Saturday, September 15, 2012

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, review

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, Amazon US.
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, Amazon UK.

Since the first iPad came out, I have bought half a dozen compact (and less so) bluetooth keyboards to accompany my iPad to places of coffee and views, for my writing pleasure. 

None of them have really turned out to be The Thing, though. Apple's own portable keyboard is very good, but it's pretty big, rather longer than the iPad. 

Generally the very compact keyboards suffer from left-out keys, and odd layouts, meaning the keys are in a different place than your muscle memory tells you (if you touch-type), so you hit the wrong keys. 

I've only before tried one combined keyboard/cover/case, an early one, the Kensington Keyfolio. I thought the rubber-membrane-covered keyboard was too mushy, and it was too sensitive, I kept activating keys I had not meant to hit. 

Now, I fell in love online with the new Logitech "Ultrathin Keyboard Cover". And the reviews were very good, so I got one. 

And... despite the early days, I think we have a winner for the while. When the Logi is used as a cover for the iPad screen, the screen and the keyboard are both covered, and the aluminium back on the Logi matches the iPad very well, so it's a good looking package. 

And, more importantly, it seems to be very good to type on, despite its thinness (it's hard to imagine a quality keyboard/cover being much thinner and lighter). This is my first article I type on it, and yet it is going with good speed (not near my desktop speed of course, but way faster than with the virtual keyboard on screen). I guess the T is a bit further to the left than I am used to, so I have hit Y instead several times, but surely that's something routine will adjust. 

It has excellent battery life (they claim six months, with two hours of typing per day!). You use USB to charge it. 

It has a useful row of function keys (combined with the numbers keys), like Home, Search, select words left or right, volume adjustment...

It turns the iPad on and off when you put it off and on, like Apple's magic cover. 

Oh, by the way, it also functions as a stand, for reading and video watching. The angle is not adjustable, but I think they have chosen a good one. I'm exceptionally tall, and though I might have tilted the 'pad a little more back, I can use it as it is. And it would have been difficult to make it adjustable on such a thin product.
Of course, since it uses a bluetooth connection, you don't have to have the iPad standing in the groove on the LUKC, you can place it anywhere you want, if for example you have a stand which gives you a better height for the screen. 

You can get much cheaper Chinese plastic knock-offs, but I think this one is worth the price if you often want to have a keyboard with your iPad. 

Lightest ereader in the world?

The new iPod Touch 5th generation has the same 4-inch Retina (super-sharp) screen as the new iPhone 5. And the Touch is only 6mm thick and only weighs… 88 grams! Hokey smokes, a super-flat pocket-ereader at 88 grams! 
It is $300 though. 
But if you can do with 23 grams more, a bit shorter screen, a poorer camera and such things, you can still get a 4th generation one for $200. Still a very good ereader if you have the eyesight for the small device. 

And that's not even mentioning all the zombies, egg-stealing pigs, and space invaders you can get to kill on it.

Not to forget that the clunky first gen Kindle was $400! 

How do they do it?

Like I've written even before it came out, I can't think of a single feature of the iPhone 5 that I really need or want above my iPhone 4S. Not only "pretty much" need or want.

But still, I look at it, and dammit, I want it!

How the f**k do they do that?

(I'll bet dollars to donuts I'm not the only one asking that question!)

My best guess is that it is the training and genius to conceive something really beautiful (and workable), and the sheer sweat and determinism to carry it out. But heck, nobody wants to hear that! Not me fah sure.

Lifting all the boats

I heard an interesting thought on a podcast:

"iPad is a rising tide which lifts all the boats." 

It's attributed to J.F. Kennedy (though he didn't say it about the iPad!), and I think this is a very healthy way of viewing things, and a true one. The Kindle and the iPad are creating many, many more opportunities than they are threatening.
If you're holding on to your pet rock for dear life, you may have trouble, of course.

All right, admittedly you're not in an easy position if you're in a business which has depended on print and distribution of print, and it's hard luck for the staff. But it's for sure that an attitude looking for opportunities will do you a lot more good than a victim attitude.

