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Take a Stand: Will You Sit or Stand at Your Desk?

4 Oct Sitting, Standing, or Balancing on Fitness ball while working?

The latest buzz for good health is standing at your desk rather than sitting all day. Many companies now require standing desks for their employees, including the Secret Service. It’s common knowledge that you use more calories when you stand rather than sit and I was eager to do that. However, if you can’t afford to go out and buy one of the latest desks to accommodate standing, here is what you can do to accomplish the goal without spending a penny. It didn’t cost me anything to set up other than a few hours’ time and I can easily switch back to sitting on days when I’m not up to standing all day.

 

The Process

I’ve got a two-drawer metal file cabinet that I had already had my processor on as you can see from the photo from the previous post. If you don’t have a two-drawer file cabinet, use whatever piece of furniture that will work. A sturdy box will work. Printer machine boxes are good for this. Next to the processor, I stacked a cassette tape box, a CD storage box, a phone book and an empty, sturdy, exercise stretch band box to nearly reach the height of the processor. The idea is to use whatever you have that is sturdy and will allow for the weight of your hand. You are going to be using this stack of items for your mouse. Again, if you can find a sturdy box that will work, use it. Adjust as necessary for your comfort level. Use your ingenuity!

 

Place your monitor on the top, rear of your processor. You may need to tilt your monitor upward or place a phone book or two under it if you need it to be eye level. Place your keyboard on the top front of your processor. I placed my scotch tape dispenser in between the two to prevent my keyboard from sliding back and forth. Use whatever you have on hand. My processor has a raised edge in the front so that my keyboard won’t slide forward. If your processor doesn’t have such an edge, create a raised edge. Something as small as a pencil taped with masking tape on the edge of your processor might prevent your keyboard from slipping. You may have to experiment. The goal is for your keyboard and mouse to be at the level of your arms (while standing) when you bend them at a 90 degree angle.

 

Back to the Stack of Items for Your Mouse.

Place a mouse pad on top of the last item you had on your stack. It should be a big, sturdy mouse pad. I happened to have one. There are many things that can substitute for a mouse pad. Even a sturdy piece of cardboard can work. Then I took my 2 ½ pound ankle weight and wrapped it around the right end (the keypad end) of my keyboard. This is to hold it in place and prevent slipping from side to side and back and forth. Make sure part of the mouse pad is underneath the ankle weight to also prevent the mouse pad from slipping. This is why you need a big mouse pad. Wrap the Velcro strap of the ankle weight around the keyboard exactly over the keypad. (This won’t work if you use the keypad.) I never use the keypad if I need to type numbers. I always use the numbers at the top of the keyboard.

 

Support Your Feet

It is also suggested that you use a good mat to stand on to help support your feet. I buy mats when they go on sale, so I had two stored in my closet for when the mats I have get too dirty. They help to prevent tracking dirt into the house. Good shoes are also necessary. I put extra inner soles in my athletic shoes. So, I was prepared for my feet.

 

I used this setup when I wrote this for a total of 8 ½ hours with no disasters. Nothing slipped or fell. At the end of the day, I was very relieved to sit down! This is not easy on the body when you’re not used to standing. On the second day I tried it, I only lasted two hours. It takes some getting used to. When I decided to sit for a while, I moved my monitor, mouse, and keypad back to my desk. That took 5 minutes. I can easily go back to a standing position now that everything is set up.

 

Tips

Make sure you have enough cord length on all your electronics when you do this. Be prepared to rearrange items on your desk. I had a stack of file folders out that I was working on. Now, instead of a pile of them on top of my desk, I used a heavy-duty napkin holder that wasn’t getting any use, to stand up some of the folders and then to also act as a bookend for more folders. My printer served as the other “bookend.”

 

If you don’t want to create a standing desk, you can always sit on a fitness ball. These are great and use more muscles than you would think because you have to balance yourself on the ball. Sounds easy until you try it and it’s a good alternative.

 

Whenever I want to use my laptop computer in a standing position, I place it on my bookcase at a shelf that is comfortable for my arms.

 

Now all I have to do is figure out how to make a walking treadmill so I can walk in place while I work standing!

