Monday, February 15, 2016

Remote Pairing Setup

This post is more of a stream of consciousness so there will be tons of grammatical and spelling errors. I needed to get a draft published so that I could stop fretting over when I was actually going to write about this topic.


Fast internet connections are a must! I have AT&T Giga Power and although I have had nothing but trouble with their quality of service, I cannot see paying more money to TWC for 300 Mbps. I never get 1G speed they max out at around 920 Mbps.

I do not have my WiFi sorted out yet. I only have 1 device that supports AC and the majority of my devices downgrade the WiFi channels to N. For this reason I do not rely on WiFi to connect my devices and have ethernet in as many rooms as I can.

Due to space constraints, my current setup does not include a switch at the modem and since the AT&T modem only has 4 outbound ports I have a few work arounds setup.

NO Wireless G Devices! The Playstation 3 downgrades the wireless network to G; so I turned of their WiFi adapters and connected them over AV ethernet using TP-LINK TL-PA4010KIT AV500.

I have a NETGEAR ProSAFE GS108 8-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch delivering ethernet access to a few devices from my study including my MBP and another in my wife's office.


Video quality is extremely important. Using the built in Camera on your computer is probably a bad idea. For that reason I use the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920.


Audio quality is extremely important. I am a pair programmer and am always communicating with another team mate pretty much my entire day.

I asked around and Avdi turned me onto headsets designed for Gamers. I was surprised and impressed by the amazing quality that even low end video game headsets have. I tried a couple but have really enjoyed the Turtle Beach - Ear Force Stealth 450 for a few reasons:
  • Circumaural headsets are much more comfortable than in-ear headsets and has much better audio quality
  • It's a wireless headsets that has a long battery life! No need to be chained to my desk, I can move around the office when I get a bit antsy. 
  • Mic monitoring... I can hear myself speak!
  • Sturdy Microphone; I had a Corsair Vengeance 2100 but the microphone became loose and could not fix it. 
There are a few things I wish were different like an easier way to mute the headset; but for the most part I like it quite a bit. 


I suffer from spinal osteoarthritis and plantar fasciitis, which makes my life as a programmer very painful. Since I sit for a considerable amount of time I purchased a refurbished Steelcase Leap Fabric Chair from a discount furniture store. I also make sure I wear comfortable shoes but rarely do I stand. 


A few years ago my wife purchased pre-owned Anthro Carts and Benches. At the time I was confused why she would make me drive 100 miles to purchase office furniture but I have to say it is well worth it! These are probably the best desks that I have ever owned and with all of the accessories and options we have a configuration that suits both of our needs pretty well. 


I have a 15" Mac Book Pro with Retina Display but if you purchase a PC I would simply pick one with the same or better specifications.

I have a laptop so when I have to travel to our home office, I am able to bring my workstation with me and not burden anyone else or take up a pairing station. What is also great about laptops is I am able to work in my backyard on beautiful days.


I recently replaced my non-functional Unicomp Endura Pro keyboard, which I still love with all of my heart with CODE 87-Key Mechanical Keyboard - Cherry MX Blue. If the Endura Pro was available in 87 keys I would have just bought that one again. Spring buckling keys are about a million times better than the Cherry MX switches.


I have not used a mouse in 3 years and was really concerned about using one again. When I have to use a mouse, I suffer from incredible wrist pain. I was overwhelmed by the amount of different ergonomic mouse options but ended up going with a more traditional mouse. The Logitech Wireless Performance Mouse MX is pretty good. Haven't had any cramping or stabbing pain since I started using it. It has about 8 buttons of which I only use the basics but one day I will try it out.


For the price of a single Apple Thunderbolt Display, I have two Dell Ultra HD 4k Monitor P2715Q, which for me are worth every penny. With a total of 3 displays I have plenty of room for all of my applications.

Docking Station

I have a HengeDoc Horizontal Docking Station. It is a little glitchy but I am able to unplug my laptop with the click of a button. I also appreciate that it adds an additional MiniDisplay Port since Daisy Chaining is not an option for the MBP using non-Apple displays.

Separate Working Space

In our previous home, my master bedroom doubled as a home office and I never felt comfortable there. I never felt like I could "clock out" and would sit at my workstation finishing up tasks very late at night.

I am now fortunate enough to have a study in my home and it makes a huge difference for me psychologically. When I leave the study to pick up my children from school or start dinner I am able to disconnect from my work.

Connecting with Teammates

I've tried a lot of different solutions to keep connected to my teammates around the world and I am afraid we have not found a one-size-fits-all solution for our workflow.

At this point I have pretty much given up on email and exclusively use Slack for asynchronous communication.

For face-to-face meetings I prefer using Sococo. Despite the poor audio and video quality, it has something going for it that no other software I have used has, which is simulating spatial proximity with my teammates. It makes me feel like I am in an actual office space with them and I cannot express the importance of feeling connected to my team.

For group presentations and all hands meetings my team still uses Google Hangouts. The video quality is excellent most of the time and HD video really does make you feel like you are in the room. The quirky user interface and difficulty joining meetings but once you join it makes it well worth the trouble.

Natural Light

My study has more windows than wall space. It has made a huge difference in my attitude and overall sense of joy.

Whiteboard Replacement

Everything I have tried, within a reasonable price, has been a failure. I don't want to go off and invest in an electronic whiteboard only to find out they suck too. If you have something let me know, I sure could use it.


Mike D said...


Thanks for sharing this and other advice around setting up a home office. I hadn't considered that wifi may not be ideal for working remotely, especially for video. I live in an old house and am not going to try snaking cable to the 3rd floor, but might try some power line adapters that I have been reviewing. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks again,

Mark said...

Also want to say thanks for this. Had some remote pairing recently that went... not so well (but there were team issues there as well that didn't help) - but with some of your advice I think I can do better next time.

You mentioned being able to hear yourself - is that a problem with your current headphones or were you saying it is important to check for?

Ariel Valentin said...


Glad you found this helpful. Mic Monitoring is a feature of the Turtle Beach headset, which allows me to hear my own voice when I speak. Mic monitoring helps so that I do not speak loudly (or scream) when I am wearing the headset. Other headsets that I have owned did not have that feature and I found myself speaking loudly all of the time.


Ariel Valentin said...

Cool. Good luck!