The Ruby Freelancers Show 016 – Workspaces

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Panel Charles Max Wood (twitter github Teach Me To Code Rails Summer Camp) Eric Davis (twitter github blog) Evan Light (twitter github blog) Jeff Schoolcraft (twitter github blog) Discussion Spare bedroom L-desk Standing desk Ergonomics Get an external monitor and peripherals if a laptop is your primary workstation Mouse and keyboard Monitor stand iCurve by Griffin iMac Open space is nice Geekdesk 30" cinema display apple keyboard apple mouse aeron chair windows in the room 11" macbook air Bose QuietComfort 15 iPhone Tax deduction for having your own space for work Corner desk 4 24" monitors on a mac pro 13" macbook air 8' whiteboard CXO chair by Nightingale Blue Snowball mic on a boom arm iPod on 2x cubicle showerboard whiteboard Mind-mapping Metrics iPad scratch paper monitor arms tax writeoffs for equipment purchases Office Depot document holder Bluetooth full size keyboard Spaces iTerm tmux vim Picks Avery Peel and Stick Dry Erase stickers (Eric) Weekly desk cleaning (Eric) SimplyNoise (Evan) Bose Noise Canceling Headsets (Evan) Batik (Evan) Work harder on yourself than you do on your startup (Jeff) Backup (Jeff) MindMeister (Chuck) iWork (Chuck) Book Club We're reading Get Clients Now by C. J. Hayden. We'll be talking to her at the beginning of July.


CHUCK: Clean rating guys, clean rating. EVAN: I really, really don’t wanna picture that. I'm trying really hard not to, and I'm failing here. CHUCK: Oh, man. [Chuckles] EVAN: Yeah, I know. Now you guys probably are too. CHUCK: [Chuckles]**[This podcast is sponsored by Harvest. I use Harvest to track time, track sub contractor’s time, and invoice clients. Their time tracking is really simple and easy to use. Invoicing includes a ‘pay now’ function for credit card and PayPal. And you can get them on Use the code “RF” after your 30-day trial to get 50% off your first one.]**CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 16 of the Ruby FREELANCERS show. This week on our panel, we have Eric Davis. ERIC: Hey! CHUCK: We also have Evan Light. EVAN: Hello. CHUCK: Jeff Schoolcraft. JEFF: What's up? CHUCK: And this week we are going to be talking about our workspaces or offices or whatever you wanna call them. I'm also hoping that we can get into how you set things up when you are not at home or not around your office. So be that whether you go out and working like in a restaurant or a café or something near your house or whether you are traveling; how you set things up if you need to get work done. But let’s start out with our regular work areas. Eric, why don’t you go ahead and start us off telling us where you work and how that all works. ERIC: So I mostly work at home. We have like a spare room I turned into my office. Got two desks, one is a standing desk, which I love and then the other one is the Ikea with the adjustable legs, so it's kind of a standing desk. I'm too tall to actually use that as a standing desk. CHUCK: How tall are you? ERIC: I'm six foot exactly. So the Ikea all the way up, it's up to my waist, so it's really hard ergonomics. And then I also have two bookshelves in here with books and paperwork and all that stuff. But most of my work, I have a laptop right now and then I have an external monitor for it. And like if you ever use a laptop and it's kind of like out of place, you are always working, always get an eternal keyboard, mouse, monitor all that stuff. I mean, laptops are great for travel because they are pretty much self-contained. It's kind of like the all in one DVD players for home entertainment; it has the decent DVD player, decent surround sound, all that stuff, but they are not best ones you can get. And typically, they will break. So always invest in external stuff especially the mouse and keyboard. EVAN: Laptops are not ergonomically designed for long term work. Usually, you have to hunch over them. The hand position isn't good; your elbow position isn't good; and it's just all kinds of bad that way -- for the most part. ERIC: Mine is on some stand. I don’t know, that’s like made for apple products, but it's a little stand so it picks it up about 4 inches and has a tilt on it, but I only use that just so the monitor of the laptop is at the same level on my main external monitor. EVAN: Is it just a solid block of aluminum? ERIC: No, that’s for my phone, I think because my wife, this is an old one. It's in iCurve Griffin. EVAN: Okay. ERIC: And that’s where I do most of my work. I also have an iMac with an external monitor, but that’s most for like social media stuff, chat and doing video things. It's more along the lines of “We happened to have the iMac and we hooked up not so much something I use every day.” CHUCK: So you are usually working on your laptop with Linux then, right? ERIC: Yeah, I mean if it's any kind of dev work, it's on my laptop. CHUCK: So Evan, what is your work space look like? EVAN: Messy. CHUCK:[Chuckles]EVAN: I ended up cleaning it maybe something severely; about quarterly. I had a sort of L shape configuration, but it was taking up too much of the office space, so I like having more open space in my office. It's not that I'm not claustrophobic; I just like the feeling of open space. And I have a geek desk, which is a $700 frame with a motor that can elevate and lower itself. It lowers itself to about as low as 2ft and about as high as maybe 4.5ft. When I'm standing, it can actually elevate itself to a height that it doesn’t feel good for me organically, which means that it will work just fine for probably someone like Eric too. I'm 5’10.5” so Eric got an 1.5 inch from me there. ERIC: Yeah like my desk, if I put a plate on it, I can put it all the way up so I literally shovel directly into my mouth. It's pretty funny looking, but I don’t do that. CHUCK:[Chuckles]EVAN: I have a 27” iMac and a 5 year old display hooked up to it. So I've got two large screens side by side. I tend to do most of my