Archive for the 'Gadgets' Category

Triple Monitors & Other Workspace Improvements

Almost everyone seems to be intrigued with my workspace setup – consisting of three 19″ Viewsonic panels. Having moved up to 3 monitors (from 2) only a few months ago, I’m already at the stage where I’m thinking of taking on a few more.


OK, just joking.


Or am I?

Triple Monitors

Most modern video cards natively support dual displays, but in order to add more than 2 monitors, you’ll usually have to install another video card. Interestingly enough, my Dell Dimenson desktop has a built-in Intel video card, but I was unable to enable this while running any other cards in the box for multi-display.


With two (or more) video cards in, possibly some tweaking in your BIOS, and some driver installs, it’s a breeze with Windows XP to define your monitor layout and be on your way to multi-monitor mayhem. For an even better experience, consider investing in UltraMon by Realtime Soft, which can provide handy extra control to move around your active windows, stretch your desktop and screensaver, and better organize your toolbar.

French Press

New additions to my workspace include a French Press Travel Mug (for brewing my new drink of choice – Yerba Mate), a mini-dry erase board, a trusty old TI graphing calculator, and of course, a pad of paper.


Google Maps Mobile

So, I was playing around with Google Maps Mobile on Ken’s broadband phone Friday evening and was really impressed. This could save me from some real pickles!
One major gripe I have with Google Maps is the way it decides to hide street names based upon zoom level. This turns out to be a real PITA when you are stumbling the streets in a new area, depending upon a printout you made on your rush out the door.

Last year, for example, I was meeting some friends in Kingston on Thames – a lovely borough outside London, but one I’d never been to. On my way leaving work I printed this map to allow me to get from the train station to the pub where I was meeting them.

Well, needless to say, I got completely, utterly, lost. I couldn’t find a single street name on this map and ended up abandoning any hope of Google showing the way and instead asked some friendly locals.

Now, compare to the same map from and you’ll see a huge difference. The map actually manages to squeeze every single streetname onto the map, as well as useful landscape features, buildings, etc. Had I used this map I should have quite easily been able to find my way from the rail station in the upper right hand quadrant to the pub (marked with an arrow about 500 meters away) in a snap. But, no, I was stuck with an absolutely useless printout on a wild goose chase in the streets of Kingston on Thames.

So, yes, Google Maps might be slick with its AJAX-enabled and satellite imagery overlay goodness…but it doesn’t help when reduced to dead trees.

Which leads us to…Google Maps Mobile. This thing looks like it might be the answer! I played around with Ken’s for a while, and although the interface takes a bit of getting used to, for the most part it works just like the regular version.

Eagerly then I decided to input the O’neills pub in Kingston to see if this would have saved the day. You can imagine my disappointment, then, when I saw this: