My Home Office Setup

If you're working from home, you're probably using a computer all the time. Your computer is your tool. Tools are there to assist us in completing tasks. You should select tools that help you the most in completing tasks. In setting up my home office, I kept that in my with each piece of equipment I selected.

Here's a look at my desk:

To the left of my desk are some windows. I oriented my desk 90° from the windows and several feet away to minimize glare on my monitors. Another part about working from home that I love is the lighting. I don't have to work under harsh fluorescent lights anymore. I get natural sunlight during the day and soft indirect light from lamps in the evening.

I've numbered most of the things on my desk in the photo above so I can tell you about why I selected them.

1) Dell UltraSharp U2412M 24" Monitor

I love these monitors. They're large (24 inches). They have a slightly taller aspect ratio (16:10) than typical monitors (16:9) so I can see more vertical lines of code on them at one time. (This translates to an extra 120 vertical pixels. That's an extra 11% of vertical real-estate!) They're matte, so they don't have much glare or distracting reflections.

2) Logitech C920S HD Pro Webcam

This is an HD camera, so the video quality is great. (Most webcams have great quality nowadays.) The big feature for this camera for me is the integrated privacy shade. It's invaluable for this times when I want to make sure that my webcam is off without having to check that I turned it off in my meeting software.

3) Apple Airpods

For me, these are the perfect headphones for taking meetings from home. I found that over-ear headphones were too heavy for me: They'd make the top of my head hurt, and my ears would get hot and uncomfortable after using them for a few hours. I can leave these in my ears and forget that they're even there. I think that's the best you can ask for in terms of a comfortable set of headphones.

I also found that wired headphones are annoying. When I'm attending meetings that don't require my input, I like to walk around my apart and clean up. The range on these is good enough that I can go anywhere in my apartment except the closet farthest from my office and still have great audio.

Airpods also don't have noise cancelling, and I find that to be a positive during meetings. Noise-cancelling headphones make your voice sound weird, and video conferences are already weird enough.

The only downside is that their batteries don't last very long. I can get through about 3 or 4 hours of meetings before needing to recharge them. However, I've found that I can charge one Airpod at a time for five minutes, and that usually gives me about 30 minutes to 60 minutes more talk time.

In the picture, my Airpods case is in a charging docker that I printed with my 3D printer.

4) 4 TB External Hard Drive

It's a hard drive. I don't use it much. I have three categories of important data: records, code, and photos. My records are stored in Dropbox. (I got 20 GB of storage in Dropbox back when they were giving away space all the time for referrals and other random things.) My code is on GitHub and/or Bitbucket. And my photos are stored in triplicate: on my laptop, on this hard drive, and in an AWS S3 Glacier Deep Archive.

5) Bose Companion 2 Speakers

These are great speakers, but I never use them. I use my headphones all the time so I don't disturb my wife who is currently studying for a degree in Computer Science. If we watch a movie or show together, we watch on her computer because it's in the living room and there is a couch next to it.

6) CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock

This dock works alright. I like it because it lets me connect my work laptop to my two monitors, keyboard, mouse, and webcam with one Thunderbolt 3 cable. I often switch my monitors, keyboard, mouse, and webcam between my work laptop and personal laptop, and this thing makes that a lot easier.

7) Anker 7-Port USB 3.0 Hub

This thing is really disappointing. It works 95% of the time, but that's not good enough for something that is basically just a cable. You wouldn't be okay with an extension cord that works 95% of the time, but for some reason we're okay with technology that works that well.

Sometimes it refuses to charge my phone. Sometimes I have to unplug the whole thing to get it to connect to all of the devices I've got plugged into it. This is 2020. You'd think we could get USB hubs to work perfectly by now, but no.

8) Henge Vertical Dock for 15" MacBook Pro

I like this dock. It lets me work as if my laptop were a desktop (using a full keyboard and mouse with monitors) without using up a ton of desk space. It also lets me use my laptop like a laptop. I can just pick my laptop up whenever I want to use it as a laptop. No need to unplug things one-by-one. It's great. This dock is one of the big reasons why I sold my desktop a few years back. I don't really feel like I have to compromise when choosing between portability and peripherals connectivity anymore.

9) Apple MacBook Pro 15" Retina

This is my personal laptop. I bought it when I first got into software engineering doing Ruby on Rails contract work. I like the keyboard on this laptop way better than the keyboard on my work laptop. And it has a hardware escape key. And no touch bar. And a MagSafe power connector. I like all these things about it.

10) Apple MacBook Pro 15" Touch Bar

This is my work laptop. I dislike using it as a laptop. The keyboard is like typing on paper. The lack of a hardware escape key saps my confidence in touch typing. The touch bar makes things that used to take one tap (increasing the volume, decreasing brightness, muting) take several taps while giving no tactile feedback. Hitting a button x times is way easier than sliding a slider over by a few millimeters. My personal laptop is still plenty fast for everything I do. So if I had to replace it I'd probably try to get another refurbished Mid 2015 model instead of one of the new touch bar models.

I designed this MacBook Pro laptop stand myself. Since this laptop only needs one cable to connect to all my peripherals, I thought getting another Henge dock would be overkill. Printing this homemade stand on my 3D printer was far more affordable.

11) Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard

I've had this keyboard for over a decade. The backlight LEDs have burned out twice, and I've replaced them both times. The original LEDs were blue, I replaced them with green the first time and red the most recent time. I find the red LEDs to be easier on the eyes in the evening, but they're not as bright as high-intensity blue and green LEDs.

I have repaired this keyboard a lot over the years because it has a couple features that are hard/impossible to find on keyboards nowadays. First, it has macro keys. I find this useful sometimes while doing some repetitive actions while writing code. There are other keyboards out there that have this functionality though.

The killer feature for me on this keyboard is the clock on the display. Yes, I have a clock on my computer, but I can't see it if I'm watching a video full screen! I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't know if I could live without having a display on my keyboard.

12) Logitech M525 Wireless Mouse

I went through several gaming mice from both Logitech and Razer. They all broke after a couple years of use. This cheap little laptop mouse has lasted way longer, and it fits easily in my backpack. I don't really like it that much, but it gets the job done. Plus it's small so it fits in my tiny hands pretty well.

13) Herman Miller Aeron Office Chair

This is supposed to be the best office chair you can get. It's pretty good. I don't think it's the best chair I've ever sat in, but it's up there. I got this one used from an office furniture liquidator that's several miles outside of town. If you're shopping for a chair, have money to burn, and don't want to spend too much time looking around, then I'd recommend this chair. You're not going to regret buying it.

If you have time, I'd recommend shopping around a bit. Buying an office chair is like buying a mattress. You need to spend hours in a chair and get it configured just right for you before you can know if you're going to like it or not. That's really hard to do in a store, but it's the only way to find your "perfect" chair.

14) AmazonBasics Shredder

It's a shredder. It shreds.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters