Posts with "What's on your desk" tag
Written by Brian Anderson, Software Engineer
I recently started working as a developer for Vox Media. I work remotely from the lovely city of Ames, Iowa – which in case you didn’t know, is the birthplace of the The Atanasoff–Berry computer, the first electronic digital computing device. (Don’t worry that was a TIL for me too). I’ve lived here for 7 years now, after moving from Silicon Valley in 2006. At that time my wife and I just had our first child and we were ready for a slower life and to experience tornadoes up close.
I spend most of my day sitting at my desk, and supporting the editorial team with quick fixes to Chorus. If you sent a nasty, hilarious, or hilariously-nasty email about our platform, chances are it gets assigned to me. The rage is slowly building…
Let’s start with the most important thing on my desk — coffee. I am pretty particular about it. The beans are locally roasted by Burgies Coffee, I grind and brew 32 ounces of it in a Chemex coffeemaker every morning. After 4 years of this, I’ve converted my wife into a coffee snob too! The funny thing is I used to make fun of elite coffee drinkers while pouring loads of creamer in my coffee then a few years ago, I worked with a guy who brought in the most marvelous coffee. A few weeks later I was hooked, and I just HAD to purchase my own setup.
Back to what is on my desk, I work on a 13“ MacBookAir (2013). The Air has a silly fast SSD, which reduces sleep/wake time and load time compared to regular hard drives. I also like the flexibility of grabbing the light-weight Air and heading down to a local coffee shop to get a fresh perspective (and fresh coffee). The battery lasts 10 hours, which is freakishly long—probably longer than my brain can focus on writing software.
A couple of years back I switched to using an Apple Magic Trackpad full time. The multitouch gestures come very natural to me.
I constantly have Chrome, Safari, Textmate and a handful of terminal windows open, and that’s not easy on the 13” screen of the Macbook Air. To supplement that, I have a simple Dell UltraSharp U2412 24” monitor.
I have a small light behind the monitor, to reduce the strain on my eyes from staring at the display all day. I bought a small desk lamp ready to house my programmable LIFX Kickstarter-backed LED I am desperately waiting for. Eight months of delay seems to be normal for ambitious Kickstart projects, or so I tell myself. I plan on using the LIFX to light my office with the colors on the most recent animated gif in our Campfire room, soothes the eyes and the humor bone.
I try to drink enough water to balance out all the coffee I drink; so I put an empty cup on my desk. The desk itself is an old Ikea desk paired with an old Staples office chair. Neither are all that great. The older my body gets, the more I contemplate getting something nicer. Possible building a custom standing desk from old schoolhouse doors, or recycled barn lumber. Sometimes I sit on a yoga ball because people say it would help my flabby core – I haven’t seen any improvement.
On the way to get coffee, I often end up waiting for the train.
I usually listen to dance, house, or electronic music while I am working. I like music that I am not tempted to sing along to and provides upbeat, driving tracks. Soundcloud consistently has the best remixes and mash-up music. At least once a day, I listen to one of the monthly Funky House London mixes.
To get those happy songs into my ear-holes I am currently using a pair of Bose On-Ear headphones. They seem to provide a nice mix of noise isolation (from my 5 & 7 year old boys) and breathability for my overly-sweaty ears. Personal confession: sometimes I find myself sitting for an hour, or more, with the headphones on without music playing, which is really embarrassing. I think this is because I’ve played through an hour long mix and I don’t realize that the track stopped. (Or possibly, I paused the music to watch some random youtube video).
I have a boring iPhone, that I use to tweet, take pictures, and listen to podcasts. Excluding conversations with my mom, I’ve used about 3.52 voice-minutes this year. I am ready for something new. My apple fanboyism is fading, so maybe this is the year to get an Android device. Though I can’t get over the laggy-UI and those horrible pentile displays.
Somewhere in my house is my retina iPad 3, though I suspect my kids have taken it over for Minecrafting. To help manage the various cords for my devices I have a Blue Lounge Sumo preventing things from sliding behind my desk.
I’ve tried so, so, hard to be a digital-only note taker, but nothing beats the ability to scribble, doodle and take notes on paper. I’ve taken a good amount of notes over the last four years, as I returned to school for a Computer Science degree from Iowa State. It is hard to beat the speed and flexibility of paper. I’ve even dabbled with those ridiculous digitizing pens – they are a joke.
