Off the Top: Hardware Entries

November 12, 2014

New Adoption Points

One of those things where, yet again, realize you have a really quick personal adoption threshold when a new device fills in and you start wondering why everything can’t be logged into with a fingerprint. Then there is the, “why are you calling me on my payment device?”

It has been over 30 years of having new devices arrive at semi-regular pace and quickly disrupting things for workflows around devices and interactions, which is followed often by relatively quick adoption and getting used to a new mental model that makes things a little easier. This is really true for software that is buggy and never really fixed and where I (as well as other humans are the human affordance system).

The Software Counter Model to Quick Change Adoption

As much as new physical hardware and software interaction model shifts largely causes little difficulty with changing for more ease of use, the counter to this with software with a lot of human need for grasping mental models. It is particularly difficult when structuring mental models and organization structure before using software is something required.

There have been some good discounts on Tinderbox across podcasts I listen to or websites around Mac productivity I read, so I nabbed a copy. I have had long discussion around Tinderbox for over a decade and it has been on my want list for large writing and research projects. I have had quite a few friends who have been long time users (longer than I have been a DevonThink user), but I don’t seem to have one in my current circle of colleagues (I you are one and would love to chat, please reach out).

I have a few projects that I think would make great sense to put into Tinderbox, but not really grokking the structure and mental model and flows - particularly around what I wish I would know when I have a lot of content in it. It is feeling a lot like trying to read Japanese and not having learned the characters. I also wish I had kept better notes a few years back when I was deeply sold on a need for Tinderbox, but didn’t capture a detailed why and how I thought it would work into workflow.

Some Tools are Nearly There as a Continual State

I have some software and services that I use a fair amount with hope that they will get much much better with a few relatively small things. Evernote is nearly always in this category. Evernote is a good product, but never gets beyond just good. The search always falls apart at scale (it was around 2,000 objects and had about doubled that scaling threshold pain point) and I can’t sort out how to script things easily or remotely drop content into the correct notebook from email or other easy entry model. There are a lot of things I wish Evernote would become with a few minor tweaks to support a scalable solid no (or very few faults tool), but it never quite takes those steps.

Their business tool offering is good for a few use cases, which are basic, but getting some smart and intelligence uses with better search (search always seems to be a pain point and something that DevonThink has nailed for 10 years) would go a really long way. Evernote’s Context is getting closer, but is lacking up front fuzzy, synonym, and narrowing search with options (either the “did you mean” or narrowing / disambiguation hints / helps).

We will get there some day, but I just wish the quick adoption changes with simple hardware interaction design and OS changes would become as normal as quickly with new other knowledge and information tools for personal use (always better than) or business.

August 18, 2006


Yesterday we added RAM to our Apple PowerBook to take it from 1GB to 2GB. My machine can now keep up with my somewhat excessive state of open applications and tabs. My tools all now have returned to their very responsive selves.

December 17, 2004

Destroyed Good Only To Get Great

Earlier this week we sheared half of the head of one of our earphones off leaving it less than usable as a earbud. Hence I went out that same evening and picked up a set of Shure E2C earphones. I have heard rave reviews about them and some friends really enjoy their set.

After picking them up and getting them home, I was feeling like these better rock for the money, which is nearly what I paid three years prior for my set just I had destroyed. I commute to work and have ample time to listen to music and downloaded BBC and Studio360 radio segments.

The E2C come with two different types of ear pieces and three different sizes of each set. I tried a couple different sizes of each and found one size of the foam (most outside sound dampening of the two kinds, not that sound dampening was my primary goal) that seemed to work best. But, after 10 minutes of trying to read the directions and trying different contortions I could not get a decent bass sound out of the earphones. But, finally I did it just right and I got full range. I listened for a moment or two to what ever I had playing and was in utter awe. I was hearing pieces in music I had owned for nearly 10 years that I had never heard before.

