Home office design principles


I would love to have lots of monitors and computers rocking in the home office, but I just can’t stand the fan noise. Also annoyingly although my hearing for speech isn’t great, I have the uncanny ability to walk in to a room and hear exactly which electronic devices are turned on. There is a very low volume hum to all devices, and that high pitched noise drives me crazy. This means I want a very quiet office. This has a few design implications though…

Firstly I can’t have a beast of a machine running a whole bunch of monitors. The heat the graphics cards would kick off would necessitate some crazy cooling systems. This also means my Home NAS box I’m wanting to create needs to be pretty quiet. Found a cheap 25 GBP coolermaster case on Overclockers UK, but then what to do about the hard discs? I would get 4-6 SSDs, but trying to get up to the minimum 2 TB (and thus 4TB on RAID 6/10, minimum 4 discs) would be ridiculously expensive. I think I’ll minimise the heat from the machine itself and hope the coolermaster case can keep the drives cool whilst staying quiet. It should manage it because it’s not like I’m using the same machine to rock a bunch of graphics cards, and those cases are designed for gaming applications so the cooling should be good.

I also hate boxes lying around. I’ve been coerced in to keeping my various bits of techie kit (cables, keyboards, 10 year old memory – be honest, you all have these boxes!) in my office. They just get in the damned way. Would love to put them in the loft but its currently not got a ladder or flooring up there. Need to convince the missus that this would be a ‘good idea’. I’m going to try to include some low profile shelving in the office somewhere to store small item boxes, one for RAM, bigger one for cables, etc etc.

Also running out of room in the Library (yes, I have a Library – mainly because I just love Cluedo…)  and am getting fed up running downstairs for reference books. I’m gonna be leaving room between my windows, HDTV and radiator to fit a full A4 / Letter size book shelf. May also put a corner bookshelf above the rear corner of my desk too. Should be able to use this to store some of the smaller often used gear on.

Something else I’m keen on doing is having my own mini museum in the office. I have a few oldies that I’m sure you’ll have heard of. Oldest one is a Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer (“With 1KB RAM!!!”), then an Atari 65XE where I learnt most of my coding. Also have a Compaq iPaq running Linux on it. May use that as a console for the FreeNAS (FreeBSD 8.2) storage machine via USB Ethernet. Just because I can. 8o) Wrote my dissertation on that little pad with a plug in keyboard. Turned a few heads in the library at Uni given it was only early 2002 and the concept was very new. Don’t own a tablet now. Waiting for a PadFone… which will instantly have a terminal emulator put on it naturally.

So to sum up:-

  • Quiet office. Like insanely quiet. We’re talking 16dB max, which is just above a whisper
  • Information at my fingertips for working – 2/3 monitors (yet to figure out how best to do this)
  • Media accessible in the room from dedicated hardware (Mac mini has dolby 5.2 optical out too happily enough – may end up taking advantage of that)
  • Tidy with nothing on the floors, paper destroyed and banished, CDs transferred to the NAS and destroyed (they take up sooo much space)

Should be pretty awesome.

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