Standing Desk Thoughts

Sunday, October 26 2014         1 Comment

A few weeks ago my Ergo Desktop Kangaroo Elite standing desk arrived.  I ordered several weeks before but they are either working on a bit of a backlog or are having them created when they are ordered.  When it came in I had tweeted that it arrived and at a couple of people asked what I thought about it.  Since it’s now been a few weeks with it I thought I’d share in case someone else was thinking about a standing desk setup.

This post is about my thoughts on this specific standing desk.  It’s not about standing desks in general or if that’s healthier for you, etc.  There is a ton of research out there on standing desks, so I won’t reiterate it here.  For the most part I had an interest in one for a while and even had a make shift IKEA set up at the office in my old job.  Since I know work out of the house and have get about fairly little these days I was really looking to have something that could help keep me from sitting the majority of the time.

I looked at standing desk mounts and at the Kangaroo simply because I already had a really nice wrap around desk in my home office from the last job I had where I worked from home.  I didn’t want to give up that desk, so whatever I got had to add to it.  I also wanted it very easy to go from sitting to standing using the same equipment and not have to have a separate monitor, keyboard, etc.  The promise of easy transitions from sitting to standing is really what led me to buy the Kangaroo over adjustable boom like mounts.

When I ordered I selected the free shipping with minimal assembly required.  They do have an WP_20140917_001option to ship it fully assembled, but even though I’m not really all that good with hand tools I had the whole together in about half an hour.  Most of that time was unboxing and sorting through all the pieces (yeah, I’m one of those types).

Here is an image with the assembly in the seated position.  Note that keyboard platform is about an half an inch above the desktop.  Prior to ordering I had inquired as to the amount of lift on the platform and then I tried typing for a day on my keyboard after setting it on top of a half inch book, just to see if that would cause any issues. 

So, without further ado:

Pros:

  • The transitions are really easy.  Maybe takes a minute at most to make the change.
  • It is really well made.  Everything feels very solid and I’m not worried about my monitors tipping it over or anything.
  • Didn't take long to assemble (I chose the mostly assembled packaging)
    • Probably could have benefited from help when attaching the monitors just in getting them to the correct positions and then locking them down.
    • It came with everything you needed to put it together, including hex wrenches.  Actually, then sent a hex wrench with each mounting kit, so I got many of them.
  • The ability to adjust the monitors tilts, etc. is really good, though for the most part once I got them in a good place I’ve not touched them.
  • The pads on the base are nice and soft and it is really easy to move the whole thing around.  A possible next stage at some point is to get a walking tread mill and then I can just pivot the whole thing on my desk to the other side when I want to talk.
  • They have a stopper you can slide into place so that you always lift the platform to the same height every time.  Very handy.

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Cons:

  • Wish they would have a stoppers added for the upper monitor adjustment as well like they do for the sit/stand adjustment.  I find that the monitors are too low when I stand if left mounted at the same spot as when sitting.  I’ve not really adjusted them when I make a transition.  As I stand I’ll probably move to better suit the standing position and then just deal with the fact that they are taller when I am sitting.
  • The stabilizer leg does a really good job.  I don't notice any bouncing or shaking while I'm typing, however, when my printer on the desk starts printing it does shake the monitors a bit.  I’m not talking like shake them off the table, I just notice to slightly moving.
  • If your keyboard is in the center it should be okay with the stabilizer leg.  If you put pressure on the sides, even with the stabilizer leg you'll get some shake.  You can try with one and order a second stabilizer if you want.  I'm thinking about, but I've not actually ordered it yet.
  • Tightening the up/down adjustment for the mount itself monitors is hard to reach and their instructions were odd in that it said to tilt it toward the ceiling to reach it, but that the things you are tightening….
  • Had to buy a anti-fatigue matt as standing on the basically concrete basement floor was rough. (Slight carpet).  Not sure the matt is helping or not…  Certainly is cushy though.
  • I had several cables (power, video, USB) coming off the back of the monitors.  They didn’t really get in the way, but they looked bad and just kind of went everywhere when I put it into a seating position.  I got one of the cable keepers from the container store and that made it much nicer.  I now need to get longer cables so it doesn't have the two groups of cable coming off it though.  It would be interesting if they build something in the actual post on the back to help with cables.  The image above is before I bought the cable keepers.

