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Automattic Life

What’s on my desk? 2021 edition

Every year I normally write a “what’s in my bag” article to promote those things that I use most when travelling for work. Who’d have thought so much would change so quickly.

Although I managed to squeeze one out last year, I think I’ll be pushing to try again now. So, revisiting an idea from 2017, this year I’m publishing details about all the tech (and some non-tech) that keeps me entertained when working from home (which is something a lot of people have had to get newly used to this last year).

It’s actually amazing how much is the same from 4 years ago. The principal items – monitor, desk, chair, microphone, laptop and phone stands, etc., are all the same. The smaller items have changed, plus a general improvement in space within the room too, with the removal of shelves holding various peripherals, such as a laser printer (which is now in our utility room – no point have a networked printer and not having it somewhere central that everyone can more easily access!).

  1. An LG 5K monitor. Has a USB-C hub around the rear, built in speakers and even a rather good webcam.
  2. My MacBook Pro. This is the 2018 model, 13″. You’ll notice there’s just one other cable – this is a Thunderbolt connector that plugs into my monitor and also provides power.
  3. A succulent. I like having plants around me when working. What you can’t see is the large potted plant behind me, as well as the large fern draping down from a shelf.
  4. An Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen). We use Alexa devices throughout the house so for general communication I have one in the office too. Also for fart noises.
  5. Rain Design mStand for iPhone (and iPad). These are really good quality stands, and well padded too. Underneath I keep a supply of post-it notes as well as my AirPods.
  6. A simple, but effective, MUJI USB desk fan, for those occasional warm British days. For its size it’s very good, and is a recommended purchase.
  7. Dymo label maker because, well, who doesn’t like labelling everything?
  8. An Apple HomePod. This has a great sound and I mainly use it for listening to music, connected directly to the Apple Music app on my laptop. All other sound is directed through the monitor speakers.
  9. Blue Microphones Yeti USB microphone, paired with a boom arm and filter. I’ve used these in the past for video voiceovers and work very effectively.
  10. An app-enabled, heated Ember Mug. Nothing improves an Englishman’s love of tea like a mug of tea that never gets cold. Not that it usually lasts long enough. The only thing I dislike – it doesn’t hold much (a larger version is now available, though).
  11. A Hydra mug coaster. Hand-made, in multi-layered perspex, I picked this up at a Comic Con.
  12. Rain Design mStand. I keep notebooks and pads of paper below it.
  13. ShuttleXpress video jog/shuttle. I like video editing but this can actually be configured to control any app, so it’s great for simple shortcut keys, etc.
  14. Apple Magic Keyboard. It has a really nice feel to the keys but after 4.5 years, it’s becoming a little worn!
  15. Apple Magic Trackpad 2. I prefer this over the mouse (yes, I do have one).
  16. Speaking of shortcut keys, I’m also now using a Stream Deck. Intended for streamers, it’s also got a life outside of that too. Everything from simple shortcuts to video editor controls, it’s worth the price along for the fact that you can exit a Zoom room with a single button press!
  17. Lumie Vitamin L SAD light. For winter. To make me less sad.
  18. Underneath the front of my desk is a 3-port USB charger, complete with headphone/cable hangers on either side. Apart from a lightning cable and USB-C/USB-A adapter cable, I have the following hanging off of this…
    1. Beats Solo3 Wireless headphones
    2. Jabra USB headset for VOIP calls and video chat.
  19. My rather splendid sit/stand desk, with adjustable height controls. This is the DeskRite 300, available from Posturite but with the added extra of replacement, brushed steel, inserts.
  20. My chair is the rather comfy Humanscale Diffrient World. All mesh and very simply built, I’d recommend it.

Just out of sight are the following items, which are also worthy of mention…

  1. Attached to the side of the desk (behind the Lumie light), is a 4-port, aluminium USB-3 hub. Connected to my monitor hub, it’s a quick and convenient way to plug in USB-A devices to my laptop.
  2. black mesh pen pot. For all the stationary. And, yes, I have a matching waste bin too 😉
  3. With a battery-powered laptop, the biggest single-point-of-failure in a home office is the power taking out your internet connection. So, I have an APC UPS to provide power to my router in case of such an eventuality.
  4. Google WiFi mesh router. This it the primary router in the network and connects directly to the Fibre modem on the wall (you can see it in the bottom right of the photo above).
  5. A Drew&Cole HUMI Hot & Cold Personal Fan Heater. It even has a removable hand warmer for the colder winter months and a humidifier option too.
  6. My Apple Watch charger sits inside a elago W2 Stand, a simple rubber-like holder.
  7. Underneath my desk is a simple foot rest – half cylinder in design with a foam interior, it haves some give whilst given the support you need. It’s in excellent condition after 4 years of use, which can’t be bad.
  8. To the right of my desk is a bookshelf and, on the bottom of it, is a metal headphone hanger, which holds the following…
    1. JLab Audio Rewind wireless retro headphones
    2. Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones
    3. My Casio Ediface watch is solar powered so need to be out in the light

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