Standing Desks Part II

I first wrote about standing desks four years ago. I couldn’t find the kind of standing desk I wanted then under $500.00. At that point, I was looking for a standing desk in the purest sense; one that was used only when standing. So I opted for a couple of ersatz standing desks from repurposed bookcases, instead of buying a desk that wasn’t quite what I wanted.

So I’ve done due diligence in trying before buying; I know I want to use standing desk, and I want to alternate between sitting and standing.

Since then we’ve learned a lot more about using standing desks. First, sitting and standing in alteration is a much better option, long term; hence the phrase “sit-stand desk.” Moving around, instead of sitting or standing for long periods, being able to switch between sitting or standing, or adjust position while standing, is important. Mobility is key; it’s not the standing that’s the issue, is that I’m not just sitting.

Now, I’m looking for a more permanent solution, one that will continue to work in the future. My MacBook is approaching end-of-life, and I’m increasingly having problems seeing beyond the ability of adaptive tech or glasses to compensate, hence looking at a larger screen iMac for the future.

There are do-it-yourself standing desk solutions; like this $200 do-it-yourself convertible standing desk designed by a friend at Instructables. There are a number of Instructable-do-it-yourself standing desks; this one is an Ikea Standing Desk Hack or this one that is electronically adjustable. For those of you who have a desk or table already, there are options like The Standesk 2200, a $22.00 IKEA hack.

ergo_depot_jarvis_juniorI’m not all that handy (being able to see strikes me as a positive in terms of using hammers and saws) and don’t currently have a desk at all, other than my converted bookcases, so I’m looking at pre-made standing desk solutions, and preferably, ones that are adjustable (I’m short) and that can switch between sitting and standing.

I’m resigned to the fact that a durable high-quality adjustable sit-stand desk is going to be in the neighborhood of $700.00 to $1000.00.

The Wirecutter, my go-to site for reliable, thorough reviews, likes the Ergo Depot Jarvis Bamboo. I do too (especially the bamboo top!), but it’s c. $700.00, which is really not an option for me. Ergo Depot sells the Jarvis frame separately, as well, but honestly, I’d likely be putting something like the Bamboo top on it in any case.

Ergo Depot also makes a smaller version, the Jarvis Junior that is awfully tempting, Just the frame is $499.00. If I add the Bamboo top in the medium size (36” x 27”) $25.00, the digital memory switch to raise and lower the top (and remember settings, so it can be easily used by more than one person, standing and sitting) is an additional $35.00, locking canisters (so it can be moved to different locations) are $29.00, a solution for wire and cable management (we have a cat) is $39.00, and a pencil tray (cat) is another $29.00. The total, before tax (shipping is included) to $656.00. If I go with the largest top available on the Jarvis Junior (42” x 27”)  that brings it to $680.00 before taxes (I’m pretty sure I’d be fine with the medium 36” x 27”; that’s a lot of space even with an iMac, keyboard and trackpad/mouse).

That’s under $700.00, with either configuration, and not bad, particularly given the high quality and warranty. At this point, that’s a target for me, so I’m going to be trying a different temporary standing desk, one that comes with a birds-eye view.


2016: It’s a New Writing World in the Cloud

I’m still adjusting to a career as a full time writer.

I’m not complaining, mind, it’s work and it results in pay. But it’s not something I envisioned doing for a career.

I’ve made some of the changes I wrote about last year. I’ve reduced the number of sites I run for other people. That’s been a welcomed decrease in workload.

I’m  using TextExpander even more now, for a variety of different writing projects and lots of site admin-related work.

I’m currently using an older 13” Aluminum MacBook as my primary computer, with regular recourse to my iPad with a Brydge keyboard case, and lately, to a older model Chromebook hand-me-down.

I generally do most of my email triage on my iPad, reading and sorting (and deleting) mail I need to keep, mail I can answer immediately, mail I can delete, and mail I need to answer as a separate task.

I haven’t touched Microsoft Word in a bit over three years, and that’s been wonderful. I’m using Pages via iCloud quite a lot, even on the Chromebook.

