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Talking Time's Top 50 Office Supplies

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Compressed air: I like the idea of this but I hate how quickly the can seems to drain. I've tried using these to dust my toy collection too, and it's just not practical. And I have also not been able to get all of the dust out of my keyboard using one. I still need to buy that hand-vac that Bulgakov recommended upthread...

Coffee:
I didn't start drinking coffee until I started working as a journalist in my 20s, and then it was mostly just because it was around. I generally do have to have a cup in the morning, so I probably have a mild dependence on it. I honestly enjoy it, though.

Calendars:
I don't think I've ever had a desk calendar that I've consistently flipped every month of the year. I always end up leaving one month up for at least three. And dailies are right out.

Rubber bands:
I never use these at work. As a kid, my dad used to tie two together and use them to kill intruding wasps and hornets. He'd shoot it from his fingertip and hit with startlingly good accuracy. I always wondered how he learned to do that.
 

Issun

Let's 90s gaming
Working in a grocery store, rubber bands get a lot of use. Plus there's the giant rubber band ball from Pee Wee's Playhouse.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
As a kid, my dad used to tie two together and use them to kill intruding wasps and hornets. He'd shoot it from his fingertip and hit with startlingly good accuracy. I always wondered how he learned to do that.
...huh, now I’m wondering if I could do that. It’s always a pain when they decide to hang around the ceiling.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator

#35
Microphone

Score: 60 - Votes: 2 - Highest vote: 4th (Bulgakov)​

Bulgakov said:
The essential tool for recording my podcast!

Our voters called out the FiFine and AKG P420. Maybe those mean something to you? Our voters record podcasts sometimes, which is fancier than anything I do with my microphones.

Of course, I do have microphones in my office. I assume everyone has a microphone of some sort these days. That might not have been the case a couple of years ago, but necessity is the mother of corporate spending, and the pandemic created a whole lot of necessity.

What I don't have is a standalone microphone, though, and that's what this entry represents. We'll see another form factor for microphones before the list is through.

Clippit said:
GAME OVER. RETURN OF CLIPPY
 
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Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
I feel some sort of unfocused dread from this last post. I can't put my finger on it. It's like there's a little piece of metal in my brain, clipping my brain folds together. I feel like I need assistance all the time. What's happening!?
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
I was the other podcast-mic vote, though it only actually got used for podcast recording during the pandemic, since when it's not unsafe we usually record in-person using Jeremy's much more extensive audio equipment. But my job actually bought me the mic in question, not for video meetings (a laptop mic is plenty good enough for that), but for recording voice-over for some software release new-features videos I was doing to give to the marketing folks.
 

Bulgakov

Yes, that Russian author.
(He/Him)
One thing that always fascinates me about Microphones: A $150 microphone with an appropriate audio interface will unquestionably get you better sound options and range than a $49 microphone. A $600 microphone will often get you a better sound than a $150 microphone, but other than some specific niche applications less than 10% of your audience will actually notice the difference between the two in the final product. For most situations, the returns continue to diminish as the price of the individual mic goes up.

Every time I try to figure out what's new in microphones, I find people gushing about quality and the need for thousands of dollars worth of equipment because there's a perceived imperative to make your sound as "professional" as possible. Then I turn on NPR and hear countless senators and reporters calling in through skype and zoom and nobody minds because the pandemic has completely retrained our ears.

Fun fact #2: you can make speakers into a microphone and a microphone into speakers, because at their cores they're the same device wired in reverse. (now making a microphone a good speaker, or vice versa, is a bit more difficult).
 

Yimothy

Red Plane
(he/him)
you can make speakers into a microphone

Just before semi-decent recording equipment became ubiquitous in smartphones my crummy band used to record direct to stereo tape cassette using a pair of headphones to mic the drums and the one proper mic we owned for everything else. The results were not exactly good, but it did work.
 

Ixo

"This is not my beautiful forum!" - David Byrne
(Hi Guy)
Clippit's fine; it's Bob's inevitable resurrection that we all need to be worried about.

 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator

#33 (tie)
Gel pen

Score: 62 - Votes: 2 - Highest vote: 4th (Issun)​

Heck yes, gel pens. I was the other voter here. Look at these colors! And the pen-to-paper feel is so good! The fact that gel pens did not rank more highly is not an indictment of gel pens so much as a reflection of the fact that they were destined for greater tasks than office work.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
The fact that gel pens did not rank more highly is not an indictment of gel pens so much as a reflection of the fact that they were destined for greater tasks than office work.
Hrm. It's possible that I meant to vote for these? I think these are the pens I use, which I voted for, but I didn't know they had a special name.
 

Issun

Let's 90s gaming
A black Pilot G2 pen is my writing implement of choice. Ball points are okay in a pinch, but a good gel pen that won't smear is the best pen invention (penvention?) ever.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
#81 (tie)
Desk

Score: 30 - Votes: 1 - Highest vote: 6th (Dracula)​

Is it even an office without a desk?


"Hey, do you have a weird desk-related story?" You bet I do! Jeff Bezos started Amazon out of his garage, with only a dollar and some gumption. Because he didn't have any venture capital, he had to make a desk out of a door laid flat. To this day, Amazon employees use door desks, even though they actually cost more to produce than a normal desk.
 

Falselogic

Techno-Threadcromancer
(they/them)
You forgot to mention Bezos also started with between 100k and 250k starting investment from his family.
 

Yimothy

Red Plane
(he/him)
The desk I use most often at work is a flat piece of laminated chipboard that’s attached to the wall at one end and rests on two metal posts at the other, just big enough to fit a PC and a piece of paper at the same time, if you push the keyboard back onto the monitor stand. It does the job.

