Office Porn

A few weeks ago, there was a thread on on of our internal blogs at workconcerning our home office setup for productivity and comfort. One of them mentioned an old blog post of mine, and it occurred to me that it’s been five years since I’ve shared my office.

Here is what it looks like today:

My home office (HDR)
My home office (HDR)
The Richmond, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G
36 exposures (0+/-3ev), 1/15sec @ ƒ8, ISO200, 14mm

The desk

Desktop
Desktop
The Richmond, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G
18 exposures (0+/-3ev), 1/15sec @ ƒ8, ISO200, 19mm

I could talk for a long time about each thing on my desk. Here though is a short inventory (in case you want to stock up):

  • Apple iMac 27″iMac (2011, 3.4Ghz Core i6/16GB/SSD+HDD)- If you are a porgrammer, a MacBook Air is more than powerful enough, but photographers need speed and storage (and storage speed). For years, I thought iMacs were the perfect computer for technology curmudgeons (like my parents), but that has changed with the latest models. I got rid of my Mac Pro and haven’t looked back.
  • Apple 24″ Cinema Display- Get an Apple Thunderbolt DisplayLED display instead of this as the multi-use cable in the Cinema Display is way too short. Note that because this is machined from glass and aluminum like the iMac, weight considerations are an issue (see below).
  • 2xErgotron MX Desk Mount LCD Armsergotron mx– The LX Dual stacking arms (even the newer ones) are not strong enough to hold either the display or the computer. The MX are borderline at best. Alternatives which are better looking include one arm from Humanscale and nearly any from Monitors In Motion. Unfortunately, I was on a budget. I ended up selling my work dual LX arm, and I gifted the home model to my Aunt to use with her 11″ MacBook Air and an old Apple Cinema display (pre-glass/aluminum).
Rear of desk
You get a good look at these monitor arms and the cabling of way-too-many devices
  • Apple 13″ MacBook Air (Late ’10, 2.13Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4GB, 256GBSSD)- Get a more recent MacBook Air.
  • TwelveSouth Bookarc- I use this for storing my MacBook Air when not in use. Also a good buy if you are a single monitor MacBook Air user. If a MacBook Air is your sole computer use, the dual LX arms mentioned above are the best bang-for-your-buck.
  • D-Link DSG-2205 gigabit switch- I need a switch so that the NAS (below) is on the same LAN as the iMac. I bought this for my previous apartment back for my entertainment center’s network. I chose this model (back then), because it uses less power than most and was always-on.
  • Cisco WET-610N wireless bridge- While the iMac has its own WiFi, this makes the NAS available to the rest if the apartment.
Wireless bridge + FitBit charging cradle/receiver
The wireless bridge and the fitbit dock. The cable guide is from BlueLounge
  • Ikea Galant Desk (glass white, A-leg, chrome plated)- I wanted a modern glass desk on a budget so this was the only game in town. The “chrome plating” is a bit of a joke and falls off a lot.
  • SOTO Rails– This is how you mount $500 cableways on your $200 glass desk. You’ll need to buy $2 worth of wood shims from the hardware store.
_7075412.JPG
Both the SOTO rails and the LCD arms have wood shims on them to give the glass desk the thickness of a normal one for clamping purposes.
  • Humanscale Freedom Task Chair (w/headrest)- In ultra-violet, so it really stands out. I purchased replacement cushions because after 10 years, the old ones were falling apart. Today, I would recommend the Diffrient World Chair that Marie owns.
Buttprint
These seats are actually the same exact color! The only difference is the new one doesn’t have gel—in the hopes it will last longer before developing a butt print.
  • Pablo Link Task Lamp- In orange, so it really stands out. Put light where you really need it by having a task lamp on your desk.
  • Webble ergonomic office footrest- In red, so it really stands out. A chair without a footrest is half a chair. The webble has wheels to play around with if you are a nervous person like me.
