It’s hard enough to be a writer, reviewer, and tech enthusiast for The Verge under normal circumstances. It’s even harder when you’re working out of a shared studio apartment during a pandemic. Cameron Faulkner, who not only handles our deals pages but also writes on a wide variety of topics, has somehow managed it.
We asked him to explain how.
Tell me a little about yourself. What is your background, and what do you do at The Verge?
Hi! Tech has always been my passion, and I’ve been happily writing about tech professionally for about seven years, nearly three of those at The Verge. Before I got work in the field, I was employed at KFC, at a fulfillment center for school supplies, as a pharmacy technician, and as a cashier. I’m always oddly proud to share my strange brew of work experience with anyone who will listen. I grew up in the Midwest in Mansfield, Ohio, but I’ve lived in Brooklyn, New York, since 2013.
My primary focus at The Verge is on Verge Deals, including daily deal roundups that my colleague Taylor Lyles and I hand-pick each day. That also includes helping to write content for the Verge Deals Twitter account, as well as publishing a weekly newsletter. (You can sign up here!) Aside from that, I write about gaming peripherals, write reviews and how-tos, and help the news team cover pressing stories.
How did you decide where and how to set up your workspace?
Organizing distinct zones in a studio apartment is a challenge that I’ve yet to overcome. All of these zones sort of bleed into each other, and without having actual rooms with walls to get space from, say, pots banging in the kitchen, or other distractions, it can be incredibly difficult to stay focused. Though our latest arrangement is possibly the best that we’ll ever manage in this space.
My wife and I have our desks facing in opposite directions. Just out of frame, behind where I sit, is her desk. We’ve been forced to be very efficient with these space constraints, and it’s miles ahead of where we used to be. We actually used to share this one desk that’s pictured here, with my one monitor, keyboard, and mouse on the right and her setup on the left. The pandemic made us rethink this strategy. Suffice it to say, my current setup is a huge improvement.
Tell me a little about the desk itself.
First off, I’d advise people to resist the temptation to buy a glass desk, good as they look. It’ll show dust after just a few days — even faster if you have cats who like to climb on it and nuzzle on the corners of your monitors. 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 desk is never as clean as the picture above indicates. I usually have another mug or two on it and some errant review products strewn about. That said, I actually do prefer a minimalistic look (difficult as it is to maintain). No disrespect to my colleagues who have been featured in this series, but I don’t have many tchotchkes that I want to display at all times.
How about your desk chair?
The desk chair that I use is the Herman Miller Sayl, which usually sells for around $600 — the low-end of that company’s lineup, believe it or not. I almost purchased this chair in mid-2020 when the chair that I had was really causing me physical anguish, but Vox Media allowed me to borrow it from our NYC office. So I immediately drove there, stuffed it into my car, and brought it home. My cats and I really like it.
Okay, now it’s time to talk about your tech. Let’s start with your computer.
I built that PC, and it’s filled with parts ranging from as far back as 2014 to recently. The case is the SilverStone Temjin, built to accommodate small microATX motherboards. You might be able to see from the photos that it’s a little scratched and beat up. I love that this case size is small enough to fit on a monitor stand, so I can fit the head of my vacuum cleaner underneath.
Inside the case, I have an Intel Core i5-9600K processor, EVGA’s GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB NVMe SSD. My cable management isn’t great, but the case shuts and the wires are out of harm’s way, so I’m content with it. My goal is to keep the system fast enough to run any game near its highest graphical settings, but I don’t usually buy the latest components right when they release.
I see you have two displays. How do you use them?
I like to keep my static batch of Google Chrome tabs open on the left screen (apps like Gmail, Google Drive, Asana task management, 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 game on the left monitor (a 27-inch Acer Nitro XV272U) because it’s a QHD IPS panel with a fast refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility. Having a two-monitor setup was something that I got used to having in our work office, so I purchased a second one (a 27-inch LG 27GL650F-B) for myself a few months into the pandemic.
How about your other tech (headphones, speakers, etc.)?
A few devices that always have a spot on my desk are a mouse (whichever one I’m testing at the moment) and a Microsoft Sculpt keyboard, along with my JBL Pebble desktop speakers. JBL doesn’t make these USB-powered speakers anymore, so they currently cost more than they originally sold for (and are worth), but I really enjoy their simplicity and sound.
I keep my company MacBook Pro laptop and Sony WH-1000XM3 headset (hanging on a Master & Dynamic stand) on the top of my desk when I need to join a meeting at a moment’s notice. There’s also my phone, a Google Pixel 3, sitting on a metal Lamicall stand. Under my desk, I have a Brainwavz BigT headphone hanger to keep an extra pair handy. I also like to hang a long USB-C cable on it that’s used for connecting to my Oculus Quest 2 headset.
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That’s a really interesting keyboard. I’ve seen split keyboards like that, but never actually met somebody who uses one.
I didn’t think I’d be someone who would use one of these, but about a month into the pandemic, I was ending each day with sore wrists and forearms. There were plenty of pricier ergonomic keyboards out there, especially ones with mechanical keys, but the Microsoft Sculpt seemed like a good fit because it’s wireless and relatively affordable. It helps to orient my wrists in a more natural way while typing, and it makes a huge difference for me. The material used in the wrist rest actually gets kind of grimey after a few weeks of use, but dampening it with water and soap works well enough at restoring its original look.
This ergonomic keyboard features a contoured design with a detachable palm rest to fully support your hands and wrists. This bundle also comes equipped with a standalone number pad and a contoured mouse to cut down on wrist strain.
I see that, like others here, you sometimes depend on an old-fashioned notebook.
Yep! I used one in the office and like to keep one here with me at my desk. It’s all too easy for an important task to get buried in Chrome tabs, or to forget about a due date that’s coming up. It’s simply the best way I know how to stay on task for work.
Is there anything significant about your Dreamcast cup?
I’m a big fan of the Sega Dreamcast console, but the cup itself is significant because I purchased it at Super Potato, a popular video game store in Tokyo’s Akihabara section. I’m not big on getting souvenirs from places, but I knew I had to bring this one back to the US. I don’t even drink from it. (I’m too scared to break it.) I just keep little things in it, like pens, portable hard drives, etc.