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Apple Mighty Mouse Sucks

  • Posted in Apple
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Apple’s minimalistic, aesthetic-focused product design philosophy seems to work very successfully in nearly every product they produce, bar one glaring exception; The Apple Mighty Mouse. For some reason, this product is, frankly, an ergonomic nightmare. Oddly, it seems to be shaped like some sort of alien pod from the future/space, not formed subtly to the natural flow of the human hand like you’d expect from a direct input device. This means that not only is it difficult to use (I sometimes find myself contorting my hand in wrist-tingling ways just to complete certain tasks as a part of my daily routine web-browsing and designing) but even more annoyingly, the pitifully tiny and strangely shaped scroll ball just stopped working for me a couple of weeks after purchase.

At first it wouldn’t scroll down, then upwards motions stopped registering and finally it just completely stopped responding. Upon checking the Apple support forums I discovered a huge number of folks with similar issues, and none with a working solution (at least, for me).

Mighty Mouse

So, being completely fed up and ready to hurl this little smooth white hunk of useless shiny plastic through the wall, I ran out to a computer store and picked up the Logitech MX Revolution, having read such positive reviews for the thing by some respected bloggers (namely Glenn Wolsey).

MX Revolution

And wow, what a difference! I honestly can’t believe I’ve been using anything else over the past years. This mouse feels absolutely comfortable to hold, and has more features than ever imaginable. I’ve now set it up to have complete control over my iTunes, I can increase/decrease volume, skip forwards and backwards between tracks, play and pause the current track and even hit the “quick search” button to bring up CoverSutra‘s awesome input box to skip to specific tracks by typing in keywords.

This is the best mouse I’ve ever held in my hand, and is in stark contrast with Apple’s rounded thing. If you’re considering a new mouse, then be sure to read more about the MX Revolution, and by god, think twice before grabbing the Mighty Mouse.

Reinvigorate Snoop

The folks over at Reinvigorate have just pushed out an email announcing their latest endeavor.
Snoop is a downloadable application for Mac and Windows which keeps you updated on the latest user activity on your site (provided that you have an active Reinvigorate account). It features an live-updating list of recent visitors, and a really interesting method of tracking comments and even product purchases, which can be easily implemented with a little scripting knowledge.
Similar to the Mint Doorbell Pepper, Snoop features a variety of sound effects which alert you of either a new unique, returning or referred visitor, a product sale or a comment.

Snoop

This little application really has boosted my confidence in Reinvigorate, and I’m sure to be as addicted to it as I was to the Mint Doorbell Pepper, at least for a week or so… *ding* Oh vanity!

WriteRoom – Simplicity Done Write

I’ve never been one to shamelessly promote a specific product, but I found myself compelled to spread the word about a little productivity-boosting app called WriteRoom (excuse the horrific pun in this post’s title). Put simply, WriteRoom blocks you from all the flashing widgets, bouncing icons and pretty colours of the OS X interface and gives you a blank “typewriter-style” page, loyally waiting to take down your notes, or record your next blog post (such as I’m doing this very moment).

WriteRoom

It’s not just the application itself that I’m impressed with, but the whole concept of the application’s authors noticing a small problem, and solving it in a beautifully simplistic manner. One might say that WriteRoom provides you with the bare minimum of tools to facilitate your writing needs, but in doing this, you are not inclined to being distracted with formatting your document or playing around in contextual menu.

I have messed around with more writing applications than I can count on one hand, between Pages, MarsEdit, Colloquy and a few others, I felt unsatisfied. WriteRoom has truly solved *my* problem with external distraction, and I’m truly thankful.

Note: If you’re a Windows user looking for a text-editor in the same vain as WriteRoom, check out its win32 cousin Dark Room.

Mint Vs Reinvigorate – Battle of the Stats

I’ve been an avid user of Shaun Inman’s Mint since a little while after it’s initial public release, and have been altogether pleased with it’s stat-tracking abilities and clean aesthetic.

reinvigorate map
reinvigorate

But there’s a new kid on the block, and it’s been seducing me with an almost similar minty-green flair ever since I realized I still had a beta invite lying around. It’s called reinvigorate.

Being a hosted stats package, reinvigorate works in a slightly different manner to Mint, your stats are calculated and displayed on a remote server, which provides a great looking page filled with pretty pie charts, bar graphs and all the raw data to fuel blogger’s egomania. reinvigorate is currently free of charge, and with Mint priced at $30 per license, this may be it’s biggest advantage.

