New Desk and Computer in Home Office

I alluded to this project in an earlier post but the job wasn’t done at that point.

The old desktop was a tiny sewing table that I found on the side of the road. It worked but it was too small and wicked tall! The iMac was feeling sluggish and when I reviewed my records, I was surprised to find that it was already 5 years old.

old workstation – in basement now

The new desktop was made of resawn (a woodworking term) sapele (a species of wood known colloquially as “African Mahogany”), an old mahogany file cabinet and a new cabinet to hold the cpu with vintage “amplifier grill cloth” on the front for breathability and style. I purchased the AmazonBasics Mid-Back Mesh Chair and it’s a good value.

new workstation

The new computer is a homemade Windows 10 PC with the following specs:

  • AOC G2460PF 24″ Free Sync Gaming Monitor
  • Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers
  • Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920
  • Corsair Carbide Case Silent Edition
  • 500W PSU
  • Asus Z170 motherboard
  • Skylake 3.5 Quad-Core CPU
  • 16GB DDR4
  • WD Blue 4TB HDD
  • 250GB m.2 SDD
  • Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic desktop suite
  • Microsoft Windows 10

One additional detail: I did a little custom electronic work to wire a switch that would toggle the audio output between the headphones and the speakers. This is immensely useful and quite satisfying in comparison to making those adjustments in software.

Overall, I’m really happy with the setup. It’s fast and should be happy to last for around 5 years.

Gravely 812 Partial Restoration

I’ve had a Gravely 812 for around 10 years now and I like her a lot. She is as old as me, built in 1973. She’s a brickhouse and even has a cigar lighter in the dash. She’s really jumpy when put in gear but there’s a few things about her that I really like:

  1. PTO: it stands for power take-off and it’s really cool. All old tractors have it – it’s a spinning shaft that you can connect to various attachments; snowblower, wood chipper, mower deck, tiller, brush hog, etc.
  2. Hydraulics: this 812 comes equipped with hydraulic lift. It’s the premium way to raise or lower the mower deck or snow plow
  3. Repairable: lots of new tractors are disposable. Not the Gravely 812. She has a Kohler 12 HP motor and parts are readily available.

I sometimes look at old cars and want to restore one. That’s a big job, but getting the gravely into better shape is a much more practical goal in that I already own one and I can restore a neglected part and resume using the tractor. There are limited parts and it really looks good when cleaned up.

Anyway, I took the hood off and cleaned, hammered straight, sanded, removed decals, painted and applied new decals that I ordered online.

Salesforce Project Completion

This year, I worked with Brown University to transition from legacy application and enrollment technology and their inherited problems to a new platform. We started from the ground up; facing legacy services approaching and surpassing their sunset dates.

We found replacement products available from a variety of vendors. The legacy backbone was Ellucian Banner. While Ellucian offered solutions in the same spheres as what we needed, we found that the systems didn’t handle the full lifecycle of the user. We decided to go with Salesforce.

We needed an application and an enrollment system. Standard products offered those with some handling of user records, but we went with a user-centered system and used TargetX for application and built a home-grown system for enrollment with a combination of our course catalog and a salesforce cart to manage registrations.

The key difference is central: who is at the center? a process or the user.

This was a major transition and we are still ironing out the details of how to integrate Salesforce data into our legacy systems. For example, we need to take Salesforce registrations and their associated costs and pass that data into our billing system. This is not a mindless transition. We need to maintain our legacy billing system while providing a new input from Salesforce. There’s a lot of technology supporting the transition but also a lot of stress that it is done right.

For now, it is a work in progress. I’ll have to talk about it more in future posts…


Kitchen Island

Our kitchen had a dated counter against the wall. It was fine for a few years, but it was made of 1/2″ particle board. As time passed it was falling apart. The particle board had broken corners and the dowel joinery was coming apart. It bowed when I would smash garlic.

This winter, I built a new island, situated in the center of the kitchen with more storage space and stronger construction. Featuring sapele lumber and solid brass hardware, this island is build to last and has a luxurious amber hue that stands out within the rest of the existing, dated kitchen.

I finished it today. This is the biggest woodworking project that I have worked on. It tested and developed my skills. In particular, my need for featherboards and my ability to resaw thick boards at the bandsaw. We are still moving into it but this is the current state of things:

My New Desktop

Shoot! I should have taken a pic before I replaced the old desktop. Welp? The old desktop was a tiny sewing table that I found on the side of the road. It worked but it was too small and wicked tall!

The new desktop was made of resawn (a woodworking term) sapele (a species of wood known colloquially as “African Mahogany”), an old file cabinet and a orange crate from the mid century.

Fun to have a nice, clean platform on which to compute.

In future posts, I will upgrade my 5 year old iMac to a brand new Windows 10 pc with a curved monitor and the Microsoft Sculpt keyboard and mouse suite.

Along the way, I’d like to “design” a way to handle the -> right side so that the hardware is discreet, yet accessible.

Post any thoughts in the comments section:)