SPUG: Results of Work Space Survey

dancerboy dancerboy at strangelight.com
Tue Nov 20 10:47:54 CST 2001

At 5:28 AM -0800 11/20/01, Richard Anderson wrote:
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "dancerboy" <dancerboy at strangelight.com>
>>  For me, I
>>  would gladly trade physical desk space for screen real-estate.  I
>>  think I waste much more time shuffling the windows and icons on my
>>  desktop than I do shuffling physical objects.  I just recently got a
>>  second monitor for my home office, and not only do I believe that
>>  this has made a huge improvement in my productivity, but I don't
>>  think I've even come close to maxing out the improvements that
>>  increased screen real-estate *could* make.  I think I could have 4 or
>>  5 monitors on my desk before I started seeing diminishing returns.
>Interesting idea.  I generally address this concern by using the multiple
>desktops that Gnome and CDE provide (and Windows has yet to provide -

I don't think that multiple virtual desktops are nearly as helpful 
for me as actual monitors:  when working on complex coding projects, 
I find it extremely helpful to have the source-code windows of 
different, interacting parts of the system all visible at the same 
time.  This lets me see the interactions immediately, at a glance, 
instead of having to piece things together mentally bit-by-bit.  Not 
only is it quicker, but it's much less error-prone:  whenever I 
minimize or otherwise hide a source-code window, and then refer back 
to it mentally, there's always the danger that I will be remembering 
what's *supposed* to be there, rather than what actually *is* there. 
I think a significant portion of the bugs in my code come from errors 
in the way that distant sections of code interact with each other -- 
errors that would most likely have been obvious if I had actually 
looked at the sections of code side-by-side.

Add to this the usefulness of also having a couple of pages of 
perldoc, a page out of CPAN, some sample-code, and a helpful posting 
or three from usenet or SPUG *also* visible, and I think I could 
quite easily put 6 monitors to good use.

>   Wouldn't you get neck strain from swivelling your head to look at 5
>different monitors?  Or are you talking about a long table with 5
>workstations and 5 chairs?

No, I mean a single workstation with 4-5 monitors.  My desk at home 
has several tiers, so I can stack monitors vertically as well as 
horizontally.  Even with 6 monitors (oh, how I wish!) my desktop 
wouldn't need to be more than 3 monitors wide.  I also try to sit as 
far back from the monitors as practical, to avoid eye-strain -- which 
also reduces the amount I have to swivel my head to view multiple 

>I agree that the current monitors are too small and don't have enough
>resolution.  Also, they are too bulky and difficult to position easily.  But
>desktop ergonomics are improving, and I look forward to lightweight
>flat-panel displays that are large, high-res, easy on the eyes and easy to

Have you seen the (relatively) new Apple cinema-displays?  *drool* 
If only I had an extra $2500 laying around...


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