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Old 01-31-2013, 02:59 PM   #1
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Default ITT: Nerds rotate their monitors

MOD EDIT: Split off from the "Rant" thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skidude View Post
I missed the one about the computer monitors, I haven't been around much lately. It amazes me how many people don't understand that. I have a 4x3 monitor I use at work and I rotate the display and monitor so it's actually 3x4 and it's great! People think I'm weird but it works.
I hate to pecker up my own rant thread with serious discussion, but you're not weird.

The very first* computer ever to be designed around a graphical user interface was the Alto, developed in 1973 by Xerox PARC. This machine introduced a whole slew of innovative features which were genuinely new in computing. The Alto was the first modern computer designed for use by a single operator. It included a mouse, used a "desktop" format similar to (and the direct inspiration for) both the Mac and Windows operating systems, featured WYSIWYG composition, had an optional laser printer (which they had to invent specifically for the Alto), was the first ever application of ethernet, and pretty much changed the entire world.

And here's the kicker: Xerox fitted the machine with a monochrome CRT display of approximately 10:16 aspect ratio. That's right, the monitor on the Alto was mounted in the portrait orientation!








So as it turns out, the GUI itself was inherently designed to be applied in a portrait-oriented presentation, and that we've all been ******* it up ever since.


Then why did all subsequent computer manufacturers (including standard-makers Apple and IBM) elect to use a 4:3 display? Cost. Creating custom CRTs of the sort used in the Alto was excruciatingly expensive. Of course, that didn't matter to PARC, since they were all a bunch of idealistic techno-hippies, and everything about the Alto was insanely expensive. (When it founded PARC, Xerox forgot to specifically instruct the engineers to invent things that were practical to build and sell.)

By comparison, the same companies which had been manufacturing 4:3 CRTs for use in television sets for years found it easy to supply tubes in this format to both manufacturers of industrial and scientific equipment as well as the early computer-makers. They could have elected to rotate the deflection coils 90 to achieve 3:4, but for some reason this never happened. In fact, the first two commercial arcade games (Computer Space and Pong) literally used a standard store-bought television set as their display.)

It's kind of like the old story about why railroad tracks are spaced 4 ft 8 in apart. We got ourselves locked into an arbitrary standard developed by William Dickson in 1892 (the aspect ratio which results from a four-perf frame in a 35mm Edison movie camera) and when we finally decided to break free of it, we forgot the reason for its existence in the first place and expanded the screen in the wrong direction.



* = Technically, the first GUI ever created took form in 1968. In December of that year, visionary Douglas Engelbart gave a demonstration at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco which has come to be called The Mother of All Demos. As was his style, this demo was not meant to reflect a specific product or technology, but rather to inspire other engineers to apply his ideas in their own designs. MoAD showcased a number of concepts which we now know by names such as word processing, hypertext, videoconferencing, dynamic linking, and collaborative editing.

Reflecting the technological capabilities of the day, however, the "computer" used by Engelbart during this demonstration was not a single machine running an operating system in the modern context. Rather, it relied upon an array of special-purpose hardware and software created specifically for the task of presenting the demonstration, and the graphical display itself was controlled in real-time by a video operator using an analog mixer, similar to those used in television news control rooms to composite video from multiple sources (studio cameras, videotape, character generators, chroma-key, etc) into a single finished product.

Incidentally, it was in this same year that Alan Kay, who would later become one of the lead developers of the Alto, invented the tablet PC. He called it the Dynabook, and originally envisioned it as a learning tool for children.



Suck on that, Apple.
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Last edited by Joe Perez; 02-01-2013 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 01-31-2013, 05:57 PM   #2
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Default ITT: Nerds rotate their monitors

Hey check out my work Dell monitor stands that rotate like ye olde Radius monitor.



I wouldn't consider using them for vertical orientation because ... well I wouldn't.

But Joe is right. I shrink all menu elements to the minimum most of the time because I like my work area to be more useable than a 200:1 aspect ratio.
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Old 01-31-2013, 06:32 PM   #3
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Brock Yates - What model monitors are those? Does everything just automatically rotate if you spin the monitor (like an iPhone)? Why are yours askew?

I want one portrait and one landscape monitor but I think the lack of symmetry would drive me a little mad.
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Old 01-31-2013, 07:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack View Post
Brock Yates - What model monitors are those? Does everything just automatically rotate if you spin the monitor (like an iPhone)? Why are yours askew?

I want one portrait and one landscape monitor but I think the lack of symmetry would drive me a little mad.
I ran a Dell like that for a ~decade (2001FP IIRC), they were super worth it. I think they come on most Dells monitors from their premium lines as standard equipment.

