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Making Modifications to Your Computer Workspace?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the nesting-instinct dept.

136

Anonymouse Cowherd asks: "I've got an ancient engineer's desk at work, and the thing is seriously not very comfortable for long-term computer usage, so I'm trying to think of things I can do to it to make it more livable. Has anyone had to live with this situation and been forced to hack their own office furniture, or wished that they had? If you did, what modifications did you make to improve your space?"

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A cluster of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15102933)

"Has anyone had to live with this situation and been forced to hack their own office furniture, or wished that they had? "

Mine runs Linux.

I've got you beat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15102934)

I compiled my desk myself using Gentoo. It's fully optimized, and all of its loops are unrolled.

Re:I've got you beat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15102971)

careful doing that... unrolled loops can blow out the instruction cache and make it slower. Of course, a desk is pretty easy to assemble, and no one reads the instructions anyway. Plus, it's office chairs that people race, not desks.

Me? I used out-of-order optimizations to make my assembly faster.

Re:I've got you beat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103212)

careful doing that... unrolled loops can blow out the instruction cache and make it slower

Bah! The 385 Gentoo-lusers can't be wrong. What do you think they are, a bunch of fucking clueless morons?

Perhaps the most important thing of all... (4, Interesting)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 8 years ago | (#15102956)

The chair. Seriously. If you're going to be sitting in a chair for hours on end, it's worth it to buy a good one, or at least put some padding down on the one you already have. The other great thing about this is that, unlike a new keyboard, mouse, mousepad, or other ergonomic upgrade, a well-made chair won't wear out, break down, or become obsolete with the next version of windows (I'm using an immensely comfortable office chair from the 1920's).

I would definitely consider looking at upgrading your chair before you worry about the actual desk itself.

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (4, Informative)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103007)

To get a good ergonomic chair of any height desired (such as to go with a tall engineer's desk), I took a barstool (gives you the proper forward leaning seat surface along with a nice built-in swivel), cut off the legs to the right height for me personally, then added a padded surface to the seat (memory foam tie-down seat cushion for $5 at walmart) and some lumbar support (adjustable lumbar support office-chair cushion from Staples for $10). The result was a chair custom sized for me that is good enough for my "computer professional's back" that a chiropractor took photos of it to send to all his buddies in the profession as an example of the perfect office chair.

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103291)

Could you post a link to one of those pictures? The next comfortable bar stool I sit on will be the first one. I also can't recall ever seeing one with a "forward leaning seat".

-Peter

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103344)

Think about what you do at a bar... I think that that's what he was getting at.

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103437)

Think about what you do at a bar...

Pound shots of whiskey and try to work up the nerve to ask one of the cute guys to dance? What does that have to do with chairs?

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104760)

Katz, is that you?

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (2, Insightful)

MoonChildCY (581211) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103735)

Makes one wonder why you visit a chiropractor if you have the perfect chair that maintains correct posture and is comfortable...

You forgot to add something... (4, Funny)

Manchot (847225) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103140)

In addition to the chair, you should also install a shelf underneath your desk on which you can place a blanket and an alarm clock. That way, you can take a nap there comfortably without anyone finding out. Oh yeah, one more thing. Make sure that the alarm clock doesn't tick. Otherwise, someone might mistake it for a bomb.

Road and Track, Field and Stream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103258)

And don't forget to have covers from "Road and Track" or "Field and Stream" magazines to hide the Playboys.

Re:You forgot to add something... (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103303)

In fact, I recommend forgoing the desk entirely in favor of a bed with a projector on the cieling.

Hey, if you can run that by your superiors, I'm sure you can get away with just napping and claiming that you're "Meditating on a solution to the problem" or "Harnessing cosmic energy to leap great hurdles"

Re:You forgot to add something... (2, Funny)

hazem (472289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103774)

They don't worry about ticking because modern bombs don't tick.

But when your desk starts to vibrate that's when they worry. Nine times out of ten it's an electric razor, but every once in a while... it's a dildo. Of course it's company policy never to imply ownership in the event of a dildo... always use the indefinite article a dildo, never your dildo.

Re:You forgot to add something... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104049)

WHOOOOOSH!

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103268)

The chair. Seriously.

I agree.

-- Steve Ballmer

Older Office Chairs Newer (1)

masterpenguin (878744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103456)

I completely agree that a well maintained older chair is better than newer plastic ones. The chair I use is from 1960 has a steel metal frame and is quite comfy. The other advantage is I can throw it down a flight of stairs and still use it. (its about 20 pounds)

Also oblitory room shots. Room [iparkedyouin.com] I've recently moved since this photo, but, this was the most glorious setup I ever had. I had to crawl to get into it, but I liked it.

Re:Older Office Chairs Newer (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103761)

> The chair I use is from 1960 has a steel metal frame and is quite comfy. The other advantage is I can throw it down a flight of stairs and still use it.

Steve? Steve Ballmer, is that you?

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103512)

The chair. Seriously.

Agree completely.

A good office chair cost $350 13 years ago, when I got mine. So perhaps $700 today. It will have a multitude of flight controls that are so easy to microadjust that you will have no trouble getting into the habit of changing height, tilt, etc just a little bit once an hour or so. Those minor changes in posture and pressure points make a huge difference in comfort during long sessions. They also make a huge difference in productivity-- people who don't get physically stressed and tired don't make as many goofs.

