In May 2021, I upgraded my home-office to include a 49″ 32:9 ultrawide HDR display and two 4K 32″ Ergo monitors. My office at the school, however, has remained largely the same since I started teaching in 2012. Over the past few months, I finally had the opportunity to upgrade my workplace.
The centerpiece of the office is the monitor. In addition to my 14″ MacBook Pro, I have a total of six external displays.
In the middle is the Samsung 49″ Odyssey G9 Ultrawidescreen monitor. This curved screen is the equivalent of two widescreen monitors, placed side by side. And because of the curvature, the center of the monitors is further away from the desk and the edges are closer. This curvature makes it easier to see more without craning your neck.
I mounted the Odyssey with a floor stand, which allowed me to place the monitor in the corner of the room, behind the desk, about 4-feet high.
Because the monitor is so wide, it was a bit top-heavy. To prevent it from tipping over, I strapped about 20 pounds of ankle-weight to the middle.
To move the Samsung monitor around easily, I placed the mount on a steel dolly designed for washing machines. It can hold up to 500 pounds—enough for a 35-pound monitor. The dolly allows me to easily wheel the monitor into corners
Instead of buying a single U-shaped desk, which didn’t fit the dimensions I needed, I bought five separate black desks. Each desk was a different size, and this corner of my office snuggled perfectly. I put them together like a game of Tetris. (On balance, buying five small desks is much cheaper than buying one large desk of comparable dimensions.) Multiple desks make it easier to access cables. If I ever need to get behind the monitor, I can just pull out a piece of furniture. I put a tall lamp in the corner, which nestles just behind the dolly. This gives a nice sense of depth behind the monitor and also defines the dimensions of the room
Above the lamp, I mounted a convex mirror. Because of the desk setup, my back is to the door. When someone shows up, or knocks, I don’t know who it is. But the mirror lets me take a quick look, and see who’s at the door. The mirror gives me a few extra moments to associate a name with a face when I’m walking around. (I can usually remember my students’ names when they’re in their assigned seats, but it doesn’t always click right out of the classroom.)
In addition to the single Samsung ultrawidescreen monitor, I have four LG DualUp monitors, mounted on the desk. (Two on each side.) Most widescreen monitors use a 16:9 aspect ratio. To use common numbers, a monitor might be 16 inches wide x 9 inches high. That is, the monitor is about 1.7x as long as it is wide. But DualUp uses an unusual 16:18 aspect ratio. For example, the monitor will be 16 inches wide and 18 inches tall. It is about the dimensions of a square, but slightly longer than wide. It’s the first monitor on the market to have that aspect ratio. I absolutely love it! This resolution allows me to show an entire document with footnotes, along with any margins (such as track change comments), without having to scroll up-down or left-to-right. (Scrolling is the biggest waste of time when trying to focus.) In other words, I can see an entire page at a glance. (Like reading a book.) This makes reviewing documents (especially page proofs) much easier. Plus the “Ergo” stand easily clips onto my desk. I can take it in any direction. More generally, none of my mounted monitors take up any actual surface space on the desk. It’s all clear.
The sixth monitor is also the smallest in the setup. Also on the back of my laptop is a small, 12″ monitor made by Eyoyo.
This is my zoom screen. I mount my Logitech HD camera above the zoom screen. That way, when I’m looking at the zoom grid, I’m also looking at the camera. Or to be more specific, I keep my eyes trained on the camera, and in my peripheral vision, I see the zoom grid. Mounting your camera too far from where you’re looking creates an awkward lack of eye contact, which makes zooming even more awkward than before. I can use Eyoyo to view photos or other small items.
I manage this entire six-monitor array with just two USB-C cables from my MacBook Pro. I use two docking stations. And each docking station has three HDMI inputs. All three monitors display in 4K. Pluggable to this device is so, so simple. Truly plug and play. I plugged them in, and all the monitors lit up. The dock also serves as a USB hub, which I use to plug in my camera, microphone, and mouse. The dock also powers my laptop, so I don’t need a separate charger.
So far, I have described my technique. Now I will describe the design of the room itself, which took some thought. First, you may notice there is no paper. Not a sheet. I went paperless over a decade ago, and I’m so glad I did. No chaos. Second, there are no books. Or to be more precise, there is no book that I haven’t written. The bookshelf contains my various titles, mounted on plastic display racks facing outwards. They are for promotion! Third, I have constitutional trinkets, like cans of Milnot condensed milk, bottles of BBQ sauce from Ollie’s, and some personal memorabilia. But otherwise, no mess
I use homel gaming chair. It reclines almost flat, provides support in all the right places and is very comfortable. (No, I don’t play video games.)
The items on the wall also represent important moments in my career. And the items are arranged in (roughly) chronological order. Closest to the bookshelf are my law degree, bar license, and some law school photographs. Along the way are my book covers with meaningful letters I’ve received, articles I’ve published in magazines and newspapers, plaques I’ve received, and one of the CUNY protest signs.
Seeing these physical manifestations of my accomplishments helps remind me of what I’ve accomplished and motivates me to do more.
In the corner is my bobblehead collection. I mounted two display cases designed for bobbleheads. From the Greenbag collection, I have full-size bobbles of White, Blackmun, O’Connor, Scalia, Thomas, Ginsburg, Brier, Roberts, and Alito. And don’t forget Justice Brandeis on the Erie Railroad. I don’t have Rehnquist, Stevens, Kennedy or Souter. I have the Sotomayor certificate, which will be redeemed soon. I have several bobbleheads from the Texas Review of Law and Politics: Paul Clement, Justice Thomas, Judge Pryor, Senator Cotton and Judge Elrod.
Plus I have an assortment of small bobbles, which I put on two, three-layer lazy susans. (When you spin them, they bob!)
One of my students made Randy and me (before I had long hair) bobbles.
I hope you enjoyed this tour. I am very proud that my plan has succeeded.