Tech Talk #126 – March 28, 2020

Self-quarantines and the internet

So, through no fault of your own, ahem, COVID-19, you’re stuck at home. Now what?

In the best-case scenario, the business you work for converted your office to Work From Home (WFH.) The worst-case is the company had to shut down entirely, and no one is working. Either way, you’ll rely on the internet to WFH, to entertain yourself and your family, or both.

As millions of people WFH or self-quarantine until their local COVD-19 threat eases, they’re connecting to Slack, MS Teams, Zoom, Skype and Hangouts to have group video chats for work, or maybe to do some socially distanced hanging out with friends.

For online gaming, an Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, Steam, or Discord needs to connect to the internet. With movie theaters like Cinemark, Alamo Drafthouse, Regal, and AMC closing, people are increasingly turning to Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, Disney+, YouTube, or another streaming video service to watch a movie. Universal Studios is even letting people rent some current movie releases on iTunes and Amazon.

What happens to the internet when this wall of simultaneous internet request show up and try to connect?

Well, during the early days of Europe’s lockdowns, Microsoft’s Teams and Xbox apps went down for a few hours for some people. Since then, PlayStation, Google, Reddit, Uber, T-Mobile, Amazon Video, and others have had trouble keeping up with global demand.

When this first wave of new connections came in, engineers at companies large and small figured out how to scale their systems to handle the latest traffic and provide services. It’s been a few weeks now, and most companies and providers have “scaled up” their operations, so complete outages are rarer than when we all started WFH or self-quarantining, although services do still slow down.

If a particular web site doesn’t come up for you, you can check its status at

If the site you use for work is down, check with your team and see if you can use an alternative website or app. If your favorite game network is down, try playing an older game that might have fewer users.

If your Race, AT&T, Spectrum, or satellite internet service is down, there’s not much you can do. Or is there?

For gaming, you can always play a disc or cartridge-based game, maybe not with your usual downloadable content or scoreboard, but it’ll work.

Not an online gamer? Check your hall closet, the basement, or the attic for a copy of an analog game like Risk, Stratego, Chutes and Ladders, Life, Scrabble, or Clue.

No streaming movies? Check around the house and maybe under the couch cushions for movies on DVD.

Music for productivity

Music can be calming or energizing, and music can help you focus and be productive. If you need to get that paper written or finish that presentation for work, the right music can help.

Music for increasing and maintaining focus has these characteristics:

  • Instrumental – because lyrics can be distracting
  • Moderate tempo – A consistent pace keeps your attention on what you’re doing
  • Not too loud – Makes it hard to concentrate. Have you ever been to a noisy library?

What types of music?

  • Classical –Calming and helps with focus.
  • Electronic Dance Music (EDM) – For energy and focus, suitable for repetitive tasks
  • Video game and film soundtracks – -Motivating and stimulating without being distracting
  • Lofi Hip Hop – Slow tempos, no vocals, lowkey beats, perfect for studying

Spotify can build a playlist for you in any of the above categories. YouTube can, too, with the benefit of calming visuals for when you just want to look out at the ocean, or the desert, or a pool while you think.

What’s a staycation?

A staycation used to be a vacation where you stayed at home. Now it’s being used to describe self-quarantining. Here are some other, less popular terms for a vacation where you don’t go anywhere:

  • All-Intrusive Resort: Where you know everyone, and they all have questions for you
  • Siteseeing: Where you only go to the website for a place, instead of the actual place.

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at

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