The computer desk doesn't matter so long as the keyboard and monitor are at the right heights. See if you can trade the engineer's desk in on a really good chair and a particle board desk that fits.

The engineer's desk probably has a very smooth drawing surface of high grade clear grain hardwood-- and perhaps somebody in the Graphics Department would appreciate it.

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (1)

Calmiche (531074) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103563)

You know, I once saw a co-worker who had purchased a really nice used, leather, powered seat out of a luxury vehicle. He mounted it on a sliding rail and hooked up all the switches and motors. What he ended up with was a chair that had been purposfully designed for very long periods of use, that he could arange at any angle, with lower back support, a neck brace, armrests and even a seat heater.

For comfort reasons, he added some angled foot rests under his desk, and angeled his keyboard. (He was talking about mounting a keyboard on him armrest, but I don't think he ever got around to it.)

The only drawback that he mentioned was that he couldn't swivel the chair, and couldn't think of a sturdy enough way of making it swivel.

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (2)

jeremymiles (725644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104899)

I had a colleague did something similar, both at home and at work. And he said that a seat from a Saab was the best, because the headrest is integral, not on a stick (or similar), so it looks less like a seat out of a car. JM

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (1)

adyus (678739) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103651)


Just as long as you keep your boss from finding out about your new confy chair.

I've noticed that bosses in general aren't too happy with you having a better chair than them...

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (1)

Tlosk (761023) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104461)

Interesting you should mention how old your chair is. I've found that 90% of modern chairs are crap for long term usage. And what looks ergnomic is often just the opposite.

The one thing I would add is that if you can find it, steel springs in the seat make a huge difference in how long you can sit comfortably. Cushioning that conforms to pressure (foam padding etc) is terrible because it loses most of it's effectiveness under dynamic loads.

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (1)

tf23 (27474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104795)

The chair. Seriously.

Bingo!

The thing to do is watch the local newspaper to find office furniture closeouts - or even relocations. We were lucky enough last year to find a business that was relocating. They didn't want to move all their inventory, so they slashed their prices quite a bit. We picked up two Steelcase fully adjustable chairs from Thomas Ruff for a total of a couple hundred. Each, brand new online was something like ~$699 at the time. Granted, they were slightly used - and one's a not particularly beautiful neon-blue color, but I couldn't pass on the price!

Each chair replaced those $79-99 leather-bound chairs you always see advertised at Sam's Club or Officemax.

The difference is quite amazing. Far far less back stiffness after sitting at the keyboard for a few hours.

Re:Perhaps the most important thing of all... (2, Funny)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104923)

Perhaps the most important thing of all... The chair

I disagree. The most important thing for me is the three hot blonde Swedish girls that welcome me every morning when I enter my cubicle. Every few minutes, they massage my legs, fetch me a coffee or otherwise make sure I'm comfortable.

Architect's desk (1)

iMaple (769378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15102969)

I use an architects desk as my primary workspace. I dont know what an engineer's desk is but its probably similar(meant for drafting) I took out the pen holder, drawers and the slide protector and its now perfect (and looks nice too).

TV Tray tables (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15102970)

I had a situation similar to this. My cheapo solution was to buy a couple of TV tray tables and arrange them in a form of L shape. One was in front of my chair and it held the keyboard. The other was to my right where I kept the mouse. On the plus side, they were lower to me so I could rest my elbo on the mouse tray. That made using the mouse a lot more comfy. On the minus side, my feet kept hitting the legs of the kb tray. Not an ideal solution, but it was better.

I hope I'm picturing the right type of desk, though. Am I correct in assuming it's too high? Or is there another factor in it I'm not picturing?

Re:TV Tray tables (1)

lord_paladine (568885) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104733)

Wow, just.... wow. All I've got to say to this is, "You might be a redneck if..."

Re:TV Tray tables (2, Funny)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104796)

Hmmm....

You might be a Redneck if you put your computer...

Sorry, but this just isn't working out.

Re:TV Tray tables (1)

doorbender (146144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105459)

"You might be a redneck if your computer is a V-Tech Barbie laptop"

the first serious posting (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15102986)

what i would suggest is figure out the geometry involved and talk to a carpenter before you go at it.

basically you want almost everything you need (software/ books/monitor ect) to be at arms reach and this is after your chair is correct. first adjustment needed is your arms should be more or less parrellel to the ground (and your hands should be straight).
but ask somebody that knows this kind of thing.

Wall-mounted stuff. (4, Insightful)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15102988)

Wall-mounted shelves are the best thing since crucifixion.

The idea is you have nothing on the floor, so you have free rein for the cables.

My setup is wall-shelves for the books (always handy), and a much sturdier wall-shelf for the monitors and b0x3n (LCDs still suck at colour, so I'm still with a 19" behemoth).

I use a normal folding-legs table as a desk, which I can use elsewhere if needed without having to dismantle the computers. Bonus is that I can move the table around to suit the eye-distance to the monitors.

As I had spare brackets, I added a small shelf below the table level for the subwoofer...

