Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Gospel of Dual Monitors

Ok, I normally do a good job of not getting all geeked out on this blog, and talking about my work. But that's normally, and this weekend I'm just going off the rails with the techie stuff.

I won a sales contest with our company last week, for which I received a new monitor. This is the perfect sort of prize for me, because it's the kind of thing I would never get for myself because it seems too extravagent, but which does actually make a noticable difference in my life.

But I didn't just gain an extra inch of screen real estate -- I doubled it. It used to be that setups with two monitors on the same computer were rare, something you would only see with graphic designers or video processing systems or something like that. I but I started seeing it more and more often with my customers, and when my new monitor came I decided to give it a try.

If you've never seen it (and a lot of people haven't) it works like this: you have two screens on your desk, either side-by-side or one above the other. In your screen settings, you configure the two screens to be a part of the same desktop. Once the setup is done, you can drag windows back and forth between the two screens. It's like having diptych desktop -- two screens, one desktop. On the newer Dell computers, it is mind-blowingly easy to set up; just plug in the two monitors, and enable multiple screens in the screen settings (the same place you configure the screen resolution.)

Wow, what a difference. I can't count how many times I need to look at two different things at the same time: documenting a program while looking at the program itself, or reading a spec and writing code, or reading an email and doing almost anything else. No more flipping back and forth between screens. No more printing out one page so I can refer to it while working on another. The productivity boost is so substantial that it seems appalling to me that I didn't try it before. More importantly, I can't remember a time I ever saw a manufacturer or retailer actually demonstrate this feature, even though it's now a standard part of Dells. Seems to me they should be screaming this from the rooftops. What do you get your favorite computer geek for Christmas: more of the same.


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