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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 12:54 pm 
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Aaaaaugh! Can't stand it anymore. My freelancer office here is a mess.

I'm trying to think of the perfect freelancer home office, but something reasonable. Here's something that looks really handsome:

Image

I won't go exactly with something like this, but, anyway, here's my list of items for it:

  • Something I can be proud of if I ever want to film myself for a howto video or video blog.
  • Not tucked in a corner or against a wall, but out in the open like you're proud of it.
  • Dark wood flooring with a large throw rug. Just looks more modern these days than old carpet.
  • The dark wood keeps the light level down.
  • LED Lighting. It's eco-friendly and puts out just enough light to take off the super-bright nature of the new LCD panels.
  • Office Depot has some really elegant table desks you can put together for $250. I was surprised with how good they look as far as construction and finish. You can then add on pieces a little at a time. The problem is that if they discontinue a model you'd be stuck with mismatched parts.
  • The new designs for desks are to have the cabinets go behind you on the floor (like a kind of buffet cabinet) and have just a table as your main desk with no drawers or anything on it.
  • Fireplace off to the side, even if fake but looks almost real.
  • Laptop as main desktop, connected to an external flat panel monitor, wireless keyboard, and wireless mouse. That way, I can take my stuff on the go without having to copy stuff over.
  • The chair in the picture above would suit me just fine. Must have soft arm wrests because right now I have hard ones.
  • Get rid of all paper except a notepad and a folder of current items/thoughts.
  • All cables tucked away or go wireless on some items.
  • Three 19" or 20" flat panel LCD monitors. One shows my web browser. Another shows my code. A third is for testing things.
  • Some good view to look at when I want, including a view outside and some inspiring paintings or photos. No women or sportscars -- something not a distraction, but makes me think of creativity and productivity.
  • Chairs near my desk for me to share what I'm working on.
  • Couch.
  • Goldish/sand/offwhite painted walls.
  • Fake plants that look real. No bugs that way. Developers hate bugs.
  • Glass block under desk. Don't know. Just looks cool. Especially with amber LED lighting tucked away near it.

Instead, here's my current office:

  • Sticky notes all over the desk -- kill them before they kill you.
  • Paper breeds paper. Glasses and cups are like cousins to that.
  • Wires freaking everywhere!! Must. Stop. Them.
  • Opened battery packs -- because I use the mess out of my wireless mouse and haven't invested in a rechargeable battery pack.
  • Cold med packages and tissues on the desk. You can tell I'm allergic to practically everything.
  • Only one 19" flat panel monitor. The other two are those old school door stops.
  • Big luggy desktop PCs that make it hard for me to run out the door fast with my code.
  • Office folders all over the floor for different client projects.
  • Cabinets stuffed with books I read long ago and never need anymore.
  • A whiteboard not stuck in a cabinet that can be closed up.
  • One single clock, instead of clocks for each timezone to help me remember what time it is for my clients (when I'm lazy, tired, or don't want to do the math in my head).
  • Canabalized PCs used as things to set stuff on.
  • Old CDs from the 1990's.
  • Floppies I haven't used in at least a couple decades.
  • Mashed carpet because my rolling chair has been pushed all around it.
  • Trashy bed instead of a couch.

Jeesh. I'm writing too much and not coding enough. Better get back on the Ritalin. LOL.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2008 1:30 pm 
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My office is actually a really nice working environment. On my desk I have a monitor, keyboard, mouse and my laptop, and a reporter's notebook and a pen for my todo list. That's it. It's against a big window so I can look out occasionally to avoid eye strain. And it's in a quiet corner of the house so I'm rarely disturbed. Works for me.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 2:21 am 
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Looks great. I only need to buy the desk, wireless mouse and keyboard to get the same setup as in the picture.

Your list seems good as well. What are you waiting for? Take a day off and start cleaning up the mess!