work on the iMac screen, which is nicer because the LED screen is brighter. And I tend to use the 30” screen as kind of a real honest to god desktop;     I put things over there that I wanna push aside, but I wanna have handy. So, I'll often have my email client over there and my twitter client over there, maybe my Skype client over there. And I'm doing all my development, usually in some kind of full screen mode on the iMac, whether I have them one in the terminal that’s taking most of the screen or have a browser and Vim open or what not. Just a lot of typical Apple hardware, Apple keyboard, a wireless mouse. We're just talking about the desk or are we talking about the whole workspace? Usually recommend having a high-quality office chair if you are working at home, which I neglected to mention. I am. I have a dedicated home office room. And since I tend to spend several hours a day in here sitting on my bum,  I want something that’s good for my bum, good for my body, doesn’t hurt my back. Also another thing is try to slouch, when I try to slouch backward, which is supposed to be a little bit better for you, a little bit of a backward lean when I'm working… ERIC: It's like 135 degrees or something, right? EVAN: Something like that yeah. It comes kind of naturally with the air on chair too. I think it's part of the intentional design. What else… I guess nothing else that’s too significant except there's usually copious amounts of cats trying to get on the desk which is unfortunate. ERIC: One thing, and this is what I have, I have like a six foot window that’s 90 degrees from where I look, so I get a lot of natural light. I mean, do you have that in yours? EVAN: I only have one window on the room. It's only about 2 feet wide, only four feet tall, I suppose. It's not 90 degrees actually on the same wall that I'm facing, but it's just the left on my desk, so at least I can see sunlight, I can see outside all the time when I'm working, but I don’t get a whole lot because my house is in the wrong side for that. We are southern facing, but we got a lot of trees is really the problem. For when I'm mobile, I have an 11” MacBook Air that I tend to use, and I use that because I can work on it almost anywhere and because it's very light, easy to transport. I use to have a 17” MacBook Pro that I use for everything, but it turns out that the iMac+MacBook Air combo was only slightly more really than the top end MacBook Pro, so I figured why not just go that way. And when I really need to buckle down, and get work done, I think I mentioned both of these before, but I used these Bose noise canceling headset that I have. And of late, I attached that to my iPhone, and there’s a white noise app that I was using called Simply Noise, that, plus my Bose headset, I can blocks out apparently almost anything – screaming kids in the next table in the coffee shop, I won’t hear them. It's a wonderful thing that way, because otherwise, screaming kids drive me nuts. CHUCK: Nice. EVAN:[Chuckles] Nice that screaming kids drive me nuts or nice that I can't hear them?CHUCK: Both. EVAN:[Chuckles] That’s pretty much it for me.CHUCK: Alright, cool. Jeff, what is your workspace look like? JEFF: A mess. I've been listening to Eric and Evan. It will be nice to have sort of a video tour, but… EVAN: Oh no, I'm too ashamed to the mess I have. I can't have a video tour right now. CHUCK:[Chuckles]**EVAN: I have to clean it up first. JEFF: Yeah well, sloppy desk or something right? EVAN: Oh, try sloppy space. The desk could be worse, but everything around it looks a little bit like an animal went in here or a bomb went off … CHUCK: Or both? EVAN:**Well yeah, there actually four animals that have a tendency to live in here other than me, so yeah maybe both. (Cats.)JEFF: So, I have a dedicated office, doors that shut. If the IRS is listening, it's tax deductible, so… CHUCK:[Chuckles]**JEFF: It is dedicated just for my office, etcétera, etcétera. I have a corner desk, which is sort of an L-desk. It's a good idea at the time, but I'm not thrilled with it. I have four 24” monitors hooked to a Mac Pro and that’s my main work area. I've got a 13” MacBook Air for once a month or once a quarter I go somewhere, I need to do something on a laptop. I do have a window, but the way the sun is in the afternoon, I have to almost completely close the blinds. I get too much glare in my monitors the way that everything is arranged. A bunch of book cases, just junk, 8 foot whiteboard. EVAN: Nice. JEFF: I don’t have a bunch of other specifics. CXO chair by Nightingale. Herman Miller, they had another chair that had like a memory foam seat, it came out a while ago and CXO is very similar to that, it's got memory foam seat ergo blah, blah, blah. ERIC: The big thing with chairs, because I have an Aeron too, it’s like I sit in a bunch of them and find out what works. I've heard people who found like $40 Staples chairs were the best ones for them and that’s all you have to really do. EVAN: Yeah, some people don’t like Aeron chairs, they like steel cases, human scale I think is another one. There are a lot of different high end chairs and varieties of chairs within each line or from each company, so you should really try a whole bunch. CHUCK: Yeah. So anything else you wanna tell us about your workspace, Jeff? JEFF: I've got a Blue Snowball Mic on a boom stand for almost all my audio. I have Lansing Speakers and sub for sound but I just ordered a replacement today. The Lansing doesn’t have a headphone jack, which is annoying. And I don’t have an iPod dock, which is also annoying. And whatever the new set is fixes both of those problems. It's got like some little puck that’s volume control plus, headphone jack and aux input or line in input. Sub matters for me, because I don’t always use my headphones at my desktop. It’s a pain to reach under my desktop and put out the MacBook or the Mac pro. And the iPhone, I listen to iPods at 2x. I don’t listen to anything at 1x, so