Fog Creek Software
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New Fog Creek Office Lighting?

Hey Joel,

What kind of lighting do you have installed in the new office? Just curious if you did any research on lighting workspace to reduce eye strain.

If anyone else has any ideas, feel free to chip in.

Thanks.

Mark
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

We did some research and told the architect that the overall goal was to get to the number of lumens/sq ft that a library would use. In the main area there are 250 or 350 watt floods. The offices have task lights, one flood facing the ceiling, and a jelly-jar each which produce "interesting" lighting that's quite appealing without being uniform. Anyway for work purposes programmers don't need external light at all since they're staring at an illuminated manuscript all day.

We don't have any flourescent, which makes people sick and looks cheap, except in the server closet. We don't have any halogen because it looks too much like a high end clothing boutique.

Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

My personal experience has been that the worst thing is to have sunlight behind you and a CRT in front of you -- you have lots of glare. If stuck with a CRT, having no lights in a dark closed room is best. (Though you'll want good ventilation if you eat a lot of burritos as I do.)

But if you have a flatscreen with good brightness and contrast, all your eyestrain problems are a thing of the past. Sunlight is no longer troublesome.

Squinty
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

"Anyway for work purposes programmers don't need external light at all since they're staring at an illuminated manuscript all day"

I vary my lighting, but I often find havng the "bright focal area surrounded by darkness" abstractly distracting, and I've often wondered if it's healthy - anyone know?

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The quality of Flourescent light really depends on the tubes and ballasts used.  It's interesting that you have so flippantly dismissed it.  With modern flourescent balasts, they do not strobe at the line frequency (60Hz), they have good color rendition, they can be dimmed, and they do not make any noise.  The latest tri-phosphor tubes are available at a variety of color temperatures and have quite good color rendition ability.  Plus, they can light areas better with less specular reflections (i.e. glare)

My wife actually prefers flourescents.

If I were to be Joel, I'd probably have put warm colored (not white) lights in the beautiful acrylic between the offices.

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Interesting, I don't have any good experience with flourescent lights, though I haven't tried those expensive color treated lights 'natural light' lamps because, well, I don't have a flourescent at home, and was never in a work environment where I could change the flourescent lamps.

I read in some ergonomics article somewhere that the light on the walls around your monitor should roughly equal the light coming from your monitor. It seems to make logical sense.

Mark T A W .com
Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Here's the health issue related to staring at computer screens.

If there's anything that wants to draw your eye away from the screen... specifically, a bright light or window near the screen, or something moving right behind the screen, or even an animated GIF in another window... your eye will naturally want to pull to that thing. 16 billion years of evolution makes your eyes want to look at moving things.

These things pull away your gaze, so if you force yourself to keep looking at the screen, you are actually fighting evolution.

This causes eye fatigue and is not so healthy.

So actually having a dark area around the screen is a good idea.

Another healthy thing is to rest your eyes occasionally by looking at something far away. Looking at a variaty of things with different focal depths during the day is essential. That's the reason for the extra Fog Creek windows.

Joel Spolsky
Thursday, October 02, 2003

Hey Joel,

In the pics you can't see if there is glass in the extra "corner" windows between the offices. I'd assume that there would be, but you sure can't see it in the pics. Is there?

  --Josh

JWA
Thursday, October 02, 2003

Let's face it, Joel - time to dust off those VRML skills and do a walkthrough site!

Philo

Philo
Thursday, October 02, 2003

Bright monitors, dark surroundings is pretty much the standard for good viewing conditions.  Glare is the major thing to avoid.  The industry standard in radiology for a reading room is high brightness monitors (around 70 to 100 ft-Lamberts white level while maintaining a black level of about 0.2 ft-Lamberts or less) in a dark room with neutral grey, matte finish furniture.  Light boxes for reading films are placed on the wall orthogonal to the CRTs or LCDs so as to avoid glare.  I think it's fairly reasonable to assume that this is a reasonably healthy, ergonomic setup or else physicians wouldn't tolerate it.

Matt Latourette
Thursday, October 02, 2003

Oh yeah, cause physicians are soooo obsessed about their own comfort and well being, while working 36 hours shifts, smoking, and not washing their hands enough. 

I think those viewing rooms are probably designed so that you don't miss anything, nothing at all to do with eye strain.  They just don't want the glare to make you miss that tumor.

Keith Wright
Thursday, October 02, 2003

"Oh yeah, cause physicians are soooo obsessed about their own comfort and well being, while working 36 hours shifts, smoking, and not washing their hands enough."

If your 6 figure salary depended upon your ability to see subtle details and review tens of thousands of images every day, don't you think you'd care about issues like eyestrain?  Of course you would.  Every radiologist I've ever worked with was very keenly aware of ergonomic issues.

I just have to laugh at the "while working 36 hour shifts" comment.  Get real.  Do you know what "on call" means for a typical radiologist?  It means that the phone might ring at 1:00 AM and you'll have to get out of bed, walk down the hall to your home office, open a web browser, login to the PACS application, view the images, dictate the report, and then go back to bed.  There are even some that telework full time.  There are also plenty of organizations that contract out their nighttime business to a radiology group half-way around the world (typically Australia for a U.S. night call business).

With the exception of interventional radiology, "washing hands" isn't going to make all that much difference since you often have no contact with the patient whatsoever.  You might be standing nearby for a few minutes while the tech is administering contrast just in case the patient has an allergic reaction to the contrast.

Matt Latourette
Thursday, October 02, 2003

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