My Desk

I recently made quite a large change in my life, I moved 1400 miles. I thought that it would be good to document the way my workspace was setup.

Ikea's Signum wire management

I chose the nextDesk terra as my desk. It comes highly recommended by a couple of other people as well. Its an excellent desk. The price is somewhat obscene though but, everything about the desk is great. The desktop is beautiful and seems quite durable. the one downside that Iʼve experienced is that the table top rocks a little bit when you are doing things like typing. Iʼm not sure if this is because I had the desk on carpet or if its a common problem. If you are looking for it, its quite visible while you work but, i havenʼt been bothered by it much in practice. As for options, I selected the power management as well as the keyboard tray. I would recommend that everyone gets the power management, it’s really handy and really helps you keep the cord clutter to a minimum. Although I didnʼt get it, the vanity cover would have been very helpful. I ended up getting the Signum from ikea. It’s worked out really well. It’s really handy for cleaning up cord, there’s all sorts of places for you to wrap cords around. It also is a handy place to strap hard drives to. As for the keyboard tray, it’s either desperately needed or not at all depending on what else youʼre getting with your desk.

From the description, I found next deskʼs monitor arms to be very disappointing. At the time, they could only hold 2 22″ monitors next to each other. Furthermore, the positioning was it adjustable. It looks like they have upgraded the option considerably since I last looked but, I still don’t think that I would I order them. I like the ones that I did order much better, I picked the Ergotron LX Dual Stacking monitor arms. While they do say stacking, they work just as well side by side and they give additional positioning options. As you have probably noticed, I donʼt actually use two monitors, I use one monitor and then position my MacBook next to it. The laptop tray to make this happen is included with the monitor arms. In order to maintain proper ergonomic positioning, youʼll either need the keyboard tray or have monitor arms.

As you can probably tell, I use an Apple Thunderbolt Display. I have strongly mixed feelings about it. It is extremely expensive for a monitor but, getting a 27″ color calibrated monitor from another vendor is only $200-$300 cheaper. While that is a meaningful difference, the Thunderbolt display also acts as a dock for your Mac. Given the severe shortage of ports on Appleʼs recent products, it’s really handy to have all of the extra ports available. On the other hand, the Thunderbolt display is covered with an extremely reflective sheet of glass. If you are in a room lit by sunlight and the room is painted with a light color, it’s likely that youʼll have a significant issue with glare. This is much more pronounced when it is displaying something dark. For this reason, I have a special profile for iTerm when it’s running on the Thunderbolt display, I use the Solarized Light theme to cut down on the glare. Overall, I really like this monitor.

My inputs

For input devices, I use an Ergodox and an Apple Magic Trackpad. The Ergodox is the best keyboard that Iʼve ever used or seen. It certainly isnʼt elegant (although I think it has a certain nerdy charm to it) but, it feels great to type on it. As for the Magic Trackpad, OS X has so many gestures built in, it just feels natural to use a trackpad with a Mac. Since the Ergodox is a split keyboard, the best way that Iʼve found to position it is to place the two sides of the keyboard a shoulder-width apart. That way, Iʼm able to hold my arms and wrists straight while typing. This leaves a gap in between the two halves which I use to put my Magic Trackpad. Iʼll be writing a full review of the Ergodox soon. Purchasing an Ergodox is a little bit difficult but Massdrop has kits available occasionally.

Iʼve been very happy with my desk and setup. Given the rather large life change that Iʼve taken, I think its likely that Iʼll have to make some changes to my setup.

iPhone Homescreen 2015

A screenshot of my iPhone's homescreen at the beginning of 2015

Better late than never, here is the screenshot of my home screen. While there have been some fairly changes to my home screen this year, Iʼm surprised by the number of apps that have made it another year.

