In the last week, I have come to feel that an end to an era is approaching: The Era of the mouse as the primary interface navigation tool for computing.
At least, it certainly is in my case.
I have used the Apple Magic Trackpad for less than a week and I am already in love with it. Far more so than the hybrid Apple Magic Mouse, which I found somewhat gimmicky and a little disappointing, so until this absolute gem came along, I was a devout fan of Wacom’s mouse and pen pad, the mighty Intuos 4: And I still am, to an extent. Insomuch as I use it now solely as a pen input device for my Photoshop/Illustrator work.
It just comes naturally
In terms of learning curve, if you own a MacBook or Power Book or indeed any form of capacitative touch screen device with multi-finger input (such as an iPhone, iPad or an Android) then you’ll be right at home the moment you use place your finger on its silky smooth surface.
For me, it came naturally within seconds, even though I rarely use a trackpad on a laptop. And I would not be lying to say that in terms of learning curve, nothing could be shallower!
In terms of being a trackpad, it is the finest example I have ever used. Every complaint I have had with other trackpads… (too small, too smooth, too rough, insensitive to dry fingers, sensitive to nearby gadgets, finicky, inaccurate, noticeable input lag, random response towards the edge)… And I mean every single one I can think of right now, has been addressed and overcome.
Here are some of the things I think make it stand out:
- Wireless – No more cables on your already cluttered desk.
- Quality – It’s not just a crappy, overstocked, last-year’s-model notebook trackpad shoehorned into a cheap plastic holder and resold. No, it is crafted as well as any Apple device I have used.
- Size – BIG! As I said above, it’s not a repackaged notebook device.
- Perfect frictional texture – You find your fingers don’t slide without tactile feedback and yet it’s not so rough that your finger is worn to a nubbin after 8 hours of constant use.
- Accuracy, stability and response speed – Seemingly instantaneous response with razor sharp accuracy. The mouse pointer may as well be tied to your finger!
- Attention to detail – For example, on other pads, if you overrun the edge of the pad, the cursor abruptly stops. However, on the Apple Magic Trackpad, the response gracefully degrades in such a way that you naturally return your finger to the centre of the pad. Very subtle, very Apple.
- System integration – The driver software and its integration with Apple’s Mac OS X is as close to perfect as one could ever wish for.
One word: Goodbye!
I just went to the App Store today and was amazed to see the new prices… I had contacted Apple Japan by email, feedback form and finally by phone in an effort to ascertain why prices were so fracking expensive.
For example, until the new pricing came into effect, Japanese customers (me included) were paying nearly 50% over the odds… Due to the really high yen.
The Yen, as it stands is currently at an unfathomably high ¥78 per US$1.
- $0.99 was ¥115 = $1.47 at current exchange rates.
- $4.99 was ¥580 = $7.34
- $9.99 was ¥1150 = $14.70
- $49 software was ¥5800 = $73.41
Now, thankfully things are far more reasonable.
- US$0.99 software is now ¥85 = $1.07
- US$4.99 software is now ¥450 = $5.69
- US$9.99 software is now ¥850 = $10.75
- $49 sofware is now ¥4500 = $56.90
I find myself setting up my home and office’s Macs perhaps a little more often than I would like and when I do, I find, more often than not that I install the following software.
In the first installment of this short series, I will mention a trio of window management utilities.
Note that this is not a list, just software that I am intimately familiar with and have used practically every day for over a year.
I’m running a 27″ iMac with the Awesome IBM T221 3840 x 2400 (yes, that’s right) monitor for photo editing. As such, I really need a bevy of good screen and window management software to keep the huge real estate in order.
$13 / OS X 10.5+
by Irradiated Software
Used on my smaller iMacs, this allows for a window to be sized automatically by user defined shortcuts into full-screen, top / bottom / left / right halves and quadrants. Has some fine tuning functions, too. For example, to adjust the balance between left and right and top and bottom, such as a 60:40 split or 70:30 split or to enable the screens to avoid edges and the dock, etc.
Simple to set up and effortless to use.
Useful rating: ☀☀☀☀☀
$7 / OS X 10.5+
by Irradiated Software
Made by the same company that made Sizeup. Best new UI feature stolen from Vista, drag a window to the top of the screen and watch it maximise. Drag it to the left or right edge and have it neatly resized to half the screen width! The only reason it doesn’t get a rating of five is that cinch doesn’t integrate with the custom left/right settings of Sizeup, and as such screens cinched to the sides tend to interfere with screens manipulated using Sizeup.
Takes 10 seconds to install and get working. Simplicity itself.
Useful rating: ☀☀☀☀
$14 / Mac OS X 10.5+
I consider this the king of window management software. You can divide your screen into a user defined grid and assign shortcut keys to resize windows to an arbitrary shape and size for the ultimate flexibility. Alternatively, if you need a custom size window, you can press a hotkey and rapidly assign a window to anywhere on the grid using the mouse!
As with most powerful utilities, the trade off is time required to set up the software in a personal and meaningful way. Still, if you’re willing to invest a little time in it, the payoff is increased productivity and more efficient screen use.
Useful rating: ☀☀☀☀☀
Free / Mac OS X 10.5+
A little different to the others here, Isolator allows you to focus on just one task or window and thus reducing distractions on the average, cluttered desktop by darkening or blurring the other windows out with a simple definable keystroke or a click of the mouse on the menubar.
Elegant and simple.