Re:Wall-mounted stuff. (1, Offtopic)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103119)

LCDs still suck at colour, so I'm still with a 19" behemoth

Grow up...there are plenty of LCD's out there with a wider color range and better delta tracking than CRTs.

Not that I actually believe that you have any use for that amount of color accuracy considering every single professional photographer I know (and I know many more than most people) uses LCDs on a daily basis.

Re:Wall-mounted stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103594)

coming up on 18 years in printing.... doing photo retouching and color correction for the majority of that time. Can't think of a single person (not counting the designers, who just spec a pantone color and are done with it, I'm talking about the folks who do high end scans) who would trust an LCD..... You'll never convince me that any LCD is as close to real color as my CRT.... Its just not gonna happen.

Re:Wall-mounted stuff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103637)

Try finding an LCD that uses a Super-IPS panel. (You can identify them by the purple-ish tint you see on them when viewing all black from extreme side angles.) Nothing is perfect, but the S-IPS LCD I have is extremely close to the Silicon Graphics trinitron that I've hauled around for many years for its color accuracy.

Offtopic (1)

magicchex (898936) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104398)

In re: to your signature, did you ever find a place? Let me know, I've got thousands going back to Arabian Nights I think.

Re:Wall-mounted stuff. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103240)


(LCDs still suck at colour, so I'm still with a 19" behemoth).


And I bet you buy those Monster $50 gold plated RCA cables for your A/V stuff, and have a massive spoiler on your economy car to make it go faster...

Cables do NOT go on the floor! (1)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103404)

Never put anything on the floor or low wall areas. Just stuff to rip-up with your feet. Even the power cord goes on top of the desk, if you do not have a cable pull.

My desk at work as a power strip right behind the monitor. Allows for plugging in a laptop, along with the desktop, WITH CRAWLING on the floor.

Re:Wall-mounted stuff. (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103719)

best thing since crucifixion.

Now that's an expression I never thought i'd hear!

Re:Wall-mounted stuff. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103851)

It may not have been so good for Christ, but since his death saved the rest of us I think we can say cruxification was good.

Re:Wall-mounted stuff. (0, Flamebait)

popeguilty (961923) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103930)

See, I'm just the other way. The fact that it killed Christ is enough to score an endorsement from me.

Re:Wall-mounted stuff. (1)

JollyFinn (267972) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104454)

Wall-mounted shelves are the best thing since crucifixion.

Well I haven't tried the ergonomics posture of crufixion in the office, could you ellaborate more how you are going to accomplish any work if you are so tied up with your posture?

Re:Wall-mounted stuff. (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104831)

Wall-mounted shelves are the best thing since crucifixion.

Modded insightful. Only on slashdot...

Re:Wall-mounted stuff. (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104937)

Wall-mounted shelves are the best thing since crucifixion.
Modded insightful. Only on slashdot...
Out of context quoting... Typical for slashdot...

Re:Wall-mounted stuff. (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105321)

It wasn't meant sarcastic though, I just thought it should be modded funny.

better make the 'hacks' undo-able (5, Insightful)

ksheff (2406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15102989)

When it comes time to move to another desk, the next employee or the people in charge of keeping track of the office furniture may not appreciate your modifications. Some nit-picky manager may even consider it willful destruction of company propery. So make sure you can return it to the condition it was in when it was assigned to you.

Also, what's your definition of 'long term usage'? If it's uncomfortable after 2-3 hours, get up and take a break. You don't have to live at your desk.

Re:better make the 'hacks' undo-able (1)

witte (681163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104573)

>You don't have to live at your desk.

I was about to answer "You must be new around here" when I noticed your four-number id.

Best way to comfort (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15102990)

Don't sit in the same place for too long.
I sit on an old chair at work, and whilst its not uncomfortable, its not the best thing in the world. I do this because if I get comfy in a big old chair I won't work as hard.

Get up, walk around. At the very least your eyes will thank you.

Here ya go (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#15102998)

This [powertoolservices.com] can fix anything.

If that doesn't do it, throw in this [industrialtapedepot.com] too.

Re:Here ya go (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103226)

"We believe Internet Explorer is a really good browser. Internet Explorer is my browser of choice." -- Steve Jobs

Obviously he was talking about IE Mac. Have you tried it? It was of course the best Mac browser at the time, but if it had been maintained in pace it would still far surpass Safari and Firefox today. There were a lot of good features from browsing tools to CSS that it simply supported well.

Oh, and I think it was a completely different team that built it. The only thing that was similar was the interpretation and design of the rendering software.

Re:Here ya go (1)

slimey_limey (655670) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103317)

Awww, come on. Follow the links and you see why it should be "funny" not "insightful".

Non-destructive office hacks, kthx. (2, Interesting)

dsandler (224364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103419)

This [link to reciprocating saw] can fix anything.

Unfortunately, it can't fix the damage you did to your office equipment (from the perspective of your employer). Companies are often irrationally resistant to non-destructive, 100% reversible alterations to office equipment, but they are 100% rationally resistant to destructive, irreversible alterations to office equipment.