The remainder of this week I have been listening to music with acoustic instruments as there is much richness to that type of music. I have heard bowing on acoustic bass during songs on bass lines I never noticed. I also heard quiet undertones I had never heard that now were readily apparent. One of the things I noticed today, while listening to Dave Brubeck's Take Five, was I could approximate the room size during the drum solo as the reverberations of the sound had texture and echo of music rooms and studios I had played in. I have a new love for the music I have and it is a great joy to listen and take in the subtleties on my commute.

The ear phones I had before had very good sound, but the E2C may be some of the best earphones or speakers I have ever listened to music with. The E2C wires are not as lithe as the Sony wires, which would make more active listening a little more difficult, I imagine. I am not too worried about active listening at this point, but just being transformed to new places through the music.

December 27, 2003

Powerbook Upgrade Promotion

(Warning - could be a rumor) Think Secret is reporting an early TiBook upgrade promotion from Apple. The promotion offers 700 US dollars for early G4 Powerbooks.

December 1, 2003

Solving the mobile smartphone issues with Treo 600

I found another very good review of the Treo 600. After using my Dad's Nokia 3650 I think the Treo 600 could be a good next phone for me.

I have tried the Treo in the stores and the keyboard size is not difficult for me to work with, actually it is very usable. The screen size is a little small, but it would work well and it is not that much smaller than my Hiptop. I have had a Palm OS device for four or five years now and I really like the interface and the breadth of applications available is great also.

Using my Dad's Nokia I was very frustrated with the interface. It could really use a scroll wheel like my Hiptop has to ease the navigating menu options (there are many). Moving between applications is rather clumsy as the phone rang when I was setting bluetooth settings to his AIBook and we could not easily jump to the incoming call. That should never happen. The Web browsing was very slow on AT&T Mmode. I could get around more quickly on my GMS Hiptop. I really like the bluetooth capabilities on that phone and the camera on the Nokia is great also.

I have always expected more out of my Hiptop than it delivered. I have only used it as a phone two or three times and I still carry my Motorola 270c as my main phone. I have really become attached to having mobile Web, AIM, and e-mail. The interface it very usable on the Hiptop and one can easily move between applications to get to incoming e-mail or a chat while in a very different set of tools. I really want to see how the Treo handles this task switching. I also would like to read a long article or two on the Treo 600 as I use my Palm for reading news, articles, and books on the train commuting.

My last option would be to get a bluetooth phone (still thinking Nokia but in the back of my mind) like a Sony Ericsson 610 and get a bluetooth enabled Palm Tungsten series PDA. At this point time will tell. But, I am narrowing down the choices.

September 30, 2003

Kryptonite G5 case mod

I wandered over to MacUpgrades to pickup a firewire cable and a miniDV tape. I could not help but notice the kryptonite G5 case mod. I stood and gawked for about five minutes. The details of the inside of the case really showed up nicely.

June 23, 2003

G5 is sexy

Apple's new G5 has made me drool. It is georgeous design and the sucker flat out flies. I am so wanting one of these to replace my desktop PC. I live in my TiBook laptop, but really would like to have a Mac desktop to be a home base. The TiBook is my homebase, but it is not optimal for me. Don't get me wrong I love the TiBook like no other computer I have had to date.

The beauty of the G5 case would make me want it on my desk top to stare at it.

April 28, 2003

TiBook antennae tweak

Yesterday I ran across Matt's TiBook Wifi antennae tweak, which is found in Ars Technica's Open Forum and was suggested by Apple tech support. I can no sit in my living room only 15 feet away from the office and get a full Airport signal. I was only getting minimal signal and had to sit in just one spot. I am glad this bubbled up.

April 10, 2003

Wireless Network Drive

Seemingly cool technology from Martian Technology, a wireless network drive with 120GB of storage and USB printer sharing.

