How To Easily Save 30,000 Lives Each Year

I’ve been talking about self-driving cars for years, even posted about it on this site. I can’t wait for cars to drive themselves, for personal and selfish reasons, but there are several really good reasons for cars to drive themselves.
Google Lexus Driverless Car

Eliminate 35,900 Deaths Annually

In 2009 according to the US Census 35,900+ individuals died in motor vehicle accidents.[1] Such deaths could almost be eliminated by using self-driving cars with their vastly superior capacity for safety over human driven cars.

Eliminate 10.8 Million Accidents Annually

In addition to all those who die are all those who are maimed in accidents and all those whose vehicles are damaged. According to the same US Census there were 10.8 million motor vehicle accidents in 2009.

Reduce Drunk Driving

There were 1.4 million DUI related arrests in 2010 according to the Department of Transportation.

How about bringing these numbers down? I mean way down.

Freeing Up Police, Fire, EMT

This not only reduces the deaths and injuries outlined above but also reduces the burden on our public safety officers (police, fire, emt) drastically freeing them up to focus on other areas of crime.

Reducing Government Expenditures

This would also reduce in a reduction in prison populations as DUI drivers would no longer be populating cells. The Legislative Analyst’s Office of California calculates the cost of incarcerating an individual for one year at $47,102 in 2008-2009. Or take the lower figure offered by the Federal Register of $26,163 in 2011.

Have More Time For Family, Community, Yourself!

How much time do you spend driving each day? How much time does that add up to each year? Lets go with a fairly conservative estimate of 1 hr. per day.[2] This would equal 365 hrs. per year…that totals up to two weeks of our lives every year.

What would you have energy to do if you weren’t spending all that energy driving? What could you accomplish during your commute if you didn’t have to focus on driving?

Reduce Infrastructure Costs, Improve Roads

Want to see the roads better maintained? The driverless car could be the solution. We create roads to handle more than average traffic so that there won’t be as many traffic jams. Imagine if that four lane road could be two or three lanes instead. Driverless cars would allow this to occur as they would drastically reduce congestion and thus eliminate the need in many cases for expansion projects. This money could be redirected to existing infrastructure maintenance – eliminating those potholes and fixing those collapsing bridges.

Reduce Pollution by 90%

Okay, okay, so that is a bit of a stretch. There are articles talking about this 90% reduction, but the devil is in the details. Still, driverless cars could significantly reduce pollution by reducing stop-and-go traffic, reducing the number of vehicles utilized by a single family, and generally optimizing performance.

Increase Mobility for Elderly, Handicapped

When we held services after dark we lost a good portion of our church congregation. Why? Because many of our elderly couldn’t see well after dark and so would remain home.

How many elderly individuals are isolated due to an inability to drive? How many handicapped individuals are dependent on others for transportation? With driverless cars these individuals could be free to travel again!

And I Haven’t Even Mentioned…

And we’ve barely scratched the surface of the benefits of driverless cars. What about:

  • Reductions in insurance premiums.
  • Increased life of automotive parts due to gentler usage.
  • Decreased parking congestion due to fewer cars.
  • Decreased stress among humans due to driving.

Easily Save?

In my article title I claimed this was a way to easily save many lives…but is it really so easy? The answer is yes. There are already driverless cars out there, it is a matter of moving ahead in a more determined manner to get these vehicles into the hands of consumers and to revamp them into models that everyone can and wants to use.

Final Thoughts

I’m really excited about driverless cars and I hope you will be too. Yes, it is kind of scary to think about computers driving our cars – but, really, the computer will be much more capable than we are of maintaining awareness and responding quickly. Yes, there will be some bugs and bad things may happen – but my guess is that we’ll see at least a 90% decrease in accidents once driverless cars become the norm.

Image Credit: “Google’s Lexus RX 450h Self-Driving Car” by Driving_Google_Self-Driving_Car.jpg: Steve Jurvetson derivative work: Mariordo – This file was derived from  Driving Google Self-Driving Car.jpg: . Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

  1. [1]Check out Wikipedia for a record of deaths across many years and up to 2013.
  2. [2]I’m linking to a page that suggests 101 minutes as an average driving time.

Now How Do I Use This Old Scanner Again? NAPS2!

I have an old beast for a printer/scanner. It is nine years old in human years, which is like one hundred in technology years, but it gets the job done.

One problem I’ve run into repeatedly over the years is that of scanning software. At some point in the distant past the software that came with the scanner disappeared. Yes, one can still download the drivers off of the manufacturers site – but I’m talking about the software that makes the scanning process easier and more robust. Usually this software is from a third party company and thus the manufacturer’s site doesn’t include it as a download. So what is one to do?

Not Another PDF Scanner 2 ScreenshotYou’d think there must be tons of free software options out there for such a simple and fundamental application – you’d be surprised (at least I was). Over the years I’ve used numerous different applications to scan – some commercial trials (FileCenter being my preferred one, but way too expensive for an occasional scan) and lots of crappy free programs.

Well, no more. There is now an excellent, free, and open source option available called NAPS2 (Not Another PDF Scanner 2).

What makes it so great? I’m glad you asked!

  • File Format Support – It can create PDF, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, and other file types (I find the PDF support especially useful for multi-page documents).
  • Automatic Document Feeder / Duplex Support – ADF means that it can handle multiple pages without requiring user intervention and duplex means it can handle double-sided documents also without user intervention.
  • Simple Scan Management – Rotate pages, straighten images, crop, etc.
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – Supports identifying the text in scanned documents.
  • Powerful – Need to automate your scanning using a command-line interface? How about distribute it via Group Policy? No problem.

The Adjustable Standing Desk I Chose

I’ve wanted a height adjustable, sit / stand desk forever. Yes, literally, forever.

In 2012 I wrote an extensive survey of the sit/stand desk field of products and two years later when I still didn’t have a sit/stand desk I updated and expanded my already extensive survey.

Then I never told you about the desk I actually ended up with (thanks to my wonderful wife, Sheila). Well, I’m about to right that wrong.

I ended up purchasing a MultiTable ModTable. Yeah, that is a mouthful…and unfortunately, they don’t own the modtable domain, so go to multitable.com.

I chose to go with ModTable because

  1. Their prices are about as low as you can go for a real, true height adjustable desk.
  2. The reviews I found about the company’s desks were favorable.
  3. They offered a hand crank model.

Wait, I went with a hand crank model? Yup. I thought about going electric and while it was tempting I decided that a hand crank would probably last me many times longer.

This is my ModTable in sitting position.
This is my ModTable in sitting position. Click on the image to see a much larger image of the same.

The hand crank is a simple mechanical mechanism, unlikely to break – whereas electronic components almost always break down eventually. I have hopes that I’ll still be using this desk ten, even twenty years from now.

Because I want to be a hobo (of sorts) someday I went with a Medium top (24″ x 48″) so that it could fit into a travel trailer, etc. without too much trouble.

I splurged and bought a CPU holder ($100). I initially bought a Belkin keyboard and mouse tray through Amazon, but ran into some trouble getting it to adjust correctly (may have been a broken model or may have been my lack of mechanical skill) and returned it. I’ve planned on getting the keyboard/mouse tray from ModTable but just never got around to it.

Even if the Belkin had worked, it would have been a hack job. The metal crossbeam runs under the middle of the desk and most mouse/keyboard trays are made to have their track run vertically and the crossbeam sits firmly astride its desired path.

This is my ModTable in standing position. Note that it is still significantly lower than its maximum height [insert short joke here].
This is my ModTable in standing position. Note that it is still significantly lower than its maximum height [insert short joke here].

I did not buy the monitor arms. They were attractive but I opted instead for monitors that were height adjustable in and of themselves – which have worked out quite nicely.

I’m supremely happy with the table. The components all seem to be high quality. My only thoughts for improvement are as follows:

  1. Is the central crossbeam necessary? Could there be a model without it?
  2. The manual crank sticks out a bit and is easy to walk into. You can pull it out so that it isn’t in the way, but then you have to put it back in…which is a very minor annoyance, but if there was a way for the handle to fold under the unit, out of the way, that would be amazing.
  3. Could it go a little lower? I’m on the vertically challenged end of the spectrum and technically the height of the table top is still a little too high for me ergonomically….if I ever get around to getting the keyboard/mouse tray that will drop it to the correct height, but, still, it’d be nice to go down to say 25 in?

As far as any suggestions to those who may be considering buying a ModTable themselves, here are my thoughts:

  1. If you aren’t planning on living/working in tightly constrained quarters, splurge for the larger top size.
  2. Make sure to install the CPU holder far off to the side, otherwise you’ll be kicking it when you are sitting down.
  3. Splurge for the CPU holder and the keyboard/mouse tray off the bat.

Let me conclude by talking about expense. I’m used to owning used desks or pressed board desks – the kind you can pick up fairly inexpensively from Walmart, Target, or Ikea. ModTable is inexpensive compared to other height adjustable desks, but it is still expensive for those of us who frequent thrift stores for our furniture needs.

I heard (I think it was over at Lifehacker) that one should invest one’s money where one spends one time – which makes a lot of sense. Spend money on what you use most in life – a bed, a desk, a car, etc. For me and many like me, a desk is one of those things and the extra expense is worthwhile for our comfort as well as for our health.

WinDirStat: What is Hogging All My Hard Drive?

WinDirStat Screenshot

An older software application, but a freebie and a goodie, is WinDirStat. If you ever find yourself running low on storage space on your hard drive – this application will quickly and intuitively give you a peek into what is consuming all that space.

Before you go out buying a bigger hard drive, using WinDirStat to see if there isn’t (and there probably is) some unneeded files or applications consuming major amounts of disk space. You can delete these files/applications thus freeing up space on your hard drive and save yourself the cost of a new, bigger hard drive.

Warning: You can totally ruin your computer by deleting the wrong files – so don’t go deleting files you aren’t sure about!

WinDirStat Screenshot

Google Now Voice Commands

Jason Cross over at greenbot has written a great list of known Google Now voice commands. The commands I use or intend to use on a regular basis (and think may be most helpful to you) are:

Command Example
Define [word] Define reasonable
What is the weather? What is the weather
What is [quantity] [unit] in [unit]? What is 12 feet in centimers?
What is [mathematical equation]? What is 10 divided by 2?
What is 10 times 2?
What is 10 plus 2?
What is 10 minus 2?
Take a picture Take a picture
Turn [on/off] [Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, Flashlight] Turn on Wi-Fi
Turn off GPS
Turn on Bluetooth
Turn off Flashlight
Set an alarm for [time] Set an alarm for 50 minutes
Create a calendar event: [calendar event] Create a calendar event: Meeting with Widget Co. to discuss new website on Monday at 8 am.
Remind me to [action] Remind me to pick up milk
Make a note: [note] Make a note: Google Now is useful.
Find [name] [info.] Find Dave Mackey’s phone number.
Call [name] Call Dave.
Text [name] [message] Text Dave “What is up?”
Where is the nearest [place]? Where is the nearest McDonalds?
Directions to [address] Directions to New York City

Meeting in the Middle.

While Sheila and I were dating we lived fairly far apart. I found a really nifty site that helped with this dilemma – its called MeetWays.

All one does is enter the starting address for both parties and then the type of meeting place you are looking for – e.g., a restaurant, library, movie theater, or park.

MeetWays then finds options for you that are close to equidistant between the two addresses.

Meetways Results Screenshot

Height-Adjustable Desks (aka Site/Stand Desks) – 2014 Update.

Introduction

In November 2012 – two years ago – I wrote an article on height adjustable desks. It consisted of my research on the subject – what options were available, useful articles on the topic, etc. For the last two years I have used a standing desk – essentially a drafting table – for work. It is adjustable, but it requires loosening bolts and is fairly involved – so I rarely change its height. I’m still looking at height adjustable tables (of the crank or electric variety) and decided to update my original article.Image of Height-Adjustable Desk.

I know from personal experience and from reading various articles (cited in the bibliography at the end of this page) that standing all the time isn’t an option for most people (including myself). A standing desk may be better for my health, but it certainly doesn’t feel better for my knees.

If you are aware of additional adjustable height desks I have not included in this article, please let me know. I’m also always interested in reading any articles of real substance on the subject.

