Vincent's blog

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Screen orientation or how to surf the web while lying in bed

If like me you sometimes feel tired, would like to lie down, but still want to use your computer (like a real geek ;-)), and maybe surf the web or read ebooks.

Rotating the screen

I have already shown you how useful a trackball can be compared to a mouse, especially in this kind of situation. You might have wondered how I am able to use my laptop computer while lying on my bed. The fact is that I have changed the screen orientation to match my lying orientation. If I wouldn’t, reading the screen would be rather painful.

Some screenshots

Here is a screenshot of my KDE desktop:

My KDE desktop

Firefox

After changing the screen orientation to the left, it will look like this, from my lying point of view.

My KDE desktop rotated to the left

Firefox rotated

It looks nice, doesn’t it ? The nice wallpaper is Inverted Reality from Phade01 from the Deviantart web site. Actually, it’s a vertical picture, so it fits even better when the screen is rotated.

Now here is a picture of me in “live action” surfing the web. If you look closely, you will see that the screen is oriented to the left.

Lazy Vincent surfing the web

So how to do this ?

In GNU/Linux

If you use GNU/Linux, you have at least three ways to switch the screen orientation:

  • In KDE, open the display settings, go to “Computer administration->Screen orientation”. Then select an orientation.
  • In Gnome, go to “System->Preferences->Display”, then change the rotation.
  • On the command line:
    xrandr -o orientation
    

    where “orientation” is replaced by either “left”, “right”, “normal” or “inverted”. This is the quickest solution and can also be set up as a shortcut on the desktop, or even a key combination.

If none of these solutions work, or if the dialogs don’t let you change the orientation, you might have to change your display driver configuration. For the NVIDIA graphic cards, you need to add the following option in the “/etc/X11/xorg.conf” file:

Section "Screen"
   ...
   Option "RandRRotation" "True"
End Section

I don’t know whether this works for other graphic cards.

In Windows

If you are using Windows, you can try using the key combination Ctrl+Alt+Arrow, where Arrow is the direction to which you want to rotate the screen. If it doesn’t work, check the display control panel or the driver’s specific control panel or applet, it might have an option to change the screen orientation.

How to type in lying position

Sometimes you have to type something (for example search keywords), but don’t want to get up. Still using your trackball, you can use an on-screen keyboard.

KDE's on-screen keyboard

In KDE you can simply add the “Virtual keyboard” to your task bar, and you will see a keyboard icon that can be used to pop up the on-screen keyboard. Another one is “viki”, which is also available as package in some distributions.

Have fun, and… don’t be too lazy 😉

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