2022 Working Environment

The change of the year is always a good time to reflect. This year I’ve made major changes in my physical environment by reshaping many of the things about this house we recently moved to in Knoxville. Besides ripping out the entire kitchen, replacing all the floors, and reworking the fireplace, it was a good chance to rethink the office I work in every day. I’m rather persnickety about the lighting, layout, and tools I use (although a lot of people still think I’m crazy for using fairly standard tools, like Word, for writing).

This is my space, pretty much—

I use an adjustable height desk where I’m either leaning or standing—if I want to sit to read something, I normally grab a tablet and sit in the red chair off to the side, or even go someplace else in the house. I prefer not to read on my main computer screen most of the time. I normally keep ambient light to a minimum, and turn my monitor brightness down to pretty minimal, as well—below 20%.

I’m currently running an LG 38in curved monitor. I don’t game, so I care a lot more about resolution than refresh rate, etc. My main driver is a Microsoft Surface 8, topped out in specs, with a thunderbolt dock to support all the externals. I’m typing on a Drop ALT with 68g Zilentv2 switches. The smaller keyboard keeps the Wacom pad close by, making it easier to switch between keyboard and pointer. Smaller keyboards like this are perfectly useable if you map all the function and other special purpose keys onto a separate layer, and then place your layer control keys wisely. I’ve been thinking about switching to a more ergonomic keyboard, but I’ve not made my mind up yet.

For audio and video gear above the monitor I used two desk-clamp photography stands on the back of the desk, along with a long cheesebar. The cheesebar holds the Logitech webcam connected to my work machine, which is off to the side, the Dell Ultrasharp 4k, the ball mount for a digital camera (for recordings), and an AT4053 shotgun mic. On the side of the desk is a boom arm with a Blue Baby Bottle mic.

The two mics feed into an Antelope Zen Go interface, which allows me to do some minor eq and such before my voice hits the computer. I used to do all this onboard the computer itself using a Focusrite Clarett, but its a lot simpler to push some audio processing onto the interface itself with the Zen Go. These kinds of DSP-onboard interfaces tend to be hard to get up and running, by the way. I worked with an Apollo interface for a solid month before giving up and switching to the Zen Go.

Beside the Zen is a little Tascam recorder; the primary mic is routed through the Zen to this recorder so I don’t need to record on the computer itself (though most of the time I do just record in Audition). I find that when I’m doing training recording that will be edited and combined later, it’s better to pull as much processing off the main computer as possible to improve the quality and performance of the screen capture process … so I record voice on the Tascam, video on a separate digital camera, and just the screen capture on the computer.

I do have a set of Meze classic headphones hooked up to the Zen Go, but I mostly listen to meetings and music throughout the day on a Klipsch Three.

Audio wise, I put up a set of acoustic panels along one wall. I’m certain I could do more here, but the panels plus the carpeted floor seem to do okay for keeping the audio sounding pretty clean.

Lights… I’ve switched back and forth between GVM and Neewer over the years. Right now I’m using two Neewer flat panel lights, one of which provides ambient light by bouncing off the ceiling—this is the only ambient light I normally have turned on. There’s another LED panel with a diffuser to my front acting as a key, and a spot with a strong diffuser as far away on my right as I can get it.

Well, that’s my working environment for the moment … if you have questions about why I chose specific pieces of gear, etc., please feel free to drop a comment here, or pm me on LinkedIn.

1 Comment

  1. buraglio on 2 January 2023 at 4:41 pm

    Been a UNIX/Linux/Mac user since the 90s. Once OSX was released I dropped my FreeBSD workstation. Over the last month I have been using a chromebook for all non-day-job stuff. I genuinely thought it’d never work, but, it totally does. The two things I can’t currently do (other than DHCPv6) is full blown photoshop – I am still getting used to the PS Express – and my dock doesn’t work with this mid-range chromebook. I will be remedying that this week. After that, I’ll drive my 39″ display and use my das keyboard with an external trackpad. Desk is an antique IBM executive desk. May add a sit/stand to the home office this year.