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My Experience Transitioning From Paying for Internet Service to Free Internet Service – Part II

10 Jun books-of-owl-1279612-m

This is the second post covering my experiences transitioning from paying to use my AT&T Internet service provider at home to using free library Internet service.

 

In the Part I post, I covered “Expected Snafus” such as: password issues, library hours, reserving computers, help, my computer background, and I touched upon using a Flash drive and a To Do list. I linked articles in Part I covering these topics in depth which are included below.

 

This Part II post covers problems you might run into at your library branch that make life interesting! I’ve included Updates below.

 

The Unexpected Snafus

Children should be seen, not heard. As with everything, this library adventure has had its negative situations. Take children for example. They haven’t been barred from the library. Perhaps they should be. There is a separate room for them with children’s books but they sometimes stray into the adult computer section – standing next to their family member who is on a computer.

 

Here’s how that went:

Child: bla, bla, bla, bla.

Family member: Shhhhhhh.

Child: bla, bla, bla, bla.

Family member: Shhhhhhh.

This went on for 20 minutes. I felt sorry for the guy sitting next to the chatty kid and I don’t mean the family member! I was on the other side of the computer banks and tuned them out.

 

The computer chairs.  They’re very light weight (you can push them with the tip of your pinky) and they’re comfortable for metal chairs. But, they’re on wheels and they offer no support for when you are trying to get up out of them! Case in point, on one of my visits, an elderly, obese man went crashing to the floor one chair away from me knocking over the chair next to me. He could have landed in my lap. As it was, the noise scared me because I was concentrating on my work. He stayed down on the floor and just about everybody on a computer went over to ask him if he was all right and offered to assist him. He didn’t want any help. Apparently, he was fine. The reference librarian who happened to be a young man, came over and asked the man if he was ok. This librarian was smart to wait – he might have gotten trampled in the mad rush to help the un-chaired man!

 

When Harry Met Sally. My library branch is open every day although the hours change. On Sundays, they open at noon. I went there at 11:30 am on Sunday, thinking it was Saturday. Since the doors were locked, I dropped off an audiobook in the drop slot. I went home and called the library asking why it wasn’t open. I was told they open at noon on Sunday. I said, “Today is Sunday?” Note to self: try to remember what day it is.

 

Finances This is a somewhat more complicated issue. AT&T bundled my landline phone and Internet service together June, 2013. I put it on my charge card. Then, on April 8, I asked that my internet service be canceled, as followers of my blog know. When I checked my statement, the amount for the Internet and phone weren’t there anymore. They disconnected my internet service as I asked and they didn’t disconnect my phone service (Hallelujah!) But what are they planning to do about billing me for my phone service? So, if I don’t get a bill in the mail or some notice soon, I will have to call them to find out what is going on. It would have been nice if the AT&T representative told me what to expect regarding my phone, but she was too busy trying to sell me more products. If all continues to go well transitioning to library computers, I plan to drop my landline phone service too, saving even more money.

 

There were other finance issues that had to be addressed. The question of whether I could or should do financial transactions on a library computer is a sticky issue that I need to investigate. For example, I have a PayPal account. Is it safe to do PayPal transactions on a library computer? How can you be sure someone isn’t standing behind you watching or if the person sitting next to you isn’t looking? This could make you paranoid!  Certainly there are people who use public computers not just at the library but in airports and at Internet Cafes who may feel safer using PayPal via a phone rather than the Internet which is the only way you can use PayPal now.

 

Update

My son told me he did his taxes on library computers and other patrons did too!

 

Benefits of Using My Home Computer Minus Internet Service

 

Since it has turned out that I’m splitting my work between my home computer (without Internet service) and the library computers (with Internet service), I can still enjoy the benefits of working on my home computer such as, getting up to grab a snack, taking a long break and then coming back to it later, listening to music while I work if I feel like it, and, my favorite, putting away the work and taking out one of my exercise DVDs to do a workout! Yesterday I did a 55-minute weight workout and I’m a little bit sore! These things I can’t do at the library!

 

So dear readers, these are my experiences after six visits using library computers. This library is in a good location and in a good neighborhood. It’s certainly not as peaceful and quiet as using the Internet on my home computer but it’s not raucous enough to prevent me from returning.

