3 min read

My office setup - Part 3 (US edition)

Optimizing my home office space for a work-from-home/hybrid setup became a bit of a hobby during the pandemic, and since returning to the USA from Australia in 2021 I've essentially replicated the successful aspects of the Sydney setup, with a few modifications.
If you haven't read Part 1 and Part 2 yet, it's a useful primer on the thinking behind this setup, and it covers some of the stuff that I haven't explicitly listed here.

I posted a picture of my USA home office setup on Instagram recently and got an immediate flurry of "what is this" and "why'd you choose that" questions from folks, so I figured I'd continue tradition and give a bit of an update.

If you haven't read Part 1 and Part 2 yet, the tl;dr: The USA is home, but I also have a home base in Sydney, Australia. Optimizing my home office space for a work-from-home/hybrid setup became a bit of a hobby whilst bugged-in, and subsequently stranded in Oz during the pandemic.  I required a highly functional setup that was flexible enough to adapt to the dynamically changing nature of work, and I didn't have a lot of time to get it up and running. It was crucial to get it operational swiftly, considering the uncertain timeline for our return to the USA. To ensure we didn't go overboard, I established strict budget and availability objectives, and this forced thoughtful design and product choices.

When Australian travel restrictions started to relax in late-2021 I returned home to California, and have since basically replicated the successful aspects of the setup we had in Sydney (with a few modifications... which is mostly what this blog post is about).

  1. This is Number One because everybody asks about it: It's a TMP-100 teleprompter driven by a Lilliput A11 10.1" screen. I used to drive it with an iPad but found myself getting progressively more frustrated with the lag, the need to keep it charged, and it's reliance on an application to do image inversion - The Lilliput let's you horizontally flip the image natively, and plugs in directly via HDMI. Easy-peasy. Behind the glass is a Canon m200 digital SLR with a nifty-fifty lens on it, which is connected via HDMI into an Elgato Camstick. I ran this directly via USB using the Canon webcam drivers in Sydney, but once again I'm revealing my preference for purpose-built hardware over hacky software when reliability is a key requirement.
  2. LG 32" ultrawide curved monitor of some variety - I used to hate curved monitors but when I brought this one home from the office the whole idea started to grow on me.
  3. Macbook Pro M1 13". I use a 13" M2 Macbook Air for my roadie and daily driver these days, but MBA's don't have a HDMI output and can only drive one external monitor. The laptop pictured here might as well be a desktop in terms of how I use it.
  4. Google Home. I still love this thing for photo frames and memories, as an always-on clock, and for Pomodoro timing.
  5. Rode Procaster, Rode boom stand, Cloudlifter preamp, Rode Caster Pro 2 preamp. I moved from the Focusrite 2i2 to the Caster Pro 2 because I tend to move around a lot and wanted a preamp with onboard compression, as well as easily accessible controls.
  6. Simple lights... Elgato Keylight Air's. I actually brought these back from Australia with me. I talk about them more in previous posts.
  7. This monitor is off for this pic, but it's powered by something special: MagicMirror on a Raspberry Pi 4. MagicMirror is basically my "heads-up display" and is highly configurable setup transforms an ordinary screen into an interactive, customized display, showcasing everything from the time and weather to calendar and task lists.
  8. This is a little hook on the side of the desk for stuff that I want to have "in-sight, in-mind, or on-hand" - Car keys, earbuds, belt-knife and Leatherman, and so-on.
  9. Another standout piece is the Roland TD-1K electric drum kit. While it appears dormant, not even plugged in, it serves a purpose - This compact kit provides tactile feedback, akin to a full-sized drum set, and acts as a meditative break from work, an opportunity for movement and fitness, a good way to keep my chops up to date, and a source of inspiration.
  10. I've talked a little about making time for the special things in previous posts - Behind me in this picture is a slew of speaker and conference lanyards, a massive DEF CON flag, frames with news articles and other things I'm proud of, as well as an Elgato Green Screen hanging from the ceiling for if and when I'm ever on a call where I want to switch into "super formal business-Casey mode" - It's a tad messy, but that's to make for a visually appealing background. The forward-facing real estate is significantly less cluttered, with an emphasis on things that make me smile: A framed Grace Hopper t-shirt, a painting precious to me (similar to the Australian Phoenix Rising artwork I have in Sydney), and a hexagonal pencil-holder I received as a present many years ago from a great friend. There's no shortage of "little smiles" in my area of view between them and my view out the window towards Mt Diablo.

There you have it... If you've got any questions, hit me up via Twitter at https://twitter.com/caseyjohnellis!