Geeky notes: monitors, WinSplit, PrintServer, Intel SSD

Long time no see, dear reader.

Quite a few things have happened. Frankly, I feel pretty drained in the last a year or two. Lately, I’ve spent time pondering about some metaphysical questions, such as the meaning of life, identity issues, and things of that nature. Hopefully those thinking will make me a better human being. I may write some of that out, time permitting. In the meantime, here is some technical notes for my own recordkeeping. Hopefully this benefits somebody, somehow.

  • I’ve used dual monitors at past employers, and didn’t find the productivity increase that were mentioned by a lot of people. When having two monitors, I found that my eyes lost “the center of attention”, so to speak. Maybe 3 monitors would have been better, but that sounds pretty expensive, overly complicated, and messy.
    So after our move and donating away our 7-year old HP CRT monitor to Salvation Army, I finally decided to move to the flat-panel age and bought a Dell LCD. I’ve also thought about acquiring a large LCD (I’ve heard people using 30 inch ones), but a few visits to computer stores convinced me that a 30 inch is just way too big. So after further research, I settled for a Dell S2409W. I also bought the AX510PA1 Sound Bar (speakers) that hangs under the LCD, which was pretty nice.
    Now this (the single LCD setup) is just my own experience. Your mileage may vary. Update: I bought my Dell monitor directly from Dell on its web site, and received a much bigger discount than if had I bought it at Microcenter. So it pays to surf around for a better price.
  • With a bigger monitor, it is important to have an easy way to manage the real estate space. Enter WinSplit. I particularly like the Ctrl-Alt-NumberPad key combination: 1 is lower left hand position, 9 is upper right hand position, 5 is center, etc. The layout of these positions correspond to the number pad layout, very intuitive. Keep pressing Ctrl-Alt-Number will toggle between different window size, very neat. For the window that gets my focus, I will use Ctrl-Alt-5 a few times to put it in the center and get the size I like, usually taking perhaps 2/3 of the screen. I can still monitor the other windows with side glances, if I want to.
    It would be very nice to have a WinSplit type application for Ubuntu. I haven’t done much googling on that yet. Any recommendations, dear reader?
  • After the move, the family machine will be a generic, no-brandname black box, close to 10 years old. So natually it does not support DVI, not to mention HDMI. The funny thing was when I put Ubuntu on this machine with VGA connection to the newly acquired S2409W, the screen looks sharp and nice. But with Windows 7, pictures look a bit distorted. I had to purchase a EVGA e-GeForce 8400 GS 512MB DDR2 PCIe Graphics Card, which has DVI support, for it to support Windows 7 properly. Windows 7 seems to work pretty well, though.
  • Now our place is bigger than 75 square meters, we have room for a small office. Toward that end, I bought a DPR 1260 print server to hook it up with our existing EPSON RX600 printer. DPR 1260 is a wireless printer server device that make the printer available to all PCs in the house. So far I am pleased with it. My Ubuntu laptop can print from it, but I haven’t figured out how to make it scan. (Update: after choosing some different options on the web interface, I could scan with Ubuntu also, it’s just a bit slower). I can scan with Windows machines, though. I thought the wireless print server was pretty neat.
  • Intel X-25M SSD is really nice. It makes my Ubuntu laptop much responsive than before. I settled on X-25M after some reading on the web. I’d like to hear real world SSD experience with different brands, such as OCZ, PNY, and Samsung.
    If your PC has SATA hard drives and you are considering upgrading, I’d highly recommend a SSD upgrade.
  • Lastly, I am working with a great partner on developing a software product. I will definitely write more about it in the future.

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