 

More Updates:

I have now had more than 20 visits using my library’s computers. I no longer feel stressed because I am super organized. I’ve created a To Do list and explain how I use it in both of my articles, “10 Easy Steps Transitioning to Free Internet Service at Your Library” and, “10 Short-cuts Saving Time (and Money) on Your Library Computers.”

 

I had written in this post that you couldn’t listen to music while using a library computer. That turned out to be not true! On more recent visits I noticed that you can use ear buds and a portable CD player. Just don’t play it so loudly that you annoy other patrons! Also, you can take a break on a library computer but you’ll want to make it a short one, like for a bathroom break. The computer screen shows you how to set the screen for “reserved but on a break” so nobody else can take it.

 

Both of the article links above contain valuable, time-saving and money-saving tips that would be worth your time to check out. Let me know what you think of them! Also, let me know if you foresee any obstacles for you if you are thinking of making the transition. Happy surfing on your library’s computers and enjoy the time and money you’ve saved!

Saving time and money is good for your health!

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My Experience Transitioning From Paying for Internet Service to Free Internet Service – Part I

23 May Library Books (sxc.hu - alko)

Some of you expressed an interest in my experience transitioning from using home internet services to library internet services. So, this post covers my early experiences (and updates) transitioning from my home computer using AT&T Internet service to using free Internet service on library computers. There are two parts to this post, Part I and Part II. I will post Part II soon.

 

At the bottom of this post, I have added some important updates as I continued to use my library computers since April 8, 2014. It was a little bit rough in the beginning, but nothing that I (or you) couldn’t overcome. Change isn’t easy but it’s manageable. It’s helps to have an adventurous spirit!

 

But that doesn’t mean that I gladly accept every bump in the road that change brings! For example, on my second visit using the library’s computers, I forgot my list of passwords to get on certain websites. My passwords are so tough that I can’t remember them so I keep them on a Word document. I have a lot of passwords and I printed them out and slid the document into a sturdy, see-through, plastic sleeve. I was planning to take it with me every time I went to the library but on my second visit, I forgot it. Lots of cursing went on in my head. None of them out loud because I didn’t want to be kicked out of the library this early in the game! I tried to remember some of them. I sat there straining my brain. No go. The visit was almost a waste of time except for the audiobooks I was able to return and new ones I was able to pick up. Since the plastic sleeve is pretty big and it is unwieldy, I decided to put the password document on my Flash drive. So far, I haven’t forgotten my Flash drive. Problem solved. (More about a Flash drive below.)

 

The Expected Snafus

You have to expect some snafus in the beginning but you can definitely avoid most of them by reading my posts AND the articles I’ve written in the links below.

 

My library’s computers usually are all taken by 11:30 am at my branch. This means I have to leave the house by 10:15 the latest so I can get my favorite spot. (Some areas are drafty near a vent and I want to avoid them.) I need at least an hour to eat, get dressed, and be presentable. Usually, I can do that but not always. Hey, I’m retired. I don’t have to get up at 6:00 am anymore! Using the library computers in the mid or late afternoon hours when the library is less crowded renders the computers more accessible, but I prefer to do my computer work in the mornings. This is not a problem. Read on.

 

If no one is sitting at a computer and the computer screen says, Available, you can use that computer. You can also reserve a computer just like you can reserve a book or anything else at the library! Library card holders can stay on a computer for 1 hour and non-library card holders (guests) only 30 minutes before receiving a time notice. However, you are allowed 800 minutes per day.

 

Each computer is numbered. When you reserve a computer, which you do on a computer assigned for that purpose only, you get a small printout with the time the next computer is available, the date (that same day), and a computer number that is assigned to you. The first time I tried, the software didn’t bring up a field for me to scan my library card number. I simply asked the person in line behind me. I needed to double-click the scan gun. I had only single-clicked. Sometimes, double-clicking still doesn’t work. It’s finicky. Then I click the computer space bar. That worked. One of the two does the trick and the printout prints speedily. This is a small issue but sometimes enough small issues can become frustrating!

 

When you’ve found your reserved computer and used all your time allowed on it, the computer gives you a 10-minute warning beforehand. Then a little later you get a warning to save your work because you need to get off the computer for the next person who has reserved a computer. If no one has reserved your computer, you instead get 15-minute increments at a time and can stay on longer. Once I was on for three hours before I got bumped off. So, the fewer people on the computers, the longer you can stay on. This is nice. My son told me he used to stay on for eight hours at a time when he was looking for work! He used a different library branch that was less busy than mine.

