January 24, 2021

My work desk

The last time I was in an office working with other people was February 7, 2020. I left on a remarkably poorly-timed trip to Spain, and returned sick with something that knocked me out for a week (my doctor much later would tell me I almost certainly had Covid). By the time I was feeling better, our office had switched to mandatory Work From Home.

I’ve been Work From Home for nearly a year, and I’ve invested (spiritually, emotionally, financially) in my work desk quite a bit. Here’s where I ended up.

The desk

It’s a standing desk that moves up and down with a motor. I love it.

It’s nothing too fancy. It seems well-built. The raising and lowering with the touch of a button is illuminating. I have never before had a desk (standing or not) so precisely at the height that fits me. This is the real benefit of these desks. To illustrate: when I have my crocs on, instead of just standing in my socks as usual, I notice, and I will adjust the table slightly to compensate.

My desk is the iMovr Lander Lite, 53" wide and 24" deep. It was a little more expensive than other recommended brands, but was one of the few desks I could find that was 24" deep while being sufficiently long. Most desks are 30" deep and I was worried about crowding my space. The other nice thing about this particular desk: it is incredibly easy to set up.

Standing mat

My friend had one, wasn’t using it, and gave it to me. I have no idea what it is. It feels like a thicker, sturdier yoga pad. It’s very simple and I like it.

External monitor

I splurged and got the LG 5K “UltraFine”. I’ve used marginally disappointing 4K monitors for a long time, and was impressed when I saw the 5K at a local store. It’s bright, crisp, and has no visible viewing angle problems. When I saw it, it was on display next to Apple’s $6000 Pro XDR display. I thought the LG looked better.

For a while, it did seem to cause kernel panics when plugging and unplugging my Macbook Pro. That appears to have been fixed with Big Sur. The fact that it doubles as a USB-C hub cuts down on wire chaos. It also charges my laptop, all in one cable.

Camera

I’m on at least an hour of Zoom calls a day. And even though the LG has a webcam built in which is much better than the potato camera in my Macbook Pro, it’s still a terrible image. It turns out you can pretty easily turn a mirrorless camera into a webcam with the Elgato Cam Link 4k, which takes the HDMI signal from the camera and converts it to a USB webcam.

The cam link is great. It’s tiny, just plugs in and starts working, and has a little light that indicates when it’s going. This helps me remember if I left the camera on.

Here’s my setup:

35mm is as tight as I’d want, for where the camera is. If I had a 28mm Summicron (this is the dream), I’d probably use that.

The S5 and Summicron are both absolutely overkill, but I already had them, so why not. I put the S5 into manual mode, set the focus to about where my face should be, and use the front dial to change the shutter speed to get the exposure I want. Turn the camera on to activate the camlink, and turn it off when I’m done. Lovely image, easy to operate.

Headphones

I used headphones all the time at the office, now there is no need! If anything, I want to investigate getting some nice speakers. In the meantime, my work laptop, which is the Macbook Pro 16", has surprisingly decent built-in speakers.

On Zoom calls, if I need to talk at any length, I use my Apple earbuds. I just assume their microphone is marginally better than that in the laptop.

Light

I have a cheap IKEA lamp pointed at the wall behind the monitor. This helps reduce the contrast of the bright monitor at night, and helps light my face a little on video calls.

Pens

Everyone needs a good pen. I use these.