Changing my work environment.

Computer change.

My Mac Pro had nearly filled up with crud and stuff. I started seeing beach balls from time to time when performing network activities. I started uninstalling oodles of applications to free up disk space. It helped a little, but it didn’t go far enough. Even for simple coding activities (really just managing text files), things were too slow. I couldn’t have many applications open at the same time. I probably had a RAM module go bad or something, but I felt the time was to move on from a desktop computer. Something nearly everyone else in the world has done already.

I decided to go with the latest MacBook Pro Retina with a 1TB SSD drive. Not only is this machine a speed demon (my wife has one and it’s been amazing), but it’s portability allows me to attend meetings with it, shop prototypes around easily, and to be able to take work home if I ever need to. It’s a welcome change.

I’m currently driving one Dell monitor with it – so I have 2 displays (including the laptop itself). I purchased a USB3-DVI thingy and so I should have 2 external monitors going as well. My dock does HDMI, so I drive one with that and the other will be over USB. So in essence I should be able to have 3 displays if needed. With multiple desktops, that’s a lot of playpen. I didn’t want to incur the cost of getting Thunderbolt displays to daisy chain. While they would be awesome, I already have several large Dell panels at my disposal. Three in fact. My old Mac Pro will serve as a development server and wiki server hooked up to one. I also run an SAP client and a few other things on it. I’ll probably use it for Outlook instead of on the laptop so I can just keep it open all the time.

My office.

I have always prided myself in keeping my office fairly neat and tidy. In my department, offices are normally cluttered messes of wires, soldering irons, components, oscilloscopes, devices, computers, etc. If someone asked me to go to their office to fetch something it would take me forever.

I now make sure everything is neat and orderly before leaving each day. It’s the Apple mantra of office zen. Stacks of paper printouts of code, etc. are neatly piled. If there are more than 2 piles, they get filed in a drawer in a project folder. Devices are put back into a drawer. cables put away or gathered up. IKEA clean looking. It’s a pain sometimes, especially when one is in the middle of a complex project, but the peace of mind and the calming aura of clean desk space, tidy computer screens, the lack of distraction — it’s really working for me.

I also try to document my daily activity on a personal work wiki. It helps keep things straight. I’m using SVN for nearly everything – I have my own repository on the LAN. I’ve removed apps I no longer use or need. Things are simple to find now. I used to use my Desktop as a toilet – so much so that I previously used Desktop Curtain to hide it from view. Now it’s all workspace-based. Android in SVN and Xcode projects too.

I know. “Cool story, bro!” But I think most of us can take a few minutes to organize their code, their files, their apps, and desks each day. It makes coming into the office just a little more fun knowing it looks and operates with awesome efficiency.

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