Scenes from 2020: CNET works from home
The CNET team wanted to give you a glimpse into our lives and what 2020, so far, has been like for us. Staffers from around the world shared the challenges and the unexpected benefits of adapting during this period of isolation.
"Back in June, our daughter celebrated her 4th birthday and we invited friends and family to sing in group video chat. Before saying goodbye she hugged the screens." - Bridget Carey
"If I were to point at two great things of this lockdown is that I have become more disciplined about my guitar practice. I first started learning guitar in mid 2017 but it was an on-again-off-again thing, but since March 12 (which is the day me and my boyfriend decided to self-quarantine) I've made a point to be much more regular with my practice. While I cannot go see my teacher now in Midtown, I am doing weekly Skype classes with a new teacher based in Virginia. If everything goes well, I might be able to play a song for my CNET colleagues once this nightmare is over. " - Laura Martinez
"The second great thing about this extended time home is that I'm cooking much more and -- just like many other people out there -- I learned how to bake bread, something I never thought possible. Now I'm the bread-maker at home and bake weekly baguettes, not only for me and my partner but to share with some of my neighbors." - Laura Martinez
"I learned how to make a pin loom chicken." - Connie Guglielmo
"Rock painting with encouraging signs for the neighbors..." - Connie Guglielmo
"I have come to accept that the panic shopping we all did in March didn't actually end for me but instead turned into a lower-level form of anxiety-driven consumerism. I'm frankly embarrassed by the sheer number of items I've amassed over the past seven months, including hundreds of gloves, hundreds of disposable and cloth masks, at least 20 bottles of hand sanitizer and isopropyl alcohol, a half-dozen bottles of disinfectant, two pulse oximeters and two thermometers.
"I bought all of it little by little. I'd snag something every time I popped into a store or would randomly order something online. At first, a bottle of hand sanitizer felt like gold. Clorox wipes still feel that way.
"I didn't realize I'd gathered so much until I pulled it all out for this pic. (In my defense, I did assume I'd be sending the hand sanitizer to school with my kids, but they are learning from home for now.)"
The coolest item: A bottle of Still Austin hand sanitizer from a local whiskey maker. A friend gave it to me. It smells delicious.
The biggest regret: Not buying more Clorox Disinfecting Wipes when they were still available in early March.
The best tip: By far, the best all-around yet affordable masks are from Caraa. Trust me, I've tried quite a few cloth brands, though I tend to use the disposable ones anyway. - Natalie Weinstein
"Back in March, I cleared out a few shelves of my kids' art/games cabinet to make room for a second pantry. We call it the pandemic pantry. It's filled with canned and dried foods that we could survive on in a pinch. We've been whittling it down all summer, though I'm starting to think I need to build it up again.
"If things get bad, I know which item will be the last one on the shelf: a can (yes, a can) of Chef Boyardee Mac & Cheese." - Natalie Weinstein
"Yes, we too got a pandemic pet. Bella, my kid's albino bell leopard gecko, has become our nightly entertainment. In the evenings at feeding time, she transforms from a docile creature to a feline-like predator who stalks her prey -- live Dubia roaches and mealworms. We cheer her on as she gobbles down each one. As she's digesting her meal, she likes to peek out from her warm cave and listen to our bedtime reading. She seemed to especially like The Hobbit, though I'm convinced she was rooting for Smaug." - Anne Dujmovic
"Our affectionate dog has thoroughly enjoyed my working from home. Here, I'm attempting to edit CNET images while he rests his head on my hand." - Angela Lang
"Rare moment of solitude hiding from the kids in the fire escape of my building." - Vanessa Hand Orellana
"Somewhat 'normal' rig whenever I shoot a video from home. Cellphone, tripod and what my colleague calls an 'influencer's light.' More recently I've also added a podcasting microphone connected to my phone because our producer kept complaining about the sound quality. I certainly have learned a lot about the ideal spots around the house to get the best natural light." - Patricia Puentes
"Setup for an 8 a.m. Zoom interview with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings the same day California's skies remained eerily orange and dark due to the fires. It was clear I would need some extra light if I wanted to be seen by the interviewee and look professional." - Patricia Puentes
"Here's my current home office setup -- maximum productivity edition so I could watch the Apple Watch launch event on my iPad while working on my laptop." - Stephen Shankland
TV reviewer David Katzmaier shows off the transformation of his home's basement into a fully capable review and comparison lab, complete with key testing equipment shipped over from the CNET offices. Back in business, baby!
David's work-from-home station is next to a desk where his son can sit with an iPad or other projects while he's on work-from-home dad duty.
"Before Kentucky reopened childcare centers, I often worked with a baby on my lap. This was one of the first warm days, so I took advantage of the weather and moved to the balcony for some afternoon spreadsheetery. Baby-wearing has been my number one quarantine/WFH hack!" - Karisa Langlo
"Trying to take videos and product shots of the Fitbit Charge 4 with a toddler on my back." - Vanessa Hand Orellana
"We don't have family around to help us out. So 'babysitting' becomes abuela video chats mirrored to the big screen." - Bridget Carey
Many members of the CNET staff have kids at home who've had to get used to remote learning.
"Here's my kid's e-kindergarten setup, using my sister's old desk from a 1960s giveaway from an elementary school in Framingham, Massachusetts." - Stephen Shankland
Of course it's not all work. David Katzmaier's son has been enjoying all the extra playtime at home too.
"We made R2-D2 and C-3PO costumes for a Taskmaster video challenge. We didn't win anything, but it helped distract us during the first month of lockdown." - Ty Pendlebury
When "working from home," it can be hard to remember to take dedicated breaks, and it's been important for our team to actually take real vacation days and get away from what some call "living at work." Here's the Katzmaier family camper at the beach.
"Spending quality time outside observing the natural world and getting regular sunshine in my day has made all the difference, I recommend it!" - Sarah Tew
"The Willamette, a river that runs through Portland, Oregon, rhymes with dammit. And dammit is about the nicest thing you can say about most things pandemic-related. But lockdown has led me and my family to rediscover kayaking, right here at home. I realized we could reserve everything we needed online and pick it up -- contact-free -- right at the shore. After our first morning, lazily paddling for two hours on a quiet, uncrowded stretch of the Willamette and spotting a bald eagle and an osprey, we immediately made plans to do it again. Those handful of trips are what saved summer. I also now own an inflatable paddle board and will never take that damn river for granted again." - Anne Dujmovic
"We may not have mountains or oceans in Illinois, but flat land means epic sunsets over green fields." - Abrar Al-Heeti
"You always have to find ways to treat yourself, even when it feels like the world is crumbling. Tea party for two is how I do it." - Abrar Al-Heeti
"This period of isolation has led to us going on hikes, enjoying stillness more, developing relationships to the birds and other wildlife around us. Most importantly, we have been finding lots of opportunities to show love to one another. Going through this strange time together has made us stronger than we've ever been." - Sarah Tew