Friday, September 7, 2007

A Tale of Two Monitors: Getting an external monitor to work with Bootcamp on a MacBook Pro

Having two monitors is a must for the kind of data visualization we are working on in this class.

If you are doing urban and environmental planning, creating architecture and landscapes in Google Sketchup, working with Google Earth and Google Maps, doing video editing, working with photoshop and other multi-media programs, or creating a thesis or other professional looking document using MikTeX, you really want to have at least two screens at your disposal.

For example, using Final Cut Pro or other video production software, or using DVD Studio Pro, you want to have one screen displaying your sequences and timelines and bins, and have another screen for showing your video. Similarly, when writing your dissertation using MikTeX or LaTeX, you want to have one screen available for writing your text and markup language codes, and another for viewing the compiled document as it will appear.

Much of the work we do in this "Environment and the Psychology of Behavior"class involves exploring virtual environments on a computer screen. A computer screen? Let's make that "several computer screens". What you really need to explore and create environments on a computer is more "Lebensraum" --more room to live, work and play. Just as we have a need for increased access to real estate in the real world when we want to explore or create, we have a need for increased real estate to move around in the virtual world. (Would that be "virtual estate"?).

The larger the better.

Since I am still at Ph.D. student, however, I share the student dilemma of having no money. Following Moore's law (roughly paraphrased as "every two years performance doubles and prices halve") I went down to Medion (a wholesale electronics market here in Essen, Germany) and bought a 17" Flat Pro Technology (Flat Screen) monitor for 119 Euro, ignoring the 19" monitor that cost twice as much. The idea is, save the extra 100 Euro and buy the larger better monitor next year, increasing your real estate size to three screens, or, better yet, giving your older second monitor to the needy!

The Medion monitor worked fine with the Mac OSX, but when I rebooted into Windows XP it would start out mirroring the Windows XP bootscreen, showing that it received a signal, and then it would suddenly go black, saying "Kein Signale" (No Signal). I went to this forum to look for a solution:

There I found all sorts of people having the same problems and lots of attempts to work around it. One thing they kept saying was to go to your ATI control panel and try to fix it from there. I couldn't, for the life of me, find any ATI control panel. I tried downloading one from a site and it kept crashing.

For the longest time I have been unable to use an external monitor with my MacBook Pro in Windows XP mode using Bootcamp and it has been driving me nuts. Today, however, it seems that I have solved the problem, and I want to pass the solution on to you if you are facing similar problems.

It seems that ATI finally has posted bootcamp drivers! Go here:

When you get there, you will see this:

Apple Boot Camp XP Software Graphics Drivers

Download Link File Size Version Date Posted Package Includes
Display Driver
1 of 2
11.6MB 8.353 May 3, 2007 Display Driver
Catalyst Control Center
2 of 2
9.8MB 8.353 May 3, 2007 Catalyst Control Center

Download both the Display driver and the Catalyst Control Center (CCC) and install them. Then plug in your external monitor, reboot and when you XP is running go to Programs\CatalystControlCenter and click on the CCC program file. The CCC wizard will ask you how you want to configure your monitors and, presto, your external monitor should work!

The next step is configuring your monitors. I use CCC Advanced. I keep my larger external monitor to my right, so monitor 1 is generally the laptop screen, while monitor displays the big movies and things. This is fine for working with programs like Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro and MikTeX and others that let you move the windows around, but it doesn't help for game play. When you start games in full screen mode they tend to play on the primary monitor.

To get around this and make the games appear on the larger external monitor, go into ATI Catalyst Control Center and, in Graphics Settings (left hand tab) click on the Displays Manager. What you want to do is to change the order in the Desktop and Display Setup. You want Desktop 1 (on the left) to be your external monitor and Desktop 2 (on the right) to be your laptop. To do this, first notice the display boxes on the right (blue boxes with numbers 1 and 2 in them on a grey field). Click and drag Display 2 and put it to the left of Display 1. This tells your computer that you are going to want monitor 2 (the non primary monitor where the game WON'T play) to be to the left of the monitor that shows the game (in my case, the laptop is going to be reassigned to Display 2, and the large external monitor is going to be reassigned to Display 1 so I can play my games on the bigger screen).

Now, to reassign monitors, right click on the icon in the Desktop 1 window (the one that shows colored computer monitors in it. You will notice when you hover over it that the cursor changes into a little mouse icon with a grey blinking right mouse button telling you to press that). Select "Swap Displays: Maintain Per-Display Mode Settings". The screens will go all funky black with blocks and lines through it as it adjusts and then it will appear as if your primary monitor is now the external monitor and your extended monitor is the laptop monitor.

Your mouse should move from left to right and right to left as if you were on one big monitor. Now you can keep a document with instructions open on your laptop screen and keep a document you are writing open on your laptop screen while your game plays on the bigger screen to the right. Naturally you can't use your laptop screen while the game is playing, but you can toggle out of the game easily by using the Alt-Tab buttons, and return to your game the same way!

This way you can explore virtual environments in the game and keep returning to your open document to record your insights and how the virtual environments affect the psychology of your behavior!

Hope that helps!

Goodnight, and good luck!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to post this information. I appreciate it very much! :D