Thursday, April 21, 2011

Technology: Cool Tips to Make Your Life Easier....

Technology: Cool Tips to Make Your Life Easier....
By: Eric Mitchellette

Everyone can benefit from using technology well. Do you want to achieve impressive 23% to over 34% productivity gain? Please read the following information for an inexpensive and widely missed opportunity for very significant productivity gains.

Video Displays:
Dual monitors should be a minimum in today's workplace and even for home use. The reason for dual monitors is reducing the need for window management; reducing the need for window resizing and nearly eliminating the need for alt-tabs to get to the desired window. 

Also eliminating the need to manually write down information for data entry into another application – sometimes copy and paste will not work easily within an image or PDF file. Copy and paste is far more productive using dual monitors in all cases.

Most gamers, market analysts and engineers figured out long ago that dual, tri and quad monitor configurations provides a much better work experience using computers. It is a shame that many other computer users have not figured it out…yet.

Multiple monitor and especially dual monitors are a simple and an amazing productivity enhancement; yet both businesses and individuals are resistant to even this simple and inexpensive improvement. Efficiency gains according to time studies that have been done and verified by my own time studies which range from 23% - 34% for all types of computer users – search Google “dual monitors efficiency study”.

While data entry users post some significant productivity gains it is management and other professionals that really benefit the most. Even with a modest productivity gain for a professional the billing rate or wage rate is magnified and quickly offsets any expenses with the multiple monitor configurations.

Key Tips:

Monitors: Always use the same high quality brand of monitors, with the same screen size and aspect ratios (exactly identical monitors – no substitutions) for each computer.  Do not buy cheap or small screens; minimum actual screen size should be 20 inches.  Do not go overboard on screen size as the bigger display you may find that window management actually becomes more complicated. Estimated cost more or less for each high quality monitor at 20 inches is approximately $125 to $175 – Google searches.

Video Card: In many cases newer laptops and PC’s already support Dual Monitor configurations and a video card is NOT needed. Also check with the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type of video card for your computer – best source is the manufactures own website.

A mid-level video card with dual DVI or HDMI ports; never use VGA as lower quality video cards will have one DVI and one VGA port. VGA does not provide in many cases the quality that DVI or HDMI ports offer. Also never use video cards with one DVI port out with a dual monitor cable; does not accomplish what you need. Estimated cost for a mid-tier video card with above configuration is more or less between $55 to $150 – Google searches

Depending on how tech savvy one is the video card can be installed in about 5 minutes; otherwise, have a tech friend or service install for you.  YouTube is an excellent source for “how to install…” videos as well as some manufacturer’s own sites. In any case PC services should not charge much for video card installations; always check around for service pricing.

Configuration: Setup both monitors using the monitor’s control panel, video card and windows display controls assuring an identical configuration. Test a few different resolutions and other configuration settings for optimal use. Do not forget to check the refresh rate to avoid screen distortion from other light sources. Also in Windows 7 “TrueType font” calibration works very well and will assist with visual auto-configuration of both monitors to optimize text.

Training: As with anything a bit of training and practice will drive productivity gains much quicker than muddling through. A reasonably savvy technology individual will make significant gains in only a few hours while someone else may take a day or two to see significant gains.

Gamers & Engineers: For engineers, gamers and other power users with high video usage it an easy decision; buy the best display components the software and the PC supports. Buying the best display components means making a purchase that maybe can’t afford but you should make it anyway; the experience and your time respectively are priceless.

Do you have suggestions for inexpensive productivity gains that are worth presenting to senior management or the board of directors?

Do you believe it is worth the time, money and risk to make to make productivity gains in a company or organization?