Under the Radar

3: Ergonomics


00:00:00   Welcome back to Under the Radar,

00:00:01   a show about independent iOS development.

00:00:03   I am Marco Arment.

00:00:04   - And I'm David Smith.

00:00:06   Under the Radar is never longer than 30 minutes,

00:00:08   so let's get started.

00:00:10   Our goal for Under the Radar is for it to be

00:00:13   a show that covers all of the various aspects

00:00:15   of what it means to be a developer,

00:00:18   whether that independent or working in a corporate job.

00:00:20   Like, we wanna talk a lot about all the various things

00:00:23   that are important to people who are in development jobs.

00:00:25   And so in our first episode, we talked about

00:00:28   something that was more business oriented,

00:00:29   we talked about something more coding last week. This week, we're going to take a slightly

00:00:32   softer topic, but our goal is to kind of make sure that we're covering a lot of things and

00:00:35   we're not just diving into one thing too much. And hopefully that makes it a lot more interesting

00:00:40   and a bit more varied to listen to. And so this week, we're going to talk about making

00:00:46   your ideal work environment and what that looks like for us, the experiences we've had

00:00:51   in setting that up, as well as just kind of like things that you should be thinking about

00:00:55   because being a developer is kind of a funny job. We go to work by sitting, you know, we

00:01:01   go into an office, whatever that looks like, we sit down in a chair and we push buttons

00:01:05   on a keyboard and a mouse. And at the end of that, out comes some code. And that's our

00:01:10   profession. But as a result, like the way in which we spend our time when we're sitting

00:01:16   for, you know, 40, 50, 60 hours a week, or whatever your particular work environment

00:01:20   looks like, the way in which we do that is very important. Because if it doesn't make

00:01:24   us the most productive, we're kind of shooting ourselves in the foot. And along those lines,

00:01:29   there's also things like ergonomics and problems with RSI and things that I know myself are

00:01:33   worried about and have had some problems with that I wanted to sort of dive into. But so

00:01:38   Marco, what is your current ideal work environment look like?

00:01:43   So basically, I've set up my home office because I work only from home. I don't have any other

00:01:48   offices that I go to or work from. And that's a whole other topic that we might be able

00:01:53   to get to today but we'll certainly talk about in the future. I have a desk that I

00:01:58   maybe I didn't quite steal it. I negotiated it as part of my exit from Tumblr, which is

00:02:05   an electrically raising and lowering desk. I love having the standing desk because a

00:02:09   while ago I developed some pretty bad back problems. I was taking way too many road trips

00:02:15   and was basically spending way too much time in cars over a span of about a year. And so

00:02:21   I eventually developed lower back problems.

00:02:24   I had a herniated disc and everything,

00:02:26   so in order to avoid that and to kind of fix that,

00:02:29   I had to make a bunch of changes in my life,

00:02:31   one of which was for almost a year, I think,

00:02:35   I exclusively stood while working.

00:02:38   And at first, I had rigged this up

00:02:40   by stacking two six-packs stacked

00:02:43   with IKEA bookshelves spanning across them.

00:02:47   So it ends up that is about the height difference

00:02:49   that you can put a keyboard and mouse on,

00:02:51   and then another set of those on the back for the monitor to kind of make a makeshift

00:02:56   standing desk from one that is normally a sitting desk.

00:02:59   And then eventually we decided to make it official and get really nice electric ones

00:03:03   because everyone else in the office wanted them too.

00:03:05   And it's nice to be able to convert easily back and forth between standing and sitting.

00:03:09   So you can do things like stand in the morning and then when you're tired in the afternoon

00:03:12   you can sit for the afternoon.

00:03:13   It's nice to have that kind of variety if you have any kind of back problem.

00:03:16   And it's also just like, you know, probably slightly better for you.

00:03:19   There's various studies, most of which are conflicting and inconclusive like most studies,

00:03:23   but yeah.

00:03:24   It's probably a good thing to mix standing with sitting in your day if you can, however,

00:03:29   whatever form that takes.

