During the Coronavirus Lockdown, I am sure many of us have found it a bit of a struggle coping with the enforced break. Some will have found solace in binge-watching their favourite TV series and Movies, and no doubt enjoyed the break from the tedium of work. However, very quickly having nothing to do and finding interesting ways of filling the time can become a little difficult.

Rather unfortunately, the contract I was working on came to an end at the beginning of February. By the time we were all being told to “stay at home” I had become pretty good at doing that already and sadly I had also begun to come to the end of catching up on TV series and Movies.

Job hunting was going slowly but interest appeared to be picking up and I had started to prepare for getting back to work.

Boris made his announcement and suddenly the world was losing it’s shit. According to the new random habit of bulk buying all of the toilet paper in stock, this seemed to be both figuratively and literally.

Like most people, I avidly watched the news and became a massive consumer of every scrap of information I could find regarding COVID-19. It was still early days and very little was known about transmission or indeed how far around the globe it had spread. Every day, it seemed to become more and more likely a full scale lockdown was going to be implemented. During this massive data absorption, I read an article detailing instructions on how to run PowerShell and display the current stats in the command line. The methodology behind it wasn’t great, so I thought I would produce something to make it more accessible to everyone - Pscovid19stats

Having created the module and run out of things to do to keep myself entertained, I decided that my “Home/Office” needed an upgrade to make it more convenient to work from home, as this may be where I would be working from for the unforseeable future.

Unlike most people, my Home/Office is a little quirky and is inside a converted shipping container ……. OK, perhaps more than a little quirky ¯\_(ツ)/¯ It is however, one of the best things I have ever bought from

Container v1.0

Version 1.0 was created when we were converting our unused back room and our kitchen, into a kitchen diner. That has been my most ambitious DIY project so far and certainly the most difficult. Fortunately, I have been very lucky to have friends and family available to help which you can see from the many faces appearing in the photos below. Along with my trusty cat companion, who always seems to be sleeping somewhere inconvenient.

This creation was to assist with storage and to serve as a temporary kitchen while the two rooms were knocked into one. It would eventually become the tool-shed/workshop for whatever "manly" thing I felt like doing in the future and what every man really wants, "A Man Cave"

There have already been a number of previous designs in the container since its purchase in 2011 1️⃣

Sadly I do not have photos of all of them but the reason for so many versions has been that each one has never really been up to scratch and I never really seemed to get it right. Each variant has always been crippled for the simple reason I had doors at either end, making each one a corridor.

Container v5.0

My last attempt was during a period of redundancy and coincidentally somewhat similar to my current situation. Job hunting was slow and I needed something else to do to keep my sanity. Binge watching TV series and films had lost its appeal and obviously this time it would be better……of course.

It didn’t turn out too badly but the attempt to separate my media from my dev environment turned out not to be as effective as I hoped. Separate desk for the dev PC and two PC’s being used as servers…..or at least that had been the plan.

Container v6.0

Having used the last configuration for almost 2 years, it became apparent that this time something radical needed to be done in order to make this version the last change. Anyone who knows me, will likely find that statement very amusing, it is however what I hoped to achieve when I had finished.

Having plenty of time on my hands due to the end of my contract and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I spent a few weeks considering the things that have been missing from every previous design or that would be an improvement. My main consideration was what to do about the corridor situation. I decided that although it was nice to be able to open both sets of doors during the sunny days, this does not occur anywhere near as often as I would like. England is an island and prone to quite erratic weather. This meant that most of the time, the double doors at the rear of the container spent most of their time shut.

I blocked off the end of the container and fitted my standing desk in one corner and created a workspace in the other. Although I had now blocked off the back doors preventing access, I left one door that would open so I could still have ventilation when it was hot.

I hope if you scroll through the photo’s, you can appreciate the amount of work involved

The design changes took approximately 34 days to complete with many of the days stretching out into long nights. Having spent many previous days working similar hours behind a computer, being more active was as you can imagine hard work. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and having been far more energetic benefitted by losing some weight…..there is still plenty more work to do there!

I now have much more storage, taking advantage of the height inside the container. There is now shelving all the way round the container. I have added cupboard doors to some of the shelves and I have created the appearance of two rooms by adding shelving between the two walls, separating what is now a nice kitchenette and the office/living room. I have a spare PC set up for any of my guests to use and also for watching TV and taking video calls in comfort from the sofa

I also added an extension to the sofa, turning it into a rather comfortable bed, which will no doubt come in handy for those late nights doing some form of remote maintenance or important infrastructure changes. Yes, of course I have tested it and it really is quite comfortable

The sink now has a much better counter, under which I have added shelves to support some drawers. The counter above the tumble drier and freezer has a much better finish and I can now just put kitchen items in the cupboards and on the shelves in the kitchen half of the container.

The last thing I have yet to finish is tidying up and sorting through all the newfound toys that have been hidden away in boxes for a long time. Plenty of “Oh, I forgot I owned one of those moments” have taken place. One of the toys I have dug out of the past has been installed already. A solar panel on the roof, connected to a car battery, charge controller to recharge the battery and an inverter - providing me with free power should I need to plug in a power tool and also run some lights at the back of the container.

There is much more space to move around in and plenty of seating. The new design also has plenty of work-surface in order to continue being a geek. It will remain cool during the summer months and simple to heat during the winter. I definitely feel that I am now much more prepared to work comfortably from home and that I now have what will definitely be more convenient to use as a home/office should the need arise, hopefully, in the not too distant future.

Over the years and different designs, the shipping container has proved to be very useful. Many evenings, late nights and early mornings have been spent working remotely, either on my own over conference calls or with company performing some migration. It will be nice to see how this version works out and indeed if I need to make any modifications. Perhaps this time it will be small revisions to version 6.

On with the next project ( Pscovid19stats v2.0 or add some features to PSCiscoMeraki ) while I continue the hunt for a new work challenge.

1️⃣ - A purchase which like many things I can thank my partners father for suggesting. I also own a number of power tools due to similar suggestions.

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