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Ask Slashdot: Monitor Setup For Programmers 312

First time accepted submitter oxidus60659 writes "I currently work as a programmer for a small business. They have provided me with a laptop and a 27" BenQ monitor on a Neo-Flex stand. The problem is that my main screen is the tiny laptop right in front of me. The 27" monitor is on the left at a very different height position. I want to put the 27" monitor directly above my laptop so I'm looking up rather than to the left for all my coding on the bigger monitor. The stand does not have a high enough setting to accommodate this. What would be a good stand that can mount to a desk high enough to be above a laptop? What kind of monitor setup do you use when programming?"
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Ask Slashdot: Monitor Setup For Programmers

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  • by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @01:21PM (#43062087)

    Use a real keyboard, mouse and monitor - why do you need to look at the laptop?

    Not doing this is either illegal, or close, in the UK: http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/guidance.htm [hse.gov.uk]

    Except for infrequent short-term use, a real keyboard and mouse is necessary, and a docking station or stand that holds the laptop screen up to the correct level (top of screen just below eye level, at least an arm's length away) or a separate monitor.

    (I had the annual "watch this video on using computers" thing on Thursday. We all laughed at the poor production and daft people in it, but I think everyone went back to their desks and adjusted something that wasn't quite right.)

  • Build it! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kimanaw ( 795600 ) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @01:39PM (#43062235)
    Timely post. I've been struggling w/ the same situation, and just wandered around HomeDepot awhile until I found the parts. I looked for an actual storebought solution, but didn't find anything that can support 27" monitors.

    (Long version)

    I've been working from home for 15+ years, big laptop on a big lapdesk, in a recliner. Decadent, yes, but productive.

    About 6 months ago, I built myself a standup workstation to force me off my big arse, and added a 27" monitor above my 18.5" laptop. Loved it: more screen, felt more awake, back felt much better (highly recommend the standup to anyone having weight/back/etc issues from sitting all day)

    Then I started jogging on the treadmill 30-45min a day. For all its great benefits, working at the standup tired my legs before my jog, so I went back to the recliner, but missed the 2nd screen. So I took another spin around HomeDepot and grabbed some parts and built what I needed...though it took several iterations.

    Hints: don't use cheap aluminum braces, the weight of the monitor torques it too much. I'm picking up a beefy steel brace today. Unless your stand will be attached to some other furniture, and be fairly short, use metal (1.5" conduit or similar), rather than wood for the poles. I used a wooden closet rod, and it definitely bends a bit. I've been able to compensate, but will probably upgrade to metal in future.

    And as a base for the whole. thing, look for a hefty patio umbrella stand. I happened to have an old one lying around that does the trick, but it may need more weight.

    This probably sounds like a lot more effort than you had in mind, but sometimes the best solution is homebrewed.

  • by MasterOfGoingFaster ( 922862 ) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @03:18PM (#43062827) Homepage

    That is a good way to get an aching neck. When working with a screen, the top of the screen should be slightly below your eyes.

    This is a myth. People get long-term injury due to this practice.

    In the early days of CAD, we had constant complaints of "digitizer neck". CAD systems used a command line on the screen, and a digitizer tablet sitting on the desk for drawing. The digitizer tablet often had a plastic overlay with grids of icons. Clicking the icon on the tablet launched a command. The user were constantly looking up and down, causing pretty bad neck pain.

    The solution was to raise the monitor so the mid-to-top-third was at eye level. Pain vanished same day.

    Why did this work? The pain was not caused by moving the head up and down, it was a result of certain neck muscles never having a chance to rest. If the monitor was set too low, the back neck muscles were always in tension, and never got a chance to recover. If you set the monitor at a level that allows your head to balance, your neck muscles relax, and can recover.

    A proper workstation setup: Raise/lower the chair so your knees are at-or-below the hips. Adjust the worksurface (keyboard/digitizer) level with your elbows, to allow your forearms to sit level. Adjust the middle of the monitor (or top 1/3) level with the eyes. Give it a day and tweak as needed. This won't work for everyone, but it is a great place to start. This method has worked for my clients for 30 years. Many have expressed that years of pain have vanish in a one or two days. Your mileage may vary.

    Disclaimer: I should point out that this post conflicts with most of what I read, including OSHA documents. Since I have no expertise in this area, you should ignore my advice. Do what OSHA suggests, as government knows best. But if nothing else works for you, consider trying the above as an experiment.

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