00:03:31   I also had RSI scares earlier.

00:03:33   So a long time ago I switched from regular, you know, kind of keyboards to the split ergonomic

00:03:39   keyboard layout.

00:03:40   Originally it was the Microsoft Natural something something 4000, and I used those for a long

00:03:46   time.

00:03:47   and then a couple years ago now,

00:03:50   or maybe one or two years ago now,

00:03:51   they released the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard,

00:03:55   which is kind of an update to it,

00:03:56   and it's another split ergo keyboard,

00:03:59   and I like it a lot.

00:04:00   I reviewed it on my site.

00:04:01   I'll add links to show notes so you can see all these.

00:04:03   I've tried other ergonomic keyboards as well,

00:04:05   including the Kinesis Freestyle 2 and the Mattias Ergo Pro,

00:04:09   and they're both very good as well.

00:04:12   I still prefer the Sculpt, but anyway,

00:04:14   switching to an ergo keyboard really was

00:04:17   one of the biggest things to help me with RSI issues.

00:04:20   And after that switch, I no longer have any pain,

00:04:23   almost ever, since, I don't know, 10 years ago

00:04:26   when I made that switch, I have occasionally tried

00:04:28   to switch back to a non-split keyboard,

00:04:31   or I've gone on trips where I have to bring a laptop

00:04:33   and I'm using a laptop keyboard more heavily than usual.

00:04:37   And every time I switch to a non-split keyboard,

00:04:39   even for a few days, I do start getting pain again.

00:04:43   And so now I just know about myself

00:04:45   but this is just something that I will probably not

00:04:48   be able to ever switch back to full time

00:04:50   to like the regular layout.

00:04:51   Which of course has, you know,

00:04:53   a lot of interesting ramifications

00:04:54   with things like working from iPads and stuff like that.

00:04:56   But my physical layout is standing desk,

00:04:59   most of which I usually am sitting at it these days.

00:05:02   I don't stand often anymore,

00:05:04   but sometimes I'll put it up to stands.

00:05:06   But most of the time I'm sitting,

00:05:08   I'm sitting on a Herman Miller Embody chair.

00:05:10   Get a good chair.

00:05:11   How many chairs do you buy in your life?

00:05:12   Like really?

00:05:13   Well, if you do my previous method of buying them from Staples and they're like 60 bucks,

00:05:18   then the number might be pretty high.

00:05:19   But when you get a good chair, you tend to keep it for like 10 years at least.

00:05:23   The Herman Miller Embody is great.

00:05:25   The Aeron is also very good.

00:05:27   I think the Embody is better, but you know, it's up to you.

00:05:30   Go to a fancy chair store and try them out.

00:05:31   But yeah, that's basically it.

00:05:34   Standing desk, Herman Miller Embody chair, and split keyboard, and the Apple Magic Mouse,

00:05:39   which everybody hates.

00:05:40   Yeah, I was about to actually say it's like I have a very similar setup. I have the same

00:05:45   chair and keyboard, but mouse-wise, what I found is actually gaming mice are really great

00:05:51   for development work, which is a funny thing to say because there are all kinds of... I

00:05:56   think the mouse I have is this thing. It's like the Razer DeathAdder 8000 or something.

00:06:01   I mean, they always have these very scary sounding names. It's something terrifying,

00:06:07   but...

00:06:08   Is it full of blue LEDs?

00:06:09   I had a choice, I could get a model with or without the LED, and I opted to get the non-LED

00:06:13   version just for stylistic reasons.

00:06:19   What I love about a mouse like that though is it has some incredibly light touch on the

00:06:23   buttons.

00:06:24   Because obviously if you're playing some kind of first person shooter and you're clicking

00:06:29   that button lots and lots of times, you need a very light trigger.

00:06:31   It's sort of like it has a feather trigger on it, which I found to be really nice.

00:06:37   is like the Apple mice, I have a whole closet of them

00:06:41   because they think you get one every time you buy an iMac.

