Input requested re: "portable" ergo setup idea

Just to toss some variety in my work setup, and for reasons of being able to observe a 15-year-old beagle that has forgotten how to come ask to go outside, I’d like to do some of my work in my living room.

Let me go over the setup. As far as the actual computer stuff that lives on my desk, I have:

  • M1 MBA 13"
  • Ergodox EZ (because somebody will ask, Kailh box pink silents :slight_smile: )
  • Magic Trackpad 2 (external, not the one on the laptop)
  • Streamdeck
  • Logitech 920 webcam
  • 43" 4K TV that I use as a monitor

There’s a Mac Mini with a DAS array in here too, but the MBA uses wireless to hit that - so it’s not an issue as far as portability.

The MBA lives in a vertical stand ( I got on Amazon. Everything connects to the MBA via a small hub/dock/gizmo (, except the Streamdeck with is direct-wired for bizarre reasons (Streamdeck disconnecting after M1 MBA isn't used for awhile).

So to pick it up and move, I’d have to relocate at a minimum the first three items on the list. The Streamdeck would be a nice touch, but is absolutely not required.

For practical purposes, that means “going to the living room” involves:

  • Unplugging two cables from the MBA (hub + Streamdeck)
  • Unplugging the Ergodox from the hub
  • Unplugging the trackpad from the hub (I use it wired due to Bluetooth interference in the office)
  • Moving the setup to the living room
  • Plugging the MBA into the TV in the living room
  • Plugging everything else into a hub of some sort

and that all assumes I have a place to put all of this when I get there. Which I currently don’t.

In the living room, I have a TV with AppleTV - so I could absolutely just cast my Mac screen to it. But I’d prefer something more direct.

What I was thinking is:

  • Get something like a Levenger lap desk (Levenger Lap Desk - Levenger) as it’s wide enough to accommodate the setup (the setup is 26" wide), and only 1/4" or so thick
  • Get a small, inexpensive multi-port non-powered USB hub
  • Grab some adhesive velcro tape
  • Velcro the hub, trackpad, and possibly keyboard to the lap desk
  • Get short cables to wire the keyboard and trackpad into the hub
  • Get a duplicate of my existing little “hub” to permanently plug into an HDMI port on the living room TV

A 1/4" thick Levenger lap desk wouldn’t add much height to my existing setup - so the setup could just sit on my existing desk.

And when I wanted to go to the living room, there’d be one cable to disconnect the lap desk setup, and two to disconnect the MBA. Super-easy to move, and I could just work on the couch or the recliner or whatever.

I realize this is a fair bit of goofing around, but a large portion of my work is typing / writing - and I really don’t want to do that on the built-in MBA keyboard.

Thoughts? Improvements? Comments about how much I’m over-thinking things? :slight_smile:

How many hours a day are you planning to sit in the living room? Would it be easier to move the dog to your office?

I owned a Levenger Lap Desk. For two reasons, it is gone. First, it was unwieldy – “lap desk” is not true. If was uncomfortable to perch on a lap, and unworkable to rest on the arms of a chair. Secondly, for the price (or any price) it was poorly made and immediately started flaking layers of veneer.

Anyway, I move around to different rooms with a MBP and a Sofia+Sam laptop desk that is inexpensive, comfortable and durable. I don’t bother moving with all the stuff that’s plugged in when the MBP is on my real desk. I have extra charging bricks and cables located around the house, which is all I need. If I need files, they are on my Synology and available via WiFi.

Depending on distances, sounds like you just need a wireless keyboard.
Airplay to the Apple TV in the living room, grab your wireless keyboard and trackpad and go to the living room. If you’re within x meters of the laptop, should work.
If not,

No. This is more of an explanation than you probably want, but it’s kind of like that problem where you’re trying to cross a river with a duck, a basket of seed, and a wolf.

The issue is that our doggy is 15 years old, has some form of dementia, and has Cushing’s (basically “poor bladder control”).