The ereaders/tablets in general and the iPad in particular is not just a hugely successful product, which in itself is a very good thing for society, it is also a uniquely enabling product. We have a whole new kind of publishing platform in our hands, literally, lord knows what it can do over time. And that's not even considering the multitude of other things it can do and be used for, the industries it helps and the smaller industries it has created.

Back in 2000, I was thinking about what would replace newspapers and magazines, and I visualized something very much like the iPad. (Though a bit larger and lighter, but that'll come.) I didn't think it would take ten years before something like it arrived. And if not for Apple, lord knows how long it would have taken, everybody else had failed miserably up til then.

Apple now worth 35 times Dell’s market value

Apple now worth 35 times Dell’s market value, article.

On October 6, 1997, in response to the question of what he’d do if he was in charge of Apple, Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell stood before a crowd of several thousand IT executives and answered flippantly, “What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

Never make fun of your competitors, you never know where they, or you, are going.

It's incredible to think that Apple just ten years ago was a cult company, serving a niche market, and now they are the worlds biggest company in market valuation.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Design change

I designed this site melittleself, and I've always been rather proud of it.
I just made a couple small changes: the title, the description, and the page text, all are more blue than before, although in different ways for the three.

Ooops, and now I also changed the fonts of the title and headers. I guess two years ago I was restrained by the idea that I could only use fonts which everybody has on their computer. But with all the unusual choices the template has, I guess the site has some way to transfer the font to the receiving machine. Anybody know this?
(If not, I guess it may default to Courier, which was my stupid first choice anyway.)
(These fonts show up nicely on my Mac, and I can see that they are not installed on it, so I wonder how this works these days.)

(The title font is Fontdiner Swanky, and the header font is called Crushed.)

Here's a screenshot of the old design. I'm pleased with the changes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

iPhone 5 is out

Apple today announced the iPhone 5.
There's nothing huge to report, most feel, but a lot of small improvements.
It is a slightly better ereader at least, because it can show about 20% more text of the same size! (They didn't make it wider because of one-hand use. How many people do that? I always use both hands.)
It's taller, slimmer, a lot lighter. Has 4G/LTE fast connection. (Not used much outside the US, so far as I know.) A bit better cameras.
They have some new earbuds which are claimed to be really high fidelity.
It now has strong quartz glass in front of the camera, which is great, but I think way overdue, not just for Apple. With the lens front being pretty much flush with the back, it's just a must.
People who have held it say that it's a really nice design, and that the slimness and lightness is more than you'd expect.

... By the way, $300, that's a significant price drop, isn't it? I don't notice prices all that much, but I think my last iPhone was a lot more. ... Holy mother, the UK price for iPhone 5 is £529!! That's $850! I guess the $300 price is with contract and without tax. I can't figure out why an iPhone is more expensive than an iPad...

Here's a good overview.

In the promo video, designer Jon Ive says: "Along with the experience of using it, what makes iPhone 5 so unique is how it feels in your hand."
Wow, only Apple would say something like this! I can see all the geeks out there sighing: "oh dear, what I really want is a phone which feels better in my hand"!
Well, it's easy to make fun of, but Apple is usually right. And the production process does look like it way ahead of what anybody else is doing in consumer products, it must be admitted. If nothing else, I think it's a good thing to have one company, especially a leading company, which is pushing for quality, not just for the lowest price per feature. That takes guts, even when the economy is good, and even more so now. And it's important because we are talking about products at normal prices, not something like Leica cameras which nobody normal can afford (a Leica is like $7,000). This way it will influence the market and how people think about quality a lot more than Leica could.
In the US at least you can now get an iPhone 4 for free, with a contract. That's amazing, the iPhone 4 is a big leap up from the previous free iPhone, the 3Gs.

I def gonna get the earbuds. Andy Ihnatko tweeted:
"Holy cats…the new earbuds aren’t at all a subtle upgrade. Bass is rich and resonant. Funk is funkier, classical is classier."
- Watch the video on the page linked. This is not small changes.
In the past several years, I have bought like five different  pairs of earbuds, each much more expensive than Apple's, and each time being promised superior quality, but I never really noticed anything earth-shaking. And most of them have the irritating quality, because of the bowl-shaped seal in the ear, that when you touch the wire, you hear a loud scratching sound in the ear.