00:06:44   But I've never used one because they're just,

00:06:46   it feels like I'm trying to like, I don't even know,

00:06:49   it's like hold on to this bar of soap or something.

00:06:51   Like it's clenching my hand in a really awkward way.

00:06:54   But otherwise, yeah, I have a very similar setup for you

00:06:59   as I have a desk that, I have a desk that I got,

00:07:01   the IKEA standing desk, so it has like the motor thing

00:07:05   and it's like the IKEA thing, it was a couple hundred dollars

00:07:07   I think it wasn't all that expensive. I've never used it standing. I got it

00:07:11   When I needed a new desk and I was like well

00:07:13   I'm gonna pay the few extra hundred dollars to get a standing mode so that if I need to at some point or it becomes something

00:07:18   That I want to do I can

00:07:20   I've always found standing to feel a bit awkward

00:07:22   like I don't know if I just feel like I've gotten so used to I sit down when I work and like breaking the habit of

00:07:28   Like sitting down and standing up doesn't feel like working

00:07:32   Which is I mean, I'd be a bit weird, but I have it there just in case of course

00:07:36   The other amusing thing about my working setup that I wanted to mention is the thing that I've seen most

00:07:41   People who end up complaining about problems with ergonomics or problems in my experience. It's one of two things

00:07:47   They're using a regular keyboard and they need to try using a split keyboard

00:07:51   Or they're their screen is too low down because I for some reason

00:07:57   I don't really know who Apple is designing their their

00:08:00   computers for. All of their computers, like most specifically the iMac or the cinema displays,

00:08:06   the stands are ridiculously short. The computer is only, if you just put it on its own stand,

00:08:12   it would be like four or five inches above the table. And for every, for almost every, you know,

00:08:16   for unless you have a very strangely proportioned torso, that means that you're going to be looking down at the

00:08:23   screen all day. And that's terrible for you.

00:08:27   Like, it's sort of, I noticed this myself whenever I would have to, like, I'm forced

00:08:30   to work from a laptop for more than a few hours, because typically I never use a laptop

00:08:35   except for like when I'm at, you know, like at a conference for a week or WWDC, something

00:08:38   like that, where I have to, I have to use a laptop, but I immediately noticed like my

00:08:42   shoulders get all tight.

00:08:44   I'll start to get like pain in my neck and all kinds of things because you're looking

00:08:47   down.

00:08:48   So for me, I kind of, I don't even know if I should say this, but I kind of, I'm kind

00:08:53   of a hoarder of Apple packaging.

00:08:55   So every Apple device I've ever bought, I have the packaging for still.

00:08:59   But so my iMac is stacked on a MacBook Pro box, which on top of that is an iPad box and

00:09:06   it's sort of laid, it's sort of put on there and I have a strap over it to keep it together.

00:09:12   But it raises it up by maybe about six inches or so.

00:09:16   And for me, that's perfect.

00:09:17   So that like, I'm the one thing I remember when I was back when I was in college, I had

00:09:22   had this really, this random mandatory class

00:09:26   that all the computer science majors had to take

00:09:28   that was basically how to not end up hurting yourself

00:09:32   being a software engineer.

00:09:33   They were talking about all these things,

00:09:34   about ergonomics and about how you work life types of things

00:09:39   but the biggest thing I remember they said is,

00:09:41   would you wanna look,

00:09:42   when you set up your work environment,

00:09:44   there should be no tension in any part of you.

00:09:47   Everything should be neutral.

00:09:48   Your elbows should be at a nice 90 degree angle,

00:09:50   your shoulders should be relaxed,

00:09:52   your legs should be at a nice 90 degree angle,

00:09:54   like everything, nothing should be in tension.

00:09:56   And the only way I've ever been able to do that

00:09:58   is to lift my iMac up, put my keyboard at normal,

00:10:01   at like, this is actually a nice thing

00:10:02   about having a standing desk,

00:10:03   is you can make your table height whatever you want.

00:10:05   So like my table height is nice and low,

00:10:07   and for me I found that to work really well.

