Archived Blog Post: March 9, 2005
Pet Peeves Watch, #1:
Modern desks seem to lag the office environment by about 10 years.
We had computer desks, but no real space for a mouse. We got keyboard trays, but not large enough for modern keyboards and no space for a mouse. Keyboard trays are getting large enough for keyboards and mice, desks aren't leaving enough space for larger monitors, or are placing the monitors in ergonimically awkward spots (too far, too high). Ikea seems to pick heights for its desk by picking random values and then eliminating anything which might be useful for computer users.
I bought a desk recently which came with a little computer nook to store the computer in. This is a neat idea, it keeps the computer out of the way and makes things quiet. It also feeds all the cables to the computer through a tiny hole in the back of the desk, so you have a giant rat's nest of cables off the back of the desk, and feed the nest through the eye of a needle. On top of this, my computer, like most computers from this millennium, throws off a lot of heat. The fans do their job, but not when the whole arrangement is trapped in an enclosed space. When you open the door you are hit in the face by a wall of heat, and the computer is hot to the touch.
I was concerned about the heat, and planned to cut a hole in the rear wall of the desk (the back is a thick cardboard sheet printed to look like fake wood), but the docs are very specific about not doing that, because it would weaken the structural integrity of the desk. The structural integrity of the desk depends on a small piece of cardboard placed in such a way as to make the compartment useless for its intended purpose.
I had these sorts of feelings about chairs, and then we got the Aeron, so maybe what we need is an Aeron desk. Either way, this is what we need:
- lots of desk space
- adjustable height keyboard trays with room for mice
- one or more adjustable monitor stands which:
- can drop below the desk surface
- can be easily moved with the monitor
- can hold a 21" monitor
- can skew side to side so you can center the monitor relative to your main position (the tgb/yhn line) rather than centering relative to the combined keyboard/mouse space (generally somewhere around the return key)
- possibly multiple adjustable monitor stands for two-monitor setups
- space (trays, possibly) for power strips, which assume the power strips are the double-opposed design allowing for large transformers
- reasonbly placed large accessible conduits for cables
- hooks to keep cables out of the way
- adequate ventilation for the computer (forced air is an option here)
- components sensibly placed for access:
- things you use on a regular basis (e.g. CD drive) should be readily accessible
- things you don't use on a regular basis but don't have time for when you do need to deal with them (e.g. ports on the back of the computer) need to be accessible without too much hassle (i.e. without taking 20 minutes to blindly unplug everything, haul the cpu out, then later have to re-plug all the cables by reaching around the cpu and teaching yourself ports braille)
- space for hubs, and other "satellite" components which need to be accessible and viewable