Open Thread: What Do You Stare At All Day?


As web workers, our minds roam free among the vast reaches of the Internet. But we get there through little portals, usually not more than 30 inches diagonally. We’ve shared our thoughts about huge monitors and multiple monitors in the past. Now it’s your turn to tell us about your own experience: how do you experience the web?

Are you using a single monitor, two, or three? Did you invest in something huge, or are you using something more moderate in size and price? Is your desktop littered with icons, or a pristine field for something pretty? Or do you usually have so many windows open that you can’t even see the desktop? And if you could change your view of the web, how would you improve things?



I use 2X 19″ monitors and through them I stare at flex and flash all day long…


I currently have two Dell 19″ LCDs at 1280×1024 resolution at work. At home I have a single of the same.

I’m saving up for the 24″ or 30″ model for home…


I found having 2 monitors was great, I could work on one and watch TV on the other!

Actually, I’m using a 24″ iMac with icons littered about on my desktop. I hate that but never have time to clean it up. Great thanks, now I’ve got that to stress about. – Chris

Leonid Mamchenkov

My HP nx6110 laptop is my only window to the world. It hits right on the Golden Mean between multiple monitor setup, which is extremely immobile and a super-tiny screen of any smartphone. I can’t fit it to the pocket, but it takes me just a few minutes to pack it into a bag and move.

I wish it could support a higher resolution (above the current 1024×768), but I sort of got used to it.

El Casey

Currently I’m using a single 24″ LCD at 1920×1200. I recently switched from two 20″ LCDs at 1680×1050. Eschewing multi-head? Not at all, I just can’t afford a second 24″ at the moment. My ideal setup would be 3 x 30″ LCDs, but the next time I have a spare $3600 I’ll probably spend it on something besides monitors.

Ubuntu Gutsy with Compiz Fusion, one transparent GNOME panel on far right to handle notification area (systray), Awn dock on the bottom, Cover Flow shift-switcher (think Alt+Tab, but it looks like Cover Flow).

Six workspaces, one with a screen session usually in IRC, web, email, other terminals (usually htop and some network tools). The other two are for any miscellaneous apps to which I want to give the entire desktop.

I prefer keyboard shortcuts over hauling the mouse all over the place.


Just one 1280×1024 19″ LCD, but saved from alt-tab purgatory by Compiz-Beryl.

I have 4 desktops, one for email and sticky notes, another has a full-screen Eclipse, the third often has a full-screen terminal window opened, or several 80×24 sized terminals, and the fourth is full of various browsers for site testing. I used to try to do this with one desktop, the taskbar and alt-tab, and would have killed for a couple more monitors! Now I can get an overview of all the open windows or all the desktops and bounce around pretty quickly without ever leaving the keyboard, and one monitor is enough.

I keep the desktop clear as a rule. Just an oversized, unlabeled trashcan icon, removable media icons, and whatever files I’ve put there temporarily. Top of screen has a single line taskbar, system tray, system monitors, clock, and Gnome menu icon.


the built-in 15″ of my macbook pro, and a samsung 216bw. i’m loving all this real estate!

my desktop contains only drives, and a single alias to my home directory. don’t care much for clutter.


I use three 17″ displays with desktop icons turned off. I guess that part doesn’t really matter, since you can’t see the desktop anyways. I will re-use windows rather than close them, so there’s always more windows open than some people use in a session.

My taskbar is two rows high usually to accomodate, because I like to be able to see the window’s title. Taskbar grouping is a lifesaver.

If I’m just looking to do some casual browsing, or if I’m looking up something for a group of people to look at (like a youtube video) I’ll instead use the Media Center PC in the living room, which is connected to a 42″ LCD. With a wireless KB and mouse, it’s comfortable to browse from the couch, and it beats 5 people huddled around the computer desk.

Anthony Williams

I have a 17″ laptop screen and 19″ LCD. Usually I use one or the other, but occasionally I use both. I always maximize my windows, so I don’t have a desktop background, and have very few icons on my desktop. I prefer multiple tabs to multiple windows in my browser.

I use split-pane editing in my text editor. By having a full-screen editor with split screen, I can view two source files side-by-side, with a decent number of rows (85) of each visible.

Having a similar facility in a web browser might be useful, too — separate windows is too much, as they are generally too independent, but sometimes it is nice to be able to view two things at once, without having to switch tabs all the time.

Michael R. Bernstein

Single 20.1″ LCD (1600×1200). Not very exciting, but I spent a bit more to get a higher contrast ratio, which makes long work sessions in front of it bearable (especially if I dim it a bit).