00:10:10   - Yeah, definitely.

00:10:11   And that's like, this is one of the worries

00:10:13   I have about our industry in general,

00:10:14   but although this problem usually kind of solved itself

00:10:17   through force, through RSI and neck and shoulder problems,

00:10:21   is that it seems like the default developer workstation

00:10:26   has shifted over the last 10 years.

00:10:28   It used to be a desktop computer,

00:10:31   but now I think for almost every working developer

00:10:35   that I've encountered in real life,

00:10:37   they're almost always working on a laptop full-time.

00:10:39   - It's a 15-inch MacBook Pro, right?

00:10:41   - Exactly. - That's what everyone has.

00:10:42   - That is like the workhorse computer.

00:10:44   It's not the new MacBook One, it's not the MacBook Air,

00:10:47   it isn't even the 13.

00:10:48   The most common computer by far

00:10:50   that I see developers using is the 15 inch MacBook Pro.

00:10:53   And even if they're like web developers,

00:10:54   even if they're not even iOS developers,

00:10:55   even if they're web developers or something else,

00:10:57   it's a 15 inch MacBook Pro, almost always.

00:11:00   But the problem is so many developers work full time

00:11:05   on a laptop sitting on a desk without external stuff,

00:11:08   just like on the laptop itself.

00:11:10   And if it's somebody I know who I wouldn't mind

00:11:13   ribbing a bit, I'll ask them, so by any chance,

00:11:14   do you have neck and shoulder soreness or problems?

00:11:18   'Cause hunching over a laptop is really not good long term,

00:11:21   as you said, like it, you really should be looking

00:11:24   straight ahead, you should be looking at,

00:11:26   you should be typing on a keyboard that is,

00:11:28   you know, by proper ergonomics,

00:11:29   the keyboard needs to be fairly far from the screen.

00:11:32   So it's kind of impossible to get good ergonomics

00:11:35   out of a laptop.

00:11:36   If you have a laptop and you're working

00:11:38   at the same desk every day, one setup I did,

00:11:40   the setup I did for years when I was working on a laptop

00:11:43   was you'd have the external keyboard, mouse,

00:11:45   and monitor, and the laptop would be propped up

00:11:49   on a stand next to it.

00:11:50   So the laptop would be the second monitor.

00:11:52   The external monitor would be the primary,

00:11:55   and then you'd have the keyboard and mouse.

00:11:56   So you can simulate a really nice desktop

00:12:00   by using a laptop with external peripherals and a stand.

00:12:04   And if you're gonna be working on a laptop full-time,

00:12:06   that is by far the setup I recommend,

00:12:08   'cause you get double the screen space,

00:12:10   you don't have to deal with the weirdness

00:12:11   of the laptop working in clamshell mode,

00:12:13   which is never good.

00:12:14   It's always a hack, it's always unreliable.

00:12:17   There's occasionally some heat issues

00:12:18   or some melting the screen issues.

00:12:20   - It's not good.

00:12:22   - No, it's not, it's really, it's not reliably good.

00:12:25   But having the side-by-side on a stand setup is great.

00:12:29   And if you have to work on a laptop full-time,

00:12:31   that is the way to do it ergonomically.

00:12:33   And I wonder about how this ends up working with,

00:12:37   like, if we have a future where we're working

00:12:39   more on iOS devices, you know, the smartphone,

00:12:43   I'm not too worried about the ergonomics of smartphones,

00:12:46   but that might also have the kind of neck looking down issue.

00:12:51   I am a little concerned about what happens

00:12:53   if we get really into tablets as an industry,

00:12:55   of working on tablets, because you use your hands

00:13:00   on a tablet keyboard the way you would

00:13:03   on a desktop keyboard.

00:13:04   Like on a smartphone, you're using your thumbs.

00:13:06   So it's a whole different position.

00:13:08   And a smartphone I don't think would be fatiguing

00:13:10   in the same way because of the way you're holding it

00:13:13   in your hand seems like a very natural position

00:13:15   for your hand to be in.

