The Never-Ending Quest For the Perfect Desk - Update

I've talked before about how I'm continually trying to arrive at the perfect desk setup.

For the last year or so nothing has changed in my setup. But I've started thinking about it again now. I want de-clutter.

Last week I bought a wireless Apple keyboard and Magic Trackpad, as you can see below.

2011-06-17 09.37.38

This has removed a few wires and saves some valuable space, compared to my desk before. But it also highlights what a mess the rest of my desk is.

The Magic Trackpad, by the way, is a really nice "mouse". Takes a bit of getting used to the various gestures, but, once you do, it's actually quite easy to use. I can use it left-handed in the setup above too!

What I'm after now is a decent Windows-ready wireless mouse and keyboard. Preferably Bluetooth, rather than needing a USB "dongle".

Anybody recommend a decent combination of (not Apple) Bluetooth mouse and keyboard?

Moving forward what I'd love to do is move away from using a Windows laptop and a Mac mini to just using a Macbook Pro with Parallels and a Windows VM. For the first time ever I found myself thinking I could switch to Mac after a few intensive days on my Mac mini last week. I'm no longer as tied to Windows as I once was.

I just don't have the money to buy serious hardware now though. For the time being I'll work on going wireless.


    • avatar
    • John Fazio
    • Mon 20 Jun 2011 06:46 AM

    Can't help with wireless recommendations but I can comment on running everything on a mac with Parallels. On a current project I've already logged about 600 hrs on a macbook running designer in Parallels. Coherence coupled with Expose is remarkable. I love being able to test mac FireFox right alongside of IE8+ within one OS UI. I highly recommend a MBP since every now and then I push mine to the limit and have to play the old shut this down to run that thing game. I was real hesitant about putting Windows on this machine and considered buying a new Windows laptop just for this project... no regrets.

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Mon 20 Jun 2011 07:01 AM

      I've never found Expose that useful until I got the trackpad and now I've got used to a four-fingered downward swipe to show all apps and a upward swipe to show the desktop. Feels nice.

    • avatar
    • Jon
    • Mon 20 Jun 2011 08:00 AM

    Can't recommend a specific Mouse/Keyboard, but have always found the Microsoft hardware very good. I like the look of the Arc Touch mouse...

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Mon 20 Jun 2011 09:08 AM

      Same here. Whatever I buy it's likely to be Microsoft branded. I've had the same IntelliMouse for 10+ years now.

    • avatar
    • Mike
    • Mon 20 Jun 2011 08:03 AM

    If you consider that cluttered I definitely will NOT be showing a pic of my desk.

  1. My girlfriend is a graphics designer, and she is using a Logitech wireless mouse. I don't knwo the model, but it was $99, is a laser mouse with bluetooth connection. It comes with a tiny dongle that can stay in the USB port. Her keyboard got a USB port she uses for it.

    I have always liked Logitech myself, even if i had some good MS hardware as well. The Logitech keyboards and mice are perfect for me, especially as they have som bigger models that fit my hands better.

      • avatar
      • CJ
      • Mon 20 Jun 2011 03:20 PM

      I tend to buy MS hardware because it's always good quality. On the point of "dongles", Karl-Henry has hit on the point I was going to make and that is that the Logitech wireless stuff seems now to come with a tiny USB dongle that's the usual USB connector obviously, but the "sticky-out-bit" is only about 3 millimeters long.

      A few of my colleagues at work use Logitech wireless stuff and they've been really happy with it.

    • avatar
    • Ferdy
    • Mon 20 Jun 2011 10:48 AM

    I was shipped a Logitech G5 mouse with my new Acer desktop last year. I like it so much that I bought another one for at work.

    It's wired though, as it is a gamer's mouse. It has a great feel to it, is very accurate and robust, tons of buttons yet they do not get in the way, and you can configure the mouse weight using little weight chips that you put in a small tray inside the mouse. Best mouse I ever used.

