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System integration suggestions wanted

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Mike Gee

Mike Gee


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Hello All,
thanks to moderators etc. for the opportunity to get some advice from people out there.....
Truthfully, I am an ageing geek. I was well on top of technology in my youth and used to program with Z80 and 6502 code (who remembers that ??? ) but I have lagged behind now and have to rely on Microsoft for my software and big companies to assemble PC's for me. I have a bunch of equipment, but don't think I am making the most of what I have installed and would like to ask someone perhaps younger and more savvy to point me in the right direction.
In the '70's and 80's I helped in the development of Sinclair computers through my job, but drifted away from mainline computing. This seeded my interest in computers but I didn't have time to keep up with moving technology and its' capabilities.

The point of my message - I recently bought a flat screen monitor to give me a bigger viewing screen but when I realized that my old flat CRT was better for photo retouching, I started to look at the possibilities of running 2 monitors. After net browsing for a while I managed to get 2 monitors running, but I now realise that the equipment I have around me is not as integrated as it could be.

I am blown away with watching TV on the flat screen while I have personal e-mail on the flat crt and work e-mail on my laptop. I have realized the advantage in productivity in having screen real estate (no more waiting for the internet on a single screen with something hidden behind). I sit in my den facing 2 screens for the Dell, a laptop for work and my PDA in its' cradle operating all of them seperately. I am sure it would be easier if they can all be linked to each other. I would like to be able to move my mouse cursor between the 4 screens and work on each one, from one keyboard, as the cursor comes to rest on each display. I tried to get the 2 Dell screens to work together like this, but can't figure out how to get over the problem of different resolution on the 2 monitors so that I can operate them as a split srcreen rather than as 2 separate displays where only one of them can be the active working screen.

Let me tell you how everything is currently set up and perhaps someone can help me to pull it all together in a better way.

My main personal desktop computer in my den is a Dell Dimension 9100. It has 1 terabyte of HDD configured Raid 0, 2Gb Ram and Nvidia GeForce 7900GTX video card driving a DELL 30 inch flat lcd and DELL flat CRT. I also have a TV tuner in the Desktop. The 2 monitors are driven from the NVidia card to flip windows between screens. I have Linksysy Wireless G SRX networking attached to internet and the Dell 9100. Through a Linksys musicbridge, I stream music to my home entertainment amp in the family room and through a Gigabyte tech. wireless media streamer, I can watch recorded video and surf internet on my master bedroom TV. The Dell desktop doubles as my VCR through the TV card.

My wife is an internet stockbroker and has a Sony Vaio laptop that she either hardwires to the LAN in my Den or uses wirelessly throughout the house. Lately, having seen the benefits of my extra monitor space, she has been complaining that her laptop doesn't have enough screen space. She also has her own business and does day to day management activities for that, using her laptop ( word processing, marketing, publishing, accounting) She isn't using any of the computing power of the Dell Desktop. I have offered her the use of my desktop during the day, but she is a little technophobic and doesn't want to "break my system" (her words), so we treat her computer as her own unit, but I really think she could benefit from some of the Dell power, especially when I am not at home. Her laptop is essentially stand alone at the moment.

My son is a student and has my redundant desktop in his bedroom. It is a generic P800 with a 20Gb HDD - originally purchased in 2000. It is connected to internet wirelessly by Linksys USB LAN, again his computer is in stand alone use. He and my wife can print from the wireless link to our 1 printer in my den.

For my work, I have an HP iPaq (6965) for general phone, MP3 music, GPS and "on the run" word processing and spreadsheet viewing. I keep my business appointments diary on my IBM Thinkpad (issued by my employer) and keep it synced to my HP. My employers have also insisted I carry a Blackberry as they don't have a push e-mail server service available where I work. I am completely aware of the redundancy of the Blackberry and hate having to carry it along with my laptop and HP. I don't work at any one desk every day. I am an Engineering and management consultant to 15 different suppliers of my employer, so I am constantly on the move from factory to factory. I connect my laptop in my den with a hardwire to the linksys lan when I need to work at home and occasionally work wirelessly around the house. My laptop is configured for our company VPN and I have never been able to get it configured to interact with my home system, so go through ridiculous processes at home, like e-mailing myself documents from my laptop for printing and for work on the Dell which is easier to use than the laptop. My wife and I also pass files back and forth to each other by memory stick. She sometimes asks me to scan documents and photo's for her.

My personal interests.... I like to take digital photo's and videos of my family and up until now just use computers as a way of storing the output from the cameras. We don't really get to look at the photo's and videos unless we make a special effort to dig them out, print them or view in the den. It would be nice if they were more accessible to all my family, both at home and in other countries. I love music of all kinds and right now I have a cheap DTS 5.1 sound system attached to the Dell in the den, so better sound distribution would be nice.

From time to time my wife and I keep in touch with our distant families using webcam and live chat ( mostly MS Messenger and Skype ). It would be nice if we could be better connected to our families.

OK that's what I have and how it is configured - any suggestions about better use of the equipment and technology to fit my life would be much apreciated. I don't mind spending some money to buy monitors, video cards, servers, storage etc. if someone can help me to pull this all together. I also think that we may not be making enough use of internet, wifi etc. any suggestions welcome.

Best regards to all out there....

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