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How to stand (at your desk)

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You’ve heard about the risks of sitting all day long. If not here, then here, here, here, and here. The studies are everywhere, and the verdict is in: We should not spend all day sitting, even if we make time to exercise. It’s not how our bodies are supposed to operate.

So, you want to take the plunge for a standing desk? Here’s our advice on how to go about doing that.

Ease into it, and start cheap

Don’t rush out to buy a top-of-the-line, thousand-dollar desk that moves up and down with the push of a button. Save that for later, once you’re really into this. For now, start small. Any little bit of standing that you do will be an improvement over sitting all day long.

Here are a few small things that you can do without even creating a standing desk. They might be seem silly, but they’re certainly better than sitting for eight hours straight.

  • Commit to doing a certain work task while standing, every time you do it. For example, take all of your calls while standing. Or, if you read at work, stand while reading reports or articles. Neither of these require a standing desk.
  • Take standing breaks during meetings. I’ve found that this actually helps me stay focused, too.
  • Drink more water. This is not only healthy, but also a way to keep you moving–by forcing you to get up to refill your glass, and go to the bathroom. All that walking time is good time.

Enough foreplay, I want to stand

Cheesy tips aside, this is about actually standing while you’re at your computer, not just peeing more during the day.

Again, start small. The best first steps are to set realistic goals and keep your desk cheap. If you try to stand too much right off the bat, you’re probably not going to like it, and you might not stick with it. You should also figure out your own patterns before you rush into spending more money than you need to.

A good first goal is to stand for one hour a day while at work.

A good first goal is to stand for one hour a day while at work. And do it in small shifts–20 minutes here, 20 minutes there. Do that for the first week. Then increase it to two hours. Gradually work your way up until you find a standing amount that feels right for you. Even the most ambitious standers don’t stand for the full day, usually maxing out at about 80 percent of the workday.

Since you’ll start by moving up and down a lot, you’ll eventually want a desk that adjusts easily. While it might be tempting to go for the $22 IKEA Hack, that, along with many other cheap standing desks, is a fixed-height desk. These can work as an introduction to standing–my sister, the person who got me into standing, stacked boxes on her desk for eight months. But once you’re serious, you need something that can easily adjust. It’s a huge deterrent to standing if it takes you 15 minutes to set up your desk, and then another 15 to take it apart each day. That is why we recommend the Ergo Depot Jarvis as the best adjustable standing desk, and the Kangaroo Pro Junior as the best way to convert your current desk to a standing desk. Both are “affordable” (compared with competitors), reliable, extremely functional, and good looking. You can read our full review of standing desks for a better understanding of the options that are out there, and why we like the Jarvis and the Kangaroo Pro Junior.

It’s important to put your keyboard and monitor at the appropriate heights. If you don’t, you might cramp your shoulders, back, or neck by craning. To determine your ideal height for your monitor and keyboard, stand up straight and bend your elbows so that your forearms are parallel to the ground. Wherever your hands are, that’s the ideal height for your keyboard. And whatever is at eye level, that is your ideal monitor level. Create your desk around those dimensions.

You will quickly realize that laptops are not conducive to standing, because the keyboard and monitor are at almost the exact same level. It kind of makes sense–the name is “lap”top after all, which implies sitting. The easy fix for this is to purchase a separate keyboard, which isn’t very expensive at all, but will make your desk much more ergonomic by separating the keyboard from the monitor. Or, you could purchase a separate monitor, such as our favorite, the Dell UltraSharp U2412M.

Mastering the fine details

Once you’re standing an hour or two a day, you’ll notice that there are a few nuanced touches that can make a huge difference.

Standing in place all day is not that good for you either. With all of these studies showing how bad it is to stand, some doctors have looked at the harm of too much standing, and have concluded that static standing, without any weight shift or movement, can lead to increased varicose veins, which are pretty gross.

To combat this, set up your desk near something that you can lean on from time to time, which will help you shift your weight around. And also, try to get into the habit of swaying or rocking–nothing drastic here, but enough to get your weight moving around a little bit.

Get comfy shoes or, even better, go barefoot. If it’s not going to freak anyone out, go ahead and take off your shoes. But if you need footwear, keep a comfy pair of flats at the office that you can change into for standing.

Get a standing mat. They are pretty cheap and can make a huge difference in your comfort throughout the day, especially when you start standing for extended stretches of time. We have a full guide to standing mats, where we explain in depth the benefits of a mat, and why comfy shoes alone aren’t enough. Our favorite is the WellnessMats Original.

