Adam Tuttle

Standing Desk Update 3: No More Boxes

Just a quick update this time. I posted a photo of my now-completed standing desk setup on Facebook and someone asked a few questions. I figured it bore posting here for the wider audience that may be following along.

As previously mentioned, I was taking a stab at a DIY standing desk because I heard that the Varidesk that I had my eye on gave first-impressions of being wobbly, which is not acceptable given how much they cost!

Jin built his own standing desk, and I did a variation on his setup. Since I have a wall-mounted TV for a monitor, I only needed something to raise my keyboard and mouse up to the right height, and provide enough desk surface area to get my work done. As it turned out, the IKEA LACK coffee table looked like it was going to be just about the right height when combined with my existing desk —with no need to bolt anything to the front of it— and it cost less than $40 including shipping to my doorstep.

My completed standing desk

I ordered that and it came over the weekend. I wanted to use it for a day or two before posting about it so that I could be sure I didn't need to attach a shelf to the front or shorten the legs. I got lucky and the table is almost exactly to the right height. If I start slouching or lean too heavily on one leg then my arms start to angle up a little bit, but otherwise it's near perfect without any modifications at all.

One of the questions I get asked a lot about standing is how long it took me to adjust. The first day I absent-mindedly powered through, standing for basically the entire day without any issues... until the next morning. My legs and lower back were very sore, as you would expect if you start using muscles for ~8 hours a day that you have basically ignored for the last decade.

After that I started using a Pomodoro timer to remind myself to take sitting breaks now and then; but that didn't last very long (just like when I tried using a pomodoro timer to allocate specific times for mental focus/breaks...) I found it was easier just to try to take one brief break about half way through my morning, sit again for about an hour while I have lunch, and then take another brief break some time in the afternoon. That seems to be enough for me. My legs and back still get a little sore, but it's only been a few weeks. I expect they'll get stronger and used to the work eventually.

I've also been asked about what sort of monitor I'm using. Am I still using that cheap-o 4K TV I previously mentioned? Nope. It was... ok. There was noticeable mouse lag, because it was operating at 30Hz, and that wound up driving me nuts. I returned it and bought a slightly smaller 1080p LG TV instead. 1080p isn't the highest resolution around, but it gets the job done and the frame rate is up to snuff. Standing this close to it, text gets a little fuzzy at times. If I knew that I might have gone with something in the neighborhood of 25" instead of 30", to increase physical pixel density.

All of these super-high pixel density phones and tablets have kind of spoiled me.

I'm glad to see that super-high-resolution monitors are now becoming more popular. I'm sure that's the route I'll be going in the long run. In another year or two this TV will be repurposed, and I expect to have a new computer (capable of super-high-resolutions) and a 5k monitor.

I expect this will probably be my last update on my standing desk for quite some time, unless there are enough questions to warrant another post.

Standing Desk Update 2: 16 Days and Counting

Time to check in on my progress standing again!

I'm still standing! In fact, most days I stand for the entire day, except my lunch break. There was one day that I had to hang out downstairs while I was working to keep an eye on my kid —he only had a half-day of school— and one day that I met up with Steve to do some coworking, and we sat. Otherwise, I've been on my feet, and honestly, it feels great!

I can't decide whether or not I like wearing my shoes while I'm on my anti-fatigue mat, but I tend to go without if I'm on the fence. This is probably because my shoes are a couple of years old now and likely not providing the same support they did fresh out of the box. If I need to make several trips out of the house, I'll just keep them on.

I have in fact lost a few pounds so far. It's been just over two weeks and I'm down about 5 pounds; but I'm also being much more conscious about portion control and gave up caffeine/soda about a month before I started standing. I attribute the weight loss mostly to the latter two, not so much to standing, but I also know for a fact that I'm moving around on my feet a lot more that I did previously and my legs and lower back are not at all happy about it. This is a good thing!

I usually realize that I'm feeling pretty tight after a few hours of standing and take a minute to stretch out my back and legs, and that helps greatly. Just a few quick yoga poses and I'm back to work. I don't buy into the whole spiritual side of yoga, but I'll be damned if I've ever been taught better stretches.

My posture is much better, too. At least while I'm standing, so that's ~8 hours per day that I am not slouching in my chair like I used to. I may not sit up straight at the dinner table, but 8 hours of good(ish) posture is better than zero, so I'll take it! I probably don't have perfect posture, but it's noticeably better. I'm happy with it.

