Work from home

John Haman


Categories: Other Tags: Other Emacs

My work from home setup is… okay: some parts are good and others are lacking considerably. I have made a few upgrades (and downgrades!) in the last few months.


It’s a cheap desk that I bought at Aldi, of all places. It’s fairly spacious and has good drawers. The only problem is that it’s too high. I miss my keyboard tray.


Some folding chair that my wife purchased. (I gave my decent office chair to her since she’s started working from home as well.) I put a very nice lumbar support pillow on the seat of the chair to make it through the day. No arm rests (boo…)


A fairly good Dell Latitude from a couple of years ago. 16 GB of RAM, i7, and nice screen. My biggest complaint about it is the antivirus software, which makes Windows search and git very, very slow. I like Windows for the most part, but have a deep hatred for Windows AV on top of the already very slow file system.

The computer can run Emacs fairly well, and keep 20-30 other programs/windows open without skipping a beat, so I can’t complain.

Fairly good keyboard for a laptop. Not as good as the one on my personal Thinkpad T460, but much better than the keyboards on the Dell ultrabooks.

Very poor trackpoint compared to Thinkpads.


It’s a 4K screen I got off Ebay. Very good colors, and very large. I can have Emacs open fullscreen with my frame subdivided into three columns, each 80 characters in width. This is a new configuration for me and it works pretty well.


None :(. I have to use the built-in one on the laptop.


A brand-new Microsoft intellimouse. It has a nice scrollwheel and two thumb buttons (a requirement for my computer mice.). I think it’s a 10/10.


I use a Kinesis Advantage (old version). This keyboard is pretty good for writing papers, and slightly less good for programming, just because certain characters are a bit awkward to reach. Overall, I think it’s my preferred keyboard because of the very generous thumb clusters. I can’t reach all 12 (!) of the thumb keys comfortably, but I can reach enough of them that it’s worth it.

I got a bit keyboard obsessed during grad school after I had a bout of Emacs-pinky, so decent ergo is important to me. Since I can put all the most important keys in the thumb cluster, I can largely avoid any pinky pains.1

The keys are mechanical and re-programmable without installing software. What a joy!

Here is a close-up of the white version, which I’d rather have owned2, but I got a good deal on mine from Craigslist.


I use a very old pair of Audioengine speakers that I bought for gaming in college. They still sound great. I pair them with a DAC for slightly better sound quality (I swear it matters!)

Nowadays, I do not like to listen to music while I work. So they only really get used during Zoom calls.

You can see from the first image that I have quite a bit of shelf space that I placed right above my screen. It’s handy because my desk doesn’t have a lot of room.

Desktop Computer

The desktop computer gets used for simulations sometimes. It’s about a year old now.

I built this computer because I had been working without a desktop for a while, and really missed the speed. I decided to build in the Ncase M1, because it is small and looks nice. It is the height of a wineglass, and can fit on my desk easily. It’s got 16 GB of RAM and a Ryzen 3600 CPU. I run Debian on it, for reasons that are better left to an article of their own.

This machine is wonderful, but a bit loud, due to the small case size. I wish I could do all of my work on it.


My ergo is okay right now. I have wrist pads on the keyboard, and a wrist rest for my mouse. I use a monitor stand to raise my screen to eye-level. This is all good.

My chair is not adjustable, and I said earlier that the desk is too tall for my preference. I think my next purchase will be a new chair.

The alternate set-up

I’ll unplug my laptop and sit indian style on my guest bed with it. I’m equally productive (I know my fancy keyboard is productivity snake oil) and it’s good to switch up the positions during the day.

  1. Vi keybindings will help out as well, possibly more so.

  2. Only for the retro cool looks