Procrastination 101

Refactoring my work environment.

Unfortunately, I didn't really quantify what was wrong with my old work environment, I just had a feeling that I needed to change something. This is often the first mistake of refactoring in software development - because it typically means that there is no goal or end in sight. Whoops, not a great start to whatever it is I'm trying to do here.

And what is that exactly?

Let me back up, I left a pretty awesome job in London being the technical lead (crucially, not the manager) of an iOS team on a very popular app. Not necessarily a great, or even good product, but certainly popular. Badoo is a dating app, which is sort of like Tinder, only not as well known. But, from a career point of view it was a sweet gig. The dev teams are relatively tiny, but the scale, size and scope is huge, as were the learnings. But, last year, after almost two years, I left.

I went off to join a tiny startup called Yakatak, who’s charismatic leader, Simon, has big plans for revolutionising sports social banter. We immediately clicked, and I certainly think that sports apps need a shake up. So I couldn’t wait to get started on a new project, with lovely green fields waiting for me to write Swift.

Unfortunately, my time at Yakatak didn’t really work out as I’d imagined it would. I’m sure I’ll write more about this later, but, for a number of reasons I chose to leave in April, which brings me almost up to date.

So after leaving, the first thing I wanted to do, was rebuild my home office. It seemed fitting to launch this blog with the details, as the beginnings of whatever I end up doing next. Anyway, so it’s probably going to be really boring, so strap in.

The Setup

My main computer, Ice, is a “trash can” Mac Pro with two AOC 27” monitors, which as far as Macs go is pretty awesome. Xcode still crashes just as frequently as on a MacBook Pro, but back in the old dark days, in March, of Swift 1.1, having 12 cores is pretty handy.

I chose the AOCs because they were pretty cheap, have narrow bezels and are lightweight. I also didn't want to spend too much money when it seems inevitable that Apple would release retina 27" standalone displays soon.

I have two other Macs in the office, a Mini, Tyrion, running OS X Server, which every now and then I try again to get Xcode Server to be effective. And a 27” iMac, Hodor, which is mostly just used for keeping tabs on all my failing builds and watching Arrested Development. So, if you’re following along, we’ve got a lot of computer junk to setup.

To fit all this on my desk, I starting using monitor arms when I got the Mac Pro. I have a really heavy duty (it’s the HD version!) Ergotron monitor arm for the iMac, this allows it to hover perfectly above my work surface off to one side. It needs to be the HD version, because the iMac weighs, well, I don’t know exactly, but it’s heavy.

For the AOC monitors I’d previously been using a Duronic Spring Double Twin which isn’t at all as much fun as it sounds. It’s actually a bit of let down, and despite the specifications indicating otherwise, just wasn’t able to keep my monitors just so, after a while they would droop.

And, hence the refactor - how could I hope to get anything achieved when I couldn't completely control the position and orientation of all the monitors! I decided to not bother with twin mounting brackets, and just get singles - rather obviously they're actually a lot more configurable. I picked up two Ergotron Long Pole Desk Mount Arm, not HD this time. These are pretty awesome, and I totally recommend them. The Duronic arms are like cheap plastic knockoffs.

The two desk lamps are from IKEA, and inside each is a LIFX bulb. At the moment, the bulbs are hooked up to IFTTT to switch on and off automatically, and "breathe" a pastel blue colour if it starts raining. Is this useful? Not really, but it does help remind me that I'm living in the future.

Ice.localMac Pro (Late 2013)
Tyrion.localMac mini Server (Late 2012)
Hodor.localiMac (27", Late 2009)
Monitors x2AOC Q2770Pqu 27"
iMac Monitor armErgotron LX HD Sit Stand Desk Mount
AOC Monitor arms (x2)Ergotron Long Pole Desk Mount Arm
Desk fanAM06 Desk Fan 12 Inch
Music: SONOS (x2)Play:1 (White)
Music: Controller3rd generation iPad
Lighting: bulbs (x2)LIFX - The Original
Lighting: lamps (x2)Ikea FADO
DeskIKEA, discontinued & unknown, it's ~ 15 years old.
Posted on Apr 25
Written by Daniel Thorpe