Every morning when I sit down at my ZDNet.com.au workstation, I feel totally discombobulated, like one of my limbs has been cut off without me noticing it. The reason, of course, is that I only have one monitor at work.
Not that I'm complaining; it's the best monitor I've ever had in
a work environment. It's 22 inches of LCD goodness, and our helpful IT
department has provided a beastly enough PC for me to be able to take
advantage of the screen real estate; I can run all of my
applications with no problems.
But it's still just one monitor.
At home I also have a 22-inch screen, but I've also recently added a
discarded and ageing 17-inch screen that lost its primary use after our
household bought an additional laptop.
This second screen has proven invaluable. I commonly drag a
TweetDeck or instant messaging window onto it, just so I can
keep an eye on what's happening in the real-time internet while I'm
getting on with my main tasks; usually watching trailers of
computer games, catching up on email, RSS feeds or just aimless
However, it's also useful whenever — which is often — I'm
doing some serious writing at home. I often shift a browser window
with source documents in separate tabs onto the secondary monitor
and flick my eyes left to it whenever I need to refer to something.
This sort of set-up is easy to achieve in either Ubuntu or
Windows (my primary home operating systems) with some minor
tinkering. You can even find extended desktop wallpaper that will stretch
across both monitors. The problem this creates for me in my work environment, though,
is simply that I often automatically attempt to move a window across to
the other monitor ... only to find there is no second monitor.
It's disconcerting, to say the least.
Do you suffer from phantom monitor pain? What can be done about
this serious ailment? Do you encounter other hardware switching problems when moving between work and play?