Improving Your Workspace

By Jim Purcell, Secretary, Tampa PC Users Group

Our workspace requirements are sometimes obvious because we have been using the same space, furniture and equipment for years and are perfectly happy with what we have. This is probably not completely true for most of us because it’s rare that there is no change in all of these factors for any of us.

There is an awful lot of assistance out there to help you decide how to approach and accomplish your goal. I won’t attempt to discuss all of these possibilities, if for no other reason than the fact that the article would consume more than one newsletter and still wouldn’t answer all of your questions. I have just been through this process so I’ll give you a quick summary of what I considered, the sources of information I used in reaching a decision and the resulting workspace.

Goal: About five and a half years ago my wife and I began a project, which I have used to identify my workspace requirements. We started by cataloging our estimated 1800 35 mm slides taken between 1953 and 1985. We also began accumulating and arranging any pictures of our family history, both slides and black and white prints and negatives, up to the time we met in high school. We already had begun to accumulate pictures after that time, once we were married. I became interested in photography at an early age. My next door neighbor and best friend since we were 4 years old had our first photo lab in his mother’s wash shed in 1947. I got my first 35mm camera in 1953, after college graduation and marriage. My wife also became interested in photography as the number of our children increased at a steady pace from zero to five. When the three grandchildren started arriving, the previous numbers were quickly eclipsed. As a result, in addition to the slides, we have about twelve hundred color negatives in APS format and hundreds of black and white and color photos and negatives to scan. The goal is to create a searchable cross referenced library of all of the images on DVD and on external hard drives. The second part would be to produce DVD slide shows which depict our family and show how our lives evolved in these areas, to give our children and grandchildren a good view of the conditions that existed when and where they were born in the United States and in Germany.

Required conditions: I have long been a fan of Katrin Eismann, an internationally recognized artist, author and educator. She seems to be most proud of her role as educator. In a book that she coauthored with Sean Duggan, they devoted four-and-a-half pages to "Building a Digital Darkroom." It covers practically everything you consider in building a workspace to fit your needs. I discussed their recommendations with some of the many knowledgeable members that we have in our group to try to fit their recommendations to my needs and to update equipment changes since the book was published in 2008.

Equipment: After my information gathering, I decided to, at least initially, keep all of the equipment that I had: (1.) A Dell Laptop Inspiron 9100 with Windows XP that I have had for several years, (2.) A Dell Desktop Dimension 8300 with Windows XP that I have also had for several years, (3.) An HP Pavilion dv6675us laptop with Vista Ultimate 64 bit (4gb of memory) that I purchased about a year and a half ago to replace the Dell laptop, (4.) A Minolta Dimage Scan Dual III film scanner that was purchased several years ago and (5.) An Epson Perfection 3200 Photo scanner that I have had for over four years. I also plan to keep all of my printers, which will not have much effect on the project, with the exception of an all-in-one that could provide limited scanning of photos and documents. I added a new scanner, the Epson Perfection V700 Photo. This dual lens scanner will provide increased quality and speed. It can batch scan 12 slides or negatives, as opposed to four with my other scanners. I may be able to quickly pass my other Epson scanner on to one of my children, but I wanted to try a few weeks of production to see whether it is needed. The last thing that I added and the pride of my stable is a new desktop. Merle Nicholson provided me with a parts list to order and allowed me to help him put it together (I held the flashlight and gritted my teeth). I never saw so many pipes and towers. It looked like it had been designed in Los Alamos. Briefly, it has Vista Ultimate 64 bit, 8GB of memory, an AMD Phenom II X4 940 Deneb 3.0GHz Quad-Core Black Edition Processor, 2 Sata 150GB 10,000 RPM drives combined into one drive using RAID technology for program files and a 750GB 7200 RPM Sata drive for data files and two Samsung 22" monitors. There should be no doubt that this configuration will provide rapid processing of photos in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Furniture: Once I decided on the equipment, I started searching for additional furniture. I decided to get all of the additional furniture from IKEA, Their furniture is modular and can be easily shaped to use the available space. You can add to the furniture if you need to do so at a later date. Their design is innovative and easy to modify. There is an assembly requirement so don’t buy it on Christmas Eve. It is sturdy as a rock but also just as heavy. IKEA has a program that you can download that allows you enter your dimensions and window and door placements to create a scale model of your room to which you can add the exact furniture that you wish to buy and it is loaded into your room to scale. The program allows you to move the furniture around to fit the model. I was also able to insert a model of my old non-IKEA desk to make sure that it all fit. Once you are satisfied, you close out and print. You get a layout of your room and a list of the parts you need to assemble the furniture. You take them both to IKEA, and their representative in the show room that has assembled models of your furniture will review the list with you to make sure that it’s accurate. He or she will then print a new list which identifies the bin number where each part is located. The special tools such as allen wrenches are provided, but if you’re doing much, you’ll be much happier if you have a power screwdriver and a ratchet socket wrench. This is also a two person job although I did assemble a mobile drawer unit by myself.

Ikea design

Workflow: I’ll give a short summary of my thoughts on workflow. First you probably wonder why I’m clinging to all of this old equipment. The oldest of my equipment is the Dell laptop and the Minolta film scanner. I plan to use them together for one purpose only, to scan the APS film cartridges. The Minolta scanner is old but it is the only scanner that can process this film and, though it’s slow, it can batch process a whole roll (25 negatives). The Dell laptop is slow but this is the only use I intend to make of the computer and it can scan practically unattended. The older of my Epson flatbed scanners I plan to use with my Dell desktop for digitizing photos of high-quality and medium-size black-and-white negatives. The new laptop will be used as a new laptop but is capable of running the new high-quality scanner. The new desktop with the dual monitors will be used editing, organizing and creating slide shows and, hopefully, intelligent archives that will be useful to my children and grandchildren. u

room layout