One site you’ll definitely want to visit during your purchasing process is Comfortable Computing. Be sure to check out their interactive tool “Workspace Planner” – it will help you decide what height you need your adjustable desk to be able to rise to. You might also want to visit JustStand which has a nifty calculator for determining how many calories per day you would burn from standing rather than sitting.

The Options

Multi Table

  • Features: hand crank, 27.5″ to 47″ height adjustment, 30 day return guarantee, 1 year warranty against defects, 5 years on steel.
  • ModTable  – $599 –  Available in various sizes, uses crank.
  • Mini Mod – $599 – A smaller version of the ModTable, but since pricing is the same, not sure why you would ever buy one…unless you had a very small workspace.
  • Mod-E –  $649 – An electric model instead of hand crank.
  • Also offers treadmill desks.

UpDesk

  • Features: electric lift mechanism, 26.5″ to 42.5″, 1.25″ high pressure laminate desktop, 300 lb. weight capacity, each leg has own motor, 20 min. setup, 5 yr. warranty.
    • PowerUp Small – 48″ x 30″ – $949
    • PowerUp Medium – 60″ x 30″ – $999
    • PowerUp Large – 72″ x 30″ – $1049
  • Features: manual lift mechanism, 26.5″ to 42.5″, 1.25″ high pressure laminate desktop, 225 lb. weight capacity, 5 turns per inch (precision), 20 min. setup, 5 yr. warranty.
    • CrankUp Small – 48″ x 30″ – $699
    • CrankUp Medium – 60″ x 30″ – $799
  • Also offers the SquaredUp line of desks (corner), UpWrite (surface can be written on with dry erase markers).
  • Offers a number of nice accessories as well.
  • S&H is $129 on electric, $99 on crank.

GeekDesk

  • Features: 335 lb. weight capacity, 4 programmable presets, each leg has own motor, 1.1″/sec. lift speed, 23″ to 48.75″, 2 yr (motor) / 5 yr (frame) warranty.
    • Max Large – 78.75″ x 31.5″ or 63″ x 31.5″ – $985
    • Max Small – 47.25″ x 31.5″ – $949
  • Features:28-35mm/sec. lift speed, 275 lb. weight capacity, 23″ to 48.75″, 2 yr (motor) / 5 yr (frame) warranty, each leg has own motor.
    • GeekDesk v3 Large – 78.75″ x 31.5″ or 63″ x 31.5″ – $799
    • GeekDesk v3 Small – 47.25″ x 31.5″ – $749

NextDesk

  • These guys are expensive. I think they are going for the “Apple” of height adjustable tables.
  • Features: 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee, 3 Year Warranty (depends on model, some come with 2 Year and the Fit with a limited lifetime).
  • Terra – 63″ x 31.5″ – $1497
  • Air – 63″ x 31.5″ – $2178
  • Solo – 30″ x 24″ – $897
  • Offers a number of other options including the Terra Pro, Air Pro, L Series (l-shaped desks), U Series (u shaped desks), solo (and plus), Up, Fit (w/treadmill), custom, and conference.
  • Suggests Bill Me Later, which allows for financing, brings costs down to around $50/mo. for the Terra.

LifeDesk

  • Features: 22″-48″,  275 lb. weight capacity, 1.1″/sec. lift speed.
  • Two-Leg Short Base – $1450.
  • One-Leg Electric Base – $988+.
  • Three-Leg Electric Frame – $2890.
  • A number of options, prices appear to have increased significantly since last time I updated this article, but so has the variety of options available.

VersaTables

  • Features: Lifetime warranty (on material defects), 30 day full refund return period, free shipping.
  • Deluxe Height Adjustable Computer Table – $359 – Height begins at 24″, a number of variations available. Appears to be a little difficult to adjust – not crank or electronic.
  • Edison Electric Table – $1199 – Electric height adjustment, up to 50″ tall, available in 36″, 48″, 60″, and 72″ widths.
  • Split Level Adjustable Computer Table – $499 – Available in various sizes, uses grommets for adjusting height.
  • Versa Center – $300 – Available in various sizes, doesn’t appear to use crank or electronic adjustment for height.
  • Adjustable Wall Mount Computer Station – $280 – This looks very interesting, but it concerns me that it appears to support only one monitor.
  • Deluxe Electric Life Wall Mount Computer – $700 – The name is a bit of a misnomer – it is a station, not the computer itself. Again, appears to only support one monitor.
  • Prices have increased significantly on a number of models (Edison from $899 to the present $1199). Not all prices have been updated (here); their hand adjustable crank model has been discontinued.

Safco

  • Offers a number of models, many are standing desks of fixed height. I like lots of leg room and these don’t have it, but some might like them – they have extra shelving.
  • Muv 28″ Adjustable Height Workstation – $448 – 29″ – 34″ height.
  • Muv 35″ Adjustable Height Workstation – $479 – 29″ – 34″ height.
  • Muv Stand-up Adjustable Height Workstation – $505 – 35″ – 49″ height.

ConSet

  • Starts around $1400 for a complete table, though you can also purchase just the bases for around $700. Has a decent variety of options including some wall-mount options. Site could use some improvement in navigability.

Workrite

  • This used to be listed under Idea at Work and linked to The Human Solution. I’ve updated to point directly to the Workrite site and have eliminated the previous entry due to Workrite discontinuing the Proliftix line.

Anthro Technology Furniture

  • Elevate II – 28″ – 47″, electric, $1300.
  • Elevate Adjusta – 27″ – 53″, electric, $2850.
  • Elevate Corner – 27″ – 53″, electric, $4930.
  • Elevate Wrap – 27″ – 53″, electric, $3100.
  • Elevate Single – 27″ – 53″, electric, $2380.
  • Fit Adjusta – Pricing starts at $829, only goes up to 31.25″.
  • Fit Console – Pricing starts at $1179, only goes up to 31.25″.
  • They’s also added a new line “Steve’s Station” with prices starting at $3249.

Evodesk

  • Features: has an expandable frame (can become wider as needed), can have a programmable controller (save height settings), electronic up/down.
  • Starts at $599 with a number of accessories available to customize the unit.

VariDesk

  • Offers units which fit on top of one’s existing desk. The Single (supports one monitor) starts at $275, at the higher end is the Pro Plus at $350 which supports dual monitors and has a keyboard lift.

