Multiple monitor RDP connections

I typically work with 4 1080p LCD monitors on Ergotron arms. I have the same setup and layout at work as I do at home. When I remote in from home, I’ve found in Windows 7, I can check ‘use all my monitors’, and the remote desktop actually uses all the monitors, even in my non-square and non-linear layout(my monitors are roughly in a + shaped pattern).

The one negative of this, is that the speed wasn’t great. Flipping windows and such, there’d be a noticeable lag. It was usable, but not comfortable. I figured this was due to my 1Mbps upload speed at the office. I watched a bandwidth meter on the router, and I noticed it wasn’t maxing out the 1Mbps upload speed… I have noticed, however, that when I do a speed test, the upload always starts slow, and doesn’t reach full speed for a couple seconds… I was thinking, “maybe the RDP packets are always in the start of that incline and can never reach full speed”…

Well, recently I found that Time Warner Business Class in my city just added ‘Wide band’ service. I was able to upgrade for a reasonable price to 35/5 service– that’s 5Mbps upload speed! I can use the bandwidth for other purposes as well, but I was particularly excited about having a faster RDP experience when I do work from home, trying to be fully productive with all 4 screens…

Well, I just tried the connection, and the RDP experience is MUCH better! I don’t see a constant lag when working. I looked at the same router bandwidth meter, and it was often spiking to 2Mbps or so– definitely above the 1Mbps it wasn’t reaching before… So I think my hunch about the upload connection starting slow was definitely the issue… To prove how awesome the connection was, I played a video someone posted on facebook, and it was actually watchable over RDP! Sure, it maxed the 5Mbps bandwidth meter, but it was watchable! I did try to put it full screen to see how I could push it, and that didn’t fair so well… But I’m certainly not watching video through an RDP connection for any real purposes…

New office, new child, etc.

Well, I haven’t written in a while as things have been quite busy. I moved into a new office in early May, and my wife gave birth to our first child, Lily, in mid-May. I recently got back to work, and I’ve been playing catch up with a new release of my Employee Scheduling Software and client work.

Things have been going well– our baby is sleeping decently at night, and it’s really awesome to be a dad. The office outside the house was clearly a good decision– it helps me separate business and personal and gives me the quiet time needed to be productive during work hours.

The negative of using multiple monitors

Using multiple monitors is great. Personally, I use 4 large 23″ widescreen LCDs on Ergotron arms. This works amazingly well, and my productivity is improved considerably by using them. I’m able to have multiple copies of Visual Studio 2010 running, and sometimes even lay them out side by side. I also have a browser on one screen, Email on another, spreadsheets for tracking misc. info shared on another, etc.

The big problem with this, comes when I’ve been couped up all winter, and spring hits… The last couple days have been a “false spring” with 60º+ weather(quite pleasant for Rochester, NY). I would love to be able to sit out on my deck and work on my laptop… The problem with that, is I’d have to make due with only one 17″ screen. That means going from 976 square inches of desktop space to around 129 square inches… That’s losing 86.8% of my desktop!

The only solution I can think of(until multiple screen laptops are a feasible reality), is finding a single task that I can do on a single screen, and simply tolerate a longer turn-around for Email responses(considering I can’t monitor it as well), etc… Unfortunately, I can’t always find such simple tasks, particularly that need to be done when the weather is nice…

Exercise while playing games

About a year ago, I had the bright idea to get a recumbent bike and put a computer with a big TV in front of it to exercise while playing WoW. I created a website for it to show people pictures, etc. I used it for a few months, but eventually lost interest in WoW and ended up walking outside instead(probably better for me anyways). I eventually moved the TV to my bedroom, swapping it with the smaller TV that was up there, and I hooked up a PS2 instead– and occasionally I use that to play games while exercising on the bike. Overall, however, I just use that site for blogging about how to make WoW gold and such…. Feel free to check it out.