Re the case design, this page says:
Never before has this degree of fit and finish been applied to a phone. Take the glass inlays on the back of iPhone 5, for instance. During manufacturing, each iPhone 5 aluminum housing is photographed by two high-powered 29MP cameras. A machine then examines the images and compares them against 725 unique inlays to find the most precise match for every single iPhone.

… what the heck? I guess they must have been forced to do this because the aluminium housing cutting machine simply can’t deliver the precise same form every time? Why else would they do it? (The site is making a virtue of a necessity, but that’s another story.) 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How iPhone 5 Sales Could Prop Up the Entire U.S. Economy

How iPhone 5 Sales Could Prop Up the Entire U.S. Economy, article.

What can you say to something like that? It's a silly world.
And like I said, I have not heard of any new features which would make the iPhone 5, if it's even called that, something to be excited about, and I doubt anybody has. And yet there's a generel frenzy of excitement.
The iPhone 4 was an exciting step forward, the excellent camera, the Retina screen, FaceTime... I really don't see how the next one can deliver anything new like that (apart from 4G). (I could be wrong, that would be very kewl.)

In fact, to be honest, I doubt the iPhone 5 can introduce any technology which to me and many others is as important as the front-light in the new Kindle Paperwhite. If it works like it seems to do, that may be the breakthrough in non-backlit ereaders I have been waiting for, for five years.

Monday, September 10, 2012

New HP slim-PC

Remind you of anything?
It's a good thing for HP that there's just been a major court case which proved that it is all right to steal be inspired by designs from Apple...

New Kobos also

Kobo also have a set of new ereaders, including a frontlit one, one which runs full Android, and an interesting pocket-sized 5-inch one.
They announced this on the same day as Amazon had their big even event with new Kindles. I'd like to meet the genius who made that scheduling decision!     :-)

I think the Mini model is very kool. If it was front-lit I might even get one. Like I say I like my 5.2-inch Galaxy Note, it's a really handy size for reading when you're out.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

iPhone 5 New Concept Features

I would buy that!! Especially the last feature. Who needs folding?

Amazon now says that you CAN opt out of Kindle Fire ads

Amazon now says that you CAN opt out of Kindle Fire ads, article.

Hah, I had a feeling they wouldn't get away with this! It's simply too dumb to alienate a significant portion of your customers for no good reason.

an Amazon spokesperson contacted them via email, confirming ...  that buyers will be able to opt out of the lockscreen ads for a one-off fee of $15 USD

By the way, if $15 is all they get out of a device-lifetime's worth of ads, why even use them?

River of News

It is astounding how the simplest ideas are often the most difficult to get.

Good example: I have tried many RSS readers and article gathering apps, like Reeder, NetNewsWire, FlipBoard, Zite, etc etc. And while they each have their different charms, they all have the same idea: you see a list of headlines, presented somehow, and you then get the full article.

River of News is different. I haven't even tried it with the iPad in horizontal position yet, but in vertical position, it's brilliant: each article from the various sites you subscribe to is simply presented in a frame under each other, in a never-ending stream that you scroll through. No clicking and going back and forth.  I love it. Very readable.
You can do it either for each feed, or for the mixed unread articles.

Fonts can be adjusted, there are all the modern ways of sharing, and you can open an article in Safari (which is one thing you can't in Zite, which I otherwise like).

Ooooh: just one little detail is enough to make this app brilliant:
Long ago I wrote to Marco, maker of Instapaper: wouldn't it be possible to make it simpler to mail a link to an article (every time I want to blog one, I mail it to my computer from my iPad)? I have to go through half a dozen taps and selections every time... Well, River solved this: I made a gesture (two-finger tap) to mail a link, and I could set a default address to mail the link to, my own! So: one tap, and the mail is ready in a split-second, and I hit send! I love it!
Gawd, I wish all software was as brilliantly made as this.

[It should be said though, that it does not have a Search function, which NetNewsWire has. And it does not have groupings of sections like Zite.]