Evolution of my desk¶
This is probably just a pure vanity article. I thought it would be nice to see the evolution of my desk over the past years. Sadly I only have photos since 2008, so I have nothing before that.
iMac and Sidekick¶
Late 2008 I got a 20” iMac. Before that I had just used an iBook G4 from around 2004. The Intel Core 2 Duo in the iMac has been a huge improvement regarding performance. At the time I had a 17” sidekick monitor.
The hardware one can see in the picture is:
- Apple Keyboard
- LaCie 500 GB Disk
- Logitech G5 Mouse
- WD MyBook 500 GB Disk
Sometimes the desk just filled up with stuff. Since I had a keyboard and mouse drawer, that was not really that big of a problem, anyway.
SyncMaster and iMac¶
In the middle of 2009 I got really tired of the glossy screen on the iMac. So I purchased a Samsung SyncMaster 24” display which I used as my primary one. The iMac itself was just degraded as a secondary screen by then.
One can also see the EUR 20 Labtec speakers I had at the time.
Over the time I started to use more and more free (as in freedom) software on my Mac. So I have used Vim, Firefox, Thunderbird, LaTeX and a lot of other stuff. Somewhere in 2010 I realized that I was not using the Mac OS X (or macOS nowadays) really and that where was no value proposition for me to use a Mac. I eventually installed Ubuntu on the iMac and actually liked it better. That is something that I could not have seen coming in 2004 when I got my first Mac and was very excited about it.
Without the Mac OS, the iMac was just a very expensive computer that I did not even use for its display. Therefore I sold it and just used the HP tower that my brother left behind when he went into the US.
The HP tower¶
On the HP tower I continued to use Ubuntu. At some time I have replaced the Apple Keyboard by the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. I also replaced the Logitech mouse with a thinner Razer model which I could move around with the fingertips only. Both steps have been a great improvement over the previous human interface devices I have used.
The speakers got replaced by some Teufel ones, the desk replaced by a simpler model from IKEA. This way I had one level surface to do everything. After switching to that simple desk I realized how crappy those keyboard drawers are: Either the drawer has the wrong height or the whole desk. There is no point in having them.
For some reason the only picture I could find is a really messy one. Perhaps I wanted to document how messy my desk could possibly get?
In the meantime I started studying Physics at the university in fall of 2011. For this I took my Asus Eee-PC every day. It was super light but the performance and ergonomics of that thing were horrible. It took some talking into but I eventually bought a ThinkPad with a docking station in mid 2012.
This did not make the desk cleaner but the space right next to it. Also I had some decent computer at the university and could do some work on the go.
Move and Filco keyboard¶
In early 2014 I moved. My desk just came along and did not change much. I put the ThinkPad on the other side eventually to use it as a notepad more conveniently.
The Microsoft Keyboard itself was pretty nice from the shape. After years of hammering the keys, its switches were really horrible and worn out. So I replaced that with a Filco Keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches. Since most wrist rests are made of strange materials and were quite expensive, I just took an old towel and put it there.
Also the Samsung display had a weird hardware defect with the DVI module so I have replaced it with a Dell Professional display.
The trusty two lamps that I had next to the display since forever eventually started to blind me a bit. Perhaps it was something about the LED bulbs that I have used as a replacement. Anyway, they first moved behind the screen as seen above. Then I attached some IKEA LEDs to the back of the screen. This made the whole desk look really tidy.
Perhaps I have read too much about Jeff Atwood and his triple monitor lifestyle. Either way, I have bought two more of the Dell screens since 23” IPS screens are really affordable in 2016. Sadly the ThinkPad is not able to address them all at once, so I use a tower when I want all three screens.
It might look really flashy but realize that FullHD screens cost only around EUR 120 a piece now and rarely modern (Ivy Bridge or so) Intel iGPUs can already feed three displays. So this setup is not extraordinary these days. A single 4k display has more pixels than this setup!
On top of the center screen you can see the ColorHugALS brightness sensor which I use to adjust the brightness of the screens automatically. See Brightness sensor and external screens for more details on that.