But one thing that's important here I think is personality. Some people just can't work in a messy surrounding and need a clean and organized desk (me). Some others just are a bit more chaotic/unstructured and always end up with messy desks. Some of those even can't work without that chaos. You know those people with piles of stuff around them, but they know exactly were everything is?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:24 am 
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Perfect for any freelancer office. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the world's first LED fake fireplace:

Image

SOURCE: http://www.platonicfireplaces.co.uk/fir ... d=2&type=2


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:15 pm 
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My wife and I went office furniture shopping this weekend in the USA to try and get some more organization here in my new career. We started at Office Max and looked at a plain desk (no drawers) with a four-drawer file cabinet system behind me (two drawers high). However, when you added it all up, you ended up with a $1000 system that would probably only have a resale value of $200 in 2 years and was made up of dressed-up particle board and probably would not do well if it got wet, might fall apart if someone leaned on it or sat on it, and would probably not last among too many moves from location to location without chipping. So that was a bad deal.

We then went looking in every major name brand furniture outlet. Every time we met someone at the entrance, they either told us they didn't have any home office furniture for us, or only had traditional looking desks that were over-priced and looked like they would be appropriate if I were into the "steampunk" look. (I'm not.) I was looking for something plain, modern, simple -- euro -- because they have far more class than folks in the states, right?

My wife then had a great idea. What if we were to find a euro-style dining room set, minus the chairs, and use the buffet cabinet as a file cabinet if you take the shelves out and stick hanging folder file crates inside? So, to our surprise, we found the Kathy Ireland Bay Heights table and buffet cabinet was perfect, and perhaps you might find it perfect for your home office too. It cost us about $1000 but provided far more space, durability, appearance, and resale value than what we could have gotten from Office Max.

We took it home, assembled it, and then I discovered that I have too many cords for various things in my office. So, one way to reduce the cord clutter and bulk is to get a laptop, but then attach flat panel LCD monitor and keyboard to it. That way, you can quickly take your work on the run really fast without copying stuff over, you get a bigger screen, and you can spill stuff on your keyboard without frying the laptop (usually). So I looked for a cheap laptop that I could run Ubuntu Linux on. Of course, I love the Apple hardware, but it was pricey and all I would get extra is the indiglo keyboard, especially since I wasn't planning on using the Apple OSX operating system. Therefore, I picked up an Acer Extensia 4420 for $500 at BestBuy. I like its small screen but yet it's not so small that you can't do coding on it (besides, I'll attach a separate flat panel monitor to it). It has 2GB of RAM, some healthy video RAM, it's zippy fast with its AMD Athlon 64 X2, a 160GB hard drive, built-in wireless, a great keyboard feel, it's lightweight, has a decent battery life, and fits nicely into a small space.

It was also disappointingly typical how the BestBuy gave my wife the expected spiel on this thing. The Acer Extensias are Best Buy's loss leader, so they hate it when you go in and only want this, don't want a warranty, and don't want to take an upsell. My wife was the one picking up the laptop, and she got hassled about not wanting the warranty, and then he was saying, "Are you sure you want an Acer? I mean, they don't have much of a hardware record, do they?" But look around. The HPs have an annoying touchpad -- I know, I have one already for doing my Vista/IE7 testing. The Toshibas have a super-shiny keyboard that makes it hard to see the keys because of the screen glare. The Compaqs were not a good deal compared to the Acer. The Sonys were really nice, but also at a heavy price and still weren't a good deal compared to the Acer.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:24 am 
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Your office sounds like mine volomike!
I would love a nice, big, clean desk with 2 22" flat panel monitors, nice executive leather chair and have the room all airy and decorated with light colours and a nice warm carpet so I dont have to put shoes on! A nice big bookshelf to place all ym books on for easy reference and access too :P Maybe even a little fridge in the corner with refreshments and a leather couch for clients or myself to chill out in!

All i have atm is books all over the floor, a broken bookcase, 1 19" tft monitor, and a dirty model of Sephiroth XD



....sometimes i just feel like setting fire to the lot of it and starting over! :twisted:


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:26 am 
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Actually I change what i said about the carpet..wood flooring would be better!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:15 am 
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If you're a freelancer, and for many years you were in a half-walled cubicle with no window, too much noise, no door, and too much fluorescent lighting -- well, live it up! Make your new world so unlike what ridiculous things you had to endure in your previous day job.