00:13:16   - Yeah, your fingers are fairly neutral.

00:13:18   - Exactly.

00:13:18   On a small tablet, you're probably doing the same thing.

00:13:20   On a big tablet, you might be doing on-screen typing,

00:13:23   touch typing style, or you might be using

00:13:25   an external keyboard, and that, I think,

00:13:28   is gonna have ergonomic challenges,

00:13:30   similar to what laptops have, if not a little bit worse,

00:13:32   'cause everything's a little bit more cramped.

00:13:33   And we don't yet know the long-term ergonomics

00:13:37   of these things.

00:13:37   We've had computers, like PC-style computers,

00:13:40   We've had those for decades to be able to study the ergonomics of long-term use and

00:13:46   the effects of this use.

00:13:48   We've had so much time to study this and to figure out good ergonomic practices on

00:13:52   this and what's good and what's not.

00:13:54   With all these new devices that we have, they're just too young.

00:13:56   We just haven't had the time yet to figure out what happens ergonomically if you work

00:14:00   on a tablet for 10 hours a day for 10 years.

00:14:02   We just don't know yet.

00:14:04   And I'm a little scared if the industry moves more towards these things, that actually

00:14:08   makes it harder to get good ergonomics.

00:14:11   'Cause the world of desktops and laptops and PCs,

00:14:15   every person can kind of pick what works for them

00:14:17   and mix and match and there's tons of availability

00:14:19   of things you can do, keyboards you can use,

00:14:22   mice you can use, arrangements of the setup,

00:14:24   kinds of setups, there's all this variety.

00:14:27   As we move towards these kind of all-in-one integrated

00:14:30   devices and iPads and phones and everything,

00:14:32   I feel like the amount of variety possible

00:14:35   is substantially smaller.

00:14:36   As we keep moving towards everything must be as small and thin and light as possible,

00:14:42   small and thin and light are often in conflict with good ergonomics, which is one of the

00:14:47   problems Apple has with the design of its product.

00:14:49   As you mentioned, the whole reason the iMac and Cinema Display stand is so short is because

00:14:55   it looks worse when it's taller.

00:14:57   It doesn't look as nice.

00:14:59   And that's why it's short, to make it look better.

00:15:03   And oftentimes, proper ergonomics don't look that good.

00:15:05   it's always this balance that has to be struck.

00:15:07   And I hope by talking about it here,

00:15:10   I think my main hope is that people,

00:15:13   especially young people, for whom it's not too late yet,

00:15:16   I hope that people really take seriously

00:15:19   their own ergonomics because the problems

00:15:22   can accumulate quickly.

00:15:24   I first had RSI pain after only about a year and a half

00:15:29   of working full-time as a programmer.

00:15:31   I was like 23 or something.

00:15:32   I was very young still.

00:15:34   And it came on immediately.

00:15:35   It was so quick.

00:15:36   I developed my back problem when I was only like 25.

00:15:41   This stuff can happen when you're young, and the earlier you catch it, the better.

00:15:46   And the earlier you develop good habits, the better.

00:15:48   Yeah, and I had a similar experience.

00:15:51   Very early on in my career, I discovered that if I typed for...

00:15:55   Especially after a session where you really get in the zone, and you're really working,

00:15:59   and you have the days where you look up, and it's like, "Wow, I've just been sitting in

00:16:04   exactly the same position for five hours straight. Like I

00:16:06   haven't moved, because I've been so focused on what it is I'm

00:16:09   building, which is awesome, like from a development perspective,

00:16:12   then I'd like get up and it's like, how like that, like it

00:16:15   hurts. And then you start to have the thoughts of it's like,

00:16:17   if I can't type like I can't, I can't do my job. Like it's it's

00:16:21   a kind of one of those scary, like disability type of things.

