Saturday, August 30, 2008

MaxiVista as a Keyboard/Mouse switch

In order to connect to my workplace VPN, I am required to use my work laptop which has a custom VPN client. Unfortunately, they don't give us the VPN client so I'm unable to install it on another machine such as my home computer. I don't have the extra hardware or space at home to set up a full workstation for the laptop with my preferred keyboard and mouse. However, I have those set up on my home workstation and a copy of MaxiVista.

MaxiVista is a utility that allows you to use another physical PC connected to your LAN as an additional monitor. It's not capable of high speed graphics but quite suitable for development. When you move the mouse pointer across screen boundaries, you switch between your locally attached display and the network attached display. One of the features of MaxiVista is the ability to switch the remote screen between "additional monitor" mode and "remote control" mode. This basically allows you to use MaxiVista as an automatic K/M switch, using your primary PC (running the MaxiVista server) as the hardware host for the keyboard and mouse but work on the remote PC desktop.

So I fire up my laptop, connect to the work VPN, then use the remote control method of MaxiVista on my home workstation to use the better keyboard and mouse on my laptop. While working, I can instantly move over to my home workstation screens. This can be particularly helpful when I want to test web applications or .NET remoting scenarios I'm developing on the laptop. I can jump right to my home environment to test network behavior.

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