On keyboards

This morning I listened to the latest episode of The Talk Show1, wherein our hosts discuss Apple Keyboards.  Specifically, the Undisputed Best and Most Wonderful Input Device Ever: the Apple Extended Keyboard II.

I used that model for years, from my Mac IIci right up until the time I got my first Mac with USB inputs (an original blue and white G3, maybe? I don’t remember for sure).  Every Mac I’ve owned since then has come with its own keyboard2, which I’ve used, with varying degrees of pleasure and productivity.

I’ll admit that I never paid too much attention to the quality of the keyboards I was using.  Well, probably I did, because I sure bitched a lot about some of them.  But I never actually did anything about it until fairly recently.

When I got my first metal-cased Powerbook, I fell in love with the keyboard.  It fit my hands just right, it gave just enough tactile feedback without being too “clicky” on one end or too squishy on the other.  By the time I upgraded last year to a new MacBook Pro, I was doing most of my work on the portable machine and not doing as much on the Mac Pro in my office, mainly because I was much more productive on the keyboard of the laptop.  I tried replacing the stock Mac Pro keyboard — with its huge chunky finger-numbing keys — with a couple of models that seemed similar to the tactile characteristics of my laptop, but never found one I really liked.  I tried a MacAlly, and I think maybe a Kensington, but neither really did the trick.  They had function keys in weird places, and one of them didn’t have any USB inputs on it.  Besides, they were just butt ugly3.

Then one day I was tooling around in the Apple Store, and started typing on one of the new aluminum extended keyboards.  Wow.  It’s not perfect, but it’s the closest thing to the feel of typing on my laptop.  I walked out of the store with one, and now I can shift work between the laptop and desktop and not have that jarring feel from switching keyboards.

During the podcast, John and Dan mention that they would be happy to buy any new or new-ish Apple Extended Keyboard II’s that we might have lying around.  I remembered that I do in fact have one, in its original box, and barely used.  I bought it right before I got a G3 years ago, and it’s just sitting in storage.  At first I thought of offering it up to them, but I might just try using it again.

  1. The nerdolicous podcast of the estimable John Gruber and Dan Benjamin. You should subscribe to it. NOW.
  2. I remember how remarkable it was to get a machine with a keyboard right inside the box. That might seem odd now, but at the time Apple was selling the keyboard separately from the CPU, and the Extended II cost another $150 on top of whatever outrageous price you were paying for the Mac itself.
  3. Yes, I will gladly sacrifice a small amount of comfort and productivity for the sake of aesthetics.
posted 4/30/08 at 5:19pm to Mac nerdery, Writing · 0 replies · permalink

I get emails

Got this today: 

To: Tony Delgrosso
From: SA8300HD
Subject: Us 


Hey – what’s up? Haven’t seen much of you lately! I know you’ve been traveling and busy with work and all that, but I thought maybe you’d have been around a little more. Everything ok?

Let me get right to the point. I’m sad. Well, not *sad* so much as disappointed. Don’t worry – I’m not mad at you. I just feel unappreciated. I’ve worked so hard for you lately, and, well, you just don’t seem to notice. Are you ignoring me on purpose? Have I done something to upset you? Just be straight with me. I can take it.

I just don’t know what it is I could have done, and I’ve been losing sleep over it. Everything you’ve asked of me, I’ve done for you. Yet I do and do and do, and for what? So I can just sit here by myself with the fruits of my labor?

Okay, so maybe now I *am* getting a little mad. I can understand that you didn’t watch Lost from last week yet. But I’m holding onto the entire John Adams miniseries for you. In HD. Do you know what kind of space it takes to hold that? And the last three Dexter episodes from last season. And a Nova. There’s a Simpsons, too. Lots more that I can’t remember. The more I think about how much baggage I’m carrying for you, the more upset I get. This is such a one-way relationship and I’m getting sick of it. And don’t fuck with me, because I know your secrets. All of them. Do you want all of your friends to know that even though I’m keeping all the new episodes, you still haven’t watched the end of BSG from last season? LAST SEASON! And I’ll tell them. I swear to god I will.

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get pissy like that. It’s just that I’m at 93% capacity right now, and if I don’t hear from you soon, I’m going to have to start throwing away some of your stuff. And I don’t think either of us want that.

I just really, really want to see you before I take the summer off. So come and visit, okay? Please?

Love always,

I think I need to spend a little time in front of the TV.  Soon.

posted 4/29/08 at 6:35pm to Me me me, Snark · 0 replies · permalink

Batman trailer comparison

Looks like the trailer for The Dark Knight is almost an edit-for-edit replica of the original 1989 Batman trailer.  That had to be intentional, but why?  Weird.

(via Alex Hillman)

[ Updated 4/29 7:56pm: Ack. Looks like this isn’t the real deal – it’s just a user-edited thingy that’s been floating around for a while now. ]

posted 4/29/08 at 9:41am to Geekery, Movies · 0 replies · permalink

Closet archaeology

old bag

My office closet is fairly deep, more like a small storage room than a typical “closet”, and the back of it acts as a repository1 for all sorts of random things.

Yesterday I had to mount an expedition to its farthest reaches, in search of something.  I now forget what, exactly2, because I never actually found it.  I got distracted when, at the back of the room, I dug up one of my old messenger bags.  One that I hadn’t seen or touched in almost four years.  I took it out and opened it up, and it still had a good amount junk in it.

I found it odd that it would still have so much flotsam in it, especially writing materials, as that’s the stuff of my work and I usually treat all my bits of paper quite well.  I vaguely remember having bought a new Powerbook around then, so probably in my excitement I stuck the new computer in a fresh new bag, grabbed what I thought I needed from the old one, and then tossed it into the closet.

Nothing I found in the bag was particularly important3, but it’s an interesting snapshot of the moment.  I probably spent a good hour just looking at the stuff and trying to mentally reconstruct what I was working on at the time.  It’s funny how you can find “treasure” like that from just a handful of years ago in your own life.  It was fun.

[ click on the photo for the marked-up version at Flickr, where there’s notes on some of the stuff that was in the bag ]

  1. Whereby “repository” I mean “dark space where things get flung and forgotten about.
  2. I think it was a FireWire cable, maybe. Oh, the cable mess in there. Don’t even get me started on the cables.
  3. Except for my Rotring 600 fountain pen. Man, I thought that thing was gone forever. Glad to have it back.
posted 4/25/08 at 8:15am to Closet archaeology, Geekery, Me me me · 0 replies · permalink

Passing in the night

Colliding galaxies in Arp 148

Eighteen years after the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA has released a series of new images of colliding galaxies.  The images are absolutely breathtaking, especially when you consider that none of the billions of stars involved in the process will likely collide with each other, because of the vast distances between them.  It’s both humbling and awe-inspiring.

I live life with few regrets, but I do often wish I had pursued a track in astrophysics.  Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love what I do, but my lifelong passion for science is always tugging away at me inside.

(via Phil Plait)

posted 4/24/08 at 11:19am to Geekery, Science! · 0 replies · permalink