Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

This Week's Sponsor

End users aren't your enemy! Kolide gets users to fix their own device compliance problems–and unsecure devices can't log in. Click here to learn how.

By Jason Snell

What’s in my office, 2021 edition

This week my friend Stephen Hackett posted a video tour of his new home studio and along with it, updated the page detailing all the gear he uses.

Last month, we passed the seventh anniversary of this post about my home office set-up. No, I can’t believe there are posts on Six Colors that are seven years old, but here we are. And when I look at the photo that accompanies that post, I am amazed at how much has changed in the intervening time. Same old floor lamp, same foam nerf-ball brain, same monitor and microphone arms, same chair, same carpet. Everything else has changed. So consider this my end-of-2021 update about what’s in my workspace.

On the desk

It’s hard to believe I’ve had my 8-core iMac Pro for four years, but here we are. I suspect 2022 will be the year I replace it, but for that to happen, Apple’s going to need to release a new big iMac or an affordable external display or both.

Since you can remove the stand from the iMac Pro, I’ve got mine attached to a Hover Series 2 monitor arm that came with my original desk, back when I set up this office in late 2013.

The desk itself is the second one I’ve had in this space. After a few years I realized I had built this space more as a home office than an all-the-time office, and I cheaped out on the desk a bit. So I bought an Uplift V2 adjustable-height desk with a 30-by-60-inch desktop made from reclaimed wood.

The desk came with a keyboard tray, on which sits my Vortex Race 3 keyboard with Cherry Brown tactile switches and Drop MT3 Camillo keycaps. That sounds fancy, doesn’t it—but my pointing device is still a good ol’ Magic Trackpad 2. A new addition to the keyboard tray is an elgato Stream Deck, for quick access to various automations, shortcuts, and smart-home devices.

Attached directly to the back of my Mac is a 2TB Samsung T5 USB-C SSD that serves as my backup drive. Every day, Carbon Copy Cloner wakes up and copies the contents of my iMac’s internal drive to that disk, which lives in the little empty space at the top of the iMac’s VESA mount adapter. (This is just one part of my larger backup strategy.)

Under the desk

There are a couple more USB cables snaking their way away from my iMac, however. One goes directly to my Sound Devices USBPre 2, a ridiculously over-engineered audio interface that lives on the underside of my desk in a metal under mount. It’s in turn attached to a Rolls MS111 mute switch, and my microphone, a Shure SM7B. The boom arm is a Heil PL2T. My headphones are UltimateEars 900s with custom silicone tips from ADV sound, though I’m in the process of getting a pair of custom monitors from ADV. My headphones hang off of a little rubber headphone hanger that’s meant for big cans, but they don’t mind.

You probably shouldn’t use this audio set-up if you want to do podcasting. I recommend the Audio-Technica ATR2100 instead.

The other USB cable coming off my iMac goes to a 4-port Anker USB 3.0 hub velcroed to the bottom of my desk. It’s attached to my keyboard, Stream Deck, Magic Trackpad, and CyberPower backup power supply.

And the rest

As for the rest of my office, I am one with the Kallax, with two of Ikea’s ubiquitous square storage units loaded with bins of old tech, boxes, and a ridiculous amount of cables. The floor lamp in my office is a Philips hue bulb, and I’ve got Philips hue lightstrips encircling the window in my office, lighting a wall I painted bright orange last year. (I love it. The other walls are an orangey off-white, to complete the desired effect—I work inside the skin orange.) On the wall of my entryway is a Philips Smart Tap Switch, which lets me control those light when I’m entering or exiting the space.

Though I used an iPod Hi-Fi as my desktop speakers for many years, recently I’ve been using a pair of Sonos One speakers instead. AirPlay’s a little janky, but I’m happy to have the big speaker off of my desk and a little more stereo separation when I listen to music while I write.

I switched to gigabit fiber this year, so my Internet is provided by a smart little fiber router, which is connected to an eero Pro 6 base station. I’ve got various Ethernet hubs to connect to the rest of my house, and there’s a second Eero unit in the back bedroom, helping spread the Wi-Fi throughout the premises. (Yes, there’s also an Ethernet cable snaking across the roof of our house to connect the back bedrooms to the rest of the network. It’s still holding up!)

For video, I’ve got two LED lights clamped to a beam above my desk, controlled by a smart switch. And the newest edition to my tech landscape is the Sony Alpha a6400 camera, which I’m using combined with an elgato Cam Link 4K to shoot overhead video of my desk when I’m recording videos or doing live streams. I hope to put the Sony camera to more use in the future! It’s an amazing bit of technology.

Off in the corner of my office is an M1 MacBook Air, which I use when I travel. There’s also a Keychron K6 keyboard and Twelve South HoverBar Duo tucked into a Kallax square; I combine these with my M1 iPad Pro to create a workspace for myself in my kitchen when I want to get out of my office, since going to Starbucks really isn’t the cards right now. (I’ve also got an iPad Magic Keyboard for writing in my backyard when the weather is warmer.)

In the far corner of the office, there’s an HP Color LaserJet Pro for printing various school assignments, boarding passes, and other documents. And of course, in a topic that is especially relevant to recent Six Colors Members posts, I have an LG washing machine with Wi-Fi very similar to Shelly Brisbin’s combination washer and dryer.

That’s the current state of affairs. If you’ve got any questions or want to know more, drop me an email or pop into the Six Colors members-only Slack and ask!

Search Six Colors