Category: General

My REAL remote office on a real budget

Well, we’re all cam girls now.

That was a very funny joke made by a friend back when all of this isolation began a year ago. It was around my birthday that Covid-19 hit big and everything shut down.

Now many of us are back to work, and those of us who can are working remotely most or all of the time. I use remotely because when I work from home I actually work.

Now to the point. Like many people, I was forced to figure out a home office without having set one up before the pandemic. I had to do this on a budget when most supplies were out of stock or were being price gouged by jerks. The articles I find for ‘budget remote work often give a budget of over $1,000. I believe a lot of people don’t have that as spare cash to blow.

So, here’s my non-exhaustive list of home office supplies on an extremely skinny budget. It’s not perfect, however I like to think it’s a pretty decent office at a realistic cost for most people. We will presume that you have a laptop with a docking station or port replicator or a desktop computer to use as the minimal base.

  • Webcam – I like the Logitech 920. It has great video in my experience, and it is very reasonable if you can get one at retail. I paid about $70 for mine. The Logitech C270 is a good runner-up, but truly anything is better than the camera in your laptop.
  • Desk – I spent $100 for an office quality desk at a used furniture warehouse. Search your classified ads, FB marketplace, and Craigslist. I’ve noticed many people are upgrading so if you look you could find a good deal as well.
  • Chair – Already had one. Be sure to get a good one. So many people are frightened when they see a chair over $200, but paying $500 for something you’ll be sitting in for 8 hours a day isn’t too bad. After all, you spend more on a bed where you spend the same amount of time.
  • Monitors – There was a clearance deal at Wal-mart that I caught for 24 inch monitors at a cost of $70/each. So, for $140 I was able to have a complete 3 monitor setup in my office on my discount desk. If you keep an eye out, these deals happen quite often.
  • Power strip – We have to power everything, don’t we? I picked up this Anker power strip on Amazon. It has enough outlets for laptops, monitors, and some USB ports to power up phones or peripherals for about $30.
  • Keyboard and mouse – I had a spare lying around of each, but if you don’t, you can pick up a very basic set for $15.

From here we’re talking about extras, however they can help make your home office better and better looking.

  • Mouse pad – My mouse was jumping around the screen a lot, so I picked up this Amazon Basics XXL mouse pad. It’s much bigger than I anticipated. I would suggest the regular size or XL, if such a thing exists. It did solve my jumpy problem and seems of decent quality for $13.
  • Laptop stand – This can pull double duty as a laptop riser or tablet holder. For me it helps my laptop screen be level with my other monitors and that keeps me from having a sore neck. Well worth the $13.
  • Headset with microphone – You can do them separately or use what’s built into your laptop, but separate equipment will sound better and keep your conversations more private. Caught this Razer Kraken model on sale for $40. It’s worth it. My hearing isn’t very good, but everything sounds good to me and people say my audio sounds much better to them. Please don’t use Airpods. Several people on my meetings use them and their audio is indiscernible.
  • Ethernet adapter – Wired is always better than wireless for audio and video. My new laptop doesn’t have an Ethernet port unfortunately. This model from Anker plugs in and works without any setup for only $20.
  • Lighting – This is more vanity for Zoom calls, but lighting can help you look better. Here is a tutorial with some tips for your ‘studio’. I purchased this ring light with a webcam mount for adjustable front-lighting and webcam spacing at $22.
    • These LED bulbs for $20 in bulk to have uniform ceiling lighting and in my lamp (which I reused from the garage with a new shade).
    • Background – These Amazon Basics LED rope lights will soon go around the edge of my desk to create some more texture. I’m not sure if they will stay or not, but for $22 they’re worth a shot. I purchased these clips to hold them up as the included clips are screw-in and I don’t want to move a 10′ L-shaped wood desk again.
  • Plant and decor – This helps add to the background. It’s pure vanity but like I said at the start, we’re all stars now. I picked up a cheap fake plant like this one from Amazon. Mine was $10 at Ross. I also have a pop storm trooper canvas print that isn’t hung yet from Ross for $10.
  • Rug – $25 cheapie on sale from Amazon. It’s 8×5 and keeps noise down while keeping my feet warm when I kick off my shoes at my desk.

There you go. I think that’s my complete setup for my office. It all adds up, but you don’t have to do it all at once. This collection was done over the course of a year by picking up items as I came across deals. My loose math comes to about $500 for the whole thing. That’s much less than most people have for their whole budget in articles I’ve read.