00:16:25   Like if I if I ended up hurting myself, like it would be like my

00:16:28   hands are what I use to make my to do to do my work. Like I

00:16:31   can't, there's there's not really, I'm sure that I could

00:16:33   workout ways around it, but it's such a vital thing. Like you said, the reason I wanted

00:16:39   this early topic for me is it's an important thing. It's one of the few things that as

00:16:45   a profession, professionally you have to take care of yourself with because if you lose

00:16:50   the ability to type or to type comfortably, it's going to be a pretty serious problem.

00:16:57   And all of these types of pain, whether it's like wrist style pain or neck and shoulder

00:17:02   or back pain, all of those things come on very slowly and then leave very slowly. These

00:17:09   aren't like, "Oh, I'm sore for one day," and then it's normal. They could last weeks

00:17:13   or months. And it's over weeks or months that the bad habits get built and that the

00:17:17   problem gets exacerbated. Again, they come on slowly and they leave slowly. So it is

00:17:22   important like feeling any wrist or neck or back pain is not normal like if you

00:17:28   feel any of that pain after any day you're doing something wrong and so

00:17:32   there's always room for improvement you know the more you move around during the

00:17:35   day you'll help your back how you sit if you sit like with good posture if that

00:17:40   helps a lot how you use or don't use armrests and wrist rests if you have a

00:17:46   keyboard it look please use a split keyboard if you can if you can't or

00:17:51   refuse to, at minimum, please do not use the feet on the back of the keyboard that elevate

00:17:57   it up. Because that is working against you so hard. Any keyboard you type on should be

00:18:03   either flat or should actually be what they call negative tilted, which is that the front

00:18:08   of it should be higher than the back. Which no keyboard has that option that I know of,

00:18:13   except natural keyboards to do that. That is like the more comfortable and better for

00:18:18   for RSI angle that a keyboard should be at.

00:18:20   The feet on the back that prop it up

00:18:22   that all of us used in the 90s and 2000s

00:18:24   'cause we didn't know any better,

00:18:25   if you're typing upwards on a keyboard

00:18:27   that's the back of it is higher than the front,

00:18:30   you're actually making your wrist tilt

00:18:31   in a horrible position that can really exacerbate problems

00:18:35   and bring on RSI faster.

00:18:37   And it's just like this kind of basic stuff like this,

00:18:39   a lot of people just don't know this.

00:18:41   If you have a properly aligned keyboard

00:18:45   and you have your monitor at the correct height

00:18:47   and your desk is at the correct height,

00:18:50   even if you don't have a fancy electric

00:18:51   raising and lowering desk, you can probably adjust

00:18:53   the legs in your desk to different heights,

00:18:55   so most desks have that.

00:18:56   Having the proper height of everything,

00:18:58   just the basics of that, that is so important

00:19:01   and it goes so far.

00:19:02   And for many people, myself included,

00:19:04   these minor changes or caring about these few minor areas,

00:19:09   that's all you need to prevent RSI.

00:19:11   And I don't know what my future holds,

00:19:13   but I know I've been able to work now full time

00:19:15   for what, 10 years at least?

00:19:18   And I only had RSI issues that first year,

00:19:22   and only until I made these changes, and now I'm fine.

00:19:25   So really, they can have a big difference.

00:19:27   - And one thing that's also probably worth mentioning

00:19:28   is in my experience, I haven't had a corporate job

00:19:31   in a long time, but whenever I did,

00:19:33   any time I went to my boss and said,

00:19:34   "Hey, I'm having some RSI-related things,

00:19:37   "could I get a different keyboard,

00:19:40   "could I get a different stand for my laptop?"

00:19:41   Like every time, they like fall over themselves

00:19:44   to take care of it for me,

00:19:45   because from their perspective, it sounds like a horrible workers comp liability situation.

00:19:49   If all of a sudden it's like, "So I was working, doing the job with the equipment

00:19:55   you provided for me, and now I'm unable to work," that's their problem in a pretty

00:20:00   serious way.

00:20:01   Yeah, and this stuff isn't expensive.