March 16, 2003

TiBook external monitor for Keynote

Today I decided I better figure out how one uses the external monitor funtionality on the TiBook in preparation for the presentation at the IA Summit 2003. This little endevor was super simple as I just plugged in my 19 inch Mitsubisi with trinitron flat screen and it started to come to life. A quick to system preferences to automatically grab the dimensions and drivers for the monitor and it was rolling. The external monitor is just an extension of the laptop's screen. The clarity on the large monitor is exceptional and there was no slowdown to the TiBook performance.

I ran Keynote with ease with the laptop screen showing the application and the external monitor showing the presentation. I can not figure how to scroll through the notes section while the presentation is running, that is one thing I really would like to sort out.

March 14, 2003

Centrino poor WiFi functionality says Mosberg

WSJ's Walt Mossberg offers his insite on Pentium M and Centrino. The Centrino portion of the Intel solution seems to be a sham marketing ploy. If device makers use a real WiFi card with full capabilities the device makers can not use the Centrino or Pentium M monikers that are tied to all the hype.

January 7, 2003

Apple provides new tools

Steve Jobs did the usual at the Macworld Keynote speach, great new products. The new 17 inch powerbook has severe lust factor as did the Airport Extreme with 802.11g (55MB of wireless connectivity and a USB print capability). The iLife tools are very cool and will be very helpful. But the two items that really got me intrigued were the Keynote a presentation tool and Safari Apples Web browser.

Keynote intrigued me from the beauty of it and its storing all the content in XML. The XML functionality could make reuse of the information in presentations actually usable, unlike the hardwork to extract content from PowerPoint. But, as we know presentation software is best with the speaking note or the spoken versions that go along with the presentation. Keynote could be a good first step. At least Apple is thinking in the right direction with a beautiful product that provides easy reuse.

Safari had me dying to get home to my Mac to download and test it. So far I am very impressed with not only the speed, which is great, but the proper rendering of pages. Safari handles XHTML and CSS box model beautifully. I only had so problems in Tantek's CSS examples. I went through much of Eric Meyer's CSS site worked very well with no discernable problems that I saw. I am very happy with it. It really could use back function on its right mouse menu. Time will tell if this replaces Chimera as my browser of choice.

November 2, 2002

Adaptive power

I really like the promise of Bluetooth (short range wireless connectivity that has the promise of eliminating wires between devices). Eliminating wires, or reducing the number of wires needed to function digitally would be a blessing.

But, having just moved I do not find the wires connecting the devices to be a huge problem it is the power cords. There are a myriad of power adapters that require somewhere to be plugged in. It also seems to be a requirement that the power cords are tangled with other power cords. Not only this, but power adapters are not interchangeable. Not only are they not interchangeable, but the do not come with any corresponding labelling that help identify power cord A should be used with device A. Power cord adapter manufacturers should be prohibitited from having their own branding on the adapter, as that branding inhibits pairing the device to the adapter. There are a couple companies that get this, Sony and Apple tend to brand their adapters so that it is easy to get their devices running. I guess the other device companies are not interested in us using their devices, but are only interested in us buying them.

What about daisy chaining power adapters? You know, like Christmas tree lights. Or universal adapters with voltage and wats settings that are selectable and an interchangeable plug end that quickly changes to been the devices connector slot, much like the British electrical outlet plugs are/used to be (have not been since the late 80s and it may have changed). In Britain when you bought an electrical device it came with a cord attached, but the cord did not have a plug to connect to the wall, as there were not standard wall outlets. The lack of plugs on the cord was annoying to those who were unaware of such practices, but it easy to understand why this practice was needed.

So to create a more workable environment have the ability to daisy chain power cords and have interchangeable plug ends. Manufacturers of devices must brand their power adapters accordingly. These steps would help eliminate the umpteen cords I have in bags that I do not know their mated device. I find 12V adapters do not work with all devices that state they need 12V power coming in. All I want to do is follow my digital passions and work. Is that too much to ask?

June 28, 2002

Mouse matters

I am really enjoying my new mouse. I have not travelled with it yet, but its size should make that endevour very easy.

