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Starting Out - priorities and pratfalls
Categories: Meta, Coding
by Admin on Thursday, February 10th, 2011 at 21:47:08

It occurred to me in a moment of introspection that I, probably like many others, had my priorities set entirely wrong when I populated my very first apartment with... well, with stuff. And later on, my first home. If I knew then, what I know now. Sigh.

Well, can't fix that, but I can sure issue some good advice that others can benefit from if they so choose.

First, and most important, and in this order: Pick the bed you want, first buy the best mattress you can find for it, then buy good sheets, pillows and bedding, and finally, buy the bed itself. You're going to spend a lot of time on that bed, and the quality of that time will directly influence everything else in your life.

Secondly, if you work with computers as I do, there are five things you don't want to skimp on, no matter what. Don't even try.

  1. Get a good desk chair. Stronger than it needs to be, thick cushion (5" is good), provides any back support you think you need, etc. Again, you spend lots of time there, and a bad chair will affect everything you do.
  2. Next, get a good monitor. Large, sharp, and a DPI you can live with. Ultra fine DPI can result in eyestrain, especially if you don't control all the font sizes (and we never do, the web is the perfect example... the change from HTML where the user had control to CSS where the website often takes control... awfully hard on the eyes, and more so as you get older.) Also, if you find yourself with lots of windows open, get a second (and perhaps a third and a fourth) monitor. The value of the extra real estate simply can't be described to those who haven't become used to it. That's if you can't simply get a larger monitor. One surface beats multiple surfaces, all other things being equal.
  3. Get a good keyboard. Sure, you can get one for $15, but... don't. The best keyboards use mechanical switches, have decent travel, click when they create a character, support n-key rollover, and generally will not be a source of annoyance or errors. I'm a huge Mac fan, but Macs — both desktop and portables — come with absolutely the worst keyboards on the planet. Squishy little chiclet keys. Ugh. Ditch that hunk of garbage.
  4. Lots of memory/
  5. Lots of CPU speed.

These things combine to make the whole of your experience better — often by a considerable margin — and so your work product is better and your level of satisfaction while working is much higher. And in the end, you'll make more money and be happier.

After you get those things handled, it's time to buy forks and spoons, a refrigerator, underwear, etc. No, don't thank me. You're not going to follow my advice anyway. But I'll tell you what: Years from now, you may suddenly remember what I wrote, and if you do, you're going to smack yourself in the head because you didn't do exactly what I said. 🙂

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