Two Surfaces for Presentations

Have you ever done a presentation and wished that you had two computers: One to share with the audience, and one for you? Well, I do it all the time with my two Surface Pros. One is the original Surface Pro and the other is a Surface Pro 2. There’s no reason not to use two identical machines. I’m  using what I’ve got.

I used to do this with a Surface and a Surface Pro.  That works fine when I don’t need to connect the two machines in any way. Most of the time I like to share a mouse and keyboard across both machines. I use Mouse without Borders to do that with the Surface Pros.

I frequently do live demos or a lab session with a very dense screen like you find in Visual Studio. It’s tough to have a screen resolution suitable for an audience viewing on a projector and still have it workable for me. I set up two Surface Pros side-by-side and it solves all those issues for me. Here’s how I do it.

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Presentation Machine (right) Surface Pro 2

I usually have the Surface Pro 2 on the right and display it on the projector.  Sometimes I do that hard-wired but most of the time I use Skype. See: Surface Pro 2: Using Skype for Presentations for details.

I keep this machine on the right because I frequently draw sketches or live mind maps during my presentations. I do this with the Surface Pro 2 pen of course.

I like to wander away from the lectern while I’m presenting. It’s easy to take the Surface Pro 2 with me when I’m using Skype. I found a case that works really well for that. I leave the Type Cover 2 attached to the other Surface Pro.

Notes Machine (left) Surface Pro

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On the Surface Pro that I am not sharing with the audience (the notes machine) I have my notes, code that I will copy/paste to the other Surface Pro (the presentation machine), and other support materials like sketches and mind maps. In practice it feels as though I have a virtual desktop that is the width of two Surface Pros. When I need a snippet of code I can copy it from the notes machine to the presentation machine. This is so much better than people having to watch me type while I talk.  I use the Type Cover 2 on the notes machine and move the mouse across both screens. Wherever the mouse is, the keyboard is active.

What makes this all work is Mouse without Borders, a great Microsoft Garage project from Truong Do.

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Mouse Without Borders

Mouse Without Borders – The Desktop version.

Mouse without Borders is a product that makes you the captain of your computer fleet by allowing you to control up to four computers from a single mouse and keyboard. This means that with Mouse without Borders you can copy text or drag and drop files across computers.
Mouse without Borders

I use Mouse without Borders all the time in my desktop setup too. That might be with the two Surface Pros if I’m borrowing a desk somewhere, but I also use it back at the office across my  desktop machines. Even though Mouse without Borders supports dragging files from one machine to another I don’t need to do this very often now that I’m using OneDrive for almost everything. But this feature can be handy especially when I’ve got the machines logged in as different users. See why I use Separate User Account for Presentations.

This is not nearly as complicated as it sounds. Once you’ve done it a couple of times you’ll find that you can be set up and ready to go in about as long as it takes to fire up the machines and have them find a network. And in case you are wondering, in a pinch you can even tether them together using Internet Connection Sharing on your phone.

Here’s a list of related articles and references:

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