Collaboration via Skype and the joys of 3 monitors
Carl Zimmer will be interviewing me soon for his "Microbe World -- Meet the Scientist" podcast, via Skype. I hadn't paid much attention to Skype, because my long-distance collaborations have almost all used email rather than phone. But, when I set it up, I discovered a feature that seems really useful, that some people may not know about yet.
Right-clicking a contact name brings up various options, including Send File and Share Your Screen. When I tested the latter option, it asked which of my two screens I wanted to share. The selected screen shows up on the contacts computer, live. In other words, I can use the mouse pointer to highlight something we want to discuss, then talk about using the audio link. This seems like it would be really useful for some kinds of long-distance collaborations.
In my home office, I've recently upgraded to 3 monitors. Two are mounted with one above the other, mainly for use in Microsoft Word. Using Word's Window/Split command gives two views of the same document, one in each monitor. This is useful in working on manuscripts, because figures and tables are usually at the end, but it's helpful to be able to see them while you're writing about them. In working on my book, though, I usually had one screen in outline mode and the other in normal text. That made it easy to go back and forth between rearranging paragraphs and editing within paragraphs.