 

On one visit to my library, I didn’t get any 15 minute increments after I used my 60 minutes. Instead I got the warning that my time was almost up. Someone had reserved a computer and mine was in the queue to be next. I had gotten most of my work done but I would have liked to do more. I could have easily reserved another computer and got the next one in the queue, but I didn’t want to wait around. On another library visit, I decided to reserve a computer and had to wait 10 minutes for my reserved computer to open up (for the person who was using it to leave). Anyway, the computer was ready before the 10 minutes were up because the person left that computer a little bit earlier than his time limit which is usually what happens.

 

On another visit I had trouble transferring a photo from my Flash drive to my blog. You are not permitted to put photos on the computer desktop of any of the computers and I couldn’t figure out how to transfer the photo. I asked the assistance of the reference librarian and she showed me how to do it, but it didn’t work. I realized that what she showed me made sense and told her I would try it again and she went on her merry way. Sure enough, when I tried it again, it worked. The reference librarians are always there to help and most of the time they can solve whatever issue you have.

 

Some Background About Me

I thought you might like to know some background information about me relating to computer work. I consider myself computer savvy so if you are thinking about canceling your Internet service as I did to use library Internet service instead, you may want to make some comparisons to your own computer experience. Several years ago, I had a part-time job similar to what these reference librarians do regarding computer help except that I was working at a university. My title was computer consultant and I helped students in a computer lab with their computer issues.

I also taught computer basics in these computer labs, such as how to use Word, Excel, email, ftp, how to use a PC and/or Mac computer, how to create a web page, and whatever else was asked of me. As they say, the best way to learn something is to teach it! Computers and software can be frustrating to learn. I supplied tissues to students who crumbled. People respond differently to the frustration: some cry, some become angry! Computers don’t seem to have a positive effect on people is/was my observation.

 

As far as my home computer, I’ve also taken apart my CPU and vacuumed it. I replaced my DVD-ROM drive, and I’ve replaced memory chips on a previous computer. I don’t let computers intimidate me. You shouldn’t either! I have even more of a background in computers but I think this is enough information for the time being. You don’t need to have as much background in computers as I had to transition to using library computers. It helps to have the confidence though. The way to get that confidence is to practice, ask for help, read about it, then do it. Most computer mistakes can be undone.

 

So far, you can see that this transition from home Internet service to library internet service not only calls for confidence but also some organization: leaving the house at certain times, moving password documents to a Flash drive, and probably more things that I haven’t realized yet (I cover them in the links below.) I can also foresee that I will need to have some kind of reminder or list of things that I need to work on when I get to the library. I can’t just leisurely work on whatever I feel like as I could when I was strictly using my home computer. I’ll need to do the most important things first. If I don’t, I may not get the chance to do them during that 60-minute time period, OR I’ll need to reserve a computer to have access to more time. The plus side is that I’ll get things done quicker. The minus side is that I will feel rushed and stressed. I’m feeling a little stressed already but some of that will pass when it all becomes routine. It’s just like starting a new job! These things are to be expected.

 

Update:

I have now had more than 15 visits using my library’s computers. I no longer feel stressed because now I am super organized. I’ve created a TO DO list and I explain how to use it in both of my articles, “10 Easy Steps Transitioning to Free Internet Service at Your Library” and, “10 Short-cuts Saving Time (and Money) on Your Library Computers.”

 

As I said above, I am planning another post soon. Part II  will cover things you need to be aware of using your library’s computers and also some strange situations I have experienced! Both of the article links above contain valuable, time-saving and money-saving tips that would be worth your time to check out. I get my work done in half the time now! Let me know what you think of them. Also, let me know if you foresee any obstacles for you if you are thinking of making the transition.  Happy surfing on your library’s computers and enjoy the time and money you’ve saved! Saved time and saved money is good for your health!

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New Food Friday – News Flash!

