A move to better Productivity/Efficiency

Thomas Zucker-ScharffSenior Data Analyst
Veteran in computer systems, malware removal and ransomware topics.  I have been working in the field since 1985.
I use more than 1 computer in my office for various reasons. Multiple keyboards and mice take up more than just extra space, they make working a little more complicated. Using one mouse and keyboard for all of my computers makes life easier. This combined with automation s/w makes my work a breeze.
Early in my career as a Systems Analyst, I started using several computers to get my job done. Generally, each computer was used for a different task.

But things changed. I stopped administering a UNIX cluster, so I stopped needing to keep a UNIX machine or X-Terminal handy for interfacing with the cluster. Back then I was using a separate keyboard and mouse for each computer. This was especially true for the X-Terminal as it had its own special keyboard and monitor. For the rest, it was possible to use fewer input devices, but I was being lazy. As computers got faster and more capable, I was able to use a single computer for virtually everything. So, until several years ago, I was using one computer with two screens, one keyboard and one mouse. 

I started to be a little less lazy, and had more of a desire to improve my efficiency in the way I interacted with the computers I use. This  led to several different changes in the way I compute.

The first was automation. I have done several things in order to automate the various day-to-day tasks I do. I learned to use AutoIt to write several scripts to automate daily backup and cleanup. These scripts would scan directories to find files older than a certain age, put those files into a zip file on an archive drive, and then delete them from the original drive. After a while I starting using AutoHotkey scripting (with a lot of help from users on Experts Exchange) to automate my daily tasks of keeping a publications database I am responsible for up to date (it is in the EndNote program by Thomson Reuters). 

At the same time, I realized that using more than one keyboard/mouse combination was a waste, so I bought the program Synergy to share my keyboard and mouse across multiple computers and monitors. This has been a boon to my daily productivity. I can use one computer to run the daily scripts to update my database of publications; I only need to use Synergy to access that computer for a few minutes and then I click back to the my main computer while the other one runs the updates. If I have general work to do, I switch to a third computer which runs some more general tasks, and then switch back to computer number 1 -- the server for my Synergy software -- for virtually everything else.

So what can you take away from this article?

For automation for Windows machines Autohotkey (ahkscript.org and autohotkey.com) is the way to go. Autohotkey.com is the official site for AHK. It has the manual and reference sections. Ahkscript.org is the most up to date and is where all the AHK gurus hang out. So if you need help, beyond what can be provided here, ahkscript.org is the place to go.

For sharing your keyboard/mouse between multiple computers - Synergy

I will attach the scripts in a comment (since I don't see a way to do it here) if anyone is interested.
Thomas Zucker-ScharffSenior Data Analyst
Veteran in computer systems, malware removal and ransomware topics.  I have been working in the field since 1985.

Comments (1)

Thomas Zucker-ScharffSenior Data Analyst


Here are several of the scripts to automate tasks in EndNote.  They currently work for me, but your mileage may vary.

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