Geoff Wozniak is Quitting OS X

Furthermore, I found that I had stopped using the majority of the primary apps that ship with OS X: Mail, Safari, iTunes, and Apple Creativity Apps/iLife. For the most part, I ran essentially three apps: Firefox, MailMate, and iTerm2. Most of my work was done in terminals. The culture of the operating system at this point was more about sharing than personal productivity.

In short, I was working against the grain of the environment. It was a gradual transition, but OS X went from a useful tool set to get my work done to an obnoxious ecosystem of which I no longer wanted to be a part.

More damning than the lack of personal connection, though, was the complete lack of transparency and general decline in software quality, as I perceived it.

Geoff Wozniak on Curried Lambda

Iʼm really starting to feel the same way. While Iʼve been using OS X for quite a number of years. I started using OS X in 10.3 and Iʼve been using it happily ever since. At the beginning, I used all of Appleʼs built in apps. Gradually, Iʼve moved away from Appleʼs apps.

In the last couple of years it has gotten to the point were the only Apple app that I use is Safari. I have still enjoyed using OS X as it looks nice, in recent years it is very energy efficient and it has been very stable for me. I usually go months without rebooting.

But the stability part has definitely taken a dive with Yosemite. It hasn’t crashed on me in a couple of months but, there seem to be little bugs all over the place. The most annoying one to me is that when I switch spaces, all of the menu bar icons move around. That in and of itself wouldn’t be that annoying but, it seems like that causes everything to freeze while it is happening.

Since Yosemite was released, Iʼve needed to forcefully reboot my computer more than I ever remember needing to do so including, Windows 95-2000. Usually what happens when I need to reboot is that I try to wake my Mac from sleep and it just doesnʼt. I hit a bunch of keys, click the mouse a bunch but, the screen never changes from black. Iʼm not sure if it simply not reading the input or if it gets stuck trying to wake up. Either way, its maddening.

iCloud has been awful. iCloud drive is exactly the file sharing solution that Iʼve been looking for but, its execution has been abysmal. iCloud has become nearly unusable for me since the release of iOS 8 and Yosemite. Prior to that, iCloud syncing seemed to be working just fine for me, I used it for a number of apps. Now, it seemingly doesnʼt sync for hours at a time. It certainly isnʼt something that I want to keep using.

Iʼve really thought about leaving OS X behind, like Geoff has. Really, I donʼt need OS X for the work that I do. Really the only things that I need are a unix terminal and a web browser but, there are a few apps that I would really miss. For me, the main thing that I would lose is Dash, which is an app that I find to be hugely helpful for software development. I think I would also miss a native 1Password app. Sure, the Windows version of 1Password works under Crossover but, that isn’t a great experience. There are a number of other apps that I use which Iʼm sure I would only be able to find crappy replacements for. For me, this has always been Linuxʼs weakness: While there is some really powerful software for Linux, the user experience has been dreadful. Seemingly the people that develop software for Linux donʼt seem to care at all about user experience. That is what I would miss most, the vibrant ecosystem of 3rd party OS X developers.

There are also some OS level features that I would miss. Iʼm sure that I would also miss the power management of OS X. I’m sure that I would lose a couple of hours of battery life should I move my machine off of OS X. Also, Iʼm sure that the Macbook Pro that I use would run considerably hotter. Finally, the last time that I tried to run Linux on a Mac, the touchpad drivers were awful. While they seemed functionally sound, they felt really awful in comparison to OS X. I do frequently use my Mac without a mouse attached, so this change would bother me quite a bit.

On the other hand, my work involves Linux. Switching to Linux would mean that I gain some really awesome tools to make my work easier. Not only that, at this point I would also be gaining stability by choosing a Linux Desktop. That isnʼt something which I ever thought that I would write. Appleʼs software appears to be at an all time low for stability yet, their hardware has never been better. I wish that Appleʼs software would live up to their hardware. While I think that I would see some benefits from leaving OS X, I just feel like I would be leaving too much behind at this point. Iʼm not excited for what Apple will choose to do their OSs next.