There’s no denying that both packages offer a beautiful interface, and both will be more than adequate for the average user’s needs, but my preference still lies with Mint. It’s level of customizability, plugin architecture and the fact that it’s hosted on my own server make it the most useful statistics package to date.

That said, I do prefer reinvigorate’s design to Mint’s, I just love the beautiful graphs and charts it renders, as well as the cool tabbed interface.

New Monitor

Today I unpacked my brand spankin’ new Dell 2407WFP Monitor, and I’m absolutely smitten with it. Moving from my relatively tiny 1440×900 MacBook Pro screen to this 16:10 widescreen beauty was a big step, but I now can’t figure out how I survived without it. Designing is so much easier when you have enough screen real estate to work with, and it makes multitasking so much smoother and more enjoyable.

Now I just need to upgrade my RAM to at least 1GB. With all these applications running, my poor old M-Book is getting a little hot under the collar!

Why I Dropped Firefox for Safari

Why Safari over Firefox?

I have always been a devout fan of Firefox, and it has many excellent features that make it a wonderful browser, and I love supporting open source projects, however, recently I begun to fall back on Safari as my browser of choice for daily browsing. There are a number of reasons why I did this, and I will do my best to explain myself in the following paragraphs.

Reason 1: Fonts

Firefox’s font rendering and anti-aliasing capabilities are far surpassed by that of Safari.app, I am not sure as to the reason why this is, but Firefox seems to not render fonts in the same way that the OS X GUI does, and thus the overall smoothness of type in Firefox is clearly sub par when comparing with the native OS X look. The crisp and smooth look of OS X’s font rendering was a major reason that I switched from Windows to Mac, and Firefox detracts from this experience.

Reason 2: Search Bar

This may seem like a minor thing to many people, but I can’t stand not having the little “x” in the search box in the top right of Firefox (clearing the input from the box). It takes way too much time to use the keyboard to delete the text in there after a search has been completed. On top of this, Safari also automatically clears it for you when a new tab is opened. Allowing you to quickly fire off another Google search, without hassle

Reason 3: Forms

Many people have attacked Safari for being quite restrictive when it comes to styling forms within web pages, form elements cannot be styled with CSS like any other standard page element, they are fixed to the “OS X” style. Many people find this irritating, however I quite like the look, especially when compared to Firefox’s “Windows Default Gray” feel.

Reason 4: Speed

When I was using Firefox as my everyday browser, I had it loaded with 5 or 6 different extensions, which began to seriously impact the browsers performance. Memory leaks were frequent, and the thing was just generally slow.

Reason 5: Aesthetics

To me (I’m running Uno to eliminate the tacky “brushed metal”) Safari just looks better. No unnecessary buttons, clear and clean design.

Reason 6: Download Icons

One really neat “feature” of Safari is that when you download a file, it’s icon actually has an updating progress bar on it. This means when you download multiple files simultaneously, you can easily track their progress simply by glancing at the desktop. This simply removes the necessity for a “downloads” window that only adds to screen clutter.

All that said, there are a few things that Firefox can do that Safari just can’t, and I still use Firefox and it’s wonderful Firebug and Web Developer plugins to test and debug websites. A flexible plugin engine would be really cool for Safari, however I don’t see this happening in the near future.

If any of you think I’m out of my mind for not using Firefox, or can suggest any ways to improve my Firefox experience, let me know.

Sitescore 2 – How Does Your Website Score?

Silktide‘s well known Sitescore version 2 has recently been exhibited as an invite-only beta.

The online tool is used to analyze and score websites from a host of different methods, and is an invaluable tool for examining usability and SEO status.

Along with a brand new and down-right sexy design facelift, the behind the scenes score generating process has undergone some major changes, and according to Silktide, will now be more accurate and balanced.

Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to try it out, although I am thoroughly looking forward to it’s open release in the very near future.

Check it out at Sitescore.org

Sitescore
(Image courtesy of sitescore.org)

Inquisitor – Safari Search Evolved

  • Posted in Apple
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Inquisitor is a great little addon to Safari that adds an in-depth popup to the search box. It’s easily and quickly accessible with keyboard shortcuts, and now that I’ve finally tried it out, it’s proving to be much more than the gimmick I originally thought it to be.
Inquisitor
It vaguely reminds me of CoverFlow (now a standard feature in iTunes, and soon to be on the iPod and iPhone), a fun little independantly-developed app that was scooped up by Apple and implemented into their products. I wonder if an Inquisitor-like feature would ever be included in Safari as standard…

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