I either have to listen to my iPhone with ear buds or the Bose speakers. I can't just have going in the background. It's annoying to do it on the Mac pro. I mean, I could load the podcast in VLC and double the speed, and I think I can do it in iTunes, but I can get 1.4x not 2x. I don’t know. It's annoying. So these new speakers should help with that situation. CHUCK: Nice. So my situation in my office, I'm in a spare bedroom in house as well and yeah so basically I'm sitting at what is essentially what a cubicle, actually. I was complaining that I wanted a desk that will fit the corner of my office, and my wife went on to craigslist or one of the classified sites and found somebody that was selling kind of an office setup, and so she bought it sight unseen and I went and picked it up and it's got the particle board panels with the ugly fabric on it. ERIC: Like a cubicle thing? CHUCK:**It is a cubicle. [Chuckles]**EVAN: Oh, no. CHUCK: Yeah. The funniest part of it was that I've only ever worked in a cubicle for like 2 months in a regular job. EVAN: Oh, so it doesn’t bug you like it bugs the rest of us, probably? CHUCK: Right, because I don’t have like this major history. And it's way bigger than the cubicle that I had at that job. But anyway, it's basically a cubicle. It's in the only corner that it will fit in, and that kind of bothers me because it actually covers up most of the window in this room. I've actually been tempted to take one of the panels off completely, and just put it against the different wall or something, just to open up the window space and allow me to deal with that. And it's the piece that has the overhead bin on it and the printers sitting on that particular section. But I'm pretty sure that I could just cut down a couple of 2x4 and just set it up so that it will stand up on its own. But anyway, there's a pretty big window in here, and it would be directly to my right if I could see through it. But as it is, I get about a foot, maybe a foot and a half at the top, and another foot on the far right end, so that allows me to open the window and close the window. If I wanna lock the window though, I actually have to reach behind the panel and flip the switch. So, not great. And I don’t really completely love the cubicle, but it does afford me a lot of desk space, which is nice. We are eventually going to move me downstairs. We have kind of a weird shaped front room, and we're just going to wall it in and put some double doors on it and that will be my office. It will be a little bit bigger down there and I can situate this a little bit better… EVAN: Is it ground floor or is it the basement? CHUCK: It will be ground floor. EVAN: Okay. One thing that Eric mentioned that I have frustration with is having lots of natural light. I'm hoping that you get plenty where you are. I don’t get enough where I am. CHUCK: I do get enough. My window faces north, so I don’t always get a ton of direct sunlight coming in, but it really brightens it up. I leave my blinds open all the time. It actually drives my wife crazy because at night, she'll have a bath or a shower or something, and then she'll just walk around in her underwear, and the blinds are open and so she gets a little frustrated. “You have to close your door if you are not in there working,” kind of thing, especially at night or in the morning. ERIC: It's just entertainment for the neighbors. CHUCK: Yeah, well it faces the next door neighbor’s house because our house faces east. EVAN:**Oh. [Chuckles]**ERIC: You look over one day and you see a blinking red light in their window. CHUCK:**Yeah, there you go. [Chuckles] So that’s one thing I have. I also have an eight foot whiteboard. I'm actually going to put a link into explain how to put it up, because it's not like a proper whiteboard. It's a shower board you can get at the hardware store. And then I just got some mirror brackets, the little plastic ones, and you just anchor them to the wall. You need about three on the bottom and three on the top. And it doesn’t always erase completely cleanly, but you just get out the solvent for the dry erase and it takes it off.JEFF: Well that and it's like $8 for the sharboard, so when it gets completely used up, you just... EVAN: Get another one. JEFF: Yeah. ERIC: I have a question for you guys. I have a hard time working on whiteboards. I mean, it doesn’t matter what side or where it is. I played with it a lot. It’s just not a natural thing for me to use whiteboards. Is it for you, guys? Did you kind of like always, “Oh, I'm going to work on my whiteboard,” or is it like a habit you had to get into. I mean at home, like a one person type thing. JEFF: For me, college we had whiteboards everywhere, and then all the corporate, I mean you can't get away from whiteboards in a corporate space. I spent ten years there or something before going out on my own, so it's just habit whenever there is something to explain, just go to a whiteboard. EVAN: I'm more like you, Eric. I've been in lots of environments and whiteboards, but I tend to only go to a whiteboard when I'm having trouble explaining something, just by describing it. Usually, a whiteboard is to augment communication for me. It's not something I would use for my own purposes, because I tend to do a lot of communication with myself via text. CHUCK: My deal is that, and I’m not sure exactly what it is or why, but sometimes it’s easier for me to sit down with a computer, pull up some mind mapping software and just go nuts. And sometimes, it’s easier for me to actually go to the whiteboard, step away from the screen. And I'll sit and stare at my computer for an hour and a half, still not sure where I’m going to start. I go stand up at the white board, start drawing and within a half hour, I go whatever it is that I’m working on figured out. And so, it’s just another medium for me to use to actually get up and kind of get into a different rhythm… EVAN: Change context. CHUCK: Yeah, exactly. And that