This post began as an explanation of character set encodings and some of the UTF-8 problems that I have recently encountered, but as I struggled to find the right words and salient examples, I found myself nervously pacing around my living room and wishing I had the same “standing desk” at home that I do at the office, so that I could work off some nervous energy while still focusing on getting my thoughts on the screen.

After managing to prop my laptop on a cookbook on top of a high counter, my focus has transitioned to workplace environments and workspace setup, topics that have been discussed in depth recently, including numerous articles on the hazards of sitting at a desk all day and a New York Times article this Saturday on workplace noise.

One of the major draws of working at RJMetrics was the opportunity to design my ideal workspace, including my desired chair, desk, and computer. I had been considering a standing desk for a while and was excited to see that this was already a common feature in the office. Most developers here have a GeekDesk, which is a motorized desk that you can sit or stand at. Each person has a different balance of sitting and standing, but everyone appreciates this somewhat unusual office perk.

These desks are not just a novelty- recent research has shown that being sedentary for long periods of time increases a person’s risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease even if he or she exercises regularly.

For me the draw of a standing desk was more practical. I prefer standing, stretching, and pacing while I’m working and I find it hard to sit and focus when I have a lot of pent up energy. I also find sitting for extended periods to be uncomfortable, and have gone through many desk chairs in the past trying to find one that doesn’t bother me. I’ve found instead that the best way around this for me is to take frequent standing breaks. It also helps keep my energy up in the afternoons when I find myself getting groggy.

Plus, having a standing desk fosters collaboration. It’s easy for me to share a workspace with another developer while standing and looking at some code than it is it cram a bunch of swivel chairs at a workstation. Stand up!