A Silent Musician

A Free Form Column that rarely has a point or a purpose other than to amuse

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Location: Portland, OR, United States

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Synergy (Geek Alert)

I stumbled upon a little program called Synergy a couple months back. Didn't really think much about it except that the idea was cool. The idea is that you can share 1 keyboard and mouse across multiple computers over the network. Geek Speak- KVM over IP (minus the video). Didn't think much about it until I talked with the IT guy at work. He uses Synergy at home with alot of computers. I asked how many computers he has at home and he said he doesn't count. That really got my brain going. So I did some searching and found that CNet did a video about it and EnGadget did a whole "How To" guide on it. This warranted a second look on my part.
Last week I started my new assignment at Family Ministries and decided that I had to leave the Mac OS X as my main operating system. I came to this conclusion after fighting with Apple Mail (Tiger) and Mozilla Thunderbird. Neither allowed me to send emails with my work email but I could view them, go figure. So I sucked it up and made the PC my main computer. This allowed me to talk nicely with the server, print over the network, use Outlook for my mail, and use the lovely, lovely Publisher *sarcasm*. Side note- there is a group named the Enterprise Desktop Alliance that is working on getting business IT people educated about using Macs out there in the Enterprise and general Business world. So I now run Windows as my main OS and it makes me sad to leave OSX behind. In comes Synergy!!
It took a bit of finagling and under-the-breath muttering to get Synergy set up but now I take my PowerBook with me to work and am able to use the PC keyboard and mouse on the Mac. Synergy really only works when you have computers with their own screens. If you have two towers that you want to use, a KVM switch would be a better bet. The great thing about Synergy is that both computers are active at the same time. Once Synergy is up and working the mouse seamlessly moves from the side of one screen to the other, the keyboard works great and you can have the best of both (or multiple works with Linux, Ubuntu, etc..) worlds.
Today I am at home and wanted to see how well Synergy works with two Macs since setting up the Mac for Synergy is all Text-Based and Terminal heavy. I am please to tell you though that I got it working after about an hour total work. It would have been less if I would have followed all the directions 100% and if the how-to guides would have been more clear. It is a weird thing to be using one laptop's keyboard and mouse (either track-pad or external) to control another laptop sitting right next to it. It is great fix for lack of an external monitor and it also splits up the load of running: Safari, iTunes, Adium and Firefox 2 all at the same time. Another great thing about Synergy is that I can Copy and Paste text back and forth between computers.
So now that I have gotten my geekiness out I am going to post this. Oh... on a last note if you set Synergy up with two macs- make sure both Mac screen names has .local at the end.


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