Office Reorganization

I dedicated most of this Sunday to working in the office, moving things around, and just trying to get more organized. While the office wasn’t in bad shape, it just felt cluttered, busy, and just not really useful at times. After being inspired all week through a few posts on Lifehacker, I decided to bite the bullet and really do something in this office. I took a few pictures during the process, and pretty happy with the finished result! You can find the pictures over on Flickr soon!

The first thing I did was move around some items in here, back to the setup I had when we first moved into this house. But now that we have the iMac, it actually makes more sense to set it up this way:

  • Walking into the room, you now see the glorious 24″ display, and not the back of it.
  • The old setup made you walk around the desk and really sit down. Now, I can just get right to the computer if I need it for something really quick.
  • I can use the bookcase to the right of me for some small immediate storage if I need it, rather than cluttering up the desk.
  • The Klipsch iFi system I use is made to fill the room (or heck, the house) with sound. The old setup had them facing back into the room, not really helping if I wanted to blast music on this side of the house. Now the face out of the room, so if we are on this side of the house, we can have the music up and it sounds MUCH better.

We went through the desk and threw away a trash bag of random stuff we no longer needed. I also went through the drawers in the desk and made one just for ‘office supplies’ and the other for software, cables, batteries, and other random things that would be nice to have close to hand. With the way my desk is set up, I also now have a little cubby for ‘media’, including DVD-R’s, CD-R’s, pens, highlighters, and paper.

The desk is also pretty clear right now, making it look GREAT with the iMac and iFi system side by side. I used to have a bunch of random things up here, which made it hard when finding a place for the laptop or even to hook up the cameras. Now I have some extra USB cables hanging out, for easy access when plugging in any of the cameras, my phone, etc. I also have a spot reserved just for the iPod (and iPhone soon, hopefully) for charging and syncing.

Since this corner desk was originally designed to hold a tower, I still use that space for my older PC (that I still use for work and file storage). I lowered the shelf that sat above the PC to allow for more room to place my camera gear. This includes my Canon Rebel 2000 (film) and Rebel XTi (dSLR), our Canon SD1000, my lenses (the 50mm and 25-55mm sit in the case with the XTi, and my 75-300mm has its own case behind it) and filters.

We are also going to pick up some stacking desk trays to sit on top of the file cabinet. The top one is used to hold up the wireless router, with the ones below holding items that either need to be processed or filed into the cabinet. Those two things are usually the main reason my desk gets cluttered in the first place!

All that is really left now is to put some stuff up on the walls. I may look into some shelving right above the desk for a few things, including possibly mounting the speakers to give even more room on the desk. I also am looking at picking up either a whiteboard or cork-board to get something on the walls. Oh, and yeah, maybe finally get my degree up as well.

Im pretty happy how it all turned out, and hope it will make me work a bit better! During the process, I also managed to get a copy of Parallels, and install Vista Ultimate and VS2008 that I picked up at the Heros Happen Here event recently. I also had a  hand from the wife going through the mess in the drawers and shelves.

Listening To: ‘Shine’ by Imogen Heap.

‘We Feel Fine’ book will include a photo of mine!

Last week, I received an email through Flickr that a photo of mine had been chosen to be used in an upcoming book from the guys at WeFeelFine.org. We Feel Fine is somewhat hard to explain, but a really cool concept. They harvest ‘feelings’ from various blogs all around the world and dump them into a database. There is then a graphical front end that allows you to query this database, keeping a touch on the pulse of various ‘feelings’ through the world.

The picture they chose is actually of our good friend Nate, who dressed as Bob Ross for halloween. We are actually pretty sure debs took this shot, just randomly. Once I saw it, I thought it would make a perfect cover for some indie rock band album.

Im not sure just yet where/how the photo will be used in the book, all I know is that they mentioned releasing sometime next fall, and my compensation (an autographed copy of the book from the developers/writers, and a invitation to the release).

Ill keep everyone updated!

Listening To: ‘Ghosts 17’ By Nine Inch Nails

Mac OS X 10.6 ‘Snow Leopard’ = genius.

Announced last week at Apple’s 2008 WWDC Keynote, Apple brought up a few new things, namely the iPhone 3G, MobileMe (the replacement to the 90’s like web application .Mac), and the announcement of Snow Leopard, Apples next step with the Mac OS X Operating System.

MobileMe is a cool idea, and I am glad they are finally moving on to something much nicer than .Mac. Its way overpriced (always has been), but for most people, it ‘just works’, and they are willing to pay that fee. The iPhone 3G is great too, finally bringing some much needed features to the phone. After the new features and the DRAMATIC price reduction (the new one will only be $199 with a new AT&T contract), Deb’s and I are actually thinking of making the switch, even paying our outrageous Verizon Wireless ETF. I may post more thoughts on the iPhone as that date gets closer…

But thats not really the topic of my post – its the last announcement, Snow Leopard, that is the BIG DEAL. For YEARS Apple has been toying with the enterprise, server environments, and even end users! From experience, you really had to push and bend the Mac OS in the past to integrate into some other services, always having the risk of something going wrong. Heck, even Apple’s documentation on many tools was not even correct, and would cause problems if you did not follow the book from the beginning. For Apple to step back, and really tighten up their code base, is dramatic. While to end users the change may not look that big, depending on the size of the project, this could be as big as the stop from OS 9 to X. From early reports, it looks like even PowerPC chips will no longer be able to run the Mac OS after 10.5.

According to Apple.com, the client version of the Mac OS is going to have full Exchange 2007 support. Now, more than ever, I wish we ran Exchange 2007 at work. The 64-bit improvements as well as better multi-core support will help the OS adjust to the growing cores per processor, making the system that more efficient (When multi-proc older PowerPC’s came out – they had to do something similar to make the Mac OS with with more than one processor).  Im sure that the few updates listed here are only the begining of what we will actually see, but well worth the wait. And of course, even with the huge changes between 10.4 and 10.5 (especially in things like ‘lookupd’ and the like), it would be great for Apple to expand and tighten up these tools even more.

