How to Turn Your Desk into a Touchscreen

How To Turn Your Desk into a Touchscreen Touchscreen technology has made a huge change in the way that all of us compute and has brought the tablet computer into popularity. Microsoft and its new Windows 8 is touchscreen-enabled and has joined others in the touchscreen arena. But while touchscreens seem to be with us for the foreseeable future, a new device may just change the way we view touchscreens and the way we interact with our computers.

Today, the price of computer hardware is lower and the parts have become cheaper. This reduction in cost and size now allows a computer to be placed into just about any type of device. Over at MIT, the research lab is reporting that a miniature computer complete with a projector has been placed into a lightbulb socket. But what is amazing about the new computer system is that it projects an image onto a desktop that can be controlled by touch.

Developed by Natan Linder, the device is being called the LuminAR, and could shape the future of how we all interact with our computer systems. One can also see how those creative people who surround us could take this new technology to new heights as they incorporate it into their work.

But the LuminAR could also be used in other ways. Along with a service like Skype, an image of the person you are communicating with could be projected onto a wall. In a retail store, the price of a product could be projected and, by pushing on the price, additional information about the product could be presented.

One could imagine that, as this device further shrinks and the price is reduced, it could be placed around our homes, making the word “smart” take on a new meaning. One only needs to look at our smartphones to see how this technology could easily replace our light bulbs with smart devices of all kinds. With this type of technology, the sky’s the limit for the potential of this device.

What uses do you foresee for a device like this? Share your thoughts with us.

Comments are welcome.

Source: MIT Technology Review
Image: MIT Media Lab

Managing People Distractions

There should be an image here!Last year, my co-workers and I moved to a new office. We went from working in our own private cubicles to working in pods. There are now three of us in one pod, where there is absolutely no privacy. When I look back to the first few weeks of pod life, I can definitely say that the most challenging aspect of moving into a pod was trying to work amidst the people distractions.

The first few weeks of pod life were not my most productive but I eventually found ways of dealing with the people distractions. Here are a few of the things that seemed to work for me:

  • Attitude is key — accept that people distractions are part of the job.
  • Have a pair of ear plugs or headphones on hand to block out the noise.
  • Stay organized with a task list. Reward yourself if you are able to accomplish all your tasks without getting distracted.
  • Have a conversation with your co-workers to set some ground rules for the pod. This might include dedicated quiet time, taking lengthy phone calls in dedicated meeting rooms, etc.
  • Be considerate of your pod mates. Recognize that they too are likely trying to get accustomed to the new arrangement.
  • Put up dividers between the desks within a pod to give some level of privacy. You can purchase portable dividers for minimal costs.

If you’re trying to adjust to pod life, rest assured, within a few weeks, you’ll get used to it and will become oblivious to many of the people distractions going on around you.

[Photo above by Joshua Rappeneker / CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Top 10 Desk Organization List

There should be an image here!Gnomie Alex Wacker of Wackertech.com writes:

Hey Chris,

I have a very clean and organized desk and thought I would share with the community some of the tips and guidelines I have followed to keep my desk looking great to further increase productivity!

Number 1: Hide Those cords!
Nothing is more annoying than moving cords around all of the time! Try using twist-ties or coil your cords up and place them either behind or off to the side of your desk. If it is an iPod syncing cable, you could also purchase a dock or make one yourself!

Number 2: Only keep on your desk what you need!
This is very important one in my opinion. So many times I see people’s offices or work spaces with action figures laying around, a plethora of writing utensils, etc. First take everything off of your desk and out of your drawers and put it all together in a big pile. Sort through what is garbage and what is truly needed throughout a work day.

Number 3: Get rid of random pieces of paper and sticky notes!
Let’s face it: nobody uses sticky notes anymore! Download a widget or application for either Mac OS X or Windows for taking notes. If you still prefer the tangible paper to take notes, take the time and condense all of your notes into one notebook and use this instead.

Number 4: Put it away!
When you are in the process of working on a specific project and decide you want to work on something else, don’t leave it laying on the desk — put it away! Then take out the next task to do.

Number 5: Wireless Devices
My desk has no more then 4 cords, which are nicely hidden thanks to my desk. I accomplished this by purchasing a wireless keyboard and mouse. If you have a smaller desk, this could be extremely useful. When you aren’t using your keyboard or mouse and you want to work on something else, you can simply pick these devices up and move them off of your desk (which would be very hard to do with wired devices).

Number 6: Limit your paper usage
If you can, go paperless and start using your computer more to file documents rather than printing documents and then filing them.

Number 7: Throw it away!
If it’s nearby, you will use it more. Regularly throw away or recycle broken pens, pencils, scrap paper, and all of those things that so many people hang on to for no good reason.

Number 8: Just say no!
Yes, it is hard to resist the ugly free crap at conferences and office events, but avoid taking them just because they are free. This includes all of those cheap pens, stickers, magazines, brochures, postcards, and anything else that will just end up sitting on your desk. If you need a reminder of a particular vendor, bring your laptop or iPad and copy down the company’s name and URL.

Number 9: Eat away from your desk.
Eating at your desk encourages trash like paper bags, cups, and utensils to stick around on your desk. I personally am guilty of this and have the crumbs in my keyboard to prove it! Just set up outside of the office to eat — this also allows a breath of fresh air after a long day!

Number 10: Set up a date!
Every week set a specific day and time that you will clean off and organize your desk. This way your desk will always be looking great.

I hope this list was helpful in some way!