Komra Moriko

I have a 23 inch Apple Cinema display, and a colleague has the 30 inch — says it makes him more productive. A larger display is definitely the way to go. Can you remember having 17 inch CRT’s?


13″ laptop screen + 19″ LCD. If I could figure out a way to get more, I would. After a few minutes of only one screen, I try dragging things to the other.

After going with two screens for so long, I don’t know how you can work with one.

Computer desktop is sadly less cluttered than the physical desktop.


I used 4 monitors in the past (3×19″ normal ratio on my work pc and one dell laptop with a widescreen, connected through synergy) but meanwhile i discontinued working with the pc and bought a iMac 20″. OSX is so good at handling multiple windows that im down to the mac and my laptop, again connected via synergy.

Sal Cangeloso

One 24″ 1920×1200 LCD Dell 2405. Sometimes a notebook open next to it, but generally one monitor does the job. I really prefer one 24″ to dual 17s or dual 19s and I even prefer it to 30″ models I have tried, as they tend to be just overwhelmingly large and extremely bright, plus the text just gets too small most of the time.


I use a 19″ widescreen as my main monitor, and the 15″ on my MacBookPro is used for things like IM, Snitter, iTunes, and so on, separating the distractions and control panels from whatever my main task is at any given moment.


One 24″ 1920×1200 LCD, next to my laptop, a 15.5″ 1680×1050 LCD.

I sometimes regret purchasing the 24″ screen, because I could have purchased two 22″ monitors for the price *and* had money left over, but it’s a monitor with a lot of little features that I like – tons of inputs, USB ports (nice because my computer’s under the desk), etc.


I love my screen real estate, and I use three monitors on my desktop setup: a 23″ LCD flanked by 2 20″ LCDs. I use the left-hand monitor (which has its own keyboard in front of it) for writing, the center for e-mail, RSS, and surfing, and the right monitor for communications: IRC, instant messaging, and Skype. My laptop is a 17″ MacBook Pro with the 1920×1200 LCD, which allows me to replicate my desktop experience as best I can.

I don’t really concern myself with keeping the desktop clean because all 3 monitors are mostly filled with open windows. I also don’t see much room for improvement—Exposé on Mac OS X makes it fairly easy to find the open window I’m looking for.


I use four 19″ monitors. I trade the stock market, so I use every square inch of the screens for charts. I was surprised just how much my productivity jumped up on non-trading tasks when I went from 2 to 4 monitors.

It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Steve Brandon

In my office, I view the web using one 19 inch and two fifteen inch LCDs flankers. Each one rotates from landscape to portrait.

At home, I have a choice: a projector in the living room (for movies and, sometimes, writing and working on budgets), a 32 inch lcd in the bedroom(for surfing and watching videos), two 17 inch lcds (mostly for writing and research), a tablet PC (it’s still the workhorse, pinch hitter, and I find myself using it in tandem with the rest), or a Nokia N800 (I’m finding I use this when I travel, for reading, and always there gmail, etc.). It all depends on where I sit and what I’m doing.

In between, I carry the Nokia most everywhere, and I use a bluetooth keyboard for writing and teaching. Most of my apps are now web based. The tablet used to be my system of choice for mobile computing; now, it’s the N800.

I think one adapts the set up to the job, and it’s more about flexibility and options than it is about any one portal. After all, monitors and systems are relatively cheap; time, one the other hand, is dear. Being able to do the job one needs to do where ever one happens to need (or want) to be is what’s it’s all about. In fact, I’m finding I’m now moving between portals, systems, and various setups based on where I want to be, where I’m comfortable, and what I need to do.

Rob Witte

I run on 2 Thinkpads. My primary machine is a 14″ internal screen + 22″ widescreen external monitor. The other is running a 19″ monitor only.

So in total, I’m staring at a 22″ widescreen, 14″ standard screen, and 19″ standard screen.

Justin Dupre

I’m on my 15 inch notebook monitor, but I am saving up for either a 24 inch monitor, or 2 20-22 inch monitors. Which one do you think would be better?

Justin Dupre


In the office I have 2 19″x12″ monitors with a total resolution of 3360×1050.

Currently my desktop is Haiku from Digital Blasphemy: (

I’m a little bit of a minimalist. I have desktop icons turned off, my Windows Task Bar on the far left (so I only get little boxes with icons to identify the applications). I hit win+d whenever I switch tasks so that I have as much of my screen real estate visually appealing as possible. ClearType and interesting background are my friends.

Screensaver: Electric Sheep (


Two 19″ monitors (wish they were widescreen!). I keep my desktop clean by using FindAndRunRobot. Most of my windows issues are more along the lines of open tabs in Firefox…

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