Multi-monitor Graphics Questions

Since posting my article about having 4 screens, I’ve had numerous people contacting me asking how I did it, because when they try to do it they get a "Incompatible display adapter has been disabled" error message. The full message is:

Incompatible display adapter has been disabled
At least one display adapter on the system has been disabled because its driver is not compatible with the driver for the VGA adapter.

..and after a lot of digging here is the reason why and/or solution:

The key issue with this problem is the two different windows driver models. There is WDDM (Used by Windows Vista) and XPDM (Used by Windows Xp). If you have two graphics cards that use different driver models they will not work together, and Windows will disable one of them.

With the two graphics card you use, you can have 2 different variations that will work:

  • Two identical cards from the same graphics hardware vendor – for example, two PCIe ATI Radeon x600 cards, each in an x16 PCIe slot.
  • Two different cards from the same graphics hardware vendor – for example, one PCIe NVIDIA GeForce 7600 in an x16 slot and another PCIe NVIDIA GeForce 6600 in a second x16 slot.

Notice that the bus type – PCIe, AGP, or PCI – is irrelevant. You could have "n" cards in "n" PCIe slots of the same or different lane widths, or you could have "n-m" cards in PCIe slots and "m" cards in PCI slots. The key point to remember is that all "n" graphics adapters use a single graphics driver (WDDM or XPDM).

What wont work?

  • Two different cards from different hardware vendors (E.g. one ATI card and one NVIDIA card)

Do there you have it – you can easily add multiple cards. The cards that I use are:

ATI Sapphire Radeon X1650Pro 512Mb PCIe x16


ATI Sapphire Radeon 9250 256Mb PCI

which work well!

Further questions on multi-monitor support in Vista might be answered by this page from Microsoft:

iMac Mini – where to begin…


Ok, so today I received my very expensive purchase of a new Mac Mini. Problems and good things…

Here are the problems I have encountered….

1. No keyboard or mouse provided – even the cheapest Dell systems come with a keyboard and mouse, so after a hunt for a USB keyboard and mouse I eventually got a keyboard and mouse connected. For £400 you would expect at least an economy keyboard and mouse to be provided.

2. Power adaptor – it doesnt use a standard “kettle” plug, so there goes my already set-up workstation with kettle plugs already available, you have to use the huge chunky Apple provided power adaptor…which they obviously spent 10p designing and is appaling – sharp jagged plastic edges and all where the edges havent been smoothed down.

3. Where in the blazes is the power button? I tried using the remote control (which is a novelty for somethign that is meant to be a computer), pressing the Apple logo on top, and eventually noticed the tiny button AT THE FRICKING BACK! What use is that – I dont want to reach under my desk and scrabble around at the back of it every time I want to turn it on!

4. Turned it on and it made the noise of a..well I dont know what..but the standard Apple melody thingy – nothing on the screen, waited 5 minutes, couldnt figure out why, so read the “getting started” manual – oh, on the adaptor that Apple provide for the DVI-VGA converter you have to press in the 2 small white nobbly bits at the side for it to work… WHY? Why cant I just plug it in like every other monitor on normal computers!

5. Wahey the screen is on..oh crap…”Your keyboard cannot be identified and will not be usable until it is identified”

6. Major problems averted, it seems to have realised that my keyboard really is a normal UK keyboard, and after a 5-step process it has identified it..why is everything so complex – its just a keyboard!

7. Registration… its not optional and hasnt identified my keyboard correctly – the @ key and the ” marks are the wrong way around..what is it going to do with my registration information…I dont want to register with Apple particularly…oh, wait, I have no choice, it just does it

8. Ctrl+Z doesnt work as Undo – oh wonderful, I’ll have to re-type everything then I guess. Oh, you have to use the command key instead.

9. Mandatory “talking to Apple” messages are worrying…are they telling Apple everything I am doing on what is now MY computer…or have they retained ownership…? Humm thats a point, you never own Windows, but then Microsoft dont make the PC…I wonder what the small print says about the Apple hardware..same as the software… that Apple still own it…perhaps this should be investigated ASAP!

10. What a complete bodge job copy – “do you want to activate your .Mac account for only £68.99” – um, let me think… NO – I have a .Net account that is FREE, and offers everything that I would have to pay for with Apple! Now who is copying who…lol!

