To add to your point, being a (self proclaimed) nerd and not a geek: I don't care about new technologies, I do not own a smartphone, hell, I don't have anymore Facebook or Twitter, I found what's posted on 37signals very boring and devoid of interesting information. I am, however, surprised by the huge number of people that upvote these kind of posts.
To answer the article without really reading it, and again it's because of my nerdy side I don't care on what I am working as long as I have a desk, an OK mouse, an OK screen, and OK keyboard, that's it, I am happy.
> I don't care on what I am working as long as I have a desk,
> an OK mouse, an OK screen, and OK keyboard, that's it, I am
Also I can't really see the correlation between building a good product and a desk or its organization. What build a good product is a good team, a good organization, good and proven tools.
It reminds of a story with a friend, this guy was quite rich and was trying to learn guitar, so when he started he bought a $3000+ guitar (Martin D20 or something approaching), but given his skills a 1000 or even $500 dollars guitar could have suited his needs for the next 5 years. He didn't play better than somebody else with better tools, maybe worse because of the complexity of repairing the guitar. What drives the product is the skill of the programmer, the tools are secondary.
But I might be wrong!
When it comes to using a computer all day, every day, having great (not just okay) input devices, and great (not just okay) monitors not only can make you more productive, but also save your eyes and prevent RSI. Desks also fall into this category of saving your actual health.
Save Noah, it's just an Apple Store. Sam's apartment/house looks great, though.
It's effective in my opinion for a few reasons. One, it's personal/voyeuristic, which will make at least some people interested and also, if you have a positive response, connected to the fact that there are real people working on the big product they're about to launch. Making a company feel human and intimate is an important branding goal these days, and something they talk about a lot.
Second, as someone else mentioned, it emphasizes their "work-from-home" message. When I look at those desks, I see comfort. Every day is like staying home from work. Gee, it sure must be nice to work like that!
There's even a subtle power/wealth signal, I would argue, in DHH's setup and the fresh flowers on all the office desks.
I always like sitting down to a table at a restaurant that has a small simple arrangement of fresh flowers. It's a great detail and it brings color and life to your immediate surroundings. Plus, nature is the greatest designer so there's no better influence.
We have the flowers switched out weekly. They're different each week and each desk has a different arrangement. We also have weekly arrangements in the kitchen, the lounge area, and in the front entrance.
For those in Chicago, I highly recommend the good people at http://asraigarden.com for this service. They take great care of us.
We also have some plants that don't fit on desks, like this - name says it all - elephant-ear plant:
We (http://Academia.edu) got them all from the plant-warehouse in downtown SF:
edit: We go to A New Leaf in the Monadnock building a couple of blocks away from the office. Always a nice selection, changes frequently, and we can get a few beautiful stems for 5 or 6 dollars.
I re-read the post and can't find anything qualifying as arrogant or exaggerating. I'm not a 37Signals expert, and I'm sure there are examples elsewhere, but certainly with regards to this post you're off base.
No laptop on the market today has enough storage capacity or RAM (save for the MBPs that can take 16GB I suppose) to be my only computer. I do a mix of iOS and web and systems development - not too different of a workload from these guys, I'm sure. I've also noticed laptops slow down a fair bit when you plug in an external display and make the GPU work overtime pushing all those pixels. So, what gives? Have these guys just never tried working on a maxed-out desktop machine so they don't know how good it is, and they just assume that waiting around for your computer to do stuff is normal and acceptable?
Another nail in the coffin, I suppose...
Dell Precision M6600, Core i7-2820QM 2.3GHz,16GB (can take 32GB), graphics cards up to Nvidia Quadro 5010M 4GB, 1080p resolution display, SATA 3 SSDs
Local server stack + dev tools + collaboration tools, essentially.
SSD helps, as swapping fast is better than swapping slow, but best is not swapping at all.
Having your whole working life on a single laptop (with multiple types of backups) is a real convenience and time saver.
More seriously, I think that your setup would hurt my eyes. Having a dedicated monitor is far nicer than using a laptop, but you have screens dominating your peripheral vision. One decent-sized screen is much nicer in my opinion.
If so, I salute you. I'm still 14 purges away from that level of minimalism.
Interesting to see so many people working remotely.
I think that's the subtle point of the post. A huge part of their world view is "work where you want, when you want". And of course, they just happen to sell tools that help people work remotely from wherever and whenever. I applaud how much the Signals practice what they preach.
What I just do not get is how they all can only work with a laptop, sometimes an Air. I think the screen space would be to limiting for me to stay productive.
Favorite: Sam's desk. Clean, minimalistic, lots of light,...
I would expect people who use them take health more seriously in other aspects of their life as well thus increasing their life expectancy anyway...
Best is to sit, but NOT for long uninterrupted periods. There was a good article about this a while ago from Cornell University ergonomics researchers: http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/CUESitStand.html
Here was their bottom line recommendation:
Sit to do computer work. Sit using a height-adjustable,
downward titling keyboard tray for the best work posture,
then every 20 minutes stand for 2 minutes AND MOVE. The
absolute time isn’t critical but about every 20-30 minutes
take a posture break and move for a couple of minutes.