For now I'm still using my setup of a cardboard box on a couple of soda crates (my "standing rig" as I've taken to calling it). Today I bought a slightly smaller keyboard that allows for my mouse to fit beside the keyboard, instead of behind it, on my box, which I already appreciate. Reaching over the keyboard for long periods of mousing (however infrequent) was noticeably uncomfortable while standing. This is a game of angles.

Since I'm pretty convinced that I am going to continue standing for quite some time, I decided it's time to go ahead and spend a little bit of money to legitimize my standing rig. (Sounds so much fancier than 2 soda crates with a printer box on top.) I've kept my eye on the Varidesk for a while now, but a friend that made his own DIY standing desk let me know that a coworker of his got a Varidesk and while it's stable, it's wobbly and not sturdy. How disappointing!

So I started looking at what I would want if I were going to DIY my own, basing my plan on Jin's. I think I'm going to go with something even simpler, though. Since I have a TV mounted on my wall as a monitor, I don't need a multi-level rig, I just need something at the right height for my keyboard and mouse (and accouterment). I ordered a LACK coffee table from Ikea (even cheaper than Amazon!) and I'll trim its legs to the right height. With tax and shipping, that set me back $31.79.

I'll continue to check in as things evolve. For now, I still love standing!

Introducing Zoidbox

A couple of episodes of CFHour ago, Scott made a joke that Luis (of ColdBox, TestBox, ..., *Box fame) should name his next product ZoidBox -- it didn't matter what it did, he just wanted a *Box product named in his likeness (Scott goes by BoyZoid in many places)...

I jumped at the chance, and created created Zoidbox, the IRC bot that attempts to bring the knowledge and wit of @boyzoid to ##coldfusion on freenode. (It's an IRC bot that does helpful and funny things in the chat.)

Over the next week or two other people have gotten involved, and what once was a shoddy script with a mish-mash of messy code has become something —dare I say— beautiful.

We refactored the core down to just a few lines of code and setup a system for plugins to be easily added. It's hosted on a free-tier heroku cloud instance, and uses continuous deployment: Any time one of us merges a pull request or pushes to the master branch, zoidbox is re-deployed automatically.

It's funny how the things that start out as a joke can become interesting, complex, and yes, beautiful. I'm really proud of the code we've put together for Zoidbox so far; and the work will probably continue for the foreseeable future. Not only is it fun to have the bot in the chat, it's fun to work on him.

Just one more reason you should join us in the ##coldfusion IRC channel!

Tips for building HTML5 Games

HTML5 is brilliant not only because it allows developers to draw graphics easier for their games, but also because it's very versatile. HTML5 can run on phones, tablets, PC, and many other platforms to date.

HTML5 is very easy to use yet delivers outstanding results, which is probably the reason why casino gaming sites use it in the creation of their games now. InterCasino, the world’s oldest online casino that was released to the public in 1996, is now using HTML5 in the development of their games. One look at the site’s recently-released games and players can see the transition from good to superior graphics, which is something that HTML5 can easily do.

In this article, we’ll give you tips on how to get started with an HTML game development. Remember, HTML5 is all about versatility so developers have to consider all the platforms available today.

Use a framework

First of all, a framework is important in the development of games. It will help make game animations run very smoothly.

Slots use a lot of reel movement, sound effects, images, and other animations when players hit the free spin bonus. Since slot games use a lot of resources, it will take some time for devices to fully load them. In HTML5, images and sounds load intermittently, making some images pop up on the screen even if they’re not supposed to show yet, or sounds that execute out of timing. This is why a framework is important in the creation of HTML5-based games.

The Molecule Framework created by independent developer Francisco Santos is a great tool to work with, not just with slot games but with any other game genres as well. It's very easy to learn since it follows a design that game developers are mostly familiar with, and it's also lightweight since it doesn't need an external library or additional frameworks to function.

Create resolutions for small devices

The reason why most triple A titles fail when they get ported on tablets or smartphones is because developers don’t create support for small screens. When games with high-resolution get ported to smartgadgets as is, it will load really slowly and the frame rates won’t run smoothly at all. Screen sizes vary greatly between different devices so if you want your games to run efficiently, make sure to consider multiple screen support.

Check out this site and remember to create resolutions based on different smartphone screen sizes.

Master the basics

Before you can run, learn how to walk. While IGT-made slot machines are the benchmark of the modern slot games, developers need to have a good background on how to create them. Bravenewmethod.com has a great post on how to make a basic slot machine game that utilizes the power of HTML5. Get a good grip on the basics of creating slots using HTML5 and you will be able to create games that rival IGT’s modern games in no time!

Thanks to HTML5, creating games are now easier for newbie programmers to learn. If you are a complete beginner of HTML5, or programming in general, consider the sites below to get you started:

This is a contributed post