Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weekend diversions, hardware

I haven't spent much time on the music re-org lately.  I've boiled the effort down to taking a chunk of artists at a time, passing them through MusicBrainz Picard to properly tag and rename them and then searching for duplicated files after the renaming.

I have however redone the arrangement of computers at home.  I was previously running a 23" LG 3D monitor, plus an older 17" ViewSonic 4:3 ratio monitor to the left of the main screen.  I've moved the 23 inch to my wife's machine, replacing her 20 inch widescreen ViewSonic.  In place of the 23" LG as my primary, I now have a 27" ViewSonic LED monitor.  Directly above that I have a 24" ViewSonic LED.  To my left is now a wall mounted laptop stand which holds my work machine, and to my left is Kat's old 20 inch, rotated into portrait mode for reading and browsing long form content.

The center monitor can serve dual duty as the primary screen for the MacBook Air or my desktop, depending on whether I'm working or not.  The top screen gives me a target for graphical development, media playing, or if the primary monitor is being driven by the Mac, as a conventional aspect monitor for my desktop.

Graphics cards that will drive three monitors concurrently are surprisingly hard to come by.  It appears that for nVidia at least, you need a GeForce 6xx series card at least.  I actually initially bought a higher end GeForce 5xx that had 3 outputs, only to find if I tried to enable the third monitor it would shut off one of the other two.  I didn't feel particularly like living on the bleeding edge, so I bought a more conservative GeForce GTX 650 TI which still manages to blow the doors off my old GeForce GTX 275, which in turn was still perfectly adequate for all of my actual gaming and development needs (with the exception of triple monitor support). 

I'm still not completely happy with my mouse and keyboard.  The mouse isn't too bad, a Logitech Performance MX, but it seems to be subject to occasional wireless interference and the mouse wheel is virtually impossible to click as a middle mouse click. The keyboard is an ancient Logitech Cordless Elite Duo (long since separated from the mouse half of the Duo).  It's nearly 10 years old and has a good feed to the keys, but it's wireless receiver is a big dongle that has a now useless portion for hooking up to your PS2 keyboard port.  Unfortunately I haven't find a newer Logitech keyboard that satisfies all my needs
  • Large, easily accessible media keys, preferably with a dial for volume.  If I have to hit a 'Fn' key to use a media key, then it's a non-starter
  • Keys that are at least a centimeter high and depress most of their height.  I can't stand these keys that barely move.
  • The Home/End/PgUp/PgDown/Ins/Del keys need to be arranged in a 3x2 grid.  Many, if not most Logitech keyboard use a 2x3 layout that has a double height delete key and no insert key.
  • No gaming keys.  I have a gaming keyboard I plug in when I want to play World of Warcraft, but 90% of the time it would be taking up too much space on my keyboard tray.  
 I wouldn't think this would be a hard set of criteria to meet, but Logitech can't seem to do it with anything newer than the Cordless Elite Duo from 2003.  The closest they come is the K350, and it has the wrong layout for the Home/End key cluster, which for some reason I just can't seem to get over.  Maybe it's time to start looking at Microsoft keyboards. 

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