Tag Archives: review

Fantastic Mathematics Wall Calendar For 2018

I love the The Mathematics Calendar 2018.

Math Calendar sample days
It has an equation or other statement about math for every day, often linked to that day (like, the January 13th entry is “the sixth prime number”). Some entries are little mat quizzes for you to fugue out. Some are funny jokes, like the entry for Thanksgiving (any guesses as to what that might be? Hint: It is a formula.) The level of difficulty of understanding the reference or solving the problem ranges from suitable for a smart 7 year old (Huxley has figured some out) up through college level. Also, the picture that go with each moth are totally cool and, of course, mathy.

The calendar is complied by Rebecca Rapoport, of Harvard. She is also the author of Math Lab for Kids, which is not a dog, but a book, that looks good but that I’ve not seen.

I’m tagging this post with the keyterm “holiday shopping” to hopefully remind me to remind you that this is a great holiday gift for that special math nerd or math teacher in your life.

Recommended music player and radio for the gym

Several weeks ago I tried once again, after many prior ill fated attempts over several years, to get a device that would play music, audio books, and be a radio. The audiobook part wasn’t the most important part, but the ability to play various audio files AND act as a radio AND not be a big giant thing I had to strap to a body part AND be sturdy were all important. This latest attempt has gone very well, and I now have a device that is very nice and therefore, I figured you’d want one too.

This time I tried the AGPtEK M20S 8GB Mini MP3 Player(Expandable Up to 64GB), Lossless Sound Touch Button Metal Music Player with FM/Voice Record,Silver and I love it, enough to recommend it.

Here are some of the specs from the manufacturer:

<li>Tiny and Solid Construction: The metal body makes it sturdy with some weight. Mini and portable,only 3 x 0.3 x 1.2 inches.</li>

<li>Lossless Sound Quality: High sound quality brings crystal clear sound wherever you are. Support audio formats: MP3/WMA/OGG/APE(Normal/Fast)/FLAC/WAV/AAC-LC/ACELP.</li>

<li>Easy Operation with Touch Button: Designed with 6 touch buttons and 5 metal buttons,independent locking and volume control. Fashion and convenient operation.</li>

<li>Multi-function: With music play, FM radio, FM/voice recording, resume playback, folder view, clock screensaver, bookmarks etc.</li>

<li>Long playback time: Up to 14 hours of audio playback with 2 hours of full charge. 8 GB digital storage media capacity, supports up to 64 GB (not included). To avoid incompatibility, please use AGPTek Memory Card.</li>

Did you see that it holds a microSD? I’ve not used that feature, but that is pretty cool. It has folders you can divide the music up in, which is, essentially, a very efficient way of making a play list. I’ve also not tried to record music off the radio. I’ll probably never listen to music on this radio. I may, however, record Rachel Maddow now and then..

At this point, being fairly new, I think it goes well beyond the 2 hour charge estimate.

It is complicated, this little device, and therefore can not be operated with a single button like a Shuffle. So, it will take a little while to lerarn how to use it (perhaps a full five minutes). Just remember, the reverse U button backs you out, and that’s a great way to change modes. The menu hamburger button, while listening to a radio station, lets you make a preset or change the presets.

I’m not sure that I loved the headphones. I remember not being too impressed with how they fit, but that’s going to be true for everybody vis-a-vis various headphones. I just plugged in my favorite headphones and used them. I’d grab them and look them over one more time to give you my opinion, but it is possible that the cat ate them.

Also, I just noticed, that if you get the AGPtEK now and buy an additional item with it, like a microSD card or a wall charger, you can get a discount on something. I’m not in the market for any of those things so I didn’t look closely.

An interesting new scifi-fantasy book: Evil Speaks

Evil Speaks: Warriors and Watchers Saga by S. Woffington is a new scifi/fantasy novel with an interesting twist.

If there is a Bechdel Test for ableism, it would pass.

This is an interesting story written for youthful readers (see publisher’s summary below) that is well written and mostly devoid of the usual plot holes we find in this genre, but where the characters represent a range of non normative persona.

