In May 2021, I upgraded my home office to include a 49″ 32:9 Ultrawide HDR display and two 4K 32″ Ergo monitors. However, my office at the school has mostly remained the same since I started teaching in 2012. Over the past few months, I have finally had the opportunity to upgrade my position.
The central part of the office is the monitors. I have a total of six external displays, in addition to my 14-inch MacBook Pro.
In the middle is the Samsung 49″ Odyssey G9 Ultrawidescreen monitor. This curved display is the equivalent of two widescreen monitors placed side by side. And because of the curvature, the center of the monitor is farther from the table, and the edges are closer. This curvature makes it easier to see more, without having to stretch your neck.
I set up the Odyssey with a floor stand, which allowed me to place the monitor in the corner of the room, behind a desk, at a height of about 4 feet.
Since the monitor is so wide, it was a bit heavy. To prevent it from tipping over, I strapped about 20 pounds of ankle weights around the middle.
To make moving the Samsung monitor easier, I mounted the bracket on a steel cart designed for washing machines. It can support up to 500 pounds of weight – more than enough for a 35-pound monitor. The cart also allowed me to easily drive the monitor all the way into the corner.
Instead of buying one U-shaped table, which wouldn’t really fit the dimensions I needed, I bought five separate black tables. Each desk was a different size and fit perfectly in this corner of my office. I put them together like a game of Tetris. (All in all, buying five small desks is far less expensive than buying one large desk of comparable dimensions.) Multiple desks also make it easier to access cables. If I ever need to stand behind a monitor, I can only pull out one piece of furniture. I placed a tall lamp in the corner, which is located right behind the doll. It provides a nice sense of depth behind the monitor and also indicates the dimensions of the room.
I placed a convex mirror above the lamp. Because of the table setting, my back is to the door. When someone shows up, or knocks, I have no idea who it is. But the mirror allows me to look up quickly to see who is at the door. The mirror gives me a few extra moments to associate the name with the face as I turn around. (I can usually remember my students’ names when they are in their assigned seats, but it doesn’t always click right outside the classroom.)
In addition to one Samsung Ultrawidescreen monitor, I have four LG DualUp monitors, which are mounted on desks. (Two on each side.) Most widescreen monitors use a 16:9 aspect ratio. To use simple numbers, a monitor might be 16 inches wide x 9 inches high. That is, the width of the monitor is approximately 1.7 times greater than the height. But DualUp uses an unusual 16:18 aspect ratio. For example, a monitor would be 16 inches wide and 18 inches tall. It is almost the size of a square, but it is slightly taller than it is wider. This is the first monitor on the market that has such a ratio. I absolutely love it! This resolution allows me to display the entire document, with footnotes, plus any marginalia (such as change tracking comments), without having to scroll up and down or left and right. (Scrolling is one of the biggest time wasters when you’re trying to focus.) In other words, I can see the whole page at a glance. (Kind of like reading a book.) Makes browsing documents (especially page prints) much easier. In addition, the “ergo” stand attaches easily to my desk. I can turn it in any direction. More generally, none of my mounted monitors take up any real desk space. All clear.
The sixth monitor in the setup is also the smallest. Right behind my laptop is a small 12 inch monitor made by Eyoyo.
This is my Zoom screen. I mount my Logitech HD camera right on top of the Zoom screen. That way, when I’m looking at the Zoom network, I’m also looking at the camera. Or to be more precise, I keep my eyes focused on the camera, and in my peripheral vision I see the Zoom network. Placing the camera far away from where you’re looking results in an awkward lack of eye contact, making the Zoom feel clumsier than it is. I can also use the Eyoyo to view photos or other small objects.
I manage this entire array of six monitors 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. This device from Plugable is so, so simple. Truly plug-and-play. I plugged them in and all the monitors lit up. The base also doubles as a USB hub, which I use to connect my camera, microphone and mouse. The dock also powers my laptop, so I don’t need a separate charger.
Here’s what the monitors look like when configured for my settings.
So far I have described my technology. Now I will describe the design of the room itself, which required some thought. First, you may notice that there is no paper. Not a single leaf. I went paperless over ten years ago and I’m very happy about it. No mess. Second, there are no books. More precisely, there is no book that I haven’t written. On the bookshelf are my various titles, placed on plastic shelves facing outwards. They are for promotion! Third, I have constitutional knick-knacks, such as cans of Milnot condensed milk, bottles of BBQ sauce from Ollie’s, and some personal memorabilia. But otherwise, no mess.
I use the Homall Gaming Chair. It lies almost flat, provides support in all the right places and is very comfortable. (No, I don’t play video games.)
The objects on the wall also represent important moments from my career. And the subjects are arranged (roughly) in chronological order. The closest things to a bookshelf are my law degree, law license, and some photos from law school. Along the way, my book covers are accompanied by meaningful letters I’ve received, magazine and newspaper articles I’ve published, plaques I’ve received, and one of CUNY’s protest signs.
Seeing these physical manifestations of my accomplishments helps remind me of what I’ve done and motivates me to do more.
In the corner is my bobblehead collection. I set up two display cases designed for bobbleheads. From the Greenbag collection, I have full size bobbles (in chronological order) of White, Blackmun, O’Connor, Scalia, Thomas, Ginsburg, Bryer, Roberts, and Alito. And don’t forget Justice Brandeis on the Erie Railroad. I have no Rehnquist, Stevens, Kennedy or Souter. I have a Sotomayor certificate, which will be redeemed soon. I also have a couple of chumps from the Texas Review of Law & Politics: Paul Clement, Judge Thomas, Judge Pryor, Senator Cotton, and Judge Elrod.
In addition, I have a few smaller bobbles, which I put on two, three-layer lazy susans. (When you spin them, they swing!)
One of my students did bangs for Randy and me (before I had long hair).
I hope you enjoyed this tour. I am very proud that my plans have come true.