Standing Desk

I’ve had back issues on and off for a while. Pretty sure it’s due to my horrible posture while sitting at my desk all day. I’ve tried doing mid-section exercises, stretches in the office, neither of which have helped much. Granted, I haven’t been really committed to either efforts. I thought I would give standing desk a try. I figured, once I’ve set it up, I won’t be able to really half-ass it. It’s only been a week so far but it’s been fun and from the strain on my mid-section I can tell it’s building up those muscles.

Second reason I wanted to try it was so I have an excuse to build something. I’ve been wanting to build a custom stand for my iPhone which is nice to be able to use with just my left hand during testing. The standing “desk” I built  is really just a small table on top of my regular sitting desk. It’s mostly out of parts from Ikea. It’s basically this design found at A standing desk for $22 which I modified.

I wanted to make sure it had enough room for both my monitor and laptop so I used a wider LACK table. Also, their specifications for attaching the shelf brackets to the legs of a Lack table didn’t work for me. I used 2.5″ screws that extended almost all the way into the leg but I found it to not be enough support. Maybe the material Ikea uses for the legs have changed? I ended up having to use bolts, washers, and nuts to attach the shelf brackets to the legs. Now those suckers are on there real good. Here are the parts I used:

So all told about $42 before taxes. I’m not including the saw that I had to buy to cut the 46″ shelf to better fit the length of the LACK table’s width.

Suggestions:

  • Get a floor mat for standing. I stand barefoot so this really helps but I imagine even if you have shoes on, this probably helps. Luckily, I had one at home we bought for my kids but they never use. These from Hmart are pretty nice: Kitchen Mat.
  • Do not attach the shelf to the bracket. I have other attachments to the table (maybe in another blog post) and I find it really helpful to be able to remove the shelf.
  • The shelf I bought was unfinished, this isn’t a great idea since that causes a lot of friction between the surface and the mouse. Either get a glossy finished shelf or a mouse pad. Or sand paper and some wood polish might do.

A couple idea to improve the design:

  • A cable hole through the middle of the top surface for USB cables from my monitor.
  • A strap that somehow attaches the backside of the standing desk to the desk below, although I’m not really sure this is necessary.

Incorporating an iPad to My Work Station

It’s always nice to have more screen space. I’ve been considering getting a bigger screen but decided to get an iPad instead (although I’m sure I’ll be tempted to get an iMac 27″ when Apple updates it this summer). The iPad has other equally important use cases for me, but it’s been especially interesting figuring out exactly how I would incorporate it into my desktop as I work. Physically, I bought the Smart Cover and have it standing horizontally. The iPad is also supported by the four books behind it that the MacBook sits on top of (thats to have the MacBook’s screen at eye level). The iPad being below eye level (and dimming on inactivity) has a side benefit of not distracting me as much but being there for quick reference.

More interesting than the physical setup are two ways to incorporate it into your work station software wise. I thought I would outline it here.

Use your iPad as an extra display.

You need some like Air Display for your iPad. It’s $9.99. Then you need to install the Air Display Connect on your Mac. This literally makes it seem to your Mac that the iPad is another screen. You can arrange it in the display settings and just like any other monitor, you mouse just moves to it and you can drag windows into it.

Pros:

  • This allows you to use the keyboard and mouse seamlessly. You can even touch on the iPad to move the mouse or click buttons.
  • Air Display Connect software is also useful if you have another Mac that you want to connect together and use one keyboard and mouse.
  • It supports the retina display iPad using it as a HiDPI display.

Cons:

  • This connection is fragile. Restarting the computer, I had to reconnect. Press the home button and use another app on your iPad, you can lose the connect if you leave the Air Display app for too long.
  • This basically wastes the iPad as a computing entity with it’s own memory, processor, and apps. It’s just a  display.
  • I think because on the iPad retina display the resolution is crazy high, it’s really laggy. Dragging a window into it and positioning it is hard because of the lag. Video is out. On the other hand, my most common use case – tailing a log in a terminal – it seemed to work fine.

Use your Mac’s keyboard as a Bluetooth keyboard for your iPad.

You need iKeyboard for your Mac. It’s also $9.99. Once you’ve made a connection between your Mac and iPad, you can bring up this app and everything you type is relayed to the iPad via the Bluetooth connection.

Pros:

  • You get to utilized the iPad to to it’s fullest. You can have music, email, etc. running on it. For me, I have music playing and either email, reminder app, or a browser open to PivotalTracker.
  • You get to use your keyboard on the iPad. Maybe this item is not necessary as that’s the whole point of the app, but I don’t like having 1 item lists.

Cons:

  • If you don’t have something running that keeps it from locking, the iPad will turn the screen off. Not having it auto lock doesn’t work for me because I don’t want it on all night as I’ll never remember to turn it off as I leave the office. The perfect solution for me is to have the Music app playing during the day which dims the screen but doesn’t lock the device.
  • The mouse doesn’t control anything on the iPad so you still have to touch it.
  • You have to switch over to the iKeyboard app to begin typing. Hmm, wonder if I can setup some sort of keyboard shortcut that brings up a specific app?

