A virtual change of scenery

Koi ponds at Incus Data

I don't know about you, but there are days when I crave a change of scenery. Pre-pandemic, my life was pretty routine. Work, exercise, an occasional outing with friends. I think anyone with a full-time job and responsibilities at home - from laundry to looking after family - has a life that is mainly routine.

But since the pandemic, there's even less variation. We sit at our desks for longer, we go out less. We see fewer people. No wonder it's harder to keep track of the day of the week.

Some of the things we miss

Virtual training has many benefits. But it does not replace the fun of meeting different delegates at the training venue every week. I don't see the people attending the virtual courses. Actually, most of the time the lecturer doesn't even see the faces of the people on his own course! Thanks to bandwidth issues and data costs, most people switch off their cameras. So our lecturers often talk to coloured dots on the screen. It's just not the same.

We've had a few requests for classroom training. Not many - most of us have adjusted to a virtual workplace and virtual training. And we know the risk of COVID-19 isn't over yet.

One reason for those requests is that people want a change of scenery. And, of course, some people have said they miss the course food. I shouldn't be surprised - you might remember I wrote about the food last year. Recently I posted that as a blog article, with a pandemic update.

Unfortunately, we're still not running classroom-based courses. So I can't offer you a change of scenery, or the food.

But, just for fun, I decided to share some photos of what the venue looks like at the moment. Consider it a virtual change of scenery.

If you've never been to Incus Data

We built our training venue in Centurion almost 20 years ago. I was on site every day. I ordered every brick, every bag of cement. I argued with the builders, the plumbers, the painters, the tilers. If you've ever done any building or renovations, you will know that it is exciting and frustrating.

It was a labour of love. We wanted a place that matched our needs, and that made us proud. The result is a beautiful building, with beautiful gardens.

The Incus Data gardens

If you've never seen the gardens, they are looking as lovely as ever. October is the month when our roses look spectacular:

Roses at Incus Data in October flush

And the ducks and the koi fish are still doing well. For the first time, the koi have reproduced and we have a school of baby koi. And we've had a visiting flock of (very noisy) Egyptian geese - although they didn't come for the photoshoot.

Koi ponds at Incus Data
Koi ponds at Incus Data

The classrooms

The real change has been inside the classrooms. This is what they used to look like:

Incus Data classroom before COVID-19
Incus Data classroom before COVID-19

We moved things around to set up the lecturers` virtual training stations. We needed suitable backgrounds, and sound dampening. And lot of studio lights. The layout evolved over the past few months as we learned what worked.

(Renier is a little camera-shy, so there are no photos of his virtual classroom.)

Charles in his virtual classroom -version 1 and version 2
Charles in versions 1 and 2 of his virtual classroom

Lewis missed the whiteboard, so we had a camera positioned over a mini-board. And then we played with various ways to give him access to something bigger.

Virtual training station for Lewis
Virtual classroom for Lewis- versions 1 and 2

I know that wasn't exactly a trip away from your desk, but I hope you still enjoyed a quick change of scenery.

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