The trick is to work within the system you're given, adding things you can remove, and removing things you can put back later. Other commenters have suggested basic upgrades along these lines, like keyboard trays, shelving, etc., and these are great ideas. A few more simple thoughts from my personal experience:

  1. Ergonomic keyboard. Cheaper than an ergonomic chair, but almost as useful. Forcing your hands into a more reasonable position for typing marathons can have (positive) ripple effects throughout your posture and musculature. Some swear by the Kinesis [kinesis-ergo.com] keyboards (my advisor has the "keys-in-a-bowl" [kinesis-ergo.com] version), but these will set you back almost as much as a chair, so I settle for the venerable MS Natural Keyboard (mine is an OEM version of the Pro [dansdata.com] , resold at Fry's for about $15).
  2. Move your desk. If you can't change anything else about your desk, hopefully you can position it so that it's not backed up to a wall. This gives your eyes a different distance at which to focus when you glance away from your monitor (assuming your boss allows you to do this).
  3. Hack your furniture. Not applicable if you really just have a big lab-bench-style desk, but for those who are living in Hermann Miller Hell® (a.k.a. a cubicle farm), there are lots of ways you can reconfigure your space, given the right hex driver. Half-walls, shelving, whiteboards--there are cube modules for all of these. Even if your employer didn't spring for all these fancy parts (the office furniture equivalent of purchasing exclusively the "boring" LEGO sets containing only 2x4 bricks (tall)), there are still hacks to be had. At a previous job we connected desks to wall sections out-of-phase, so we could have half-width wall sections cut open between cubicles (for a little bit of collaboration without reverting to an open bullpen layout, or to suspend other improvised half-height divider panels).
  4. Use spare moving boxes to create dynamic and interesting office furnishings. OK, this one's a joke (mostly [dsandler.org] ).

Keyboard + mouse tray (5, Informative)

woobieman29 (593880) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103021)

Couple of things to look into:

1) If the keyboard and mouse are at the wrong height (forearms should be basically horizontal to the ground while keying / mousing) look into one of the under-dek mounted slide-out keyboard and mouse trays made by folks like Kensington, Steelcase, etc. Ebay or a local used office furniture or used computer store are places to look for this stuff on the cheap. Look for a tray that adjusts height, angle and left/right orientation, and also make sure that it slides under the desk to get it out of the way when not in use.

2) At the minimum, get a comfotable chair that either a) fits you natively, or b) has enough adjustment to make you comfy.

3) If the monitor is not at the right height (Your eyes should be level with the top edge of the viewable area when you are looking at it with your head tilted slightly down) either adjust the stand or place something STURDY and flat underneath the monitor to raise it to the proper height.

4) For optimum comfort, make sure that your mouse is located as close to your centerline as possible. This is a bigger deal than many people think - having your arm angled out to the side while mousing can be a major casue of Repetitive Stress Injuries.

And oh yeah, take frequent breaks!

Re:Keyboard + mouse tray (1)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103271)

For optimum comfort, make sure that your mouse is located as close to your centerline as possible.
I'm using a el'cheapo BENQ Internet Keyboard and a Microsoft Trackball. (By the way, I love my trackball. It's way easier on the wrists than pushing around rodents all day long. Anyways, let's get back on-topic.) There are more expensive ones like the Microsoft Natural Keyboard. I have test-typed them at some stores, but to me they feel way too flimsy.

That said, my ideal keyboard would use the IBM key springs, have a gap in the center like MS keyboards, with a trackball where the gap is. Now that's what I would call a hands-on keyboard. (pun intended)

Re:Keyboard + mouse tray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103386)

1) If the keyboard and mouse are at the wrong height (forearms should be basically horizontal to the ground while keying / mousing) look into one of the under-dek mounted slide-out keyboard and mouse trays made by folks like Kensington, Steelcase, etc. Ebay or a local used office furniture or used computer store are places to look for this stuff on the cheap. Look for a tray that adjusts height, angle and left/right orientation, and also make sure that it slides under the desk to get it out of the way when not in use.

Right. And with those you'll spend all your time slamming your knees into your keyboard. Unless you're a midget or female, the typical office (cubical/kitchen countertop) style desk is just too damn low for those.
The other way those work is if you get buidling services to give you one of those sit/stand desks. Which raises the desk to about chest hieght and gives you a bar stool seat. Of course, your manager has to sign off on the cost of buidling services making that change.

2) At the minimum, get a comfotable chair that either a) fits you natively, or b) has enough adjustment to make you comfy.

No comment here. He's right.

3) If the monitor is not at the right height (Your eyes should be level with the top edge of the viewable area when you are looking at it with your head tilted slightly down) either adjust the stand or place something STURDY and flat underneath the monitor to raise it to the proper height.

By "STURDY" he means a few reams of printer paper. Go steal them from the copy room.
Now the problem is the quarterly safety patrol will cite you for haveing the montior on somehting unstable, but I just ignore them.

4) For optimum comfort, make sure that your mouse is located as close to your centerline as possible. This is a bigger deal than many people think - having your arm angled out to the side while mousing can be a major casue of Repetitive Stress Injuries.

Yeah, Repetitive Stress Injuries. You ever get tired of people just blowing smoke up your ass?

And oh yeah, take frequent breaks!
The breaks have little to do with your physical health, but goofing off during work really improves your mental health.

