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A Dual Monitor Experiment 504

Posted by Hemos
from the moving-down-the-path dept.
backBeat writes "This is a descriptive article about one man and his dual monitor odyssey. After reading the snippet I had to read the article: "The productivity increase lasted for about two days. At this point I realized that I could to work on one monitor and watch a full screen DVD on the other. This was pretty cool until I realized how counterproductive it could be. Luckily I am quite adept at concentrating on my writing, while typing, while watching a movie." The Dual Monitor Experiment did not disappoint."
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A Dual Monitor Experiment

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  • by garcia (6573) * on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:44PM (#10557065) Homepage
    Dual monitors isn't news for anyone. It's been easy to do for years and years. Hell, Win98 did it just as easily as the current Windows versions. I remember the difficulties I ran into when I was trying to do it with two different sized monitors with X and no GUIs. I wish there had been a single repository of easy to interpret information back then.

    Yeah, two monitors COULD be more beneficial if you're looking to be productive. This guy mentions that but then switches to say that he enjoys multi-tasking and watching a movie at the same time as he is working. Personally, that's not exactly "productive" and honestly it's likely not something that's permitted outside of your home. The only time I am TRULY looking to be productive is when I'm at work and Slashdot has cornered the market on hoarding my time while I'm there.

    He talks a little bit about the cost of having a dual monitor setup. Yeah, CRTs are cheap and LCDs are costing less and less but I'm mostly concerned with the amount of electricity that two monitors use up when they are both fired up and running constantly. I ran a 17" and a 15" CRT on my desktop for several years but recently I have switched back to just running one. Why? Even if it saves me $1 on my electric bill (it actually saves a bit more than that) it's beneficial. That's a beer, a burger, or $1 to go towards something else that's more important than being able to have Word open on one monitor and AIM on another.

    Personally, I'm going to stick to running a single CRT for now and have to waste all that time hitting ALT+TAB to get to my AIM window when it starts flashing. So much for being able to watch a movie and do my work while being productive at the same time.
    • by KevinKnSC (744603) * on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:47PM (#10557088)
      First, I agree that the article is essentially worthless. Allow me to summarize: "I set up my Windows computer to use two monitors. I'm proud of myself." There's really not much more to the article than that. Well, unless you count the exciting screen shot of (I kid you not) the Windows display properties dialog.

      Second, and more importantly, I really detest people who post their own stories as if they were a third party. Look at the story above, and note that backBeat lists his email as salcan@gmail.com. Then go to the article and you'll see that it is written by one Sal Cangeloso. He claims that "after reading the snippet, I had to read the article", which is strange, since he wrote it in the first place. If you wrote something interesting, take credit for it. Say, "I recently did some experimenting with a dual monitor setup, and I wrote up some of my conclusions." But don't try to pass it off as anything except self-promotion, as if all of us are idiots who won't catch on.

      • by nizo (81281) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:56PM (#10557170) Homepage Journal
        Luckily I could go read the article and reply to your post at the same time easily since I have a dual monitor setup! Seriously though, I would rather have a multi-desktop window manager than two big monitors taking up my whole desk any day of the week, at least until I can afford a gigantomondo plasma TV that I can hang on the wall instead.
        • *multi-desktop window manager than two big monitors*

          and why wouldn't you? it's not that hard to setup on windows either.

          i use virtual desktops(through some litestep extension), and a second computer(thats running debian).. and cut'n'paste between the computers with synergy( http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/ ).

        • How about both?

          I have a dual-monitor setup, with multi-desktop ability. I hate the thought of having to go back to working on a single monitor - fortunately, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

          It's especially useful when I'm doing a remote desktop into another machine - one monitor shows my machine, the other the remote machine. I have a switchview that will let me select between the machines, but I rarely use it because it is just more useful to have them both accessible at the same time.
        • by lspd (566786) on Monday October 18, 2004 @02:06PM (#10557813) Homepage Journal
          Seriously though, I would rather have a multi-desktop window manager than two big monitors taking up my whole desk any day of the week, at least until I can afford a gigantomondo plasma TV that I can hang on the wall instead.

          Multi-desktops don't do a thing for me. What is the use of a graphical application running in a window I can't see? Multi-desktops with a useable preview window might be worthwhile, but the way it's done in KDE/Gnome right now is worthless.

          Multiple monitors...that's a different story. Put your IDE in one monitor and your web browser (for documentation) on the other. Leave Kontact running in one monitor while you're screwing around on Slashdot in the other. GTK-Gnutella or Pan in one monitor while you're watching a movie on the second. Once you've been using a multi-monitor desktop for a while, you'll find it annoying to work on a system with a single monitor.
          • There was a point at which I had four monitors. When I was doing something useful, the first monitor was work, second was documentation, third was communication (email, IM clients, etc) and the fourth had system monitors. I probably have several forms of cancer now, since three of them were old CRTs that I bummed from friends. During that time, I very rarely used Alt-Tab, and only sometimes had overlapping windows. It was nice. I usually think of it like this: One monitor is like having a school desk, two is like a nice office desk or workbench. I just went with an entire conference room. Excessive? Yes. Geeky? Without a doubt.
          • by toddestan (632714) on Monday October 18, 2004 @02:58PM (#10558230)
            Multi-desktops don't do a thing for me. What is the use of a graphical application running in a window I can't see? Multi-desktops with a useable preview window might be worthwhile, but the way it's done in KDE/Gnome right now is worthless.

            For people that basically have every application always maximized, multiple desktops really don't do anything useful. It's most useful if you have several windows open at once. Say one desktop has IM - the client and several conversations. The next has several file system windows open so you can drag and drop files with ease. The next desktop might have several system monitoring tools open. So for instance, you can bring up all your monitoring windows with one click, instead of several clicks to bring up each individual window to the foreground. It's handy. But hardly nessecary.
        • by natet (158905) on Monday October 18, 2004 @03:44PM (#10558694)
          How about a multi-desktop window manager AND two medium sized monitors(19" lcd's). That is the setup I currently use at work, and I'm in love! It works especially well for Java development, because I can have the language docs open on one monitor while my editor is open on the other, and I'm not constantly flipping back and forth between them, and interrupting my train of thought to go back and look at what the language docs said. With the multiple desktops, I put other applications that I need to use, but only at infrequent intervals (such as my email program). That way I can switch to them quickly, and then get back to my development window without having to flip through a number of other applications to get back to my editor/browser setup. It works very well, a definite productivity improvement!
      • by Gentoo Fan (643403) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:56PM (#10557176) Homepage
        And if you do a WHOIS on the domain, you'll see his name as the registrant as well.
        • by jmulvey (233344) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:09PM (#10557306)
          He outta know better... After all, Wired Magazine wrote a freaking ARTICLE two weeks ago about how his site got slashdotted on a prior stunt. Sounds fishy to me.

          http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,65165, 00.html?tw=wn_story_top5 [wired.com]
          • Mod parent up too! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:20PM (#10557418) Homepage
            I've never seen such a blatant self-promoting assclown in my entire Slashdot life. Is there some sort of e-mail blacklist to filter out these kind of "article" submissions?
            • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:27PM (#10557488)
              I've never seen such a blatant self-promoting assclown in my entire Slashdot life.

              You must be new here. Sal is recent, guys like Roland Piquepaille have been promoting their shit here well before he came along. I really think that subscribers should be able to VOTE on stories while they are in the mysterious future...
              • by gosand (234100) on Monday October 18, 2004 @03:08PM (#10558330)
                You must be new here. Sal is recent, guys like Roland Piquepaille have been promoting their shit here well before he came along. I really think that subscribers should be able to VOTE on stories while they are in the mysterious future...

                Hells bells, let's just give them the ability to edit the stories too, that way the editors wouldn't really have to do anything at all.

                Seriously, I know the editors here get crap all the time for the grammar/spelling/duplicate stories, but isn't that what they are supposed to be doing? Don't they even read Slashdot themselves? I mean, this is a blatant example of a known abuser of the system, and the article was posted by Hemos himself. WTF? I don't WANT to wear a tinfoil hat, but I almost feel like I can't avoid it much longer.

          • by Mad Man (166674) on Monday October 18, 2004 @02:17PM (#10557880)
            was "Re:Movies while working are newsworthy & produ"

            From the Wired article mentioned in jmulvey's post [slashdot.org]


            Slashdot didn't respond to a request for comment by press time. On its FAQ page, however, the service notes that while it sees some advantage to caching some of the smaller sites it links to in order to reduce the deleterious effect the crush of traffic has on them, it has chosen not to. In part, that's because Slashdot doesn't want to hurt sites by affecting their ad revenue. In addition, Slashdot is afraid that getting permission to cache sites would take too long and would cut down on the timeliness of the stories it posts.


            Maybe it would be a problem the first time Slashdot posts a story, but by the time the dupe rolls around...

      • by incast (121639) * on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:59PM (#10557201)
        it's ok.. he's getting punished via the slashdot effect right about now
      • by jmulvey (233344) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:04PM (#10557260)
        Yeah, and now that you pointed it out, I found out he's pulled this crap before:

        http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/09/29/194620 7&tid=201&tid=133&tid=190&tid=1 [slashdot.org]
      • Ad Revenue (Score:5, Interesting)

        by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:25PM (#10557467) Homepage
        It would seem that this person has a history of using Slashdot as a vehicle to increase traffic to his website, presumably to generate ad revenue.

        IMHO this is abuse of Slashdot's popularity, and thus his accounts (and any new ones created with his e-mail address) should be pulled.
      • This is a prime example of why we should always RTFC before blindly RTFA!
        I don't wanna hear anymore about how I should RTFA before I do anything else.
        Maybe somebody should just pull this story.

        Just another angry Monday,
        - OrbNobz
        No, I refuse to vote. It's a sham.
      • by Goeland86 (741690) <goeland_86.yahoo@fr> on Monday October 18, 2004 @02:12PM (#10557852)
        Maybe the guy is schizophrenic! Think about it: two personalities, one writes the article, then the other one finds it open on the desktop... makes sense, in a schizo-kind of way. But in any case, he needs to get off /. and search help from a psychiatrist, whether he is schizophrenic or not, because he's abusing of our time, and I don't like wasting mine. In fact, I can't read the article because it times out. But guess what? I did that before he did. Except I thought /. had more interesting things to post than that kinda stupid stuff. Are the moderators of the story half-groggy? I thought they had a little more judgement than that... Guess I was wrong.
      • by Sleepy (4551) on Monday October 18, 2004 @02:16PM (#10557878) Homepage
        But don't try to pass it off as anything except self-promotion, as if all of us are idiots who won't catch on.