Rebel Desk

  • Hand crank models for $599.

iMovR

  • ThermoDesk Elemental – $549 – hand crank.
  • ThermoDesk Ellure – $619 – hand crank.
  • ThermoDesk Electra – $829 – electronic.
  • Thermodesk Elite – $1099.

StandDesk

  • Features: 28″ to 45″ adjustable height; supports up to 225 lbs; top size is between 23.5″-40″ width and 49.5″-70″ length; choose between standard and deluxe memory control.
  • They have one base model, which costs $399 for the frame. Then one adds the top, laminate 30″x60″x1″ runs $110 while bamboo runs $180 for the same size, thus price for minimum configuration including top is $509.

Comparison Table

This is an apples-to-oranges comparison table, it demonstrates price ranges of the products and min/max heights, but doesn’t account for most other features.

(This is not an exhaustive comparison table)

Table Price Min Max Method
Safco Height-Adjustable Split Level $448 26″ 37.25″ Bolts
Stand Desk $509 28″ 45″ Electric
iMovr ThermoDesk Elemental $549 27.5″ 47″ Crank
MultiTable ModTable $549 27.5″ 47″ Crank
Evodesk $599 49.5″
Rebel Desk $599 28″ 48″ Crank
VertDesk $689 28″ 46.5″ Electric
ergodepot Jarvis $695 25.5″ 51″ Electric
Updesk CrankUp $699 26.5″ 42.5″ Crank
Uplift 900 $699 26.5″ 42.5″ Crank
ErgoTron $737 30.6 50.6″ Brake
GeekDesk v3 $749 23″ 48.75″ Electric
PowerUp $1049 25.5″ 50.5″ Electric
Edison Electric Table $1199 24″ 50″ Electric
Elevate II $1300 28″ 47″ Electric
Conset $1400 25″ 47″ Electric
LifeDesk $1450 22″ 48″ Electric
NextDesk Terra $1497  24″ 50.5″ Electric

Others

  • AFC Industries Inc. – Offers what looks like professional office furniture that is height adjustable.
  • Alvin Professional Table – Looks to be a drafting table, available via Walmart, it ranges from 29″ – 45″. May be a bit of a pain to adjust, but the price starts at $199.
  • Biomorph – Sells several different models beginning at $995.
  • Cotytech – Sells several adjustable height desks, including a laptop desk that can go up to 41.9″ and costs $264.
  • Dania Furniture – Offers a desk for $1100, adjusts up to 52″.
  • ergodepot – $695 is the current sale price, offers free S&H.
  • ErgoTron – Offers desk mounts, full desks, and mobile carts. The full desks start at $737.
  • Focal Upright.
  • Gilbraltar – Sells bases for adjustable height desks. Pricing appears reasonable ($400+/-) but only go up to 39.5″. Can be purchased through Kitchensource.
  • Haworth – Available through Crate and Barrel for $299. Very inexpensive, but see reviews on Crate and Barrel site for downsides. Also sells an electric table for $1390 available from Sit4Less.
  • Humanscale – Starts at around $1800 for their “Float” desk.
  • idealworkspace – Based out of Singapore.
  • ISE Group – Sells several different height adjustable tables, both crank and electric, but one has to order through VARs, thus no pricing.
  • Jesper Office – Their “value” desk starts at $1450.
  • KareProducts.
  • Maverick – Sells through VARs.
  • Mayline – Starts at $3000 for most height adjustable desks. The Soho Adjustable Mobile Computer Table is available from Walmart for $350 and goes from 14″ – 48″.
  • Pressfit Furniture – These are fixed height, cost around $399.
  • Right Angle Products – A variety of options, not clear on pricing.
  • Relax the Back – Offers the Sit to Stand Desk starting at $1600+.
  • Reo-Smart – Makes several height adjustable workstations, unfortunately they only go up to 37.8″ but the prices start around $570.
  • RightAngle – Has height adjustable desks, but fairly expensive.
  • SiS – Sells several adjustable height desks, unfortunately they are pretty expensive ($1500+).
  • Soma Ergonomics – Start at $1000+ and go up from there.
  • Steelcase – Sells the Airtouch, which is priced around $1500.
  • UpLift – Available via The Human Solution. Numerous different models available, the Uplift 445 starting at $749.
  • Beyond the Office Door – Seels the VertDesk, base is $549, once a top is added the price jumps to $689.
  • Wood Craft of Michigan.

Modify Existing Desk

  • Desktop Elevator – Fits onto existing desk, starts at $829.
  • AdjustDesk – These fit on an existing desk, starting at $499. Known as the “Kangaroo.”
  • Health Postures – Offers units that are placed on top of existing desk.
  • iSkelter – Upgrades for existing desks to become standing desks.
  • StorkStand – Mounts onto chair, single monitor, $199.
  • Upstanding – Mounts on a normal desk, is height adjustable, costs $200 for standard (one monitor) or $250 for double-wide (two monitor).

Considerations

  • Is electric better than crank? In my opinion, it may be better to get a crank unit (which is cheaper) as mechanical parts tend to last longer than electronic components. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dead electronic table five years down the road, but I’d hope the manufacturing quality would allow a crank table to be usable twenty years later.
  • How high and how low does my desk need to go? Comfortable Computing has a great calculator that uses your height to determine how high your desk should be when sitting and when standing.

My Finalists

  • ModTable – There are cheaper options available, but this appears to be the lowest priced high-end height adjustable desk I could find. I’m interested in their $549 crank unit. The one downside I see to these units is their minimum height of 27.5″. According to Comfortable Computing when sitting I should be using a keyboard at 25″ – so in sitting, I won’t be ergonomically correct. I could fix this by affixing a keyboard try underneath the desk which would probably bring the level down 1-2″.
  • UpDesk – Another attractive option which offers a lower minimum height (26.5″, but still too high for me) and on the negative a lower maximum height (42.5″, which is enough for me). The unit is around $100 more expensive than the ModTable.
  • GeekDesk – I must admit a certain attraction to GeekDesk due to their popularity and their cool name…but the product is also solid. The cost is around $800, but the unit is electrically powered and it goes as low as 23 in. and as high as 49 in. – that seems about perfect to me for height minimum and maximum. On the downside, expect to pay $125 for S&H!