Re:Keyboard + mouse tray (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103798)

I hacked together my own keyboad drawer, to my great satisfaction. I just used two ordinary sliders from a drawer, separated them exactly as far as my keyboard is wide, worked out the optimal wrist-rest position and made that out of wood padded with dense foam and upolstered with velvet. It's classy and ergonomic. I sloped up the keyboard for optimal typing and made its height so that the function keys are about a milimeter below the table surface when the keyboard is pushed in. I also discovered that the sliders are much longer than the keyboard is deep, so I made a handy "secret" compartment behind it where I keep pens. OK, it may not sound cool, but I swear now that I have it that I will never live without this. It's absolutely the perfect typing setup, and nothing I could buy would come close.

I also found that for mousing, it's important to have both my elbow and wrist supported. I solved this by another clever hack: The top drawer of my desk opens and has a gel keyboard wrist-supporter velcroed to the top. My elbow sits on this while the wrist is on the desk itself, cushioned by a gigantic foam mouse pad. This part is a bit sub-optimal because it's a bit of a reach from the perfect keyboard to the mouse, but I have a plan brewing: I mean augment an elbow-rest on my fancy chair and turn it into an elbow-rest-mousepad. That way the mouse will always be in the optimal position no matter where I have my chair.

Re:Keyboard + mouse tray (1)

Country_hacker (639557) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103831)

You wouldn't happen to have a red Swingline stapler [imdb.com] on your desk too, would you???

Re:Keyboard + mouse tray (1)

gpw213 (691600) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104228)

3) If the monitor is not at the right height (Your eyes should be level with the top edge of the viewable area when you are looking at it with your head tilted slightly down) either adjust the stand or place something STURDY and flat underneath the monitor to raise it to the proper height.

The canonical monitor boosting platform is a few reams of paper. You may need two side by side to be wide enough, depending on your monitor base. You can stack them two high, if you need that much height. While they are still wrapped, they are essentially a solid block of wood, and will easily support the weight of even monster CRTs. They are cheap, easily obtained in most offices, and such time as you are done with them, just take them back to the printer room.

Re:Keyboard + mouse tray (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104823)

take frequent breaks!

To add to parent poster: if you're working in X, the xwrits [lcdf.org] package is great for this.

I moved the dirty plates (3, Funny)

Andrew Tanenbaum (896883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103037)

to the kitchen, and recycled the empty Mountain Dew (or Polyjuice Potion, as I call it) bottles. I have a lot more space now.

Re:I moved the dirty plates (1)

kextyn (961845) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104833)

I found that the McDonalds bags really get in the way as well. The Mountain Dew cans can easily be relocated to another part of the desk to free up useable space.

recipie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103039)

Okay, here goes. This is for three monitors and two full-time towers.

First, get your chair right. Start with feet flat, back straight, thighs comfortably on the seat. Add footrests and whatever afterwards; this is just to give you the starting point to build the desk from.

Now, ideally you want the keyboad in your lap, but you've got to compromise for desk thickness, plus a little space so you can shift around without wedging your upper thighs against the bottom of the desk and thus reducing circulation for hours on end.

So get it as close as you can, just remembering that when typing, your upper arms should hang straight down from your shoulders, no reaching.

Okay, desk construction here is a 24x80" old door. These are great; you'll never hesitate to screw powerbars and cable hooks into an old door, and it won't flex. Mine is sitting on a pair of old full height towers. Some people use filing cabinets. Use kid-toy wooden blocks to finalize the height.

Now the monitor shelf. I've got a heavy-duty 15x80 shelf for no flex problem. (If you've got LCDs, then not so big a worry.) Put it 6 1/4" or 6 1/2" above the desk so you can store CDRs, a stereo amp, and any pizzabox computer or whathaveyou underneath. In my case the front of the shelf is 10" away from the front of the desk. This gives me a coffee+miscellaneous space in front of the monitors, while still being able to see the CDRs i'm reaching for.

Monitors are adjusted to same heights with lego and wood block. For me the screen center is just below nose level.

There's a fair amount of room on either end for the odd book and the daily miscellaneous. And I can swing the chair a bit and put my feet up diagonally while leaning back and reading, giving my back some all important variety.

The actual tower computers are between my left leg and the left support tower. They're behind a couple of cheap framed whiteboards with insulation on their backs. So the two whiteboards and the support tower create three walls of a corral to cut down the fan noise a bit. Some clever work with cardboard under the desk makes the front one a sliding screen for DVD bay access.

I'll spare further detail because you can make up your own to fit. But this is my setup after years of 10+ hour days and I love the flexibility.

Re:recipie (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104522)

Okay, here goes. This is for three monitors and two full-time towers.

Bill!? Is that you?

Surrounded. (5, Informative)

quag7 (462196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103154)

I have an L-shaped desk with Gorilla Racks behind each long side of it and then one perpendicular to the short edge of one side. This allows me to put the computers up on the racks themselves, preserving desk space but still within reach (the lowest shelf is just slightly higher than the desk itself. This allows me to easily run wires for any equipment I do leave on my desk, such as the phone. Also, books and other equipment (like CD-ROM drives) are easily reachable.