Wood flooring is better, although I do recommend large carpets rolled out in certain areas. Right now my home office is carpeted and I really need to change that.

I also noticed that if you go to the LazyBoy stores, at least in the USA, they have this $1000 fireplace you can purchase that is completely fake but looks fantastic. It can either be used to turn out heat through an electric heater, or you can turn that off and just enjoy the warm ambiance while you work. When I looked at it, I completely laughed because it looks so incredibly real but is not.

If you want decency but on the cheap, I've heard of some people stacking glass block with LED lights inside and sticking a flat door on top. Stain the wood door with faux mahogany styling and it will make you feel better. On the bottom, drill holes and inject with small amounts of spray foam to make it sturdier, then plug the holes. The door handle hole makes a great place to drop cable. Some people use cinder block instead of glass block if they want a real hardy look. However, for $1000, the Kathy Ireland Bay Heights collection (dinner table minus chairs + server cabinet) is a super cheap option that suits me very well. Some may say, $1000 <> super cheap. However, if you go to OfficeMax, that's about the average price for just the start of one of their particle board solutions. The glass block route + LED route also adds up pretty quick in cost too.

Oh, on the two monitor thing -- I decided to save the cash. I have an existing 19" LCD Panel that does well, and then I just use the LCD on the laptop. I set things up in Xinerama mode (which, by the way, was a PITA to get going on even the latest Ubuntu) so that I can drag windows from one to the other. So that I don't pound or spill drinks on my laptop's less-powerful keyboard, I use a separate keyboard on USB cable and a wireless mouse. I'm not a fan of wireless keyboards yet because I have too much wireless interference as is. Nothing's more aggravating than typing applications and finding it's missing keystrokes. So, for now, a USB cabled keyboard is what I use for now.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 8:01 pm 
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I'm headed back to school in the fall, and the plan is to head to Home Depot or Menards or whatever I can find, and get what I believe is called a flush (ithey're with the doors). Basically, a flush is a completely flat door without a handle or frame or anything. That, placed ontop some IKEA bookshelves, will be my perfect desk. And the flushes only cost about $25. For a normal desk that size, with that quality of wood, you'd have to pay at least a couple hundred dollars. And the best part is, after the year's up, it will be easy to transport back home.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:45 am 
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:18 pm 
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Is that your work station jshpro2? I think you should start a spin-off of this thread, for pictures of our current offices/work stations. I will post mine up if you get one going, probably the most stereotypical developers work station ever!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 4:49 pm 
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Three screens, eh? Is that all from the same system, or separate systems, or at least one on its own system?

In my case, I switched my main system to a laptop because as a freelancer I like being able to get up and go without having to worry about copying stuff over. I then connect a 19" flat screen monitor to this. I learned a thing or two about Ubuntu Linux xorg.conf files with Xinerama and so I can drag windows between the two screens, although this took me about 3 days to get going. It seems to be adequate. I then use the desktops feature to flip back to Virtualbox so that I can see my W2K8 Server to do IE7, FF2, Opera, and Safari testing.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:05 pm 
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It's 4 screens, I have a 50" 1080P sony bravia or something like that not shown in the pic and my workstation spans those 4 screens, you also can't see all the routers and cat5 cable all over my house, I have some machines in a 2nd bedroom that serve my SVN and allow me to debug my application running natively on linux.. I put a blacklight by my desk too so I can make it dark and still see what I'm doing, I used to have a eluminx keyboard, if youre into lighting effects get that but it sucks in terms of being ergonomic


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:24 pm 
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You know, lighting is extremely important. At night I like it dim, but man these new flat panel LCD screens can burn holes in your retinas. The fix is just as you said -- put indirect lighting either behind the LCD panel shining on the wall, or build a shelf behind your chair (if your back is to the wall) and have the indirect lighting shining up on that wall. Right now I'm low tech and have a flex light shining up from the floor onto the wall behind my chair, but I plan to build a shelf into the wall studs and stick the lamp there. That will do a better job in providing adequate lighting.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:53 pm 
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Yeah I got a $4 torchiere lamp from walmart, lol


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