My super-budget office

Don’t buy into the idea that you need to spend a fortune for a reasonable and good looking home office where you look professional.

Bonus purchase – I spent $160 for a portable second monitor that lets me keep a second screen up when I’m not actually in my remote office. It’s very useful, especially if you work from more than one space regularly or if you’re short on permanent space.

Quarantine Day 3

Well today I ventured out to scrounge some toilet paper. We’re now down to Charmin Essentials and there are only 4 rolls total. Two Wal-marts, Target, and a Schnucks later I was able to find one four-pack of WM house paper. I’m sure it will be equivalent to sandpaper, but oh well.

Target did have some Bounty paper towels in the giant pack so that’s the final line of defense, minus unmatched socks (ew). Here’s to hoping people reign in their crazy before it gets to that point.

The kids are coping well, even the furry ones. For some reason Tiger looks fat in this picture, but she most definitely isn’t. Molly is though. I’m dealing with typical adulting stress with the layoff and bills and I forgot to get cat food and and and…

You get the point. Pretty sure we’ll all come out of this unscathed but it is an interesting time to be living. I hope we learn to keep some supplies on hand in the future. A tornado, or flood, or earthquake – any of these are more than capable of disrupting daily life and causing us to stretch a little further than normal. Keep that in mind.

Now, where’s my quarantini…

2020 Quarantine Day 2

Tiger isn’t worried.

So, today I took stock and we’re down to a couple of rolls of toilet paper and 1/4 roll of paper towels. Kinda pissed at the idiots who cleared the shelves and caused supply lines to be all askew.

Normally I have a lot of paper products on hand because we won’t ever not use them. TP is a staple similar to milk, eggs, and flour. Unfortunately I was just letting our supply run because I do normally have a stockpile and I hadn’t seen any good deals lately.

Enter COVID-19 and BOOM – idiots hoarding. Now I’m in a house with 3 people and 4 pets and no paper supplies.

On the positive side, we are solid on food staples except meat. The butcher was charging about $6/# for ground beef. Luckily I found another shop only charging $4/#, but we still yet may be moving to vegetarian whether willingly or not.

However, everyone is in good health and for that I’m thankful. It’s also comforting that we should be able to ride this out in our home, and not everyone is so lucky. I hope anyone who reads this is doing well. If I can be of assistance in this trying time, please let me know.

Delirium – don’t believe the hype

I had seen at least one recommendation for this film that raved and said it was an unsung hero in the horror genre that went completely unnoticed. Well, it was something.

We sat through the whole thing, but it was definitely not interesting at all. I appreciate that the actors did their best and the idea they tried to convey was interesting, however it didn’t jam well in our opinion.

Truth be told we kept waiting for dude-bros to start dying and hoping for some grisly justice in exchange for out time. It never came. I wish I could remember what site recommended this turd so that I could go and voice a dissenting opinion. I mean, this movie wasn’t even good in a ‘so bad it’s good’ way that some classics pull off. It was just badly put together.

Again, I get the idea they tried to pull off, but it didn’t come together and in the end you keep hoping for the characters to die, but they don’t. Avoid this even on late-night reruns.

Shudder Saga Continues (via Prime)

Well, the entire reason we started the Shudder trial via Amazon Prime was to watch a film that caught my interest, Found Footage 3D. That was a couple of weeks ago but we still haven’t watched that particular movie. We have discovered quite a few other offerings on Shudder which have kept us busy and entertained.

Some of the movies have been yawns, classics – cult and otherwise, B-level, C-level, and some that we just missed because so many films are put out each year. Frankly we keep forgetting about movies that sound interesting via the trailers but then they get lost in the myriad of tent-pole trailer onslaught.

One show we gave a shot was The Shuttle with (starring?) Tony Curran from the sci-fi show I actually liked called Defiance. It thoroughly deserves its current 3-star rating. It wasn’t a great film because it falls on its face a few times and drags out a little longer than it should. That being said, you should give it a shot if you have 90 minutes to kill.

The scenes that are good are very good for the thriller genre, especially of late. Tony Curran gives a great performance. Granted the young male actors aren’t perfect, but they fill their purpose as typical fodder. If nothing else, you should appreciate the ending which does not cow to a tidy ending that most expect.

Spoilers follow

Open-ended stories are good occasionally, and this one pulls it off. Frankly I was shocked at how awful the ending is for the other lead character if you take it to its conclusion and I loved it. It’s not for everyone, but worth a watch if you’re in a dry spell for the parts that are pretty good.