Benny, fifteen, is solitary by circumstance more than choice: he counts each move to a new town as “a life.” He’s on Life Number Seven. His last! He plans to run away from his paranoid mother, who’s been on the run since the disappearance of his father when he was three. Benny has no memory of it, except for weird dreams of a firestorm and a hideous dragon. After a fight with his mother, Benny packs his bags. Boom! The house explodes, catapulting Benny into a world he never imagined existed. The trail leads him to a gated Neoclassical building in the woods and to six teens he vaguely remembers: Kami is deaf, Amir is blind, Zuma is overweight, Layla is gorgeous but lazy, Chaz is in a wheelchair and Raj is as angry as the purple dagger-shaped birthmark running down the side of her face. These unlikely heroes share a common thread: Benny lost his father and they lost their mothers on the same day. The only clue to the mystery is Benny’s grandfather, Domenico H. Adez, a strange and dangerous man. “In my last years at Harcourt, I can’t remember reading one single fantasy MG or YA that was half as interesting as the world you have created. . . It really was a cool discovery that you had linked these modern-day misfits to Greek mythology and Greek history! So brilliant! Between the fight scenes and the stories and people and creatures of Greek mythology coming to life, it was truly a roller-coaster adventure. And the ending—now THAT is how you leave us wanting for more!” –Editor, Evil Speaks

Evil Speaks is self published, and the author, S. Woffington, also wrote Unveiling.

A Phabulous Phablet from Lenovo

Lenovo makes two Phablets that are similar, the 4G and the 4G plus. The latter is not bigger (in fact, it is a little smaller) but rather, has higher specs all around, making it a fairly expensive device. But the Lenovo PHAB 4G Phablet (regular) is practically free and is actually rather Phabulous.

OK, well, not fee, but about 170 bucks or so, except now closer to $130 from Gearbest. (As far as I know this is the only place to get it. Gearbest has a very large selection of Lenovo phones and phablets, as well as a high diversity of generally very affordable tablets.)

So, I tried out the Lenovo PHAB 4G Phablet.

First, what is a Phablet and why do you want one?

The broadest definition of Phablet is that it is a kind of hybrid between a tablet and a phone. So, for example, the Nexus 6 is sometimes called a Phablet. That is the phone I use. It is very large (requires very large hands), so it has piles of screen real estate, yet it is a phone. But, the Nexus 6 is not really a true phablet by a stricter definition, because it acts like a phone, rather than a tablet, in those areas where they are different.

lenovo_phone_tablet_phablet_size

The Lenovo PHAB 4G Phablet is, as far as I can tell, an actual phablet with phone hardware and software and, of course, a place for an SMS card.

It actually has room for 2 SMS cards, and in this and other ways, is highly adaptable and international. Even though you can’t (probably) get this phone from any US carriers, you can still probably buy it an put the SMS of your favorite carrier in it (check here first). Or two SMS cards if you want.

Or, you can use one of the SMS holders to hold the SMS, and the other to hold a micro SD card, for up to 64GB of added storage.

lenovo_phablet_in_handThe display is very large, and the glass front of the device continues out to the edge, with the display, within that area, having a 6.98″ diagonal. The phablet is thin, sturdy, light. The back is gripable rather than super smooth, so it is comfortable in the hand. I probably should put a case on this, but I’d almost rather not it is so easy to handle as is.

There is a normal headphone jack, so you don’t have to worry about that. And, a MicroUSB slot.

Specs:

<li>The processor is a Qualcomm MSM8916 Quad Core 1.2GHz (with the ability to go to 1.84GHz)</li>
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB eMCP ROM Storage. Note: This tablet uses stock android, so more of this 16GB is available than you might find on, say Samsung phones, which may use many gigabytes of storage for its own proprietary non-removable system software.
  • Capacitive touch display, 6.98 inch, 1280 x 720 (HD 720)
  • Dual cameras, very good quality, 13.0MP rear (with flash) and 5.0MP front.
  • SIM card slot can hold two SIM cards, Dual Standby
  • MicroUSBV slot in place of one of the two SIM cards, as an option (up to 64GB)
  • the Battery is 3.7/4250mAh, and the device comes wiht an adapter that handles 100-240 volts
  • The dual SMS or SMS + microSD holder.
    The dual SMS or SMS + microSD holder.
  • There is a G sensor
  • GPS
  • Blue tooth and WiFi
  • Supports 2G + 3G + 4G high speed internet access
  • Unlocked for international use.
  • Comes with Android 5.1
  • The speaker seems exceptionally good, better sound than my Nexus. Also, the mic is pretty good, for dictation.
  • I am probably going to use this phone for two purposes. First, I’ll offload much of the funcitonality of my Nexus 6 onto this tablet, with its larger screen, etc. I’ve found that the Kindle Reader works really well on this, and the phone is just the right size and weight — Amazon should make a reader just this size and shape — so I’ll be reading non-text books (i.e., technology books, etc.) on this, when I can wrestle the device away from Huxley, who is reading his stuff on it as I write this.

    Second, I’ll get one of those inexpensive short term phone accounts, like Ting provides (but probably not Ting) and I’ll use the tablet as a wireless hotspot for the family’s laptops and other devices, when traveling.

    That second use will also allow me to use this Android phablet as a base for communicating with robots that have SMS cards. Once I get some of those.

    I have always loved Lenovo products, going to back when they were made by IBM. I used only Lenovo laptops back in the day, and I still have a few of them laying around. Lenovo was bought by a Chinese company some time ago, but continued to make laptops. This phablet seems to be in the range of engineering quality I would expect for a consumer grade product made by this company. In other words, well made and solid.

    Let me introduce you to my little friend …

    The ePaper Kindle is back in my life. I started out with one (the original model), then moved on to using tablets and phones and computers and stuff to read ebooks. Then, I got a Kindle Fire (see this discussion), and that was nice.

    But I wanted an ePaper reading surface for all the reasons people tend to discuss. It is more like paper, perhaps does not have the down sides of constantly staring at a light emitting screen, etc.

    There is an ePaper kindle that is under $80 (with the non obtrusive special offers on the sleep screen) that has very long battery time, holds a gazillion books, etc. This link will get you to the “New Kindle 6-inch”. I’m sure that’s a great Kindle, but I opted for the somewhat more expensive “Paper White” model: Kindle Paperwhite E-reader, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi. This comes in different colors (black vs. white) and with or without cell phone type connectivity.

    The “Paper White” has mysteriously placed LEDs that light the screen from somewhere nearby the screen itself. It is like having a book light but using quantum mechanics instead of a tiny light bulb. I don’t really understand it. It is optional: can be turned off for the full effect of ePaper, or turned up and down as desired.

    There are a couple of elite super duper higher end versions of this as well that have potentially important differences, and some probably very unimportant differences.

    The Kindle Voyage E-reader is slightly smaller and lighter and brighter (more of the LEDs). The “Kindle Oasis” has even more LED’s, and comes with a fancy “charging cover,” and is even smaller. This is for people who are so fancy they can spend nearly 300 bucks on an eReader that is smaller than everyone else’s eReader!

    To me, this is crazy. If anything, I’d like a larger one, maybe an inch taller and a quarter inch wider.

    Here’s the thing. The original Kindle and several early models had buttons that you could use to turn the page. That was annoying to many people but many got used to it. The “New Kindle” and the “Kindle Paperwhite” use only touch screen capabilities (but built on to the ePaper using some sort of magic). This eliminates the accidental page turning. The touch screen, however, is not the best touch screen in the world. I’m doing fine with it, I’m happy, but some people will want their damn buttons back. The Voyage and Oasis have both touch screen and buttons. And, they are vastly more expensive. I’ve not played around with them so I have no advice on this, but I don’t really like the buttons so it was easy for me to not spend the extra money.

    With this new eReader, I actually find myself reading more, and choosing the eBook option over the paper option more frequently.

    A very promising inexpensive Android tablet

    I’m just passing this information on, I’ve not handled this device. But the price and performance seem like such a sweet spot that I am compelled to tell you about it. Let me know in the comments if you have experience with this item.

    The Dragon Touch M8 2016 Edition 8 inch Quad Core Tablet is a competitively priced high quality tablet, with excellent reviews. It costs 80 bucks. A while back, I asked if you should buy a $50 Kindle Fire Tablet. I concluded that maybe you should, because it is cheap and if the main thing you are doing with your tablet is grazing your Amazon Kindle booklist, it is actually idea. The Dragon Touch M8 (2016) is larger (8 inch display), and runs basic Android (different from the fire) and while a bit more expensive, it is also cheap.

    Click through to see the specs. . It is a quad core with 1gb of ram, has a memory card slot for an extra 32 gigs of storage above the built in 16 gigs, GPS (that requires, I think, wireless), blue tooth, an HDMI plug, which might make it ideal for carrying around to give presentations (though you might need a ).

    Scanning the reviews on Amazon, it seems that the bad reviews are about individual tablets that are broken in some way. The good reviews are pretty glowing. There are some complaints about the forward facing camera, but this may arise from the fact that at least in some tablets, this camera has a separate protective film on it that some may not have removed.

    This tablet is not going to be as good as an iPad or a Google Nexus 9. It may be noticeably slower, especially with high demand apps like some games. But, if you simply can’t afford a tablet this may be a good choice, or if you want a second device for specific purposes that are not that demanding, you can probably skip some mid-priced pleasure (like going out to eat or something) and totally justify the purchase.

    What is the best mouse for a Mac, Linux, or Windows?

    One mouse to rule them all

    I had previously reviewed the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse, suggesting it as a replacement for the Apple Magic Mouse. Now, I’ve tried it on my Linux machine (don’t know why that took so long). It turns out to work very well, better than most, possibly all, mice I’ve used.

    One’s mouse is a very personal thing, and everyone is going to have a potentially different opinion about what the best mouse is. The Ultrathin is designed to work with laptops/notebooks because it is small, and it is assumed that everything you use with such a portable device must be small. The truth is, you can carry around a whopping big mouse in your notebook bag and not even notice, so this is a bit of a fallacy. Anyway, it obviously works with any computer with a bluetooth connection, desktop or laptop.

    Also, some people want their mouse to be big, some want it to be small. And most people can probably grow to like whichever mouse they are using, and thus develop their preference longer term. I personally like a very large mouse or a very small mouse. I can not explain that.

    A touchy mouse

    There are, these days, two fundamentally different kinds of mouse. One is the kind with buttons and scroll bars and such, the other is the kind with a swipe-able surface. The Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse is one of the latter. It vaguely resembles the standard Apple mouse that comes with modern Apple computers, but is trapezoidal in shape rather than ovaloid. It is also smaller.

    As I noted in my earlier review, my Apple mouse was starting to act strange, so I decided to replace it, and instead of getting an Apple mouse, I got the cheaper Logitech touchy mouse to try it out, and I’ve not looked back.

    Designed for Windows/Mac but Works on Linux

    There are two versions of this mouse, the T631 for Mac for the Mac, and the T630 for Windows. As far as I can tell, they are the same, but look different, with the Mac version being white and the Windows version being black. Makes sense at several levels.

    I have read on the Internet, which is never wrong, that the Windows version works fine on Linux, and I can attest to the Mac version working fine on Linux as well. I doubt that at present Linux is using all the various swipy capabilities of the mouse, but it moves the cursor, has left and right click, swipe-scrolling, and it may also emulate a middle mouse button. Two fingered swiping back and forth trigger Linux buttons 8 and 9. And so on.

    Obviously, I’ve not tried this mouse on Windows. Why would I ever do that?

    Two hook ups and Great Battery Life

    This is a bluetooth mouse (and that is how you get it to work with your Linux machine). The mouse has a selector switch, A and B, so you can pair it with two different computers (such as your desktop or your laptop).

    Unlike the Apple Mouse or many other existing mice, this device does not use batteries that you replace. (Indeed, the Apple Mouse is even pretty picky about the kind of battery you use.) You plug it in to a micro USB cord hooked to something with power, every now and then. It charges really fast, and the charge lasts a long time.

    I recommend the T630 or T31.

    Should You Buy The $50 Kindle Fire Tablet?

    This is a review of the Kindle Fire with 7″ Display and Special Offers by Amazon. In short, this is a tablet/eReader that a lot of people will want, as long as certain needs are extant and certain expectations understood. I have one, and I’m very happy with it. It would take very little convincing for me to get a second one.

    One of the main reasons to give serious thought to getting one of these is the fact that it will put you back a mere fifty bucks.

    Don’t expect a brilliant tablet for fifty bucks. You may want a nice full blown Android tablet, or if you prefer, an iPad. That will cost you several hundred dollars, and may be worth it. The Kindle Fire reviewed here is not that.

    This Kindle tablet has a processor that is slower than the faster processors, has a screen resolution about 20% lower than good quality typical tablets, and moderate but not overwhelming graphics capability. If you are going to rely on a tablet, use it all the time for all the things one might use a tablet for, get a Google Pixel C or, if you don’t have $700 bucks, the also awesome Google Nexus 9.