way, I can get the things done that I need to do. EVAN: I use my iPad for that. I actually bought a mind mapping piece of software for my iPad, and I used it to write a presentation. And it allowed me to also change context from sitting in my office and writing mark down in Vim by just working on the… I was working in bed on the iPad in the presentation and that helped a lot. ERIC: The only use I’ve found… I guess 2’x18” whatever whiteboard that I have hanging up, I’ve only found a use for that for kind of like a little dashboard type thing, so like sales for the month or metrics and stuff like that, stuff where I’ve updated it very rarely and eventually, I’m going to wipe it completely clean and start over. But everything else I used to do on paper. And I’m trying to do more on the iPad and the digital notepads and stuff, so it’s not throwing a bunch of stuff away. I've never been able to work on a whiteboard when it’s just me. If I'm talking to people like a big whiteboard works better, but I still think there’s something weird with my brain or something. EVAN: No, it’s not just you. CHUCK: Yeah, it isn’t just you. For some of those things, it’s the same deal for me. But if I need to get up and use the whiteboard, it’s usually because I need to get away from the screens. And the iPad just isn’t enough of a switch for me to do it. EVAN: Yeah, I can understand that. The problem I have with the iPad versus paper sometimes is that the iPad is modal. Not quite in the same way as Vim is, but that you have to fire up an app and you don’t just flip a page, you have to interact with the screen in order to switch pages, and navigation is somewhat unwieldy than just paper. CHUCK: Yeah, and for me is that’s the other thing is that it removes all the barriers because it’s just me, my hand, the marker and the whiteboard. And so I don’t have to figure out how to do something with the software, I can just get up and draw. EVAN: On the other hand, not too often, I do occasionally break out a piece of scratch paper instead of a whiteboard. That’s pretty rare. When I do that, I just reach over to my printer and pull out one piece from the tray. CHUCK: Yup, as long as you don’t need to read it later, right? EVAN: Yeah. And I usually don’t. If I do actually, I just trap it on to my keyboard. Keyboard like a big paper clip. CHUCK: So as far as the rest of my setup, so I have the overhead bin, I have a shelf above where my monitor is, that has all my software, books and my networking equipment on it. The nice thing about the cubicle too is it has a couple of drawers, so I can file stuff away in it. ERIC: Never to be seen again? CHUCK: That’s usually the case, but that’s usually the point too. So I've got a bunch of plants growing in here, thanks to Eric’s pick back in February, with a video from the TED talk about the plants. And I've really gotten into that. I really enjoy having plants growing in my office. So I just got this massive amount of desk space and stuff going on. Sometimes I'll set my laptop next to my Mac Pro. I have a Mac Pro. I have two monitors on it. One I bought brand new, and one I got at a used computer stuff place, and they let you plug it in, hook it to a machine, make sure it all works. And then if you are happy with it, you can take it home. So I think this one cost me like $20 or something. And it’s like 17”. It’s not the wide display. EVAN: That’s a 4x3 you mean? CHUCK: Yeah, instead of a 16x9. And then I've got all kinds of miscellaneous stuff all over my desk, probably wouldn’t take me too long to clean it up, but I've just been completely swamped and not really been interested in cleaning it up. But yeah, that’s basically what I've got. I've got my audio equipment too sitting over here to my right with the boom arm for my mic, like what Jeff was talking about with his deal. But yeah, that’s basically what I do. I actually do have one of the cheap $40 office chairs. Most of the time, it doesn’t bother me, but every once in a while, I'll get up and I'll be totally stiff in my back or my neck and just wish I had a more ergonomic chair. But the Aerons costs like $800 or something. EVAN: That’s about right. But the nice thing is they have a lifetime warranty or something ridiculous like that. And they take a lot of abuse and they’ve got a huge warranty. ERIC: Someone pointed this out, it’s kind of interesting, like how much do you spend on a mattress? You can spend upwards of a grand to get a mattress. You spend about as much time in your chair as you do on your bed. CHUCK: That’s true. JEFF: In a single day, if you can bill a single day. I mean you can make that up. It’s just a cost of doing business. I mean the CXO is right around the same… there's a healthy back store near you, that’s a great place to go, sometimes they’d have outlets, but they often have all the chairs on one place; you don’t have to find a Herman Miller studio , you can just sample all the chair at once. I mean, it’s one of the best investments you'll make. CHUCK: Yeah, I'm starting to get to that point. I mean, as much time I've spent sitting here, it would be really nice. And one thing that I really wish I had… and maybe we can get into wish list, but one of the things I really wish I had was a stand that I can put my monitors on to raise them about probably six inches or more, and then get the chair. This chair leans back pretty nicely, but then get something that has a little bit of head rest on it, so that I could actually put my head back and just kind of align it so that I'm looking at my monitors that way. And then I'm not craning my neck over, because I'm leaning back where my monitor are sitting directly on my desk. JEFF: Chuck, how many books are in your office, Chuck? CHUCK:[Chuckles] Good point. I did actually get rid of a bunch of them, I probably should stack them up.ERIC: Just go by one Java book. That will be enough. JEFF: Exactly. EVAN:[Chuckles] Yeah, I guess I could whip up a couple of my nasty books