Improving work station efficiency topic (1 Viewer)

TheForce

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Over the past 30 years I have incorporated a number of time saving tips and tricks when working with computers, I thought I would start a thread here for others to share their best, most unique, tips for improving work efficiency at your work station. Let's not post things that are very common, like I added wifi in my house, or bought an ipad as these are not what I would consider unique, different and novel. Maybe how you integrated an ipad as a time saving device would be novel and unique.

I will begin with one of my oldest tips and how I make it work.

1. Most people use one CPU at their work station. I found that I can improve work flow and reduce system crashes by building a computer designed around a common task. Today, I typically work with 4 computers where 3 are switched to a single mouse, Keyboard, and monitor. The fourth is a laptop on my desk that I usually take with me on trips. At home it is used mainly for e-mail. The other three are desktop tower systems switched by a KVM switch. More on KVM's later. Two of the desktop towers are designed for video processing and editing and one is connected to 2 monitors, one of which is a 3D video display monitor. The 3rd desktop is mostly for internet and business applications like invoicing and purchasing, stock trading etc. My KVM switch can support 4 CPU's so I do have a 4th space in the rack for an experimental system that I use for testing new software and anything I want to do that if it goes bad could the main work tools in my office. Having this test system has saved me loads of downtime over the years. When experimental stuff passes the quarantine period, I move it to the other computers for prime time. The reason why I need two video desktop computers is because: 1. Video work is often deadline critical. If a system goes down, I can't afford to mis a deadline, so the most important need for two is redundancy to guard against a system breakdown. Second reason is that most video work is done in two parts, one where you are hands on and the other hands off. Setting up the edits is hands on, rendering the completed edit decision list is hands off. Having two allows for rendering and disk burning while working on another project with the second computer.

2. KVM switch- For years I have used a PS2 switch with VGA level monitor. However, recently I have moved to a much simpler KVM that costs a fraction of my original hardware. It is compact and is switched with a remote toggle button I can stick with velcro to my monitor. The brand is iogear and it works very well and cost $40 at COMPusa. While it comes with cable set, it still may need some USB and VGA extension cables to reach. A good KVM is critical to my setup.

3. Industrial strength keyboard- For many years I have used a special keyboard from Focus. It was a PS2 design. The features were rather unique with a built in calculator that had a send key to sent the displayed number to the application. But what I really liked was a set of programmable function keys that can send a text string to your application. Once you program the keys in the keyboard ( so software required ) to the non-volatile memory, any time you needed to do a repetitive task, like enter a 20 digit password, or enter your credit card number, or enter your street address, one keystroke is all it took. I had everything I type programmed into those keys and I bought an accessory 24 PF key accessory for it. No, these are not your typical $7.99 102 key USB keyboard, but they save time and well worth the price of about $100. Unfortunately, they do not support the USB converters, so when switching to the better KVM and modern USB based systems, I needed something better. The first was to upgrade to a Bella custom keyboard that supports my video editing work. It also has 13 programmable function keys. Has a jog shuttle video transport as well as other multimedia keys. But, unfortunately, the universal special stuff requires a special driver and a software to be loaded on each machine, else it is just an expensive keyboard. Fortunately, for me, my video editing software has the support for the Bella keyboard built in. I still needed a better universal programmable function keyboard. For years I had searched for these but there was nothing better than the Bella. Finally, I found the answer. .::Genovation::. ControlPad 682 USB and PS/2, 35 key, Macro Programmable Keypad This keypad plugs into the USB hub of my Bella keyboard and is switched flawlessly with the KVM. It is programmed ONCE with some software into the keypad's nonvolatile memory and supports some very sophisticated macros. I spent a couple days setting up my keypad with printed key labels. This keypad is not cheap but IMO is well worth the price to save a ton of time doing repetitive typing.
 

John Kotches

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don,

ive used kvm switches. the good ones work well but the bad ones cause lock ups.

if you aren't doing intense graphics work to the display you could also run headless and connect on via RDP.

kvm over ip are another possibility for access.