I think with chairs, I've just gotten lucky. The chair I use is the pefect size for the desk and I rarely feel any physical fatigue even over long sessions.

I have most of my systems on the shelves oriented in such a way that the power supply fan blows toward the window, so I can easily open that up and exhaust the hot air that builds up. In addition, I have the machines which have cables I may need to unplug or switch on a regular basis on the shelf perpendicular to the short edge of the desk, so I can easily walk around behind the shelves and have full access to the back of the case.

A picture of how I did this with shelves is here:

http://www.computerrooms.org/viewer.php?pointer=11 41799282&year=2005 [computerrooms.org]

Those Gorilla Racks are worth seeking out, by the way - I buy them at Costco and they have a capacity of something like 600 pounds per shelf (!) I never get close to this of course, but they feel steady in such a way that I don't mind piling equipment on there. The shelves can be adjusted to just about any height - you choose.

Preserving desk space is key to my own sanity since I often have books or printouts I am working from, along with my lunch, etc.

Another thing which helps is lighting. I have found that the best lighting for me is not very high above my desk. This allows my desk space to be flooded with light for reading, without diminishing the contrast of the monitor. Accordingly I use a light with a lampshade on it and have the lamp actually on my desk, at the edge.

gorilla racks.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103800)

...r00l. Seriously. I have two of them and they WILL hold 600 lbs easy. If you want to get higher tech and snazzier with them, you can paint the metal whatever you want and cut and fit some good birch or oak plywood for the shelf parts, makes them even stronger and you can make the wood purty with some accented stain. I used some double stick tape and some foam scrap I had on the backs and did a very slight wedge under the front to keep them leaning back against the wall. the foam was to keep from marring the wall. Not much of a lean, a few degrees, but enough for safety, because I have some much gross crap-age stacked on mine.

And the most fun is, once a year I take a good hard look at the collection, and chuck a lot of it out, then I get to FILL IT UP AGAIN with *new* strange crap.

My girlfriend just doesn't understand, but I know everyone here will. We are geeks, we need to have STRANGE STUFF, most of which to "normal" people seems silly, but to us are our TREASURES. And the gorilla rack holds them. Bless the rack!

As to the light I only use one, an "Eclipse" reflective halogen that sticks to the top of the monitor and shines down on the keyboard and front of the desk. At first I thought it might interfere with the screen too much but it doesn't seem to at all. And I keep an LED headlamp handy for a quick job inside a case, or cleaning a mouse, or whatever, wiggling under the desk looking for the odd dropped friznit or cable rearrangement, etc.

I still need work on my chair, it is built for giant fat bosses and I need a dang booster pillow to sit in the thing, but it was the only chair I could find that was tall enough. Eventually I am going to disassemble it and rebuild part of it to fit *me* better, and change the seat adjustment angles.

bah, it's either too many projects or not enough, sort of like cups of coffee...

Re:Surrounded. (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104475)

Ah, that explains how you can keep your sun tan aswell.

You need the proper tools (-1, Offtopic)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103161)

If you really want to modify your workspace in a meaningful way, you need to use the proper tools [skepticfiles.org] . If you do a good job, you might end up with something like this [indystar.com] .

Re:You need the proper tools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103250)

You are a jackass.

Sit-stand desk (2, Interesting)

mls (97121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103163)

If I were to do something about my office situation, I would probably get/make a sit-stand desk.

An article from the other day about geek health problems [slashdot.org] brings up the issue of low back pain, an ergonomic sit-stand desk might be a great choice for long hours of computer work. If you don't want to shell out for the high-cost adjustable desks, you can sometimes make do with a workbench type desk that you can stand at and type, and a tall chair to go with it for the times you want to sit.

sleep? (1)

cryptoz (878581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103180)

Build a bed under your desk George Costanza style.

Telecommute. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103196)

I had a situation where I didn't like my work environment, for a few reasons including poor ergonomics - and I ended up telecommuting 3 days out of 5 - and doing most of my work from my home computers (which were about 10X more powerful than those at work).

Lop off the legs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15103198)

At a former employer (moved on up, thank Zarquon) my computer desk was a table. You know those tables with the cheap laminate tops and the metal tube legs? Yep, one of those.

My keyboard was about two inches too high. One day I snuck in early with a ruler, a marker and a set of tube cutters.

They fought over that desk when I left.

If the height of the desk isn't right, no amount of fiddling with the chair will compensate.

darker wall (2, Interesting)

fak3r (917687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103249)

I don't think most are thing of it, but paint the wall behind your monitor a darker color, I use a dark grey. The difference in contrast really helps your eyes, you won't have the eye fatigue that you'd have otherwise. Next up is the chair, spend money on a chair, after that get a desk that's the right height, and go from there...

Re:darker wall (1)

CurbyKirby (306431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104346)

Wait, what? The difference in contrast HURTS my eyes. I find a bright screen in the middle of an otherwise dark wall to be terribly straining.

Both at work and at home, I have a small desk lamp behind the monitor, illuminating the wall in front of me. There's absolutely no glare and my eyes don't have to work so hard to readjust between the bright screen and a dark wall. I know others have posted similar experiences here before. Consider why dynamic range is so important in everything from game engines to photography: high contrast is difficult to do. It makes sense to me that it would strain my eyes as well.