    Don’t get the Kindle Fire with 7″ Display and Special Offers to be THE tablet in your life. But, if you read Kindle books, and you want an eReader that is tablet-like (rather than electronic paper), consider a device that is 50% as fast as something that is so fast you can’t tell how fast it is, 80% as crisp, but only 10% of the cost. Seriously, at $50, instead of $400 or $700, this is worth consideration.

    I don’t actually own an up to date super tablet. Rather, I have a phablet, a super phone (one of the most powerful out there) which is huge, and acts like a tablet well enough. For watching videos and reading eBooks using the Kindle reader, I have an iPad 2, which is essentially brain dead as a tablet (since it will not run the newer operating systems in any realistic way) but works OK for these two tasks. Adding the Kindle 7″ eReader, which happens to be an Android tablet, made a lot of sense for me, especially because the iPad 2 actually doesn’t work all that well as a Kindle reader.

    Upsides and downsides

    The display is fine. I tend to read with larger than average font size, and in that area I don’t see any problem with the display resolution. If I had some masochistic need to read books in a tiny tiny font, I’d want a super high resolution display, but that is not me.

    When I put my finger on the display, say of a web page, and scroll, I can see some jumpiness on the screen that I would find annoying if this was my main way of using the internet or doing other tablet or computer related things. But the Kindle eReader not scroll, it pages. And, by the way it pages fast, like it is supposed to, not when it feels like it, like the Kindle Reader operating on an old iPad 2 does.

    This is not the ancestral unadulterated Android operating system. And, let me say, that in my opinion, your phone and your main tablet (if you have an Android tablet) should be plain vanilla Android, and not some storage-killing absurdly designed version of the Android operating system like this one. And, the Kindle tablet I’m talking about here is not that. It is an Amazonoid version of the Android operating system.

    I think you can install Google Play Store on this tablet, but it does not come by default. Rather, you use the Amazon app store. The Amazon App store is roughly as annoying as the Amazon Prime Video interface, in that it never occurred to anyone at Amazon to organize things in a way that makes sense. But, you can actually get much of the software the Google Play Store has, that you would ever want, on Amazon once you dig past the games and fluff. Also, many apps on the Amazon App store are free-er or cheaper. And, if you buy stuff from Amazon generally you may occasionally be getting credits (=money) that you can use for buying things like apps.

    If you like Amazon Music (I don’t use it) or audio books, or Kindle eBooks that talk, etc., then this this tablet should serve you well.

    The interface is a bit different than a regular tablet. Again, if you are looking for The Tablet to do Your Stuff, the interface will be a bit annoying. But if you want a machine that handles mainly ebooks or some other Amazon products like music, movies, etc, then this interface will be excellent for you. The interface scrolls/pages up and down within a given realm of stuff, and back and forth to go between apps, books, video, music. etc. (see the picture above). Amazon related things are bigger and up top. Once again, this device is best for, and good at, interfacing with Amazon.

    And yes, generally, you can install and use Android apps of various kinds, so you can have a web browser, calculator, etc. etc. You can use this as a tablet, but the best use is probably to do some tablet-like stuff along side your Amazon focused stuff.

    The cameras are mediocre.

    The tablet has a descent amount of storage. You can add a micro-SD card. You can not put Amazon books on the micro_SD card but you can download movies from Amazon Prime to it for watching off line. You can have some (many, most) of the apps run off the card. You can put photos and videos you take with the on board cameras there as well. The micro-SD slot will handle a 64 gig card.

    One area I intend to use this device is for bird books. Bird books are too small on a phone. Tablets are too big to carry around in the bush, or on a boat. But bird books that are either apps or that are actual e-books work well on this larger-than-a-phone device, which is still easy to carry it around. I am not likely to drop the Kindle Fire into a swamp. But if I do, I’ve dropped a $50 device, not a $500 device, into a swamp.

    But is it a piece of crap or a well built machine?

    The tablet seems well built. Maybe it will survive being dropped in to a swamp. We’ll see!

    I looked through many of the comments on the device on Amazon, to see what other people thought of it. The comments were divided mainly into two categories. Most were saying pretty much what I’m saying here, that the tablet is great for it’s specified uses, given the price. A smaller number of comments hate it, but it seems like almost all of those comments are about broken tablets. So if you get a broken one, it will be, well, broken. Send that one back!

    This could be great for kids

    I’m just starting to experiment with this, but it has promise. You can set up individual accounts on this Kindle so different people in your family can organize their books and stuff separately. But even more interesting, you can set up a kid version of an account, that is isolated from the rest of the system by a passcode.

    I will be setting up an account for Huxley, to see if it works for him. He only barely reads so far, but there are kid’s games and learning tools that he will enjoy. The screen size of this Kindle is the same as his LeapFrog device, and he is quickly outgrowing the LeapFrog. Also, this may be a good transition into regular reading, since it can have regular books. I have mixed feelings about getting a kid reading into eBooks right away, but for some things it will be appropriate.

    And that is probably why I’ll get a second Kindle Fire 7″. For the kid.

    There are a few other reasons to own an Android tablet that have little to do with normal uses of tablets. Like running an Arduino Android shield. I assume the Kindle Fire will work for that, and if I ever do that I’ll let you know!

    The Special Offers

    Obviously this is not a $50 tablet. It is probably a couple hundred dollars worth of tablet made cheaper by the fact that Amazon wants you to be a Kindle user, and Amazon eBook reader. Then, on top of that, this version of the table throws on ads, otherwise known as “special offers” to bring the price down to fifty bucks.

    So, what are these special offers? There are only two things you need to know about them. First, they only show up on the home screen when the device wakes up after being turned off. Second, you can elect to limit them to be family/kid friendly. I’ve not chosen that option and have not seen anything non-kind friendly, so that may not be necessary.

    The Special Offers are easy to ignore unless you are totally paranoid and walk around saying “you are the product, you are the product” all the time. If you are already reading eBooks, and using the Internet a lot, you are already part of the Borg and this tablet will change nothing.

    But, if you want to get rid of the ads or not have them to begin with, you can just pay $15.

    Should you buy a Kindle Fire 7″ tablet with special offers for fifty bucks?

    I’m reccomending this this Kindle Fire tablet and eReader for a lot of people, noting that the risks of being wrong are small, and there are many potential uses. If you have a need for a Kindle reader right now and aren not committed to ePaper, even better. If you lack a larger tablet or you have a tablet that sucks anyway, yet another reason. If you have a concern that your expensive eReader is going to be trashed because you are going on a long and dangerous trip or spend a lot of time in swamps, get one. If you want to experiment on your child with a tablet, this is a good way to do it cheaply. If you are hobbyist who wants an inexpensive Android tablet this may (or may not) be good. (If you take it in that direction, let me know how it goes).

    Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse: Apple Magic Mouse Replacement

    Problems with the Apple Magic Mouse

    I had been using the stock Apple Magic Mouse on an iMac. The right click often didn’t work properly. Also, selecting and dragging files in Finder, or the Finder replacement I use (PathFinder) often failed. I figured the former was related to the mouse but assumed the latter was related to the OS. That turns out to not be the case.

    The Magic Mouse will run on any AA batteries but if you don’t want to change the batteries a lot and have other problems, you need to use super-duper electronic device batteries. I think I was spending at least $50 a year on batteries. That Magic Mouse is a great piece of design and innovated in being a device that could handle gestures as well as act like a normal mouse.

    But eventually my Magic Mouse started to get old, started burning through batteries more quickly, and most importantly, started disconnecting or otherwise giving problems. No big deal, mice get old and die. Time to get a new one.

    In considering replacing it with a new Magic Mouse, I looked into alternatives and found the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse t631 (not to be confused with the t630). It is explicitly a replacement for the Magic Mouse, but officially also runs on a Windows machine. Checking further, I also found, as is the case with so many devices including those made by Logitech, that it also works on a Linux machine, though the manufacturer does not support it.

    Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse t631

    Knowing that the mouse works on Linux and knowing that I needed a new mouse for my Linux laptop anyway, I went ahead and bought the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T631 for Mac (for somwhere south of $60, which I think is cheaper than a new Magic Mouse).

    The problem I had with double clicking is gone. So, too, is the problem I had with selecting files. Had I known that was the mouse, I would have gotten a new mouse a long time ago (I doubt this is a Magic Mouse problem, probably something wrong with my specific mouse from the get-go).

