Simultaneously working on a book while teaching and writing on my various blogs and projects has brought a lot of stress to my hands, experienced as twinges in my wrists and fingers. To counteract this, I bought a new mouse… and it has been fantastic.
Simultaneously working on a book while teaching and writing on my various blogs and projects has brought a lot of stress to my hands, experienced as twinges in my wrists and fingers. To counteract this I’ve initiated several new habits, including regular drummer stretches (which work very well for people who spend too much time at a keyboard) together with the purchase of a wrist rest and a new mouse. Of all of these changes, the mouse was the most expensive component, but arguably the one that has helped me the most.
Designed in the same way the bodywork for cars was originally built – carved from a block of wood – the MX Master is a delight to hold, particularly, I suspect, for those with large hands (mine measure 8″ from the base of my palm to the tip of my index finger). All of the controls on the mouse are located in comfortable, natural positions, and are stable and quiet: the central wheelmouse can be switched between “freewheeling” mode and a more granular notch-to-notch motion.
The wireless mouse can work via Bluetooth or its own RF signal. The latter requires the use of a very small, low-profile USB receiver, which I leave permanently in one of my MacBook’s ports: it hasn’t wiggled free after weeks of use, despite being constantly brought in and out of the close protective sleeve of my backpack. In theory, the mouse can be switched to operate up to three different computers; I haven’t had the opportunity to test this feature.
The mouse does require its own drivers to perform well, which are supported on Windows and Mac. The associated application – Logitech Options – is small, lightweight, easy to use, and very well-designed. In theory, each button on the mouse can be given its own specific function on a per-application level.
One unexpected feature that I’ve got a surprising amount of use out of is the side wheel, which is perfect for scrolling horizontally through large MySQL tables with lots of columns.
The surface of the mouse has a very slight texture to it, and appears to repel dirt and grime. The built-in rechargable battery endures about a week of constant use, with an on-screen warning showing up when battery levels run low. Very cleverly, the mouse is designed in such a way that it can still be used while it recharges via the (included) USB-to-micro-USB cable.
While it is not cheap, and arguably more than one should pay for a mouse – I bought mine for $100 (CAD) from Amazon – I feel that for someone who uses a computer 14+ hours a day it’s a very worthwhile investment.
This year’s April Fool’s Day tricks were a cut above previous offerings.
Google, of course, came well prepared for the party:
- The 8-bit rendering of all of Google Maps in the style of a NES RPG from 1986 was fabulous, and my personal favorite: I really want to know the algorithm they used to turn satellite imagery into blocky trees, rivers and mountains. Lots of Easter Eggs to be found, too. There’s a Tumblr devoted to highlights from the map.
- Google also rolled out Really Advanced Search, a librarian’s dream come true.
- The Google Analytics team came up with a novel little hack: you could play the daily visitor metrics for your site as a piano (or a sitar!). I actually think that kind of sense-remapping visualization will become much more prevalent in the future…
- There was also a sly dig at Modernizr, Twitter Bootstrap and HTML5 Boilerplate with the release of Google Elegantizr. Related, although not by Google: The MoreCSS framework.
- The Google Chrome developer group contributed Chrome Multitask, featuring dual-wielded mice for power users, while the gMail team proposed Google Tap for mobile devices
Microsoft and Ubisoft ported Assassin’s Creed to Kinect. Which actually looks pretty sweet… until you get to the part about crushing furniture as you attempt a jump.
Nerd store ThinkGeek offered the Star Wars Admiral Akbar Singing Bass, Minecraft Marshmellow Creeps and the Technomancer Digital Wizard Hoodie.
Finally, Canadian airline Westjet offered child-free cabins with the KargoKids program
April Fool’s Day On The Web is a site devoted to the best of the web on April Fool’s for every year… and it has a ranking system.
As it is my primary means of communication, I’ve been interested in graphing my eMail correspondence to find emergent patterns and relationships. It’s my intention to take this exploration far further and deeper into linguistic and text analysis in the future (and, once I have a similar amount of data, applying the same tools to Twitter) but for now here’s a very rough start.
The corpus used is correspondence to and from my gMail account, a total of 7823 messages from July 2006 to today, with the lower two graphs showing activity for the last complete year for which data is available (2010) with identities anonymized.
So far there are no huge surprises: I did have the wry observation that I send a lot of eMail after midnight.
I used Python with mail-trends for the analysis, and Cheetah to template the graphs. Obviously all identities other than my own have been anonymized.