IT Employees and Multiple Monitors

Are you more productive with multiple monitors?

I personally, am more productive with multiple monitors, I have 3 17″ LCD displays. My roommates have three displays a piece.

Microsoft Research has been looking into this for awhile, and now a french researcher states roughly the same thing about larger monitors.

I’m not sure I would ever want to go back to a single monitor for a desktop rig again.

On my left display I have Outlook and my IM clients, my center display is for whatever I’m working on at the moment, and my right display is for my web browser and online books.

It is nice to be able to glance and see if there is an email I really need to deal with without having to change the focus of the application I’m working on.

—– Rom

References:

Robert Scoble
Toward Characterizing the Productivity Benefits of Very Large Displays
Could a 30-in. monitor help you do your job faster?

Web Server Overload

Sorry about the erratic web server behavior today.

Most of my 24/7 computerized services all run off of one machine. The machine runs Windows XP Media Center 2005 and has Virtual Machines for my email and web services. Since it is my everything computer I normally don’t pay attention with what I do with it, but today I started a video conversion job today which took 12 hours or more. A few hours ago I noticed that the web server started to reject people with a web server busy message.

The disk queue length grew large enough that all the services running on the machine started having problems.

In the future if I start another video encoding job I’ll be sure to adjust the process priority such that I won’t have to worry about it again.

—– Rom

Microsoft Windows XP and Hibernation Failure

So today I discovered why my notebook was failing to hibernate when I closed the lid on Windows XP, thanks to Scott Hanselman.

Scott’s article can be found here.

The bug affects all computers that had more than 1GB of RAM. Microsoft finally released a hotfix to the problem here http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=909095

Why did Microsoft wait so long to release this to the public? It appears they had this available for awhile, but you had to call PSS to get it.

—– Rom

BOINC 5.6 Release Canceled

Recently it was announced the 5.6 BOINC has been canceled to concentrate on the 5.8 code (as 5.7 for the time being)
Why is this and why can you not release 5.6 as is now?

The BSG (BOINC Simple GUI) is nearing completion and the 5.6 release was nearing completion but wasn’t done baking yet.

After looking over the schedules it became pretty clear that managing two different test efforts was going to create a lot of confusion and management hassles.

We believe we have stabilized most, if not all of the 5.6 features, and the remaining testing work will be focused on the BSG and improved memory management support. We believe we are a few weeks out from having a stable BSG build ready for the public, so instead of asking the community at large to do two back-to-back upgrades within a month, we decided to bag 5.6 and focus on 5.8.

I personally believe this is for the best.

If the tech savvy people want to checkout 5.6 then by all means go ahead and play around with it. We won’t be releasing any bug fix releases for that version of the client though.

—– Rom

BOINC Q&A — 10/06/06

I was wondering if you could shed some light on DNS caching, and why the BOINC client apparently keeps records for days, which would seem to ignore the TTLs associated with the records? (the recent DNS changes for Leiden would indicate this; requiring a client restart)

Actually libCurl handles all the DNS stuff. We just pass the server name to libCurl and it handles all the OS details. I took a quick peek at the libCurl source and it looks like they have an internal DNS cache. It also appears that they have a way to expire the DNS cache entries. It isn’t clear to me at the moment if we are supposed to call an API to expire DNS cache entries or if that is handled automatically as part of the easy API set.

I’ll look into it a bit more to see if I can figure it out.

To submit questions for next week just click on the comments link below and submit your question.

Thanks in advance.

—– Rom

Windows Vista RC1 and the Portege M400

So on my vacation in Switzerland my notebook had this annoying problem where it would fail to hibernate when I closed the lib with the Toshiba Portege M400 Windows XP install. Let me tell you, it is annoying to have a notebook fail to hibernate and drains two batteries because it cannot it cannot hibernate. I have both the built-in battery and the add-on slice battery.

The notebook appeared to get stuck in a loop where it would suspend and then when it had been inactive for a period of time it would attempt to hibernate, fail to do so with some sort of System API failure system tray balloon, and then suspend after a period of time. Rinse and Repeat. Uninstalling Toshiba’s power management toolset didn’t fix the hibernation problem, so I suspect it is another device driver that was causing me grief.

Anyway, when I returned home I had received an email from Microsoft informing me they had released Windows Vista RC1 for beta testing, So I repartitioned the HD of the notebook and installed Vista RC1 and I am impressed. My only complaint so far is that I still haven’t gotten BitLocker working, I keep receiving an error stating that the BIOS wasn’t able to pass along information to the MBR and I did upgrade the BIOS to 1.70. Oh well.

Toshiba published a set of Vista drivers for the M400 here:
Microsoft Windows Vista Drivers for the M400

I have only experienced the BSOD two times in a week, both times happened shortly after I installed the fingerprint reader drivers. I uninstalled the fingerprint reader drivers and haven’t experienced a BSOD since.

The touchpad driver package really isn’t Vista friendly, they add startup references to the registry and Windows Defender complains every time you reboot the box asking if it is okay to start them up again. Either Microsoft needs to add them to the approved list, since I couldn’t find a way to do it myself, or the ALPS touchpad people just need to add themselves via the startup group instead of the registry. The good news is that the touchpad works without the touchpad driver package so you can skip it if you want too.

Intel finally got around to getting video drivers for the M400 put into Windows so Aero Glass is supported the very first time you boot up. Hurray.

If you use the tablet features on the M400 you’ll need to install the XP version of the rotation utility found here:
Toshiba Rotation Utility for Windows XP

All in all, I’m a pretty happy camper right now. To top it all of, hibernation works as intended.

—– Rom

Previous Articles:
Toshiba Portege M400, Windows Vista, and BOINC

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