Workspace of the Week: Computer command center

This week’s Workspace of the Week is Aldebaran’s home office:

There are many beautiful things about this workspace — so many, actually, I couldn’t list them all in a reasonable amount of space. A few of my favorites: In the notes for the image, Aldebaran says that the wooden box on the bottom left shelf are where he stores all of his bills that need to be paid (attractive and useful). I love the “vanity panels” under the desk that hide vast number of cables out of sight. And, even though there are at least 10 computers in this office, their arrangement is terrifically uncluttered. Thank you, Aldebaran, for your fantastic submission to our Flickr pool. I am in awe.

Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.

21 Comments for “Workspace of the Week: Computer command center”

  1. posted by Lose That Girl on

    The hidden cables is my favourite thing about this spiffy, clean office. Fantastic!

  2. posted by Anita on

    Very nice! I can imagine this being a very productive office.

    My only gripe would be the lack of leg room under the leftmost setup.

  3. posted by Scott on

    This is a beautiful arrangement for so many computers. It really is. That said, we would be remiss to not mention on a de-cluttering website that this is a lot of computer clutter. In the notes he basically mentions that several of these computers are unitaskers and one is only kept only for sentimental reasons. I know a lot of people (including my dad and a former boss) who never replace a computer, they just add the new ones to the while mix.

  4. posted by Tiffany on

    The ONE computer he mentions as being kept for sentimental reasons is the one in the photo that’s about to have Ubuntu installed on it, which essentially makes it useful as a testbed. Aldebran is an aerospace engineer, which is a highly technical profession requiring a great variety of skills, making it completely sensible for have a large collection of varied computers. And as he says in his Flickr profile, computers are a hobby for him as well. His computers aren’t clutter; they’re part of his definition of a remarkable life.

    My husband and I work in technical careers as well as have hobbies-requiring-computers. As a result, there are more computers in our house than people. That would be overkill for some people, but for us it’s required, so that we aren’t running tests and mucking about on our main machines that hold our day to day data. I expect it’s the same for Aldebran.

  5. posted by Tabatha on

    the first thing I noticed were those sparkles. Is that a reflection on something from the camera flash or were those added in with photoshop?

  6. posted by hippolyta on

    Ah! How delightful to see a featured workspace with multiple computers and a significant amount of well-organized “stuff” in the picture. The workspaces consisting of little more than a Macbook, a potted orchid, and a coffee cup are beautiful and undoubtedly very productive for their owners, but would never apply to my multi-computer family. *This* workspace is very close to how my family’s computer room would look if it were ideally organized, and it is very inspiring!

  7. posted by Rondina on

    As a heavy-duty home office user (although I attempt to keep only one computer in my study at a time) I really believe that this is the most beautiful work space–where real work is actually achieved–that I have ever seen. I have the vanity panels on my desk and when I added the study on to the house, I had all the cable and electrical plugs placed behind above desk height. This not only helped hide the cables, but makes for easy access. My favorite thing about this office is the wall shelves. I have a hutch now and when I move, will seriously consider this option. I would like to know exactly what the four lights are on the top shelf. They are added beauty.

  8. posted by hippolyta on

    p.s. and Tiffany has it exactly right: “His computers aren’t clutter; they’re part of his definition of a remarkable life.”

  9. posted by decluttrd on

    His computer’s aren’t clutter? Hoarders say the same thing. Just because you organize a bunch of crap doesn’t make the clutter go away. Any modern computer with virtual pc software will work even for aerospace engineers. His disregard for power conservation is disturbing as well. I will say, it is all organized nicely though.

  10. posted by Sam on

    Geez, decluttrd! A little stident aren’t you? You sound like the Khmer Rouge of organizing.

  11. posted by Carol on

    Erin once said, “Uncluttering isn’t about having the fewest things, it’s about having the right amount of things for your life.” So maybe all those computers, nicely organized, are the right amount for him. The power consumption is another story …

  12. posted by klutzgrrl on

    The power consumption thing annoys me a bit, on the “first the log in your own eye” basis – electronics are such an easy target, but you never hear anyone suggesting that owning a large dog is envirnomentally questionable.

    I also have several computers. The computing experience is different on each one, and I use them in different ways. It’s my hobby, and I enjoy it immensely. When they become an obstacle to a rich and full life, then they are clutter or hoarding. But they don’t – they give me hours of enjoyment.

    This is a gorgeous space, I love it. And what an uber-cool user name.

  13. posted by Volker on

    Isn’t it time for an serious ‘unclutter physical computer’ article? 🙂

    Yes, as sw developer you could have a need to have a box for hpux/apple/aix/vms/whatever which often couldn’t be emulated on another computer. Seriously, there are people which really need a bunch of computers… but these are really, really raw.

