Tech Life A quest for knowledge

N.A.D.D. Desktop Winner

The one true quest for someone afflicted with N.A.D.D. is the quest for knowledge. My collect-a-desktop contest is no different. I want to know more… I want to find new applications… new ways of efficiently surfing my desktop because there is no finer moment for a N.A.D.D. than the realization that:

1) I have just learned something

2) It’s going to help me learn more… learn faster.

Some observations emerged as the contest entries poured in. First, I’m a multiple monitor snob. When I sit at a single 17″ monitor set-up, I feel shoved in a box. If your entry involved a single monitor shot, sorry, you started with a handicap.

Second, a winning entry was one which demonstrated competency at multiple modes of communication… even within the same medium. This means that I was more impressed with Outlook and Pine sitting on your desktop rather than just Outlook. This seems contradictory since one might think someone with N.A.D.D. would have organized “better”. Wrong. N.A.D.D means you are particular about your desktop, not that you’re organized. Outlook is perfect for one form of communication whereas Pine is perfect for another. IF YOU DON’T GET THIS, SUBTRACT TWENTY POINTS FROM YOUR N.A.D.D.ness.

Third, as I’ve mentioned multiple times, the better way to judge this contest would be to look over your shoulder as you used your desktop. A snapshot does not convey the means with which your surf your space. Regardless, the snapshot should convey some sort of function… if I glanced at your desktop and saw a complete digital mess, you lost some points. It’s not fair, but neither is life.

Fourth, and related to the last point, I think, after staring at 50+ desktops, that there is a noticeable difference between staged desktop screen shots and screen shots which were just done with a moments notice. I can’t prove this, but my guess is the winning shot is one where the author just grabbed his desktop and sent it.

Fifth, and lastly, I’ve learned how little operating systems actually differ from a cursory first glance. I challenge anyone to go through the final set of thumbnails and pick the operating system. Once your done, go back and click to see the larger images to see how you did. SURPRISE. Every operating system other than Mac OS X puts a lot of work into giving the user the ability to make the OS look like ANOTHER OS. Go figure.

Now, onto the Honorable Mentionables…

Clearly not the winner, Honorable Mention #1 is noteworthy because of their creative use of the desktop. Notice the use of the GeekTool utility to populate an otherwise picturesque desktop with all sorts of essential N.A.D.D.-like information such as process lists, weather, and system logs. Yum.

Look closely at Honorable Mention #2… is it Windows XP or is it Mac OS X? Of course, it’s Windows… but you had to think. Other noteworthy aspects of this desktop is the TOTALLY POPULATED instant messaging client… what is that? 30 buddies? Nice. The presence of both Eudora and Outlook fulfills my multi-mail-client fetish followed closely by the use of the Firebird web-browser… mMmmmM… bleeding edge.

Honorable Mention #3 is noteworthy because of the accompanying email…

The nitty gritty, because not everything made it into the screen shot:

-Safari, with tabs a-blazing and an elaborately laid out bookmark bar, including auto-tab-open folders with over-blown filtering and filing
-iChat AV, nearly all of the 130 or so people on my list has their own name or appropriate alias inserted, and buddy icons are never turned on. Oh yeah, and there’s an iSight hooked up.
-iTunes; 5791 songs, with all but 267 rated. Everything tagged properly. I have smart playlists to let me play my music by rating. I have smart playlists to let me rate the songs that don’t have ratings. I have smart playlists to let me play the songs with the not-so-good ratings in case I want to re-rate them. Oh, and nearly everything has album covers too.
-Heidrun for Hotline connections
-MT-NewsWatcher to hook into my news aggregator
-Ircle, only three channels open at the moment
-Transmit, two SFTP sessions
-Terminal – one ssh, one running my news aggregator
-BBEdit to live-edit a document off of one of the Transmit sessions
-Kung Tunes to dump my iTunes playlist on my blog
-PTHiTunesNotifier (the little pause thing in the menu bar, and the display in the lower left) to tell me what I’m listening to
-HotApp, with most of my F-keys bound to apps for super easy switching, some hotkeys for folders I hit repeatedly, F12 bound to “hide everything and show the finder”, and various command+option+key sets for controlling iTunes
-LiteSwitch, just in case I was confused about what I have open
-iAddress so I can get at my address book without having to open it
-ASM is installed so that if I click an app, everything comes to the front
-Oh yeah, that little Transmit window floating in the lower right? I’ve got the MinimizeInPlace hack installed.

And hey, isn’t the fact that I got distracted enough from work to write up this list, yet I still feel proud for having written it up in under 10 minutes, a symptom of NADD as well?

Need I say more?

The winner of the N.A.D.D falls into the same category as the previous entry. Again, the email explains it all:

Here are three shots of my workspace on the workstation at work. You’ll note that each shot is of a different virtual desktop. The workstation runs FreeBSD 5.1. You’ll probably see a lot of windows open; it should be noted that normally I tend to keep windows minimized. However, there is a definite structure to how it’s done.

You’ll notice I’m running KDE, and I have by default 4 virtual desktops in my desktop previewer (at the bottom). If you look at them, you’ll notice that at least the first three are totally populated. Here are the snapshots of each:

Here’s the rationale:

1) Immediate Work desktop. You’ll notice a task system/account management system I’m developing loaded in one browser (at least the web API). You’ll notice a simple ticketing system in a browser window. You’ll notice I’m running a script piped through ‘more’ to get the subject lines of my [sorted] mailing list mail. Finally, I have a window with some system code open in the back.

2) The Distraction desktop. You’ll quickly spot, a terminal window running BitchX, a web forum I often post at, and Kopete connected to MSN.

3) The Documentation desktop. A paper in Acrobat Reader that I’m currently referring to, a website on a NOC monitoring tool, the FreeBSD project website (for mailing list archives), etc.

4) The System desktop. I didn’t take a snapshot of this because all it currently had running was a terminal window with ‘top’. However, this is usually from where I build new kernels and rebuild the system, for upgrades.

The surprising thing about this whole thing is that, as I said, typically the windows are minimized. What this means is that if I happen to be in the Immediate Work desktop, and I click on my “taskbar” at the bottom and maximize, say, the website loaded in Konqueror, it *will* maximize in the Immediate Work desktop. However, the surprise is that I *never* *ever* do that. My mind and fingers are trained to only maximize windows in the *correct* desktop, in fear of self-mutilation, or something equally disturbing.

It’s the term self-mutilation which puts this entry over the top. N.A.D.D. is an ambiguous affliction. While I do joke about it, the fact of the matter is, I do have a problem with regard to my computer. I don’t necessarily distinguish between where I stop and it begins… this does give me the advantage of using the computer as an extension of myself… but HELLO IT’S A COMPUTER NOT A FOOT.

Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry. I’m guessing I received somewhere around 100 different entries. Obviously, the winner was picked against somewhat arbitrary criteria which changed over the course of the contest, but… remember… I have N.A.D.D. which means it’s time to read my email. Right now.

2 Responses

  1. Congratulations to the winner!

    Seeing the organization of these virtual desktops has given me some ideas. I like the idea of having a “distractions” desktop. It will help keep me (more) honest at work.

    Rands, I’m sure I’m echoing the sentiments of many of your readers when I say SHOW US YOURS.

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