that I'll never ever use again. I was about to say, one problem I have with the iMac is that I don’t feel that its height is necessarily optimal. I’d have to go check what the recommended ergonomics is, but I often feel like my neck gets a little stiff sometimes when I'm occasionally sitting forward in the arm chair. When I'm leaning back, it still feels a little low. Same thing with the displays, yeah I would probably do the same thing, have a book and bump it up. I haven’t actually done that yet.ERIC: I think when you are looking at your monitor with your head level and your eyes level, you should look at the top third of your screen. I actually have monitor arms, so each of my monitors have those. Especially for a standing desk where I adjust it all the time, like it’s amazing to just touch this big ass monitor and have it move up and down for me. CHUCK: Oh, that would be nice. Do you know what brand they are? ERIC: It looks like Ergotron. I’ve researched it and found one. The problem I had was my monitors were heavy, so I needed heavy duty ones. CHUCK: Right. We’ve actually seen some pictures of each other’s work spaces a little bit. And I liked Jeff’s four monitors; I was sitting there going, “Oh man, I would love to do that.” Yeah, I got to talk to my wife into letting me spend some of these money on some of these stuff. It would definitely make my life better if I had a little more ergonomic setup. ERIC: You can always tweak your environment. Chuck, you don’t have an optimal chair or monitors, you can make it a thing like every month or every other month, take one of those things off your list and buy it and do like a long term play for it. Because most of these stuff is like a tax write off or equipment for equipment tax write off. I like to look at it and say, “Yeah, a new chair might cost $1,000 but after taxes, it might only cost me $700 off my net profit.” EVAN: And that’s exactly how I look at it too. I'm glad you said it. It’s an investment in your business; it’s an investment in your comfort, investment in your health. So yeah, tax deductible. So in a lot of regards, it’s really worth it. If you wanna be comfortable and enjoy doing what you do, then having a good work environment, having tools you like using is really important. CHUCK: I totally agree. So, I kind of wanna get into setups if you are working around town. So if you go out to the café or the restaurant or something that has Wi-Fi, do you usually just take your laptop or do you take other things to kind of make things better? EVAN: You already heard mine. ERIC: For me, if I'm going there and going to work, I'll bring my laptop. I really try and not to just because I can type for ten minutes in my laptop and my hands start hurting. If it’s kind of like going at a meet and greet, I'll actually bring my iPad. And if I'm not traveling like going to see family or whatever and I might be working, I'll bring my iPad and actually have an office depot document holder, to hold up documents as you type, which actually fits the iPad perfectly and it doesn’t cost $50 like the iPad stands. And so that actually puts the screen in a nice angle and I have a little Bluetooth full sized keyboard, I hook up to it. But I try not to work when I'm out and about, and when it is and its mostly phone and iPad stuff and its mostly like quick stuff, not actually development or anything. CHUCK: Right. There's a restaurant out here called Paradise Bakery, and it’s kind of a little café sandwich shop kind of place. And I really like their salads. And since I'm dieting or as I tell my friends, “I'm watching my girlish figure.” EVAN:[Chuckles]CHUCK: I like their salads. It tastes good and they are pretty good as far as calories and ingredients go. But anyway, so I go over there and a lot of their booths have power outlets in them, and so I’ll just take my laptop, and I'll usually take my iPod and just some cheap headphones. I listen to podcast when I'm coding anyway, and I have a lot of people say, “How do you do that?” ERIC: Yeah, how do you do that? CHUCK:[Chuckles] I'm usually sort of half listening, but you know, a lot of the stuff that I listen to is interesting and I pick up new things while I'm working. I don’t know. It’s just something that I do. As you can probably guess, it’s hard for me to fully engage in one thing and partially engage in another thing. And so a lot of times, I do miss things on the podcast but because I'm fully engaged in the code. But in any case, that’s what I got. I actually just have some cheap USB powered speakers that I have in my office so I just plug them into my iPod, because I listen to everything in 2x like Jeff does. But yeah, I'll just take my iPod and I'll just set things up and go. Sometimes, I'll take my mouse or my keyboard with me, but most of the time I don’t. And I've just got a 13 inch MacBook, the old white MacBook and I really need to upgrade that, but I don’t use it frequently enough for it to be like a major priority for me. And when I travel, it’s the same thing. I just take that with me. I take my iPad with me and if I need to just browse something up while I'm lying in bed or something then I can just pull it up on my iPad.ERIC: That might be the difference in style because it’s like I think I'm a lot like Evan, where I get distracted easily. I don’t use noise canceling headphones at home, but I remember I travel and I was working on a coffee shop and like I maybe got like 10 minutes of work done the entire day just because people would sit down and there will be kids running around across by my side or twitter is talking to me or this or that. That’s why I have so much invested in my home office, even though I have a laptop. I can only really get good work done and good productivity done when I can control my environment completely. CHUCK: Yeah, that’s the other thing that’s nice about the place that I usually go; the restaurant that I go to, they kind of have this big open room where you can sit, but then toward the back, if you head back toward the bathrooms and the kitchen, they have three booths that are kind of along that little passage way. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but it’s kind of in this little nook where you can’t see out into the main area. And it’s a lot quieter back there and stuff. So that’s  usually where I wind up going is I'll go back there and use one of those booths, plug my laptop in and then it’s not as distracting. And you are right by the window, so you get a lot of natural light there too. It’s just a really nice place to work. But I've found that if I can’t do that, that if I can’t just face the wall or face the window or something, then a lot of times it helps cut down the distractions and problems that way. ERIC: I've considered making horse blinders for myself so I can only see my screen. CHUCK:[Chuckles]**EVAN:**I can appreciate that, I really never thought about that. But occasionally, I've done something similar at home where sometimes having the second monitor on distracts me because I'm in Vim, I have a particular theme on the screen and I can focus on that, but I my background on the other screen is a different color or if people are busy yammering away my email or twitter or something, I just need to turn the other monitor off. But sometimes something horse blinders will be even better [Chuckles].**ERIC: That’s kind of the question I was thinking, you guys use Mac, so do you guys use spaces or whatever that workplace feature is? EVAN: Yeah. CHUCK: I don’t as much, and mainly it’s because I haven’t trained myself to use it. I probably should, but I… JEFF: I do, but I wanna stop. And that’s the thing, the four monitors; it is a curse as much as it is a blessing. One of my monitors, I don’t know what it is, but of the four monitors attached to my Mac pro, one of them will occasionally go black; it’s not the DVI cable, it’s not the power cable. I don’t know. Apple, there’s reports that it’s a known issue. The Mac Pro, it doesn’t fully support all monitors blah, blah, blah. So I've been thinking about switching out the monitors and going to just one… I have four spaces right now, I have four desktops. Four monitors and four… EVAN:**My god. [Chuckles]CHUCK:[Chuckles] Holy cow.**JEFF: It’s ridiculous. It’s more distracting that anything else. And honestly, half the time the stuff on two other monitors or at least one of the monitors are just there to distract, and not to do any real work. So I don’t know. I like to get to the point where there is like a single monitor or something or maybe two or something. I don’t know. I go back and forth, but it is really easy to waste a bunch of time because you got more monitors, you got to put trap on them. I have 16 places I can put junk. EVAN: I have two monitors, I have four Spaces. But the truth is, I really use space 4 to keep iTunes because I just don’t wanna see iTunes most of the time – ever – I just want it running. I actually never use, I have to get rid of it. Actually I'm wrong. Sorry, I have… see, I don’t even know it anymore.  Space 2 is my iTunes and my Omnifocus, because I usually dump things on Omnifocus. I look at it on my iPad and iPhone, rarely on my computer. I only use spaces. And space 2, I'm only there maybe to push the button occasionally on iTunes, very rarely because I usually use keyboard control and some other stuff. And I'm usually using space one on two monitors. And that usually works fine, but then there's two very large monitors and I really just focus on one. ERIC: Now, in spaces because I'm not familiar. Like space 1, is it space 1 for both monitors and space 2? EVAN: Yes. ERIC: Ok. I'm on Linux and I know you are coming from Jeff, because I used to have four monitors also. But the way my system works is like monitor one will have space 1, monitor two I have space six, monitor three will have space four, so I can control them individually. And I actually found that’s like extremely efficient for me, because I'll just sit right now space one is my to-do list and my time tracking, space nine is my email. And I can actually have all my applications maximized and just toggle between them and hide the ones I don’t care about. And so like for me, space three is my small screen dev, space four is my large screen dev, and I'll have Emacs open full screen on one and then either a web browser or like a screen session, so like a console on other. And it actually takes all the distractions and throws them on spaces I don't see, until I talk a little and check it every five minutes, but that’s a different problem. EVAN: I tend to use iTerm for my terminal. And the reason I mentioned that is because its desktop where space independent depending on how you set it up. So independent of which space I’m in, all I have to do is hit alt+backtick and then boom, it comes up. Lately, I've been doing all my work in a terminal. I do my vim in a terminal, I'm using Tmux, I'm not usually been using Mac Vim. So that makes them pretty easy. I really spend most of the day in the terminal and that one’s great. ERIC: Same with me. I use screen but I have Emacs on the first screen inside the screen, so I can actually connect to it from multiple workspaces, and pop up the windows that are already open and all that. CHUCK: Typically, I just use my two monitors so I'll have my iTerm open on one side and its usually iTerm and vim on the right hand monitor, which is the larger one. And then on the left hand one, I will have my web browser up. And so as I make changes in the app, then I can go over and refresh and things like that. And then if I need to access anything else, it’s usually through the terminal. So that’s pretty much all I have going on. Then, I usually have another browser window open that has my email, the handful of other things that I have going on that I need to be checking up on. I try not to check those except for maybe once or twice a day unless I have a strong reason to even