COVID-19

Notify My Team Started as a “Pandemic Project”

In my last post announcing Notify My Team I mentioned that this was something we had previously considered building when we started using our Twitter-based notification system back in 2018. Well, what changed that made us decide to tackle this project now? In short, the COVID-19 pandemic. In early March, as it was becoming obvious that shut downs were imminent, I had a discussion with a friend who is the head of HR at a staffing firm about emergency closures. She was concerned about the… Continue reading

10/20/20

Regaining Control of Technology-Related “Emergencies”

About two months ago I reached a breaking point. Since the pandemic had begun, the frequency of technology-related problems that required my immediate attention had increased from the “occasional issue” to a near-daily occurrence. Being on call, more or less, for the past 12 years (since we migrated to Liquid Web) was only sustainable because I had set up good notification systems and because the issues were rare. I’d get a wave related to a particular problem, and then have several months with nothing. This… Continue reading

10/1/20

The Most Productive Change I’ve Made to My Schedule in Years

When the pandemic and subsequent lockdown began, finding long stretches of uninterrupted time for programming was the biggest challenge I faced in trying to schedule my day around having a 3-year old at home and both of us parents needing to also work from home. Other tasks, such as answering emails, taking phone calls, reviewing reports, and analyzing data, are possible to get done in those random pockets of time that pop up throughout the day when my daughter just happens to be entertaining herself…. Continue reading

9/18/20

Why We Don’t Use Video On Our Meeting Calls

From the NY Times article Why Zoom is Terrible: The problem is that the way the video images are digitally encoded and decoded, altered and adjusted, patched and synthesized introduces all kinds of artifacts: blocking, freezing, blurring, jerkiness and out-of-sync audio. These disruptions, some below our conscious awareness, confound perception and scramble subtle social cues. Our brains strain to fill in the gaps and make sense of the disorder, which makes us feel vaguely disturbed, uneasy and tired without quite knowing why. In the race… Continue reading

7/21/20

Our Socially Distanced Office Space

When this pandemic began, one of the first things that we did was to require that all non-warehouse staff work from home. As time went on, and as New York has loosened its restrictions, we’ve moved all of the staff back to the warehouse and us owners have resumed our regular rotating schedule. Even with our rotating schedule, our office wasn’t quite spaced out well enough to provide everyone a socially distanced 6 ft between desks. Part of the problem is that when we built… Continue reading

7/7/20

Our Warehouse Package Cutoff System Wasn’t Designed For This, But It Is Saving Us Right Now

Every once in a while you win one by accident. About a year and a half ago I wrote a post A New Tool for Managing Busy Warehouse Days where I described a system that we built for handling volume spikes in our warehouse, both planned and unplanned. From that post: On our back-end we’re able to set a package cutoff for any upcoming shipping day. We use historical data along with staffing information to aid us in picking the number. Once our shipping queue… Continue reading

5/28/20

One Surprising Thing I Didn’t Anticipate When This Pandemic Began

Over the years we’ve built strong relationships with the manufacturers of the products that we carry. We work with a lot of great companies. So I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that many of them pivoted to manufacturing PPE, or that as one of their better customers we’d be on the short list of companies to get first access to these products. The end result has been that we’ve been able to have a steady stock of gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, and… Continue reading

5/22/20

Good Remote Work Habits Start in the Office

Much of the world has been forced into unexpectedly working from home over the past month. Unsurprisingly, there’s no shortage of stories about how difficult it is. There’s also no shortage of articles about the tools and techniques that you need to use to make it work. “You just need Zoom and Slack and everything will work out great!” We’re no stranger to remote work. We set our company up as a hybrid from the start, with each of us having the ability to work… Continue reading

4/21/20

Five Books I’m Reading During This Pandemic

As soon as the magnitude of this crisis became clear, my reading interests seemed to change. There were books that I had read (or started to read in one case), that I thought could help shed some light on what we’re going through. Because as much as we think of this time as unique, crisis and pandemic have been a constant throughout history. I also think that there’s a healthy limit to how much news one can consume before it becomes detrimental. Rather than refreshing… Continue reading

4/15/20

Our Weekly Coronavirus Report

One thing was clear pretty early on during this Coronavirus crisis: our business, and every other business, was going to look different throughout the crisis and be different after it’s over. The challenge for us was to come up with a way to regularly review the data that would give us clues as to how things were changing. We wanted to be able to react as quickly as possible. Our current automated reports were good for normal times as a business that has had slow-and-steady… Continue reading

4/9/20