What’s on your desk, Kate Cox?

Kate Cox is one of two senior producers running the Decoder podcast here at The Verge. Before she joined The Verge last summer, she had a decade and change as a reporter and editor covering tech policy, consumer tech issues, video games, and occasionally, nerd culture for several outlets.

She took some time to tell us about her workspace.

That’s a cozy-looking space. Where in your home is it?

Our house was built in 1951 and has this very weird, very small sort of L-shaped bedroom, with doors on opposite sides, directly off the kitchen. My husband and I share it as a home office, each of us sitting with our backs to one leg of the “L” and our desks perpendicular to each other, spaced out. The view behind / past my monitor is through the door into our kitchen, which is handy when I’ve got dinner roasting or simmering during the last hour of my workday and also when my kids are home and I can see the feet of a five-year-old who is trying to sneak snacks. And the blue accent wall shows up behind me in all my video calls. 

The view behind / past the monitor is through the door into the kitchen.

Tell us about your desk and why you chose it.

I love my desk unreservedly. It’s from Crafters and Weavers, and I picked it up in late 2020 or early 2021, when I was sick to death of an old Ikea setup that I’d bought for an earlier apartment and decided I was a grown-up and could have real wood furniture. 

I did a ton of research before I ordered it, and the last hurdle was emailing the customer service folks to see if they could get me a measurement from the bottom of the right-hand drawers to the floor because I needed to know if my 19-inch PC tower could clear it. (It could — just barely. Newer PC towers without a half-dozen drive bays are, happily, a little shorter.) 

Wooden desk with open drawer.

Reclaimed, distressed wood desk with three drawers, one of which can be used as a keyboard stand.

Tell us about your chair and, again, why you chose it.

The chair is a classic Ikea Markus. I do not love it unreservedly, alas. It was a good replacement for a much older, decrepit chair about six to seven years ago, and it was great for the part-time home use it got at the time, but I’ve been working full time from home since 2019, and somehow my hips and back keep stubbornly not getting any younger. I keep meaning to replace it. Someday…

Here’s the big one. Tell us about the tech you’re using: computers, monitors, etc. Be as specific as you can — including why you chose it and if you’re happy with it (or not!).

The laptop is a 2021 MacBook Pro, Vox Media issued. I don’t love using Macs, even though almost all of my work-issued computers since 2013 have been MacBooks, and my job is 100 percent cloud-based, so I also do a fair amount of work from my personal PC.

I actually just built this PC in July to fully replace the old one I’d been Frankensteining along for more than a decade, so it’s pretty new. It’s my first AMD build, with a Ryzen 7 7700X in an Asus ROG Strix B650E-F motherboard. The GPU is an Nvidia Founders Edition 3060 Ti that I did actually bring over from my old PC. They all work exactly as well as you’d hope. (The initial RAM sticks did not work as well as you’d hope, and I had to RMA them after only three months.)

An AMD B650E AM5 ATX gaming motherboard with 12 + 2 power stages, DDR5, PCIe 5.0 NVMe SSD support, one PCIe 5.0 x16 SafeSlot with Q-Release, USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C rear I/O port, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C front-panel connector, WiFi 6E, and Aura Sync RGB lighting.

The case is a Fractal Design Pop Air Cyan because I thought it was pretty, and really, most decent air-cooled PC cases are going to work about the same, so you may as well choose the one you find aesthetically pleasing. (The case is covered in small fingerprints because my five-year-old also thinks it is pretty and likes to sit under my desk and touch it.) 

The monitor is a 27-inch Dell S2721DGF that suits my needs extremely well. It’s 1440p, not 4K, but I also got it a year or two ago, and my old PC would have keeled over and burst into flames if you asked it to run a game in 4K. I expect I’ll do a GPU upgrade on this machine in a few more years, and I’ll likely upgrade to a 4K monitor then. (I miss having a multi-monitor setup, but in this physical space, that’s just not really a workable idea.)

This Fractal Design Pop Air Cyan case is covered in small five-year-old fingerprints.

A pair of the excellent (but no longer available) Sennheiser HD 558 headphones.