Put music on. It’ll get you dancing, which is good! You’ll shift your weight more and avoid that problem of standing in the exact same place all day.

Take breaks. This isn’t a race. This is a behavior that ultimately you are hoping to adapt to for the long haul, preferably the remainder of your working life. Give yourself a break from time to time. Standing all day is harder than you’d think. Make it easy on yourself to enjoy standing.

For the advanced stander, try a treadmill desk. That’s guaranteed to keep you moving. AJ Jacobs wrote an entire book at a treadmill desk, and he speculates that he logged about 1,200 miles in the process. Or, you can work on any variety of balancing boards. I work at my desk while balancing on an Indo Board. I’m often on there for three to five hours a day. It feels amazing.

Otherwise, it’s just standing. Hard to overthink it.

Check out our guide with our recommendations for the best standing desk. And, hey, try standing up while you’re reading it.

A word on the iPhone 6/6 Plus and third-party headphones

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When the iPhone 6 models were released last fall, we started getting emails and comments about headphones that worked perfectly with previous iPhone versions having problems with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The main issues were a crackling or popping electrical sound when listening to audio through the headphones, and Siri being activated out of nowhere.

Soon, a thread on Apple’s iPhone forum was filled with comments from people experiencing similar issues, along with potential fixes. With over 60,000 views, it seems the problem has affected a significant number of people.

After researching the issue, it appears that the problem isn’t the headphones themselves, but rather the depth of the headphone jack on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Specifically, third-party headphones that use a standard ⅛-inch plug can, depending on the plug design, wiggle a little—enough to cause audible static, or to cause an electrical signal that triggers Siri. It’s not just one brand of headphones, either, as the problem seems to be peppered across all sorts of manufacturers and headphone models.

What can you do?

Apple told us that the only way to be sure that you avoid purchasing headphones that cause this problem is to look for the MFi logos on the packaging. This means the accessory has been designed to connect specifically to iPod, iPhone, or iPad and has been certified to meet Apple performance standards. You can read more about the MFi program on Apple’s site.

However, there’s no need to throw away your favorite headphones. We’ve come across a few DIY solutions that seem to resolve the issue. For example, Digital Trends offers a list of possible fixes involving tape, plastic, and even dental floss. I’ve even heard of someone successfully using a trimmed-down silicone earring backing.

Headphone companies are taking notice, too. RBH, for example, is now shipping headphones with a free spacer that keeps the headphone plug seated properly in the jack. You can read the company’s full statement on the issue here. RBH has even made a YouTube video demonstrating the problem and showing how the little rubber spacer fixes it.

If you aren’t an RBH owner, and the idea of dental floss on your headphones isn’t your style, you aren’t out of luck; you can purchase two spacers from the RBH site for a couple of bucks (including shipping).

In terms of a larger solution, either the companies that make affected headphones will all need to include these spacers—or redesign their headphone plugs to avoid the issue.

In the meantime, if you have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and experience these problems with your third-party headphones, know that what you bought isn’t necessarily defective. You may just have to do a little DIY modification to make your two devices play nicely together.

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The Best Cable Modem

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If you’re paying for cable Internet, you’re probably paying a separate monthly fee for the privilege of renting a cable modem from your ISP. Your ISP gets free money and you get a cable modem that might not even be good enough to hit the speed you’re paying for. If you buy your own cable modem, you can get something better and recoup the cost in as little as a year—and then start saving anywhere from $6-10 each month.

Inner Vision for the weekend of March 20, 2015

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Adéle Favreau and Maxime Prou are known as Atelier Bingo. Their artwork, studio, and canine companion are all delightful.

Adéle Favreau and Maxime Prou go by the name Atelier Bingo. Their artwork, studio, and canine companion are all equally playful delights.

There’s a plenitude of sites (including our own) recommending and rating just about everything made by mankind. But as important as “what to buy” is knowing what’s possible using the products you’ve purchased. Inner Vision is a weekly digest connecting the dots between great everyday objects and the culture and techniques behind living well with them.

18 months and 2.5 petabytes later, The Tech Report can now conclude their experiment testing the upper limits of SSD endurance.

18 months and 2.5 petabytes later, The Tech Report can now share the results of their longterm experiment testing the upper limits of SSD endurance.

I Will Survive: The SSD Endurance Experiment began 18 months ago, designed to discover how long modern solid state drives could be worked before the individual memory cells inside would deteriorate, first manifesting as errors, then eventually resulting in failure. It’s amazing to read that one model amongst six tested—the Samsung 840 Pro—exceeded 2.4 petabytes of written data before it finally gave up the ghost.