Conclusion

At this juncture I’m divided. I’d really like a hand-crank table (more reliability) but also think the min. and max. heights on the GeekDesk are the best. I’m leaning slightly towards ModTable b/c of the lower price and the hand-crank, but I’m still up in the air. What do you think? Are there other options I should be consulting? Other factors I should be considering?

Appendix A. Sore Feet/Legs

I’ve transitioned into the full-time pastorate and stand at my desk as often as possible (I have a no-name drafting table right now) and sometimes my feet hurt from doing so. Here are a few articles I found that address this issue that others may find helpful as well.

Appendix B. Random

Appendix C. My Setup Notes

  • For standing I currently use a height adjustable drafting table I picked up at a garage sale. It goes up to approximately 39″ in height (3.25′). It is 36″ wide (3′) and 24″ (2′) deep. It allows for adjusting the angle of the desk up or down, something most height adjustable desks do not.
  • On my standing desks I have two Fellows monitor mounts which add another 4″ to the height.
  • For sitting I currently use a small desk, it is approximately 29″ tall (2.4′). It is 45″ wide (3.75′) and 20″ deep (1.7′).
  • I’m apparently shrinking, I’m pretty sure I was once 5’8″, but remeasuring, I’m clocking in at 5’6″.
  • According to Computing Comfort’s calculations I should have my standing keyboard at a height of 40.5″ and the top of my screens at a height of 61.5″ – in other words, my keyboard is 1.5″ too low and my monitors are 2.5″ too low (after calculating in the height of my monitors at 17″).
  • According to Computing Comfort’s calculations I should have my sitting keyboard at a height of 25″ and the screens at a height of 46″ – in other words, my keyboard is 4″ too high and the monitors are exactly right.
  • Below I’ve compared my three finalists – the first two are crank, the third electric. Only the third goes low enough for me, but I can mount a keyboard under the first two to correct this issue. The prices below include S&H.
Manufacturer Model Min Max Width Depth Price Warranty
MultiTable ModTable Manual 27.5″ 47″ 48″ 24″ $539 1 yr. (2)
UpDesk CrankUp Small 26.5″ 42.5″ 48″ 30″ $798 5 yr.
GeekDesk v3 23″ 48.75″ 47.25″ 31.5″ $874 2 yr. (5)
  • The number in parentheses includes the longer warranty which covers only part of the desk (e.g. in GeekDesk, it does not cover the motor past two years).
  • It looks like a 3M Knob Adjustable Keyboard Tray would be ideal, it has high reviews on Amazon and clocks in at around $100.

