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The new offices

The new FC offices sound great.  Maybe NYC wouldn't be such a bad place to move to.

Some interesting items noted from the picture:

What kind of heat is that?  Steam or hot water?

I grew up in a house with hot water heat.  It is basically silent.  You won't have to be concerned about the air vents sounding like a tornato.  OTOH, steam can be noisy due to the relief valves.  Is there any A/C?

About the windows:  Those look like they can be opened.  Is that possible?  This building looks rather old, but old buildings have a lot of advantages, like openable windows, if they haven't been painted shut.

Friday, March 7, 2003

Yep, sure would like to work for a company that could spring for a living room w/ plasma TV and billiards!  Hell, I'd be satisfied working for a business that actually flew people in business class!

Friday, March 7, 2003

I think that is a steam radiator.  I don't know for certain, but I believe hot water radiators have a pipe at both ends.  Not that I can tell that well from the picture.  Other radiator facts: if they knock, shim up the side opposite the valve.  Also, Painting radiators does not insulate the radiator to a significant degree as many believe, but the color you paint it makes a big difference.  Dark colors radiate a LOT more heat than do white or metallic colored radiators.

Keith Wright
Friday, March 7, 2003

How comes ?

Friday, March 7, 2003

Joel's right that you can never have enough power outlets for developer types. Lots of offices I've worked in have been seriously deficient in that regard.

I personally count 17 devices plugged in here at the desk in my home office. Some of those would be going through a UPS regardless, so I wouldn't need actual wall plugs for every one; on the other hand, a lot of them have big brick-type plugs that block other outlets, so it's probably a wash. (How I hate those integrated brick-and-plug combinations! Aaaargh!)

Four outlets per foot sounded shocking to me at first, but then I realized that my 17 devices against an 8-foot section of wall is already >2 devices per foot -- and I'm sure that number will only grow.

In terms of positioning, I really like having at least some outlets at about waist height -- no more crawling under the desk every time you plug in your notebook.

John C.
Friday, March 7, 2003

Those exposed cable holders are awful! It's all relative, though. If there are *already* exposed ceilings, electrical, lighting, and others, then those exposed holders should just blend in. Otherwise, i'd hesitate hanging those up in a nice clean space or office.

Friday, March 7, 2003

An exposed cable holder will be really convenient for laying cable, however.

It all depends on architecture.  I've seen buildings where the network cabling was out and visible and it looked just fine.

Oh yeah, and you can put a lowered ceiling below the cable holder with no probs to hide it.  Which is probably what Joel had in mind.

flamebait sr.
Friday, March 7, 2003

Ack, I hate hung ceilings! That and flourescent lights evoke the movie "Office Space" and those kinds of workspaces.

We've got exposed ceilings which have a sprinkler system and will have exposed air conditioning ducts and data wiring. The overall look will be a high tech/mad scientist lab, lots of little cubbies for storage full of old broken computers and stacks of blank CD-ROMs &c. So the ducts with wiring will actually fit right in.

All the windows are new and can be opened. The building is a recent gut renovation of a 100 year old loft building, about 21 stories, we're near the top. Many of the windows have ledges right outside where we can grow tomatoes.

Joel Spolsky
Friday, March 7, 2003

For wiring, run CAT 5 with RJ-45 connectors everywhere, even for telephones.

Have them all run into a patch panel, where you can quickly change a wall outlet from voice to data, etc.

We are putting eight voice/data lines per 8-10'.  No more pesky hubs.

Also, label the jacks on the wall and in the phone room.  It will save you time and money countless times...

Friday, March 7, 2003

I have tried using CAT 5 for phone lines, with limited success.  No patch panel; I jerry-rigged an abomination using parts from Fry's.

What patch panel are you using?  Manufacturer and model#?

Manuel M. Garcia
Friday, March 7, 2003

Ooooh.  I like the mad scientist look.  Make sure that you have a Commie 64 / Apple II / TRS-80 / etc. somewhere in the office.

And perhaps some abstract neon art in a hallway or reception area.

flamebait sr.
Friday, March 7, 2003

I hate power strips too, but I mostly use them for the surge protection.  If you're getting rid of them, make sure surge protection gets built into the central wiring.  You can also look at having central power backup.  I worked at a chemical manufacturer and every so often you would see an outlet that was orange (instead of the usual off-white).  One day I asked the plant engineer and he said they were on power backup (along with a few lights) battery first and then a generator.  Name of the company was Tevco 

Ken Klose
Friday, March 7, 2003

Re the suspended ceiling. As a word to the wise, "Dont't". At least not if your goal is to have easily accessible cabling.  They make cable trays that aren't too visually obtrusive, and the suspended ceiling will look ragged in a few years after cables have been added/moved/removed. Not to mention the tedious process of moving panels around to change the cabling.

As far as the power is concerned, why not go with a wall-mounted tracking system? We have it in a lab here, and are able to move outlets around,  should desks be moved. As well, you can have a central UPS feeding power to marked outlets (red in our case). Certainly makes for a neat and tidy solution. 

