Steppin’ Up

Posted by: Mike Rustici
Date: June 25, 2008
Categories: Culture, The Office

 

We’ve always said that our people are our most important asset…and as a software company, they’re really our only asset. It only makes sense to keep employees comfortable, happy and productive. This Spring we decided that since we needed a few new computers anyway, we might as well take the opportunity to refresh everybody’s work environments and step things up a notch. Here’s what we came up with:


 

30 Inch Monitors
Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP-HC

These are a godsend! If you’ve never worked with 2560×1600 resolution on a 30 inch monitor, I’m here to tell you it’s a life altering experience and there’s no going back. Combine the 30 inch monitor with the native display on our laptops, Mac’s Spaces and VMWare Fusion and it suddenly feels like the entire world is at your finger tips (where the figurative “world” is defined as everything a geeky programmer could want).

MacBook Pro Laptops
MacBook Pro 15 in, upgraded to 4GB RAM

When we told everybody they could get new computers a couple folks asked if they could get Macs instead of PCs. We said “sure” and told everybody they could have the same option. To my surprise, every single developer came back and said they’d like a Mac. Wow! That’s a tectonic shift if I’ve ever seen one….especially since we’re a Microsoft development shop! I decided to give it a try as well and I am a total convert. Sure, the the Mac isn’t perfect and there are some annoyances, but by and large it’s a much better working environment.

My newly computer literate father-in-law asked me what makes it so much better and I had a hard time coming up with an answer, but was able to use an analogy from something he once told me about shopping for a house. He said, “when you go into a house, shake the banister at the bottom of the stairs, if it’s solid, then the house is probably well built, if it wiggles then the contractor probably cut a few corners”. Well on the Mac the banister is solid as a rock.

I’ve been wondering what’s behind this huge swing of momentum that Apple seems to be gaining. It’s got to be more than the iPod and those snappy Mac/PC ads. Here’s what makes it a better choice for us:

-Vista’s not so hot. It really was a step backwards in productivity for us to have Vista installed for anybody.

-All our important applications are web based and with Firefox it doesn’t matter what OS we’re using. Our Email (Google Apps for Domains), CRM (SalesForce.com), Wiki (Confluence), Accounting (QuickBooks), Source Control (Subversion) and Defect Tracking (OnTime) are all web based applications and we even used Google Docs for a lot of things. Some web applications, like Quickbooks, are quite annoying in explicitly disallowing Mac clients, but we’re able to work around the limitations.

-VMWare Fusion rocks. We do all of our development work on a clean Windows XP virtual machine. Development on a clean VM is actually much better than development on a native PC. Not only is it free of all the normal clutter, but when XP starts to drag after using it for 6 months, we can just start fresh with a new VM image…and since we all share a common image, improvements to the environment are naturally shared across developers.

Sweet Chairs
Herman Miller Aeron

There just isn’t a better chair on the market. They’re comfortable, durable, and almost a decade gaining popularity with the dot coms, they still look cool. We like to take care of our employees, their mind, body, spirit…and yes, even their butts.

Desks
We haven’t come up with any ideas for new desks yet, but it seems to be the last missing piece of the ultimate workspace. Anybody have any thoughts on what makes a great desk? Is there an “Aeron chair of desks out there”?