        Someone obviously fits your description of not catching on.. the article was posted...

      • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

        by HTH NE1 (675604) on Monday October 18, 2004 @02:22PM (#10557941)
        This Sal really needs to work out what his priorities are.
        Before any thing productive could be done the wallpaper had to be set up.


        Next came setting up the screen saver.

        You need wallpaper set up before you can be productive? Just to be clear, you're talking about the background graphic that gets covered over by your application windows, especially the maximized ones, all the time?

        And then what's the productive part but setting up the screensaver!? That program that wastes processor cycles and only runs when you're not even there? And somehow setting up the wallpaper first was necessary for this?
        This is a work computer and dual monitors are mainly used to increase productivity...


        This is really great when I have my music folder open at all times on the second monitor

        I can't really figure out a way to quantify my increase in productivity, but it is there.

        The productivity increase lasted for about two days. At this point I realized that I could to work on one monitor and watch a full screen DVD on the other.

        I think I can quantify your productivity increase. You've saved the time that it takes to switch between working and goofing off. Before you could only do one or the other; now you can do both at the same time!
        Having a idyllic 1280x1024 photograph in the periphery of my vision seems to help keep me calm and composed when I find myself at my computer for hours on end.

        You know, you can get that same effect by putting a picture on your desk, and it doesn't draw as much power. Really, your most productive use of your second screen is to display a static image?

        I find it difficult to believe you even work in an office environment, and if indeed you work from home, I should let you know that they have these glass-covered portals in walls that offer a view of the outside world. Coincidentally, they are also called "windows". Try moving your computer closer to one.

        And I still come away with nothing about what your work is, other than it involves word processors and possibly spreadsheets. If it is writing articles for the web, you could have at least touched on having your research materials on one screen and composing your articles on another. If you were a coder, you could be viewing the application on one screen and tracing code execution in a debugger on another.

        Sorry, but your article is useless. It's nothing but talking about your new toy and you really offer no work benefits to the configuration other than it makes your goofing off more efficient.

        There are those of us who are trying to get dual monitors in our workplace. If management goes by articles like yours, they'll only see them as tools for more goofing off in the workplace and refuse the requests.
    • Counterproductive... (Score:3, Informative)

      by jonhaug (783048)
      ... is an understatement. I read two papers, news, e-mail, LinuxToday, Slashdot, solving bridge problems and so on while writing on my assignments.

      No, I am not productive, I am addicted. But I don't need a lot of monitors. Fvwm does it all for me.

    • Multi monitor setups are only for people who are 'monitoring' stuff (like stockbrokers etc.) and for certain professionals (e.g. video editors etc.).. Besides that it's just another fad.

      On a similar note, if you have more than 1 PC and are looking to have a more efficient setup, I highly recommend the use of a KVM switch [google.com]. They are cheap and save you the cost of another monitor besides the inherent power savings.

      • by vrai (521708) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:00PM (#10557211)
        I have two 20" flat screens at work and couldn't live without them. As a code monkey I find the extra screen area invaluable for both coding and testing. I can have a number of terminals displaying the source I'm working on, a terminal to run tests and a web browser displaying documentation; all visible at once. This is huge productivity boost and avoids the need to constantly hunt for which window contains the information I'm after. It's also a lot cheaper and easier than having two computers with a monitor each.
    • And using AIM is also "likely not something that's permitted outside of your home". I would come unglued if it was running on any of my systems. I was unable to RTA due to the server being slashdoted at a record rate. I found his comment about viewing movies while working are probably true.
    • by DigitalRaptor (815681) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:56PM (#10557174) Homepage
      I find at certain tasks I am FAR more productive with dual monitors.

      When I have a lot of data manipulation to do it is very advantageous to have one document open on each monitor. Copying and pasting is simple, and doesn't involve switching between programs. They are both open and visible at once, just copy from one and paste to the other.

      I do think that sacrificing an increase in productivity (the personal tendency to watch a DVD on the other monitor aside) to save $1 a month is very short sighted.

      With LCD's (very low power consumption) that is far less of an issue.

      Several studies have shown at least a double digit increase in real world productivity. My own experience would suppport that.

    • by FLEB (312391) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:56PM (#10557180) Homepage Journal
      He talks a little bit about the cost of having a dual monitor setup. Yeah, CRTs are cheap and LCDs are costing less and less but I'm mostly concerned with the amount of electricity that two monitors use up when they are both fired up and running constantly.

      If you do video, image, or web editing, it can be very useful to have a second monitor (for option pallettes or previewing, or browsing documentation on the second screen). If you're worried about power consumption, why not just turn off the supplementary monitor when you're not using it?

      I'm personally a fan of dual-heading. I use a POS 15" monitor along with my (somewhat less POS) 17" at home, which usually just has Moz eternally open in it to preview the page I'm working on, or to look stuff up.
    • I have 4 17" monitors and a laptop on my desk at work. Two of the monitors are in a dual-head setup on my main machine, the other two monitors and the laptop are connected via synergy [sourceforge.net]. Theres also an old sun box connected via a KVM on one of the main monitors. How much energy am I wasting?

    • Hell, Win98 did it just as easily as the current Windows versions.

      A *leedle* earlier than that.

      A two monitor setup was pretty common for the original IBM PC starting around 1981. The CGA and MDA (or Hercules) cards would address different memory. Many apps would use the MDA for one view and the CGA for the other. Spreadsheet on MDA, graph on CGA for many spreadsheets (remember, spreadsheets were the "killer app" of the era). Borland's IDEs used MDA for source, CGA for output.

      You can go back before that (I've seen S-100 bus systems with multiple monitors, and I think the Z80 plugin card to run CP/M on the Apple ][ allowed a second monitor), but dual monitor usage was fairly common long before Win98.

      --
      Evan "using 4 monitors in xinerama, 6 if you count X exports onto the laptops"

      • A two monitor setup was pretty common for the original IBM PC starting around 1981. The CGA and MDA (or Hercules) cards would address different memory. Many apps would use the MDA for one view and the CGA for the other. Spreadsheet on MDA, graph on CGA for many spreadsheets (remember, spreadsheets were the "killer app" of the era). Borland's IDEs used MDA for source, CGA for output.

        Much more important: MDA for debugger!

        IBM even allocated a register range for a secondary EGA card, so in theory it would have

    • by tdemark (512406) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:31PM (#10557523) Homepage
      I have 2 IBM P260 21" CRTs on my desk. I just happen to be messing with a plug-in electricity meter and discovered that each monitor requires .83 Amps, 99 VA, 98 W.

      Assuming a 173.33 hours per month (2080 hours per year / 12 month per year), thats:

      173.33 hrs /mo * 98 W * (1 kW / 1000 W) * (7 cents / kWh) = $1.19 / mo

      If, in that month, I can get 40 seconds more work done due to the second monitor, the electricity will be paid for.

      - Tony
  • I often work with both my LCD and notebook displays on using the notebook display as my primary and the LCD for reference guides/schematics/etc. Big boost to productivity and less mousing!

    -nB
    • by Klar (522420) * <curchin@gma i l . com> on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:55PM (#10557168) Homepage Journal
      I've been using two monitors for about for years now, and I don't thik I could ever go back! The swing arm [xyzcomputing.com] thing in the article seems cool, but I must say that I love my Ikea Desk [uoguelph.ca]! Was around $200 and the moitors can swing--I'm a student and my bed is beside my desk, so I can swing my monitor to face my bed to watch tv and movies!

      The two monitors come in very handy when programing, writing reports, or surfing the web while IM'ing. Just did a networking assignment last night, and I could have several consoles open on the 2nd monitor to test clients/server while coding on the other monitor.

      If you haven't tried 2 monitors, do it now! No excuses, 's cheap--if you don't have a vid card that can do 2 monitors, get a 2nd cheap pci card for like $20 and throw another monitor on.. do it!
    • LCD for reference guides/schematics/etc. Big boost to productivity and less mousing!


      I agree. A dual PC setup is much more useful than a dual monitor setup. This is most certanly true in the Windows world. I find it difficult to read the how-to to eradicate some piece of malware while going through the reboot into safe mode process.

      Instead of printing all the instructions out, then trying to follow them, it's much easier to have the procedure open on a laptop nearby. The laptop can also be downloadin
    • by blixel (158224)
      I often work with both my LCD and notebook displays on using the notebook display as my primary and the LCD for reference guides/schematics/etc. Big boost to productivity and less mousing!

      Do you run Linux? I have had no choice but to go back to using a single monitor.

      Disclaimer for the zealots: For all the people that have had great luck with two monitors under Linux, I applaud you. I'm not suggesting that my experience is "normal". It's just my experience.

      But dual monitors for me under Linux has be
  • another article (Score:5, Informative)

    by elid (672471) <eli DOT ipod AT gmail DOT com> on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:45PM (#10557070)
    There was a good article [extremetech.com] about dual-monitor setups on Extremetech recently.
  • Slow news day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:46PM (#10557079) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, is this really that special? I've been using dual monitors for a while and KNOW I'm not the first nor anywhere close to it. Yeah, its nice if you can afford to have two monitors (and the hardware to support it).
    • Granted 2 monitors costs twice as much as one, but getting a good Matrox dual-head card is typically cheaper than lots of the 3D cards out there. I don't game much, so I'm tempted to buy a second monitor for my box with a Matrox G550 in it.
      • and just put in any old PCI video card (I used a matrox millennium), remember to set the BIOS to AGP-primary and voila', dual display without many hassles: works perfectly in 2000 and Linux.
        • I generally buy Matrox cards for non-gaming boxes anyways, so I have a dual head card already (only ran something like $110 at the time, why not?). I don't get any of the heavy-duty 3D stuff I don't need and excellent 2D performance. Now I'm just debating on LCD vs CRT for monitor #2.
    • I was running dual monitors back in 1999, but I think some Mac and UNIX people had been doing dual head for at least a half decade before that, maybe more than a decade.

      I had bought two 17" monitors and a spare video card for less than what I paid for a 21" monitor. The monitors had since died and I bought a 21" second hand. I tried to set up two second hand 21" monitors but it simply didn't fit on my desk.

      I'd like to get a 17" or maybe 19" LCD as a second monitor and attach it to one of the walls, but
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:46PM (#10557084)
    Is that you soon realize that going back to one monitor is impossible.
    • this is what kills me. i run two 19" crt's at home, and have for a while. lately work has gotten on a 'lets make the office look uniform' kick, so we're all stuck with single dell 18" lcds. ick.

      if anyone knows how to rig up something in windows to 'pretend,' i.e. i could move my mouse to the right side and it would slide to another desktop or something, i'd love to hear it. =/
    • I've been wanting to get a second monitor for home, but then I figure I'll find it even harder to drag my ass into the office and get work done, because I'll spend the whole time thinking goddamn it how do they expect me to get work done with one lousy monitor. So I'd either stay home all the time, or end up buying an extra monitor for work.
    • Is that you soon realize that going back to one monitor is impossible.

      I have 2 21'inch monitors on my desk, Its annoying, I've went back to 1 monitor.

      The main problem, you use the 2nd monitor to use as a real time display, you either put something like IRC, Email, VNC. Then you do all your main work in 1 window on your main display.

      Since I'm only looking at 1 application while I'm working, its just easier for me to alt-tab.

      I thought it would be easier to use 2 monitors with RDP/VNC on the 2nd monitor,
    • I've been on and off of dualhead for a while. Usually a week of the frustrations of dualhead force me to put the other monitor in the closet.

      This may all just be a factor of the hardware/software I use, but the fact is - it is possible to go back.

      0. Dual head forces a 'primary, secondary' effect. ie: you're always looking forward or left. It's very unbalanced. I would prefer a tripple-head setup, to keep things balanced.

      1. DVDs/most video players would freak out (split video between 2 monitors, only show
  • Two? Try three :) (Score:5, Informative)

    by neiffer (698776) * on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:47PM (#10557092) Homepage
    I am a teacher and the computer I have at school (running WinXP Pro) has three video cards in it and I love it. The main monitor (a 22") always has my current project displayed and the other two monitors (17", one on each side) have email, MSN Messenger and a news web window always up. It was distracting at first but I found that it eventually gave me freedom to complete tasks without constantly switching between windows. It's especially nice when I am working on lecture notes and I am reading a web-based source at the same time.
    • Dual 21" Here. I have my main one and the other has a 4port KVM.
      The second monitor is either:

      1)A second monitor for my main system when I'm programming(I keep documentation and compile results in that window)
      2)My email machine with TV Tuner and DVArchive so I can watch shows off my ReplayTV
      3)Windows 2000 Development Server
      4)Redhat Development Server - although I do not have X on this system and frequently use this port for connecting other peoples systems that I might be fixing

      I've had this setup for

  • by cloudkj (685320) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:49PM (#10557103)
    Sell that second monitor and get yourself a new server, cuz you're on slashdot!
  • Games... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ziak (807893) * on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:49PM (#10557106)
    I work as a ISC in the miltary, or as an IT in the civian sector, I started using duel montiors when I noticed we where using laptops with a docking station, with a hook up montior, it wasn't long before thinking about it I found a way for it to be done, after being able to look at HTML and cheack my e-mail, and surf the web it wasn't long before I wanted to try it in home, The only downfall i encourted was for games the video card had a hard time strugling to keep up both displays and often caused lower fps for most games, with that being said it definally does increase your productive rate, but if you play games alot its not really worth the extra money.
  • My dell laptop is ancient, but one of the features of the dock is a half-size PCI slot. As I recall from 4-5 years ago, there was at least one video card that could give you a dual-headed display when docked.
    Now I'm inspired again to go Googling to find the particular card, then go eBaying to see if I can find one on the cheap!

    And yes, I do know how annoying it is when someone verbs as much as I do. :-P

    --
    Free Gmail Invites [slashdot.org] -- only two left.
  • The first hook for me on Linux--what moved me away from Windows--was the multiple desktops.

    If you don't know what I'm talking about, there is an icon on the panel divided into four sections. Each of these is a separate desktop in which you can open separate windows, etc. and their contents are graphically represented by the icon. To move between desktops, you simply click on the appropriate panel, or use a hot key.

    For me, it was seriously like having four computers in one. Under Windows, after a cert

  • At this point I realized that I could to work on one monitor and watch a full screen DVD on the other. This was pretty cool until I realized how counterproductive it could be.

    Seriously, how didn't you realise that it would affect your productivity beforehand? I find it hard enough to work when I just have a small video window playing in the corner of the screen, let alone having an entire monitor dedicated to it.
  • Productivity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:51PM (#10557124) Journal
    At this point I realized that I could to work on one monitor and watch a full screen DVD on the other. This was pretty cool until I realized how counterproductive it could be.
    Amateur! The obvious solution is to get a 3rd monitor for watching your DVDs. That is what I did... (on a separate computer, though)

    Dual head is really helpful for productivity for certain jobs. The most obvious and common job is the kind where you have to work on one document, while referring to other documents or webpages. I found that being able to keep my own document open while reading stuff on the other screen, really helps me to keep my flow of thought. Even a small extra screen provides much more useful desktop real estate than a single, high resolution monitor: I have a 1200x1024 17" main screen and a smaller 1024x768 15" one... both LCDs. I found this to be such an improvement over a single 21" 2048xwhatever tube, that I now got dual head at work as well.
  • question (Score:4, Funny)

    by MagicM (85041) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:51PM (#10557127)
    Q: What's worse than linking to your site in a Slashdot article?
    A: Linking to your site twice in a Slashdot article.

    Were they scared it wouldn't go down fast enough?
  • Wow (Score:5, Informative)

    by tliet (167733) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:51PM (#10557128)
    Dual monitor setup, cool!

    Enter the Macintosh II [everymac.com], introduced in 1987, it was capable of driving up to 6 monitors at a time.
  • by nordicfrost (118437) * on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:51PM (#10557130)
    Fanboy mode: ON
    Windows: Letting users discover the niftyness of Mac, a decade later
    Fanboy mode: OFF

    Seriously, this guy don't get it. Having to screens filled with two full space windows is very, very inefficient. Having switched to Mac recently, I find the mentality of MDI-ness a bit strange, as I'm used to the fullscreen windows on Windows. But on my Powerbook, during a lecture I can actually juggle Powerpoint to see the professor's notes, Word to type my notes and iChat all on my laptop screen at one time. It is not a matter of size. Sex is, but not screens.

    At work I use Windows with dual monitor, but nowhere near as inefficient as he does. The setup (a newsdesk) has one screen constanly reloading a Reuters / AP / APTN /etc newsfeed, the flash for some seconds as the updates come in. You can only look at one screen at the time, but your eyes notice the flashing to make youu aware of the news coming in. Red flash = important! look at me NOW!, Green flash = Just some 'ol news coming in, Yellow flash = Just a lead (followup).

  • If your on a multi-head windows machine check out Ultramon. The ability to have a taskbar on the extra displays is worth it. /-McK
  • by jonathan z (773057) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:53PM (#10557152)
    I was considering going the route of dual monitors; but I decided that the more simple solution would be to simply forego my next visit to the optometrist.

    The only trouble is getting the "continuous desktop" option on your double vision. . .
  • I don't know why you'd want dual monitors if you were not a developer, digital media designer, etc. Development and design require you to have multiple windows and applications open at the same time. Therefore, having the extra desktop space is VERY useful.

    Nevertheless, if you're just some schmoe who primarily uses MS Office and iTunes, I highly doubt a second monitor is going to increase your productivity. If anything, it's going to provide space for distraction.
  • by gsfprez (27403) * on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:55PM (#10557163)
    i was a system engineer for a very large military contractor/airplane maker - and i insist on at least two monitors, even if that means buying the parts myself... which i had to.

    in any case - when doing documentation review, action item lists, and various document comparison tasks - the bulk of systems engineering for a big contractor - having two monitors should be a requirement. otherwise, one needs to keep switching between two documents, and you can never actually look at both at the same time.. so missing things is quite easy.

    most people in my office would print documents so that they could work on the other document that they were doing the comparison work to...

    before i left - 4 people had badgered the IT geeks to give them dual monitor setups, and from what i hear, its up to 7 now - because for the MS Office drones, dual monitors is the greatest thing on the planet.

    The worst part is that the IT geeks - who could also have benefited from dual monitors by setting up status screens 100% of the time on one monitor, and their daily tasks like email on the other - would bitch like John Stweart on Crossfire about how it was a waste and an over the top luxury...

    but they never concidered how much time and paper it saved me... and if everyone had one, how the paper would go down tremendously.

    oh well, most major corp IT drones are asshole MSCE singles with bad skin and worse interpersonal skillz anyhow.
  • by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:55PM (#10557164)
    I don't know how this is news, but I'm not aobut bashing. Anyway, with Nvidias drivers, you can have two monitors running and have another desktop as well - resulting in virtually four monitors. All I do is rotate the mouse clcckwise and the second desktop pops up (though it could be argued that it is similar to Alt-Tab). I'm sure ATI has something similar as well.
  • Me too... (Score:4, Funny)

    by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday October 18, 2004 @12:57PM (#10557184) Homepage Journal
    Luckily I am quite adept at concentrating on my writing, while typing, while watching a movie.

    I find myself quite *IN GOES THE RED PILL* capableo f concentrating on *HA, HE THINKS THAT'S AIR HE'S BREATHING, LOL!! OMG!! THIS IS THE BEST PART* reading, thinking, *MAN, TRINITY IS TEH ROXXORZZZ* typing and watching a movie *THERE IS NO SPOON LOL!* at the same time.

  • I have put two monitors on several systems I use (home, work, church a/v) and have found it increases productivity and usefulness.

    I did it the cheap way. I used whatever extra video card I have laying around, usually PCI, and whatever monitor I had laying around, often the smaller screen I upgraded from. Since I had this stuff available, the cost was $0.

    In Excel, I use one monitor for the worksheet and one for the VBA code I am writing. In PowerPoint, I use one monitor to display a slideshow and one fo
  • by gregmac (629064) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:00PM (#10557212) Homepage
    I discovered Synergy [sourceforge.net] a while back, and I use it at work all the time now. I have a PC sitting on my desk (Linux), and most of the time have my laptop (Windowws) sitting next to it. With synergy, I basically use my laptop as a second monitor, for browsing the web, reading email (since I have it with me all the time), looking at reference manuals, etc. It's very handy to be able to have a web page open explaining a problem, showing example code, etc, while coding in the other monitor. It's an extra boost to be able to control them with one keyboard/mouse, and be able to copy&paste.

    I've also been using a dual-monitor setup at home lately (one PC) while working on a video project, though my second monitor is a TV. It's handy to have the output preview on there though, as it keeps my main screen less cluttered, and I can see what the output will actually look like on a TV. (For some reason, with strobe lights in the background for example, if I watch it on a CRT the whole picture flickers, while on a TV it looks normal .. however, if I actually render and watch the output of the project on the CRT, it looks fine .. likely this is an issue with the way it's doing preview or something, but either way having the TV is functional).

  • my experiences... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bolind (33496) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:00PM (#10557213) Homepage
    He should have gone for dual CPU's instead, two comments above my threshold, and slashdotted to pulp.

    Anyhoo, I've had dual monitors under linux (KDE) for about six months now. This was with a Matrox G400 dual and two 19" Samsung 900NF CRT's.

    The good things:
    -plenty of space. Hardly ever used virtual desktops anymore.
    -great when coding, writing in LaTeX, or anything else that has one window editing some source, and another compiling it.

    The bad things:
    -everything broke. All the time. KDE seemed to acknowledge that a window that was miximized should not expand over two full screens, but after an upgrade, that went out the window.
    -mplayer, a long time favourite of mine, did not play well. It refused to play on one monitor (but it always started there), fullscreen just turned one monitor blank.
    -Having just upgraded XFree86, it broke something. Back to one monitor untill I get four hours to muck with XF86Config again.
    -Takes up a boatload of desk space (I know, TFT's would help, but I don't have $1500 to blow on a set of them.) Same goes for heat and electricity, although I don't pay (directly) for that.

    OK, one might get better results with two video cards (Why, oh why, did I give away 3 (three) Millenium II's with 4mb RAM?), ironically.

    Bo
  • by vhold (175219) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:02PM (#10557225)
    The Toothbrush plus Toothpaste experiment.

    Umbrella in the rain experiment.

    The darkness and light switch experiment.
  • It's really beneficial for developers. It makes it SO much easier to do web development. In my case, monitor #1 has has the dev environment (for me, most of the time it's a fancy text editor) and monitor #2 has the test area (browser window, etc).

    The biggest improvement comes when you're using a program like Flash MX 2004, with all the windows/panels. With one monitor it's a pain in the butt, having to open/close panels all day. With 2 monitors, you can actually see what you're doing all at once. If I had

  • For *most* uses virtual desktops is more then enough to be productive.

    When you get into 3d modeling, CAD, etc then having 2 active monitors is a godsend..
  • Multiple Monitors (Score:5, Informative)

    by pipingguy (566974) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:06PM (#10557275) Homepage

    Here's a good site about multi-monitor setups [realtimesoft.com].

    Dual screens are very useful for 3D CAD work (ortho views on one screen for precise placement of objects, skewed view on the other for 3D view[1]) and for webpage work (HTML on one screen, preview in the other).

    Enabling x-mouse (I.E., focus follows cursor) is probably a good idea.

    [1] Some people like to put onscreen menus and buttons on one screen and the image on the other, but that seems like a lot of extra mouse movement compared to using keyboard shortcuts for commands.
  • Total Crap (Score:3, Funny)

    by aardwolf64 (160070) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:13PM (#10557360) Homepage
    What kind of crap is this? The article on Top 10 Technology Innovations that will change our lives [msn.com] at Newsweek gets passed up so we can read about some guy who just discovered he can use two monitors at once???
  • by Gryffin (86893) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:14PM (#10557365) Homepage

    ...but, then, what isn't? ;{)

    But seriously, folks... the Macintosh has been able to do this since the Macintosh II came out in 1987. Back then color monitors were relatively pricy and low-resolution; many graphic artists would hook up an older B&W tube for tool pallets and text windows, so they could use all those colors pixels for the main document window.

    What's more, Apple's version of this feature supports as many monitors as you can connect, and supports spanning the desktop across monitors of different resolution and/or but depth, too. There's a panel that shows you all your monitors' display spaces, and lets you drag them around to indicate their physical arrangement. Microsoft shamelessly ripped off the feature and interface for Windows, but of course, they did so ten years laters, and their solution is limited to matching resolution/bit depth.

  • Ultramon (Score:5, Informative)

    by seibed (30057) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:16PM (#10557383)

    Users of dual monitors and Windows would be well served to check out this handy little application: http://www.realtimesoft.com/ultramon/ [realtimesoft.com]
    I find it not only a pleasanter way of dealing with multiple monitors (over the default vid card or windows handlers) but it has some productivity enhancements that make me more productive and make it easier to relate to the switch.

    from their website:
    • efficiently move windows and maximize windows across the desktop
    • manage more applications with the Smart Taskbar
    • control application positioning with UltraMon Shortcuts
    • multi-monitor support for desktop wallpapers and screen savers
    • mirror your main monitor to secondary monitors for a presentation
  • 1, 2, 3, 4. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fuzzums (250400) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:24PM (#10557462) Homepage
    1 monitor.
    It sucks.

    2 monitors.
    good. code on one screen, test on the other.

    3 monitors.
    even better. code on one screen, test on the other, watch a movie on the 3rd.
    code on one screen, test on the other, have your mail / icq / feedreader on the 3rd.

    4 monitors.
    geek! but i really couldn't find a good purpose for the 4rd one, but it looks cool...

    Oh, wait. PuTTY to watch the tail -f /var/log/messages and apache access-logs :)
  • Big deal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rxmd (205533) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:25PM (#10557466) Homepage
    I don't know how this is supposed to be a big thing for anyone. I've been working with a multi-monitor setup for years, first on a Mac SE/30 that is still chugging away at home, then under Windows since 98 (where it worked flawlessly) and under BSD using X. The Mac has been supporting this for ages, as long as you put in extra graphics cards. X is the most inconvenient environment because Xinerama doesn't deal that well with different screen resolutions at once.

    A lot of my work involves TeX, where it is just convenient to have Emacs on one screen and the DVI output on another. I've done extensive image cataloguing and indexing, too, where you can have the image full-screen and your database next to it. This is just so convenient that I have trouble doing without it. When I bought a laptop, I always took care to pick one where the graphics chipset supported driving two monitors simultaneously.

  • More Impressive (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lord Apathy (584315) on Monday October 18, 2004 @01:25PM (#10557472)

    This might have been a more impressive "stunt" a serveral years ago and there had be a C-64 involved. Not that big of a deal today.

    When I got my Radion 9700 last year I read that it could do dual monitors. I got out my old spare crt I keep. Plugged it in, fiddled with the settings, and up it came. Two monitors on one PC. Total time, a little over 5 mins. Then I chunked the monitor back into the closet.

    Not a big deal. Now the fact that I was slightly inebriated when I attempted and acomplished this task must rate something.

  • My Work Setup (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wise Dragon (71071) on Monday October 18, 2004 @02:32PM (#10558047) Homepage
    At work, I have a setup to die for. At my far left, I have my laptop, docked. At my far right, I have an HP 1825 18" LCD, which displays at 1280x1024. This I use intermittently as a console to various linux machines. Center-left and Center are a pair of HP 2025 20" LCDs at 1600x1200. These are hooked up to an HP Itanium 2 Workstation through some kind of dual head ATI card. It runs Debian and it my primary work machine. Center-right is an HP 2035 20" LCD display connected to an HP xw8000 workstation running Windows and various proprietary apps.

    This setup pretty much takes up my entire horizontal field of view, plus a bit. I usually have the entire surface tiled with various apps and terminals and rarely have anything minimized or hidden behind something else. I have about 6 terminal windows open to a shared GNU screen session. Mozilla runs in the upper-left. Irssi's extra-wide terminal runs below it. Evolution runs on the left half of the right monitor. The rest is all terminals.

    All of this is hooked together with synergy2, though I don't leave it on all the time.

    The next evolution of this setup will be to run all of the displays from one linux box and use rdesktop to remote an 800x600 windows display.

    As many have mentioned, LCDs are easier on the eyes than CRTS. They also take up less desk space and are decreasing rapidly in price. Drawbacks include poor contrast ratios, limited resolution, and price. Still being a developer I wouldn't go back to manual context switching. If you have any questions about this setup, please feel free to ask. I'd be happy to post, for example, my XF86Config file.
  • by MrAngryForNoReason (711935) on Monday October 18, 2004 @02:33PM (#10558052)

    Dual monitors can be very beneficial to productivity, but from a health and safety point of view they can be a nightmare.

    What didn't come up in the article, as LCDs were used, is that if you don't have both screens running exactly the same refresh rate then it can cause appalling eye strain. Trying to focus on screens running different refreshes becomes very difficult and within 20 minutes or so the eyestrain gets very noticeable

    I used a dual monitor setup for a week before giving up after developing a very annoying twitch in my left eye. My right eye was fine looking at a 17" screen running at 1280x1024@85hz but the left was trying to focus on a crappier 17" at 75hz.

    The lesson being that if you can't afford to go the LCD route then choose your second monitor carefully, as you will want it to match the primary as closely as possible.

  • efficiency? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cynikal (513328) on Monday October 18, 2004 @02:59PM (#10558238) Homepage
    hey, im all about efficiency, theres nothing like having a game up on my main screen and the walk through up on the 2nd display :D

    on a serious note, i cant stand single display anymore, when im coding its invaluable to have a 2nd display with my reference material, or when i work in various sound production apps, and desktop real estate is an important factor. hell if my pci bus wasn't maxed i'd be hooking up a 3rd display for sure. one key factor i found after several configurations is the best setup is if both displays are running at the same resolution, and my only complaint would be how some fullscreen windows want to go and minimize when i access the other display (remote desktop, etc)
  • shenanigans! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spoonyfork (23307) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [krofynoops]> on Monday October 18, 2004 @03:26PM (#10558520) Journal
    The submitter is "backBeat" salcan@gmail.com. According to whois.net [whois.net] the domain xyzcomputing.com is registered to Salvatore Cangeloso. It would appear that submitter submitted something from their own website, perhaps written by themselves but passed off as someone else. So what, you ask. Look how the /. article is worded.

    This is a descriptive a article about one man and his dual monitor odyssey. After reading the snippet I had to read the article....

    Sal has done this before on 9/29/04 [slashdot.org]. Heck, he got a mention for it with regards to slashdotting in this Wired article [wired.com]. This article was submitted by SpaceCanary but with the salcan@gmail.com email address. This /. article is also worded oddly, as if he was just some random surfer who stumbled upon the article:

    I recently read this open letter to Windows and I think it's pretty funny. The guy writes a letter...

    A search through Slashdot [slashdot.org] revealed only these two articles containing xyzcomputing but I have no doubt he'll strike again. I wonder if this is an example of slashvertising [wikipedia.org].

    I call shenanigans!

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