Productivity, my way

I recently finished redesigning the topology of my home office – hardware, software and network – and my personal productivity has been soaring.  I’ll take a minute to brag… err, explain…   how the new setup works. First of all, this is my home office:

There is quite a lot going on, and previously I had been running out of desktop space (literal and virtual). Also, I didn’t have the flexibility I wanted – I need multiple domains /w various servers running on several different OS versions, etc. And did I mention that it all needed to fit on my desk?

The solution was to abstract and virtualize. 

“Virtual Interface” – The 3 main monitors are hooked up to one box.  So there is 1280+1600+1280 = 4160 pixels worth of screen real-estate controlled by a single keyboard & mouse. Remote Desktop allows me to map that onto as many computers as I need at any given moment. The pictures show 3 desktops, one on each monitor,  and if I need one more I can show 2 desktops (@1024×768 each) on the middle monitor for a total of four desktops. Remote Desktop is cool – it supports copy-paste across desktops, so I can copy information from a server desktop straight into an Outlook message on my laptop desktop.

“Virtual Environments” – The network server is a bare-bones Windows 2003 Server with almost nothing installed on it other than VSS and Virtual PC.   The project-specific environments – domain servers, application servers, etc – are all hosted as virtual PCs on the “Server”.  This gives me tremendous flexibility since I can easily support multiple projects with conflicting software configurations and/or versions.  And I can quickly add new environments without destabilizing the existing ones.

“Central Management“ – No matter how many different projects or servers I am working on, I only need to backup one hard drive (the host server) and maintain one SourceSafe database. Since I am horribly absent minded this will probably save me lots of grief going forward. I’m lazy too so less work is always a good thing :)

I’m still tweaking the setup, but so far I am very happy with the results.  
Got any additional tips? Let me know!

Comments (9)

  1. Jeff Julian says:

    very nice. How do you like the Dell Stand/Port Replicator?

  2. OmegaSupreme says:

    Very but is that a human skull I see on the shelf 😐

  3. AJ says:

    Pull down the matrix poster. That’s so five years ago.

  4. Mischa Kroon says:

    Aren’t those monitors to low to be ergonomical ?

  5. Any chance to get the approx. figure this cost you? Just so I will know how much to save up… 😉

  6. Addy Santo says:

    Jeff: The Dell 20.1" is awesome. 1600×1200 is amazing. And I picked it up during the end-of-Q1 sales a few weeks ago for 250$ off :)

    OmegaSupreme: It isn’t a real one. But sometimes late at night when I’m stuck on a programming problem it whispers the answer in my ear…

    AJ: I also have a hellboy poster on the other wall which isn’t in the picture

    Yuri: My wife thinks so too.

    Mischa: My eye height is just about mid-screen, which works fine for me.

    Omer: I put this together pretty slowly (waiting for good deals), but it was roughly: Dell Poweredge Server = 299$, 1GB Mem upgrade + 250GB disk = ~250$, 17" HP = ~350$ (I worked for HP back then), and I splurged 750$ on the 20.1" Dell. So it wasn’t THAT Bad.