Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Adding a second monitor

My tech-savvy sis sent me a picture the other day of a computer where she wants to add a second monitor. Being 1,600 miles away, this requires some asynchronous communication and a bit of thought to make sure the proper advise is out there. So, I decide to post here and send her the link.

Firstly, the PC:

Alright, so this 'puter has only one video connection. A presumable AGP VGA card.

To add a second (or more) monitor, you would have to:

  • Add a second card to one of the PCI slots.
    • Good ratings, for the most part, for this guy: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814133233
      • You could actually run three monitors if you had this card with the dual VGA connectors
  • Replace the card you have with a new dual-head video card. There are some considerations here:
    • Is you current card card PCI-X (don't confuse this with regular PCI) or AGP
    • Does the video card require a separate power connection inside the case. Some video cards require more power than just the slot and use the same power connector - usually - as a hard drive (the white 4-pin MOLEX). Can your power supply take care of the extra load?
    • Does the video card monitor connectors match the current monitor cable?
      • There are two types of video connectors for PCS - VGA and DVI
      • A decent card with DVI connectors will have at least one adapter
      • DVI is digital and a better signal, but your monitor must support the digital signal (sort of like having HD cable. If you do not have an HD TV, what's the point?)
      • VGA is the analog equivalent and supported by 99% of the monitors out there made after 2000.
  • USB to VGA adapter
    • http://sewelldirect.com/usb2tosvga.asp?adpath=/Google/Other%20Products/USB%20to%20SVGA%20Adapter&keywords=usb%202.0%20vga%20adapter&match=2&search=search&gclid=CObVqaGzuZYCFRJdxwodQkUBLg
    • http://www.iogear.com/product/GUC2015V/
    • Or go nuckin' futs: http://www.engadget.com/2008/08/25/iogears-wireless-usb-to-vga-kit-extends-your-monitor-sans-wires/
    • I have not looked into this option much but you may find something out there that you willing to try.
From the perspective of "I might buy a laptop to replace my desktop", the USB adapter isn't a bad investment right now. The hardware is transferable as opposed to a hardware card that can only be moved from one PC to another.Of course, if you do go the laptop route soon, you will be able to have dual monitors pretty much right away. Unless you don't purchase a laptop with an external monitor connection. I don't think I have ever seen a laptop without one... but you never know.

Comment back on any other options out there to extend monitor quantity.

Friday, October 3, 2008


With the fairly (no pun intended AT ALL) recent details about Comcast's latest endeavor to tighten the screws a little more against the consumers, I was curious about monitors or meters for those consumers to view the amount of usage.

There have been two lines of thought...and I can't confirm, completely, either but either:
  1. Comcast will shut you down after 250GB/month for total bandwidth consumption
  2. Or, you will be penalized for overages
Thinking to myself, "what can I do?", I decided to go after a way to monitor my own bandwidth.

Now, I have a couple of PCs running at the same time and do not want to get into a distributed solution. I need something as a hub for all of my PCs to consolidate to from a usage perspective.

Two options came to mind for me:
  1. Set up a Linux box to use as a concentrator, if you will, for all of the network connections and sit between my wireless router (for the lappy worqs) and the cable modem
  2. Or, figure out a solution on the router itself
I am a little Geek!y when it comes to Linux so that would not have been too big a deal - little iptables, ip forwarding, dual NICs, blah blah blah

But the really cool thing was... DD-WRT.

Here it the link to the main site:

Hardware compatibility list:

Lifehacker.com has a great write up on the install here:

Example graphing for usage:

Luckily, I have the Linksys WRT-54 so I was good to go.

Now, I am able to track my usage - at least to the point that I trust the DD-WRT tools as opposed to the monitoring tools provided by the same provider as the consumable good...can you smell the conflict with that latter statement?