  • Miró painting- Every office should have a random piece of art. My mom bought this in New York City in the 70’s, I keep having to get it reglassed after every move because I forget to pack it properly.
  • Bluelounge Cabledrops- I used white ones to be invisible, and gaved colored ones to Marie since her office is somewhat monochromatic. My splashes of color are in the chair, lamp, and footrest instead. 🙂
  • Mobomobo chair-mounted keyboard tray— I have this because the glass desk precludes a real keyboard tray (until I can get access to a woodshop, that is). It’s a bit of a stretch to put this on a Freedom, but I managed to get it done. Remember if you do this, all your input devices should be wireless. (For gaming, I move everything to the desk.)
Working mode
If you are getting an iMac and don’t like the Magic Mouse, order it with a Magic Pad instead and put it on your non-mousing side of your keyboard.
  • Apple Wireless Keyboardwireless keyboard– I prefer physical clicky-key keyboards, but I went wireless because the desk is glass. I needed a smaller keyboard because of the Mobo.
  • Apple Magic Trackpadmagicpad– Trying to teach myself to use this for Lion compatibility. Mostly it’s near my left hand. A nice benefit is the distance between the right and left hands while mousing is short.
  • Razer Mamba wireless gaming mouse- a wireless mouse that can be wired when you are gaming (or forgot to charge the batteries). These are great. I have an older edition.
  • Razer Kabutokabuto mobile mouse mat (not shown)- This is my mousing mat when I’m wired/working with keyboard/mouse-on-desk. This doubles as a keyboard protector for my MacBook Air.
  • SmartStrip G4 power strip- We won’t get into how this power strip made me cancel my Amazon Prime.
  • Synology DS1151+ DiskStation NAS- The best NAS around, bar none.
  • Synology DX510 ESATA expansion unit- When 10TB of network attached storage isn’t enough
Synology NAS
If you do photography or video work, or just download a lot of pr0n(?), get one of these
  • Pegasus R6pegasus r6 Thunderbolt RAID- I want a local drive for my Aperture library. This obsoletes my Apple RAID card by a mile.
  • NewerTech Voyager Q– Always have a drive dock handy for TimeMachine backups, Aperture vaults, etc. This one is the best one on the market.
  • 2x Lexar Professional FW800 Reader- These are stacking and FW800 is very fast, this means my photo-editing is never waiting on my media. I recommend most people get the newer USB 3.0 onelexar reader: much more convenient.
  • Garmin Forerunner 610 touchscreen GPS watch- My everyday watch. It needs charging once a week or every couple days (if I’m exercising regularly). Still, it beats out the iPhone since it won’t lose data if I get a phone call or text message while I’m running or cycling around town.
  • Pluggable 10-port USB 2.0 hubusb hub– I actually bought this because it took me too long to find my Belkin stacking hubbelkin hub. The latter was gifted to Marie. Surprisingly, this thing cannot power an iPod dock. 🙁
Ground floor
You can see all the gadgets I have connected to my computer: card readers, drive dock, surround-sound decoder, watch, ethernet switch and USB hub, mouse, and iPhone.
  • Apple iPad- Get an iPad 2ipad instead
  • Apple iPad dock- Marie swiped my XStand to watch Netflix on her iPad while she is cooking, so I dug this out of storage. The disadvantage of this is you can only see things in portrait-mode.
Back of iPad (docked)
Because the vinyl back cover (from SGP products) is so thin, I can still use the dock.
  • Apple iPhone 4
  • Apple iPhone 4 dock- Because I stupidly bought one. If you get a case or bumpers (and you should, because you will drop your iPhone a lot), you should not get this.
  • Fitbit cradle- Charges it once a week, also for syncing, comes with the Fitbit.
  • Garmin ANT+ dongle- Uploads my workouts when I’m nearby, comes with the Garmin.
  • Astro Mixamp 5.1– Puts digital surround sound in your headphones. It’s also good for making the headset microphone work since Apple’s audio-in is unpowered. I own it ostensibly because Marie swiped my Earforce DSSearforce dss, but really I have it because it looks cool. 🙂
  • Razer Carcharias gaming headset- a pretty reasonably priced gaming headset. These are over-the-ear, open-air, and have felt pads.

