Inspired by Melissa Fach's post about her home office I have agreed to share my own. If you have read Melissa's blog you will know that she works in a clean, uncluttered and stylish office, with high quality wooden desks, state of the art computers and some pretty cool Star Wars decorations. My office really could not be much further removed from this image of the Office Idyll. I cannot write so fluently about my computers, as frankly, I cannot remember the technical details as they are so old! But here goes.
The only computer I now use from day-to-day is a Dell Inspiron 530s which I bought in early 2009. It is quiet and powerful enough for my needs. I can happily have 30 browser tabs open, multiple windows, Photoshop, Thunderbird and BBC News running without any performance problems. Here are the techy details, I cannot deprive you of the details! I just had to look this up as I could not remember how to discover this information. After Googling "how to find out hardware on a vista" I found that the details are all hiding away in Control Panel > System:
- Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E7200 @ 2.53GHz
- Memory 4Gb RAM
- 32-bit Operating System
- ATI Radeon HD 2400 Pro – Graphics Card
- Western Digital 1Tb Drive (main)
- Hitachi 500Gb back up drive
And a lot of other bits too…..
I have 2 screens for my PC. The main screen, which sits directly in front of me, is my LG Flatron W2252TQ, which is 22 inches on the diagonal. The second screen is to my right and this is an Acer x203H, which is 20 inches. I generally have BBC News, Youtube, Firefox and email on this screen.
Don't ask me about the speakers, I am still using the Cambridge SoundWords amp and speakers that I bought with my first PC in 1999. They work, they sound good, and I do not envisage replacing them this century.
Just as Melissa pointed out, it is a constant effort to keep clutter out. I gave up the fight about 4 years ago. My main desk is a piece of MDF cut to my specifications by a nice chap in B&Q, painted white and with 4 shiny table legs screwed on. It does sag a little in the middle.
The office is decorated with all manner of strange objects from my youth. Since having kids my parents keep bringing me boxes of my old toys from their loft. What does not go to the kids (or get shoved under the ever-growing pile of paperwork) is used to decorate my office.
The computer to the left is my old Ubuntu box that is only used in emergencies (the last emergency was July 2011 when my main hard drive died suddenly and unexpectedly). To ensure that my office is ergonomically sound I have an old Belkin router box under the main monitor and an Oxford Spanish Dictionary and The Works of Shakespeare (F. Warne & Co, now Penguin Books) under the Acer. An old bedside lamp provides additional illumination for study in the evening. To the right you can see my Epson printer, an SX200, bought from Tesco for about 35. Has a scanner too, which only seems to function when the clutter is removed from the lid.
The Communications Hub
I have a fax machine! I got this for one job I did last year. I needed to fax some documents to America. Fortunately it did not cost me a penny as I asked on Freecycle (a UK group that allows people to recycle their stuff for free) and a nice chap in the next village offered me his old fax machine. I just needed to order some ink and I was away. It is a BT PaperJet 50, age unknown, but according to Amazon it was first available in January 2002.
I have 2 routers. The top one is a Netgear DG834, Wired Router with 4-port 10/100 Mbps Switch (I copied the description from Amazon) which was my first router, and it works perfectly well thank you very much. The other router is the Belkin G Wireless Modem Router, which also works very well. Why 2 routers? My ISP had a failure and blamed my hardware rather than identify to a problem their end, so I bought a new router! I now have 2. The Smurfs are for decoration only, they are not really integral to the smooth running of operations here. The spitfire is an original Matchbox toy, made in England in 1973 by Lesney Products.
I used to have a basic (cheap) office chair, but last year I started developing pins and needles in my right arm on a regular basis. I soon determined (OK, after several weeks) that it was caused by the position of my mouse arm. In fact, I was commissioned to write an article about ergonomics and that is when I realised that I had a problem.
The chair is a Lindo Adjustable Black Executive Ergonomic Designer Office Chair. That was a bit of a mouthful. The arms go up and down like that of an eager school boy and there is a nice head rest for those times when you just need to relax a little. It also prevents whiplash.
The funniest thing about this chair is that it is actually an electric chair, although I have never hooked it up to the mains. It has a heated seat, not something I envisage ever needing myself, but I am sure some people enjoy sitting on a warm seat while they work.
Under my desk I have a foot stool. Not entirely ergonomic, but makes sitting back more comfortable. I generally sit in position 3. In fact, having my feet up takes the pressure off the back of my legs which improves circulation.
For those times when I may be lacking inspiration, or just need to reference something offline, I have all my old books in my office too, in the library corner.
I also keep the bin on top of the book cases as this is the safest place when there are kids around. In fact, you may have noticed that all my computers are kept up on desks. This is to ensure that power buttons are out of reach of babies and toddlers!
The Apple box was originally home to an Apple Monitor IIc, which I think was my dad's first computer when he set him self up as a self-employed accountant. It now has Space Lego inside. I am waiting until the kids are a little older before letting them loose on those treasures!
Finally, I may as well share my mobile computing device. Back in 2008 it was a high-tech piece of kit, now it is almost a relic. My T-Mobile G1, the first Google Android phone, is still my only mobile smartphone. I had to replace the battery late last year. Although it runs at about 1/20th of the speed of modern phones (according to the last saleswoman to call me) it still works as well as it did in 2009 when I bought it. My needs have not increased so I fail to see why my phone should be upgraded!
So, that is my office. Not quite the same as the sleek and stylish office so many other people like to work from, but it is homely, personal and mine!