Archive for January, 2005

Micecapades

No one makes the mouse I want. If they do, I certainly can’t find it. For years, I’ve been an avid user of the Microsoft Intellimouse Optical, practically since its introduction. I use one at work and one at home. Now that I have Bluetooth support in my iMac G5, I’d like to use a bluetooth mouse. Apple’s single-button excuse for a mouse is a joke (come on Steve, get over it), which is why my Apple bluetooth mouse has never been unwrapped. Unfortunately, I can’t find a single bluetooth mouse that compares to my Intellimouse. I like it so much that when my old standby at home needed replacing (my fault), I bought two, just incase they stop making them.

Prior to first using an Intellimouse, I had already made the switch to scroll-wheel mice. Two buttons and a working scroll wheel are what I consider the absolute bare minimum for a useable mouse. The Intellimouse Explorer was the first optical mouse I ever used, and the optical performance was my original reason for switching to the mouse. Over time, a couple of other features have become just as important.

First is the shape. The height of the mouse feel perfect under my hand, as does the symetrical shape. More expensive Microsoft Mice with fancy ergonomic shapes, such as the Intellimouse Explorer for Bluetooth feel uncomfortable to me. Given that I’ve used the same mouse design for at least five years, I’m sure any new mouse will feel strange, but I;m certain I want a symmetrical mouse design.

The second important consideration is the button count. The fourth and fifth buttons are important to me- especially the thumb button, which I use as a web-browser back button. Any time I’m forced to use a mouse without this button I suffer an immediate drop in usability- it’s like suddenly losing one of your shift keys. I want at least four buttons on my bluetooth mouse, with the fourth being a large thumb-activated button.

I had hoped to find a bluetooth version of the Intellimouse, but it does not seem to exist. The only bluetooth mouse I’ve found from Microsoft is the one I linked above- Asymmetrical, and with the fourth and fifth buttons next to each other in a placement I find awkward.

Checking other manufacturers has proved fruitless as well. I’ve never been a fan of Logitech mice, but their MX 900 Bluetooth Mouse may be the current frontrunner. It is symmetrical, but the total of 8 buttons seems like overkill, and the dual thumb-accessible buttons don’t look comfortable. I’ll have to find one in a store where I can try it before I decide. Also, it comes with a horribly ugly charging stand/bluetooth hub. I don’t need a “hub” (my computer has bluetooth) and I don’t want a charger- I want a mouse with replaceable batteries like my Apple Bluetooth Keyboard.

DVForge, a company that appears to specialize in accessories for Apple products, has a nice looking contender called The Mouse BT, which would look great next to my Apple Keyboard. Unfortunately, it has only three buttons.

If you know of a bluetooth mouse with at least four buttons and symmetrical form factor, please let me know. This mouse cord is staring to bug me.

Call me Coven

“…the public demands random nouns and middle initials, and will settle for nothing less.”

My Spammer Name is Coven L. Junior. What’s your spammer name? (via Kevan)

Blurbs

It’s been a very busy week, as evidenced by the dearth of posts over the last few days. Work is really keeping me hopping, especially since I missed two days serving jury duty. I didn’t really want to go, but I will say it was satisfying to convict someone who preys on children- and that is all I will say about the matter. Herewith some random thoughts from the past week.

  • I watched Steve Jobs’ Macworld Expo Keynote Tuesday evening. It deserves its own post, which it got.

  • While on the topic, this made me laugh out loud (via zephoria.org).

  • Considering the impact the original MacPaint had when the original Mac was introduced, and the longevity of MacPaint 2.0, I find it amazing that OS X comes with no “paint” application. Even Windows has one. I haven’t had any luck locating an open source, OS X-native paint app, either. This is one of those projects I consider doing myself, until I remember just how much free time I have.

  • Speaking of free time, I stole some by staying up far too late for the past few nights, indulging myself with a copy of the new version of Sid Meier’s Pirates! This is one of my all-time favorite games, dating all the way back to my Commodore 64 in high school. The new version is quite faithful to the original, and yet still as engaging as ever. I’m playing it on the kids’ PC… I wasn’t about to wait 6 months or more for an OS X version.

