Thursday, May 6, 2010


Have you seen the commercial for help with organization for ADHD? The website was ADHD... something. And there was a phone number too...
(Just imagine all the stuff I'd post here if I didn't get distracted...)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Latest purchases: video card and monitor

In the past week, I have made two investments in my new job.

The new job is technology support from home, and this role requires I have a lot of windows open at the same time. Web-based email (in addition to my personal work-oriented and personal-oriented email accounts), two lists of approved tools, a list of procedures, the procedure I'm currently working with, a softphone client, a phone status window, a call status window, two chat programs (one as backup in case the other fails), three chat sessions (team, supervisor, and tech advisor), and our combination ticketing/remote support program that is best run full-screen. Oh, and web pages researching any issue questions. Then you add my notes during basic training, break-fix training, and various policies and procedures.

In all, two monitors (one 24" 1920x1200 and one 22" 1680x1050) are completely full with overlapping windows.

So, last Thursday, I ordered a video card. A PCI card, since my computer only has one PCIe slot and cards that can handle more than three monitors are VERY expensive. (This one.) It's by Sparkle, a company known more for their power supplies, but with a lifetime warranty on their video cards if you register your purchase with them. It can handle full-HD and HDCP (copy protection normally used for things like Blu-ray movies). Unfortunately, PCI can't handle the bandwidth (simultaneous information) to support full-HD video (1920x1080 at 30fps). But it will do just fine for what I need. And besides, it's the best we had for years... Even better than most people had for years - it's got 256MB of DDR2 memory. Back when computers only had PCI for video, most computers had less than 256MB of main memory.

So, when the card came in yesterday, I installed it. I connected up a 17" CRT (conventional tube) monitor I had sitting around. And I found out that:
1 - the monitor only supports 1024x768 at higher than 60hz, and 60hz at high resolutions has visible flicker on a CRT. It'll do 1280x1024, but only at 60hz. And that gives me a headache almost instantly. So, I'm stuck with 1024x768.
2 - It puts out a lot of heat. I already have two LCD monitors on my desk, and a tower computer with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo (processor), 4 1GB DIMMs (memory modules), seven hard drives (RAID5 with 6 500GB drives installed three years ago and a separate boot drive) and a primary video card. So, I already have far more heat than I want.

So, another investment in the job. Today I ordered a monitor, after receiving an email from Buy/com. It's by AOC (this one), a 21.5" LCD display that supports 1920x1080 for $143.99 total. It will put off less heat than my CRT, and double the viewable area. And comes with 3-yr warranty on most, 1-yr on the actual display, and the first 90 days includes free shipping. It was actually from TigerDirect, but sold through The price was $149.99, less a $6 coupon (automatic with the link from the webpage) and free shipping. Interestingly, the direct price is $154.99 plus shipping. As a bonus, the reviews are very positive. Good color, good menus, good brightness (technically, it's pretty standard), good contrast (30000/1 static).

Anyway, I better make sure I work out with the job. I've got to pay for this stuff.