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The Dual Computer Experience

Yesterday night I was struck by a sudden urge to play GTA.

So I installed GTA Vice City, knowing that San Andreas lags horribly on my new Windows 7 system. Probably the lack of suitable graphic/video cards. Or, maybe, I don't even have a graphic/video card. Hmm. What I forgot was that GTA Vice City doesn't run at all on Windows 7. Or was it 64-bit that was the key to failure? I don't know, but whatever it was it made me desperate. GTA VC wouldn't start. I couldn't play GTA. Oh shit.

GTA 3 didn't work either, I remembered (I tried installing them both soon after buying the new computer), so, what could I do but dust of my ancient 32-bit Windows XP computer with no more than a half gig RAM and plug it back in.

The problem with this is that both computers are housed in a tiny room, with a tiny computer table, with room for one screen only and a big double bed filling the rest of the room, preventing the computer area to expand inwards. So I can't have two separate computers side by side. Instead, I plugged in one computer through the HDMI and the other through the VGI slot on the screen. I then plugged in an extra mouse in my old computer and let it lie by the screen, easily swappable with the current one. I dug up a spare keyboard and placed it on a small shelf under the computer table, plugged in to the old computer. I plugged in a set of old speakers to the old computer, and fortunately I had an extra power cable so both can be run at the same time.

So, I now have two computers always ready, systems set, in the same place, the keyboard being the only thing that needs to be moved around a bit before use. I tried firing up the old computer while the new one was still on just to see what would happen to the screen. Would it split into a duel screen setting? Would the other computer take over the screen space? Nothing happened.

No problem. Switching computers was as easy as shutting one down and booting the next. Or better yet, letting the old one boot (it's a bit slow... it's old) while I kept working a while on the new one. I installed GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas and had a batch of nostalgic fun till way too late (till a headache) yesterday. Today, I decided to see what the different screen options did, the ones built-in the screen, navigable through five small buttons. There's M, the menu, S/Auto, for quick adjusting, the power button, and then there's a 1 and a 2, that are usually used to navigate the menu. You know what else they do? They switch between the HDMI and VGA outputs. That's right. Just a click of the buttons and I can switch from one PC to the next.

I spent a full day playing on the old computer while uploading videos to YT on the new one, switching every once in a while to check the time (the clock battery is dead on the old computer) or to check my email, among other things. I don't even need to shut down the game! With both speaker systems plugged in independently I can play music on once computer while doing something different on the other one. I can also hear if something happens on one computer even while I'm working with the other. Now the only thing I'm missing is a rotatable shelf with one keyboard on the top side and one on the bottom, so I don't need to move the keyboards while switching, but for the moment that'll be just a dream.

I'm taking a break from my brand new dual-computer experience to let you all know about it, and to get some university work done. After that, it's back to another delighting computing x2 session. :) If only there was a third slot on the screen I could plug in my ancient Windows 98 computer too... maybe next year. ;)

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