Useful rating: ☀☀☀
So long and thanks for all the fish! In Apple’s eternal quest for your money, they are continuing their disrespect for Mac OS 10.5 Leopard users less than two years after 10.6 came on to the market. forcing you to upgrade your OS at an increasing pressure rate that would make Microsoft blush.
In seven days, Mobile Me will no longer support iCal push to Leopard clients. F*** the What?
I run a shed load of Power PC macs which refuse to die…. And their OS was only superseded only in June 2009, less than two years ago… At which point all updates ceased abruptly, with only security patches from that point on.
I always remembered the adage…. “You don’t need a new PC because the old one will always continue to do what it always has done…”
Bah humbug. Not any more… With the cloud centred life that we are all starting to live, they can rescind anything they want at any time…. And with MobileMe, they’re doing just that… already…
Looks like I’m not the only one whose Intel iMac 27″ beautiful screen is discoloured and dirty, with dark patches, stripes and bands.
I think Steve’s video is worth transcribing because what he said certainly casts a shadow over Apple’s legendary customer service.
Hello everyone… Well, my name is Steven and I used to be a proud owner of an iMac 27″
A state of the art…. their flagship computer.
And basically after 90 days they invalidated my warranty and said that they’re not gonna fix it because it’s been used in a TOXIC ENVIRONMENT.
First of all, let me just take you on a journey… I’ll bring you over here…. to the environment that my iMac is used in.
Erm… let’s see, it’s almost like any normal person’s home office. maybe much smaller of course you know… but… well…
[Here he takes us on an impromptu tour of his humble, yet well kept, and might I say, well kitted… abode.
microwave, plasma TV… iPhone and docking station…. and…. heaven forbid, he even has a Cup Noodle in to cupoard!!!!
It is during this tour that he shows us his iMac.
My iMac… My iMac… let me show you my iMac. I think you can see fairly well on the right hand side of the screen: Marks running from top to bottom. That’s actually… those seem to be getting worse. But even on a greyish background you can still see it fairly clearly. Bring it in….
Argh!… look at a that man! It’s disgusting!
But, erm… Apple have turned around an’ said I’ve been using the Mac in a TOXIC ENVIRONMENT.
YEAH. MY HOME OFFICE. YEAH. MY BLOODY HOME OFFICE!
Yeah, it might be attached to my kitchen…
[He continues the tour]
Look, my computer’s running absolutely bloody fine but…
The screen is a complete mess!
And Apple have said, “Go get stuffed, you’ve got a dirty house you’ve got a toxic bloody environment.”
And I will not accept that.
They want me to pay four hundred and seventeen frigging pounds for a new screen!
What? Because of this toxic environment? This toxic environment?
Jeezus! There’s millions upon millions of people around the world who have an office just like this…
Probably guys…. probably guys who have even small offices than this… Jeezus!
[Back on the tour]
Well. I’m afraid it’s over… You know like Apple… You know like…
Your firm… Steve Jobs….Your representative called my home a toxic environment!
And you need to get that sorted!
If you’re treating customers like this after 90 days… after 90 days… not even a year…
You are BREAKING THE LAW, sir… You are BREAKING THE LAW…
And you are breaking the covenant with he customer.
And I’ll not take…. I’ll not take it!
I sincerely hope they see their stupidity and you get your problem sorted out as rapidly as I did.
I think I’m going to send this to The Register. They always seem to know what to do with material like this!
Intel iMac 27″ developing dirty, dark spots and patches on the screen : The zombie problem that just won’t die!
Like one of those nightmare zombies that never stays dead, the dreaded screen dirty dark patch screen problem has recurred….
Started with this:
Admittedly, it did come back from repairs in record time.
But that was only the beginning, Since this battle for a replacment continued for over a year!!
Then, my new iMac 27″ started to develop dark patches on the screen too.
I’m running it in a cool, clean dry environment.
As usual, the discolouration appears to be behind the glass. Or even behind the pixels themselves, in the underlying lighting panel. So there’s no way it could be dirt from regular use.
This time, the discolouration looks somewhat like hand prints…
Or, forget trying to describe it. Let me show you some pics…
Photos taken with an old D70, so vignetting and sensor dirt is a little bit of a problem.
Please note, that these marks only appeared last week so I’ve upped the contrast of the pictures. But I can assure you that within a month they will be quite visible without tweakage.
Ignore the yellow piss-like tinge at the bottom of the screen, although it’s there, it’s hardly noticeable at honest contrasts.
Here is a closeup of the left hand side. Note that I had to intentionally blur the picture when taking it since the moire effect of the pixels made the final image unviewable. What a mess of dots and a fine patina of blobs! Yuck!
Now for the right hand side:
This looks a little bit like the heel of someone’s hand, perhaps…?!?
What more can I add?… This is my second iMac 27″ screen and my 7th (or 8th) iMac screen in total. Grrrr Arrgh! As the phrase goes.
Apple’s quality control has not improved over the last three years.
I’ll keep you posted.
My iMac 27″ came back from Apple after it developed dark patches on the screen and has had its screen repaired. It is now as good as new (well, technically better because I only actually bought a 24″ iMac, and this one was a replacement).
In any case, the machine is back and has been restored to its former glory.
My real worry is that, since it took 8 months for the patches manifest and suddenly, over the course of a month, spread to cover the whole screen, will I be in for another replacement in nine month’s time? I hope not because my guarantee runs out in March of 2011…. I think I’m going to have to get Apple Care, Again!