Of course, according the Martha Stewart and generally accepted Feng-Shui guidelines, your power outlet plates should always match the vegetables growing in your window boxes. Tomatoes are vegetables, aren't they?

Friday, March 7, 2003

Do Keep Vastu Shastra in mind when you move into new places (

Prakash S
Friday, March 7, 2003

Suspended cable trays are horrible.

I work in a broadcast facility, and we have them.  After one has more than 30 or so coaxial cables in it--none bundled or dressed, of course--trying to pull new cable or remove old cable is a nightmare.

Because of this, we probably have several miles of dead cable abandoned in our trays.  If only it were possible to remove it all and sell it to a recycler...

There's a reason they call it ``cable mining''.

Saturday, March 8, 2003

Make sure your network cabling is gigabit ethernet compliant even if you aren't going to be using gigabit ethernet yet.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, March 8, 2003

On the 4 outlets per foot, remember that stud-walls are built at 16 inches on center (although some builders may skimp on non-load bearing walls in an office and try to go 24 inches on center), so you may need to rethink your specification.  If you put two outlets per stud (one on each side), that will get you 4 outlets per 1.4 feet or so, which may be reasonable.  Asking for more may cause your electrician to wire using giant boxes (such as double wide boxes usually used for mutliple lighting switches).  The problem there is with lots of bricks in double wide outlet you will see it pull the nails from the stud and put the outlet on a slant.

Instead, I see two options, one is going vertical and having 4 outlets per stud - two per side in vertical arrangement - not dead on top of each other or you'll have no room for bricks, allow for a few inches (also to allow for wall plates).

Otherwise you could spec 2 per stud and wall mount a surge protector right there - most quality surge protectors are wall mountable.

Do be aware of your loads though.  If you're asking for 4 outlets per foot your electrician is likely to wire each office on the same circuit (easier for him/her).  But if you're using several computers, a stereo, laser printer, etc you'll need at least 2 circuits for those outlets.  Ideally you'll have every other outlet on a different circuit so you can nest into one area with your electrical goodies and not overload the circuits.  Watch your amps!

Also, you can get surge protectors as outlets, but I would rather see the surge protector as circuit breaker (common in jacuzzi installations), its a better investment.

Lou Brothers
Saturday, March 8, 2003

In out computer room orange signified an isolated ground outlet.

Saturday, March 8, 2003

:1 s/out/our/

Saturday, March 8, 2003

I love the "Mad Science" theme look. For the exposed cable trays there is one potential problem: Dust.
They look great to start with but unless you ave excellent cleaners or a very sterile building, they quickly become Dustbunny Central turning into Grimeworld III.
Good to see you doing "The Right Thing" with the windowed private offices Joel. Keep it up.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, March 10, 2003

Joel, if you're going to go for the Mad scientist theme, don't forget the light switches. The *really* big throw switches in old Frankenstein films should do.

Lovely exposed electrickery, too.

Monday, March 10, 2003

[Ack, I hate hung ceilings! That and flourescent lights evoke the movie "Office Space" and those kinds of workspaces.]

Reminds me of the movie Joe vs The Volcano where he says the life is being sucked out of him by the flourescent lights.. "suck suck, suck!"

But hung ceilings do provide a way to run cabling without it looking like a home for wayward spiders.

Ian Stallings
Monday, March 10, 2003

The problem with mad-scientist-esque knife switches is the danger of arcing electricity and accidentally touching the bare metal.  So they have to cover the switch up, which does not look like a mad scientist sort of thing.

There is unfortunately a reason for hiding wires containing substantial voltage.  And you can't always rely on the practice that anybody who works around them should understand the dangers.

flamebait sr.
Monday, March 10, 2003

What about lighting?  Windows are great, but not sufficient.  I prefer indirect lighting by far.  And daylight balanced.  The newer high-frequency electronic fluorescent lights can be had with a reasonable imitation of daylight.

Monday, March 10, 2003

The current recommendation from commercial designers seems to be in favor of maximizing the amount of light penetrating from exterior spaces (typically managerial offices) and using indirect light to create even lighting without hard shadows. 

This can be accomplished in several ways, such as using solid walls, or mostly solid walls between offices on the exterior but using glass frontage walls to allow light to penetrate.  I do not recommend placing offices on the interior core of a building as they feel like tombs and can make everyone feel like they're being watched.

Indirect lighting is achieved though the use of much low wattage lighting rather than fewer higher wattage lights - that's not too complicated.  And directing a majority of light up off the ceiling and back onto the work areas creates an overall glow which can make a space seem much larger than it is. 

Lou Brothers
Monday, March 10, 2003

Joel Said: "Many of the windows have ledges right outside where we can grow tomatoes. "  If you want to grow awesome tomatoes, get an Earth Box (  These things are truely amazing!

Tomatoe Grower who also Programs
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

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