Some of my friends see my computer setup, then look at me like I’m nuts.
Let me explain: I have three monitors dedicated to one computer on my desk. It may seem excessive, but for me it has become so normal, that it drives me nuts when I don’t have a minimum of two screens anywhere. I spend so much time doing school work on my computer that having the extra screens makes it useful. I usually keep my email program on my left screen. My main screen will be what I’m currently working on, and the right screen will have my IM client on it. Granted it’s docked to the right edge, which leaves me room for whatever else I may need to have running to support what I’m doing on the center (main) screen.
If I’m writing a paper and I need to look something up, I suppose I could open up another window or tab (if I’m already using the browser). But it’s so much nicer to be able to see the information on screens. It makes it so much easier to cut and paste stuff when I can see where it’s coming from and where it’s going all at the same time. By having my email program up and running on its screen, I’m able to know when important mail comes in and be able to quickly glance at it to see if it’s from school or someone else. The same goes for the IM client. I use Trillian Astra and it has all my IMs on it: MSN, AIM, Yahoo, GTalk, ICQ, MySpaceIM, & Skype. This allows me to see the online status of my friends at all times without giving up real estate on the center screen. Even the chat windows pop up on the right monitor keeping them from interrupting my work on the center screen.
I believe I’m more efficient by using more than 1 monitor. It’s not for everybody, but being able to spread out my workspace over 3 monitors keep me from having to using keystrokes to switch from tab to tab or window to window on one screen. It’s so much easier to give each application its own screen and have that application maximized on that screen. I have gamer friends that use multi-monitor setups for their online game-playing, so they understand my need for information, but on a different level.
On a side note, one of the great annoyances is trying to use a mouse over a multi-monitor workspace. There is just not enough mousepad to be effective and when the speed the mouse travels at is moved up to compensate, accuracy is lost. My solution has been one that I have been using ever since my Apple ||gs days: a trackball. I’ve been using a Microsoft Trackball Explorer. It’s a shame that Microsoft discontinued this trackball several years ago. I have two. One new in the box just in case the current one dies. I bought them years ago when they were still reasonably priced. Kensington makes the Orbit Trackball which is pretty nice. I have one, but it lacks the extra buttons the MS trackball has.
Now, if they’ll just come up with a monitor with a webcam built into the center of the screen that takes up not more than 3 or 4 pixels, I’ll be able to look directly at the webcam and the person I’m talking to at the same time. It has to be possible with the advances in fiber optics nowadays.