New new office setup

Last year I posted a picture of my work-from-home office setup.  Well, it turns out that working from home is actually a significantly less temporary condition than I thought at the time.  So I moved and re-jiggered my office a little bit.

I moved my desk from the basement upstairs to what was the spare bedroom (it's actually not much of a bedroom anyway - just barely big enough for a queen-sized bed) and moved the spare bed down to the basement.  This was a major improvement over the winter, as the heating situation in the basement is not great.  It also gives me a lot more natural light, which is just makes things more pleasant in general.

In terms of hardware, things are much the same, but with some minor changes.  As you can see, I kept my old monitor setup, with my crappy old monitors.  Not because I'm particularly attached to them, but just because it's convenient and I don't have a lot of desk space to work with.  I also have my trusty Ultimate Hacking Keyboard, which I still love.

I did get an upgraded laptop - still a ThinkPad, so you can't really tell the difference, just a newer model with more RAM.  I also added the tablet I got myself for Christmas (in lieu of exchanging gifts, my wife and I decided to upgrade our tablets), a Samsung Galaxy Tab 6 Lite.  It's actually a fairly nice little tablet, especially for the $250 price tag.  It's also really nice as an additional screen to play videos, podcasts, or music in the background while I work.  That way that stuff doesn't get in the way as it might if I put it on my computer (and it also doesn't have to go over the VPN). 

I've also upgraded my trackball from a Logitech Marble Mouse to a Kensington Expert Mouse.  This was actually necessitated by the fact that my Marble Mouse was really old and the left-click button finally started to die.  I've actually wanted to try an Expert Mouse style trackball for a long time - pretty much ever since I've been using left-handed trackballs.  But until relatively recently, I was too cheap to justify spending $100 on a trackball, so I settled for the Marble Mouse, which is much less expensive, but still good.  However, this time I decided to give the Expert Mouse a shot.  There aren't really that many choices for ambidextrous trackballs anyway, so why not get a nice one?  And so far it is pretty nice.  The large trackball takes a little getting used to, but it controls well enough and is fairly comfortable with the wrist rest.  It's got a scroll wheel that's nicer than the buttons on the Marble Mouse, and the configuration software works pretty well.  The Expert Mouse actually has four physical buttons and the scroll wheel, compared to the four buttons total (including scroll) on the Marble Mouse, and will treat clicking both top or bottom buttons at once as fifth and sixth buttons.  That's nice because it actually gives you a little more slack to do something useful with the extra buttons. So I have the top buttons configured for universal scroll, copy, and paste.  However, I did find that there's not way in the UI to control the concurrent-click detection time, so using the click-both feature on the bottom two buttons (right- and left-click by default) doesn't work well - it's easy for it to confused and do things like swallow double-clicks.  Still, I'm happy with the change.

Right now I'm quite happy with my home office.  The hardware and desk space situation is good; I get plenty of sunlight, but due to the angles the sun never shines straight in the window; and I can even open the windows and get some fresh air!  And this is a good thing, because I'm going to be in it for a while.  My company isn't planning to require anyone to return to the office until at least October.  The offices are currently open with various COVID restrictions in place, but non-essential employees are returning on a purely voluntary basis.  And so far there aren't that many people in the office, so unless working from home is a problem for some reason, we don't really have much of a reason to go back.

I guess we'll see what happens toward the end of the year.  I know a lot of people are rooting for a "part-time office" model where we could go into the office two or three days a week for meetings and work from home the rest of the time.  So far there are no plans for that model, but I find it appealing as well.  My team was already distributed across two offices, so just having everyone work from home wasn't really that disruptive to us.  In fact, it might actually be easier in some expects, since while it does take away the in-person aspect, it also takes away the risks associated with that in a distributed team.  Sure, we can't have spontaneous, ad hoc conversations, but we also are less likely to leave important people out of those spontaneous conversations. I experienced that several times in a previous team where we had one remote person, who we would frequently forget to include in or notify of decisions we made in those spontaneous discussions.  Instead, we just have the conversation in the Slack channel and everybody can see it and join in if they want.  

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