standing is hard!

I’m a faithful reader of Lifehacker, and a great deal of their content tends to come from the perspective of the home office of the freelance worker or telecommuter. Most of the workspace photos are of home offices, and I frequently find myself drooling over the elegant and clean custom setups. Meanwhile, I work in a cubicle that can be only slightly modified, and I simply don’t have the budget to really do up my home work space for the contractor work I do at Blogcritics/Technorati.

That being said, I’ve been thinking off and on about trying to do a standing desk setup at home, just for a change of pace and to off-set the sedentary aspect of my daily work. But again, I keep running into the issue of cost for anything fancy, so I’ve been putting it off. However, last night I was particularly frustrated with the prospect of spending a few more hours sitting at my desk at home after a full day of doing the same at work, so I decided to improvise.

I used a plastic drawer bin that I use to store random office supplies (pens, pencils, staples, batteries, etc.) to elevate my monitor high enough, so that was simple. And, since the monitor can be tilted down (and isn’t too high) it’s easy to switch it back to something comfortable enough for sitting at.

The keyboard and mouse solution was a bit more complicated. I didn’t want anything permanent, since I knew I’d want to be able to switch back and forth between sitting and standing until I built up my standing stamina. In the end, I borrowed a bookshelf from one of my IKEA bookcases (stacked the DVDs that were on it — will probably pick up another shelf for long-term use out of the as-is area the next time I’m up there) and elevated it by resting it on top of my comic book short box. The box is just long enough to stabilize the longer bookshelf, but light enough (and with handles) to move it around as needed.

Satisfied with my handiwork, I set to clearing out my task list. However, after only a few minutes of standing, I began to realize just how little I stand on a day-to-day basis. So far, I’ve only been able to stand for 20-30 minutes at a time, and am generally uncomfortable the whole time. But, hey, if this means I’m exercising those muscles while still working at a computer, I consider it a win-win.

it could be worse

Have you noticed the changes Google has been making to the way they display search results? Google Instant has been the latest, but before that, there was the introduction of the “Everything” sidebar. And that one in particular seems to have upset numerous Google search fans. If you do a search in Google for “everything sidebar,” the first few results are about removing or hiding it.

Not only that, but the latest offering from the Funny Music Project is a song all about hating the Google “Everything” sidebar. The creator, Jesse Smith, expresses a frustration that many of us can identify with, “It’s hard to find a product that does what it does really well. In a world of mediocrity, it’s the exception that excels. Then some jerk has to justify his job by tinkering and jiggering and messing up the whole thing.”

Tech folks like to tinker. We like making things work better, or faster, or be more intuitive. I’ll bet that there are a lot of Google users who didn’t know about the different kinds of content-specific searches that Google offered, or had never used the advanced search tools. And they’re probably happy with the introduction of the “Everything” sidebar.

But there’s another group of folks who are evidently very unhappy with it. Some say it takes up too much room on the screen, that it adds complexity, and that they just don’t like the way it looks.

Cue ironic chuckling from me.

Let’s compare the Google search results screen with search results from a few of the major players in libraryland:

Google

ProQuest EBSCOhost

CSA Illumina ISI Web of Knowledge

So, who’s going to write a song about how much they hate <insert library database platform of choice>?