[WEB4LIB] Re: The Future

Edward Wigg e-wigg at epl.org
Fri Jul 30 12:32:29 EDT 2004

On Jul 29, 2004, at 3:46 PM, Alain D. M. G. Vaillancourt wrote:
> Mac had the hardware capacity for multiple monitors a long time ago but
> they never followed on with the appropriate seam-evading software, or
> even some basic or applied research on future software to support
> features for them (as Microsoft Research is now doing) or offer
> applications with the multiple monitor desktop in mind.

I've never found the seams to be much of a problem, though I can see 
that video on LCD monitors with almost no border would change the 
desirability of taking the seams into account... On the other hand, for 
applications like spreadsheets, having cells be invisible because they 
fall into the seam is problematic to say the least.

More research is probably warranted, but I think that what you see as 
as a lack of follow on was because it just worked right from the get 
go; there was usually no need to redesign applications for multiple 
monitors once they were fully windowed and no longer expected a fixed 
screen size. You get to choose how you arrange your desktop which is 
all you need to make multiple monitors useful. This is part of the 
advantage of the Mac "every window on the desktop" vs the Windows "each 
window in the main application window" model when you run across 
multiple monitors. Also the lack of a "full screen" option on 
application windows (which some people see as a disadvantage) makes 
more sense in this environment.

Of course it may well be that the desktop metaphor itself needs 
replacement too, which might be part of the issue. Maybe that is the 
wave of the future.

> Sure, there
> was always their interface guru or evangelist Bruce Tognazzini who
> never neglected to point out the incredible usefulness of a two monitor
> Mac, but he was a voice crying out in the Apple wilderness.

Well, I think Tog likes being a voice in the wilderness, but there were 
plenty of Mac users who used , and still use, multiple monitor setups. 
There is even a constant rumble of discontent from a section of Mac 
users about the fact that eMacs and iBooks have video outputs but only 
do video mirroring so people have come up with firmware hacks that 
restore the ability to have the multiple monitor setup that is inherent 
in the hardware and OS; if there was no demand for the feature among 
Mac users this would not be an issue.

> Just how many Mac users did any of you know who actually had several
> monitors making up a large desktop?

Obviously a minority, but a significant number; I don't think it is as 
rare as you suggest. I guess the environment makes a difference: 
libraries have never been big Mac users or in a position to load up 
their computers with expensive extras like multiple video cards and 
monitors, so they may not be the place you would be most likely to see 
it. On the other hand graphics people have always loved the setup, as 
somewhere to keep all the palettes and so on if for no other reason, 
and have never been as shy about spending money to improve usability, 
so it was always more common in that space.

On a personal level I certainly used to love my 14" color/19" 
monochrome (not even greyscale!) one desktop setup that I had at home 
in the early 90s (I only went back to using a single monitor because 
one of the monitors died at a point where I couldn't afford to replace 
it). Currently one of the Macs we use for graphics work has two 
monitors and when we replace it I will be looking to keep the two 
monitor setup.


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