My Home Office Studio Hardware: Spring 2020 Edition

When I last blogged about my home office setup in December, I’d just invested in a new massive beast of a desktop: a Mac Pro with a 16 cores, 96GB RAM, and a AMD Radeon Pro Vega II 32GB.

Now it’s time to put that horsepower to work.

In the past, I’ve used GoToWebinar for my training classes. Attendees saw one window for my desktop, and one window for my webcam feed:

That works alright, but the thumbnail video of me takes up a ton of space. Attendees could move it, make it float, or hide it altogether, but it just wasn’t a great experience for live attendees. In post-production, I merged them so that my video floated over the recording, but…that only worked in the recorded version, not the live webcast, and it took time for me to edit/produce/upload.

Now, I’m using Streaming Technology™ like the cool kids.

The beefy new Mac Pro lets me process the effects live, stream them simultaneously to YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook, and embed it live at

This has so many fun advantages:

I can pack the training & the webcam into less space. I can float right over the SSMS and slides, interacting directly with execution plans like some kind of SQL Server weatherman. (“I see a blocking storm coming in here…”)

I can meet people where they are. Since I simulcast to multiple services (Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube), my readers at any of those sites get notifications whenever I’m live. If you happen to be perusing YouTube when I’m broadcasting, you’ll get a recommendation to go check it out. (Only the free classes and the live coding will be simulcast everywhere, though: the paid ones will still be private at

I can skip GoToWebinar’s registration process. Those of you with a Live Class Season Pass can just hop into that streaming page whenever I’m having a paid private class and hang out with me. (And psst, my friends with fancy accents: avoiding moving registration data around means I’m a lot closer to being able to sell classes to the EU/EEA! More news on that over the coming months.)

Video & audio quality is better. It’s so good that I’ve got a new a fancypants DPA headset with a built-in earphone like a talking head on TV because I want you to have the best listening experience possible. (Also, because I wanna listen to good background music while I do live coding, and I can’t have that music going through the live stream without running into copyright problems.)

I’ve been working on my production game, too.

I’ve been relying on my Elgato Stream Deck more and more. It’s a little customizable keyboard with displays on each key:

The first 3 columns are sets of sound effects. Each key triggers a random sound – for example, the “Cheer” button picks a random sound from a group of people cheering. (This way it doesn’t sound exactly the same each time folks cheer.) These are on the far left because they’re the easiest to grab by feel, without looking.

Columns 6 is for streaming production, like fading the music out when I start, changing my desktop resolution, turning on my webcam & background lights, and going live with the stream. I have these in the middle because I don’t mind looking directly at them to pick the exact right button.

It looks like a lot of empty keys, but I’ve got big plans for the rest, hee hee!

The end result is pretty cool. Wanna see it live?

Most Saturday & Sunday mornings from 6AM-8AM Pacific (iCal), you can catch me on my TwitchYouTube, or Facebook channels. The recordings are also available there free. I think this is the silver lining in the COVID19 cloud: as crazy as it sounds, we’re all going to be even closer than we were before. More of us are going to come out of this doing live streaming and online collaborations, and you’re going to have more ways to keep your skills sharp for less money (or completely free), all from the comfort of your own home. You can watch me:

Wanna see what they’re like? Here’s a Saturday stream when I worked on pull requests in the First Responder Kit:

And here’s a Sunday stream when I wrote a blog post about date table query plans and told the story of when Microsoft offered me a job:

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6 Comments. Leave new

  • Ken Hemmerling
    April 9, 2020 10:39 am

    My wife is a university professor now trying to teach virology classes from home and I’m interested in learning more about the streaming technology that allows you to, as you say, interact with execution plans like some kind of SQL weatherman. When I Google streaming technology, I get all kinds of sites that explain how Netflix works and how video can be transmitted. I’m interested in learning specifically how you create the weatherman effect. Can you point me to a resource that helped you with your setup?

    • Ken – that’s a great question! It’s called chroma keying – search for chroma key webcam, and you’ll find a lot of posts about how to do it with tools like OBS, Livestream Studio, Zoom, etc.

  • Dayton Brown
    April 9, 2020 2:18 pm

    Are you still using the Brio 4K? Not that I need to buy another webcam of course.

  • What do you do with old equipment ?


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