Magic Mouse (UPDATE: and Image Fail #4)

October 20, 2009


Today Apple released a host of new products including a redesigned iMac, Mac Mini, and Macbook. However, the most notable product, for me anyways, is the Magic Mouse. It is the world’s first mouse that incorporates the multi-touch technology originally introduced and made famous by the iPhone, and was gradually incorporated into the notebook line as well.

(See the introduction video here: Introduction to the Magic Mouse – Apple.ca)

However, despite the innovative design, there are several major fails. Most notably, the way one interacts with the trackpad, iPhone, and now Magic Mouse are are all slightly different, which is creating a confusing environment for customers, especially those new to multi-touch technology. Here is a more thorough list of issues which I have noticed before even trying the product, or seeing it for the first time:

1) Momentum is present on the iPhone and now the mouse, but absent on the trackpad (!?). Will this be fixed in a driver update, Apple? I should hope so!

2) Pinch, an action that makes items/text/windows larger and smaller is completely absent from the mouse. This feature is irreplaceable when using Google maps, and in spite of Apple’s demonstration video, which tries to show the functionality of “screen zoom” being similar, it is just not the same!

3) Now for my biggest beef. Scrolling on the iPhone scrolling is incredibly tactile; the direction that you are “flicking” the screen is literally the direction that it is moving, and the document continues in this direction with realistic momentum. But this is not so on the trackpad and mouse. Furthermore, there is STILL no option for trackpad (and now mouse) inversion, so the direction that one flicks the trackpad and mouse is completely opposite that of the phone! To make things more confusing, the scrolling action is done with two fingers on the trackpad and iPhone, but performed with just one finger on the mouse.

Personally I would have preferred a wireless trackpad with inversion and momentum for my desk than a new mouse. Ironically, the most innovative new mouse may not be a mouse at all, it may be a simple glass surface that allows a seemless transition between the portable laptop and home computing experience.

UPDATE: It seems that the Magic Mouse has failed in another way… according to Apple.ca it is available for the low price of “XXX.” Hmm… I thought prostitution was illegal!

-Sean.

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Winter Listening Part 1

January 5, 2009

I like to think that I have a fairly diverse taste in music, even if it is selective, but for some reason I have a tendency to become obsessed with certain CDs and listen to nothing else for months. Over the winter break this has meant that I have only really listened to two CDs: Matthew Good’s new live album, Live at Massey Hall; and Glenn Gould’s 1981 recording of The Goldberg Variations. I’ll try to discuss both of these recordings here over the next few days, and I’ll start with Mr. Good’s live album:

Matthew Good – Live at Massey Hall

I distinctly remember Matthew Good writing in a blog post several years ago that he prefers live albums to be “raw” sounding to better capture the spirit of the moment and I have to say that I love this CD for this very reason. Nothing is buttered up for the occasion in any way. This is Matthew Good as really he is, live, with his shaky vibrato-laden vocals, off-topic (often profane) stage banter, and incredible stage presence included. Real gems on this two CD set include Weapon, Giant, a 10 minute version of Avalanche, and, surprisingly, two new songs that I was formerly not fond of; Champions of Nothing and Devil’s in the Details.

However, the album does have two flaws, the first being subjective, and the second being my objective opinion. The whole album was mastered with loudness, which not only causes listening fatigue, but does not allow for the true feel of a live concert to come through. Secondly, the fact that this CD was released in 2008 instead of 2003 means that one has to listen “through” a lot of his newer writing to get to the “Good stuff” (pun obviously intended.) Now, I’m not opposed to an artist changing his style, but to me change for the better typically means becoming more experimental and daring as an artist. I happen to find Good’s newer writing lacks the seemingly more inspired, often abstract, metaphorical lyrical style of is older work, but I know of people who prefer these new tracks for the very fact that they are fantastic live, which makes this live release perhaps more pertinent than ever before.

So although it’s a bit of a catch, and I don’t mean to be so critical as it’s a fantastic recording that I will be likely be “spinning” for a while longer, I’m sure, but it would have been nice to have a record of some of the older tracks that I myself experienced live back when Mathew Good (and Band) was my favourite group. Tracks like The Rat who Would be King, Near Fantastica, Tripoli, and Suburbia would have really made this album for me.

-Sean.

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