Friday, June 17, 2005

Wine of the Week - June 17

This week I'm savoring a surprisingly mellow California Pinot Noir (2001) from Sutter Home Family Vineyards. It served quite nicely with my Steamed Dumplings dipped in spicy Soy Sauce. I bought the wine on sale for $3.35 and I believe the Steamed Dumplings are $5.99 at the local Chinese take-out place. On a scale of "Swill" to "Superb", this 2001 Pinot Noir falls solidly in the middle with a rating of "Good". I would certainly add this wine to the collection in the cellar, but I wouldn't displace any wines to make room for it there.

Now we get to this week's indulgent exercise in gratuitous self-pity by none other than yours truly. As many of you may have guessed, I was offered and accepted full-time employment. This getting up every morning, at the crack of dawn, shedding my pajamas for suitable "workplace casual", and putting in eight straight, day-in and day-out is really exhausting. On the positive side, I know 90% of everything I need to know to perform my job duties. Most jobs I had taken on a contracting basis, I was learning 60% of what I needed to know and just making the other 40% up as I went along. Now, that was certainly exhausting as well, but I was doing all of that from right here at home in the comfort of my own computer chair.

Speaking of comfort, I have to do something about the keyboard, mouse, and chair they provided me at work. They're fine enough if I were doing a job that didn't require me to have my ass firmly planted in front of my computer typing code most of every hour of every day. For better of for worse, that's exactly the job I have, and their $10 Belkin Keyboard and Mouse econo-combo ain't gonna cut it. And because the programmers are lined up in narrow row of "stalls", they have the keyboards resting on the desktop instead of on a keyboard drawer, elevating the wrists above the elbows. My problem with the chair is pure personal preference. I don't like chairs with arms, because the arms of the chair almost always interfere with the keyboard drawer.

So, if ever you are considering hiring a programmer or someone else who will spend all day literally at a computer, here are my equipment recommendations:

    1. Ergonomic Keyboard/Mouse: Something like the Logitech Comfort or the Microsoft Natural at about $100 per combo are very decent.

    2. Keyboard Drawer/Mouse Pad: I'm not necessarily talking about the wonderful under the desk keyboard contraptions offered by Kensington, a simple keyboard shelf that slides on rails will suffice as long as it keeps the wrists slightly lower than the elbows. However, keep in mind that the keyboard drawer (or shelf) must be wide enough to accomodate the keyboard and the mouse, which is approximately 28 inches wide at a minimum. Also, head down to Staples and pick up a real mouse pad with a built-in wrist rest.

    3. Recessed Arms/Armless Chair: You might be able to find something to fit the bill for under $100, but more than likely, this item is going to run you between $100 and $150 at most stores. Remember, you're looking for a chair that has either no arms or arms that won't block the keyboard drawer from sliding to ideal typing position. The rounded, hoop-style arms on even the most expensive "executive" office chairs make them ill-suited for computer workers.

In summary, if you don't want to drive into the parking lot of your new business, only to find $1000 worth of executive office chairs piled in a useless heap outside the back entrance, then pay attention to detail and buy your computer workers the right equipment, not necessarily the most expensive equipment.


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