Offices are expensive, you have to have the building, power and water, the little fridge and deal with the inevitable arguments over people not cleaning the microwave. These are some of the expenses, and stresses of having an actual office, in the meatspace.
What would happen if you employed someone, gave them a computer and told them to stay out of the office? Well, I know, because this happened to me a few months ago.
One of the radio stations I work for, on a quite regular basis, decided that the newsroom was going, and we were all going to be “mobile journalists,” (I had hoped I would get a pair of Heelies. Alas, no) which basically meant we weren’t welcome in the office.
So we were all given a laptop, an audio recorder and a travelcard. When my first shift came round I didn’t really know what to do, so an hour before I started I was scanning the prospects (we subscribe to IRN from Sky, who tell you what stories are due to happen the next day), and I went along to one of those stories.
On the way back I found a car crash which had closed a major junction, which I was able to cover (or “journalise” as we call it in my house).
But, what did I do with my audio? Where did I edit it and email it off? The answer came in a surprising form; PUBS. They have seats, WiFi and plug sockets… I am told there is booze too, but I wouldn’t know anything about that.
I had some major problems with the equipment I was given, it was Windows 8 and it kept updating to 8.1, wiping ALL my work and then not actually booting. The audio recorder was fine, but I didn’t like the quality.
So, I went to a company called Morgan Computer and I bought a Dell D630 for £89.99, it is an old, rugged machine that has more connection ports than I know what to do with, but it works.
It came with Windows XP but I quickly installed Lubuntu on it, downloaded LibreOffice (an open source version of MS Office), and Audacity (open source audio editor) and I was good to go. My work phone is a Nokia Lumia 1320, and I never use it. But, the Recorder Pro+ app is brilliant, I get such good audio from it I won’t use anything else.
And that is it, I am like a journalist vagrant, I have nowhere to call my office, I roam from pub to cafe looking for somewhere to charge up my devices and I can use their WiFi. Has it been successful? It has for me, I get to roam London looking for stories, and I get to be flexible. I get to use whatever equipment I want. And, best of all? Nobody makes me clean the microwave...
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Uber has released a ‘Lost & Found Index,’ detailing some of the possessions people have reported lost. From the usual items like a missing cell phone to the weirder items like a “Meat packet” and some Valium, it’s clear the human race is still as gloriously strange as ever!
I get it. We’re all scared in the wake of the tragedy in Westminster last Wednesday. Khalid Masood’s actions in committing this atrocity are truly reprehensible. But digital communication is not at fault, and adding an Orwellian level of surveillance is not the answer.