Blog of Veikko M.O.T. Nyfors, Hybrid Quantum ICT consultant

Quantum Mechanics demystified, a try

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Working remotely

It was in 1980’s I was working at Nuclear Engineering Laboratory of Technical Research Center of Finland, VTT/YDI. Remote work, as understood nowadays, was not widely recognized on those days. People were working in private office rooms, with one or two persons in a single office. Computer access wasn’t normally arranged into these office rooms. Instead, there were distinct terminal rooms along the corridor. With possibly ten or so terminals, with which one could contact the mainframe computer. Kind of remote work in a short distance :-) Smoking was allowed those days in the office. You can imagine the cloud of smoke in the terminal room. Luckily I was smoking myself those days :-) :-) We had CDC Cyber 173 and Univac 1108 in our repertoire. And a Data General Eclipse for batch connections plus a PDP 11/34 by Digital Equipment Corporation for our own nuclear safety simulations. The latter was transported later on to an institute of nuclear research in Moscow, by Olli Tiihonen and myself.

Longer distance remote work wasn’t totally unknown during those days either. One weekend I had a run scheduled for the weekend. It might had been a Relap (REactor Loss of coolant Analysis Program) run, which took enormous resources and couldn’t be run over normal weekdays. Those days I was living in Huhmari Vihti, some 50 kilometers away from Hietalahti Helsinki. Normally I would had driven to the office to take care of the run. Unfortunately there was some event taking place at Padasjoki, some 50 kilometers north of Lahti, like 150 kilometers from home. That was already a bit too long of a distance to take a drive. Luckily there was a Texas Instruments Silent 700 paper terminal at YDI. It had an acoustic modem coupled. Early Saturday morning I conquered phone booth at the Padasjoki harbour along lake Päijänne. I gave a call to Cyber 173 modem number. After connection was established, I mounted earphone into Silent’s rubber cups. Job was carried out quite ok.

Later on, over the last decades, remotely working has grown to be a valued method of working. Reasons have been many, like saving time on rush hours and costs on office space, many prefer working in a peaceful environment instead of in the hum of open office. Not to mention the effect on climate change.

I myself have been working almost 100% remotely over the last three or so years, after the office moved to a more challenging place. Once and a while I visit the site. Going home from the office, I farewell: ‘Next time in the Sauna evening’. :-) People look a bit astonished.

Even before that, I tended to work remotely a couple of hours in the morning and a couple in the evening. In this way I was able to drive to the office outside of rush hours. You can guess people also looked astonished, when in the afternoon I expressed: As I came a bit late in the morning, I will now accordingly leave a bit early. :-)

Even more, over the last weeks, remote work has grown to be close to a must on specific circumstances due to covid-19 pandemia. People who do not necessarily have to be working at certain location are actually recommended to work remotely. My guess is that both employees and employers, who have not favored remote work so far, will start to do so now.

Chances are we will not return to the old habits in this respect. There are also other matters, which are going to be changed this time. Unfortunately all of those are not of the positive nature like remote work is.