Monday, September 5, 2016

A useful utility

How many keyboards and screens do you have on your desk?

Here's a utility (skip down) to help tame a tangle, but first, the history.

Many hobbyists, power users, and business people find it necessary to work on more than one computer at a time. Lots of people have multiple monitors, but this applies if you have a complete additional computer and monitor at your workstation.

I have long used a KVM (keyboard-video-mouse switch) to use two computers with a single set of desktop components. In the mid-1990s the keyboard would not reliably switch so I kept a second keyboard connected. Unfortunately, I often forgot to move to the alternate keyboard and would type a command to "computer A" that actually had a deleterious effect on "computer B".

I now have 3 monitors on my desk. My primary computer has dual screens and the third is connected to a secondary computer so I can continue to work while monitoring a process - or watching Netflix.

Start reading again ...

I used to use a KVM to control the secondary computer - ignoring the video component. Then I discovered a free utility from Microsoft Garage. This is a group that thinks up neat stuff and makes it work - at least sorta. But the powers decide it's not commercial or of broad interest and they abandon the project. But they make the program available - without any promises of support, updates, or even that it will function as described.

I'm using Microsoft's Mouse without Borders* to control my secondary computer. It allows the mouse and keyboard to move seamlessly across up to 4 computers, each with their own monitor. Move your mouse and instantly you're controlling a different computer. Slide back and you're on the original. Even the clipboard comes across more smoothly than it does for many remote control programs.

One of its quirks is that it doesn't reliably reconnect after a reboot. You still might need a KVM or extra keyboard for that twice a month that you have to reboot your computers.

Full links are offered so you can examine the URL to ensure there is no hidden misdirection.

Mouse without Borders: 

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