My keyboard’s a Corsair K70 Lux (Cherry MX Brown) that I really like — I think mechanical keyboards are a lot better for being a writer than chiclet keyboards — but that has definitely seen better days. I’ve banged out millions of words on it since I got it in 2016, but some of the keycaps have broken and been replaced, some of the LEDs are starting to go, there’s a squeak somewhere in the home row, and my habit of eating everything bagels has not done it any favors, no matter how often I clean. I’ve been resisting falling down the rabbit hole of custom mechanical keyboard builds, but I know it’s just a matter of time before I finally do. 

$249

A dynamic microphone with both USB and XLR outputs for use with computers and professional interfaces. Includes a headphone jack for real-time monitoring of your voice.

The mic is a very nice Shure MV7 podcast microphone that the company sent me so I can do my job, haha. I hate listening to myself, and I only plug it in when I need to, but it does admittedly make my voice sound much richer and more professional when I need it to.  

I’m not sure I even know what the speakers are because I turn them on maybe once or twice a year, but I’m utterly in love with my headphones, the Sennheiser HD 558. I may be new to podcasting, but I’ve been a musician basically my whole life, and they were a very thoughtful gift from my non-musician husband well over a decade ago when he realized I not only had crappy speakers but also was making do with crappy cheap headphones I hated.

Love the 1950s-era lamp. 

Thank you! Isn’t it fun? That’s another Ikea special, I think it cost me all of $9. I used to keep it in my actual physical office in my Consumerist days, but I adopted it for my home desk after I stopped commuting. 

The back of the desk reveals cables and, in the background, a bookcase full of interesting tchotchkes.

I see that you’ve managed to get your cables in back and out of the way. Congrats!

I look forward to a fully wireless far future, perhaps by the time I have grandkids. For now, I keep swearing I’m going to get the cable turtles and zip ties out and really properly clean this all up, but instead I mostly just keep my French horn in front of it so I can’t see it. (Yes, I play it. My wind ensemble rehearses Tuesday nights.)

On to your bulletin board setup…

I love my tiles! I got bored with my old corkboard, which also proved to be too wide for this wall when we moved in 2021, so I got these cute starry hexagons, and I’ve been slowly filling them in. I also keep an actual paper calendar up there that I refer to all the time, but I took it down for these photos because it’s covered in personal information.

As a bonus, now that I am in podcast land, foam tiles on the wall right next to me help a lot with sound and echo in here. 

Yes, I have a…. Problem. A longstanding problem. I’ve always been like this; my favorite day of the year as a child was when my parents would let me buy all my back-to-school notebooks and pens.

Ironically, for most of my day-to-day note-taking (which is all on paper, because I only remember things I physically write), I use whatever cheapo Pilot EasyTouch ballpoint is nearest to hand. But I like sending correspondence to my friends, so the others get used for letters and cards and such. 

Looks like you have a lot of stuff on that shelf.

Too much, probably, but attempts to cull have failed. The tchotchkes on the top and some on the second shelf down are mostly gifts, from family, friends, and former colleagues. The white drawers are just your basic desk stuff — top one is phone / small device charging cables, middle one is scissors and tape and so on — but since I bought a desk without much storage space, it all has to go somewhere. 

The tan plushie on the right is official Dragon Age merch mabari. The gray plushie on the left is a character in the game — a dog named Cat — and was handmade by one of the players.

The rest of the stuff… I’ve been in a Dragon Age tabletop campaign with a group of friends for eight years and change now — and we have plenty left to go — and we’re very close. I’m the note-taker and recap writer, so a solid half-dozen quad-ruled notebooks are now filled with eight years’ worth of notes. The minifigs, the plushies, and some of the other stuff in and around that shelf are all gifts we’ve gotten or made for each other over the years. 

I understand this is supposed to be a child-free space. How have you succeeded in that?

I fail, utterly, every day. But at least we’ve managed to get “no toys in the office!” to stick. All of the junk I had to clear away from my workspace to take these photos was my own, and I can’t blame the kids for it.

Guybrush the cat doesn’t always stay in his cat trap.

And then, of course, there’s the cat.

The cat trap on the shelf is for Guybrush; he’s pushing 14 and spends more time napping than he used to. He can both keep an eye on me and also yell at the squirrels on the neighbor’s fence from that spot. But it doesn’t always work — he still marches across my desk. 

 Photography by Kate Cox / The Verge

rana00

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *