20 Jun 2014

Apologies for the Absence

Dear readers:

I apologise for my absence in blogging. I’ve had my third migraine in the past two years. It knocked me out of commission for a day—afterwards I was busy with a bunch of other important things that prevented me from blogging.

Anyway: I shall be in Holland (on a trip; not moving) soon. I may be a little erratic with my blogging then—I’ll be rather busy, you see. However, I shall be in Romania by about the 14th of July. There I shall have plenty of time to entertain you lot...

I have also, I can inform you, set up a dual monitor configuration. Here it is:

(I apologise for the dodgy quality: I ain’t no photographer, oh no.)

I shall now proceed to bore you with a brief analysis of why I think dual monitors are overrated—and in some cases, a downright bad idea. Skip the subsection if it doesn’t interest you.

Dual Monitors…

Let’s start with the obvious: having two monitors requires a lot of space. If I weren’t such a suckish photographer, you’d be able to see that one 22" and another 23" monitor combine to take up most of one pretty big table.

If—like my grandma dilligently waiting for me in Romania (no, I have’t forgotten you; but you can’t understand this, can you?)—you’re someone who doesn’t have much desk space or indeed space in general: dual monitors are a suckish proposition.

That’s bad brownie number one. Bad brownie number two are the cables. You need more of ’em, and you need ’em long. Not good.

There’s also the wee little issue of having the right cables. You see, many computers have integrated graphics (that means there is a small GPU embedded within the CPU; if that sounds like gibberish, you probably shouldn’t be reading this, but I digress).

Anyway, integrated graphics solutions rely on the motherboard providing the right outputs. Most mobos usually only have two outputs: one DVI and another HDMI.

Trouble is, most monitors don’t support HDMI, so you’re left needing an HDMI to DVI (or whatever) cable.

Besides the fiasco with space and cabling (making all of this seem increasingly impractical) there’s also a myriad of other issues. Many operating systems don’t allow per-monitor configuration of pixel densities; this means that if, like me, you like to have a secondary satellite monitor—a smaller one—then your text on the second monitor will look scaled down and be painful to read.

(You may observe that I am writing this in a Linux virtual machine that runs on the second monitor. Virtualising another OS is currently the only way round this.)

Finally, after all that, I’ve realised that having two screens isn’t such a big boost to productivity. Most of the time I’m doing one task; and having a second monitor just gets in the way. I usually turn it off.

Dual monitors are indeed good for doing certain kinds of multitasking. I sometimes do web coding, for example: I find it quite useful to have a monitor open with the language’s documentation, and another open for the text editor.

Still, dual monitors are if anything productivity degrading to many of us (rarely as a writer do I have to do two things at once; I’m usually trying to focus on writing).

And let’s face it: it’s not impossible to work with two windows at once on a single monitor—especially if your OS is designed to maximise available screen space à la OSX or Ubuntu Unity.

So there you go. My suggestion is to spend your money on a super wide screen monitor, or maybe even just on a monitor with a very high resolution. I find that pixels help almost as much as inches when it comes to running two apps side by side.

Moving on

I am finishing off a review of Faefever (by Karen Moning) on Goodreads. There is a lot to say, and I was interrupted by my awful migraine in writing it. Please bear with me—the review will be the basis for a post on what bad writing can be. Stay Internet-tuned...

(Ouch. Still have’t come up with better marketing lingo.)

PS: I shall be restarting the Poem of the Week and the Three Days’ Word properly soon. Just give me a bit more time, okay?

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