I’m kinda pulling a blank here, but I told myself I would do this “write a little bit every day” thing… so here we are. I just saw a tweet about multi-monitor setups and I guess I’ll write a little bit about my current setup.
Many years ago, I had a setup with two 24-inch-monitors side-by-side, and a small Wacom Cintiq in the middle down below (where I could use it to draw). This was using a desktop PC, which I had built from scratch. I also had a beefy 17-inch Dell laptop, which weighed almost 12 pounds. As I realized I was less suited for the visual effects and digital content creation industry I had been hoping to get into, and more passionate about web development, I started dropping screens. I used to tell myself that I liked the three-monitor setup because I could write some code, immediately see changes to a UI on another monitor, and keep track of what was going on in a database on the third, or have documentation open.
Then I had a client who needed a mobile app. More specifically, an app that would work on Android and iOS. I had never had a Mac, in part because I saw the Apple ecosystem as exclusive and pretentious, and I didn’t want to be a part of it. But… I didn’t have a tonne of work at the time, so I accepted the contract and bought myself a Mac. To anyone wondering, yes, I built it using cross-platform tools, but it required Apple’s in-app-payment system, so I did have to have a Mac to make it happen. The app wasn’t very complicated, and most of the work I was doing at the time didn’t require much processing power, so I just got one of the now-discontinued MacBooks (not Air, not Pro… just… MacBook). I used that computer for two years, without any external monitors.
The projects I had been taking on had gotten more and more complex and required more and more power to run on my dev machine, though. So one day, while waiting many minutes for a Next.js app to build, I got deeply frustrated, left my machine to run its build at the co-working space I was at, and ran over to an Apple store nearby. I basically told the sales rep to get me the most powerful 13-inch machine he had available. Awesome. Things ran much faster on it. But then I received a marketing email from Apple…
Apple had just released “sidecar,” which allowed people to use an iPad as a second monitor. I had been working on a single screen for a long time, and generally told myself the second monitor wasn’t that big a productivity boost. But this… being able to drag around a small monitor which I could also use to scribble down notes, etc… this was tempting. I had played with a friend’s Apple pencil a while back and really enjoyed it. I sat on it for a couple months and finally gave in and bought an 11-inch iPad Pro. I’ve been using it for about a year and a half now, and love the setup. Pre-pandemic, I set it up in coffee shops, co-working spaces, and at home. Now I use it in our home office, or on our patio. I know there are also portable screens that I could have used, but I really like the Apple pencil, and the fact that I can jot down digital notes in a more tactile experience with it.
Just as a final aside… I’m not completely locked into the Apple ecosystem. While I do love many of their products, I don’t love the way they build their products to encourage a deeply locked-down, locked-in, Apple-only environment. The products are great, though!