It’s hard enough to be a writer, reviewer and technical enthusiast for The Verge under normal circumstances. It’s even harder when working out of a shared studio apartment during a pandemic. Cameron Faulkner, who not only handles our offer pages, but also writes on a wide range of topics, has somehow managed it.
We asked him to explain how.
Tell me a bit about yourself. What is your background and what do you do about it The Verge?
Hi! Tech has always been my passion, and I have been writing about tech professionally for about seven years, almost three of them at The Verge. Before I got a job in the field, I was employed by KFC, at a filling center for school supplies, as a pharmacy technician and as a cashier. I̵
My primary focus on The Verge is on Verge Deals, including daily deals that my colleague Taylor Lyles and I hand pick every day. This also includes helping to write content for the Verge Deals Twitter account, as well as publishing a weekly newsletter. (You can sign up here!) Apart from that, I write about gaming equipment, write reviews and how to do it, and help the news team cover pressing stories.
How did you decide where and how to set up your workspace?
Organizing different zones in a studio apartment is a challenge I have not yet overcome. All of these zones seem to bleed into each other, and without having actual rooms with walls to accommodate, for example, pots that knock on the kitchen or other distractions, it can be incredibly difficult to stay focused. Although our last event is possibly the best we will ever manage in this room.
My wife and I have our tables in the opposite direction. Just outside the frame, behind where I sit, is her desk. We have been forced to be very effective with these space constraints, and it is miles before we used to be. We used to share this one desktop pictured here, with my one screen, keyboard and mouse on the right and her layout on the left. The pandemic made us reconsider this strategy. Suffice it to say that my current setup is a huge improvement.
Tell me a little about the desk itself.
First, I would advise people to resist the temptation to buy a glass table, as good as they look. It will show dust after just a few days – even faster if you have cats that like to climb on it and nozzle on the corners of your screens. That said, I’ve had this one since 2008, so clearly it’s a good product (or I’m just a good enough owner).
Secondly, my desktop is never as clean as the picture above indicates. I usually have a mug or two on it, and some faulty review products strewn around. That said, I actually prefer a minimalist look (difficult as it is to maintain). No respect for my colleagues who have been featured in this series, but I do not have many tchotchkes that I will show at all times.
What about your desk chair?
The desk chair I use is Herman Miller Sayl, which usually sells for around $ 600 – the low end of the company’s range, believe it or not. I almost bought this chair in the middle of 2020 when the chair I had really caused me physical anguish, but Vox Media allowed me to borrow it from our NYC office. So I immediately drove there, stopped it in my car and took it home. My cats and I like it very much.
Okay, now is the time to talk about your technology. Let’s start with your computer.
I built that PC, and it’s filled with parts that range from as far back as 2014 to recently. The case is SilverStone Temjin, built to accommodate small microATX motherboards. You may see from the pictures that it is a bit scratched and look up. I love that this suitcase size is small enough to fit on a display stand so that I can fit the head of my vacuum cleaner underneath.
Inside, I have an Intel Core i5-9600K processor, EVGA’s GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card, 16 GB RAM and a 1 GB NVMe SSD. My cable management is not good, but the case is closed and the wires are out of damage, so I am happy with it. My goal is to keep the system fast enough to run any game close to the highest graphics settings, but I usually do not buy the latest components just when they are released.
I see you have two screens. How do you use them?
I like to keep my static group of Google Chrome tabs open on the left screen (apps like Gmail, Google Drive, Asana Task Manager, etc.), along with any article I’m currently writing. On the right side is where I keep Slack, as well as tabs that are more temporary.
Outside of work, I play on the left screen (a 27-inch Acer Nitro XV272U) because it is a QHD IPS panel with fast refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility. Having a setup on two screens was something I got used to having in our work office, so I bought another (a 27-inch LG 27GL650F-B) for myself a few months into the pandemic.
What about your other technology (headphones, speakers, etc.)?
A few devices that always have a place on my desktop are a mouse (whatever I’m currently testing) and a Microsoft Sculpt keyboard, along with JBL Pebble desktop speakers. JBL no longer makes these USB-powered speakers, so they currently cost more than they originally sold for (and are worth), but I really like their simplicity and sound.
I keep the company’s MacBook Pro laptop and Sony WH-1000XM3 headset (hanging on a Master & Dynamic stand) on top of my desk when I need to attend an instant meeting. It’s also my phone, a Google Pixel 3, which sits on a metal Lamicall stand. Under my desk I have a Brainwavz BigT headphone hanger to hold an extra pair handy. I also like to hang a long USB-C cable on the one used to connect the Oculus Quest 2 headset.
Almost hidden sight on my desktop is the Ethernet switch, a Google Nest Wifi wireless router and a Philips Hue bridge.
It is a very interesting keyboard. I’ve seen split keyboards like that, but never met anyone who uses one.
I did not think I would be someone who would use one of these, but about a month into the pandemic, I ended each day with sore wrists and forearms. There were many more expensive ergonomic keyboards out there, especially those with mechanical keys, but Microsoft Sculpt seemed like a good fit because it is wireless and relatively inexpensive. It helps to orient my wrists in a more natural way while I write, and it makes a huge difference for me. The material used in the palm rest gets a little dirty after a few weeks of use, but soothing it with water and soap works well enough to restore the original look.
I see that you, like others here, sometimes rely on an old-fashioned notebook.
Yep! I used one in the office and was happy to have one here with me at my desk. It’s all too easy for an important task to be buried in Chrome tabs, or to forget an upcoming due date. It’s simply the best way I know how to be at work.
Is there something important with your Dreamcast cup?
I’m a big fan of the Sega Dreamcast console, but the cup itself is important because I bought it at Super Potato, a popular video game store in the Akihabara section of Tokyo. I’m not big on getting souvenirs from places, but I knew I had to bring this one back to the US. I do not even drink it. (I’m too scared to ruin it.) I only have small things in it, like pens, portable hard drives, etc.
Photograph by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge