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Season of the Switch!


No, not that kind. We’ll get to it.

As we enter 2021, many people are talking about how horrible the past year was, and how eager they will be to put it behind them.

While this past year has certainly been very hard for a great many people, I have seen a lot of complaining about things which are little more than inconvenient to varying degrees. I am most certainly NOT referring to the experience of the frontline healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19, or essential workers, or those dealing with job loss or the spectre of financial disaster, or those dealing physical and mental health issues. Still, how many complaints have we all heard about wearing a mask because it’s uncomfortable, or about waiting in a socially-distanced line outside a store?

Are people just whiny?

No. (Well, some are, but mostly no.)

Why, then, do so many people seem to be enduring rather than living?

I think the answer may be in their mindset and their attitude.

When I was young(er), I would collect endless sayings and clips – most were jokes and puns, while others were “inspirational” quotes of various types.

One example I still very much like is this:

“Say not, ‘I have found the truth’, but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’”

Later, however, I found that the US Marine Corps had a very concise philosophy embedded in their unofficial motto: “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome” ( and the wonderful bit from the movie Heartbreak Ridge:

Still later, I came to the Wisdom of Dory: “Just keep swimming” (

Do you look at what has happened and think about how everything is different and that you want things to go back to the way they were? Or do you look at what has happened and think about what you can do to make the most of it?

The fact that I started this blog and am still writing is evidence of some of what I’ve been up to, but how have you been adapting?

CGP Grey has a great video, Lockdown Productivity: Spaceship You (, which focuses on just that question, and offers suggestions on how you can adapt to your environment. If you are isolated, in whatever way, what will you do? How will you continue to grow and thrive?

In years to come, when you think of 2020, will you just say that the whole year was a write-off due to COVID-19? Or will you think about things that you accomplished? A lot of people are accomplishing things in spite of COVID-19, while others are accomplishing things BECAUSE of COVID-19. A lot of it is simply about your mindset.

Even though we have several vaccines, it’s not over yet – we certainly have more months of lockdown ahead, so take advantage of it! Read a book, listen to a podcast, exercise, start a hobby, whatever. Use the time, don’t lose it.

Ok. Rant completed. Now it’s time to switch to switches.

When the title of this post came to me, the phrase it’s based on was certainly familiar, but I had no idea where it came from. I found the song by Donovan pretty quickly – I had heard some of his music before, but not that one (so far as I recall). Cool song! (

Several months ago, as I was setting up my network and such so that we could all work efficiently from home, I had my work and personal computers side-by-side, but wanted to be able to switch easily from one to the other.

Easy, right? Well, I also wanted my additional monitors to switch easily.

So, my work computer had two (aging) monitors attached to it – one via HDMI, and one via USB.

SIDE-NOTE: Older laptop, so one only one HDMI connector and no DisplayPort. Solution worked reasonably well, though all three monitors would occasionally go blank for a few seconds. This was intermittent, but extremely annoying, and I think it was probably related to the graphics card. I was unable to find a solution for the existing hardware, but recently got a new monitor, so I just abandoned the third monitor. The new monitor is superior to BOTH of the old ones, so I’m quite satisfied (for now).

This was all very well, but meant that I needed to unplug-replug each monitor when I wanted to switch between my work and home computers. Not an optimal solution, but what to do?

Well, after a bit of thought and searching around, I discovered the whole world of switches and splitters. I ended up selecting a Techole HDMI switch (,

I now had a setup with a single desk with two monitors and two laptops, and all I had to do was press two buttons to switch both monitors from one to the other.

Oh. THAT kind of switch! Nice.

Then I started thinking about keyboards. Up until this point, I was simply using the laptop keyboards, but I was REALLY starting to miss having a decent keyboard. My keyboard at work was decent, but it was in the office, and none of the keyboards we had at home were quite to my liking. I actually used the Raspberry Pi keyboard and mouse for a while (, to get a feel for them. They’re actually surprisingly good for the price, but not what I wanted for the long-term.

Thinking about keyboards eventually led me to my WASD mechanical keyboard (, and I absolutely love it.

Around this time, I swapped out my aging monitors for my new 32-inch monitor (, and it actually works better than both of the aging monitors I had previously. (Aside from occasionally going blank, the resolution was limited and the limits were different for each monitor – another reason for abandoning that solution)

So now, I have the HDMI switch for the monitor, and the USB switch for the keyboard.

Even nicer!

Then came the holidays!

Earlier in the year, I had ordered a USB hub, but there was a problem with the order and we eventually just cancelled it. (Didn’t really need it at that time, and I couldn’t be bothered)

But on Christmas, I got a USB hub and a USB headset, both of which are fantastic, and perfectly-timed. So, now I have keyboard, mouse, and headset plugged into the USB switch, and can switch everything with two button-presses.

Perfect! (At least until I start messing around with other things...)




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