I use a Pilot Birdy Mini ballpoint pen and Field Notes Night Sky Edition. Field Notes lets you feel hip, old-timey, and small-business friendly all in one tiny doodle-inducing useful package. I have a bad habit of cruising Jet Pens, looking eye-catching writing tools. I don’t remember how I got into this horrible habit of mindlessly browsing Jetpens, but I am powerless to their monthly newsletter and always end up ordering tiny Japanese pens. Without a doubt, my favorite pen of all time is the Zebra Sarasa Push Clip Gel Ink Pen - 0.4 mm. You can spend a lot more money on a pen, but nothing else places ink more consistently on the paper than this workhorse.
I have a collection of classic computer science textbooks that I am slowly (very very slowly) trying to make my way through. Fundamental Algorithms, by Donald Knuth, is a wonderful text that details the art of creating beautiful algorithms. I believe writing software is an art form where the developer is a craftsman sculpting the ideal solution. The other book is the Dragon book on compilers has come highly recommended. Sadly, I haven’t cracked it open yet. I can’t tell if I actually enjoy reading these types of books or if I just enjoy thinking about reading the books. Maybe I’ll write a follow up post in a couple years and let you know I’ve finish either of these.
Also, I have a fun little radiometer that spins when it is in the sunlight. I am a huge sucker for gadgets, I think it is from trolling the electronic surplus stores that peppered the silicon valley in the late 80’s. Middle School science fairs were a lot of fun where I grew up, it was the golden era of hobbyist-built computers and pvc-plastic based robotic arms. All the dads, with their killer mustaches, giant glasses and plaid shirts competed to out-nerd their children’s classmates’ dads. I guess my son’s science fairs projects will be GMO gene-sequence soy and rhubarb hybrids: rhuhoy!
I work in one of our spare bedrooms, and get to look out my window and admire the wonderful Iowa flora. Sometimes I get to see fox, deer, rabbits, drunk Iowa State students (or professors) and neighborhood children running around back there.
And before you ask: you should also own two grills! It is amazing how resourceful they can be. For instance you can have one rust out, leak gas and be overrun with field mice and still prepare a nice dinner for your family on the other.
At the old Verge offices, not all of us had desks— or chairs for that matter. I’m happy to report that in our new office, not only do we all have our own desks, the product team even has our own room!
On my desk, I have a monitor propped up by an empty hard drive box. Please excuse the tape, it didn’t quite make it back from CES in the best shape. I think it adds character.
Resting on my monitor is a Pokemon toy I got from McDonalds. Oshawatt the otter Pokemon is always smiling and it makes me happy. I know that a lot of the DC bros have bobbleheads. I have my little wobbly Oshawatt.
For my computer, I use a 13-inch MacBook Air propped up on a Rain Design Stand. I choose this computer because I’m more comfortable with the Mac operating system. I love the portability of the Air, and how fast the SSD is. It’s a great on-the-go machine. Not shown: a Lenovo Yoga 13-inch running Windows 8 for quality assurance work on The Verge.
My headphones are by V-Moda. I’ve been exclusively using V-Moda since 2007. I love all the different models of headphones they make. The one shown on my desk is the V-Moda M100s. I also have a pair of M80s with custom plates.
I charge all of my devices at work—including my special Pikachu edition Nintendo 3DS XL.
My iPhone 5 was stolen 3 days ago, so now I’m getting by with a loaner phone. Because of my line of work, I also have a Samsung SIII, a Blackberry Z10, a Nokia Lumia 920, and a Droid Razr M.
Being a journalism nerd, I’m really into my pens and notebooks. I have an Action Book that I use to manually track our editorial features and long term projects. I have a to-do style notebook from Muji that helps me with my day-to-day task tracking. I also have 2 Rhodia notebooks that I use to take meeting notes. I also use a Post-it system to enhance my Action Book. I love orange post-its and the special Shiba-Inu stickies from Muji. I love pens made by Sharpie. The ones with the silver caps are my favorite pens.
Also on my desk, I have a giant bottle of seltzer. At the new office, we treated ourselves to a seltzer machine because it was going to be a lot cheaper than the amount of canned seltzers we drank per month.
Because we just moved in, there is still a lot of potential for decorating my desk. My desk neighbor Scott Kellum and I are looking into purchasing a cat-a-day calendar to share. I’d love to get some posters or comic panels to tape up at my desk but I haven’t found anything amazing yet.
My desk. One of the many things that Vox does really well is distributed development and I consider myself lucky to be able to work from home. Sure, it’s sometimes aggravating to hear my two year old being cute and not being able to drop everything and join in the fun, but the fact that I don’t have to fight Austin traffic and can take the occasional meeting on my back porch is an unexpected benefit. My wife and I set up a little office in our spare bedroom, and so far it’s been a great experience. Plus my dog gets to go to work with me.