  • The hot topic in the technical blogosphere these days is “folksonomies”, which just means categorization schemes where the end users create categories on the fly. Think del.icio.us and Flickr. Whoever coined that term should be slapped, but the whole notion of roll-your-own tags rocks. I use del.icio.us quite a bit (my del.icio.us links); here’s a couple of tricks I use:

    • Tags starting with an asterisk (*) sort to the top of the list, making for quick reference. I have a few, such as *toread, *toblog, *tobuy, etc.

    • Since everything on del.icio.us has its own rss feed, I went to my “reading list” (http://del.icio.us/jason/*toread) and used Firefox’s autodiscovery support to create a Live Bookmark subscription, which sits in my Bookmarks Toolbar. Anytime I want something to read, there it is. Now I just need to find the time to read the stuff.

  • Getting a couple hundred comment spam attempts a day lately. Attempts – my spam trap is catching them. Don’t forget, the comment system uses Markdown… no raw HTML links, please. I think it has a bug that marks some trackbacks as spam… I restore these when I see them, but if you send me a trackback and it doesn’t show up, e-mail me.

The Obligatory Macworld Expo Keynote Post

Yes, this is late. Steve Jobs’ Macworld Expo Keynote was days ago. It’s been a busy week. Nevertheless, here’s a few thoughts: * iLife ’05– can’t wait to play with the new Garageband. Notation rocks.

  • iWork ’05 – Two products does not a suite make- perhaps. Although it feels ‘thin’ with only two apps, Pages appears to be two apps in one- word processing and dektop publishing. OS X already comes with an e-mail client. I doubt many people need a desktop database (a la MS Access), but a 21st century version of Hypercard might get some attention (maybe a desktop Wiki, Apple style?). A spreadsheet would be nice.

  • iPod Shuffle – These will fly off the shelves. If it was available before Christmas, I might have chosen this instead of the full-sized iPod. When a co-worker mentioned Friday she’d like an iPod for exercising, but the price was high, I showed here the Shuffle online. She was ready to order one on the spot.

  • Mac Mini – My Shuffle-wanting co-worker then remembered her home computer doesn’t have a USB port (yes, it’s old). I showed here the Mac Mini. She’s ready to buy one of those, too. I expect they’ll sell a bundle of ’em. I do think they should have supported PS/2 Keyboard & Mouse connections… so many people sill have these. They could offer a little USB adapter that accepts both a PS/2 keyboard and mouse, sell it for $39 like the iPod Shuffle accessories.

  • “The Year of HD” – Whatever. If I had $3500 for an HD Camera, I think I could find other ways to spend it. I suspect most consumers feel the same way. As far as video professionals and Apple, I don’t know enough to comment.

  • For a couple of good reads on the Mac Mini and Apple’s marketing prowess, have a look at this Urban Mainframe piece and this incredible “infographic” at NiXLOG.

Why, Apple, Why?

As the International Olympic Committee considers adding the sports of “Spreading Apple Rumors” and “Suing Apple Rumorsites” to the official list, one of the rumors to come out of last week appears (sadly) to be true:

On Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM Pacific Time, Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs will deliver the keynote address for Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Calif. Unlike years past, however, there will be no live webcast of Jobs’ keynote speech.

In a statement released this morning, Apple confirmed that it will webcast the keynote — but doesn’t plan to do so until 6:00 PM Pacific Time Tuesday, nine full hours after Jobs’ keynote is scheduled to begin.

viaMacCentral

What a shame. Having purchased my Powerbook two years ago this February, last year’s MacWorld Expo Keynote was the first I watched, and I watched part of it live (I lost track of time at work, and tuned in late). As a fan of Apple’s products, it was exciting. Steve Jobs is certainly a showman. By the end of the presentation, I’d blogged about Apple’s new goodies twice, and the next day I ordered GarageBand and the first Jam Pack on the Apple store.

I’ve been looking forward to this Keynote ever since. I’m sure if I watched it live, I’d end up blogging about it during the show. By the time I see the recording tommorow (which will be 9pm EST), all of the news will be old. What a shame.