    The Logitech mouse will not be liked by everyone. When I first started using the Magic Mouse I found the touch was way to sensitive. But in short order I got used to that. People who like the fact that the Magic Mouse has a hair trigger on the click may be annoyed by the fact that you have to push harder to click with the Logitech Ultrathin. Personally, I’m fine with that and probably prefer it.

    The Logitech Ultrathin is, well, ultra thin, and generally, much smaller than the Magic Mouse (but about the same width, which is important for gestures). Given Apple’s trend towards extreme smallness, this should actually excite Apple Ecosystem denizens. For me, again, the smallness is fine. Personally, I prefer to move back and forth between mice of very different sizes, shapes, and overall feel as I move between computers. That is probably just a quirk of mine but I think not ensuring that my hands are always configured in the same exact way no matter what reduces muscle and joint fatigue, decreased the chance of carpel tunnel syndrome, etc.

    The mouse has all the usual gestures. Oddly, even though the Logitech Ultrathin is designed as a Magic Mouse replacement, it has several gesture features that don’t apply to the Mac, but do work with Windows to do various things. For example, there is a left and right edge swipe. It also has an app espose gesture that works on the Mac. The gestures are highly configurable and can be disabled.
    Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 9.22.25 AM
    Seeing this extra gesture functionality makes me want to try it out on Linux sooner than later. Note, for example, that the Logitech Ultrathin has a middle click. Yay for the middle click! (This especially applies to emacs users.) Again, I’ve not tried it out yet, but I’m sure it will work on Linux with a little tweaking.

    The Logitech Ultrathin is a Bluetooth mouse, so your device is going to have to be a bluetooth device. Also, it has a button on the bottom that effectively changes the mouse’s identity, so you can pair one identity with one computer, the other with a different computer. This allows you to easily switch between two computers. All the literature with the mouse talks about doing this with two different Macs, but I don’t know why that wouldn’t work in general. I’ve not tried to pair it with my android phone yet… or an iPad … We’ll see.

    ultrathin-touch-mouse-t631 (1)The mouse runs off an internal rechargeable battery, so that 50 bucks a year I’m spending on batteries for the Magic Mouse paid for the Logitech Ultrathin, assuming it lasts just over a year. It has a fast charge, so one minute of charge is said to produce one hour of use-juice. The company says that one and a half hour of charge gives you about ten days of use. So, remembering to plug it in all night now and then will do it. Which, of course, I won’t remember, but it is a nice thought.

    There is a design flaw, in my opinion, that I want to mention. You plug the charge cord, a micro-USB (which is highly convenient) into the bottom of the mouse. So you can’t use it while it is charging. I’d rather have the mouse hook up to the charger and still be usable, even if it has a cable hanging off it, for those moments when I have to keep working but forgot to charge it. I’m not sure why they made it this way.

    And another thing, one of those strange quirks of the Magic Mouse, now solved. For reasons I did not understand at the time, Google Maps were useless on my iMac. When trying to navigate (using the mouse) by dragging the map, the zoom mode would activate and the map would start growing and shrinking rapidly and randomly. I’d be looking at the distance between my hope and my son’s new grade school, and suddenly I was comparing the distance between Coon Rapids, Minnesota and Bognor Regis, England. With the new mouse, that does not happen. So that is yet another quirk that was the Magic Mouse’s fault, now solved.

    The mouse does not require installing configuration software but you will probably regret not doing so. So do that. Easily done on a Mac, and it works. If I experiment with Linux, I’ll write something up on what esoteric command line magic you will need to make the mouse sing on that OS.

    Amazon Kindle: Promises Broken, But I Still Want One. Well, Two.

    The Amazon Kindle originally promised a technology that would improve your reading experience, at the same time cutting the cost of books in half. Those books would arrive on your Kindle through the magic of the Whisper Net, a free space age delivery service. The Kindle itself would be easier to use, lighter weight, and more readable than an actual book.

    Well, there’s good news and bad news. As the Kindle technology and the eBook market have developed, all of those original promises have become either vapor or else very different than first imagined. Nonetheless, I want a new-old Kindle as well as a Kindle Fire. Let me ‘splain.
    Continue reading Amazon Kindle: Promises Broken, But I Still Want One. Well, Two.