I went through a period of regretting buying a taxi, sight unseen, over the Internet.
I haven’t managed to solve that engine management light issue. I might be able to do it, but I don’t have the skills (or time, or equipment), and I would need to pour money into it.
So it sat on the drive way and every time I walked passed it, I thought I’d made a mistake.
Not a major mistake, as mistakes go, but a mistake all the same.
And then we had some work done on the house, which stretched over several weeks, and I needed somewhere quiet to take phone/video calls. No matter where I went in the house, the banging and drilling was distractingly loud.
And, so, literally, enter the taxi…
A taxi as a conference pod? Really?
And it’s a remarkably good one.
I’m lucky that, when I parked it on the drive when it last ran, I accidentally did so in a way that “just works” for a conference pod.
I have got a short cable run into the garage, for power. I run the cable in through the front door on the “passenger” side, and then into the back of the cab via the hole in the partition through which you might have passed cash to the driver. It runs a docking station and monitor, some USB LED lighting, and a fan heater.
I’m close enough to the house to attach to one of the wireless access points - Wi-Fi coverage gives me about 110 Mbit.
Critically, I am not overlooked. I can hook my laptop up to a 28" 4k screen, and not worry about anyone else seeing my screens.
More luck than judgment that I ended up parking it there, but a pleasing outcome.
A nimble pivot from white (well, black) elephant into something useful for our business.
How much did it cost to turn it into a conference pod?
a cable for power from the garage: about £10.
an extension board, with USB sockets: about £10.
two reels of USB LED lighting: about £10.
a round LED light, for making it extra bright if I need it on a video call, and a clamp to mount it on one of the taxi’s grab rails: about £20.
a 4K monitor: about £180.
a wireless keyboard and mouse, and a lap tray (because sitting up to type at the desk isn’t comfortable): about £25
a fan heater: about £30
So, in total, I have spent around £285 on top of buying the taxi.
But I already had some of the key stuff:
a desk: I had an old one, from Ikea. I could do with trimming a bit, to make getting into the car a bit easier, but it’s good enough.
a docking station for my laptop.
a Logitech webcam.
a USB microphone.
If I didn’t have these things, they would have doubled my spend, at least.
I’ve also bought some Bluetooth noise-cancelling earbuds (£80). I’d intended to use them mainly when I’m working in a noisy office, but they’re so convenient, I use them for meetings in the taxi too.
What is the audio/video quality like?
Apparently, pretty good.
It is as close to soundproof as I could expect to get. I did some testing with my wife, with me sitting in the car and talking far more loudly than I would on a call, and she could not hear what I was saying. Brilliant.
And the acoustics too are good. I’m sure that it helps that the Blue Snowball mic is great.
Is it comfortable?
I sit in the seat in the middle, and it’s fine for a couple of hours.
After that, it’s not great. But then I spend most of my working day standing up - I love my standing desk - and I find sitting down in any chair for a prolonged period of time to be uncomfortable.
If it is going to be around for a while, I might look into making the seating more comfortable.
You can’t see the frosting on the windows on a video call; it’s a remnant of the Christmas decorations which I have not taken off yet.
Isn’t it a bit unprofessional?
It’s a quiet environment, where I can have conversations knowing I am not going to be disturbed. I can concentrate. I have the facilities in there to do my job.
So far, no-one has remarked to me that they think it is unprofessional. It’s certainly been a bit of a talking point - a quirky start to a call - but, after that, nothing.
Would I prefer some kind of “actual” garden office?
That’s part of the longer term plan. But until then, the taxi works surprisingly well and, even though the house is quiet again, I still go to the taxi for calls.