    Where is the limit? Do you really need so many computers in an home office? Yes, you can give reasons like “extra NAS-, extra music-, extra video-box”, but which of them make sence? What could be ‘outsourced’? Is there a ‘too good to throw out’-problem? Where else (outside of your house/area/whatever!) could it be used for (e.g. an outdated Centrino with 1.7ghz is enough for internet/music/type writer)? The last question makes it easier to release computers…

    The whole topic needs a deep look in different (mostly uncommon) usages/needs from an expert in this area and she/he should also have a clue about emulating non-x86 hardware (e.g. routers, uncommon operating systems).

    If there would be such an article, please no “vmware/virtualbox/xen/virtualpc/whatever” article about the common x86 emulation.

    And we just talked about hardware minimisation… and not about “do you really need all this xyz-foo services/software/new hardware feature/extra cpu speed” or any economial reasons (greenIT, ECO …). 🙂

  14. posted by Scott on


    Actually, he has more than one computer mentioned for sentimental reasons.

    In the comments on flickr he says he has two other computers that usually stay in the closet, kept only for sentimental reasons. In the images I (quickly) counted 8 computers, of which he mentions one as “just in case I need XP,” another that is a half-completed project, and an old mac that he will install ubuntu on soon, that he says “just sits there doing nothing. I can’t bring myself to throw it out.”.

    He also has one mac apparently used only for website development, and an iMac that he only used for organizing photos and calendar sync, which he rarely turns on anymore. I can’t imagine that these couldn’t be combined.

    He has two other computers for which he doesn’t mention a use. I won’t speak to those as not enough info is given about them

    The final machine is used as a file/music server. Having a file server is understandable in most cases, assuming he actually keeps all files across all computers organized and central to this server, as opposed to having a server just to say you have one, and then scattering files across all machines anyway, constantly having to remember which computer(s) to turn on to find the file needed. I’ve know multiple people (and organizations) that this is the norm, so it’s not out of the question for me to wonder.

    Let me be clear – I don’t know this man and in no way pretend to know how much he actually uses these computers. In addition, he has done an amazing job organizing them.

    From what I can see here and read from his own comments, I really think he could easily combine several of the systems and still have enough to use for hobby-based things, and in the long run would have less overhead (both monetary and mental) to deal with on a day-to-day basis. It’s is quite a bit of work keeping this many computers running smoothly, that invariably take his time away from doing other things.

    Again, he may be able to completely handle all of that. But too often, computers are given a pass for clutter discussions, both in redundant hardware and disorganized files and operating systems.

    I have known many people who keep a similar amount of computers for very similar reasons that people keep other clutter, and come up with justifications as to why they do so, in the exact same way other hoarders/cluttered folks justify their things.

    I too have become frustrated that so many of these Workspaces of the Week are often so sparse that they aren’t practical for most people’s work habits, but I think this is a little too far on the other end of the spectrum.

    Regardless of all of that, I enjoyed seeing it – thanks for sharing. It has given me some ideas on how to organize my workspace, as well as a reminder for me to keep my own computers to a minimum.

  15. posted by klutzgrrl on

    @ Scott, nice balanced comment, well thought out. Thank you! You’re motivating me to reconsider my own hardware setup.

  16. posted by Aldebaran on

    Goodness, how has one photo sparked so much heated discussion! I do appreciate all the comments and enjoyed reading them all. Thank you!

    I will address the power consumption comment as it is one issue that seems to go against my resource conservation ideology. I leave two servers on at all times, the G4 music/file server and an IBM Raid5 server (a redundant backup for the main file server). All other machines and LCDs are powered on as needed.

    P.S. I couldn’t figure out why my flickr page was getting so much traffic on the 24th, now I know!

    Take care dear readers and thank you for your views and suggestions and to for featuring my home office.

  17. posted by Aldebaran on


    the four lights on the top shelf are LACK bookcase spotlights from IKEA which can be bought for $25.

  18. posted by Handy Man, Crafty Woman on

    I don’t understand this new “trend” of having 2 or 3 (or more?!) monitors. What type of jobs or work do people do that they need these many computers?!? Maybe graphic design or something…but what else?

  19. posted by klutzgrrl on


    having an extra monitor is very useful even for working on documents. Reference sources or previous drafts can be open on one screen while you write on another. For artwork of course it’s brilliant.

    It’s also handy if you want to keep half an eye on IRC or other social media channels while working.

    Three monitors is immersive gaming 🙂

  20. posted by jill on

    What a beautiful, well organized office. Will you come set up my home office?

  21. posted by [email protected] on

    I love the shelves! I really like the way boxes and baskets are used on the shelves to keep smaller items hidden yet close by. My workspace has a similar set-up, but not nearly as nice or functional.

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