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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Isn't it about time you switched to a standing desk?

The idea of switching to a standing desk has plenty of initial appeal, but isn't so easy to realize (it might seem). And the longer you wait, the more the idea changes from a curiosity to a guilt-ridden inevitability thanks to the bombardment of countless health articles about why sitting for prolonged periods of time is bad & why standing is better.

Instead of treating the transition as an obligation, I decided to quench my intrigue without spending any money or too much time, and in such a way as to make it easy to reverse if needed.

I was most worried about getting the height & positioning right, so spent 5-10 minutes perusing the web for advice (links at end of post).

Starting with your typical 5-monitor wall-mounted-desktop home office,

the first step is to position your screens at standing eye-level. Ideally, the middle of your main screen should be directly in front of you (at eye level), and about 14-28" away.

I simply moved my main monitor to the shelf that used to hold the 4th (top) screen, then marked where to drill for the right and left wall-mounts & installed them. I didn't have a 3rd wall-mount, so 3D printed one for the 4th (top) monitor.

The tricky aspects of switching to a standing desk are 1. finding the best height for the desk/keyboard/mouse and 2. getting used to standing. For the former, I opted for a quick and dirty way to raise the desk to allow for trial and error.

A milkcrate-like bin was good enough for me.

After using the new setup for a bit, I noticed it really wasn't very comfortable for extended sessions. Prolonged static standing is actually too drastic of a transition for the feet, ankles, and back (and I'm a pretty fit 25-year-old)! Just because you can walk for 5 hours comfortably does not mean you can stand in one place for 5 hours without issue.

I tried using a bar stool, but it didn't provide much alleviation. Thus, I jerry-rigged a temporary standing-desk-chair using zip ties, the feet of an abandoned swivel desk chair from the basement, and some pvc pipe.
I had read that the keyboard should be at or below elbow-level, but definitely not above. I found that every inch makes a big difference, and after precariously propping up the desk further with additional spare wooden slabs, I installed a base platform using old IKEA parts & plastic bins.

All finally felt right, and I was even beginning to no longer need the ghetto office chair supplementation, so I installed some more permanent 'legs' in lieue of the plastic bins.
It's been about a week or so now, and I'm at the point where I'm totally acclimated to the standing desk- I would recommend you wear shoes though, to avoid hurt feet/achilles. Definitely enjoying it, too.

I needed another work space yesterday and noticed the new desk height makes it really easy to add desk real estate.... TBC

Some related external links/resources:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I can't believe the Lenovo Yoga is still the best machine! How to fix the intermittent keyboard and mouse randomly stopping working bug

(for why the Yoga is the best, see my original post, here). Also be sure to pick up a stand dock to use/dock the yoga in portrait orientation!

The keyboard and mouse sometimes stop working on my Lenovo Yoga due to a bug with the ymc service + related device orientation sensor. The purpose of the service is to automatically disable the keyboard + mouse while the device is being used as a tablet so pressing keys/touchpad doesn't interfere with whatever you're doing.

However, for some reason these relatively important input devices seem to enjoy disabling themselves randomly during normal use.

Here's a 'hotfix':

1. create 2 files, ymcstop.bat & ymcstart.bat

2. open with text editor and type 'net stop ymc' and 'net start ymc', respectively (without quotes), then save
3. place a shortcut in C:\Users\Will\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs to each file (replace Will with your username)
4. right click and change the icon to something you like
5. press start and type 'ymc' - now right click on each (start and stop) and 'Pin to Start'

If the keyboard/mouse ever stop working, simply press the windows icon (or slide from the right) to get to the start screen and press the ymcstop you created. If you want to re-enable the service (which disables the keyboard for tablet use), simply do the same but click the ymcstart you created.

Hope this helps!