Dance Computer, Dance

by Ray Grasso

A Tour of my Desk

I’ve been working from home full time for four years, and my desk setup has mostly remained the same during that time. But the recent spate of folks sharing their home office setups—this Basecamp post was my favourite—inspired me to spruce up my own.

So, now it’s tour time folks!

My Desk

My work laptop (1) is a 13 inch 2017 MacBook Pro. It’s got the busted keyboard design. I mostly use an external keyboard, so mine still works fine 🤞.

My monitor (2) is a 27 inch Dell that’s six years old. It does the job. I’ll probably wait until it dies before I replace it.

I use a Kinesis Advantage 2 keyboard (3) which lets me hold my hands like a T-Rex while I type. It’s easy on the wrists but beware, it took me six months to type on this thing properly, and those six months were tough going so perhaps not a fun challenge to take up during already potentially stressful quarantine times.

I replaced my trusty stack of too-dry-to-read textbooks with the brutalist styles of this monitor stand by Brateck (4). It has a drawer where I can store my notebook and pens when I’m not using them. But what tickles the organiser in me the most is the cavity beneath it where I can store other things1.

Pictures and plants are, of course, essential (5 & 6).

I used an Apple Magic Mouse for years, but it started acting flaky after I upgraded to Catalina. So, I switched to a Razer Death Adder (7) which is way more comfortable to hold. It doesn’t allow me to side scroll as easily but not recharging batteries regularly is nice. Also, it has disco lights and a USB cable. Actually, let’s talk about cables and wires for a minute.

So, wires. Yeah, they get in the way. Yeah, they can look ugly. But you know what else they are? Reliable. That’s right, like a blue heeler at dusk, they’re always there for you. They mean there’s no more stuttering when you move your mouse. You don’t need to worry about Wi-Fi turbulence when you’ve got an old fashioned Cat 6 cable plugged in baby 2. With that off my chest, let’s get back to the tour.

Next up is the linchpin, the box that brings it all together. A couple of my colleagues recommended the CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt dock (9) and it’s tops. I plug everything into it, USB devices, my router, my display, my microphone and headset—and it all flows to my laptop via a single Thunderbolt cable (8). The TS3 Plus also serves as a power source for my MacBook so I can leave my power cord in my bag for that wondrous time, someday in the future when I can work outside again.

I spend a large portion of my day on video calls so a reliable audio setup is essential. I have a Jabra headset which is light and comfortable, but I also have an old set of Sennheisers (10) that I enjoy listening to music through. Again, some colleagues tipped me off to the fact that I can frankenstein a microphone onto any headset by using an Antlion ModMic. Its hardware mute button isn’t as low down on the cord as I like, but at least it’s there.

Headsets

Another bonus of wearing this new set up is that I look like a helicopter pilot instead of a call centre worker and who doesn’t want to look like a helicopter pilot, right?

I run my headphones into a Magni 2U headphone amp (11) and plug that and the microphone directly into the TS3 Plus 3. So now, I have my favourite headphones handy when I need to concentrate and want to listen to something from one of my go to playlists (or White Noise).

When I want to listen to music without headphones, I stream it through my fairly ancient Jambox (12). It’s rugged and still trucking though I expect the battery to self combust any day now. I've ordered a pair of Audioengine HD3 speakers to replace it because my ears deserve it.

Update: There weren’t any HD3’s in stock so I instead went with a pair of Edifier R1280DB’s. They are cheaper, connect to the TS3 via digital optical cable, sound good, and look alright.

Desk Speaker

I’ve also ordered a Logitech webcam which I’ll mount on my monitor so I’m not always side-eyeing folks from my laptop camera in meetings.

I spent a scandalous amount of money on a Herman Miller Embody (13) when I first set up my home office. I never worry about my chair, so I think I can say that money was worth it 🤷‍♂️.

Finally, there’s my desk (14). It is a standing desk that I put together eight years ago. Back then, it was tricky to find standing desks online, so to save money, I only ordered legs from GeekDesk 4 and attached a bamboo tabletop from Ikea to them. The top could be a bit larger, but maybe I’m just greedy.

So, there it is—the throne of my weekday castle.

There are a window and couch out of shot to the left. The couch is mostly ornamental because if I allow myself to lie down on it and close my eyes for just one minute, all will be lost.

  1. I guess I could have hollowed out the middle of those old textbooks 🤔. 

  2. You should try to use an Ethernet cable at least. It can make your video calls more reliable

  3. I used an Antlion USB adapter for this but found it would end up with static when my laptop woke from sleep, so now I plug in directly, and things seem fine. 

  4. I ordered the v2 legs at the time and shipped them to Perth from the US for a sum that would make a Nigerian prince blush.