Name: Jacob Zacks
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, US
Occupation: R&D Semiconductor Test Engineer
Room size: 10.22 m² (110 ft²)
Cost of setup: $15.6K
Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself
Hello! I’m a 25-year-old Computer Engineer living in North Carolina.
I am a Semiconductor R&D Test Engineer working on chips that go into electric cars! I also do some hobbyist photography.
I became interested in technology at a very young age. When I was little, more often than not, I spent my time taking apart anything I could get my hands on to figure out how it worked.
I got my first Apple product when I was nine and developed a deep fascination with Apple (something that can be seen throughout my desk setup).
It was this fascination that inspired me to pursue computer engineering when I went off to university.
I love what I do at work every day, and the inspiration I get from the way I use Apple products allows me to creatively solve problems.
One example of this was an OCR to Barcode generator that allowed me to speed up running experiments.
My eventual goal is to work at Apple in a Hardware Engineering role.
So if you or anyone you know works there, here is my LinkedIn.
Take us through your setup
|Monitor||Apple Studio Display||Monitor mount||Grovemade Wood Stand|
|Laptop||MacBook Pro M1 Pro 2021|
|Speakers||HomePod (2nd Generation), Klipsch Synergy F-30|
|Headphones||AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)|
|Keyboard||Logitech MX Mechanical Mini|
|Mouse||Logitech MX Master 3|
|Chair||Steelcase Leap V2|
|Mouse mat||Amazon Armrest|
|Charging dock||Anker Cryoboost 3-in-1 Charger|
|Tablet||iPad Pro M1, Magic Keyboard|
|Smartphone||iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone (1st Gen)|
|Vintage PCs||Apple II Plus, Macintosh 512K, iMac G3|
|Camera||Ricoh GR IIIx|
I like to think of my workspace as three separate parts: the main desk area where I complete my tasks, the vintage side, and then the equipment closet.
I have been refining my setup for the last 14 years.
I started out with a $20 IKEA laptop stand in the corner of my parents’ bonus room and worked up from there.
Now that I’m living in my own place, I get to dedicate a whole room to my workspace.
I chose this room because it was too small for the guest room, but it was the perfect size for a home office.
The main desk area features all my “current generation” items that I use on a daily basis.
The centrepiece of it is the Apple Studio Display.
I used to own a Pro Display XDR but found that it was overkill, so I sold it and downgraded to something more reasonable once Apple released a regular-priced display.
The image quality isn’t much different between the two with my workflow.
The biggest challenge with my desk was definitely refinishing the top of it.
I bought a six-foot butcher block from Home Depot at the beginning of the pandemic and applied polyurethane to the top of it.
After about two years, I accidentally spilt a few drops of isopropyl alcohol that ate through the finish.
So I had to disassemble everything and carry the butcher block downstairs and into the garage by myself to do the whole process over again.
Ideally, I would like more natural light in the space, just because I only have that one window in the corner.
At a previous house I lived in, one of my walls was almost completely windows and I loved all of that natural light.
When it’s time for me to find my next place, I’m going to make sure that I have more natural light for my desk.
I just recently did some reorganisation, including moving the 3D printer to the closet so I can still have a quiet area to work.
As of right now, I’m happy with how my setup is. I find it works very well for me!
The next item I’m considering for my office is the Vision Pro [editor’s note: the mixed-reality headset by Apple].
What’s your favourite item on your desk?
My favourite item is actually behind the desk: my Apple II Plus.
I inherited it after my late godfather passed away.
I was in San Diego last year visiting, and my godmother had kept it for me to take back to NC whenever I came to visit.
I obviously didn’t have to pay for the computer, but I did spend $300 at UPS to have it shipped back to NC.
This was the computer that my godfather and my father used back when they were in high school.
In addition to that, it’s also a very cool part of Apple history that I now own and have on display next to my other vintage Apple products.
What apps or tools do you use to get things done?
Probably one of my favourite tools I own is my iPad Pro.
It is such a versatile device. I love that I can either use it as a tablet or as an ultraportable laptop.
I keep it on me at all times while I’m working, and it is probably the best device I own for communicating with my coworkers.
A lot of my work as a test engineer is using Visual Studio to develop home-grown applications, as well as Microsoft Office to process the data I gather.
Unfortunately, that software is not that interesting.
On the photography side of things, I enjoy using Pixelmator Pro to edit my photos.
The fact that it is a one-time purchase for most of the functionality of Photoshop is amazing in a world of subscriptions.
What books, blogs, or podcasts recently caught your attention?
A blog that I have been following for a long time is MacRumors.
I have probably gone on that website every day for the last 13 years.
The Apple community is very fun to interact with, and I actually took a lot of inspiration for my desk setup from seeing other people’s setups in the forums.
Any tips for other makers who want to improve their workspaces?
Pick one thing you want to improve and work from that.
It’s very easy to lose sight of the original purpose of the improvements you wanted to make.
What does your typical day look like?
I wake up most days around 8 am.
The first thing I do is check my phone to see if there are any urgent work items I can take care of while I’m still waking up.
I also check Twitter for the latest news. Then I get dressed and head to my desk at home or pack lunch and drive to the office.
My work varies a lot from day to day.
Some days I’m working on a new tool in the lab for testing. Others, I’m doing documentation.
This variation is what keeps it exciting for me. The creative work is what takes up a majority of my time, but I try to carve out blocks in my day to work on the daily administrative tasks.
I have two workspaces, my desk at home as well as my desk at work. When I’m working at home, I spend around four hours at my desk before I take my laptop and go to the couch or outside.
When I’m not working I like taking pictures, spending time with my girlfriend (and cat), biking, 3D printing, and doing home improvement projects.
I started working from home back in 2021 when I started my first job out of university.
Since then, I’ve moved to a hybrid schedule that allows me to work from home when I’m not needed in the lab.
Your tips for working from home?
I’m pretty good at staying on task while working from home.
Since I have my own separate office, it is easy to stay focused on the tasks at hand.
When I take breaks, I either ride my bike (where I often do some of my best thinking) or tackle some chores around the house.
It’s a great balance because at the end of the day, not only do I get all of my work done, but I also get my housework done.
The best advice I can offer to someone who just started working from home is to set up a dedicated working space.
A lot of the people I know will simply take their laptop to the couch and work from there.
Not only is this terrible for your posture, but it also blurs the lines between work and home.
Having a dedicated space allows you to separate the two, and your back will thank you for it!
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