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Mon 20 Jun 2011 03:34 PM

      The trouble with Logitech, for me, is the apparent lack of design. I'll take a fresh look, but I've always found them a bit "garish".

      It's hard to find the balance between form and function. Form is important to me. But then so is function. I wouldn't want to sacrifice one completely for the other

      Show the rest of this thread

  2. Don't know about keyboards, but I've had a wee Microsoft Notebook 5000 mouse (Bluetooth) for over three years now, and I love it. It takes two AAA batteries, which last an age, and it works like a dream with my MacBook Pro and my various Windows VMs.

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Mon 20 Jun 2011 03:35 PM

      I looked at that. Just how wee is it though? Does it fill the palm? I've got a "micro" IBM mouse that's on the wee side and I wouldn't want to use it all day (I just leave it in my bag for when I'm out and about).

    • avatar
    • Darren
    • Mon 20 Jun 2011 11:39 AM

    The perfect desk in my world is one where the ladies of the household don't keep dumping their stuff on it. As I keep telling my daughter, it's not a dumping area for stuff that you've finished with or don't know where to put. And everyday I move a box of tissues into the bathroom or onto Mrs A's dressing table, and within 12 hours the box of tissues is back on my desk. So maybe the answer for me is that the perfect desk is situated within a room that I can lock.

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Mon 20 Jun 2011 03:38 PM

      How big's your garden? Do what I did and re-purpose your garage. Best thing I ever did. Door has an access-coded lock. Wife knows code but rarely comes in. Kids can't even reach the pad!

      Wife has a cleaning OCD, but knows not to enter my domain. I let her once and all my "organised" paperwork piles ended up in one single pile.

    1. Saw on Lifehacker a neat way to make a secure and private office: take over a walk-in closet. Ours is big enough I could do but would need to add fully two wardrobes to take the clutter that would be ejected.

      Jake - how important is wireless? I tried a few wireless devices and found the battery weight in mice to be a pain and the battery life in keyboards to be less than satisfactory. For best form and function in my needs, I settled on the wired Microsoft Comfort curve years ago - cheap, spill resistant and very comfy and functional. And the Logitech invisible light, corded, G7. Had both wired and wireless of this version and the wire is seldom a trouble for me.

      I'll grant you, wireless certainly looks nicer and there is the 1 in 100 times where I wish the wires were not in the way or were a bit longer, but cost savings and lack of batteries wins for me.

      Hide the rest of this thread

      1. I note that the version of the G7 that I have is apparently 3 years too old to find online.

        • avatar
        • Jake Howlett
        • Wed 22 Jun 2011 03:38 AM

        Trouble with walk-in closets are that they don't have windows, or do they? You need a source of natural light in an office.

        1. I guess it depends on the whimsy of the closet builder. Your office is about the same size our walk-in is. It has an outside wall... either a window or a light tube could be installed I suppose... cheaper than a new garage perhaps. :-)

          We're thinking about a couple of these for the inner recesses of the home where natural light fails to be strong enough.

          http://www.google.com/search?q=ligh.. ..on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=d934deac8855874e&biw=1440&bih=712

    • avatar
    • Benton
    • Tue 21 Jun 2011 01:06 PM

    Have you ever looked into Synergy so consolidate into a single keyboard and mouse for the multiple systems?

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Wed 22 Jun 2011 04:08 AM

      Not yet. I meant to look in to it when it was suggested the last time I talked about my desk.

      I'll make a point of looking in to it this time. Thanks for the reminder.

      Do you use it? Is it foolproof? Part of me has no faith in the idea of software-based KVM system.

      Show the rest of this thread

    • avatar
    • Barry
    • Wed 22 Jun 2011 06:30 PM

    Jake, check out Synergy http://synergy-foss.org/ - it allows you to control multiple screens and computers from a single keyboard and mouse on your network.

    I've found it quite useful for de-cluttering my desk. YMMMV.



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