No shelves (1)

mr_rattles (303158) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103276)

Several people have mentioned shelves in some form or another. I went the exact opposite route and had all shelves and cabinets above my desk area removed. It allowed me to push my display back further to a more comfortable distance/height and it makes my cubicle feel much larger and more open than it actually is. It just makes my work environment feel less cluttered/stressful and more relaxing, which helps me work more effectively.

Lower the Keyboard (1)

hassr (530413) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103279)

I have found every deskI sit at to be too tall for me. My current desk required me to use two 2x4s to lower the keyboard to an acceptable height. I simply drilled wood to the underside of the desk and mounted the keyboard tray to the 2x4s.

my ghetto hack... (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103365)

I put my computer underneath my desk, so I can rest my feet up on it. Perhaps what I am speaking is blasphemy, but it's just _comfortable_. Make sure you have a case wher the top is flat, so those new dells aren't gonna cut it. Also, I opted to use a trackball instead of a mouse, so I don't have to do any of that 'moving my arms around' stuff. The only hassle is me moving my arm back and forth from the keyboard to the trackball, but even that is minimized as I try to make use of all the keyboard shortcuts of whatever app I'm using.

As for my seating posture, hrm, I just lean back, but whatever I'm doing requires some actual brainpower, I kinda each forward untill I'm at the edge of my seat, staring at my screen. Generally that odesn't happen often, and mostly when that does happen, I'm usually looking for a pen and pad handy to doodle. Oh yeah, and make sure your chair has armrests. I don't actaully use the armrest to rest my arms, it's more kinda like to prevent me from falling out of my chair. *shrug*

lazy is the way to go.

Buy a new desk (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103463)

Seriously. They cost a few hundred dollars at most, and you're going to be spending 1/2 of your waking life in front of it.

If management won't pony up, make thinly-veiled claims of RSI (don't worry, you'll get it eventually). If they still won't pony up, just buy your own. Working at a terrible workstation isn't worth it.

Sound system (1)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103480)

A 500 watt (RMS) Logitech speaker system does it for me.

Re:Sound system (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103977)

Ah yes. What I've made up with marginally better posture through extreme effort, I've quickly removed with destruction of ear drums. Gotta love how 50% volume requires earplugs to stay in the same room and reveals any rattling metal on the floor below. Best. Birthday. Gift. Ever.

On a more serious note, my $15 wrist rest should have been purchased about six years ago. It doesn't help my cramped work area much, but my nerves aren't totally flat anymore. I could have done better with the mouse gel pad thing I bought, though - while it's a memory foam of sorts, it's too stiff to be practical and a very minimal improvement over the original wood. The chair really does make all the difference, though my occasional dentist-style reclining may not help things.

Rearrange the desk once in a while, too. It just seems unhealty to stare at exactly the same spot continuously. Couldn't be worse than my diet of Hostess Cup Cakes and Mountain Dew, though.

Please don't use RMS when you say "Watts" (1)

cr0z01d (670262) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104175)

It just makes me cringe. What you really mean is "Produces 500W into an 8 ohm resistive load at 0.1% distortion given a sinusoidal waveform at 1kHz". Or you can just drop the RMS and say 500W because we know what you mean... you really mean average power.

Please leave RMS measurements to the electricians.

Re:Please don't use RMS when you say "Watts" (1)

magicchex (898936) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104438)

Why not use the accepted terminology? I'm big into car audio, for instance, and when buying speakers there is a peak power and average power given. They are distinguished by the term RMS. What annoys ME is when someone doesn't say RMS when talking about their speakers and you're left to assume they may very well be talking about the peak power.

Re:Please don't use RMS when you say "Watts" (1)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104481)

Thanks for the heads-up.

I was just using RMS to distinguish it from PMPO, which is often used by unscrupulous vendors to make an impression on people who know nothing about audio.

500W PMPO doesn't get very loud at all. My sound system however can deliver audio in volumes which make it seriously hard to get any work done. That's why I usually keep it turned down to 1.5 :-)

Interestingly (1)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103663)

If the word "hacker" (or perhaps the concept and the word's relation to it) is to be traced,

A 'hacker' is "one who makes furniture with an axe". :-)

Congrats! (1)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103702)

An Ancient Engineer, what a cool position... commanding all those Senior Engineers!

Buy the ugliest desk you can think of (0, Troll)

symbolset (646467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103819)

Then ship it to Kolkata and hire somebody else sit at it for you.

Weird... (2, Informative)

Trracer (210292) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103947)

Your employer doesn't supply you with a proper desk? Here in Sweden we have laws governing the workplace and my employer do listen if I need something new. I currently have one of those desks that I can either sit or stand at (goes up and down with motors) and I have a chair a chiropractor has fitted for me.
When it comes to keyboard/mouse I can buy whatever I want and get reimbursed on my salary. I work for that big blue IT-company btw. (Excuse any spellingerrors etc etc, English is not my first language).

