Home office ideas

If you read my blog then you know I am pretty passionate about office design in general and have a category devoted to related issues.  So I was interested to see dave’s ideas for creating an office for writing, where in particular he describes the benefits of consolidating all of his computing needs onto a single device.  Bryan responds that he is struggling to cope with 3 computers

I found both interesting perspectives, especially since I have quite a number of computers, and largely find the experience quite rewarding.  Here is a snapshot of how I work.

I have a main machine, its powerful, and drives three 19″ monitors, and a great wireless keyboard and mouse.  When I sit at this workstation its optimised for writing, analysing and information gathering.  I have everything to hand and hopefully will soon be getting a optimised chair so I can work for more than half an hour without too much pain.  My main PC is a Windows 2003 Server which allows me to work without admin priv, and always have an admin RDP session open for when I need it.

I have a lab server because my main machine needs to always be available, and always connected to the Internet – It’s the heart of my home network – I don’t take risks with it.  So I have another server that runs VMware GSX server that I use for all my testing, and I have one virtual machine running XP on the server that I reserve for connecting via VPN into my company network.  This machine is very clean and well protected by firewalls, AV and all the latest patches and almost no software.  I never browse the internet from this machine or access email, but it does pickup patches from the net and AV sig’s daily).  I can access the consoles of any of the Virtual machines from my main PC, and display them on any of my 3 monitors.  of course I can also use RDP to access the host server.

I have a Tablet.  I need to move around a lot, because of my medical condition my docutors recommend that I get out and about as much as I can, working in different locations in the house and cycling and walking.  When I stop for breaks for example at a cafe, in the park, on the beach etc I like to do reading and reviewing, it helps break up my day.  I want my Tablet as light as possible and I want to focus my time away from my desk on reading and reviewing, so I don’t want a keyboard and I don’t want loads of apps or Virtual Machines etc.  When I am at home my Tablet lays flat on my desk just like a paper notepad and I use it to jot notes down in OneNote when I am conference calls.  Robocopy scripts run in the background constatly keeping my “To  read” “To review” “To watch” “To listen to” and “web snippets”  folders up to date on both machines.  The final bit of the Tablet mobility puzzle is that I create collections of web pages I want to read as groups in myIE2, these groups sync to my Tablet and just before I leave I open the groups and download maybe 20-30 web pages which I can then read at my leisure. 

I find the whole tablet experience very liberating, and the maintenance of the two machines in sync effortless.  I also feel that my Tablet is a very personal device, its my music, mobile video, eBook, photo album, notepad, eWallet, mobile filing cabinet (everything paper is scanned using paperport).

I also have a company laptop which is kept very clean, just like the Virtual machine which I connect to the company network when I am actually physically in the office.  Robocopy scripts keep this machine up to date each day so I always have everything with me at work, and a backup as well.

There is more detail on how all this hangs together in the rest of my blog for anyone who is interested.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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