Simply standing is insufficient. Movement is important to
get blood circulation through the muscles. Research shows
that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise (e.g. jumping
jacks) to get the benefits, just walking around is sufficient.
So build in a pattern of creating greater movement variety in
the workplace (e.g. walk to a printer, water fountain, stand
for a meeting, take the stairs, walk around the floor, park
a bit further away from the building each day).
Whether you are standing or sitting, as long as you are sedentary, it doesn't make a difference. Both are bad. Sure, sitting can cause you to get varicose veins or carotid atherosclerosis, but standing in one spot all day has it's drawbacks too (http://www.hazards.org/standing/).
Sit for moderate periods of time and then move around for small periods of time during your work day. Also, exercise moderately at least a few times a week. It doesn't have to be go into the gym and push weights around or run on a treadmill for 30 minutes.. Do it at home. A good quick workout that will suffice for moderate exercise, requires little or no equipment and will get the heart working is as follows:
20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest == 1 set,
8 sets == 1 cycle.
Do each of the following exercises as fast as you can, in GOOD form, for 20 seconds. Then take 10 seconds of rest. Repeat 8 times. Work as hard as you can in good form for each 20 second interval. You should improve on the number of repetitions you do each week.
To track your progress, take the lowest number of reps done in a given cycle (one of the 20 second work periods out of the 8 sets) and write it down. Try to improve that number each week.
Do 1 exercise for each cycle: Pushups, Squats, Crunches, Burpee's (Squat thrust), Jump Rope
For example: Pushups, 1 cycle = 8 sets of 20 seconds or hard work followed by 10 seconds of rest.
Do as many pushups as you can in 20 seconds. Stop completely for 10 seconds, do not hold yourself up during this time. Lay down if you can. Start immediately after the 10 seconds is up and do it again.
I substitute my exercises every now and then. For instance, I may change Jump Rope out with rowing on a row machine or doing 20 second sprints. I will substitute Burpee's for Pullups.
Tabata can be as intense or easy as you allow it to be. It is not only outstanding anaerobic conditioning, but great muscular fitness and endurance as well. The best part is it will only take you 22 minutes (2 minutes of a light warm up is good before starting). I'm willing to bet that anyone can find 22 minutes twice week to help better their health. For the days in between your Tabata days, just do some moderate stuff like a nice 20 minute walk, go kayaking, hiking, biking, whatever...
If you're in a crunch for time, take 8 exercises and do 1 cycle. That's a 4 minute intense workout. Much better than no workout at all.
I do this myself and have seen the benefits. I don't run for exercise but was challenged to see how my mile run time would be. I finished the mile in 5 minutes. Not too shabby for somebody that doesn't run at all and only does anaerobic conditioning such as this, Muay Thai, Mountain biking and kayaking.
The data on it is rather common these days, a quick google will turn up several high profile write-ups from sources such as the NY Times.
And if we're just talking logical extrapolation - it makes sense that humans wouldn't benefit from sitting down all day, as it wasn't common to our evolution / how our bodies are designed to work. Caveman Joe didn't sit on his rock for 12 hours typing.
1) Standing is radically more healthy than sitting, or
2) Being upright and walking / moving, is what is radically more healthy than sitting
I think that part of the problem with sitting is the blocking of the circulation system through slightly crimping the arteries in your legs. It strikes me that just standing up alone would relieve a lot of that stress and assist the free flow of blood and oxygen.
So if you want to play it safe, stand up, and move about regularly. If you're standing at your desk, I'd argue it's far more likely you'll move about regularly as you're working on problems throughout the day.
I've read previously that the average American used to walk three to five miles per day a hundred years ago, and that's down to a small fraction of that now.
> 1) Standing is radically more healthy than sitting
"Most varicose veins are relatively benign, but severe varicosities can lead to major complications, due to the poor circulation through the affected limb."
I think the positive evidence for standing versus sitting is overwhelming to put it lightly.
"This isn't actually a new discovery. In a British study published in 1953, scientists examined two groups of workers: bus drivers and trolley conductors. At first glance, the two occupations appeared to be pretty similar. But while the bus drivers were more likely to sit down for their entire day, the trolley conductors were running up and down the stairs and aisles of the double-decker trolleys. As it turned out, the bus drivers were nearly twice as likely to die of heart disease as the conductors were."
That said, I do use a standing desk for about half of my working hours because I think it is healthier to not sit all day.
There have been countless studies done at this point, spanning decades, directly linking severe health effects to sitting down. Particularly radical increases in the risk of heart attack and other severe cardiovascular trauma.
How many medical studies do you need? There seems to be a new study out monthly at this point proving the link between sitting down 8 hours per day and radically increased risk of death.
Unless you think the people sitting down all happen to be the ones carrying an inherently heightened risk of heart attack. See the 1953 British study I referenced above as a simple example. Recent modern studies have found the same results: sitting all day effectively doubles your risk of dying from a heart attack.
That's a bit of an exaggeration. Each day, hundreds of thousands of people sit at their desk for hours, and it's been going on for decades. If it was that destructive, the developer population would have been decimated by now.