In March 2020, my cheese moved. I had to quickly adjust from interacting face-to-face to spending my whole day looking at a screen.
I started suffering from eye-strain. My 13” Macbook Air was great for traveling but lousy for looking at all day with my 50+ year old eyes.
My first priorities were a larger a screen and better eye-glasses.
My coaching friends in FiveWhyz have 34” curved monitors but I settled on a 4K 27” LG monitor with a USB-C connection. I don’t know if I made the right choice, but the picture is super sharp and the USB-C hub at the back of the monitor to helps reduce desk clutter.
I use progressive glasses for reading and driving but they just don’t work for a computer screen. I tried reading glasses, but my 1.25 prescription was too strong. After experimenting, I found stepping down to 0.50 as ideal. The science says it should not matter but Brian Warden swears by his blue light filtering glasses and I found a pair I liked at EyeBuyDirect.
Laptop Stand, Keyboard & Trackpad
I kept the lid up on my Macbook so I could use it as a secondary screen and because I needed a keyboard and trackpad. However, not having the keyboard aligned with the monitor meant I had to twist sideways to type. Not only did my back hurt but I also noticed an increase in typos. I experimented with external keyboards and mice but ended up buying a Magic keyboard and trackpad. I purchased a BoYata stand for my Macbook so that my laptop screen was at the same height as the monitor.
With a more comfortable setup I started noticing on video calls that my image was grainy, and the lighting was poor. I’m not too picky about my appearance but you can’t look like a confidential informant. Of course, Macbook cameras are notoriously bad. Apple puts much better technology in the iPhone so I tried that as a camera. I installed a special app on my phone called EpocCam and got a tripod to mount my phone. It worked fairly well but the big downside is that your phone is less easily available when you need it. I finally landed on a Logitech 920s which many reviewers rate as the best camera at a reasonable price; I think it works well. With Zoom’s adjust for low light capability and the better camera, I didn’t need the ring light that I had experimented with previously.
I started noticing others had far superior mics. Tom Perry and Hans Samios sound great and they swear by the Blue Yeti microphone. They were hard to find but I got one at a reasonable price at BestBuy. It is an exceptional product but it picks up every noise and vibration from your desk. Reluctantly I bought a boom and shock mount. At the time I thought it was an extravagance but, it is really useful to have the microphone off the desk and out of the way.
For the most part, I use the monitor speakers to listen but sometimes you need to use the headphones. Wired headphones are very restrictive, you can't move leave your office and my pets always seem to be on the wrong side of every door. I got a pair of AKG Bluetooth headphones that I really like.
Moving to Windows
In January 2021 I started a new role and was presented with a Thinkpad to connect to the office network. There are some obvious downsides to more hardware but I don't miss Citrix. The Thinkpad has a USB-C connection so was able to quickly and easily to connect to my 27” monitor. I got a second Boyata stand. The Magic keyboard and trackpad don’t work that well with Windows besides disconnecting and pairing the Bluetooth between the Macbook and the Thinkpad was unreliable and slow. The Microsoft designer compact keyboard was a very able replacement and I soon realized how much I had missed having both a backspace and a delete key. Replacing the trackpad was not so easy but I really like the hybrid functionality of the Microsoft Arc Mouse that works well as a mouse and a trackpad.
A sit/stand desk might be nice, but I bought a really nice mission style cherry desk some years back that I love so will not be parting with that. My existing office chair that I bought a few years seems to work just fine. The only thing I'd like to have but don't is a KVM switch so that I can switch back and forward easily between the Macbook and the Thinkpad.
Here is the inventory of everything I acquired over the last year including some small yet really useful items I didn't mention above.