bolting things down
Monday, January 30 2012
Sometimes the bulk of a web development job consists of waiting for a reply to arrive from an email you've sent. Sometimes the wait grows absurdly long and you finally are forced to compose a different, more existentially urgent email. Still, though, there's the wait, and what better to do with than tinker with your environment in hopes of making it more awesome. For me, cleaning and tidying can only serve as an end in itself or as a procrastinatory behavior, but it can never serve as something I do because I'm waiting for someone else to get back to me. For that, I build things designed to make my life just a little better (and further articulate the surfaces around me). Today's project consisted of a tiny 16.5 by 4 inch shelf designed to hold my Mac Mini and the tiny DVD burner I use with Woodchuck, my main computer. The new shelf would be suspended three inches beneath an existing shelf above my computer workstation, just within reach when I'm seated below. (That higher shelf, by the way, is a bolt-on automobile spoiler that Gretchen got me ironically some years ago.). To suspend the shelf, I fabricated my own set of standoffs from steel bar-stock that I drilled to accept holes. As for places to attach the standoffs, the shelf itself would be a piece of one by five wood plank and the spoiler had additional holes tapped into it that I could exploit.
Over the years I've discovered that the more I bolt and nail devices down, the happier I end up being. In the past I used to avoid attaching devices to furniture and walls because I thought doing so limited my options with them (indeed, I'm gradually coming to see that fighting my instinct to not limit my options is one of my biggest struggles). But the problems with loose USB hubs, power strips, and network switches on the floor near my computer are all too obvious. The wires quickly become hopelessly tangled and confused. Who knows what belongs to what? Perhaps half those wall warts aren't even being used. So recently I've begun attaching some devices either to the side of my desk or to the ceiling above my workstation. This gets them up above the wire bird's nest on the floor and nearer to some of the devices they support. The best new ceiling-attached device is a ten-port USB hub, the thing allowing me to finally get my DVD burner (a rarely-used device) up out of the mess to the left of my workstation. And once I had the idea of getting that DVD burner out of the way, it was a small step to getting the Mac Mini up there too.
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