Review: Logitech MX Master Mouse

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.

Logitech mouseSimultaneously 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.

Logitech Options screen

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.

A Brief Exegesis On The Political Class Conflicts Of The Alien Movie Series

The enemy in the Alien series of movies is not the eponymous xenomorph. The enemy is ourselves.

(Obviously this post will discuss each movie – Alien, Aliens and Alien 3 – and will include spoilers. If you haven’t seen the films yet, go watch them, then return here).

Inspired by HR Giger’s biomechanics designs, the nameless alien of the three movies of the original trilogy is purely animalistic and evolutional, in the same way that the life cycle of the parasitic wasp is pure: the alien exists to reproduce and survive. The alien uses other living creatures as hosts for its life cycle, and protects itself. Morals cannot be applied to it, and it is the human conflict in each movie that causes the majority of harm and destruction.

Parker: “If they find what they’re looking for out there, that mean we get full shares?”

Ripley: “Don’t worry, Parker. You’ll get what’s coming to you”

Politics is merely human conflict and interests writ large, and I would argue that each of the films encapsulates a different political experience: classical Marxist struggle inAlien, capitalist colonialism in Aliens, and anarcho-syndicalism in Alien 3. It is this very human conflict that draws us into each film: as much as a modern audience may enjoy watching explosions and ichor-dripping threats from the Big Bad, what makes us care about a movie are other people.

In Alien, those people are divided into several political classes. Dallas, the captain of the Nostromo, is nominally in charge, although his appearance of command is a facade. What is actually in control – leading the ship into danger and bringing a dangerous (but potentially profitable) unknown entity onboard – are the forces of capitalism, in the form of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, represented on the ship by the calculating bourgeoisie android Ash.

Sweating as they work in the humid bowels of the ship are Parker and Brett, the proletariat. Constantly complaining about overtime and extra pay, they are contemptuous of the command structure above them.

The crew of the Nostromo are betrayed for the possibility of profit, just as in the sequel,Aliens, naive colonists are sent to investigate the alien wreck on LV-426 when Weyland-Yutani knows that a threat exists on the planet.

Hudson: “Hey Ripley, don’t worry. Me and my squad of ultimate badasses will protect you.”

James Cameron deliberately paralleled the American military experience of Vietnam in the sequel: well-armed, arrogant and cocky, the Colonial Marines, tools of capitalism, are sent to protect an outpost that is already lost, taken by a force that they do not understand. Firepower and bravado are no match for a tenacious enemy who does not share your strategy, goals, or ways of thinking.

Screenshot from Aliens

Probably the weakest movie of the series in terms of plot (not helped by the fact that the script was a hodgepodge blend of multiple drafts penned by different writers), Alien 3 moved to a prison planet. Neglected by the cosmos outside and largely self-sufficient, the prisoners on Fury 161 have formed their own monk-like social structure, complete with shaved heads and cowls, in which the warden is little more than a conduit for a trickle of supplies. They organize their own resistance against the alien, and succeed; the escape of the alien is due to the actions of one disturbed convict, driven out of his mind by encountering savage alien life in the context of his apocalyptic millenarian belief system.

Screenshot from the movie Aliens 3

Seen in this way, the original trilogy (and potentially the prequel, Prometheus, currently being filmed by Ridley Scott with artistic input from H.R. Giger) is a progression through a Marxist view of history, an evolution through political forms, as well as being great science-fiction horror.