[Photo above by Andrea Mitrani / CC BY-ND 2.0]

From The Edge Of Your Desk To Your Brain…

There should be an image here!As most do, I believe that a well-utilized desk area is crucial to a good work environment. As my old math teacher taught me: “there is a direct line of memory from the end of your pencil to your brain.” This works the same way with computers. If you do not have a clean, well-maintained desk area, you will not be happy with your work, therefore you will not do your work well. If you have a lot of clutter, it is going to make your mind think that it is in a hectic environment and it needs to drop what it’s doing and leave.

I simply cannot stress the fact that you need an evenly spread out desk area with limited clutter. A good way to reduce clutter and optimize space is to use drawers; I use a stand that has two pockets on the side. I place my laptop on one side of the desk, and my monitor for my desktop on the complete opposite corner of the other table. This gives me an environment optimal for work and play.

My name is Sawyer Shabel; I’m just a high school geek trying to earn myself some money and I can’t think of a better way to do so than blogging.

[Photo above by Nagamori / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Top 5 List For Having A Really Productive Desk

Gnomie Brian Troisi writes in with his top five ways to ensure a productive workspace:

  1. Have a small container of pencils and a notepad. You’ll never know when you have to quickly jot something down on paper.
  2. Have plenty of lighting. It will make you more productive and you won’t have to strain your eyes.
  3. Have a comfortable chair. This is a big one. If you have a desk with an uncomfortable chair, it will be very hard to concentrate and you will want to leave!
  4. Be as ergonomic as possible. Have a wrist rest under the keyboard or use a thin keyboard such as the new Apple keyboard. Make sure the chair is adjustable and adjusted to the best height for looking down at work or looking at a computer monitor. Also, if possible, use an LCD monitor to prevent eyestrain.
  5. Try to be free of distractions. For some people, the computer itself may be a distraction (like when doing a boring spreadsheet). If you’re doing something you want to do (like me typing this list), it usually might not be a problem. But sometimes Web sites like YouTube beg you to watch videos and stuff and not get your work done! If you don’t have to use the Internet at all, it is recommended that you unplug the ethernet cable or turn off the Wi-Fi. Trust me. It really helps!

My Home Office

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People ask me over and over for a tour of my home office. Today, I decided to grant that request. So get comfy, and here we go!

You’re all familiar with my desk, my 30″ Dell monitors, my chair, and my Tix clocks. That is the view you see every day as I stream. If we look behind my desk, you’ll notice that there is about a foot of space between the desk and the wall. That is because my actual computer tower is on the floor behind the desk, along with all the cords and connections. I hate looking at cords, and I hate messes. Thus, I put them all behind the desk so I can’t see them.

Next to the desk is a closet that Ponzi feels is way too organized. I dunno why she would think that! I have some storage shelves and cubes that hold various things, such as software, CDs, manuals, tools, and even hardware. Above that on the shelf is my PSP and the games for it. And just to prove what an addict I am, I’ll pop out the game currently IN my PSP, to show you that it is Tetris.

Now over here to the right of my normal setup you see is the Mac mini that runs the live stream. There is no monitor for it — I run it off of a television. Below that on the shelves of the little entertainment stand, you can see the Xbox and games along with some DVDs I love, including Christmas ones.

Ahhh, the door to the office. Across the hall is our bedroom, and we are not going on a tour of it today. Next to the door is a little table, and a bench that opens but doesn’t really have anything in it. Then, there’s the other desk that I haven’t even decided what use it should have as of yet. In that corner, you can see a large bookshelf. I love this bookshelf. On it are all my little toys, gizmos, and gadgets. We all know what a gadget freak I am!

Last, you can see the printer/scanner/fax machine, and the little stand with the phone on it. Then… we’re back where we started. I need to fill my office up some more. The closets and shelves need more in and on them. The other desk is empty. I need THINGS, people! If you have ideas, send them to me! You can leave me a follow up comment to this video, or send an email with your ideas to me at chris@pirillo.com.

New Desk Arrived Today

Today my secondary desk (for my other two Linux boxes; including my Zonbu box plus my Windows box) arrived today. Unfortunately, it is nothing like this one. Seriously, I would love to take that bad boy home for test drive! But with that said, it will be nice to have the extra space in order to push the home office to new dimensions.

But there is one addition that still needs to happen – I think I need to get something like this. Not really wanting to add one more thing to my existing main desk, but with my constantly working from this position, it might be healthier in the long run.

What do you think? Is all of this extra desk space and ergonomic stuff just adding to the problem of staying productive? Or instead, is it possible with the right items, wisely positioned, that a person could indeed, see an increased level of productivity?

[tags]desk, mouse tray, keyboard tray, home office[/tags]

Dual LCD Screens

I’ve got two screens sitting on my desktop. Tonight, after I’m finished writing, I’m going to be putting a second LCD screen on Ponzi’s desk, too. There’s no reason you shouldn’t have a second monitor attached to your computer. If your desk footprint is too small, get a bigger desk – because the more pixels you have, the more productive you can be (and that’s a fact):

Microsoft researchers haven’t perfected the genie, but they’ve found a tool that can increase your productivity by 9 to 50 percent and make your work day easier. And you can begin using it right away. The researchers conducted user studies that proved the effectiveness of adding a second or even third monitor to your workstation, creating a wide-screen effect. In addition, they found out how the operating system needs to change to accommodate a larger screen area. Their work encompassed changes needed in the next version of Windows, as well as looking forward to when wide screens would no longer mean side-by-side single monitors, but would instead take many different forms. They even developed a prototype wide-aspect monitor to test their ideas.

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