Bibliography

  1. A Week with a Sit-Stand Desk.” Pandawhale. 1/28/12.
  2. Build an Adjustable Desk with Pipe and Klee Klamp.” Simplified Building Concepts.
  3. GeekDesk Max Review.” Gear Live. 8/31/12.
  4. How Can I Build a Wall Mounted Adjustable Height Desk?” DIY.StackExchange.
  5. How Do I Make a Height Adjustable Desk?” DIY.StackExchange.
  6. How Do I Make My Own Height Adjustable Desk?” Lifehacker. 1/26/12.
  7. How to Build an Adjustable Height Computer Desk for Under $100.” Tutorial Save. 11/21/10.
  8. Refold Cardboard Standing Desk Changes the Way You Work.” designboom. 10/7/14.
  9. Standing Desk.” Lowes Creative Ideas for Home and Garden.
  10. Aaron Couch. “10 Accessories Every Standing Desk Owner Should Have.” MakeUseOf. 12/30/13.
  11. Adam Dachis. “Build a DIY Wide, Adjustable Height IKEA Standing Desk on the Cheap.” Lifehacker. 1/21/11.
  12. Adam Epstein. “IKEA Has Created a Desk That Converts From Sitting to Standing Via a Simple Button.” Quartz, 11/24/14.
  13. Adam Clark Estes. “IKEA Sit/Stand Desk Review: I Can’t Believe How Much I Like This.” Gizmodo. 10/30/14.
  14. Alan Henry. “Five Best Standing Desks.” Lifehacker. 2/23/14.
  15. Alex E. Weaver. “My Week with a Standing Desk.” BostInno. 9/26/14.
  16. Alice Robb. “Yet Another Reason Why We Should All Stand At Work.” New Republic. 6/30/14.
  17. Ashlee Vance. “Stand Stand: A Portable Standing Desk for the People.” Businessweek. 10/1/14.
  18. Ben Brooks. “Jarvis Standing Desk.” The Brooks Review. 2/27/14.
  19. Ben Schiller. “We Took Ikea’s New Automatic, Adjustable Standing Desk For A Spin.” Fast Company, Coexist. 11/3/14.
  20. Brett & Kate McKay. “Becoming a Stand-Up Guy: The History, Benefits, and Use of Standing Desks.” The Art of Manliness. 7/5/11.
  21. Chris Gardner. “How to Make a DIY Adjustable Drafting Table from Any Desktop.” Curbly. 1/18/11.
  22. Chris Murphy. “Standing Desks: What I’ve Learned.” InformationWeek. 6/20/14.
  23. Cia Bernales. “My Year at a Standing Desk and Why I’ll Never Go Back.” Fast Company.  4/11/14.
  24. Core Jr. “Standing Desk Shootout: Humanscale Float Table.” Core77. 8/24/11.
  25. Dan Kois. “Sitting Is Bad for You. So I Stopped. For a Whole Month.” New York Magazine. 6/9/14.
  26. Daniel Engber. “Who Made That Standing Desk?” New York Times. 3/20/14.
  27. Darrell Etherington. “Press Fit Standing Desk Review: An Affordable Option with U.S. Manufacturing and Materials.” TechCrunch. 9/1/14.
  28. Dominic Smith. “The Literature of the Standing Desk.” The Millions. 5/15/14.
  29. Drake Bennett. “Kill Your Desk Chair – and Start Standing.” BusinessWeek. 6/28/12.
  30. Elizabeth Narins. “6 Ridiculously Simple Standing Desk Hacks.” Cosmopolitan. 8/13/14.
  31. Emily Oster. “I Stand Corrected About the Best Kind of Desk.” FiveThirtyEight. 5/21/14.
  32. Gina Trapini. “Why and How I Switched to a Standing Desk.” Smarterware. 1/16/11.
  33. Gregory Ferenstein. “Work Like Churchill-Ditch Your Office Chair and Embrace the Standing Desk.” The Daily Beast. 6/2/14.
  34. Gwynn Guilford. “There’s a Huge Hidden Downside to Standing Desks That No One Told Me About.” Quartz. 9/29/14.
  35. Heather Moore. “How to Use a Standing Desk.” Philly. 4/22/14.
  36. Holly Korbey. “How Standing Desks Can Help Students Focus in the Classroom.” KQED (Mind/Shift). 10/21/14.
  37. Jared Alexrod. “7 Standing Desks That Won’t Break the Bank.” Paste Magazine. 10/17/14.
  38. Jennifer Gosse. “Why An Adjustable Height Desk is Our #1 Health-Related Workhack for 2014.” Tracky. 1/15/14.
  39. Jessica Stillman. “What’s Healthier Than a Standing Desk?” Inc. 9/16/14.
  40. Jim Carlton. “Standing Desks Are on the Rise.” WSJ. 8/31/11.
  41. John Biggs. “Gift Guide: The UpDesk Standing Desk Video Review.” TechCrunch. 11/13/12.
  42. Joseph Stromberg. “Five Health Benefits of Standing Desks.” Smithsonian Magazine. 3/26/14.
  43. Josh Smith. “Standing Desk Guide: Measurements, Examples, and Benefits.” Notebooks.com. 5/3/11.
  44. Julie Carlson. “5 Favorites: Longevity-Promoting Standing Desks.” Remodelista. 5/15/14.
  45. Karyne Levy. “I Tried Out a Standing Desk For All of the Benefits – Here’s Why I Quit.” 6/22/14.
  46. Kate Taylor. “Get Up, Stand Up, For Your Life: Can Standing Desks Fight Sitting Disease?” Forbes. 8/2/12.
  47. Kathleen Pierce. “Many Employees Abandon Sitting While Working.” Boston Globe. 3/26/12.
  48. Kerry Butters. “A Standing Desk Might Not (Necessarily) Save Your Life.” sitepoint. 10/20/14.
  49. Kerry Flynn. “How to Make a Standing Desk for Under $200: MIT Grads Go Digital.” Forbes. 7/31/14.
  50. Kevin Michaluk. “Standing Desks – Why I Use One; Why You Should Too.” Crackberry. 2/28/12.
  51. Kristin Hohenadel. “A Mobile Standing Desk for Laptop Users on a Budget.” Slate (The Eye). 10/2/14.
  52. Lecia Bushak. “Standing Desks, Friend or Foe? What Happened When I Stood At Work For the Last 4 Months.” Medical Daily. 9/18/14.
  53. Lloyd Alter. “Are Standing Desks Healthier Than Sitting?” Treehugger. 2/25/10.
  54. M Neuhaus, GN Healy, DW Dunstan, N Owen, EG Eakin. “Workplace Sitting and Height-Adjustable Workstations: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” American Journal of Preventative Medicine, January 2014, 46(1), pp. 30-40.
  55. Matt Linderman. “Bootstrapped, Profitable, & Proud: GeekDesk.” 37Signals. 6/15/11.
  56. Mark Lukach. “Besting Standing Desks.” The Wirecutter.  5/29/12. (The article from Wired found here is a copy of this article.)
  57. Matthias Wandel. “Height Adjustable Computer Desk (my wheely desk).”
  58. Mikael Cho. “Why I Killed My Standing Desk.” Crew.
  59. Michael Desmond. “Five Questions with GeekDesk Founder Donovan McNutt on Standing Desks.” About.com.
  60. North Krimsly. “The Latest Height Stand-Up Desks.” High Integrity Design. 12/2/13.
  61. Peter Koch. “Stand-Up Guy: 5 Best Standing Desks.” Gear Patrol. 7/11/14.
  62. Phaedra Riley. “Standing Desk Shootout: Haworth Planes Height-Adjustable Table.” Core77. 8/16/11.
  63. Rain Noe. “‘Living With’ Product Review: The GeekDesk Truly Transforms the Way You Work.” Core77. 6/21/11.
  64. Ray Hu. “Standing Desk Shootout: Steelcase Airtouch Height-Adjustable Table.” Core77. 8/30/11.
  65. Simona Ganea. “10 IKEA Standing Desk Hacks With Ergonomic Appeal.” homedit. 8/5/14.
  66. Stephanie M. Lee. “Companies Take a Stand Against Sitting.” SFGate. 8/8/12.
  67. Stephen Searer. “7 Height-Adjustable Desks That Won’t Murder You.” Office Snapshots. 8/24/12.
  68. Steven Salzberg. “Does a Standing Desk Lengthen Your Lifespan?” Field of Science (Genomics). 9/28/14.
  69. Thorin Klosowski. “How Sitting All Day is Damaging Your Body and How You Can Counteract It.” Lifehacker. 1/26/12.
  70. Todd Wasserman. “Are You Sitting Down? Why a Stand-Up Desk Might Save Your Life.” Mashable. 4/22/11.
  71. Vicky Hallett. “Standing Desks Sit Well With More Employees.” The Washington Post. 5/20/14.

When is Good: Taking the Stress Out of Scheduling

Once upon a long time ago[1] I thought about[2] writing a review of Doodle, an online scheduling tool for simplifying the process of creating meets in which all participants can actually participate.

Recently I had the need to schedule another meeting with a group of individuals who have incredibly conflicting and variable schedules, so I decided to utilize such a scheduling tool again…and, of course, I went to Doodle first…

But I love to explore and curate and find the best way to do x and so I went through my semi-regular routine when evaluating something new I want to utilize[3]:

  1. Google relevant terms like “Doodle competitor,” “Doodle alternative,” “online scheduling tool,” “online meeting app,” and so on.
  2. Go to AlternativeTo and see what alternatives they had to Doodle.
  3. Visit a bunch of these options and review them in a hasty manner.[4]

I visited a number of options like Dudle, DO’ZZ, SelectTheDate, ScheduleOnce, and so on. For various reasons I didn’t settle on any of these…but then I returned to one of the sites I’d written off for aesthetic reasons (it ain’t very pretty): WhenIsGood. After playing around with it a bit I was quite happy and have been using it since.