I’m also using Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets, on the MacBook, the iPad, and the Chromebook.

I’ve finally purchased Numbers for OS X and iOS, and I’m using it via iCloud and my MacBook and iPad for documents that Google Spreadsheet struggles with. I’m new to Numbers, so this has been interesting.

I’m still using BBEdit for heavy lifting in terms of complicated HTML or CSS, cleaning up text files, Perl, and Regex, but I’m using Markdown more than last year, which BBEdit handles.

I hadn’t expected how much, because of iOS 9 and Yosemite and Handoff, I’d be using TextEdit and the new version of Notes via iCloud. I wrote an AppleScript to count words in a TextEdit document, but I need to figure out how to trigger it from the AppleScript menu, and that means finding out where the heck the AppleScript menu has gone. It disappeared when I installed Yosemite.

I’ve gotten deeply into using <a href=””>Scrivener 2</a> and Scapple, because of a new non-fiction book and non-technical book I’m writing. Scrivener makes dealing with primary resources very straightforward; I can have them all in a single file, a file that I can backup easily, and Scrivener offers me a number of ways to organize my research and the current draft. Scapple mostly out of curiosity; I’m not given to mindmaps in general.

I’m breaking my writing sessions into two or three hour chunks, and often, even smaller sessions of 90 minutes or so.

I’ve been writing at libraries more, partly because of the need to do research using non-circulating materials. I’m also deliberately choosing to write away from home, because the walk and the different environment is good for me in multiple ways.

I’m using my iPad 3 and Brydge Keyboard more than I expected to, partly because I can read the iPad screen more easily than my MacBook’s or my Chromebook. I plan to look at Editorial, but so far, it’s been baffling. I’m interested in reducing workflow steps and processes, and Editorial seems to want to add both.

Having rejoiced about being Microsoft Word free, I probably should take a look at the “cloud” versions of the Office suite, Office 365. It includes a terabyte of Cloud storage on Microsoft’s .servers, as well as the full suite on iOS, Android, OS X and Windows. I’d still want local options though, given outage issues common with Cloud services from, well, anyone.




iPod 2001 still going

I celebrated the tenth anniversary of the original iPod.

The initial iPod was released on October 23, 2001. I’m pleased to note that mine is still going strong 14 years later. It’s funny now to look back and remember that I was absolutely sure I’d never be able to fill up five gigs with just music, or as Apple put it “1000 songs in your pocket.”

I used my first iPod a lot for just listening to music, especially on the bus or working in the library, but I also used it for teaching. The fact that I could mount it as a drive via FireWire meant I could show students short film clips of plays or play audio files via the lecture hall’s sound system or workstation.

Now, I have music on my iPhone, but not so much as I used to; I’m streaming a lot more via local WiFi. Instead, that storage that might have been used for music is now being used for photos and ebooks.

I predicted that we’d be reading ebooks more; I missed entirely how much we’d be taking photos with our phone—though I used the cameras a lot on my iPhone 1 and 3, I mostly used them to take pictures of things I couldn’t see well, like street signs or small text on boxes. Now, I’m using the iPhone 5 camera more than my dedicated camera—and it’s changed the way I take pictures.

No, I’m not taking selfies, but I am taking a lot more spontaneous shotsbecause the iPhone is right there, and I’m still using the iPhone camera as a visual aid, even though new plastics have made distance and close reading glasses possible for me. But I’m sending friends and families more photos than I ever did before—and seeing more in response, too.

Cooking with Your iPad and iPhone

I have an article up at Peachpit on using iOS in the kitchen:

Using iPads and iPhones in the kitchen may seem a little odd at first, but it’s a natural progression. You might start by using the iOS Notes app to create grocery lists; then you use apps to discover and save recipes. That leads you to enhanced cookbooks and dedicated recipe apps that are designed to be readable and functional in the kitchen. To make it easier for you to cook with iOS, I’ve become a kitchen pioneer, testing iPad and iPhone apps and tools designed for cooking. This article describes some of the best cooking apps and tools I’ve found in my explorations.

Read the rest . . .