On and off, my team livens up our weekly staff calls with themes. Here is a view of one of those meetings from June 2020
Back in April 2020, I did some testing in my home office of the various microphones I had access to.
This is actually from March 2020, but just getting it posted here. Very happy with this setup every day.
In general, I’ve enjoyed this display, but as you can see a part of it has burned out.
I’ve had some folks ask about my latest treadmill desk in my home office, so I thought I’d post a couple of pictures.
I had to give up my upstairs home office to be another bedroom for the kids, so I remodeled our downstairs guest bedroom. I took it down to the studs in hopes of sound proofing it. While I had the walls open I did all the wiring I wanted so I could wall mount a new monitor and the surround sound speakers I had purchased decades ago when I was a bachelor and have been sitting in the attic ever since.
Given my desire to be at a treadmill desk, and given the dimensions of the room, I opted for a new 40″ 4k monitor to wall mount. It has a resolution of 3840×2160, which gives me effectively four normal 20″ monitors worth of desktop. The display is a Wasabi Mango UHD400. I’ve been mostly happy with it, but I do have one part of it that isn’t working properly and I hope to get it repaired here soon.
I built the design to have two shelves with the hope that most of the tech I don’t need to touch is on the lower shelf and thus out of my field of view. Given that my office may serve as a guest bedroom a couple of weekends a year, the part of the shelf where my keyboard is can hinge down and hide the not-so-pretty lights and equipment on that shelf.
If you are curious other tech on the desktop is an Avaya Vantage phone, an Android device with Avaya’s Equinox client. Next to that I have a Jabra 9450 Pro headset which I use for my audio-only calls. In the middle is a Konftel (an Avaya company) Ego speakerphone (love this) which I use for all my video calls. The treadmill is a LifeSpan under-the-desk treadmill, model TR1200-DT3. Unlike my old treadmill that I hacked to be a treadmill desk, this one is fit for purpose and had a nice control unit on the desktop. To keep the wires as clean as possible, I have the treadmill plug into the wall near the baseboard to DB9 wiring in the wall and up to the lower shelf where the LifeSpan control unit then plugs in. That works wonderfully.
We have a nice set of stairs to the attic that retract up into the attic. They do not need to fold up, they simply slide down and up as needed.
Unfortunately, starting this week, the mechanism to hold the stair panel in place flush with the ceiling has failed and now the attic door panel won’t close all the way, leaving ~2″ of air gap between the house and the attic. I’ve looked this up online and as best I can tell, this is a Bessler attic ladder. I’m posting my pictures and video here of the problem so that when I contact them for help, I can show the problem.
To be clear, I don’t know for sure this is a Bessler, as there don’t appear to be any identifying marks, but they are the only brand I’ve found so far that make this kind of attic ladder. Here are some additional photos of the ladder.
I’m wicked excited to be attending another Avaya Engage (aka IAUG) event in January 2018. This year not only will I be on the Expo floor representing Avaya Services, I will also be delivering a breakout session, #511, entitled: Maximize the ROI of your Avaya Support Experience with SAL, Alarming, and more.
If this topic sounds interesting to you, I’ve made it easy to add it to your calendar
If you can’t make the breakout session, please come by the Avaya booth in the Expo.
In preparation for what I hope will be a productive conversation about how to help our friends, family, neighbors, (and people we overhear talking about schools) understand what makes Hartsbrook different. That isn’t to say that Hartbsrook is always the best choice for every family, but we all want to be able to explain it simply and easily.
In the business world, we talk about an “elevator pitch” as a short 30 – 120 second conversation you would have with someone in an elevator that explains what you do, your business idea, etc. We’ve heard from many parents that they aren’t comfortable with exactly what to say about Hartsbrook in such a short conversation. We would like to work together to share such a statement with our community and then use that as a stepping-off point for other external communications.
To help get our brainstorming started and to get people on the same page, the following are recommended reading/viewing:
1. Waldorf 100 – A brand new (March 11) video that does an amazing job of talking about Waldorf school, today, globally.
When watching this video, here were some things that stuck with me:
- Don’t be scared; be Waldorf
- Waldorf is grass roots education
- Human Education / Human Literacy
- In understanding the ‘other’, we better understand ourselves
- Giving attention is really love.
2. Sprouts’ Overview of Waldorf
3. Hartsbrook’s own videos from 2010
Early Childhood video
Grade School Video
High School video
4. “Why Waldorf” video from Marin Waldorf in CA.
5. Videos from Green Meadow Waldorf School in NY
6. Fox29 Philly talking about a local Waldorf school
7. Waldorf School of Penisula’s Preparing for Life
– Talks about how movement is key to developing the child
– Talks about how strong Waldorf is for math/science, just in a different way
– Students illustrating their own textbooks
8. Lexington, MA’s website: http://thewaldorfschool.org/mission/
9. Pasadena Waldorf’s video
10. Practical Advantages of a Waldorf Education
11. A remarkable education
What other resources should I include here? Let me know by sharing them in the comments section or reaching out to me directly.
I’ve been working from home since 2010 and for the last 6 years it has been in an upstairs bedroom at my home. I’ve blogged about my home office before because I have a homemade treadmill desk. Well, my 4th child is getting old enough that I’d like to move her out of my bedroom, which results in me needing to give up my home office to become a kids bedroom. We investigated adding a new room to the house, but opted instead to renovate the existing guest bedroom on the main floor to server both as home office and guest bedroom.
We sealed up the room with plastic and started the demolition. This took two days of my time without assistance from others. As you can see, the walls were mostly horse hair plaster over lathe. I found that actually pretty easy (but messy) to take down; much easier than the few spots with some drywall.
The kicker is that because this room is in a high traffic area (by the kitchen, dining room, and living room), and I not only have 4 kids but also lots of neighborhood kids, I need the room to be quiet. A typical day for me includes 5-8 hours of audio and video calls. Nobody wants those kids to have to be quiet all the time. As you can see from the picture below, the double french door with the 2″ gap underneath, leading directly to the high-traffic area was not going to work for me.
Here is a “before” audio test where I played some music at a certain volume in the dining room and measured how loud it was in the room.
Part of the deal with my wife is to make this not only a fully functional home office, but also a great guest bedroom when we do have guests. I took this as a challenge to hide every possible wire in the walls while I had them open. Below are some images of the plan as it stands today. I used this great tool at http://computingcomfort.org/create2.asp to make sure I was putting my monitor and keyboard at the right heights to avoid strain.
Wire drops 1-3 are all on the same wall spaced vertically. Drop #4 will be ~4’ off the ground above a shelf, where I’ll have two laptops. Drop #5 is along the same shelf but further away, where I’ll have my WiFi router, stereo receiver, Roku, and perhaps Blu-Ray player. Drop 6 is actually in our living room where I already have a wall-mounted TV that I’d like to be able to hook the laptop and/or DVD player up via HDMI when/if I need it There is also a USB cable there for a webcam to allow for FaceTime off the big screen in the living room. Drops #8-10 are speakers running to the receiver. I’m open to suggestions on where best to place them
Here is the bird’s eye view of the room with the wire drops
And then additional views from different angles:
My mother lives in rural Mississippi and her only choice for Internet access is satellite. Satellite works fine for email and the like, but she has a data cap and streaming an hour or so of video online can eat up here entire month’s allotment. She asked if there was anyway she could watch online movies and TV, on their living room TV, without consuming data. Challenge accepted!
I acquired an old 4th Generation Kindle Fire HD7 which has the ability to do HDMI out. Unfortunately, the disk space is small and this model doesn’t have a SD slot. I wiped the Fire and set it up with her Amazon account. The idea is that she will take the Fire to her office periodically where this is “normal” Wifi. She’ll download the videos she wants from Amazon Prime and/or Netflix, then take it back and stream it via the HDMI cable.
Note, devices like Amazon FireStick and Roku would not work in this case because they attempt to stream everything over the network. In fact, without an Internet access, they won’t really work. I also tried Chromecast, but that isn’t really supported by Amazon on the Kindles which is a nice/cheap tablet. If I were to do this again, I might go with a cheap Android tablet and a Googlecast, but this works quite well.
Below are the instructions I put together for my mother for daily use of the solution.
Connecting the Kindle Fire to the Television
- On the back of your television, find an HDMI input that should look something like these two ports on the back of my television
- Plug the provided cable into the HDMI input port.
- Plug the other end of the cable into the Kindle Fire
- Then connect the power cord to the split on the cable and the other end to the charger in the wall. This will charge the Kindle Fire while you use it and is optional
- Now whatever is on the Kindle Fire should display on the Television
Finding and downloading content to watch
- From the main Kindle Fire home screen, tap on the “Amazon Fire” application.
- From the main Amazon Prime Video screen, click on the search icon and search for what you are looking for. In this example, I searched for the TV series, “Newsroom”
- Choose the content you want and for a movie you’ll see the options for that video, or for a TV series, you’ll see each episode of each season listed. Look for the icon with a down arrow to a box. I’ve put a red box around one in the screenshot below.
- Choose the quality of the video. The better the quality, the more space it will take up on the device, and the fewer hours of content you can have on the tablet at once. So, play around with this to find the balance of hours of storage and quality on the screen. Next you’ll see the video is queuing and then downloading
- Once downloaded, you can play the video anywhere you want.