11. Thats nice – how do I close the window? The close button doesnt seem to work, it just makes the same window smaller… oh wait..its a red dot on the not intuitive is this for a

12. And you think Windows updates are bad…. “New software is available for your computer” – Only 520.20 Mb, and you “must download it before you can use the application” (which is just about all of them)

13. How the blazes do you make a window full-screen….can it be done…the green button that I assumed was maximize only seems to minimize… and pressing it again puts the window back on the size it was…so how do you make it full screen?

14. Recognising local server addresses…. why on earth does the Safari browser not recognise http://servername as going to a local server… it only seems to search on the internet, not internally first…well this is great…the whole point of the office contamination was to test the system, but I cant figure out how to get it to do it!

15. The keyboard doesnt work properly, and there is no way to change it! I cant press the Delete key to delete a file or folder, F2 doesnt rename, Ctrl+Z, C, X, and V dont work as copy and paste, the @ and ” are still mixed up. There appears to be no keyboard shortcut to close a window, and when you do close the only open window of an application, it stays open..WHY? Why when I close the last window, does it not close the application and remove the menu bar – it just doubles my work clicking!

16. You can change the desktop background easily, but how on earth do you change the screen resolution – its absolutely pittiful – on my nice 17″ LCD screen, its running at something lower than 1024 * 768, which looks, to be honest, completely crap. I can tell it is low because any website in Safari looks huge…

17. Safari – you cant just type and have the web address appear in the address bar, you have to click on the address bar first, again, more time consuming! Additionally, all web pages seem to take absolutely ages to load and render – about twice the time it takes in IE. This is fine, but if my employees are using a web-based information system, thats a potential 50% productivity loss when using the system compared to a colleague that is using a PC..and thats terrible! Another thing, with the home and end keys not working, when you click on a web address, not only does it not highlight it all automatically, but there is no easy way to delete it, so you have to use the arrow keys to go to the end, and then delete all the way back, fine with a small url, but just try it with a advanced search – its over 300 characters long..which takes AGES…

18. There are only 4 USB ports – 2 taken up with keyboard and mouse, leaving only 2 free for everything else – printer, scanner, web-cam, speakers (there are no audio ports), flash drive(s), USB Hard Disk, MP3 player etc… you see my point…. to put this in perspective, the new Dell C521 that I just bought has 10 USB ports – 8 at the back and 2 at the front – very practical for pulugging a flash drive!

19. Shift+Home doest work to select a whole line…WHY NOT?

..if you can help me with any of the above…please do before I go crazy!

And now for the positive stuff…

1. Its quiet, only the slightest hum comes off it

2. It makes a great coffee mat (though I dont drink coffee, so my open can of coke sits nicely on it)

3. The desktop background can be set to automatically change every 30 minutes – now that is a very nice feature! I like it!

4. Built in Wii-Fi and Bluetooth is a major plus – PCs could do with that too (not just laptops)

5. The remote works very well…so if I had this Mac connected to a TV it would work well as a DVD and CD player..back to my original statement about it being a glorified iPod… hummm

6. Microsoft has a wonderful Mac site.. where they have nice, free downloads for everything to make the mac nice – even Virtual PC, so that I can run Vista on the Mac…oooh, now there is an idea…I’m thinking of a re-install soon

In conclusion…

MacOs X Tiger is just the most inconsistent piece of absolute rubbish. If I programmed my information systems in the same way as this, all my users would be utterly confused and wouldnt pay me for the system. Everything seems to take twice as long as it would on Windows Xp, let alone Windows Vista (which although it is a resource hog, does have some nice features). It takes an absolute age to start up, and become useable.

The “computer” is obviously more intended as an extension of the iPod or iEverything which is just plain annoying, it is obviously not a computer for business users. The remote control is a good idea, that I like..but there is no eject button, and no button the the exterior of the iMac so how on earth am I meant to watch a DVD anyway, I cant get the one that is in there out again!

Final conclusion: Mac Mini = iCrap



UPDATE: 2016

After this initial foray into the world of Mac I ran away for several years, however upon returning and trying out a 27″ iMac, it has become my platform of choice, to such an extent that I have moved my entire business on to Mac and away from Windows PC’s.


PC Pro Podcast 4 – Broad Banned

PC Pro Podcast 4 is now online, in which we talk broadband problems with Angus Flett, Director of BT Wholesale, asking him why customers should put up with traffic shaping and whether BT’s much-touted new network will really change anything. Jon Honeyball talks the wow factor with the latest Google innovation, and we hear what’s getting people hot under the collar from our reader forums.