Recently upgraded to 2560x1440 monitors though, and I no longer give a **** about vertical or horizontal aspects - dropped damn near 1k on that 2001FP when it first came out for the 1200x1600 (3:4) capability though. With that said, there are tons of VESA-capable mounting monitors to get a 3:4 or 9:16 (10:16?) aspect ratio.
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack View Post
Brock Yates - What model monitors are those? Does everything just automatically rotate if you spin the monitor (like an iPhone)? Why are yours askew?
This is usually a function of the graphics driver rather than the monitor itself. No way in hell the screen could rescale everything internally and have it look decent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack View Post
I want one portrait and one landscape monitor but I think the lack of symmetry would drive me a little mad.
It's pretty legit, you should try it. It freaks out the squares in my office



It's hard to find decently oriented backgrounds though.
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Old 01-31-2013, 09:15 PM   #6
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Scrappy,
If I told you that we were working on active image distortion to remap all my skewed pixels to look normal with the monitors like that, would you believe me? The technology is available.

But I just did it to show off.

I specifically mentioned Radius monitors (a CRT that rotated) for Macs from the very early 90s because they DID sense the rotation and re-ration your desktop accordingly.

My problem with doing the one vert / one horiz is that I will have to keep mental track of my mouse between them.
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:15 AM   #7
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My monitor at work is a dell on the swivel. The LCDs act a little strange off-angle now, but besides that it's great.
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:52 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by EO2K View Post
This is usually a function of the graphics driver rather than the monitor itself. No way in hell the screen could rescale everything internally and have it look decent.
Gotcha. I'll have to do some research on what my work station is using. I am guessing bottom of the line as video and graphics are not a high priority for what I do.

Quote:
It's pretty legit, you should try it. It freaks out the squares in my office
Your (physical) desk top is giving me mild feelings of anxiety because it's so cluttered. I am pretty sure I can not deal with that monitor setup. Too neurotic.

I would be more comfortable with two portrait and one vertical (but the vertical would have to go in the middle) or some other format with better symmetry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by y8s View Post
Scrappy,
If I told you that we were working on active image distortion to remap all my skewed pixels to look normal with the monitors like that, would you believe me?
Yes.



I need to find a picture of my buddy's setup where he got a killer deal on some 60" TVs and used two of them as his monitor setup.
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:51 AM   #9
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This is the clean part of my desk:

(Notice the menu bar thing on the side of the screen. Windows lets you do that.)

I'd like it more if it were one wide monitor. I think I'd like it less if they we stacked as one tall monitor.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:30 AM   #10
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The only two purposes I have for widescreen monitors are full-screen videos, and two windows side-by-side. I guess I occasionally use the full screen for photoshop too, but that is uncommon so it doesn't count.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:31 AM   #11
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So after this I had to see if I could rotate one of my monitors. Turns out I can.

I'll give it a shot.

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Old 02-01-2013, 12:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveC View Post
This is the clean part of my desk:

(Notice the menu bar thing on the side of the screen. Windows lets you do that.)

I'd like it more if it were one wide monitor. I think I'd like it less if they we stacked as one tall monitor.
WIHA! that's a lot of screwdrivers!
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:10 PM   #13
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WIHA! that's a lot of screwdrivers!
I get one from the lab every time I need one, but they never make their way back.

j/k. That's my personal collection. I spent $150 of my own money on screwdrivers one day just so that I wouldn't have waste my time searching the building when I needed something special.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveC View Post
This is the clean part of my desk:

(Notice the menu bar thing on the side of the screen. Windows lets you do that.)

I'd like it more if it were one wide monitor. I think I'd like it less if they we stacked as one tall monitor.
Well now I'm curious what the messy part looks like.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:26 PM   #15
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I use portrait for most things (documents, writing code, messing around on mt.net). I reserve landscape for doing code diffs (side-by-side).

That is all.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:37 PM   #16
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You guys are totally right! I've never tried this before but it's awesome! I think it might be affecting my productivity though.

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Old 02-01-2013, 01:43 PM   #17
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E4200 crowd, unite!
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Old 02-01-2013, 02:00 PM   #18
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Which side of the laptop is the exhaust on? If it's the left, you should probably get your hole saw out and put a hole in your desk for the exhaust.
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Old 02-01-2013, 02:05 PM   #19
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Good idea!

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Old 02-01-2013, 02:48 PM   #20
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I wanted to post what mgeoffrau posted, dangit he beat me to it.

That and I think I'd get fired for posting a picture of my desk on the interwebz...
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