My desk at home is a big old brown thing that I think some friends of my mum got off the side of the road and eventually passed on to us. I’ve had it for probably twenty years. I think at some point it was used as a corner desk because there are a couple of holes on the front edge where it might have been attached to another piece. When we moved to our current house I wanted a desk with a hutch, but I couldn’t find one I liked. I wound up making my own with ikea parts: two small billy bookshelves in the corners, a hemnes floating cabinet across the top of them, and two small floating shelves in between. None of the components’ colours quite match (slightly different shades of brown/black), it’s way too big, mainly houses books I never read, and the whole setup is covered in stuff, but I’m really pleased with it.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
My desk is a weird two-level L-shaped contraption that I inherited from my previous job when the company shut down. Happily it's working out well for what I do now as well, with room for a dual-monitor setup on one side for coding, space in the corner for the big milling machine, and a little space left to the other side for a second old computer with personal stuff.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator

#33
Chair

Score: 62 - Votes: 2 - Highest vote: 1st (Johnny Unusual)​

Right up there with the most-used office supplies of all time. Some of you might use a yoga ball; some of you might use a standing desk. The rest of us need a chair. You'll spend about as much time in this as you do in your bed, so I hope it's a good one.

I'll probably get a new chair in the next year or so. Give me your office chair recs!

Clippit said:
Sitting in this, the power goes to your head. Dance for me, minions!
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
My vote for "desk" was actually a vote for a standing desk, which I first started using around 2018 to stop the relentless march of neck, shoulder, and lower back pain that comes with working a sedentary job. As much as I hate standing, the things do unfortunately work well if you use them consistently. In 2020 I eventually bought one to use at my home desk after months of not using one. So I have one at both my office and home workspaces now.

Also, my home office has two distinct workspaces, one for computer stuff and one for analogue stuff, so I also have two chairs. One of them is one of these:



They're made by the Container Store and they have taut elastic bands instead of the traditional cushioning. For extended sits, I hate it. The sides of the chair are hard metal, and I shift around a lot, and I always end up numbing my bony ass on the sides. So this isn't an 8-hour chair.

The other chair is one of these:



It's hard to find comfortable office chairs that aren't fugly, and this one I think strikes a good balance of style and substance. They're also fairly inexpensive and can be found at your local depressing Office Depot.

Finally, a shout-out to these:



The cheap plastic and fabric office chairs with minimal cushioning, staples of dorm rooms and fresh-outta-college apartments. In most ways they're awful - but I do kinda miss the feeling of spinning one around and sitting with the back against my chest, browsing Pandora and checking my bookmark folder for webcomic updates.
 

JBear

Internet's foremost Bertolli cosplayer
(He/Him)
I have exclusively used expensive fancy office chairs with mesh seats and too many adjustable features for the 16 years that I've been at my current job, and now that I'm at home, I work from my recliner. A comfy chair is a must.

That said, now that I work from a recliner, I no longer have a desk, and it's fine. I do miss my giant fancy wooden desk from my office, though. It was a big wooden L-desk with tons of storage and compartment that took up most of my office and required a team of people to move. I hope it goes to someone who appreciates it now that I'll no longer need it.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
The chair I"m sitting in right now is yet another cast-off from my old job. It's basically a massively upgraded version of the cheap chair Drac posted, with a lot more adjustability, more padding, a much bigger backrest, and adjustable arm rests. It was pretty dang nice when it was new, though now it's quite old and the rubber of one of the arm rests is starting to disintegrate. Still pretty good though.
 
I need a new office chair for my desk at home. I'm not a super picky person, but the limiting factor for me is the height of the back. I'm a tall person, and I'd like a chair that has a head rest I can actually rest my head on.
 

Yimothy

Red Plane
(he/him)
At home I have a hand me down chair from my dad, who upgraded his own chair a few years ago. It’s fine but I have to oil it now and then or it squeaks. My old chair was a side of the road job with crumbling upholstery, a fixed flat seat, but a back that hinged in its middle. It was extremely comfortable but looked terrible and gradually got less comfortable as more of the padding gave way. I miss that chair. My current one will recline slightly but the whole thing tilts, which I like less than the mobile lumbar support I was getting from the old one.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator

#32
Stickers

Score: 63 - Votes: 3 - Highest vote: 10th (Violentvixen)​

Today, we kick into high gear. From here on, every item has at least three votes to its name.

Who doesn't love stickers? Hitler, probably. You don't want to be like Hitler, do you?

Clippit said:
Stickers were invented in 1935 by Ray Stanton "Stan the Sticker Man" Avery, who borrowed $100 from his fiancé (about $2000 in 2021) and used it to make history. He must have made some decent money, too, because he purchased a castle in Scotland 44 years later. He also has a building named after him at Caltech.

Avery founded what is now the Avery Dennison corporation. That's not quite a household name, even if it is a Fortune 500, but you've probably seen the logo at some point. The original name of Avery's company? Kum Kleen Products.
 

Dracula

Plastic Vampire
(He/His)
Honestly I never would have imagined that we could trace something as primordial as a sticker to a single person, nor would I have imagined it'd be that recent of an invention. And I'm super familiar with the Avery corporation, because I've had to assemble documents and the special types of paper or dividers you need for jobs like that almost always end up being Avery material.

Anyway, my personal laptop is covered in stickers, but I'm a little more conservative with the company property. Even so, I have two stickers adorning my cubicle cabinet at work, and they're both from a fellow Dracula.
 
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