The New Monitor

I can remember days in the late 1980s and through most of the 1990s when a single monitor (and not a particularly large one) was suitable for all of my work. When I started at my job in late 1994, for instance, Windows 3.1 was still the main operating system. A single application open at a time in the foreground filled the screen. Not too long after, Window 95 took over and I was astounded by the ability to run applications side-by-side. As time passed I begn I using the highest resolution to maximimze screen acreage.

At some point, I remember seeing people using multiple monitors. At first it was two. Eventually, most people seemed to settle on three screens as optimal. Before the Pandemic, when I still went into the office, our flex spaces featured two large monitors mounted on swivel arms. Those two monitors, and the screen of my MacBook Pro served as my standard screen acreage for several years. I had each monitor assigned to a particular set of tasks:

  • My laptop screen was for email and Teams meetings.
  • The large screen on the left was my “working” screen. Any active work happened there: coding, document preparation, etc.
  • The large screen on the right was dedicated to notes.

I missed this three-screen setup in my home office. I never quite got used to whittling the function of three screens down to two. I managed to get my work done, but I felt like I was flipping between apps a lot more than I used to. Every now and then I considered getting an extra monitor, and each time I kept putting it off.

Yesterday morning, it came to mind again. I was doing some work early and decided once again that things would be a lot simpler if I had a third screen to help out. I did some searching online, found a relatively inexpensive monitor, and ordered it. It happened to have same-day delivery, and yesterday afternoon, it arrived and I set it up. I made sure it was the same size as my existing monitor, 24″, which is good enough for my purposes (at work our screens were 32″ I believe).

As you can see in the image above, the new monitor lacked the ability to be raised or lowered from its base. To bring it level with my existing screen, I needed to raise the base about 3-1/2 inches. Fortuately, the combintation of two large paperback books–Jerusalem by Alan Moore and The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan–were exactly 3-1/2 inches and brought the monitors level. I plugged the new screen into the HDMI port on my Mac Mini and it worked perfectly.

This morning, however, I realized a small problem. My MacBook Pro does not have an HDMI adapater. I ordered a USB-C to HDMI adapter from the local Target, and I’ll go pick it up after finishing this post and dropping the girls off at school. I will then once again have my three screens for work.

When connected to my Mac Mini, I will now have two screens. This is fine because I don’t need as many screens as I do for work. It will, however, be nice to have a screen dedicate to having my notes open at all times as I am doing more and more in Obsidian these days.

Written on April 20, 2022.

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