We're a little crazy, about science!

Time for an upgrade

Okay, it’s not the best of times, but it’s not the worst of times either. Wait, I didn’t do that intentionally, but it works. Maybe I should’ve titled the post a tale of two monitors! It’s back to crunch time though meaning late nights from here to the end of the month, well at least until the end of the DARPA deadline. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’ve got a new toy to help me make it through. Well a new monitor to be exact. Sometimes you just have to buy yourself something nice.

I don’t know how early programmers did it. Honestly, I can never find enough screen space to see everything I’m working on and there’s a lot of times where I need to juggle between half a dozen or more open windows all at once just to find the thing I need. It’s been a pain, enough so that I’ve decided to invest in a new monitor to replace the two I’ve been using. When I first built my computer (this giant thing) I invested in what mattered to me, getting something that would last until graduation and do all the computationally heavy things I need it to do. So CPU, ram, motherboard, etc. got priority.

The peripherals, mouse, keyboard, monitor, ect. all got the leftovers from the budget, which wasn’t much. I think I paid roughly $200 for both of the monitors I had and they do the job just fine. They aren’t huge, flashy, or all that great, but they got the job done and since the build I’ve had to invest more money into the computer (like the watercooling fiasco, which going custom was a great investment since the loop is doing just fine a full year later) and I’ve managed to get a new keyboard and mouse, but the monitors stayed the same.

Well I finally got tired of it (and things haven’t broke at quite the frequency they tended to the past four years) so I treated myself to a new monitor. I say treated for several reasons, the first is that the old monitors worked just fine, no need to replace what isn’t broken and I wouldn’t have done the watercooling thing if it weren’t for the constant breakdowns from the AIO watercooler(s). Luckily the monitors never gave me any troubles, there’s something to be said about buying a bargain monitor that’s built like a tank.

The second was that I wanted something fun for a change. Over the last few years I’ve had to spend more and more time in front of the computer. After all the overheating issues and having to custom build the watercooler, I decided it would be a good idea to just buy something to make my life easier instead of just dealing with it. It also helps (hurts) that it’s been so busy that I barely have time to blog these days (which is why the posts keep coming later and later in the evenings instead of the normal morning/afternoon posts). Anyway, point being that if I’m going to have to stare at a monitor for hours on end trying to get some code to work or trying to get some analysis done, I might as well enjoy the experience (from a visual standpoint anyway).

So I bought a giant monitor. It’s huge. Like really huge. Like so huge I apparently didn’t measure correctly because my mouse/keyboard pad is sitting about an inch off the desk now because the stand is so big. I’m wondering if I made the right choice at this point, haha. It’s possibly too big if I’m being honest, and I didn’t think that was possible given the screen real estate I need to do my work. It’s basically four monitors in a trenchcoat, well three big monitors stacked sideways maybe? It’s the new Samsung Odyssey Ark monitor (55 inches) and it’s huge.

I’ve been saving for it for a very long time (since the last iteration came out) and since this time of the year is hard on me I wanted to treat myself a little. Anyway, on the surface I should know how big a 55 inch monitor is. I mean I have a tape measure, I can figure it out, which I did. But I guess it’s a little different when it finally arrives and you have it physically in front of you. Speaking of which, I feel like I need a chair that raises higher now.

Oh and I may need a new desk, the monitor weighs almost 100 lbs (~45 kg) and I am slightly worried that the glass top (the only top) won’t be able to handle the weight. The last thing I need is to be out a desk, a monitor, and anything else it takes out on the way down. So far nothing has happened, but it is making me a bit anxious even typing this out. I guess I should’ve thought about that beforehand, but I’ve been a little busy with, well everything. Plus it’s not like I have a whole lot of money laying around now that all the savings went into my monitor purchase, so I’ll have to live in a constant state of anxiety for now.

In any case, I’ve spent a good chunk of the day setting it up and figuring out how it works. I’ve still got a long way to go to get it setup the way I want it and I have a lot more customization available to me now that I plan on taking advantage of, both for the sake of productivity and for the sake of my poor eyeballs.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t get a lot done today though, I managed to get a good chunk of the work done for my dissertation that I wanted to get done today. While I didn’t get as far as I wanted, I did manage to get a good chunk of it done, which still puts me ahead of schedule since today was a finish the preprocessing of my data day originally anyway. The screen definitely helped make my life much easier and I do enjoy having all the extra screen space now. I don’t feel so constrained on the computer, which is a first.

I don’t normally spend money on myself like this, most of it is by necessity. The computer in general was something I needed for my degree and while I’ve spent a good amount of money on it, it wasn’t specifically for fun. But the last few years I’ve tried to force myself to spend a little bit on myself for fun like this. While I’m sure most people wouldn’t think a monitor counts as a fun purchase, it was for me since it serves a purpose, but also it’s just nice. Sort of like the watercooling adventure last year, part of that was because the computer needed to be cooled, but part of it was just because I wanted to do something fun and it makes me happy to look at it.

With the weekend here and my new monitor (mostly) setup I’m looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish with the new equipment. At the very least the experience will be more pleasant, at least when I’m not beating my head against the wall trying to get the code to work. Besides, I can’t beat my head against the desk anymore for fear of breaking the top. Seriously, it scares me, but so far so good I guess.

Oh and obligatory photo of the new setup.

It’s hard to overstate how large this monitor really is and how much screen space I now have to work with!

Ignore the black bar at the top. I need to get a new wallpaper that fits the screen. I couldn’t bring myself to stretching it to force it to fit. Just one more thing I need to figure out!

7 responses

  1. That’s pretty impressive. Apart from it being huge, what can you do with it – what are the customization options?

    Just fixing the wallpaper on my work computer (they recently issued me a new one) seemed to help keep my brain from frying yesterday, so I can understand that feeling, of wanting something that you have to look at for hours a day to really work for you.

    I rather admire you for being so cautious with your purchases. I mean I think the typical American, if they had the money, wouldn’t even think twice about whether “it’s fun and I want it” is a good enough reason to buy something; they’d be getting themselves treats a lot more often than once a year or so.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 14, 2022 at 11:34 pm

    • Well I can set several different inputs at once, which is nice if I ever want to work from multiple devices, but I’m not sure I’ll ever use it. I do like that I can control the size of the screen and adjust things as well. It’s basically a TV in monitor form so it has all the normal TV stuff along with adjusting the screen size, refresh rate, etc. It has two different controllers for it, one called the ark dial, which is basically a big remote with a nob that lets me mess with all the settings. It’s actually really useful. I’m still trying to get the hang of it, but I already am so happy to have all that screen space to spread my work out.

      Thank you, I mean I try to be frugal because I really don’t need much. Plus I grew up on the poor end of the scale so it feels weird spending money on myself unless absolutely needed. I’ve slowly been trying to break that mindset, but even now I’m fighting the urge to return the monitor haha.

      When I do buy something I try to get something nice so it lasts and I can keep it nice. I think a lot of people buy into the “I need the latest thing” mindest a lot so iphones come out every 6 months now and people keep upgrading. Meanwhile, if it hadn’t been for the fellowship funds, I would probably still be using the laptop I kept repairing!

      From what I’ve heard though, it sounds like you’re pretty frugal yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 15, 2022 at 3:32 pm

      • I try. I definitely fit Karre’s stereotype about the furniture. A lot of what I have was either free/salvaged or old stuff my parents gave me, and my “coffee table” is a cardboard box. My PC builds are one thing I will spend on, but then I keep that PC until it’s basically unusable.

        Like

        October 15, 2022 at 5:36 pm

  2. Karre

    I have to admit this made me laugh. A 55 inch TV was one of our first splurge purchases.my husband got a bonus and wanted something nice to remind him of it. I had regrets for a while. I used to watch TV from the far corner of our very long living room. Within two months I was wondering if we should have spent a little more for a tiny bit bigger one. Engineers tend to be pretty conservative with their money. We had a couple of corporate and the movers said you could always pick them out because their equipment was always state of the art and the furniture looked like it has seen better days. It’s usually something huge and metal they made in the 50’s to use as a bomb shelter. My husband’s current desk is an old kitchen table. They work great because you can get them for less money than a desk and you have plenty of room for your extra hardware and specialized boards.we store old cables in plastic tubs underneath because you can never throw out an old cable or you will need it next week. Around here we have multiple monitors on everything except my computer. We also have a history of 8 ft long whiteboards, which is actually really handy for drawing out ideas. I wish I could say that we were better at finishing our ideas but we are really good starters around here. My husband spends years on the same projects at work, home time is more about exploring, learning, and being creative than actuality completing anything. If you don’t have one you might consider a wireless keyboard. You are still young, make sure you pay attention to ergonomics, it will save you so much pain later in life. With a monitor that big you can check your latest runs from somewhere vertical and maybe catch some sleep while the processing is going on. Congratulations on your purchase it is going to be a BIG help. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    October 15, 2022 at 2:41 am

    • Okay so maybe it’s an engineer thing! I do tend to keep equipment state of the art, but yes the furniture has seen better days. It’s well loved and has character though!

      A kitchen table sounds like a great idea! I built a couple of work benches out of 2×4’s and plywood, which have been super handy and I really didn’t want to have to have the “made it myself” look for a computer desk, so maybe table is the way to go.

      I have been trying to pay attention the ergonomics more, I also purchased a mouse wrist rest when I bought the monitor to help with that. I really didn’t want to develop wrist pain on top of everything else and I noticed a few weeks ago it was starting to bother me.

      I had actually thought of the same thing, I can now be in another room and see what’s going on with the computer without too much strain. I’m sure it will make life easier in that regard!

      Like

      October 15, 2022 at 3:39 pm

  3. karre

    Ugg. Dyslexia is a joy. I once almost got a zero on a T/F test. Luckily my professor had a dyslexic sibling. Just drifting off to sleep and I realized I said vertical instead of horizontal.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 15, 2022 at 3:15 am

    • It’s okay, I understood what you meant. 🙂

      Like

      October 15, 2022 at 3:39 pm

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