd be mainly training inside during the week, as there is not enough daylight hours, and too much rush hour traffic to properly do sessions. I'm keeping to local* roads, and need to be fully self-sufficient (no cafe stops etc) water is really my primary limitation. From observation, I'd say that the "serious" cyclists have the message and are riding almost exclusively solo. Anecdotally, and some observation, is that more casual cyclists are massively on the increase (I've heard several reports of local bike shops being unable to get new stock in fast enough to replace sales) and haven't quite grasped the "stay the fuck away from each other" part of the message. I've also come across large groups of walkers in the Chilterns, though I've also started seeing police-cars patrolling round some of the more picturesque places (areas like the Hambledon valley and the Thames valley by Sonning/Wallingford). I've also been doing some training inside (more focused, high-intensity work), with some local clubs and British Cycling setting up virtual races on's quite funny to see races with 1200+ people, and then spot names you recognise in the bunch.

For work I'm being very strict about not using my PC for non-work activity. I really struggled the first week or so with the same as you Matt...defining the boundary between work and not-work. I've now got a defined office area in my room (my desk with the laptop and monitor which is then divided from the rest of the room with a green-screen). We have a daily team "chat" call where everyone is free to join in and just talk about nonsense (work or not work related)...a lot of our day-to-day work is cross-discipline, so it's important that we keep talking. For shopping we are going to the local Waitrose...they've put in lots of measures to enforce social distancing...bouncers are controlling the amount of people in-store, with any queue outside having policed gaps. Inside the store there are lots of floor markings, and generally speaking everything is now in stock (we had some early issues with rice, flour and pasta, but now we have everything apart from pasta). We've found that it's best to go outside of "typical" times...I went once on a Saturday morning and had to queue for an hour to get in...however going at 3pm on a weekday or after 6pm and it's been very quiet.

Any time I'm not working or cycling, I've been on the Switch (still with Slay the Spire, with the new Watcher character to learn), and this weekend the Final Fantasy 7 Remake came out on I had to get that out of hibernation, update it etc etc). I've also been baking a few things. I've done pie (as Sweeney Todd's is closed), a large easter cake (a solid easter egg), and I've finally had time to do a sourdough starter, which finally moved to the production phase this weekend. Other stuff like quiche, carrot cake, flapjack (in-saddle cycle food) has also been done.

I've been trying to focus on the now, and not worry too much about the future, though I do wonder how you move out of this lock-down situation. While the numbers in the media are scary, when compared against the general population it's nothing soon as they let everyone out I strongly suspect that infection/death rates will leap up again. You see possibilities around geographic or age-based phasing in, however to a greater or lesser extent they are impossible to police. As far as I can work out, the south-east is currently one of the least impacted areas (which is slightly surprising given some of the population densities of the thames valley towns and the relative proportion of people working in large offices, and the connections to London)...I can very easily see a second wave striking areas such as this if/when we are all allowed back out.

*my definition of local is a 1 hour ride away

babychaos's picture

I've wanted to take F and N on a bike trip around campus (our standard haunt as it's super safe, especially at the weekends and I can teach F good road positioning where there are few cars) but as we cycle on the pavement to get there, it doesn't feel like we're following the rules on distancing. The pavements are all so pigging narrow; it's difficult to stay apart. Getting into the car to go somewhere is a definite no-no, so we're just going to have to do something else. I'm going to give that HIIT stuff a go.

brainwipe's picture

The roads are really quiet right now, and I've seen a fair number of young kids out with a satellite parent (typically behind and out). The few cars there are are also giving more space, as there is less coming the other way. It's basically cycling paradise, and as you point out it's far easier to keep distance on the road compared to footpaths.

babychaos's picture

Spent some time VR Sculpting with Medium did some kitbashing modeling of this robot thing. Came out pretty well although not sure about the paint.

Modeled it all as one piece which seemed to eventually screw up the mirroring and running slowly probably easier to model it all in different layers for different bits aligned to the grids maybe. Still learning how to use the thing.

Evilmatt's picture

WOW, that's insane! All the sculpty-type-3D-art I've seen has been very impressionistic - which is awesome but this looks way more technical. (Thus the kitbashing). I think I'm going to have to fully concentrate on getting myself some sort of VR. Let the saving commence.

brainwipe's picture

I've tried a few of the vr sculpting apps they range from fun toys like Sculptris Vr and Tilt brush to more design orientated things like Masterpiece VR or Gravity Sketch. Medium is so far my favourite although there are a lot of things I wish it could do like precisely rotating the brushes or allowing you to rotate the guides there are workarounds for most of the niggles. I'd also like some other features like multiple materials on the same model (for the above the glowing bits have to be a separate physical model to the metal bits) masking for painting and being able to paint on images for decals and such would be nice. Although you can of course export into mesh format and paint it in something else like blender or if you have the money for it substance designer. I'd also like some more tool options like a crease and pinch tool for getting those sharp edges and grooves on hard surface models. Some of its operations are painfully slow cutting or moving large portions causes it go sit there and thing while it processes which is fine there are a lot of polys being crunched here but as it has no progress bar just an animation and this clock noise you have no idea how long it will take. Partly down to using the Index knuckle controllers I'm often inadvertently moving the layer which screws up the mirror plane you can lock this on the scene graph but it seems like it gets unlocked from time to time somehow. It's also now an adobe product so they bought it off oculus or some such which could mean they will try and make it a subscription rather than it's current 30 dollar price.

On the plus side it's about the most intuitive system I've tried for VR sculpting so far offering a range of tools for getting some good results with a lot of flexible options to customize their behaviour. It has a nice little library of different shapes you can use with different categories the above was made mostly with the mechanical parts. It can import things and export in standard formats for pulling in existing models or outputing your work for rendering etc it has tools like the ability to put reference images into your workspace. It has full hierarchical scene graph where you can arrange multiple model parts with transforms to control their movement although I'm not sure how it exports that as I've not really played with it though it's something I might try and use in my next go at this.

Evilmatt's picture

I also did a spot of baking when I ran out of bread making a pretty decent no kneed bread loaf, I've used that technique before it makes great pizza dough. The main issue with baking at the moment is you can't get flour.

Evilmatt's picture

I spent yesterday in bed with an almost-migraine headache. Which was shit.

I did manage to watch The Mandalorian, which was excellent.

brainwipe's picture

did some more vr sculpting made this submarine thing didn't have time to paint it properly but thing it still works ok

Evilmatt's picture

Superb! Love it. Are these renders from within the software or do you expect the meshes?

brainwipe's picture

yeah this is just using it's internal real time renderer.

I've tried the export just to see how it worked it seemed ok produces some weird uv's but I guess that's to be expected

Evilmatt's picture