Visual Brainstorming on Whiteboards for Posters, Slides, and More

A whiteboard is pretty versatile. It can be used many times for many purposes. I use it during meetings and while working alone. In this post, I’ll explain how I use a whiteboard for creating visual aids.

1. Visual Brainstorming

I am very committed to the digital workspace. My library, papers, notes, handouts, etc. are in the cloud (more about that in this post). I do all of my reading and writing on a computer or a smartphone. But very occasionally a physical workspace trumps my digital workspace.

Visual brainstorming is one task for which a physical workspace outshines the digital counterpart. By ‘visual brainstorming’ I just mean  Continue reading Visual Brainstorming on Whiteboards for Posters, Slides, and More

Office Space: The Lap Desk (And How To Make One)

I prefer using my laptop with an external monitor. I like the big screen and I like being able to stand. But sometimes I just want to use my laptop the way it was meant to be used: on my lap! Alas, there are a couple of problems with using a laptop on your lap. First, most laptops cannot vent properly on a soft surface. Airflow is blocked and the machine can easily overheat (sometimes leading to internal damage). Second, my lap is too far from my eyes, so I tend to slouch when I use a laptop on my lap. To address these problems, I made a lap desk. In this post I’ll explain how I made the lap desk.


The materials for this are easy to come by.

Wood. I found a wooden TV tray table by the dumpster  — have I mentioned that I’m a scavenger? (See “Office Space: Desk Setup“). The tray eventually Continue reading Office Space: The Lap Desk (And How To Make One)

My Sit-stand Desk

I am often thinking of ways to improve my desk setup. But I’m cheap, so I have held off on buying anything. Instead, I’ve MacGyvered a few desk setups mostly with redundant university stuff (see “Office Space: Desk Setup“). But I recently gave in and bought something to upgrade my desk setup: an adjustable sit-stand desk attachment.


I can’t afford an entirely new adjustable sit-stand desk. Fortunately, there are sit-stand desk attachments. They are made to be used with traditional sitting desks. And some of them are affordable.

Sit-stand workstation

Sit-stand desk attachments are affixed to or just placed on top of your desk. The attachment allows you to work in either sitting and standing positions. Sit-stand desk attachments come in many forms. They vary in size, versatility, cost, etc. I looked through LOTS of sit-stand desk attachments before Continue reading My Sit-stand Desk

Office Space: Desk Setup

[Update: A more recent desk setup: “Office Space: Sit-stand Workstation“]

An office can be a sanctuary for productivity. An important component of the santucary is the desk. I find that some desk setups are less distracting and more practical than others. In this post, I’ll mention a few things about my current desk setup.


Sometimes I stand at my desk and sometimes I sit. I When I am sitting, I use the ViewSonic LCD monitor as an external monitor. Mounted on the wall behind the desk is a SteelMaster Organizer. On the top shelf of the organizer I have a Dell LCD monitor. I extended the bottom shelf with a piece of plywood that protrudes over the desk to hold my laptop and my coffee tumbler. I use the other shelves in the organizer for papers.


Left to Right: SteelMaster Horizontal Origanizer, ViewSonic LCD Monitor, Dell LCD Monitor HTML map generator


And yeah, I know. It’s not a glorious workstation. I had to MacGyver the standing desk from leftovers in the department storage closet. Another department was kind enough to give me another old monitor after they remodeled some offices. What can I say? I’m a scavenger. I’m always on the lookout for ways to use redundant campus equipment, e.g., my last standing desk.


Got a redundant podium and a filing cabinet? Then you’ve got a standing desk. #recycle #gradSchool


I’ve had a few laptops and a tablet over the last 10 years. I’ve found that I strongly prefer Apple’s operating systems to Microsoft’s operating system. I also prefer smaller and lighter devices over larger and heavier devices; it makes travel and bike commuting a lot more tolerable. And when I’m traveling I find that I prefer screens that are no larger than a piece of paper. That leaves me with two options: an iPad or a small Macbook. I’ve tried iPads, but they just didn’t do everything I needed to do. The main problem is that iOS is miles away from OS X. So I went with the macbook air. It’s small, light, durable (no glass panel display), and powerful enough for my daily needs. Plus, I get 9-10 hours of battery life which is great when I’m traveling.





So that’s my desk. Sometimes I sit. Sometimes I stand. And when I stand I prefer to stand on The Level. My trusty workhorse is the macbook air accompanied by one of two computer monitors.



Thoughts about the steup? What is your desk setup like? Or if you’re undecided about a setup, what do you want out of a setup?Thoughts, pics, links, etc. are welcome in the comments.


† Here’s an example. First, some background. When I’m at my desk, my back is to the door. And the door is almost always open. When I am reading and writing, I often listen to music. And sometimes I find myself dancing to the music…with my back to the door…while the door is wide open. Once in awhile I catch myself and then turn around to find a couple of students laughing at me from the hallway.