Overall I really like it.  I’m getting used to standing more, and will certainly continue to work up to standing longer and longer periods. 

Selected for ConFoo 2015

Thursday, October 23 2014         No Comments
ConFoo. February 18 - February 20, 2015 | Montreal, Canada

I’ve been selected to speak at ConFoo in Montreal in Feb of 2015!  I’m pretty excited about this as I’ve heard some really great things about the conference, and I’ll get a chance to visit Montreal which I’ve never been to before.  I really enjoy these international events as I always meet some really amazing people, learn some cool things and get different perspectives on technology from all over.

Two of my talks have been selected: Messaging Patterns and Being Efficient with Azure Automation.  The Messaging Patterns talk is an introductory level discussion about various patterns used for messaging systems, such as MSMQ, RabbitMQ, etc.  I’ll be also giving examples of how these apply to Azure, but really they can be implemented on just about any messaging system.  The Being Efficient with Azure Automation talk will cover the new service from Azure announced earlier in 2014 which helps you automate tasks for your resources in Azure.

I’m humbled to be selected to speak and you can see the full line up of presenters and their sessions online

Silicon Valley Code Camp - 2014

Tuesday, October 21 2014         No Comments

A few weeks ago I attended what is likely the largest code camp in the world, the Silicon Valley Code WP_20141012_003Camp in Los Altos Hills, California in the US.  The event was quite the experience.  First, it was held at Foothill College, so moving around the campus felt a lot like being back in school, except that a bunch of fellow geeks were all wondering around as well rather (I went to a school better known for law enforcement, fire safety and nursing, so slightly different crowd).    The campus was pretty nice and spread out enough that I got a lot of steps in on my Fitbit for sure.   WP_20141012_002Being from a location that sees a good amount of rain I wasn’t used to schools that have the rooms that all are accessible directly from the outside. 

Since the rooms were spread out they had a nice map on the back of your badge, but also they had signs all over posted to the ground to help you find your way.

The vendors and sponsors were all located outside as well under a set of tents.  Red Gate was there as a sponsor so I also got to spend some time with some of my colleagues from Cambridge and the Pasadena office in addition to other Red Gate remote workers who were also speaking at the code camp.

My talk was on Being Efficient with Azure Automation which is based on the new Azure Automation Service (not just automation with a little “a”).  You can find out more about that service by checking out the Curah I created for the session with a list of resources.

So what does lunch look like at an event this size?  Well, this picture doesn’t really do it justice as there is a huge line off to the right waiting to get into either the pizza line or the sandwich line. You can just make out the lines of sponsor tents in the background.

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It was a great event and the organizers and volunteers did an awesome job.  There were a ton of sessions, with 25 different tracks there were easily over a dozen talks going at any one time. 

I’d like to say thanks to SVCC for having me out this year.

I’m on .NET Rocks!

Wednesday, August 06 2014         No Comments

About a year or so after I got started with .NET (which was back in 2001 using Beta 2 for 1.0) I came across the .NET Rocks podcast.  I was doing a lot of driving in those days commuting a little over an hour each way to work, so a technical podcast fit in perfectly.  I’ve learned a ton of stuff from the podcast over the years and they have had some really great guests on.  So, I was simply floored when the opportunity to be a guest on the show came up!

We recorded this just a few weeks ago over a Skype call.  I was fairly nervous about the whole thing, but Carl and Richard are pros.  They’ve been doing this for quite some time (12 years and over a 1,000 shows!), so they very quickly set me at ease and jumped right to recording.  It was certainly a different experience hearing them do the bits of the show you get familiar with (Better Know a Framework, reading email, etc.) live. 

We talked about Azure: the growth of the platform, how developers and IT Pros need to understand more about each others work as DevOps practices continues to increase in popularity and even took a thread down virtualization of development environments. 

