When you come down to it, all geeks are voyeurs. They just LOVE to look at how other geeks have setup their little Geek-Palace and get some tips and ideas from there. Recently I posted the pictures of "The Laundry Room" on Flickr. Last week however, i had to re-arrange some of my setup due to the fact that I made little "impulse buy". This purchase consisted of a 24 inch Imac that was on sale at Dixxons (A Chain of electronic stores in the Netherlands that frequently have pretty good deals on Apple stuff). Since this was a model that was no longer being made ( Its all 27 and 21 inch now) they had a few 24 inch macs on sale for as little as 1095 euro’s. We had walked passed the store a couple of times over the last few weeks and had commented back and forth that this was in fact a it was a very good deal for anyone looking for a cheap but awesome Mac. Since Nyana has put our other Imac on the kitchen table , it is almost in constant use , you know how the story ends right? Our techlove got the best of us and before we knew it we were dragging a big white box into our home.
This of course meant we had to re-arrange some of the items in my office. Since I had about 24 inches of real estate coming my way, I thought of moving my 28 inch secondary display that was hooked up to my Macbook Pro, to our bedroom (so serve as a TV screen ) But once I had set everything up, their proved to be plenty of room for both displays in my office.
So right now I have the 24 inch Imac on a "central" position on my desk, flanked by the 28 inch monitor on the right. Now you might think that this amount of screen real estate is obscene .. and you’re probably right, but it is also very practical. You see, as a cross platform "slider" jumping from operating system to operating system, this "giant screen" is very useful. The 24 inch Imac is more then powerful enough to handle more the one operating system at once. So instead of "just" running OSX and some applications, it is more then capable of running Windows 7 or some installations of Linux side by side. So where we had two computers on two screens before, I’m using one "central computer" with multiple screens (and multiple keyboards).
Multiple keyboards ? Why ?
It would be perfectly possible to use just one keyboard and mouse combination on this machine. The wireless apple keyboard (I’m using one from Logitech) is brilliant BUT there is an issue. There is a small difference between French AZERTY keyboards by Apple and French AZERTY keyboards for pc’s. For one the placement of the @ key, and several other buttons. This is not really an issue when you use Ubuntu or Windows virtual machines (For Windows there are bootcamp drivers that fix this keyboard ‘indifference’ ) For Ubuntu systems you can choose the ‘French Macintosh’ keyboard layout when you install. All of that is not really a problem. The problem comes to the party when I need to ‘remote control’ windows machines using the remote desktop software called Logmein. The remote systems (of friends and family) that i need to fix/upgrade/use etc have French Azerty keyboards. Now when I do this using a system with a mac keyboard layout the keyboard mapping gets all garbled up on the other side and its VERY annoying. So to fix this problem I remote control other users systems from a Windows 7 virtual machine using a second external keyboard. Its like having two computers side-by-side with two keyboards, but just one central ‘cpu unit’.
And then some.
But lets not forget the ‘remote’ systems that are under my command. Using remote connection programs like the terminal, The Remote Desktop Connection viewer from Microsoft, the FreeNx client for Linux, all of these applications hook me up with other systems (around the house / around the planet) that I can control from this ‘center seat’. So is 52 inches of real estate too much ? Depends if you say its just for ‘one’ computer. Its in fact for "several systems" at the same time. (AND for a full 28 inch wide version of Tweetdeck it is just plain overkill).
I could even add another player to the party by hooking up my Macbook Pro on the other side of my screen and use TELEPORT to control it using just one apple keyboard – mouse combination. But the addition of a "second" computer to the mix does not strike me as very productive .. Yet 🙂