Sent from my MB855 using Tapatalk
 

TheForce

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I've only used 3 types of KVM switches:
1. 2x with PS2
2. 4X with PS2
3. 4x with USB and remote switch button

I had heard from salesmen that the KVM that switches using a keyboard combo, (alt spacebar I recall ) didn't work well but all the ones I've used never caused any problems. Some also are said to have problems with monitor ghosting but I haven't seen that and the KVM I have used were rated at 2160 x 1500 pixel resolution. I haven't seen the KVM over IP method. Is that lower price than $40? The iogear KVM seems to be the best price vs performance I've seen yet.

I agree with you that MOST people don't need more than one computer, even said that in my OP, but the thread wasn't about what most people need. However, most people doing computational tasks that tax the computer for hours, like digital video processing, or even blu Ray disk burning which is also really video too, don't like to not have access to a computer for other tasks while one machine is busy doing 8 threaded cores at 98-100% CPU and 80% ram and disk I/O needs. Heck most people don't need much more than a lap-top or smart cell phone for what they do.
 

jayn_j

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This is very much a what you do with them situations.

My current job requires I have a lot of documents open, but doesn't require a lot of processing power. The heavy lifting is done by remote servers. So, in my setup, I have a single laptop, easily detachable for meetings. It is connected to a remote keyboard and mouse and three large monitors. I haven't used a kvm switch in 10 years.
 

John Kotches

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Don:

GPU intensive does not necesarily equate to needing a display. Only where you are doing quality checks would you need a high res display. This is where RDP and/or KVM/IP could come in to play.

DVI/HDMI KVM switch units should be immune to ghosting. It's the VGA ones that have been (in my experience) flaky. The I/O gear I last used was something like $150 for a 4x but I imagine that they have come down in price. Since I don't work from home anymore, I don't have a need for a KVM switch -- I only used them when I had work and personal machines sharing monitors.
 

Jared Twomey

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My desk setup is 3 screens. An ubuntu desktop, and Win 7 desktop, and my Win 7 laptop. I have separate monitors for each desktop, and of course the laptop has its own display. I use Synergy to control all 3 machines from one keyboard and mouse. I absolutely love it, works flawlessly, and has really improved my work flow. Before I used to just use 1 monitor and use a kvm, but I love having a seperate displays for each machine. I can have multiple documents, windows, etc, open and visable. And with Synergy I can switch from machine to machine without taking my hands off the keyboard and mouse.
(note: I do have a kvm, only using keyboard and mouse, connected to the 2 desktops, in case I need to do something and Synergy isn't running. Like if I ever reboot the ubuntu machine, and need to log on to it, I have to use the kvm, as Synergy isnt' running yet.)
 

TheForce

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The DVI/HDMI KVM's are still expensive. But the VGA ones are down in price. As I said I paid $40 for this 4x one. I had thought of getting one that supports both USB and PS2 but those were also expensive.

John- In my work I need a high quality monitor for the 3D video editing. It is true that you can get by with 2D video editing on your standard monitor and 3D using anaglyph but it is awkward and time consuming switching anaglyph on and off as well as putting on the glasses and taking them off. anaglyph is not a very convenient way to edit. I know because I did that for about a month. Therefore, with much difficulty, I squeezed in a 32" 3D passive monitor as a secondary on my main 3D video editing computer. This one doesn't need to be switched and it has to be hdmi 1.4 connected. Now I do have 2 machines for 3D editing so I run a second HDMI cable from the second computer graphics card to the monitor's other hdmi input and the monitor selects on auto scan. Nice! :) I also need to verify my 3D blu Ray disk burns on a conventional 3DBD player so I have one of those connected to my 3D monitor as well.

BTW- using passive glasses is not tiring and you can see the main computer monitor without trouble so I can leave the 3D polar glasses on all day if I want.


My new USB commercial KB and the programmable keypad from Genovations has no calculator function. I see that Targus and a couple others now offer a USB calculator with a send to key and ordered one. With that my new workstation upgrade will be complete.

Do you know that I was still using a Microsoft Ball mouse from about 13 years ago? :D They made those things really well. Glad to retire that as cleaning out the fuzz from the little wheels on the ball was getting old.
 

TheForce

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Just added the Targus keypad / calculator that plugs into my keyboard USB hub. Works great and has my favorite send key. Do my calculations off the computer and send the result to the field where the cursor is. Model PAU00K1U
 

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