Let me walk you through its pages and you’ll see how simple and fairly intuitive it is. First we have our dashboard (“your account”).

When is Good Dashboard Screenshot
When is Good Dashboard Screenshot

Its very simply – essentially you see a list of events you have created and you can view, edit, or delete the events. I assume that detach allows one to remove the event from your account (you can use this service w/out creating an account).

Somewhat hidden at the top right you see a link to create a new event. The enter results code is for those who create events w/out accounts – its a unique string that identifies their event and allows them to access it.

I’ve blacked out a few small areas – mainly b/c they had my email address…which is floating around the internet, but I decided not to make any more available than it already is. There are a billion and one ways to get in contact w/me.

Under the events I blacked out the actual links to the events, they are clickable and allow you to view the event.

Now lets say we decide to create a new event, here is what we will see:

When Is Good New Event Screenshot.
When Is Good New Event Screenshot.

It isn’t the most intuitive interface, but if you mess around for five minutes you can figure it out. Note that you can set the length of the meeting, give the event a name like, “My Super Awesome Surprise Birthday Party For Myself.” There is that strange little slider bar above the calendar, use this to make the size of the calendar (not how many days, just its dimensions on the screen) larger or smaller.

But there are really a few more options we need if we are going to create a helpful scheduling event, so we click on Show Options which shows us this:

When Is Good Show Options Screenshot
When Is Good Show Options Screenshot

That is better. Now we can select the days we want to have displayed on our calendar. In my case I was scheduling a recurring event, which When Is Good doesn’t seem to inherently have any options for, so I just chose a week in the future and let people pick off those days, knowing that the event would then recur on a weekly basis.

Now click Create Event and you are all set….Right? Nope. You’ll get an error message, you need to “paint” some time slots. You are the first visitor to your event even before it is created and you get to determine what days/times will even be an option to folks when they view the event. Once you’ve selected your desired days/times you can successfully create the event. You’ll be given a unique URL you can share with anyone else via  any method you choose (email, Facebook, Twitter, hand-written note, whatever). When someone visits this unique URL they will see this:

When Is Good Visitors Screenshot
When Is Good Visitors Screenshot

We could have customized the directions, as to me “painting” times is not very intuitive, I’d suggest something like, “Please click on each day/time slot you are available to attend.”

The individual wouldn’t see all the options I have at the top right, since in this screenshot I’m logged into my account, but at the bottom right they’d have a spot to enter their name and email and send the response.

Now we get to our last screen, the results screen:

When Is Good Results Screenshot
When Is Good Results Screenshot

Now I see the calendar I created with info. filled out by the individuals I invited to the event. The green highlighted spaces are the slots where all respondents are available (I told you, crazy schedules).

Next to each of the remaining time slots are little dots, the dots indicate how many individuals cannot attend at that day/time. If I put my mouse over a time slot it will show me who can/can’t come and if I put my mouse over a name (under responses on the left-hand side) it will show me all the slots they selected as available highlighted in green.

As you can see, it is a functional although not aesthetically pleasing tool. It isn’t entirely intuitive, but its simplicity makes it easiest enough to figure out with a few minutes stumbling around.

Why Not Doodle?

I decided not to use Doodle b/c of the pricing essentially. If you are a business or an organization that will frequently utilize online scheduling – go with Doodle, it has more features, the pricing is reasonable, and it is more aesthetically pleasing…but if this is just an occasional thing, When Is Good will do just fine.

Feedback for When Is Good

Here are a few unsolicited suggestions to the folks over at When Is Good to take their application to the next level:

  • Include dates on your What’s New page so we can tell if you have been working on the app recently.
  • Redesign the aesthetic layout, center the main screen elements, make new event stand out from the rest of the menu options.

Premium with When Is Good

When is Good does offer a premium version at $20/yr. which is around half of Doodle’s lowest paid plan. It adds a few more options, but nearly as many as Doodle. If I was you and willing to pay, I’d go with Doodle.

  1. [1]Okay…more like a few months or years.
  2. [2]But did not actually.
  3. [3]This isn’t normal for items I’ll be using once-off, but I plan on using the scheduling tool more frequently, and imho, it is a lot easier to get people using the tool you want from the get-go than to change to something new half-way…since it oftentimes takes dragging kicking and screaming individuals long distances to get them to use any such tool in the first place.
  4. [4]If I spent a decent amount of time on each site I’d spend my entire life reviewing these sorts of sites…which I don’t have time for…this means, that on occasion, I don’t always, always get the best tool…b/c a tool that I write-off early ends up being the best…Still, I like to think I usually find the best and almost always find a tool that is more than sufficient for my needs.

Soylent: A Viable Meal Alternative?

The Journey to Soylent

On June 27th, 2013 I began anticipating Soylent, talking about Soylent, impatiently waiting for Soylent to become available. I signed up for a week’s supply of Soylent on June 10th and it arrived on July 22nd.

A picture of my box of soylent...and of course, my feet, b/c I'm talented with cameras like that.
A picture of my box of soylent…and of course, my feet, b/c I’m talented with cameras like that.

Inside was a long sheet with instructions…I’m not a fan of the big sheet…What am I supposed to do with this? Unless I hang it on my way there is no easy way to store it.

The awkwardly long Soylent instructions.
The awkwardly long Soylent instructions.

You can click on the above image to see how long the instructions really where, but it would have consumed too much space on the page for me to embed the image here.

Next we had the bags of Soylent and the bottles of oil. You can see a picture below.

What came in the first Soylent box I received - instructions, oils, and soylent.
What came in the first Soylent box I received – instructions, oils, and soylent.

Theoretically, I should have received a package before this one with my welcome pack – which was to include a stainless steel measuring cup and an airtight pitcher as pictured below:

Stainless steel measuring cup from Soylent.
Stainless steel measuring cup from Soylent.

