I recently finished redesigning the topology of my home office - hardware, software and network - and my personal productivity has been soaring. I'll take a minute to brag... err, explain... how the new setup works. First of all, this is my home office:
There is quite a lot going on, and previously I had been running out of desktop space (literal and virtual). Also, I didn't have the flexibility I wanted - I need multiple domains /w various servers running on several different OS versions, etc. And did I mention that it all needed to fit on my desk?
The solution was to abstract and virtualize.
“Virtual Interface” - The 3 main monitors are hooked up to one box. So there is 1280+1600+1280 = 4160 pixels worth of screen real-estate controlled by a single keyboard & mouse. Remote Desktop allows me to map that onto as many computers as I need at any given moment. The pictures show 3 desktops, one on each monitor, and if I need one more I can show 2 desktops (@1024x768 each) on the middle monitor for a total of four desktops. Remote Desktop is cool - it supports copy-paste across desktops, so I can copy information from a server desktop straight into an Outlook message on my laptop desktop.
“Virtual Environments” - The network server is a bare-bones Windows 2003 Server with almost nothing installed on it other than VSS and Virtual PC. The project-specific environments - domain servers, application servers, etc - are all hosted as virtual PCs on the “Server”. This gives me tremendous flexibility since I can easily support multiple projects with conflicting software configurations and/or versions. And I can quickly add new environments without destabilizing the existing ones.
“Central Management“ - No matter how many different projects or servers I am working on, I only need to backup one hard drive (the host server) and maintain one SourceSafe database. Since I am horribly absent minded this will probably save me lots of grief going forward. I'm lazy too so less work is always a good thing :)
I'm still tweaking the setup, but so far I am very happy with the results. Got any additional tips? Let me know!