Alternate Option
Thoughts from me.
Monday, October 31, 2005 12:04 pm
Apple Mighty Mouse: thumbs up, but don’t buy one
The new iMac G5comes bundled with a Mighty Mouse: It looks like Apple plans to ditch the single button mouse, and bundle this newly released mouse with all new computers.

I was quite dubious about the Mighty Mouse when it was first released. And quite amused about the way it flew off shelves soon after. One of those buyers was my cousin, who bought one for my dad. Unfortunately my dad hadn’t upgraded to Mac OS X 10.4. Tiger, and was unable to install the Mighty Mouse software.

Not one to pass up on trying out new Apple technology, I happily installed the software and the mouse on my own Macintosh, with exceedingly low expectations.

Surprisingly, the nipple (scroll ball) on top of the mouse is quite functional. It’s small, but the sensitivity is sufficient that I can scroll through pages of text in single “strokes” i.e. before having to lift my finger off the ball.

I’m not sure diagonal scrolling actually works—not in Safari anyway. Left/right scrolling does, and quite nicely too. I like the scrolling nipple—it works well, but is also out of the way if someone decides not to use it.

Yes, the left finger needs to be raised when doing a right-click. And yes, that is annoying.

Apple has chosen to make only one physical clicking mechanism on the top of the mouse—the detection between the left, right mouse buttons, and the mouse ball clicks are totally electrical. Therefore if one’s finger is on the left and right mouse buttons when the clicking mechanism (“right mouse button”) is clicked, then the click registers as a left click. The same goes for clicking the ball itself.

For someone who uses a 8 button mouse (Logitech MX700), this is quite painful. Because, simply put: I can’t activate Exposé using the “ball button” while I’m dragging and dropping. Oop. I can use the keyboard, but… that’s a step backward.

However, I still am quite pleased that Apple made this approach. There are people out there (my mum) for whom 2 mouse buttons is one too many. And I was worried that Apple’s move towards multi-button mice meant that one-button mice would be forever off the market.

Not the case: by configuring the System Preferences, the Mighty Mouse still feels like, and functions as a one-button mouse + a bonus scroll ball.

I haven’t seen this being mentioned anywhere else, but I think Apple has made the best of its unique position as being the only mainstream one-button mouse maker on the planet. For anyone who buys a new Macintosh, the Mighty Mouse offers more than the earlier optical mouse did. And for those who crave a real “power mouse”, they can still get whatever 3rd party mouse they want from the shops—no change there. Value is added, features have not been removed, and Apple doesn’t compete head-on with hardcore mouse makers like Logitech. Very smart.

I wouldn’t recommend anyone buy one off the shelves though. Once this mouse replaces the old optical mouse, you’ll find all those power users eager to get rid of the Mighty Mouse on the cheap.

[posted with ecto]


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2:50 am
Batman Begins soundtrack good. Kingdom of Heaven not so.
According to my iTunes playcount, I have listened to the Batman Begins soundtrack 26 times now. And some individual tracks (Molossus) even more than that.

It’s surprising, because I remember leaving the movie thinking the music was only OK, and definitely not anthemic like Danny Elfman’s 1989 version was. But now, I can’t stop listening to the Hans Zimmer/James Newton Howard version.

Anyway, I suppose both versions are worth a listen to. I didn’t particularly like the Prince version.

I eventually watched Kingdom of Heaven, which I was only semi-impressed with. I’ll put it in the “Ridley Scott’s movies that I did not enjoy” category—which consists about half of his works. There are good and bad things about that movie—it was nice to look at, and I’m glad I did watch it. But I definitely would not watch it again.

It’s really annoying how the Batman Begins double-DVD sold in Australia doesn’t include those features that the US version does—e.g. the “Man Who Falls” comic. I really wanted to see that.

[posted with ecto]


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Sunday, October 30, 2005 11:41 pm
Ecto and updates
One of the reasons I took a month’s hiatus from blogging was that I could no longer stand the little idiosyncrasies of Ecto—my primary blogging software.

Ecto (on Mac OS X) is bloody wonderful. I wouldn’t have blogged for long without it. It has really insulated me from the continuing developments in various blogging platforms.

But the rich text formatting editing portion of Ecto gets on my nerves big time. Text entry is OK. But simple things like bullet lists, and even italics (!!?) sometimes gets re-rendered horrendously.

The easy solution would be to wait till Ecto was updated. Ecto’s developer (Adriaan) seems quite cluey, and in the past updates to Ecto have been frequent and plentiful.

To my horror, Ecto wasn’t updated at all while I was away!

The harder, and probably more rewarding solution would be to delve into the intricacies of HTML and not rely on Ecto so much for that. While I was at it, I could pick up CSS, and maybe work on my embarrassing blog layout, yada yada. I could do that.

I have heard that Ecto is going to receive a major update to its Rich Text engine—which I’m inferring to mean that it will be linked to Apple WebKit. It’s usually the case that software developers start to neglect updating their software (usually in a functional state though) when they try to solve a Gordian Knot.

I hope this is the case. Cross fingers: hopefully this new version will even be free.

[posted with ecto]


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3:15 pm
iTunes Music Store in Oz
Finally, the iTMS is available in Australia. Although it does seem a little too much like a “foreign” product. The price is a little higher than the American site. And the catalog is skimpier.

The Batman Begins soundtrack (Warner Music?), at least, wasn’t available on iTMS Australia yet.

It’s in Apple’s interest to have the widest possible song range on iTMS as possible, and to keep iTMS song prices as low as possible, so as to spread the FairPlay love—my guess is that the discrepancy between countries is a record industry invention. Hopefully the iTMS continues to improve over time.

Apple did make a supremely clever deal to sell iTMS coupons through the Coles-Myer network—which has a massive chain of stores throughout Australia. This not only makes it easy for anyone to buy coupons; when I picking up some groceries, I actually saw some Apple silhouette advertising at the checkout. I never thought I’d see that day.

An alternative exists for the Australian iTMS: which is to use the USA iTMS instead. All that is needed is for someone who uses the USA iTMS (who has a US credit card on file with Apple), to email an Australian an iTMS electronic music voucher. With that, the Australian can open a USA iTMS account without a credit card. but requiring a USA mailing address.

USA iTMS credit can be purchased readily on eBay. It may even be possible to skip step 1, buy obtaining a voucher from eBay first up…

This has been working quite well. And if it violates some law… I’m not exactly remorseful.

[posted with ecto]


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1:55 pm
Back
Ah, finally back in civilisation. It’s incredible how it is possible to survive without email, blogs, podcasts and so on. Refreshing.

Just listening to the latest podcast of This Week in Tech (27th Oct 2005). Interesting talk about copyright. Although after a while I sort of lost it.

I’ve been watching a few Korean movies though: Joint Security Area is pretty good. I didn’t enjoy A Bittersweet Life too much. Can’t wait for Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. November 30th: DVD release.

It was fun to rewatch Batman Begins on DVD too. Excellent!

[posted with ecto]


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