do that. ERIC: I try using a Mac for a while and I couldn’t stick with it, but most of my stuff is keyboard driven. I mean, in screen, switching between screens is keyboard driven. And the window manager, I can switch between windows and the workspace is using keyboard. And so the only times I really use the mouse is when I'm on webpages and in email because I got to a little bit. So that’s another thing I work in. I know some people love using the mouse, but for me keyboard driven stuff, that’s where speed happens. I wanna record screen shot doing it, but sometimes the screen flash so fast, I think it will actually confuse people unless I'm slowing down and describing the keys I’m hitting and all that too. CHUCK: Right. There are also programs that allow you to show which keys you are hitting at the time and it will flash it up on the screen. I know Ryan Bates did that for a while with Rails Casts. ERIC: Yeah. I've thought about that, but the problem is so I have a windows keyboard, so the start key, it’s START+K+J to switch between windows. I mean it’s fast, and so being able to compare like what I'm hitting with what the screen is doing, there might be too much of a delay because I tried recording when I'm like, this is weird because I use Emacs because I'm always hitting control and alt. EVAN: Eric, I got a question about that. How were you doing text selection thought if you wanna copy and paste between terminals? You have to use the mouse for that, right? ERIC: Yeah. But on Linux, it’s interesting. In most operating system, you get the select and copy. On Linux, if you highlight text and middle click anywhere else, it’s copy and paste. EVAN: Oh, right. ERIC: So that’s what I do with most of it. The other stuff, I'm usually in Emacs or whatever, so I can use that like a new screen and highlight too. CHUCK: Well, I know Evan has to get off in like five minutes. So let’s go ahead and jump over to the picks, unless there is something else that someone wants to bring up and add. ERIC: I think the only thing is that it might be good to do another show about the software we actually use, because we mostly talk about the physical work environment. CHUCK: Yeah, we could do that. Maybe we'll do that next week. Is that ok with you, guys? EVAN: That’s great. CHUCK: All right. Not next week, but in two weeks because I'm out of town next week, and Jeff is also out of town next week. So all right, well let’s get into the picks then. Eric, what are your picks? ERIC: So my pick, I got this 2-3 weeks ago. It’s pretty cool. It’s an Avery Peel and Stick Dry Erase stickers with boarders. Basically, it’s the same size as paper and it’s a dry erase sticker. I got it because I've been having problems with the dry erase board. What I did is I actually stuck it to pieces of cardboard, so the very back of notebooks or whatever, and now I have 8x11 carriable whiteboard that I work with. It comes in a pack of four, so I actually have four of them. And I find it very useful just like the little notes or scratching that I put on scratch paper. I'll be like, “Ok this test fail,” so I’ll I write it down and come back to it later. So it’s relatively inexpensive and if you have extra pieces of cardboard, it’s really easy to make. CHUCK: That sounds really cool. I'm going to have to look into that. It would also be pretty handy for my kids, to keep them occupied. ERIC:**My other pick, you are going to laugh at me, but every Friday, I do kind of like a weekly thing, so that’s when I sync my phones and download a new update and all that stuff, but at that same time, I also make sure to clean my desk. And so it’s an every week habit where basically clean off the surface. I can’t remember the [unintelligible], but it’s something like the keyboard has more germs and stuff than the toilet and stuff like that. Even just picking stuff off from your desk I found it really helps me, especially come Monday when I'm really frazzled to like, “Oh look, my desk is clean. Who did this for me?” “Oh, I did. Cool.”CHUCK:[Chuckles]**ERIC: That’s another pick or recommendation. CHUCK: See I have mine scheduled for Wednesday afternoon to clean up my desk, and the problem is that I'll clean it, and then the next week, it will come around to time to clean it again, and I'll look at it and go, “I don’t have time.” And it’s not that messy, and so then it gets worse progressively worse. And then eventually it’s like, “All right, I got to clean this thing up.” EVAN: How many months have to go by before you finally decide, “Oh, it’s Wednesday and I really should clean it this time.” CHUCK:**Yeah. [Chuckles]**EVAN: Because that's what happens to me; I clean my desk, it stays clean for a week. Not worry about it, a few months later, it’s disgusting. CHUCK: Yeah. So Evan, what are your picks? EVAN: I've already mentioned simply noise before, and mentioned the headset before, but I guess I'll mention those again, and have them as picks again because we're talking about work spaces, because I really do find it useful and it works outside the house. Also, last week or maybe the week before, I talked about it. I've been dealing a lot with the scalable vector graphics lately. And recently, I used, of all things, I used a little bit of Java. Oh my god, a library I believe it’s called Batik. I'm not sure exactly based on the spelling but I'm linking it. And among other things, it has a JPG transcoder; I believe it also has a PNG transcoder that will accept SPG as input. And it’s pretty wicked fast. So I tried a lot of different things over the past few weeks trying to focus in the speed. I tried to use PhantomJS to render an SPG to a raster format, I tried using image magic, but image magic has issues; sometimes unreliable. I used rmagic; it’s a memory hog and eventually blow up. It often gets slower. Batik is reliably pretty super-fast, so I just wrapped it in a java service. I’m hoping I’ll actually be able to open source it from this client because there’s nothing