00:20:03   Yeah, and if you're independent, spend the money on this. I remember when I was first

00:20:07   starting out, buying a chair that was like, I don't even know, an embodied chair is

00:20:11   at least a grand.

00:20:12   Yeah, I think it's like $1,300 or something.

00:20:14   - Yeah, it's an expensive thing when you're starting out,

00:20:16   but it's like, if I don't get a good chair,

00:20:19   I'm just gonna end up regretting it later.

00:20:22   It's kind of one of these things that you have to

00:20:24   just sort of invest in because you're gonna spend

00:20:25   so many hours sitting in this chair every day.

00:20:30   - Yeah, and we're not saying that the only good chair

00:20:33   is $1,300, but when you spend good money in this area

00:20:37   to get something really, really good,

00:20:39   that is a good use of money.

00:20:41   So it's not like totally required that you can't get

00:20:44   you worked on until you spend two grand on your physical office set up or whatever. But

00:20:48   it is money well spent if you can. And stuff like a natural keyboard, I mean, that's like

00:20:52   it's a natural keyboards like 50 bucks, like it's not a ton of money compared to a computer.

00:20:57   So that like that kind of stuff, changing your monitor height can usually be free. If

00:21:02   you can find some apple boxes that haven't been thinned out too much. That can usually

00:21:06   be free. You know, stuff like that. These small changes, putting down those stupid stands

00:21:11   on the back of your keyboard is also free.

00:21:14   Most of the stuff you can do very easily.

00:21:17   This episode of Under the Radar is brought to you by NS Screencast.

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00:22:09   it's an awesome tool. And it reminded me a lot of actually of a, the way in which I,

00:22:14   and back in the day, I learned how to program on Ruby on Rails, which is there was a similar

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00:22:23   to sort of like sign up for things and like buy videos. It's like, come on, I can like

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00:22:34   I signed up and I found that it was compressing dramatically the time it took for me to learn

00:22:38   because watching somebody else who knows what they're doing show you how to do the thing that you're trying to learn is just so much more powerful and effective from a time perspective than ever sort of slogging through it yourself or maybe eventually you'll get there but from an efficiency perspective from respecting your own time perspective something like this a resource like this is very powerful.

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00:23:08   and Relay FM.

00:23:09   - All right, and I think the last sort of topic

00:23:12   along our ideal work environment,

00:23:14   it seemed like we couldn't sort of wade into this topic

00:23:17   without at least barely slightly touching on

00:23:19   the things that we listen to while we code,

00:23:21   'cause I think one of the most universal things

00:23:23   about programmers is if you go into an office,

00:23:26   if you're trying to find where the development team is,

00:23:28   always the group of people just in a line wearing headphones, that there's something

00:23:33   about developers that we just love to listen to things. And I know you're a bit of your

00:23:37   headphone tastes are quite refined. But I was just curious, what do you normally listen

00:23:45   to? And how does that go for you when you're when you're developing?

00:23:48   I mean, to me, it's it's all about isolation, right? And that's why developers wear headphones

00:23:53   while they're working most of the time, if they're working in an office, because you

00:23:57   You need quiet, you need isolation so you can concentrate. And private offices are probably

00:24:02   way better for this. I don't know, I've never worked in one. But the open plan, which

00:24:06   is where I think most developers find themselves working these days, is so hard to get any

00:24:11   work done if you don't have some kind of isolating headphones with music playing. So

00:24:15   I think working in silence is probably better if you could actually get silence. But in

00:24:21   the absence of that option, when you're working in an open plan, the best thing you

00:24:25   can do is, first of all, if you can help it, find a seat or a desk that does not face the

00:24:31   door so that as people come in and out you aren't constantly visually distracted. But

00:24:36   yes, also then when you're listening to, you know, put headphones on, block out the sound,

00:24:41   and put on something. And I don't really care what it is. What helps the most is if you

00:24:47   put on music that you don't have to really think about for a while. So like shuffle is

00:24:52   is bad. Because if you're shuffling through your whole music library, you're going to

00:24:55   have these constant jarring transitions between songs. And there's going to be some songs

00:24:59   that come on that you don't want to hear right now, so you're going to have to skip them.