As far as the Mac OS Server, various improvements seem to be coming there as well, including updates to newer Leopard only server features, including iCal Server, Wikis, Podcast Producer, and the Mail server (which I have heard great things about). I am sure we will also see vast improvements to its integration into the workplace as well. Apple has always been somewhat ‘so-so’ with the enterprise. the Xserve is an amazing piece of hardware, and I have enjoyed every one I have worked on. The Intel ones are a lot of fun, but I only ever got to work with beta versions of 10.5 on them. Other than cost, I would love to implement a leopard server at our office to solve SO many issues, as well as centralize a lot of products. Earlier this year, Apple actually dropped their Xserve RAID going with Promise, which can support the technology more than Apple could at the time (not that the Xserve RAID was bad, but would need a major overhaul to stay competitive).

Taking the time to really sharpen up their code, optimize their processes, etc is a  GREAT step. Most people know of course I have been using Macs for about 14 years or so now. Ive seen this OS change in so many ways. I have always felt that OS X really needed to be ‘cleaned up’, especially in the early days. Tiger was a GREAT change, but when you got deep down into the system, it was really becoming a mess. Early experience has show me the major changes in Leopard,  and it could only get better!

Listening To: ‘Discipline’ by Nine Inch Nails

The rest of our Chicago Trip!

I just realized that I forgot to post the rest of the highlights of our trip, and its been over a month since we have been back! So with out further ado, here are some highlights of the rest of the trip:

Wednesday:

  • Decided to visit some of the areas from our City Pass including The Adler Planetarium and The Shedd Aquarium. We somewhat rushed through the Planetarium but the Aquarium was a TON of fun.
  • Went back to the Magnificent Mile, mainly to check email at the Apple Store, pick up some Garrett’s Popcorn, and take a few pictures we did not have a chance to get Tuesday
  • Took the Red Line to Wrigley Field. Unfortunately there wasn’t a game going on, and the place looked locked up so we couldn’t even get in
  • Walked down the street to check out ‘The Metro’, where MANY great bands have performed. The Smashing Pumpkins played there a few times, including one of their final concerts (when they broke up)
  • Ate dinner at Hard Rock, where they had a few Smashing Pumpkins items. The food was some of the best I had EVER had at one.
  • We then jumped a bus to the Navy Pier to have some coffee, watch the sun go down, and eat some popcorn.
  • Did not sleep much that night – we had a server go down that just kept me awake all night 😦

Thursday:

  • Started early and took a ride to the Science museum. This was actually pretty cool, but quite a trek outside the city. Luckily during the ride, I got a call from co-workers letting me know machine was back up and running!
  • Made it to the The Field Museum. This place is huge! We had a blast and learned a lot while walking through here. I took a ton of pictures, and by the time we were done, we could barely walk!
  • Headed back downtown to check out a few more shops, and then also pick up gifts for friends.
  • After all this, it was already around 7pm, so we decided to head back to the hotel and watch a few shows on TV, mainly because we had to be at the airport the next morning around 5AM!

Friday:

  • I think we were up sometime around 4:15 AM and started getting ready.
  • Checked in for our flight, and then proceeded to security…to tired to think or look at our tickets
  • Get to security, and we are flagged for a ‘extra’ check.
  • Obviously, even though its only 5AM, they take FOREVER to get started. We both get patted down and our backpacks searched. Items in my backpack are all tossed around!
  • Again, obviously, Debs and I were not the ones ‘Dubya’ was looking for.
  • Wait an hour or so for the plane, eating crappy breakfast food that was in our terminal.

As you can see, the last few days were a blur! But it was SOOOO MUCH fun, and would love to go back. I actually AM going back early next month, but for work. Deb’s may come, but only if we can find a cheap ticket the day or so before.

More posts coming soon!

    A busy time but some new pictures

    Ive been pretty busy the last few weeks with work, the puppy, the house, and every thing else! We finally got some stuff cleaned up around the house with the truck, taking a load to Goodwill this weekend. I need to catch up on some posts, including our Chicago trip in April (I am actually going back in early July)!

    Yesterday was our close friends Amy wedding. While it was outside, and 100 degrees, it was great, and well worth it. It was a rather small wedding at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, right down the street from our house. You can see the pictures here.

    We also took Toby to the river the first time Memorial Day weekend. I finally got the pictures processed and have them up on flickr as well.

    I will post more soon. We are trying to stay cool in this heat (its been practically 100 the past 2 days, and will be for the next 3 or so).

    Gmail Labs

    Last night, Google announced and launched a new feature in Gmail called ‘Gmail Labs’. This feature allows Google employees to write mini-apps for Gmail for the users. From what I read, its any Google employee, not just Gmail developers. Google has this really cool ‘20% rule’, where 20% of your work time should be dedicated to doing something for the company other than your ‘regular’ job. So they opened up the Gmail code to all employees, and want them to make stuff!

    Right now there are about 13 tools to choose from. Everything from pictures in chat, mouse gestures, to being able to play the old school game Snake! There is even one that will block your screen for 15 minutes to take a break!

    You can get to the Lab by clicking on Settings, and then on Lab. They started rolling it out around 9PM Eastern last night, but I didn’t get it in my account until this morning. Im not really sure if I am going to use any of these just yet, but the possibilities are endless of course. Supposedly as new features are placed in the Lab, as the user base grows and code is double-and-triple checked, these features will eventually make it into the normal Gmail code base. 

    Now I just wish one of the people there would realize a to-do feature in gmail would be PRICELESS!