Being stuck at home during shelter-in-place can play with your emotions. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the news, and on top of that, nobody likes cabin fever. But the geeks among us are rising to the challenges we face and answering those challenges with technology. Whether it’s conquering boredom or creating elegant solutions to everyday problems, this is a time for geeks to shine.
It can be as simple as interacting with loved ones while keeping your distance. My friends Michelle and Todd from San Diego used to go to their favorite brewpub every Thursday evening for pizza and beer. As soon as the pub’s doors opened at 5 o’clock, Michelle and Todd were there with their two young children. While they were there, they usually sat with another family who also had two young children. The couples would talk for a few hours, and they constantly told me that this was one of the true high points of their week.
Now that the pub is temporarily closed, Michelle and Todd have started using Google Hangouts to make a video call with that family on Thursday evenings. During the week, each family orders a few packs of beer for delivery from some of their favorite breweries, and on Thursdays they crack open a beer during the hangout.
More than anything, this weekly ritual seems to have provided “a little more normalcy” for their children. Todd even made a replica of the table numbers the brewpub gives customers when they order food. I have seen screenshots, and it warms my heart.
There are other ways technology helps us maintain contact with loved ones while keeping physical distance. A company called JibJab has created a unique way to send birthday greetings. And don’t forget that Mother’s Day is May 10th, and Father’s Day is June 21st. Even if you can’t spend time in person with your parents on these holidays, you can still make it special for them.
Streaming services, such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Video, and others, are helping keep us entertained without having to physically touch Redbox DVDs or venture out to the big box stores to buy them. Netflix scored big with the popular miniseries “Tiger King,” which found itself a spot on the shelf of popular culture out of nowhere. However, all of the services are pulling out the stops, it seems, to try to keep America entertained.
Video game systems are getting a workout during shelter-in-place time periods. I have at least one friend who spends hours a day during shelter-in-place, working through the levels of a game on his Playstation. Every time I go out into the living room, it seems, he’s enthralled. Thankfully he has headphones, because the sounds of zombies screaming were getting to the rest of us after the first few days!
Since many children are home for school, this might be a great time to dig out that Raspberry Pi system you have stashed away. If not, you might be able to find one at your local Best Buy or Radio Shack. There are all sorts of educational – and fun – projects you can build, from the timely “Kill COVID: 20 seconds hand wash sensor” and “Scrubber: your hand washing soundtrack” to irrigation robots and security cameras. Even if you don’t have children, a Raspberry Pi project can help pass the time and make you feel productive. Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn something cool.
No one enjoys the situation we’re going through across the globe. However, the current state of technology works in our favor to make it easier for us to stay home and help flatten the curve. In the words of Mr. Spock: Live long and prosper.