My Desk Setup

My capstone project is just beginning basically. I’ve been tasked to create a preliminary draft and continue to iterate a UI for the app we are making but I discussed most of my thoughts on UI in my previous post. So today, I’m going to talk about something that I interact with literally every day, unless I’m on vacation: my desk.

My desk!

So there’s a lot to unpack here that’s for sure! First off, yes I have 4 monitors. I’ve found in the past few days that I don’t necessarily use all my monitors so I’m doing to down size to just 3 which should still be more than enough for my needs. In regards to the setup of 4 monitors, it took some trial and error to get to this style. I hadn’t ever had a vertical monitor before and decided that it could be of use, especially for programming, but I have yet to use it for that simply due to it being to the side. If it was in front of me it would be used a lot more than it currently is.

For what’s powering the monitors, to the right of my desk (standing desk from Fully) I have my PC hooked up. It has an AMD 3700X CPU, 32GB of RAM and the Nvidia 3070 GPU, which I had to pay an arm and a leg for in the current market where everything is way above MSRP. I built my first computer back in 2016 and slowly upgraded the components to the point where the only things from my original PC are my CPU cooler and the storage. The rest is all new and upgraded from their original.

Continuing on my desk you have my keyboard which is the Glorious GMMK Pro mechanical keyboard that I “built” a few months ago. The “built” is the fact that I didn’t have to do any soldering like I would with other keyboards, mainly because I don’t trust myself to do that as well as I don’t know how to just yet, but maybe soon. I also have a split keyboard (put away here) that I use for work where I switch up my monitors to the laptop dock input for work.

Speaking of work, you can see my work laptop in the far left of the picture where it is hooked up to a dock in order to connect to 3 of my 4 monitors for work.

I have 3 macro pads here (one on the right and 2 on the left), mainly for small macros but haven’t really thought of things to automate just yet, but I’m willing to hear any ideas you may have!

Above the monitor are 2 cameras, one for work and one for personal computer. Could have used just one but it is a pain to reconnect the cable each time I have work thus I have one for each for now. And above the left monitor is a key light which helps me stay in good lighting for my work calls.

In regards to the applications I use the most on my computer, it’s mainly the Vivaldi browser, KeePass XC for my passwords, Steam (game library), Discord, Spotify, Windows Terminal (from the Microsoft store for access to Powershell/Windows Terminal/WSL in the same window), Everything (file search that’s faster than the built-in one) and Visual Studio Code where most of my coding is done.

So that’s my setup! I’m usually found here during the day and night either doing work, doing homework, or playing video games. It’s something that I have put a lot of effort to being a place where I can be for hours on end.

Like I said above, this blog isn’t as much as a capstone post this week since I talked about my first part of the project last week, UI, but next week we should have more to talk about the project and my thoughts on the process for working through the draft process and any other part of the capstone that I do. Hope you enjoyed my post about my setup! Let me know if there’s any questions you may have about either the setup, the project or anything else in general!



The User Interface

Designing a User Interface (or UI) is something that I consider an art of sorts. There’s such a thin line between the UI being too cluttered (functionality) and being too minimalistic (aesthetic). Sometimes one element makes that difference, while sometimes its the size of the elements. Walking that line can seem easy before you start, but when you really start to design the app, you notice how hard that is. It can start off with an innocent want of adding a button at the bottom of the screen simply because its such an important function that the user needs to needing to have all functionality of the program in the main screen. I’ve struggled with this many times, from making a web application for class, working on a desktop UI for a personal project, or redesigning a form for work where you have to meet the needs of the client. I haven’t found the secret to making a good UI, but looking at different UIs from around the internet (web apps, phone apps, desktop apps, etc.), I’ve noticed that the most important aspect of a UI is great User Experience (or UX). User experience can be broken down into many factors like loading times, but I’m only going to focus on the UI here.

When you look at the UI of different popular apps, you can see why they are so popular. They just are intuitive to use. Take a look at Twitter’s UI below

From Google Play Store

Thankfully its a nice app to look at, and the UI really drives forward the notion of it being really easy to use. Look at the bottom row for example. Four icons which are universal in many other applications. The home button to take you back to the home screen (in this case your timeline), the search button to search, the notification bell for notifications and the email icon for your direct messages. Above that last button is the create Tweet button. And all of that takes up so little space and gives so much more for the timeline you have created for yourself.

Twitter’s app is just one of many, but notice how much the UI lends itself to having a great experience with the app. Your focus is on the main timeline, but can quickly switch to a different panel as needed with the tap of a button. It is something that we must strive to do in our own UIs for the capstone. UI design is not easy, usually you would go through many types of designs in order to find the right one that fit the requirements of the client, but once you do you still have to refine it to the point where the UX is great and the user is not frustrated with how your app is laid out. And this is all before even beginning to start the actual coding of the app and its functionality. Design takes the longest and gives the most reward to your app since it can be the reason a user keeps coming back to your app to use it.

In the end, UI is arguable the most important aspect of an application simply due to how it can take an app from mediocre to a daily used one. There still is always a fine line to walk between functionality and aesthetics, but if you can hit it correctly (like Twitter has in my opinion), the app becomes something that you try to emulate in your own projects down the line.

Now to work on the UI for the capstone!

— Gianluca


The Start of a Journey to Cap Off My Time at OSU

Starting off a blog is always something I struggle with. I’m not the best writer, but I know that my writing will improve over the next 10 weeks simply because the more practice I have, the better I’ll get at it. Blogging to me is an art form that I just don’t get how to create. Sure, I’ll read blogs from time to time, but starting one is daunting. You need to learn the ins and outs of search engine optimization, market yourself well, and so on. There’s so much to start on for the capstone blog, but for now, a simple introduction should be perfect.

My name is Gianluca and I’m a 24 year old who’s graduating from Oregon State’s post-baccalaureate program in June of 2022. I’m super excited to finish the program because I’ve learned so much more than I ever could have without this program since it brings the structure that I need for learning a new subject entirely. I have many hobbies but if I were to list my top ones they would be video games, soccer, board games, biking, and learning about new technologies.

I know this seems fairly short, but there’s not much to say about the capstone yet since we’re just starting out, but over time I’m going to get more in-depth about my progress and how my team is moving along in getting our project to completion. As well as hopefully improving my writing skills. I’m so excited to have you join me in my journey to completing this degree! Andiamo ragazzi!