Three monitors and a total of 61.5 inches of screen real estate wrapped around you. It’s the dream work station (at least for me) and today it became a reality…
Monaghan don’t do DVI cables
Having failed yesterday to pick up a DVI cable in a computer shop, i went in to another today and this time got talking to a guy that i could at least hold a conversation with about what it was i was looking for. However they didn’t have a DVI cable – apparently it’s ‘rare’ you’d need one these days. Which isn’t true… sure, top of the range monitors & graphics cards use HDMI these days but most budget & mid range graphics cards & monitors use DVI, VGA or both.
VGA is popular because it’s older and more widely used, that doesn’t mean it’s better. Of course i don’t want to explain or argue about this in a shop – i just want a damn DVI cable which i thought would have been easy to get my hands on. But no, that’s two of the biggest computer shops in Monaghan i’ve been in and none had DVI cables, yet i’m pretty sure the majority of LCD monitors they sell come with DVI ports (some of their display monitors definitely have them).
The shop i was in today had more cables and the guy i was talking to knew about DVI, so i then tried to see if i could come up with a way around the problem… i knew all three of my monitors had VGA ports, but my graphics card on both my PC & Mac mini only came with DVI ports, so i happened to ask if they had any DVI or VGA adapters – and sure enough they did… they had a DVI to VGA adapter. I thought ‘Great, at least now i can get all three monitors working’.
Look at them all
When i got home i discovered i couldn’t use the DVI adapter on my Mac mini – the adapter i bought had a few too many pins on it and i was furious… i’d just wasted the last two days visiting shops in town, then bought something that was of no use to me so i was back to square one. Luckily i happened to check the two DVI connections on my PC’s graphics card and the adapter worked on that… the only problem now is that one of my samsung monitors is running DVI to DVI, the other on VGA to VGA then the adapter converts it to DVI… is there a noticeable difference? Not really but i’m getting a paranoid about text sharpness and colours… i’m now *looking* for differences because i know there are some so that’s frustrating but from afar, you wouldn’t notice any difference.
My new BenQ monitor is now using DVI and here’s the whole lot together as one big happy family;
As you can see the new monitor blends in very well… at first glance you’d think all three monitors were the same model which is what i wanted. They’re all glossy black and they’re all the same height and at the same level. The only noticeable difference is that this new monitor is full HD, so the resolution is that bit better. As i mentioned yesterday, the colours also seem to be that bit stronger. I forget to mention yesterday it’s also LED which is perhaps the reason for it’s superior colours. It also makes it greener than my other two monitors. Slightly ironic. As you can tell from my 3 monitors & 2 desktops sitting on my desk, i like to do my bit for the environment
This will blow your mind
Earlier today, James Larkin told me about software called ‘synergy’ and i was instantly curious. It’s software that acts as a virtual KVM switch but also allows you to control multiple clients using the one keyboard & mouse, plus it allows you to copy / paste data across from windows to Mac, for example.
When i read this i was kind of confused… i didn’t think that was possible without some kind of hardware. I looked in to it more and found out a bit more about it. Here’s how it works in a nutshell.
- set up a network, connect two computers to network.
- download this software and install it on both machines.
- set one machine up as a ‘server’ (the machine that has the keyboard and mouse you want to use).
- set the other up as a ‘client’ and connect the client to the server via the network using the software provided.
- run the software in the background on both machines.
I’m still kind of in awe of this software… right now for example i can move my cursor across all three screens in front of me despite the fact one machine is windows, the other is Mac. Not only that but i can copy stuff on windows and paste it over on the Mac or vice versa.
At the minute i have NO keyboard or mouse connected to my Mac mini. In fact the only thing i have connected to it is the power cable and the monitor cable. When i move my cursor across to this new monitor, that sends a signal to my wireless router (in another room) which in turn forwards it on to my Mac mini so that allows me to use my windows keyboard & mouse remotely.
In theory if my router went down, my Mac mini would become useless and i’d have to physically connect a mouse & keyboard to it but it’s rare the local wireless network would go down. This technology simply amazes me and makes life so much easier… the copying and pasting function alone across two (or more!) operating systems is extremely useful, so i have to thank James again for telling me about this software – i’d never heard of it up until today and i’m pretty confident i’ll use it daily for years to come. Along with ultramon, i’d rate is as ‘essential’ software if you’re running multiple monitors on multiple systems. Best of all? It’s free.
Here’s a little demo of it in action using 4 computers, 7 monitors and 3 different operating systems all controlled by the one keyboard and mouse (and there you were thinking i was bad!)…