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The New Model Office

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So, here I am, in the middle of the busiest month in a very long time at the paying job, and I take this week to tear down my office and re-invent the whole home office concept. I am one of those people in the rapidly expanding ranks of the "Remote Worker" revolution and with that has come quite a bit of stuff. Once upon a time I wouldve been happy just to get a separate phone line, now its gone well beyond that.

One of my ongoing complaints has been monitor size. Those who work a few hours a day at a PC, a 17 inch monitor is sufficient, but those of us who work at a PC for upwards of 18 hours a day, you just can't get enough real estate on which to work. Now, of course if youre usinga traditional monitor, you will soon discover that large monitor also means large amounts of heat. Since I already live on the edge of a geographic area we call "God's Catbox", heat is the last thing I want to generate.

So, obviously, that leads us towards the LCD monitor. Now, They are nice, but let's get serious, for a 21 inch LCD monitor, you are talking about 700 to 800 bucks. For something that only serves as a monitor, it's a bit hard to justfy that for the home budget.

I also have a major beef with my office chair. Again, a few hours a day, its fine, but modern computer science is hard on the fanny. Im not saying it compares to "black lung" disease or being shot at by criminals, but there are some things about this industry that are just tough on the body.

It all started this summer when I had a chance to work in Seattle. I had to take my office essentials with me to work at the other location, it was a working vacation sort of thing, one of the real perks of being a "remote worker", your work is where you are, not the other way around. In Seattle, I was given access to an small room with a sofa, and a desk at a wonderful house on Puget Sound. After some basic work and imagination, I found myself working comfortably but without my traditional office desk setup.

That started me thinking, and I then realized that the only function that the desk served was holding up my monitor. I rarely write by hand, and when I do, its on a clipboard. Everything else is done on the keyboard. After the number of times I've broken my arms, my hardwriting is simply indecipherable,so I dont use it. If I didn't need to mount my monitor on a desk, I could work from a recliner or a sofa/recliner or any of a dozen other more comfortable locations.

That was when I read about Projectors. Of course, as your basic Demo-whore I was all too familiar with Projectors, but what I wasnt familiar with is how much the technology has changed in the last two years and both lowered the cost and increased the quality of the device.

It turns out for not much more than a big LCD monitor, I could have a good serviceable Data Projector, that could also serve as an HDTV Monitor, which would make my media PC into a very useful device.

What does this do? By having a projector as my monitor, I can have a monitor that is 72 inches wide. Since its a projector, I dont need a desk for the monitor, that allows me to replace the desk with recliner.

So, I picked up an Infocus projector and screen at Sams Club. The biggest criteria was "return policy", since there is no real way to tell how this is going to work until you actually get it into the real life work environment. The result of this little experiment? It works terrific, much better than expected or hoped it would.

So thats what I'm doing now, I'm replacing my traditional office desk and PC monitor with a Sofa/Recliner and Wall Projector. Right now, My office and the Linux LAN and all the telecomm has all been pulled out and I am sitting on boxes while I decide what goes and what stays in the "New Model Office".

September 28, 2004 at 01:20 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink

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Comments

Great idea. I wish I had a wall to use it on!

Posted by: Mike | Sep 28, 2004 3:55:43 AM

We need pix, and frequent updates. I'm fascinated by this concept.

Posted by: Sydney T | Sep 28, 2004 7:13:37 AM

I've been thinking on the "projector as monitor" idea for several weeks now Frank, but I still like my "stuff" on the walls. Between walls of references, the "bragging mementos" like the Cray backplane from Sandia, advert posters from a few of the failed startups we were at, and the desire to have multiple monitors active at one time, I've got NO room for projection as monitors.

Now, when I can readily access all my 30 lb. reference books on the tablet PC, and have a means of displaying some of the wall clutter, I'll begin migrating. Though I still think I'll be waiting for large plasma wall screens to come down in price.

Cheers!

Posted by: Bennie | Sep 28, 2004 9:10:05 AM

It was the recliner that got me, Once a I sat in a regular lay-z-boy recliner to do my day-to-day work, it all became a race to figure out how to change things to allow that simple idea to work.

Recliners dont fit at office desks and the whole thing gets rather awkward with my long legs, so the logic became "get rid of the desk". Which became, "what does a desk do"? and thats where the monitor issue fell out of the weeds. The only thing I use a desk for, is to hold a monitor.

then I started thinking big. BIG BIG BIG. I started to say "What if", "What if my monitor was the size of the wall"? Is that possible? is it too expenseive? will it work with ambient office light? is it sharp enough to use as both a monitor and a HD TV?

when all the answers came back as a yes, it became time to test. Once I hooked it up in the office, it was a done deal. Once the kids came into the office after hours to watch star wars, I knew it was a concept that worked.

From there, it was marching down to levitz to find a sofa/recliner to replace the desk. Then I had to buy new computer cabinets to hold the in house LAN. then I had to buy a wireless keyboard and mouse.

so, on one hand, a 700 dollar LCD monitor versus, a projector, a sofa, 2 cabinets, a wireless keyboard, a wireless mouse.

but on the other hand, its a hell of a nice way to work.

Pictures of the completed project will follow. I was silly not to take pictures of it before I started, but if you just take your own office and shake it up and down like a snow globe, thats what my office looked like.

Posted by: Frank Martin | Sep 28, 2004 10:02:57 AM

I'll be checking back for the pictures. Wait until I tell my husband what I want for my birthday!

Posted by: Kathy | Sep 29, 2004 9:18:11 PM

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