Home Office

I’ve been mostly down with a pretty nasty cold for the last bit of this week.  One of those lovely deals where it feels like acid is burning away the inside of your nose and throat.  One of the best parts of my current work schedule is being able to adjust by performing a >> 2 on the week and kicking out some good hours over the weekend.

I’m working on CoreData right now, using data from two different entities across several controllers.  Once I have the data being created, accessed, removed, and sent to the proper notifications, I’ll be posting quite a bit on using CoreData.  For now though, during my dinner break, I decided to add some information about my home office and the equipment.   I don’t have much to my name, but I’ve found some pretty good ways of extending what I have to enhance productivity.

I took some pictures and added them to this set on Flickr:


Starting off with the main desk, I’m running a MacBook Pro 2,2, currently running OS X 10.6.8.  This computer has a 2.16 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz, a Radeon X1600 video card,  and a new 500GB HDD that runs at 7200RPM.  I also have a 320GB external HDD for my TimeMachine.  I have to admit, TimeMachine is an essential piece of software.  When I recently replaced my hard drive to upgrade performance, I was able to do a clean install and reload to the point of operating as it was before the swap using only the OS X install disc and my TimeMachine backup.  Amazing software, that.

The MBP is accompanied by two external monitors.  The first, the largest of the three, is an Acer X223w, 22″ widescreen LCD connected directly to the external DVI port of the MBP.  The second external monitor is a KDS Visual Sensations VS190i CRT.  I have this plugged into an amazing little adapter that drives a VGA display through USB on the computer.  This adapter is a SIIG USB 2.0 to VGA Pro adapter that I found on the shelf at MicroCenter.  I plugged it in and installed the software, it came up instantly.  Moreover, it’s managed directly through the configuration tools in OS X, so it’s as good as a native.  The only performance issue I’ve found is running full-screen video, which is to be expected.  Anything less than fullscreen seems to do quite well though.

For the mobile devices on the main desk, I have a 2nd Generation iPod Touch, which I picked up in 2009, a 4th Generation iPod Touch that I got a few weeks ago, and a 1st Gen iPad that I’ve had for about 6 months now.  As an iOS developer, all three of these devices have proven essential.  The difference between the 2nd and 4th Gen iPod Touches is multi-fold.  They have different hardware capabilities, which affect display and performance of apps, they run different iOS versions — 2nd Gen is limited to iOS 4.2.1 by Apple — and the 2nd Gen does not handle multitasking.  As a developer working on a customer base that can include both of these devices, knowing how to code and test code to handle background transitions as opposed to the older termination calls is absolutely required.

Squirreled away in the drawer, I also have a Pharos Traveler GPS v535 PDA and a Compaq iPaq RX1955. These are both rather capable PDAs that came with Windows Mobile 5.0, Microsoft Office Mobile applications, and basic media.  The great thing of its time was that there was an active development community that created some amazing programs to load.  I have flash running, use the Kinoma media player, and was up on all of the messaging protocols.  I could watch two movies on a single charge on the iPaq back in 2005, a full 2 years before the first iPod Touch came out.  I upgraded eagerly to the Pharos PDA, which had similar capabilities, but some more power, a GPS, and a better display.  The GPS on that got me from California to Virginia without any problems and is still in my car to this day.  I really wish Apple had added a GPS to the iPod Touch.  At any rate, because neither had a windows button on the device, they could technically not be upgraded to WM 6.0/6.1 and were obsoleted almost overnight as programs were redistributed only for the 6.0 OS.  Shame too, there was literally no love for a long time for someone who wanted a PDA that wasn’t a phone.

On my glass desk I have my two PCs.  The desktop is a custom build I did.  The case is a Silverstone Temjin TJ-06, which is an oddity for me as I’ve been a long supporter of Antec.  This is an amazing case though, couldn’t pass it up.  I had an amazing 850W power supply from Antec until two months ago when it suddenly died.  I now have a Corsair Professional Series 650W supply.  The drop in power was made possible by my replacing my aging ATI Radeon 3850X2, which was both the pride of the fleet back in it’s day, as well as a monumental power drain.  It had dual, high-end video cards mounted inside of the frame, each requiring active cooling and power from the supply directly.  My new card looks pathetic compared to that, but outperforms it in every possible way.  I am now running a Radeon HD5670.  The processor is a bit antiquated, it was one of the first quad-core deals on the market, an AMD Phenom 9600 quad-core, 2,.31 GHz processor.  I’m running that on an Asus M3A32-MVP Deluxe Wifi motherboard with 4GB of RAM. The board has copper cooling that covers all four memory banks and the bridges, quite a nice layout to boot.  The system is running Windows 7 Ultimate with close to 2.5TB of HDD space.  My boot and swap drive is a 10,000 RPM drive.