 

The Soylent pitcher - yes, it is BPA free.
The Soylent pitcher – yes, it is BPA free. Ohh, and mine doesn’t look like this, the main body is clear, the handle and lid are green, and it is entirely unbranded by Soylent…I think there is a name of some other company on top…

But I hadn’t and I didn’t for quite some time. I attempted using some of my own implements to make Soylent but had mixed successes. If this was what Soylent tasted like, I wasn’t going to stick with it. After a few tries I decided I would just wait until my welcome package came.

Ohh, and yes, I sent an email reporting the missing welcome package on the 23rd and of course received the usual automated reply the same day. It would be August 9th before I would receive a reply from Soylent and then to be informed that “I have forwarded your concern to our shipping department…” Then silence. Finally, on August 18th I received an email informing me that my starter kit was on its way.

Okay, that is a pretty ridiculous wait…the organizational side of Soylent has been extremely underwhelming…I’m not sure all of what happened behind the scenes, but, honestly, I don’t care that much if Soylent is good and works and if they learn from their mistakes – which, it seems (I hope), they are doing.

On a side note, the disorganization worked out to my advantage as I received a second shipment of Soylent by accident and when I asked what I should do with it they told me to keep it. I was pretty happy about that (though I feel bad for folks who ordered far before me and way more and still have not received their Soylent).

But How About It, Is It Good?

Now that you have heard about the nightmare of procuring my Soylent, lets talk about Soylent itself. It is a very fine mix and comes in bags that each contain three meals. I found trying to make Soylent in smaller portions to be a hassle – not only because of measurements and so on but because the powder is so fine that it puffs up into the air and lands everywhere while scooping.[1]

In any case, I moved to making a whole packet at a time and it was so much easier. Okay, I know for those of you who cook, you are rolling your eyes – and yes, in the distant past I did sometimes cook – but the whole point of Soylent is to save time and improve nutrition.

Making Soylent was now simple – pour in the powder, add a bottle of oil, and then fill the rest of the pitcher with water. Screw on the air-tight cap[2] and shake for around sixty seconds. Place in the refrigerator, remove when ready to consume, shake for five to ten seconds, then pour yourself a glass and enjoy.

Soylent tastes a bit like a milk shake. It has a pleasant flavor, though one I can’t place. Compared to any other powdered drink (Shakeology, RAW Meal), the “graininess” is almost non-existent.

It tastes good, the texture is good, and its easy to make – sweet! Another surprising and positive note is that it uses water not milk or a milk substitute and yet tastes better than Shakeology with (in my case) almond milk! Seriously, if you didn’t see the batch mixed, you’d swear it had to have a dairy base.

So, I like my Soylent and I intend on continuing to consume it. Right now I average two meals a day of Soylent and one meal elsewise. I allow myself to eat whatever I desire for that third meal – but my cravings for unhealthy foods seem to have lessened somewhat (not completely).

Should you get Soylent? Sure. Just be prepared to wait a bit. I think organizationally they are getting there, but with the delays initially as well as the huge demand, and then the ongoing demand for resupplies, it is going to be a while before Soylent is working smoothly.

A Few Importantish Notes

It Goes Bad

One of the great things about Soylent is that it lasts forever (hyperbole) in powder form. Something I didn’t realize until I received my Soylent is that once it has been mixed with water it needs to be consumed within two days. Apparently due to the nutrient richness of the drink, even while being refrigerated bacteria multiply quickly. I would like to know more about the health implications of this.

I oftentimes eat food far past its expiration date – especially dairy alternatives (almond milk, soy milk) and don’t have any problem…so I’d probably ignore this warning except after posting on the forums I learned that the bacteria make the taste go bad quickly – so its not just filled with bacteria, it tastes nasty too.

Still, I’ve been consuming Soylent over a two to may three day period and haven’t experienced issues thus far…and making it in this size batch saves me from measuring, etc.

Don’t Forget The Oils!

Each time you use a bag of Soylent you are supposed to add the oils as well – which provide some important aspects of Soylent’s nutrition. Being ADD, I have on occasion forgotten to put the bottles into the Soylent. This doesn’t bother me, but it is a dilemma – what am I supposed to do with these bottles of oil?

Flatulence

There was a lot of discussion of increased flatulence when using Soylent which, it is hypothesized, is caused by the bacteria in our stomachs not knowing how to handle nutritional food and the replacement of some of these bacteria with better bacteria that do consume this food.

I had no intention of mentioning flatulence, b/c I really don’t like talking about it. I was never a fart guy joker…but I must mention it, b/c it radically increases flatulence and it smells horrific.

This goes away after a few days – but my recommendation – start Soylent when you aren’t spending a lot of time with people…and please, give your spouse a break and sleep on the couch…or at least let them sleep on the couch.

What Now?

My plan at this juncture is to continue Soylent 2x daily long-term. We’ll see if I grow sick of the taste…which is very possible.

I haven’t noticed any huge changes in my health, but that may come with time. I also am hoping to get my blood drawn and analyzed every quarter by WellnessFX so I can monitor my health, especially vitamin levels, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Wrapping It Up

Soylent is great – I’m exceptionally pleased with the product itself. The company has some work to do – and seems to be doing it. I haven’t noticed any amazing positive health effects, but I’m hoping over time it works positively. I’ll provide future updates as I’ve been on it longer and can analyze how I respond to the taste with continued consumption and whether I see any health changes positive or negative.

  1. [1]The reason I wanted to do smaller servings was b/c Soylent goes bad after it is made and I wasn’t sure I could consume an entire package of Soylent quickly enough.
  2. [2]I discovered it isn’t really, really, really air-tight. I didn’t have room to put the pitcher standing up in my refrigerator (it is a mini) so I put it on its side – this worked a few times, but eventually it began to leak.

A Primer on Financial Fitness (Infographic)

Received an invitation to post this nifty infographic on Dave Enjoys. It is from Intuit and covers some basic financial statistics as well as tips for maintaining one’s financial fitness or getting into financial shape…Hope you find it as interesting as I did.

[If you have an infographic you think would be of interest to Dave Enjoys readers, feel free to send it over to me…I’m not going to publish just any infographic, but if you’ve got something good, I’m happy to share it.]

An infographic from Intuit  on financial fitness.
An infographic from Intuit on financial fitness.

Source: Intuit Quicken.