Tag Archives: keyboard

The iPad mini

iPad mini white

I have this weird thing where I’ll keep a tab open for days, weeks, even months, if there’s something even potentially interesting that I can’t deal with right now, but want to do something with eventually. Before you ask, yes, I have heard of bookmarks, but ask any nerd and they’ll tell you they do a similar thing with their browser tabs. It’s not uncommon to have umpteen tabs open at any one time — and of all the stuff I have backed up, I’d be pretty devastated if I lost all my tabs. I could potentially get them back, but that involves trawling through days, maybe even weeks of internet history.  When you visit as many websites as I do, it’s hard to tell what you had open as a tab and what you were merely browsing out of curiosity.

But I digress. I’ve had two tabs open for close to a year now, and as much as I’ve wanted to write something substantial about the iPad mini, there just isn’t anything worth writing about. Not because the iPad mini is boring or anything, but because I just haven’t been inspired to write anything worth publishing. Because when it comes down to it, the iPad just isn’t as interesting as the HP TouchPad was, back in the day. WebOS was just so bad and so good at the same time, you know?

I’ve owned an iPad mini since it was first released around this time last year. It wasn’t my first tablet, but it is my first iPad. I honestly don’t have anything else to say about it that hasn’t been said elsewhere, but with the new iPad Air coming out riding on the coat tails of the iPad mini, I thought I’d take a moment to write about how I’ve been using it.

I think the most telling thing about the iPad is that it hasn’t replaced my computer. That’s telling because I see a lot of older, mature folk replace their clunky Dells with futuristic, touch-enabled iPads, even if they don’t run the same programs as their old computer used to. Why? I’m not sure, exactly, but at a guess, it has something to do with how intuitive Apple has made iOS (and then turned everything upside down with iOS 7, but that’s for another time).

But as much as I enjoy using the iPad, it hasn’t replaced my computer. If all I’m doing is light web browsing and catching up on my Instapaper backlog, then sure, I’ll pick up the iPad over the MacBook Pro any day; the iPad is lighter, has a much longer battery life, and lets me concentrate on one thing at a time, for the most part. It’s kind of like the Kindle, in that regard. For everything else, there’s the Mac: for switching between any of my umpteen open tabs, writing content into browser text boxes, and doing any other kind of serious work.

I tried writing one of the MacTalk daily news posts on my iPad mini one time, and while it was OK, the software keyboard really hindered the process by needing to switch between the various keyboards to access special characters. I could have worked around the issue by using a hardware keyboard or using an app that offered an extra row of characters, but that would have required a little extra preparation on my part, something I wasn’t able to do at the time.

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Das Keyboard (Model S Professional Silent)

If there’s something interesting about humanity, it’s that people want better products. Products that not only satisfy some kind of need, but do it in a way that’s better than anything else on the market. From swanky coffee machines and Herman Miller chairs, all the way through to Apple products and whatever else you care to name, these kinds of products command premium price tags and claim to offer better experiences. And now, even the humble keyboards has joined this cohort.

This desire for premium products that offer better experiences than their lesser-priced counterparts begs the question: wouldn’t you want a better typing experience, if you could have it? If you’re going to spend long hours typing things into a computer, wouldn’t you want a better input mechanism for that input?

The thing is, you can. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the loudest, most obnoxious keyboard you’ll ever use: the mechanical keyboard.

A little while ago I picked up the Das Keyboard Model S Professional Silent, a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches (more on this later). It’s a mechanical keyboard designed for PCs, even though my primary usage is with a Mac (again, more on this later), and it offers a fantastic typing experience. As well as having the distinction of the most expensive keyboard I’ve ever owned, it also carries a far more prestigious title:

It’s the best keyboard I ‘ve ever owned.

Aesthetics
The first thing you have to understand about the Das Keyboard series of mechanical keyboards is that they are big black monoliths. They can easily take over your desk if you give them the chance, and these days even my 27″ Dell UltraSharp looks smaller by comparison. From what I can tell, most of the Das keyboards sport more or less the same design: they’re big, black, and, for the most part, have glossy surfaces with matte black keys. The Professional series of their keyboards feature the labelled, laser-etched keys, while the Ultimate series simply have blank keys.

As for physical dimensions, the Das isn’t overly huge. Generously sized, perhaps, but not overly huge. They’re a few centimetres longer than the Apple aluminium keyboard with numeric numpad, my previous keyboard, but nothing too extreme. You probably won’t notice the extra length unless you have a tiny desk, or have some kind of aversion to innuendo in seemingly innocuous keyboard reviews.

Overall, the build quality of the Das is good. It feels incredibly solid, and seeing as it weights in at 1.36 kilos, this is the kind of keyboard that would make a nice impression on someone’s head, if it were to be used in that fashion. I probably wouldn’t recommend it, though — for one, you would definitely be kissing your warranty goodbye. Alternatively, if you’re one to fall asleep at your keyboard, I’m sure the keys will make a lovely impression on your forehead.

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The Fun Theory.

We believe that the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better is by making it fun to do. We call it The fun theory.

via YouTube – Piano stairs – Rolighetsteorin.se – The fun theory.

Stuff like this is pretty awesome.

This post part of Blogtober 2009. I could be blogging about my recent Google Wave experiences, the fact that I have 3 assignments due within the next couple of days, or the fact that I like sleeping, but you know, this’ll have to do.

motionally.com | inexpensive HD motion graphics | WELCOME

Motionally.com provides inexpensive royalty-free HD motion graphics templates you can use immediately within Final Cut Pro.

We produce finished templates — mostly lower thirds Master templates — that you can use directly in Final Cut Pro without further tweaking. HD 1080p, 1080i, 720p and SD resolutions at PAL or NTSC frame rates, 16:9 or 4:3 title safe — no problem.

via motionally.com | inexpensive HD motion graphics | WELCOME.

Iain Anderson, from motionally.com did me a huge favour: he enabled the emoji keyboard on my iPhone for me.

The emoji saga as I’ll call it, happened when I saw the thread on MacTalk forums saying that a particular iPhone app (since removed from the App Store) enabled the Emoji keyboard for you – even if you weren’t with a supported Japanese carrier.

I then contacted Iain, who was willing to make a small ad-hoc app that ran the “Emoji-enabling” code when opened. All I had to do was send him my iPhone’s UDID (easy with apps like iStat for iPhone), and he did the rest.

Sure, there are now free apps on the app store that will enable the Emoji keyboard for you – just search “emoji” on the app store. I think there’s a $1.19 typing program that does it (as well as a free one).

To actually enable the emoji keyboard, though: Launch the app, hit the home button, go to Settings –> General –> Keyboard –> International Keyboards –> Japanese and then change “Emoji” from OFF, to ON. It’s that simple.

So, there you have it. Emoji will now be enabled, and you’ll be able to send cute animations to all your iPhone-friends. For the full FAQ, hit up the Mactalk link here.

Thanks once again, Iain. Your iPhone-registered developerness was much appreaciated in this instance! 😛

Cheers.