If you look carefully, you might recognize the wallpaper in the picture.  It’s a section of the Voynich Manuscript.  This is a document that was dated to around 1420 and contains around 200 vellum pages.  Most of the document contains observation notes of plants and agriculture, though there are sections on astronomy and other topics.  The language has never been deciphered.  Scholars to this day have no idea about who wrote the manuscript, what language it might be written in, or even where the observations were made — the plants appear to be mainly unidentifiable.  One of the only clues to its origin comes from the appearance of Western European style architecture in the drawings and the fact that its first record of possession (and its mysterious contents) dates to the 17th century in Prague.

The second computer is an HP Pavilion laptop, which was billed as an Entertainment Laptop back in 2008.  It features an Intel Core 2 Duo 5550 1.83 GHz processor with 4GB of DDR2 SDRAM and a GeForce 8600M graphics card with half a gig of dedicated video RAM and over 2GB available for its use. It runs Windows 7 Professional and I currently have that as my PC development platform.

Hidden from view, but evidenced by the small keyboard and mouse hidden under the CRT is my linux server.  This is a large desktop server that dates back to 2002, meaning it was scrounged up and saved from the giant bit bucket beyond.  Modern flavors of linux don’t care for the old hardware any, causing install failures on multiple builds of Ubuntu, Mepis, and Debian.  I got around this with what I should have done in the first place; I did a Gentoo install.  Everything on the system was compiled and installed for this specific box, to include the compiler and the kernel.  It’s a long process, but has always given me the absolute best linux system in the end.

For development, I have XCode 4 running on my MBP as my primary environment, with XCode 3 also on the MBP as a secondary environment. One trick I use, as is seen on the picture, is to have my main programming project on the main screen with XCode 4, then have a secondary project on the MBP monitor under XCode 3.  I also use JEdit for single-file viewing of multiple language types, as is currently seen on the CRT.  My desktop runs MS Visual Studio 2008 Professional and my PC Laptop runs MS Visual Studio 2010 Professional.

For the remainder of my office, my bookshelves are filled with books of all subjects from programming to history.  The bookxhelf is capped with my collector’s edition house from Invader Zim, along with my GIR action figure.  I also have my BSG Blu-Ray series set up top at present.  I alternately also display my three Blizzard collector’s sets (Warcraft III, Warcraft III Frozen Throne, and WoW Burning Crusade), not that I play them anymore, but that they were signed my the managers, developers, programmers, and artists that came out to the various midnight releases at Fry’s Electronics.  One of my favorite pieces in all of them was a message on a poster that came with the original Warcraft III collector’s edition, which one of the producers of the series signed ‘Thank you for keeping America free”, after he discovered I was in the Marine Corps.    I also have a signed box set of RvB from the guys over at RoosterTeeth, who are all more than awesome at each of their public apparences.

The large whiteboard is 3′ x 4′ tileboard that I bought from Lowe’s Home Improvement.  With the plastic frame around it, the total cost of that whiteboard was about $15.  I’ve been using it for about 8 months now and it’s still brilliant white when I clean it.  (It was digitally erased after the photo was taken, leaving a lot of smudges in the picture).  The picture of my peripherals features my other main whiteboard, a silver 2′ x 1.5′ board from Staples, which cost me more than twice as much and is half as big as my main whiteboard.  On the wooden desk, I also have an awesome Expo dual-sided whiteboard mounted in aluminium.  I use this for TA work at the university as well as for lots of notes and small drawings.  I also have a smaller whiteboard off to the left and another one over my MBP for calendar events.

Everything else is pretty cut and dry.  I use active cooling stands for both laptops.

With that, I believe I’ll be heading back to work.  I have notes on CoreData that I intend to post in the future, as well as a book of notes on programming in Lua, using the Corona SDK, and some tricks I came up with on how to stream sounds.

- Kevin, Chaotic Sorcerer, Initiate Coder

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