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What's on your desk? - Episode 3: Ben Alt, Developer

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.

Hot Dawg

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.