I have NADD – that’s “Nerd Attention Deficiency Disorder.” And I’m proud of it. (Rands – of Rands in Repose – does a great job of describing what NADD is, if you’re not familiar with the term, or if you can’t grasp the concept right away).
It was after seeing “Show off your N.A.D.D.” that I thought “gee, I have a lot of windows open too… I wonder how my desktop looks in comparison?” So I took a screen shot during a typical session at my computer.
Suffice to say, it’s… well maybe you should just look for yourself.
For a better view, click the image to see a full-sized (that’s 1280×1024) picture.
Let’s face it – there’s a lot of stuff going on there. And I’m aware of all of it. There’s a virtual machine running, a Subversion checkin in progress, Visual Studio, 2 IP-phone applications (eyeBeam, the one you can see, and Skype, which is minimized), a Remote Desktop session, 2 email programs (Outlook and Thunderbird), and… well I think you get the point.
Although I must admit, I’ve actually brought a number of apps to the foreground that are normally minimized so that you can see them. At any given time, I rarely have more than 2 or 3 windows “active” and in the foreground. Anything else gets minimized – or better yet, sent to the system tray (sorry, taskbar notification area).
Oh and in case that wasn’t enough going on, I should mention that my desktop background (or wallpaper) changes randomly every 15 minutes (thanks to the awesome John’s Background Switcher program), cycling through a well-organized folder of wallpaper pictures I’ve collected over the years. What can I say, I just like to be surprised whenever I switch windows!
One of the things that this picture fails to capture, however, is the number of tabbed interfaces in use. At first glance, there may appear to be only, what, 8 or 9 windows open – but consider this:
- Firefox at any given time has at least 3 tabs open – usually many more
- Pidgin, my IM client, uses tabs to keep multiple conversations in one window
- Visual Studio uses tabs for each open file
And then there’s the programs that I’ve minimized to the notification area – Skype, Process Explorer, a bandwidth monitoring app, GoToAssist Express, Witty Twitter, Thunderbird, Outlook, Pidgin, and of course Winamp.
What’s that? You didn’t see Winamp? Ah, sorry – it’s right at the top of the screen, partially transparent – so I can see it, but can still see through it enough to read the title of any window that might be maximized.
You might also notice that I’m using Windows Desktop Search – that’s because no matter how well organized my files are, there are still times I can’t find things – and often a search is faster than even looking it up even if I do know where it is!
And that’s just my computer’s desktop. My real-world desktop is just as bad.
There’s a notebook to the left of my keyboard, for jotting things down or working out things visually (my “scratch pad”). There’s also a small digital photo frame here, too, which rotates randomly through a bunch of my photos (of my wife and our rabbits mostly).
On the right side of my desk is a smaller notebook, for jotting down the names of songs as I listen to music (I put together “mix” CDs of different types and use the notebook to “compose” the playlists in advance, so I don’t have to sort through the thousands and thousands of songs in my library when I want to make a CD.)
Further to my right is a big whiteboard. Whiteboards are awesome. They may be “sooooo last century,” but they’re still awesome. Sometimes you just need to write or draw out what’s in your head to help get it straight.
Some people might wonder how I can possibly keep this all straight – but the fact is, I really have no problem with it. To me, managing this much information just comes naturally. In fact, if I don’t have this much going on, I sort of feel… bored?
Maybe it’s just a natural reaction to the information-centric world we live in today, or maybe it’s just a particular mindset or type of personality – whatever it is, it makes me ideally suited to doing what I do.
And whether you consider this to be a skill, a personality trait, or a terrible disorder – I, at any rate, am proud of it!