June 22, 2002

MacUpgrades and Macally optical mouse

I stopped by my local and independantly owned Mac store, MacUpgrades here in Bethesda. I had been thinking about a mouse for my TiBook as I am beginning to change my graphics software from Windows to Mac. Mac Upgrades has very knowledgeable staff and is a great small store and repair shop. I found a great Kensington pocket optical USB mouse with a retractable cord.

June 14, 2002

Smart Media reader for OS X

I finally have a good USB Smart Media reader that works with Mac OS X, the Imation FlashGO does the job and gives the option for other media and is rather compact, which means it is a perfect for the TiBook. Now that I have an easy way to get photos into the TiBook it is time to switch PhotoShop from Windows to Mac. (My previous reader, ZIO, would only function properly on Mac OS9. They had an OS X driver but it never worked. It had worse problems on Windows XP for a while, as it would shut the system down when the USB device was being plugged in. It took two driver updates to fix that.

May 21, 2002

Headphone review

I tried my new headphones on my recent trip and really enjoyed them. They were great on the plane as they blocked out a lot of the extraneous noise and in those quiet times they provided fantastic sound. I was incredibly impressed.

May 14, 2002

Apple means business

Apple announces Xserve that, as Doc writes it, seems to kick the snot out of Windows servers. Faster, more stable, based on an enterprise proven OS, not a virus friendly OS, not a hack-worthy OS, and less money. You do the math.

April 29, 2002

New TiBook

Sigh! A new TiBook with better graphics, faster chip, and more 1MB L3 cache. This is the first time in a long long time I have computer envy. Only three or four months after I received my TiBook, which was nearly the top of the line, a new one has me gaga. I don't ever remember being this way over any PC I ever bought. No, I don't wish I had waited, because my TiBook rocks.

February 28, 2002

One more piece of the Mac OS X desire list has been filled in tonight with the Iomga driver set for OS X which gives me access to my USB Zip drive. Real Player for OS X and a functioning driver for the Zio card reader would complete much of my desires.

February 12, 2002

New item causing muscle memory issues. I had to get a new keyboard for my PC as many keys went out for good last night (a, s, d, e, f, g, h, j, left ctrl, delete and down page). This made for creative alternatives this morning. The keyboard started developing a personality a couple months ago, but always came back to life in 15 minutes or so. I got a MS Natural keyboard, which had really nice key movement. I am quite impressed. Being a touch typist (is it okay to say that?) I really like the feel of the humped center, as it really eases typing. I am not sure I like the directional arrow layout, but I will learn. I did give up a volume knob and a mute button (along with 20 other buttons I did not use), but oh well.

January 23, 2002

How to shoot your users in the foot, a guide from HandSpring. In the technology world the continually seems to be a lack of marketing understanding. Handspring has had a strong loyal user base, many made up from Palm users that upgraded when Palm stalled its progress. Palm has since come back on track. I have been thinking that Palm would be my next handheld again. At the core of the HandSpring old and new is the Palm OS, but is why I bought the HandSpring a while back and there was more memory and modules that could extend memory and provide a solid backup on the road.

January 7, 2002

My digital bundle of joy arrived today. It was apropoe that my Powerbook arrived today as Steve Jobs gave his keynote at MacWorld. I was thankful a new TiBook was not announced today, but I was half expecting it. I have been more than impressed at the ease of setup and the ease of use of the Mac OS. It has been a long time since I used a Mac on a regular basis, but it is giving me far fewer headaches (none actually) than Windows XP. Setting up a network connection was easy, even in the manual mode, which was a huge headache for XP.

On the keynote front I did not think the announcements met the huge hype, but the new iMac is very cool and impressive. The iPicture loaded like a breaze for me and seems to very straightforward. The XP easy photo stuff seemed to be a mess and my kludgy methods were better than what XP offered. I may like this new world, if I can just get the keystrokes down.

Previous Month

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.