Productivity

I may diss Microsoft Windows as a home Mac user, but I’ve always thought that it is a more productive OS. Working in a corporate environment on a Mac is still such a headache, probably because corporate IT is so built around MS technologies. Whatever the reason, I get things done on my work PC.

Dual-Display

It’s no secret that designers love screen real estate — but, everyone can benefit from more desktop space. There was an article in the NY Times just last week.

The company I work for is notoriously frugal, shall we say… so, a while back, I decided to break down and buy a dual-display graphics card, out of my own pocket. I even dragged in my old 19″ Trinitron monitor, which was collecting dust in the closet. For only $35, I bought an ATI Radeon 7000 32MB card, thinking that it would be sufficient as a secondary card.

Of course, as soon as I popped this into the vacant AGP slot in the Dell GX260, the computer’s on-board AGP chip was disabled. Luckily, the card has two display outputs, and it even managed to put out a resolution of 1600 × 1200 for my main display, and 1280 × 1024 for the secondary monitor, (an aging 17″ Trinitron that I “found” in an empty cubicle) — but only at 65 hz, and 16-bit color. I remember thinking that this would fry my eyes, but didn’t give it another thought.

Fast-forward 5 months — my eyes are fried by the end of the day. So, I broke down yet again, and bought a $60 PCI card, a generic GeForce MX 4000 128MB card. Now everything is crisp at 75 Hz (the max these Trinitrons can do at high resolutions), and 32-bit. Hopefully I’ll notice a difference.

Remote Desktop

VPN access is retardedly slow, (I realize I’m being redundant). So, rather than trying to work on network shares from home, I instead connect via Remote Desktop to my workstation. This allows me to have access to everything I’d have sitting at my desk, from home. This is especially handy when moving around large files on the network, or using Trados TM tools that require a dongle.

There is even a great Mac Remote Desktop Client, so there is no need for me to fire up that 4-year old Dell laptop.

One annoying thing about Remote Desktop, especially if you have multiple displays, is that when you return to your desk in the morning and log in, your icons are usually scattered across the main-display’s desktop. Thanks to Icon Restore, two clicks, and you’re back, good as new. I’d love to see NVIDIA build this into their Desktop Manager, the way ATI did with Hydravision.

3 Responses to “Productivity”


  • Why do you think Windows is a more productive OS? Your two examples of productivity boosters are both things you can do with a Macintosh as well.

  • Well, I did say that corporate IT is MS-centric. Exchange, Active Directory, etc.

    I know that OS X plays pretty well in this kind of environment, but there are things that just don’t work well…

    For instance, network paths. I copy/paste network paths 100 times a day, and that’s just not possible on a Mac, out of the box.

    This “abstract” treatment of the file system is exactly what I like about using my Powerbook at home — Apps like iPhoto & iTunes abstract this folder management frustration… which makes things easy.

    But, in a corporate environment, where you have to transfer ownership of files between many different people for different tasks, I feel much more comfortable on a PC.

    It doesn’t mean that I enjoy it.

  • When I was where you are, I set myself up with a second monitor. I was lucky in that MIS was gettin rid of old machines, and I was able to yank out a PCI video card and set up my second screen.

    I usually kept Outlook, aol IM, and Explorer on the smaller screen, and whatever loc program / flash/ photoshop on the main screen. Two monitors beats excesive alt-tabbing any day.

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