Month: July 2007

Synergy makes life easy

I’m working from home today, for the first time. When I used to work from home at my last job, I could just use my computer here, connect to the VPN, and have access to everything I needed.

The new company, however, does things a little differently, and I’ve got a “work laptop”, which is fine. After starting work a few short minutes ago, I realized that I hated having two separate keyboards and mice. So I searched for an article I read on Lifehacker a few days ago, for details on Synergy.

Synergy allows you to share a keyboard and mouse across multiple computers on the same network. That means my nice keyboard and mouse for my “home” computer can zip right across mid-air, onto the laptop, and works just like it was connected to it directly.

I was a bit worried at first, seeing that the work laptop’s on the VPN, I didn’t know if Synergy would recognize it as being “on the same network”. But it did, and I had it up and running within a matter of minutes. If you’ve got the need to share a keyboard and mouse across multiple computers, Synergy is definitely the way to go. And the best part, it’s free.

Synergy’s been added to my “list of applications I can’t live without”, which I’ll post sometime later on.

One Monitor? Two Monitors? More?

Ever since I started using a dual monitor set up at home (two 19″ Samsung LCD monitors), I can’t live without two monitors. When I started my new job here, they gave me a fairly beat up old laptop. Which is fine, I can cope with 15″ to look at. The bad news was the max resolution is 1024×768, which I stopped using a number of years ago.

So I brought in my own 17″ LCD to use in conjunction with Windows XP’s fancy “extend my desktop” feature. Combined with Realtime Software’s Ultramon, makes for an excellent workspace (even at different resolutions.)

However, I found something that comes in handy as well. If you’re off to a meeting, and can only bring your laptop (and not the second monitor), don’t use the “disable secondary monitor” option in Ultramon. What I’ve started doing, is leaving it enabled while I’m off with the laptop. Why? Easily, to cause less clutter.

Windows XP still thinks you’ve got a second monitor attached, as does Ultramon. With some handy keyboard shortcuts (I’ve got mine set up as Control + > and Control + < to move windows to the other monitor), you can still dump programs you’re not using to the other “monitor”, even though it’s not connected. This allows you to easily move things you don’t need in front of you, to clear up your one (less than optimal resolution) monitor. Handy little trick, if you’re stuck with just a laptop.

Design Updates

I’ve been hard at work the last few nights working on various projects:

  •  Did some more design changes to the Lace Reader website last night. Added new menu items, a “send a quote card” section, a reviews section, and a section for press & media to get downloadable materials.
  • Did more work on the pagination script for the “all about Salem” website that Christine and I are working on.
  • Trying to creatively come up with some ideas to improve the usability of MovieSnobs to increase return users, and loyalty.   Right now, I don’t think just having the movie reviews is cutting it.
  • Renewed the domain name last night.   Am going to try to rethink the purpose of it, and redesign it accordingly.   While it’s fun to have what it is now, no one seems to be interested in it, and haven’t submitted anything in a while.   I’m surprised it doesn’t get more traffic, if you Google the phrase “top five albums”, we’re the first result.   You’d think people might look for that sort of stuff.

That’s about all I’ve got going on, for right now.   That’s my update.

More Design Work

Over the weekend/holiday, I did quite a bit of design work, and learned a few new things, as well.

I started off on Friday night, by finishing the install of the CMS software, for one of my design clients. I’m not sure exactly what his intent is for the site, but the CMS software I installed is a social networking application (similar to MySpace, Facebook, etc). Once he gets back in town we’ll discuss what he’s looking to do with the site, and how much resources he’s looking to throw at it, to make it what he wants.

My office was closed yesterday, due to July 4th, so I spent the majority of the day, working with Christine working on one of our new projects. We’re building a site about Salem Massachusetts (where we live). Sort of an informational site for tourists. Where to go, where to eat, what tours to take, how much money to anticipate spending, etc. We figured with all the tourism that happens around our house from May through November, it would be helpful to have a site where people can get information about the area. It hasn’t launched yet, but we spent a lot of time yesterday working on it. I spent my day re-writing the code for the listings page, and managed to work in some clauses into my queries that will allow sortable tables (something I previously didn’t know how to do), so I’m psyched about that. I’ll post a link to the site, once it’s complete, and will add it to my Design Portfolio (up top there).

That’s all I’ve got for now. That, and be sure you watch Burn Notice tonight at 10PM. The pilot was just okay, but I think the show’s going to get a lot better in time.