My Office – 2021

A few months ago I wrote my annual development toolbox post for 2021 covering the hardware and software I use to get my work done. While it was current at the time, it wasn’t complete. That’s because I really didn’t feel like my office was complete.

Today I think I’m finally there. I once again have a personal laptop to work on code and other personal projects with and, as strange (or sad) as it may sound I feel like a whole world has opened up to me as a result.

Given the change I felt it was a good time to update my gear post for 2021 with this second post covering the gear that makes up my office. Here’s what I use on a daily basis to get my work done.

The important stuff

If it’s on my desk I consider it “important.” As someone who is something of a minimalist there isn’t a lot I keep on my desk and I’m very quick to get rid of anything that doesn’t absolutely need to be there. As you can see in the picture above, I really don’t like clutter.

  • Apple M1 Max 16″ MacBook Pro
    This is the newest addition to my office and, by far, the most powerful computer I’ve ever owned. I opted for 64GB of RAM and it really does just scream. When I’m working on code for WP Engine I use my work Mac and the fan is constantly screaming at me. This machine can take so much more without thinking about it. I did a write-up on my initial impressions when I got it a couple of weeks ago and, at least so far, I’m quite happy with the purchase.
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max, 256GB
    This is my primary tool when I leave the house. I use it for anything when I can’t use my iPad or my laptop. It’s a great camera and a solid phone that does everything I need it to do quite well.
  • Belkin – PowerHouse Charging Dock for iPhone® and Apple Watch
    This is such a handy charger for me in that it can charge my phone and my watch without looking like a mess on my desk. I’ve gone through so many chargers over the years, I’m really hoping this one lasts a while.
  • Dell UltraSharp U3415W monitor
    This ultra wide, curved monitor has been a game changer. It’s like using two monitors in one, has a great picture and even has a built-in KVM switch with USB hub which can be real handy if I want to run my work and personal machines at the same time.
  • Blue Yeti microphone and boom
    I got my first Blue Yeti about 8 years ago when I first went remote. Not all the companies I’ve worked for have been super happy having remote employees so I initially bought it to make sure that my equipment would never contribute to the perception that work from home is somehow inferior to an office. This is my 2nd and it’s still a great mic for work, podcasting and so much more.
  • Logitech C930 camera
    I bought this camera at the same time, and for the same reason, as the Blue Yeti. It’s helped with so many meetups, podcasts and other online events that I’ve lost count.
  • Logitech MX Vertical mouse
    This was the 2nd mouse I bought after first leaving the Apple ecosystem in 2018. The first hurt my wrist to use so I switched to this and it’s been wonderful since. Even now that I’m back in the Apple ecosystem for much of my hardware, this won’t be going anywhere.
  • Dygma Raise keyboard with tenting kit
    Another thing I wanted to replace after trying Linux was my old Apple keyboard. This is my 4th attempt at finding the “perfect” keyboard and it really does fit that role pretty well. It’s comfortable to use and really is a dream to type on. As a bonus, with its warranty it should last far longer than any of the Apple keyboards I’ve had which always seemed to fail after about 2 years. Mechanical keyboards are one of those things I didn’t know I needed but won’t be going back from in the foreseeable future.
  • Rain mStand 
    This isn’t fancy but makes an excellent laptop stand. It simply keeps my laptop screen level with my main monitor and offers a little storage space underneath for some of my many paper notebooks.
  • Bamboo Uplift desk
    After decades of cheap desks from IKEA and others getting a real desk has been amazing. I don’t stand up with it as much as I would like as I find it difficult to write or code standing but it does get enough of its own exercise for meetings and stuff like that. It’s also incredibly well built. We were so happy with mine that we bought Joy one of her own last year.
  • Pursuit chair from Uplift
    We’ve been so happy with our Uplift desks that, when my office chair finally broke at the beginning of this year, we bought two of their chairs as well. They’re comfortable, look nice and didn’t break the bank. Bonus points for the fact that Joy and I now have a set of matching office furniture with this and the desks.
  • Apple Watch Series 6 
    I use this to keep me moving and fit. It’s helped, a lot. I don’t think all of Apple’s measurements are all that accurate but it is motivating. I recently wrote a post about how it’s helped me get in better shape than I’ve been in almost 20 years. It’s also great while I’m out for Apple Wallet.
  • Lamy Al-Star fountain pens
    I was going through a lot of pens and throwing them out always felt like such a waste. I switched to fountain pens earlier this year as a result and now have 3 of these on my desk. They’re really wonderful to write with and easy to maintain. I pair them with mostly Lamy inks as well and I couldn’t be happier with the setup.
  • Various paper notebooks
    I’m not all that picky about my notebooks, even though I use them constantly. I have some generic notebooks from Costco I’ve been using for work notes and a fancier one for personal notes. Mostly I use them for journaling thoughts to keep track of for later and it is a system that has served me well for almost 5 years now.
  • Powerbeats Pro
    With twice the battery life of any AirPods model and a design that is both comfortable and actually stays in my ear, these headphones have been some of the best I’ve ever owned. Some days I can use them up to 6 hours a day and they never die, never hurt and on top of it all they really do sound great. If there’s anything wrong with them it is that I didn’t discover them earlier.

The other stuff

  • 2021 iPad Pro 12.9″ 1TB
    I love having a personal laptop for writing and code but I use my iPad for most other tasks. When I quit work at the end of the day, for example, I switch to the iPad in the living room instead of pulling out my personal Mac. When traveling this is also a great machine. I have a keyboard and pencil for it and it makes a great writing machine on the road when I don’t want to take my bigger laptop with. This is another machine I wrote some over-all thoughts on earlier this year.
  • Linksys Velop Wifi 6 mesh routers
    I’ve lived in this house for almost 7 years and, in that time, we’ve gone through 6 different router setups. Most of the stuff has simply failed, sometimes after only a few months. The Linksys might not be the fanciest setup out there but it’s going strong 8 months after I bought it and has required almost no maintenance. Considering we pretty much live on the internet at home that has been a huge win.
  • Kindle Paperwhite
    I don’t use my Kindle for work, I use it to escape after work. We’re not Amazon Prime members and we don’t even shop at Amazon anymore but I still find my Kindle one of the best devices I’ve ever owned. I read far more than I watch TV so this device, the 2018 model, has gone through 100s of books for me and carried me away to so many places and on so many adventures throughout this pandemic that I think I really might have lost my mind without it.
  • Sonos speakers 
    While we have 8 various models throughout the house, the one in my office is a Sonos Five and its been amazing. Sonos’ tech works far better than Airplay or casting with Google (when you could get audio-only casting devices) and they really do sound amazing. If I’m not in a meeting it is playing music or podcasts, sometimes up to 10-12 hours a day.
  • Synology DS918+ 
    This was intended to do many things but, in reality, is just a giant backup drive for now. I’m planning to start trying to turn it into a more private server for our contacts and other personal data going forward and I’m hopeful it will be the device that, when utilized to its full capability, might allow us to more easily escape ecosystems like Apple or Google again in the future.

It’s taken a long time since I’ve felt comfortable with what makes up my office. I loved my Linux laptop but, the whole time I had it, I was always searching for the devices that would successfully complement it in a way that would work for me. For the moment I don’t have to that and it feels pretty nice. Everything works for me and, most importantly, everything works together and with the rest of the people important to me. That’s a big change and one I’m going to just relish for a little while.

So what’s in your office?

2 Comments

  1. I’ve looked at the Dygma keyboard a few times but ended up going with the Moonlander. Still, cool keyboards feel a bit like N+1 or D-1 (D being divorce) so this is still on my list.

    What other keyboards have you tried?

    • I’ve had a few:

      Started with the Apple keyboard which didn’t work at all with Linux. Got a Logitech keyboard (don’t remember the model) with round keys that wound up being really hard to type with. Traded that in for the Microsoft ergonomic keyboard. I liked that one but it started having issues after about 1 year. Next got a Kenesis Freestyle Pro which I almost liked except it was huge, both on my desk and for my hands. Bought this one this past summer and I’m pretty happy with it so far.

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