Conclusion

After spending $19.98 buying both these apps and trying each for a day each, at this point I feel more comfortable with using iKeyboard and using the iPad as a separate device but be able to type using my keyboard. It also promotes a good behavior, to segregate email as a separate activity set aside for certain times of the day. When I just email using your computer, I slip into it. Emailing on the iPad, at least for now, I notice it conscientiously. I think that should last, but who knows, maybe my brain will adjust and I’ll slip into emailing again.


Can’t Wait Till I Can Install Some Nanobots

Last Updated: 2012/4/6

Well, until some nanobots are available for purchase, I’m probably going to have to buy one of these. I’m still not sure about the science of these devices. I haven’t had the time to really track down real papers on how tracking sleep really works. I’m still doing research so this post is a work in progress.

Sleep Trackers

Zeo Sleep $129.00. A headband that hooks up with iOS. Seems like the most likely to be based on real science but again, I haven’t done enough research to know.
LARK $99.00. Wrist band. iOS only. It’s also an alarm clock. Haven’t heard much about it.
SleepTracker $149.00. Bulky wrist band. No iOS/Android. Dr. Phil endorsed? Ehh.
Sleep Cycle $0.99. It uses the iPhone as a data collector. I’m rather skeptical of this working. Especially if one of the kids or Yuyoun is in the same bed. And even if they weren’t, this can’t be as accurate.

Activity & Sleep Tracker

Fitbit $99.95. Clip that has a wrist band. It also track activity which is a plus. Both iOS and Android.
Jawbone Up $99.99. Wrist band that hooks up with iOS. Also tracks activity.

Activity Tracker

Nike Fuelband $240ish. Seems like it’s sold out in most places. No mention of tracking sleep.


Walky.me

I decided to go with Walky.me for my side iOS project. A few reasons (thanks Jon for highlighting these).

1) It’s a small, well scoped project that is potentially going to have real users.
3) I’m pretty sure I can get my teammates at walky.me to help me test and promote it.
4) Thanks to Bel, I’ve already got pretty UI assets to use.
5) It’s an excuse to play with MapKit and CoreLocation.

If you want to help test this as I build it, let me know and I can add you as a tester and you can my latest development builds on your iPhone (iOS 5.0+ and no iPad support).

If by some chance you want to help or see the code:

https://github.com/jinyk/Walky.me-iOS-Application

Don’t have much yet. The UI is wholesale ripoff of the iOS Maps app. And I will probably continue to copy everything down to how they handle directions and settings.


Gym, Upgrade to Textmate 2.0 Alpha, Rails 3.2 on Heroku/Cedar, Brew

After successfully signing up the family for Cherry Hill Health & Racquet Club last night, we unsuccessfully went to workout this morning. Apparently, we have to schedule time for the kids and they were overbooked today. I think Saturday morning is going to be busy for them. We signed Yuyoun up for Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday to drop off Jaeyeon for childcare at the club from 9-11am. That along with Taeyeon going to preschool during those time should give her a good chance to workout.

I am going to be going Mon, Wed, Friday 6:30-7:30am. The club is so close, it’s the first thing I see out my window at work. The “tent” is the winter covering for the tennis courts.

After a truckload of paperwork and bill processing, I’m finally getting to work on a few tech related things. The long overdue Textmate 2.0 update although it’s still in alpha. I’ve stopped reading about all this vim, emacs, vi, etc. nonsense. I’ve tried vim a few times, not for me, waste of time thinking further about text editors. If I know you and you really love some new text editor, let me know. Except you Jon regarding Sublime. 🙂 I kid, I should give it a real shot one of these days. What little I saw of Sublime 2 in the early days were nice.

Also giving Trello a real try with a side project. Liking it so far.

Ok, let’s try creating a base Rails 3.2 project and uploading to Heroku.

Gosh, really messed up my installation of Homebrew. Hew, worked through all the issues in brew doctor and reinstalled all the packages I had before. Continuing on the upgrade fix, rvm, ruby, rails, git, memcached, lynx (gosh still fun to see that once in a while), python, ahhh back to work now.

 


New Office

I decided to rent an office for myself. With two little kids and their friends coming by for play dates it was getting quiet loud at home. And equally frustrating to work either at the Quorum or IndyHall due to both not being able to station a monitor and the commute killing ~2 hours of the day.

Changkyung, hooked me up with an office in the building his boss owns. The office is small but private, quiet (the lady next door is only in 9am to 1pm and generally quiet). I have my monitor, a whiteboard, a webcam that points to the whiteboard, and coffee and food. Gosh, the quiet! The loudest thing here is my the Drobo which I’m thinking about leaving at home. The best part, it’s 10 minutes away. Being close actually allows me to work longer hours because if Yuyoun really needs me, I can stop by, that feeling of closeness actually has reduced her worries and let’s me work more. Been keeping an 8am to 7pm schedule.