13 Apr Flash Drive (sxc.hu - mrceviz)

I thought of a way I could keep my New Food Fridays going while reducing the amount of time it takes me to do them. Introducing the New Food Friday Flash. The difference between the regular New Food Friday and the new New Food Friday Flash is that the New Food Friday Flash would be shorter and with less photos. Taking photos and finding good ones on the Internet takes up a lot of time for me when putting together New Food Friday.

I still have one more New Food Friday post ready for April’s post, but then after that, New Food Friday Flash will take its place until further notice. The bones of it will stay the same: 3rd Friday of the month, informative, hopefully entertaining, just shorter and sweeter. A food flash in a pan, in a manner of speaking minus the negative connotation! I think you will enjoy it!

*One more thing; if you’re wondering how things are working out now that I’ve canceled my AT&T Internet service, I don’t miss them one bit! I put my posts and any work I need to do at home on my Flash Drive or what some call a USB Memory Stick. The library computers are fast, much faster than my computer, and accept Flash Drives so I can transfer my work from the Flash Drive to the library computer and into my blog. This is working out great! I wish I had done this sooner! You may want to follow suit!

 

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End of Support for XP so I’m Canceling my ISP on April 8

24 Mar System Failure (sxc.hu DGBurns)

Sometimes it’s good to get things off your chest and to assert yourself. It’s good for your health and as we all know, my blog is about good health. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Here’s the story.

Those of you with Windows XP know that Microsoft is ending its support on April 8.  As I have mulled over this event since their announcement, I decided that I did not want to upgrade my desktop computer to Windows 7 or 8 in order to avoid malware and viruses and other clouds of doom. And I resent the fact that it is expected of me.

So, in my way of protest, I have scheduled to cancel my Internet Service as of April 8, the same day Microsoft is ending XP support. What gives? I am so glad you asked.

1. I resent being led around by the nose by the Microsoft conglomerate needing to line their pockets by forcing consumers to buy new software when XP has been doing a good job for us. Better than Vista, better than Windows 8. Nobody liked either one.

2. I scoff at their cavalier throw-away attitude and lack of concern for the environment because rather than upgrade, many people will decide to buy new computers with Windows 8 loaded on it and not load software on their old computer all day long.

3. I’m mad at programmers and software developers for not creating better products that could last longer. Yes, I want computer products to last longer so that we don’t have landfills overflowing with discarded computers that take years and years to break down and then pollute the land and the air while doing so. Read more about computer pollution here.

4. I’m ticked off at AT&T my ISP (Internet Service Provider). I try to avoid calling them because I know that every time I do, it means a long conversation where they try to get you to buy something or add something and you can’t get done what you need to get done until they let out all the stops and wear you down! Other people must have complained about this issue because this time I was asked if I would allow the representative to explain other product options. I told her no. I asked if I decided to get DSL again in the future would I be able to. She said no.  She said she would explain why but since I already told her I did not want her to explain, that she would not be able to tell me. Oh boo-hoo my heart is broken! Then she said, to cover her *ss, you’ve probably gotten notices in the mail about these new products or options or whatever she called them. Yeah, like every week! They never stop coming. And the funny thing is that it is about $15 more than what I’m paying now so why would I want it? But I didn’t say that. I was nice. Speak softly and carry a big stick is my motto.

Then she tried to get me to agree to call waiting and some other service because it would be a package deal. Oh boy, a package deal! Would it save me money this special package deal? Heck no, it costs more than what I’m paying now. Thanks but no thanks.

Then at the end of the conversation she said if I change my mind, they could re-instate my DSL service. Huh? Didn’t she just tell me I couldn’t have DSL anymore if I cancelled it?

So what does this mean for us? For you, me,  my blog and my posts?

I went to my local library branch today and inquired about using their computers. Since I have a library card, I am allowed 1 hour at a time. If I need more time, I can sign up on their computer for another hour. My library is about 2-3 minutes from my house. At 2:30 pm today, all their computers were in use. I’ll have to get there earlier.

At this point I don’t know if using the library computers will work for me. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. As of now, I’m not canceling my New Food Friday posts. If worse comes to worse, I’ll just do them as time permits instead of the 3rd Friday of the month.

The last time I checked, there were still over 400 million XP users out there who hadn’t upgraded to Windows 7 or 8.  For a different point of view about the XP issue, read this.