Get Pickled: Pickling your own vegetables is so easy it’s weird we’re not all sufficiently consuming healthy amounts of lacto-fermented foods on a daily basis. Skip the pills and powders, probiotics taste best when delivered in crisp pickled form!

The Most Important Color Scheme in Computer History:  Fanatical, obsessive, and driven by a rational desire for efficiency: “Walk into a room of coders and ask what the best tools of their trade are—keyboards, text editing software, etc,—and you’re bound to start a war. But in a world where programmers are fanatically divided, advocating fiercely for their favorite window managers and text editors, there’s one thing many engineers agree on. It’s called Solarized …”

Just like the rest of society, American firefighters are fighting a battle against the bulge. This workout developed for their profession can help anyone become fitter and faster.

This workout developed specifically for firefighters can help put out the flames of flab, improving functional fitness in quick time.

The Firefighter Workout: There may be no public profession with higher physical and mental demands than those required of a firefighter, where life and death are determined by mere seconds of speed and decision-making. A group of fitness-focused firefighters is now trying to put out another emergency amongst their ranks: cardiac arrest caused by obesity. Their special workout is equally as effective at building up functional strength and endurance for everyday folks as it is for our favorite truck-riding heroes.

Lazarus Loaf: Revive a tooth-chipping hardened loaf of bread using this wet ‘n’ bake technique recommended by Bon Appetit’s food director Carla Music.

How to Discover New Music Daily: Shannon Byrne started asongaday.co to help connect musical curators with people “too busy to discover new music.” She’s now kind enough to share some of the sites, resources, and techniques that her community of music-loving explorers uses to find music still invisible to the mainstream’s radar.

Polish software engineer Michael Bemowski's online photography simulator

Polish software engineer Michael Bemowski’s online photography simulator shows how adjusting camera and lens setting can affect depth of field.

Bokeh-licious: An interactive tutorial tool like the Bokeh simulator and depth-of-field calculator improves upon traditional how-to guides by allowing anyone to tinker with and preview the effects of distance, focal length, and aperture while photographing a subject against a background.

The Philosopher’s Gym: What if we systematically isolated working on our ego and habitual shortcomings in the same manner many of us break down our gym workouts into specific body part days? It’s an interesting thought, this idea of exercising the mind not just for intellectual acuity but also as a means of improving both character and the entirety of our lives.

Use Your Illusion: Speaking of the mind, now that everyone has finally stopped arguing about a certain color-ambiguous dress, we can all enjoy this entertaining look at the history and phenomena of optical illusions put together by the team at BBC Future.

"What fulfilled me were the little things: surrounding myself with smart people and small interesting problem-solving tasks on a daily basis. And then I had other friends -- the ones in the arts or people who were pursuing their real passions, whether they knew it or not -- and I thought that would be a better path."

“What fulfilled me were the little things: surrounding myself with smart people and small interesting problem-solving tasks on a daily basis.”

Exploring Happiness: Eric Cheng is one of the most interesting people I know, a polymath whose life has been characterized by taking calculated risks in the pursuit of exploring the “space between technology and art.” He’s sent (and sacrificed) a drone into the heart of an active volcano. He’s dived into the depths of the ocean to photograph the deep’s strangest denizens. And when he’s not wearing the official hat of Director of Aerial Imaging at DJI—the world’s largest maker of civilian drones—he’s busy posting the trials and tribulations of fatherhood over at newdad.wtf. His interview at Sophia, a project sharing life lessons from fascinating people from around the world, is as multi-faceted in opinion and insight as his life.

Got an interesting story, link, resource, or how-to you think we should check out for consideration for our next issue of Inner Vision? Drop us a line with the subject “Inner Vision” and we’ll take a look!

The Best Android Tablet

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After spending more than 80 hours over the course of four months on research and tests, including comparing six current competitors against our previous pick, we think the best Android tablet for most people is the $300 16GB Nvidia Shield Tablet. Other Android tablets are thinner or cheaper, but the Shield is the whole package, with the best combination of speed, display, form factor, and features out there. Even if you don’t use its unique gaming features (more on those below), it offers a better value than the competition. It’s also more likely to be usable in two to three years thanks to its CPU, storage capacity, and stock Android build, which gets fast updates and doesn’t slow the tablet down with extra overlays or vendor-specific UIs. But if you’re not already invested in Android, we think an iPad is a better tablet in general.