.NET Rocks Episode 1017 – Migrating to Azure with Mike Wood

Thanks for having me on Richard and Carl!

Dayton .NET Developer’s Group

Thursday, July 24 2014         No Comments

Thanks to the folks who came out to the Dayton .NET meeting last night.  It’s been a while since I’ve spoken in Dayton.  It was a great time.  It’s great to see Bob Sledge and Joe Wirtley still running the group.

The talk I gave was about five features of Azure Mobile Services to help mobile developers who wanted to concentrate on their ideas, and not on the back end.  We covered storing data for access from multiple devices, scheduled jobs, social authentication and push notifications.

At the end of the talk I listed several resources and promised I post them up to my blog as well.  Here they are (these are mostly the same as the links I provided back in April, but added one):

Mobile Services:

BLOB Storage:

Notification Hubs:

 

Thanks to the sponsor of the meeting Russ Hadick for providing the pizza and UDRI for the space. 

Techorama 2014

Monday, June 02 2014         No Comments

If you follow me on twitter (@mikewo) you may have noticed several tweets last week for #Techorama, which was a conference in Mechelen, Belgium

The about page for Techorama promised “deep-dive developer sessions, integration scenarios and best practices. All this goodness will be delivered by world-renowned speakers and local community rock stars”.  I’d say that the conference delivered on that promise.         

WP_20140528_003Much like the local Stir Trek event, the venue was a movie theatre.  That means the speakers are presenting in large theaters with giant screens and the attendees get nice, plush chairs to kick back and learn in.  The event was two days of solid learning, from 8:45 AM to 6:30 PM both days.  There were a ton of great sessions by really talented speakers.  You can check out some of the photos of the event on their Flickr stream.

I was honored to be selected to come speak at the event and I gave two presentations: my Be a Better Developer talk and a talk about the differences between Azure Storage Queues and Azure Service Bus Brokered Messaging Queues. 

Red Gate was a sponsor for the event, which means I also got to spend some time with some of the Cerebrata team, as well as fellow Red Gaters Michaela Murray, Grant Fritchey and Nik Molnar

This was the first year for Techorama and the organizers did an awesome job with the event.  I’m sure they will have a lot of success with this event going forward.  Congrats to the entire team at Techorama for a job well done.

April 2014 Louisville .NET Meetup

Friday, April 18 2014         No Comments

Thanks to Chad Green (lead organizer of the Louisville .NET Meetup group as well as the Chief cat herder for Code PaLOUsa) for having me down to speak at the user group last night.  Thanks, also, to all the folks who came to meeting.  As usual when I visit the Louisville community it was incredibly hospitable and a fun group to hang out with.

I promised that I would post up the links from the end of my slides and here they are:

Mobile Services:

BLOB Storage:

Notification Hubs:

Stir Trek 2014

Friday, April 04 2014         No Comments

Thanks for all those that came out to Stir Trek, and especially thanks to those that came to my session.  I won’t be able to stick around for the movie since I’ll be watching it soon with my wife so please, don’t send me spoilers!

Here is a set of resources that were also mentioned in the talk you can use when learning to automate Microsoft Azure with PowerShell:

 

UPDATE: Added link to Azure Automation resource.

Recorded for Hallway Conversations Podcast

Tuesday, April 01 2014         No Comments

I was recorded for a “Hallway Conversations” podcast recently and it’s now been posted!

I realized later that I said Azure Web Sites had three tiers of “Free, Basic and Standard”.  That should have been “Free, Shared and Standard”.  I was confusing the tier names from the Mobile Services offerings.

Thanks to Phil, Steve and Lee for having me on.

Webinar on April 9th–Azure Diagnostics

Tuesday, April 01 2014         No Comments

On Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 at 11:00 AM PDT I’ll be working with Michael Collier to host a joint webinar on Azure Diagnostics.  We’ll cover ways you can configure diagnostics for Cloud Services, some good practices to follow and some things to keep in mind based on experience.

Please Register for the webinar and also pass long the link to any of your coworkers or clients who may have an interest in Azure Diagnostics.