00:25:01   And all that is distracting. What I like to do is put on something that is going to play

00:25:06   straight through, no shuffle, long shows or long albums, that are going to play straight

00:25:10   through that I already know, so I'm not going to have to think about it, and that won't

00:25:16   be distracting, and that will provide a nice constant level of noise, not something super

00:25:20   or quiet that will not be as good at blocking out the sound.

00:25:24   And for me, that is Phish.

00:25:26   Lots and lots of Phish.

00:25:27   For many reasons, I've talked about a lot in other places,

00:25:29   so I'm not gonna go too far into it here.

00:25:31   First of all, I just like it.

00:25:32   But second of all, Phish provides these live show sales.

00:25:36   Every concert they do, you can buy it as a live show.

00:25:40   It's nice because it's just different enough each time

00:25:43   that it doesn't feel like you're listening

00:25:44   to the same album on repeat, but it's the same enough,

00:25:47   They're still the same songs generally that you know.

00:25:50   So it's the same enough that it isn't super distracting.

00:25:52   And they're long shows.

00:25:54   You can buy hours and hours and hours of fish shows

00:25:58   new ones every year that come out.

00:26:01   So it provides what I want,

00:26:03   which is that kind of straight through playback

00:26:06   of something that I can just jump in, hit play,

00:26:08   and then not think about it

00:26:09   for the next three hours as I work.

00:26:11   And it's there, it's consistent, it's nice,

00:26:14   I like it, I enjoy it, it's motivating for me,

00:26:18   and it really serves to help me keep focused.

00:26:20   - Yeah, and it's funny, 'cause I think I am,

00:26:22   so similar, I like the isolation,

00:26:24   I like kind of something to keep my mind,

00:26:26   it's almost like I wanna activate

00:26:28   and have a certain part of my brain active

00:26:29   that isn't my development part, but it keeps it busy,

00:26:32   so I'm not thinking about it.

00:26:33   For me, I listen to cheesy pop music.

00:26:35   Like, as cheesy as can be, like,

00:26:37   like, that's what I love, and I don't know why,

00:26:40   I think like the peppiness of it is really helpful to me,

00:26:43   but you just gotta find something that'll keep your brain

00:26:46   engaged in what it's doing without being distracted

00:26:49   by other things.

00:26:50   And you just find it, you put it on,

00:26:53   and then yeah, it's like what does it say?

00:26:54   You plug in and off you go.

00:26:57   - Exactly, and 'cause we work in these long bursts.

00:27:00   Programmers tend to work in these big chunks of time

00:27:02   where some people call it being in the zone,

00:27:04   whatever you call it, this is generally how almost

00:27:07   every program works that I've ever heard of or talked to.

00:27:09   And so you can't be in a constantly interrupted environment.

00:27:13   You can't be like in an open environment

00:27:15   where everyone's asking you questions every five minutes

00:27:17   or you have to get up constantly to go do something

00:27:19   or you have to keep going in and out of meetings all day.

00:27:21   It's very hard to get good programming work done

00:27:23   in that kind of environment.

00:27:24   So anything you can do to keep yourself in the zone,

00:27:27   keep yourself focused usually is worth it.

00:27:29   Good closed headphones, I'll put a link in the show notes

00:27:31   to my favorite closed pair, which is only like 150 bucks,

00:27:34   the Audio Technica ATH-M50X, and it's good closed headphones

00:27:39   with good music that you like

00:27:41   you don't have to think much about that can last for a long time at moderate volume. Please

00:27:45   don't blow your ears out because that's another thing that does not grow back over time. So

00:27:49   please keep it at moderate volume just enough to block out the world not enough to blast

00:27:53   your ears out. Yeah, highly recommended. All right. I think that's it for today's show.

00:27:57   And thank you so much for the warm reception you've given us so far recommend us in overcast

00:28:02   and otherwise we'll see you again next week. See you