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.
    ReplyReply
  • 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.
    ReplyReply
  • 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.
    ReplyReply

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