2 monitors can help your productivity


POSTED: Monday, February 16, 2009

I've been on a productivity and infrastructure kick for the New Year. The challenge is always to work smarter and use technology to your advantage.

One inexpensive “;infrastructure”; upgrade that has really helped my productivity is using use two monitors on my office desktop. It may seem like overkill or even a bit strange, but it works.

Here's an example: You can work on a Word doc or surf the Net on the right screen while you run your e-mail program or work on a spreadsheet on the left. The upshot is that don't have to keep switching programs.

Assuming you can fit two monitors up on your desk, it's easy to set up. Most video cards nowadays have the capability to run two monitors at the same time.

What kind of second monitor to buy? There are a lot of good ones on the market at a reasonable price. I like Samsung and opted for the T221 which sells for as little as $262 online. It sports a cool black-frame design and the latest 16:9 aspect ratio, which means you have a rectangular screen instead of a more squarish format. This is important because as more video goes to the computer screen, it fits movie formats without too much letterboxing or pillar boxing. It also works with HDTV programming as well as online videos.

Another money-saving expense is not to ditch your laptop just because the hard drive fills up. If you've got a perfectly good machine only a few years old (such as my Lenovo T60) it makes more sense to upgrade the drive. I quadrupled my storage with a brand new 320 gig Scorpio Black 72000 rpm Western Digital drive. If you're technically akamai, this upgrade can be done at home. Check out this “;how-to”; CNET video which shows how to do it: http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-11379_7-6445033-1.html).

Western Digital is tops in quality and you can buy it from Newegg.com for $89. The upshot: For about hundred dollars and change (if you include shipping and 2 gigs of RAM) I've now got a laptop that performs like a brand new machine. What's more, it's faster and has room for photos and even music. With people making laptops their sole computer nowadays there's no excuse not to have oodles of storage.

For individuals who must be compliant with electronic security regulations such as SOX (Sarbannes-Oxley), HIPAA, and the new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), local IT guru Ho'ala Greevy of Pau Spam has a solution. He calls it SecureFiles and he refers to it as a portable, remote, encrypted drive. (Think thumbdrive with a gigabyte of storage). Essentially you get an external drive on a remote server that stores and encrypts data.

It could come in very handy for other applications, too. Let's say you travel to the mainland and your laptop is stolen. With SecureFile, your PowerPoint presentation, and any other sensitive data for that matter, is readily available. SecureFiles also has a built in e-mail client that allows you to send encrypted files. You can thus send files without the need for the recipient to install software or configure encryption keys. Cost for 1 gig of storage is $5 per month per user. Find out more at www.pauspam.com.