I’ve recently been accepted into the Full Stack Engineering program at Prime Digital Academy in Minneapolis. Coding and tech careers have always been something on the periphery for me, I’m aware of the multitude of different opportunities out there, but not sure of what in particular that I might be drawn to/ perfect for. Also, the time and expense in transitioning was always too intensive for me to seriously think about making the leap. I was in a job in the (general) field that I began in college, albeit in a different side of the building. This pandemic has thrown all of that up in the air. Having my position eliminated freed up some time and ignited a need to find a new career and the nature of this national crisis has indefinitely closed off that industry to me. Coding was mentioned to me this summer by my brother-in-law and it came up again at a dinner with the family of one of my wife’s good friends. So, I decided to make the leap and start over. I’m in the process of figuring out financing right now, but the timing is right for this exciting change.
The first tier of this program has always been online based and the second tier traditionally began the more time intensive, concentrated in class studies. With this pandemic, that second tier will at least begin online, if not be entirely online. To those ends, I needed a place to work from where I could be online in Zoom classes from 8:30 – 5 every day, and a place to work without distraction around that time. My wife had already set up her home work station on our main floor, and the dining table was too in the center of everything to really work for either of us. Luckily, we have a small second bedroom that has been a sort of workspace for me. To really make it work, I shifted the twin bed that we had in there for the house staging and created an office space with a reading nook. Now, I can close the door to the rest of the house, if necessary, or keep it open and be on a different floor from my wife’s in home work process. I’m pretty happy with how it’s turned out, and with the online video demands of the class I will have to ensure that it constantly stays clean and usable, so I won’t be given the opportunity to let it slide into that gentle entropy that busyness can cause.
To create this setup, we ordered the Gordon Writing Desk from Wayfair, which has a nice grey tint to it’s wood grain veneer that makes it feel a bit like drift wood. It has a drawer and two cubbies, which are helpful in keeping a clean workspace. So far it’s been comfortable to sit at and it looks really great in the room.
I’ve had the HP Pavilion laptop for a year, and I’ll be using my wife’s old Macbook for the coursework (she needed to upgrade for her photo business), but I needed to purchase a laptop stand and an external monitor (recommended by the program so that Zoom can be up on the laptop and we have the necessary real estate to work), as well as an external keyboard and mouse (not explicitly recommended, but definitely necessary).
The keyboard and mouse both ended up being Jelly Comb brand, because I needed something that could work well with Windows or Mac OS. They both have the ability to work wirelessly via usb and bluetooth, with the option to switch between three different devices. I decided to get a dongle that I could switch out between the two laptops and keep the bluetooth as a reserve option. One of the key things for me was a mouse design that would continue to be comfortable for me to use (I have minor issues with my hand/ wrist that make traditional & smaller mouse designs uncomfortable, and I don’t want minor issues turning into major one). The mouse design I found has a good ergonomic design and uses a trackball that is manipulated with the thumb instead of moving the mouse around on the desktop — this was good for both my hand/ wrist, as well as the amount of desk space that I’m working with.
Looking over the various monitor options in my price range, I opted to go with a ViewSonic 27″ monitor to give me most of the space that I think that I’ll need. I would’ve love to go with a 32″, but that jumped the price a little too much for what I can afford right now. So far, the monitor has worked really well. I don’t need exact color matching, since I’m not editing graphics on this display, but I think that the colors hold up really well. The last piece of tech that I picked up was an ankler wireless phone charger. I wanted a phone cradle to set up my phone for easy viewing and having it charge my device at the same time was a plus (I could’ve just used a stand — as you can see from the photos I have one that also functions as a pen cup/ mini valet — and plugged the phone in, but I’m trying to eliminate as much wire clutter as I can from the desk, because I don’t have a ton of space to work with.
In addition to providing me with a great workspace to learn from, it’ll also provide me with a great space to write from. And since it’ll be some time before I’ll be able to comfortably and safely sit in one of the comfy chairs by the fire at my local Caribou Coffee and sip a mocha, I’ll have this little reading nook to tide me over.
As the seasons change and I start using this space more (classes begin at the end of October), I’ll update on how everything is working. And I’ll note if I make any changes to this set-up as I go along.
More later …