The dementia means she basically has two modes. The first mode can be best described as “harass humans for attention, walks, and/or food”. The second mode is best described as “go take a nap in her crate or under our bed”. She’s ALWAYS in one of those modes.

Locking her in the office eliminates mode #2 from her availability heuristic and perma-locks her in mode #1. Which means she’ll be constantly hassling me when I’m trying to do work.

Locking her out of the office eliminates mode #1 from the heuristic, and usually results in a nap.

Keeping the office door open yields 5 minutes of mode #1, followed by mode #2 as both the crate and bed are available for napping purposes. :smiley:

But when she gets up, she has to go now. So the lack of any ability to see the dog going to the living room is a Big Problem.

Me being in the living room lets me observe the front door (necessary) and provides her the ability to mode-switch as her crate and the bedroom are both accessible. Plus it’s no real extra stress to me, as there’s a nice comfy chair out there to sit in - as long as I have my setup. :slight_smile:

Yeah, I can totally appreciate how that would be nice & easy. :slight_smile: I just can’t switch back and forth between Ergodox and the MBA’s default keyboard, both for practical reasons (my brain doesn’t mode-switch layouts very well), and for comfort reasons (RSI type stuff). Although I’ll definitely look at that lap desk too!

I’ve thought about that as an option, although it would have to be some sort of RF setup that would accommodate my Ergodox. It’s actively uncomfortable for me to type on a non-split board.

The thing is though, the reason the trackpad is wired when it’s only 2.5 feet from my MacBook now is because something about this office plays absolute hell with Bluetooth peripherals. My Bluetooth headset seems to work fine, but connections to computers are just weird for some reason. Jumpy cursors, missed clicks, loss of connection, etc. I don’t know if the neighbor has an RF jammer they’re targeting at my desk surface, but that’s my experience.

Although that Bluetooth extender looks interesting - maybe something like that would get the antenna into a better place and it would work better. I’ll have to look into that. :slight_smile:

Our dog (13yrs) never learned to ask to go out, so I have a Logi Circle camera pointed at the back door with “animal” notifications on. I try to let her out every time she goes to the door.

I had a monitor that served as a Wi-Fi blocker. Laptop would not connect if the monitor was on the side towards the router. That took a while to find.

We played with that option, then she learned that going to the door summoned a human and just did it to get us out of wherever we are. I’d be letting her out 3 times per hour. :smiley: There’s body language that indicates she has to go, but from body language to “I’m going” is too short of a time if I’m in the back room.

Now that’s something to look at - the MacBook is only a couple feet from the trackpad, but there’s a TV in in the path between them. That’s something to try rejiggering - thanks!

We have a geriatric toy poodle with incontinence issues. We went with a homemade diaper that uses panty liners. Has worked quite well.


Tried an experiment with a cheap Levenger knockoff and the AirPlay idea from @JohnAtl. The Levenger knockoff is (it was $35 when I bought it - it seems to have gone up substantially since).

On that, I have the MacBook Air in the middle, the ErgoDox tight up against the MacBook’s sides (and the thumb cluster ever-so-slightly hanging off the front edge), my StreamDeck XL, and my cheapo hub/docking station (mentioned above). Velcro’d the docking station down, ran cables, used the open space inside the StreamDeck to hide a couple cable coils, and called it good.

When I go to the living room I unplug HDMI and power. Once I’m out there, I plug in power and AirPlay to the living room TV. Our big comfy chair is a chair-and-a-half width, so the width just barely fits between the arms.

It’s not super-lightweight, but it seems to meet my needs. I have a nice, stable surface for the keyboard, the MacBook being in the middle allows me to use its built-in trackpad instead of my external one, and I can actually use it either in the living room or the bedroom (both rooms have a TV with AirPlay).

Seems like it’ll work well for my needs. :slight_smile: Thanks for the advice everybody!

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