A Tour of My Home Office

Recently on MPU Live (to be posted later this week) a listener asked about my desk setup and I realized although I’ve talked about it elsewhere I’ve never actually documented it on my blog. So, let’s have a look:

The desk itself is fairly basic. I bought it more than 10 years ago for $60 off Craigslist when I was starting law school. As best I can tell it was used in a business setting before that. The desk is solid wood with a black formica top. I sanded it down and repainted the sides a glossy black and added some more modern hardware and it has held up very well.

I’m fortunate to have a dedicated room for my home office and as such the desk “floats” in the middle of the room with a power outlet in the the floor to keep me from running wires across the room. At some point when space becomes a concern I’ll probably have to re-arrange things. I’ve strongly considered getting a sit/stand desk but will probably address that if/when I redesign the room. Since I don’t work full time out of my home I’m not spending hours on end at my home desk.

I try to keep my desk very clean. I find I have trouble focusing when I have a cluttered workspace. To assist with this, I have an IKEA Signum cable management system mounted under the desk. On this “tray” I have two USB hard drives (one for a nightly clone of my computer, one for a backup of my Drobo - see MPU 318 for more details) along with my USB hub and all the related mess of cables neatly tucked away, out of sight and out of mind. My desk also has a small shelf on the underside where I keep an APC battery backup that everything plugs into.

Starting from left to right, on the top of the desk I have a simple mesh desk organizer. It’s pretty basic, but gets the job done. I specifically didn’t want a big paper tray that would hold clutter. I also have a desk lamp I picked up several years ago from Pottery Barn. I also have pretty basic stapler and tape dispenser, nothing fancy there.

I keep my ScanSnap ix500 plugged in on my desk and ready to go at all times. I’ve toyed with the idea of putting the ScanSnap in the closet (to the right of the desk, just off fame) or on the bookshelf in the background and scanning documents wirelessly. However, I use the ScanSnap so frequently, I’ve opted to sacrifice the desk space for ease of access.

In the middle of the desk I have an Apple 24" Cinema Display. This is an older model that supports DisplayPort. Although the Apple Displays are pricey, I splurged for a couple of reasons. First, the Apple Displays are gorgeous and nicely complements the look of my MacBook Air. Secondly, they have a built in hub that will support USB and power via MagSafe. (Though due to the age it’s USB 2.0 and original MagSafe that requires an adapter.) Hopefully Apple will release a Retina desktop display at WWDC this year and I’ll seriously look at upgrading.

I still have occasion to read and write CDs and DVDs so I picked up an Apple external SuperDrive years ago. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend buying Apple’s external SuperDrive today, for the money you can buy better external drives that will support Blu-Ray for a lot less money. For example, I recently picked up this External USB DVD RW Blu-Ray player for the office. This is “attached” to my Cinema Display using a Twelve South BackPack. The BackPack is a neat accessory (as all of Twelve Souths products are) that will allow you to add a shelf to your Apple Cinema Display or iMac.

When I’m at my desk I like to have a dedicated place to charge and sync my iPhone. For this I have an Everdock. What’s great about this dock is that it is universal, uses your existing cable and will accommodate just about any phone, with or without a case, and uses micro-suction to stick to the surface of your desk. Because I sometimes also have to connect other iOS devices or micro-USB equipped devices, I keep a spare lightning and micro-USB cable connected to my USB hub and accessible on my desk. These cables are attached to a MOS organizer which is an elegant and easy way to manage cables.

My MacBook Air sits atop an old iCurve riser. This hasn’t been in production for several years but I have found no good reason to replace it. If you’re looking for something comparable I like the mStand by RainDesign. (Though honestly, this Amazon Basics model would probably work just as well.)

Because my MacBook is on a stand it not only raises the display up to a better eye level but also gives me room under the MacBook for storage. This is where I keep my Belkin Thunderbolt Dock. If I had a riser with a solid bottom, I'd consider attaching the Thunderbolt dock to the underside of the riser to get it up off the desk.  Also, because my MacBook Air is on a riser and off to the side, I can’t use the keyboard and mouse when it is docked. I prefer to use the Logitech K750 keyboard and MX Performance Mouse. I love the keyboard because it has a very similar feel to Apple’s keyboards (and thus doesn’t require any retraining) and is an extended keyboard with a numeric pad. It also is solar powered which means no batteries to change. Both the mouse and the keyboard use Logitech’s unifying receiver which means they both connect to a single small USB receiver.

Finally, my current podcasting setup is still a Rode Podcaster microphone with boom arm and shock mount. You can buy this all together as a kit. I probably should upgrade my setup but I’ve been hesitant to do so because the beauty of the USB podcaster is it’s just plug and play. I have added on the companion pop filter.

There are several accessories to my setup that I have intentionally kept away from my desk. I have an AirPrint enabled multifunction printer along with a Drobo 5N in the closet. I also have a pair of Audioengine A2 speakers connected to an Airport Express on my bookshelf that I use for AirPlay audio. I also have an original Transporter on the bookshelf. However, my goal was to keep my desk itself as minimal as possible.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of my home office.