proprietary on it. But all that aside, Batik is super, super easy to use if you are just doing SPG to raster format version and very fast, so I recommend taking a look at it. I can link it too. There's a bit of sample code that tells you almost everything you need to know. CHUCK: All right, cool. Jeff, what are your picks? JEFF: So I have two: one was a post from the guy that started Buffer. It’s a post that talks about Work In Yourself More Than You Work On Your Startup, which is sort of his take on a quote he heard from somebody else that’s work that says, “Work harder on yourselves than you do on your job,” which is appropriate for me and probably appropriate for everybody. It would have been a nice message for me 20 years ago, especially if I would have followed the advice. And it’s definitely worth hearing again now. The other one is back up the Ruby gem server somewhere pressed up on it and its not backed up, and I have to deal with it and so it’s just timely. But backup, I use backup on other stuff. ERIC:**That’s actually what I used too. I used duplicity or whatever you pronounce it, on my main systems, which basically encrypts it into TAR files, and then I use the backup [unintelligible] to sync a test through, so I'm not sending everything all the time. It’s pretty solid gem. I haven’t seen any issues other than maybe [unintelligible].**CHUCK: Cool. Anything else there, Jeff? JEFF: No. CHUCK: Ok, so I'm going to pick a couple of things that I have been using lately. Some of them is something that I have been using for organizing my thoughts around some of my talks and things like that, and that is Mind Meister. EVAN: I have used that I think. Good app. CHUCK: Yeah, you can get it as an app on your iPad or iPod. And also, it’s an online tool. I'm not sure what its written in. I really like it. I actually am paying for it so that I can get as many mind map as I want and I can share them with other people. And it’s just been really, really handy to kind of organize my thoughts, because I'm putting together a Ruby on Rails training course for PluralSight, which is an online training website. It started out focused on .NET developers, but they are branching out to other areas, and so I've been organizing that stuff. And I'm also organizing another thing so that I can get the course together. also approached me to put together a course on CoffeeScript. So you know, it really helps me kind of say “Ok, this is everything that I can think of that’s related to this topic, and then I can pair it down to just the basics and I can push those out into another mind map, and really get a good idea of what I need to cover, what's there, and I can put them in order that makes sense, and I can use scrivener or something to do that. Anyway, so that’s one of my picks. And the other pick that I have, and this is something that I've had for a while and I think a lot of people use on the Mac is the iWork suite. I mean, you have OpenOffice; you can get Microsoft Office for the Mac. I really haven’t had any problems with iWork. I find that OpenOffice, I find that I really don’t like their interface. It just feels weird. I think it’s just the look more than anything else that really bothers me, but it really bothers me. So doing that and making that all work is just, iWork seems to work more smoothly and do everything that I need. So I really, really kind of dig it. And the final one that I have and I don’t have it out with me at the moment. It’s in my laptop back that’s on the other side of the room, but I have a little presenter advancer that I use at my presentations. It’s a little nicer than the infrared or whatever remotes that you can buy for your MacBook's, in the sense that you just put the USB thing in and then I don’t know if it uses Bluetooth or some other technology, but I can be across the room from it and things and still hit the advanced button and it advances and stuff. And it also has a button and other things so that if I'm talking and I want to kind of clear the screen so that people are looking at me and paying attention to that instead of reading my slide again, then I can hit that button and it fades to black in keynote and so I really, really like that. And so I'll put a link in the show notes to where you can get that on Amazon to use it. And I guess we'll wrap that up. We are going to be talking to CJ Hayden. I think we decided the beginning of July. JEFF: We have to confirm dates, but yeah. EVAN: Cool, that’s great. CHUCK: So go pick up Get Clients Now. I'll put a link in the show notes for that as well. And then other than that, go find us in iTunes. Real quick, this is something I wanna start doing in the future is if you wanna hire these guys, why don’t you go ahead and tell folks where they can go to find you if they want to hire you. So I'll have Eric go first. ERIC: My Company is Little Stream Software, On there, there should be a contact page and a “send me an email” thing. That’s the best way. It goes directly to me. So it’s the same as emailing me, this way I actually know you came from my website too. EVAN: My business is called Triple Dog Dare, the website site is And on there, there’s a link to an email address which you can reach me at or you can also call me on my Google voice number which is on the website as well. CHUCK: Jeff? JEFF: The website is or @jschoolcraft on twitter or jschoolcraft probably anywhere. CHUCK:** I'm still working on my business’ website. I've only been freelancing for two years, so I'm not too far behind the times. You can find most of the information for me at My phone number and email address are both up there and you can hire me that way. Obviously, you can get a hold of me through any of the other shows that I do as well. Most of the time, my information is on there somewhere. All right, let’s wrap this up; thank the audience for listening. We'll be talking to you next week or in two weeks!

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