The desk itself it pretty sparse - it’s a repurposed dining room table. I’m a bit of a law and order kinda guy, so like to keep things pretty uncluttered. I get the occasional apple core from lunch, or the odd pile of mail, but this is a pretty normal state of affairs.
The wooden spoon is my thermostat. The A/C is the strongest in this corner of the house, and occasionally I have to stand up and close the vent on the ceiling so that my hands don’t seize up. About the only thing that is a new addition is the fly tying vice. I just started getting into fly fishing about a year ago and have started playing around with the idea of tying my own.
One of the more useful techniques I’ve found to keep myself focused during long retrospective and planning meetings on goto meeting or google hangout is to put a guitar in my hands. A little distraction goes a long way, and since rdio isn’t much of an option, running scales up and down often does the trick. Using both hands has the bonus of keeping them off of keyboard in an attempt to find the perfect animated gif to suit the occasion. The only real problem with this is that I sometimes forget to mute the mic, leading to interesting background noise, for which I am duly ridiculed.
One of the more disappointing things about working from home is my inability to take part in Vox Brewing’s Friday keg tappings (Clif makes an excellent hefeweizen, btw.) Luckily my office come equipped with a bar, though it remains closed during normal business hours.
So you wanna know what’s on my desk, huh? Well, it’s all very interesting, see. I have bobbleheads, some other bobbleheads, and a bobblehead. I guess there’s some productivity-type stuff on there too, but it’s mostly bobbleheads.
I’ve actually grown quite comfortable in my little corner of Vox Media’s HQ, and I consider “my desk” to actually be more of an area. Most of “my area” is dedicated to my sporting passions: the Philadelphia Phillies and the Georgetown Hoyas. Obviously, most of the aforementioned bobbleheads are Phillies bobbleheads, but there are also pennants, posters, photos, and even a wall calendar. I’ve even got a few soccer scarves hanging on the walls too and my Allen Iverson (favorite athlete ever) jersey over my chair. I’ve never been one to hide my sporting allegiances, and my desk is no exception.
As for what is actually on my desk; I use a MacBook Pro, set up on a Rain Design stand, along with a Dell monitor. I usually do most of my work on the big monitor and save the laptop screen for chat windows and streaming sports. I use a Magic Mouse and an Apple keyboard, and I love both. For headphones, I stick with simple Urbanears over-ear-phones - they’re nothing special, but are great for switching between music and Google Hangouts, Skype, or GoTo Meeting (which we use for remote collaboration).
I also generally keep my iPad (I’m a first generation OG) on my desk, propped up on a Logitech stand and bluetooth keyboard. I mostly use the iPad for notes (hence the keyboard) or watching something in the background (Netflix, WatchESPN, so much MLB.tv, etc.).
I’ve always have a snack (carrots, almonds and M&M’s are my go-tos) and a drink (water and coffee almost exclusively) on my desk. I also keep some post-its, a small notebook, and some pens ready if I need to jot something down.
I’ve also have a second desk to the side that houses one of our testing computers and pretty much everything else I can’t fit on my primary desk: keys and wallet, a larger notepad, empty coffee mugs, and just about anything else that doesn’t have a home.
All-in-all, I’ve got my desk set up to be a very comfortable place for me to work. I spend some long days here, but it never really feels that way.
What’s on my desk? A bunch of junk. I’m a pack rat, and this is my desk on a good day. It’s usually overflowing with food packages, sketches, and to-do lists. As a graphic designer, it’s almost mandatory to have creative stimuli surround me; I feel I work better in a messy creative environment.
I have plenty of toys to play with (when I’m not working… err, sometimes). The pocket-sized Nerf gun, in particular, is important ‘cause a man needs protection in the designer-hood. I also usually have magazines or art books chilling around somewhere. Aside from the entertainment, I have the necessities: ketchup, whiskey, and chopsticks. Can’t forget a vinyl piece from my favorite artist, Jeremy Fish - check his art out it’s so sweet (shout out to designer Uy Tieu for hooking me up with it).
I ALWAYS have food on my desk. When you weigh as much as a broomstick, it helps to keep my wee-baby-body nourished. On this particular day, I am crushing an empanada from Julia’s Empanadas, located right down the street.
What am I without technology? Mac Book 15” with SSD, Audio Technica headphones, my iPhone, and a new iPad I just got for my birthday. The paper app is so rad! Always be sketching. But, of course, I can’t ever leave home without a real note pad and pen.
If I had to define my desk… I’m thinking it would be a pig-pen mixed with a toy factory. Well, thats my desk. Blam!
Hello, we are the Vox Media product team. We are designers, developers, operations engineers, and product and community managers, based in Washington, DC, New York, and Austin, and distributed remotely in cities from Santa Barbara, California to Springfield, Missouri.