Wednesday, July 2, 2014

After-Action Report: The Asus PB287 4K Monitor

Sometime about two weeks ago, I mentioned I had asked my desktop group to get me a 4K monitor.  Now that I've been using it for two whole days, I figured I'd say a word or two on this monitor, since I know some other people are considering getting one.

First, the slightly less important stuff:  Thanks, Asus, for including multiple HDMI cables.  Also, thanks for having this thing attached to a monitor stand that tilts, rotates, and moves up and down -- It's a nice enough stand that if I wasn't committed to having everything off my desk (and using a monitor arm), I'd be very tempted to keep it.  Nice call.

More important: HOLY COW LOOK AT THE DESKTOP.  The amount of desktop space available on a 4K monitor is the sort of stuff that makes me -- having had to work on 17" 1028x768 monitors not all that long ago -- giggle madly.

Sure, sometimes in order for something to be easily read by me (remember, old guy with glasses here) I have to increase the font size.  But not always -- for example, right now I'm writing this in whatever the native font size Chrome uses.  I also seem to be able to code well with the standard font size.

Minor downside: In the absence of a Thunderbolt hub, I now have to connect three, rather than two, cables to my laptop -- power, USB, HDMI.  So far it's not a huge drain on my productivity and happiness.  If it becomes such ... well, for one thing, First World Problem[tm].  For another, even if I end up spending another $200 on a Thunderbolt hub, that's still going to land me at $850, about $150 less than the Apple Cinema Display (ACD).

So, final verdict: Is this profoundly, amazingly, materially, better than the ACD? Maybe not.  It's maybe trivially better (for me).  But it's also 2/3 of the price.  What would I get if I was buying a monitor for home? Definitely the Asus PB287 rather than the ACD, any day of the week.  I *heart* this monitor.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

IT and Standards: A Love Story

Chances are that if you work at a reasonably-sized organization with an IT group, there'll come a time when you ask for some equipment that IT has not yet certified for use in your company.  What happens then?

A long time ago, I worked at a place where all they had certified were 17" LCD panels (this was back in 2007, when 17" LCDs were already considered small).  I asked for a 19" display (same brand, just slightly different model) and was declined, because it was non-standard.  Which is pretty much what I've come to expect from IT at a large organization.

Fast-forward -- my setup here at Netflix is a Macbook Pro attached to a 27" Apple CinemaDisplay.  Pretty nice, but I'm interested in more screen real-estate, so now that 4K displays have dropped in price, I submitted a request two days ago for an Asus 4K display.  Totally outside the spec -- I haven't seen a single other 4K display on anyone's desk here (aside, of course, from 4K displays we've been testing streaming on.  We're Netflix, after all).  Here's the helpdesk ticket.  "CTS" is Client Technology Services, our desktop folks:

05-30-2014 08:53 PDT - Roy

received from:
May I please get an Asus PB287Q (4K display, should be about $650) at my

05-30-2014 11:59 PDT - Willie
Forwarding to IT-Purchasing to order. Please assign ticket back to me to deploy when delivered. thanks, Willie
(order information redacted)

05-30-2014 13:37 PDT - David
Hey Jenny,
Please order a second unit for CTS to test with.

So to recap:

I asked for a new monitor, which wasn't on our desktop support group's radar.  The response was to modify the order -- one for me, one for them to test.  It's worth noting, BTW, that the monitor was ordered prior to the desktop support involvement, because they don't play an approval role for equipment purchases.

How do your IT people deal with your non-standard requests?