When I had Window’s ’95 on my old laptop computer, I ended up having to upgrade to Window’s ’98. When I did so, my $200 audio system did not function correctly with it anymore. To this day, I’m still tinkering with it, trying to “fix” it. If I upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, on my desktop computer, my Italian language software programs will not work, nor will my printer and who knows what else. I can probably get an upgraded driver for my printer but it will be difficult if not impossible to do anything about my language CDs. I use them around Christmas time to send letters written in Italian to my relatives in Italy. I refuse to buy new language CDs when I’m happy with what I’ve got.

Upgrading XP boils down to spending a lot of time correcting computer issues, searching for solutions and being chained to my desk a little longer. I’ve already written a post about how sitting at your desk is not good for your health. If you haven’t read it, check it out here.

After all the record snow we had here in Indy this winter, 55″ (and counting) when we usually have between 19″-23″ depending on which news program you follow, I am itching to get out in the sunshine! I don’t want to spend more time on my computer, I want to spend less time!

Well, some of my prayers have been answered. A website, epinions.com,  that I had written reviews for the last six years, has shut down. Kaput, The End, No More. I typically spent 3 hours writing each review. I’ve written over 400 reviews. To read them, click REVIEWS at the top of the page. While this turn of events frees up my time, it also lightens my pocketbook because I was paid for these reviews. Some of these reviews were of books.

I’ve recently gotten in the habit of listening to audiobooks. I love them! But now I have no outlet to write about them. Unless I do it here.  The way I see it, listening to audiobooks or reading printed books is good for your health because they are entertaining, often educational, can increase your vocabulary, and darn it, I say they’re good for your health! So, while I haven’t decided completely, I’m leaning towards adding book reviews to this blog.

Final words. A few people got rich crying out, “A computer on every desk!” We followed these commands like lambs to the slaughter. Have they (computers) really saved us time? How many times has someone misread your email so that you had to write another email explaining your original email? How many times have you hit the delete key for the Spam you got and then had to go into your Trash folder because you (or  software) accidentally deleted an email that you wanted to keep? How much time have you spent online trying to find a free anti-virus program that didn’t eat up all your resources and slow down your computer to a crawl? How many times have you gotten the “Unresponsive script” warning and it hung up your computer? How many times has malware or a virus screwed up your computer because your anti-virus software didn’t catch it? How many times….fill in the blank with your own time-consuming computer issue. Enough already!

I know. Normally I’m a quiet girl but when I get a bee in my bonnet, look out! The wheels are in motion, my mind is made up. Upgrade be damned! AT&T call yourself and hang up. Power to the people!

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Standing/Sitting Desk Workstation – Free!

1 Jan Standing Desk with Mat

Too much sitting has been under the gun as the latest bad health habit. Momentum has been gaining in companies to offer standing desk workstations to their employees. Some include treadmills!   What about us bloggers who sit in front of the computer day after day? We can’t run out and buy the latest standing desk workstation. Some will run you upwards of $4,000!

standing desk 2.0

Standing desk with chair 2.0 (Photo credit: A.J. Kandy)

Some say women will get increased problems with varicose veins using standing desk workstations. My thought was that some people would have swollen feet. Since this is a rather “new” idea in the workplace for many, there isn’t much data to prove that standing all day is better than sitting all day. So, like most things, my feeling is that it’s best to do both standing and sitting in moderation. 

Sitting at desk with feet up

Sitting at desk with feet up – sxc.hu/cornnius – Maria Luisa Gutierrez

One of the benefits of doing more standing is that you burn more calories than if you just sat all day. However, some claim that there are many more benefits to standing, including adding years to your life! You know that if something benefits your health, you can be sure that it will be posted in this blog.

Create Your Own Standing Desk

I researched and wrote an article about how I created a standing desk workstation that could be converted back to a sitting desk workstation in less than 5 minutes, (actually less than 1 minute), without spending any money. The initial setup may take a few hours depending on what you have on hand and how creative you are.

I’ve been using my workstation now for over a week. I had forgotten how tiring it is to stand all day! But how great it feels when you finally sit down! Like the guy in the photo, you may want to put your feet up after standing at a standing desk workstation!

I’ve converted my article into a blog post that explains how to set up the standing desk workstations. It’s worth checking out.

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