(If you are wondering where my desk accessories are, they are on the bookshelf behind me.)

My chair
Most of the bookshelf is camera equipment and photography books (computer and writing books are digital), but on top, I keep my open-source web stuffed animals, an exectuive desk toy, and, of course, a Red Swingline Stapler courtesy of the folks at LinkedIn.

Bagcheck

Some friends of mine created a website recently called BagCheck. Here is the BagCheck of this office. They’re supposed to be adding Flickr integration, so I guess I’m ready to test that out soon.

Notes about panoramic photography

I’ve been doing digital panoramic photography since 1994, but it’s been years since I’ve taken it seriously. I forgot how many details one can miss. I must have had about 30 missed takes before I remembered how to do it right. Here is a panoramic shooting checklist.

  1. bring the following: tripod, panoramic clamp, L bracket for camera
  2. set up tripod
  3. level tripod base (consider hanging weight on hook)
  4. level bullhead (repeat 3 and 4 as necessary)
  5. lock ball, unlock panning head
  6. clamp panoclamp to ballhead
  7. clamp camera L-bracket to panoramic clamp (vertically)
  8. choose focal length to set vertical FOV
  9. adjust panoclamp distance to avoid parallax (test: look for vertical foreground and background elements, make sure relative position same as rotate base)
  10. Go into A mode, choose small aperture (but not too small: avoid diffraction)
  11. set focus to computed hyper focal distance (DoF calculator on iPhone)
  12. set lens or camera body to manual focus mode
  13. meter across scene to determine “middle” shutter speed
  14. Go into M mode, set shutter speed,
  15. use BKT to set to max exposure bracketing (on Nikon D3 it is 7 exposures +/-1Fstop)
  16. determine good sweep angle (shoot for 50% horizontal overlap. Use more if there is a lot of foreground elements and parallax step is rough estimate)
  17. go into continuous shooting (Cl or Ch)
  18. sweep to the leftmost point of frame and select starting point to be round number on base
  19. hold down shutter until complete
  20. increment and repeat previous until panorama complete
  21. disassemble
  22. reset camera: BKT off, auto exposure, auto-focus

(Note: I don’t bother with white balance since I shoot RAW.)

Notes about the HDR stitches

The first two images are HDR stitches. If you mouseover them, you can see what they look before the HDR processing. My current panoramic photo stitcher of choice is PTGui and it has built-in support for exposure and HDR stitching. It works great, however, I can’t seem to get HDR Efex Pro to appear in Photoshop CS5, so I have to do the stitching in Aperture. To do this, what I do is take the 0 EV images and stitch them normally. Then I stitch the -3ev and rev, import into Aperture and use HDR Efex on it.

Here is my photo processing checklist for HDR stitching

  1. bring all the images into Aperture
  2. group all images for panorama into a single stack
  3. make sure we are using the RAW as the master
  4. choose a white balance and lift-stamp it across all images in stack
  5. export versions as 16-bit tiff to a folder on desktop
  6. open folder in finder, arrange by name, make window with 7 icons wide
  7. open PTGui, import 0EV images (first vertical row of images in finder window).
  8. align, choose mapping, set image width, set export format (16-bit compressed tiff if no ghosts, 16-bit photoshop layers if ghosting), save and batch
  9. create two new folders for -3ev and +3ev
  10. copy -3ev and +3ev images into respective folders
  11. copy stitch file into respective folders, rename file
  12. open -3 ev file, rename images in folder so it imports the -3 ev images, and stitch (if handheld you need to realign, etc.)
  13. repeat for +3 ev
  14. copy stitch + final output to desktop layer
  15. In Aperture, select three images from stitch and edit with Catapult
  16. import the stitch and output files into Aperture
  17. edit PSD files if they have ghosts or need retouching
  18. drag final files all into the stack
  19. select 3 stitch images in Aperture and edit with HDR Efex Pro
  20. find good starting preset
  21. add control points, finalize image in program, and save
  22. crop final image in aperture

iMac: http://www.apple.com/imac/ “iMac: The ultimate all-in-one desktop computer—Apple”
led display: http://www.apple.com/displays/ “Thunderbolt Display: More pixels and more possibilities—Apple”
ergotron mx: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001IWOBGI?tag=terrychay-20 “buy MX Deskt Mount LCD Arms from Amazon”
mobo: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002YERS32?tag=terrychay-20 “Buy Mobo Chair Mount Ergo Keyboard and Mouse Tray System from Amazon”
wireless keyboard: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005DLDO4U?tag=terrychay-20 “Buy Apple Wireless Keyboard from Amazon”
magicpad: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003XIJ3MW?tag=terrychay-20 “Buy Apple Magic Trackpad from Amazon”
kabuto: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003XIJ3MW?tag=terrychay-20 “Buy Razer Kabuto Mobile Mouse Mat from Amazon”
pegasus R6: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0058ULMQI?tag=terrychay-20 “Buy PROMISE Pegasus R6 12TB RAID System from Amazon”
lexar reader: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0050C9ZMC?tag=terrychay-20 “Buy Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader from Amazon”
usb hub: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00483WRZ6?tag=terrychay-20 “Buy Plugable USB 2.0 10 Port Hub (with Power Adapter) from Amazon”
belkin hub: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000ESN9GA?tag=terrychay-20 “Buy Belkin High-Speed USB 2.0 7-Port Hub from Amazon”
ipad: http://www.apple.com/ipad/ “iPad 2: Advaned design. Video calls. HD video. And More—Apple”

8 thoughts on “Office Porn

  1. Lovely office! Totally digg it.
    However, just for reference, the newer LX arms are absolutely capable of holding the 24″ and even the 27″ display. I’m not sure about the 27″ iMac, but I tried the new LX arms with my 30″ Cinema and it works perfectly fine.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Which version of the 30″ Cinema Display do you have? Not the newer Thunderbolt model with a black bezel?

      The reason is the older ones (with the silver bezel) have a plastic front and are much lighter than the newer cinemas . When Apple moved to an all-black bezel the weight went up because the glass front and the rear aluminum shell is machined from a single piece instead of a merge formed aluminum shell with plastic sides. For me and the old Ergotron LX, the 24″ black bezel one is right on the borderline of too heavy (I can just put it on and tighten it enough that it won’t move, but if I tap it, it would fall down and tilt wrong) but the 23″ silver bezel one holds just fine. Both are called “Cinema displays”

      1. Hi Terry,
        I’ve got the old (and in fact only, as there is no new 30″ model, the newer ones are 24, respectively 27″) 30″ Cinema.
        Weight according to Apple 12.5Kg. I reckon the stand itself weighs about 2Kg, so my LX had to hold 10+ KG, which it did perfectly fine.
        The new 27″ Cinema weighs 10.8KG with the stand, so way less for the LX to hold. However, the 27″ iMac is 13.8KG with the stand attached and that might in fact be a kilo or two too much for the LX.
        But as I said, I can only speak for the new LX model (black and polished aluminium).

        Anyway, how is the DS1511+ working for you? Any issues with OS X?

        1. No issues on OS X since it’s entirely web-based interface. the only issue is that iTunes file naming scheme for the filesystem is not amenable to the Music, Movie, and TV station software which prefers an XBMC-style setup.

  2. Hi Terry,

    after all this time, have you had any issue/problem with the glass top of the desk for having the Ergotron arms clamped on it?
    I am planning to get a glass desk with tempered glass 1cm thick and clamp an Ergotron arm for a 24″ monitor and I would like to hear from people who have been using this setup.
    Thank you!
    Leandro

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