Re:Weird... (1)

EZLeeAmused (869996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104011)

No apologies are necessary. Your spelling and grammar are better than an alarmingly high number of (presumably) native English speaking contributors to this site demonstrate. And no, in the United States there are no actual laws compelling employers to create a comfortable workplace; they only need to provide a workspace free of obvious, provable and widely recognized hazards. Many do go beyond the minimum requirement, either to foster greater worker productivity, or to avoid lawsuits.

Re:Weird... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15104147)

and I have a chair a chiropractor has fitted for me.

Ok, maybe the word has a different meaning in Sweden, but in the US, Chiropractic [wikipedia.org] is an unscientific 'alternative medicine'.

I.e., chiropractors are mostly a bunch of quacks. [wikipedia.org]

Ergo Guide (1)

distributed (714952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104127)

Try reading this [hp.com] (i used to have a hp workstations @ work a few years ago) or other similar guides on the internet.
A few important points according to me:
1. make sure that your chair and table height are correct/comfortable for you, you should not have to bend forward (refer to ergo guide for what correctness means)
2. invest in a good chair with sufficient lumbar support & hand rest, should cost around $150 (adjustible arm-rests wud be great too)
3. make sure that the keyboard and mouse are placed properly, if required get one of those ultra adjustible keyboards [comfortkeyboard.com] especially if you are going to be typing all day.
4. take frequent breaks (and that doesnt imply reading /.)
5. try to get some exercise for you back wrists and neck atleast a few times a week, dont ignore any pain in joints (could be CTS)

OH&S (1)

lucas teh geek (714343) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104392)

WTF? dont you have Occupational Health & Safety laws? tell your employer you need some furniture that isnt going to give you health problems resulting in you claiming workers compensation in the long run anyway

My employer fixed it for me (1)

crow (16139) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104684)

When I told my supervisor that I was having wrist pain and could use a keyboard tray, instead of just getting a keyboard tray, they called in an ergonomics specialist to evaluate my work environment. Ultimately, what I got was the keyboard tray that I had asked for.

I found out later that the company had just been sued by an employee for disability over a similar issue (though apparently that was someone with a history of questionalbe lawsuits).

Note: not my current employer

Go to IKEA (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104717)

Go to IKEA, buy the sturdiest, nicest looking normal sized kitchen table you can find.

Nuff said.

What I did years ago (2)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104818)

When I was in my 20's, (about ten to fifteen years ago), I had an arrangement where the computer and monitor sat on a low coffee table at one side of the room. A 3m extension cord was added both to the mouse and keyboard. I then sat in a beanbag chair with the keyboard in my lap and the mouse sitting on a tray on my right. The tray had short legs on it, which lifted it up about 20cm off the floor. This was positively the most comfortable computing arrangement I have ever had, and I miss it.

Unfortunately, my eyesight will no longer support me looking at a monitor from that distance without replacing it with a much larger model (I used a 14" monitor back then).

Talk to your boss (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104837)

OSHA (assuming you're in the US) has regulations that should cover poor ergonomics in one's workspace.

Even if they don't, most companies I've been exposed to make a point of telling employees about the value of good ergonomics and how to properly set up one's workspace. Until they eliminated the position, my former employer's company nurse would come to your desk, help you get everything adjusted, and if money needed to be spent (modifications, equipment, etc.), she'd get it pushed through your boss to make it happen. She even gave me a few pages out of a catalogue for me to select rubber mats to put in front of our server consoles to ease the back pain from standing on the hard raised floor for long periods.

Re:Talk to your boss (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 8 years ago | (#15104928)

It is driven by good old fashioned economics. Worker's comp claims for ergo related injuries have soared - insurance companies now give businesses better rates if they have a good ergonomics program in house.

Two things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15105002)

Dell 2405 FPW widescreen monitor.
VESA monitor float arm.

Get the stuff off the desk - the horizontal surface is for stacking all kinds of shit up, not for hardware...

Make sure you're in a relaxed, natural position (2)

noahisaac (956470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15105308)

Funny thing: I'm doing just the same thing right now. I'm quitting my job to become a consultant (egad, I hope I get enough clients), and I'm in the process of setting up my own work area. I have an unusual office with limited space, so I'm actually building my own desk (it's good to engineer something physical, for a change). I'm going to echo what a lot of people have already said, but here's a few things I've learned about myself over the years:

1. A lot of people have already mentioned it, but a good chair is a must for me. It should support my back, and let my arms, shoulders, neck, and head all rest in relaxed, comfortable positions.

2. I need my monitor positioned directly in front me slightly below eye level while I'm working. I used to put my monitor off to the side. I'd sit twisted toward it all day and wonder why my back hurt. Hmm. I also need my monitor to be big enough that I can see it without straining my eyes while I sit back in my chair without leaning forward.

3. Clear desk space in front of me. I love a wall mounted LCD. I don't have this yet, but I've worked with them before, and they're GREAAAT! Somebody else said this, too, but lots shelves (with lots of paper trays). Get those piles of unfinished crappy paperwork off my desk. Oh, and hanging file folders: love 'em.

4. Lots of nice breaks. I need to move around and look at actual objects and people. I like to have other stuff to do in my office, like drawing paper and charcoal, and a guitar. I sometimes get so fixated on my little virtual reality that I almost revert to an autistic state if I don't have some real world interaction.

Have fun!
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