Dec 3, 01:23 am
— Kelly Martin
I’ve been searching for a modern ergonomic keyboard that is split and adjustable, with wireless Bluetooth and ideally, made out of aluminum with Apple-style illuminated keys. I am getting carpal tunnel syndrome in my hands, causing pain which is getting progressively worse over the years. I wish there were more good, ergonomic and Apple-compabitble keyboards on the market.
Let’s go retro for a minute. I did a search for “Used Apple Adjustable Keyboard with USB” on Google and found exactly none for sale, even though such a keyboard does indeed exist. Years ago, back in 1993 when it was first sold, the keyboard had an ADP port interface (whatever that is) and could work with a ADP-to-USB adapter, which was also sold for a short time before the hardware was discontinued. Newer Macs didn’t offer this keyboard any longer, and it seems they are now also difficult to find, likely due to their age. The keyboard had rave reviews by some, and I’d sure like to try one out. I love retro keyboards, and none more than the original Amiga 1000 keyboard with an RJ-11 (telephone style) connector). This Apple one must be a relatively rare keyboard, too, which makes me want it all that much more.
For a fleeting moment I wondered if I would have to buy the antique Apple computer that was sold attached to this keyboard just to get ahold of one, in an effort to reduce the carpel tunnel effect in my hands. Silly, I know. And then there is the ADP-to-USB adapter, what are the odds I could find one used, like on eBay? Well, I searched and found one. But I couldn’t find the Apple adjustable keyboard to pair with it… none are for sales. More searching and time wasted revealed some additional info. As it turns out, it was not a very reliable keyboard and was prone to breakage – likely one of the reasons it was discontinued.
So, I just bought a Maxim keyboard instead. It looks modern enough, has function keys (though I may need to label them), and it is split exactly how I need it to keep my wrists straight to save my hands from surgery, with a little luck. I also has wrist rests which look practical for carpel tunnel sufferers. Below is an image of it found and stored on the company’s website:
BTW, touch screens suck for typing today. Keyboards are here to stay. Fortunately, voice recognition is advancing rapidly (Siri), and that could also provide some relief.
Maybe I should try out Siri too! I could use a new phone. :)
Wish me luck with this new keyboard, and hopefully less pain…
Oct 15, 12:30 am
— Kelly Martin
I’m having problems using iTunes streaming services because it’s too slow, and I’m sure I’m not the only one finding this. It’s the limitation of a cloud-based service: no bandwidth, and it’s not going to work for you. But first, some background info.
I’m an avid fan of the cloud – as consumers we have a wide range of options available to us. For those of us who use iTunes for accessing media like music, movies and movie rentals, we are tied to Apple in some financial way. Generally speaking, I like my Apple experience so far. I was a long-time Windows user, and an Amiga and VIC-20 user long before that, so I’ve used various operating systems and computers for some time now. It’s pretty clear to me why Apple has leap-frogged many other companies to become the most valuable company (as calculated by market capitalization) in the world. Their iTunes and iPod products have been a real hit, but so has the iPhone, the iPad, the Mac, and the iTunes Store with its set of applications and millions of developers. Steve Jobs was truly a visionary and it was a sad day when he succumbed to cancer at the young age of 56. Big company growing fast, it’s all fine and dandy right?
My problem with Apple at the moment is their complete and utter lack of sufficient network bandwidth for delivering its iTunes services here in Canada.
My wife and I have rented quite a few movies through iTunes, but our experience has continually degraded over the past few months to the point of frustration. Apple’s streaming speeds keep slowing down to the point of being unusable. Just the other night we rented the latest X-Men movieon our Apple TV for $6. However, it did not play. It did now download fast enough for us to watch it that evening – over even early the next day, for that matter. I have even upgraded my cable internet service to the fastest coaxial speed in North America (100 Mb downstream), every other major website jumped up in speed and yet Apple keeps getting slower. The estimated download time on my fast 100 Mb Shaw connection was approximately 24 hours for a file that was 900 Mb. Unacceptable. I tested the speed and quality of my connection just to make sure it wasn’t an issue on my end, and I was getting fast speeds everywhere else. Why was Apple’s iTunes so slow?
I was getting only 30 kb/sec or less among the three streams of downloads I was downloading concurrently. When I download files from other sites across the Internet, I can often get 5000 kb/sec or more.
Apple, please fix your bandwidth issue. You’re losing customers like me – because I won’t rent a movie that I have to wait a full day just to receive it. Clearly, heavy usage by Apple customer in the evenings is bringing Apple’s content delivery network to its knees. The next day, in the early morning I was able to finally download the rest of my purchases at well over 300 kb/sec with three concurrent downloads at a time – so almost 1Mb/sec. While that’s still not an impressive speed, it’s pretty much the minimum I’d expect from a $300+ Billion dollar company’s services.
Apple is making money hand-over-fist and yet my streaming iTunes experience is not a good one. I hope they see better days soon, because my wife and I won’t be renting any more movies from apple until they make them available for “instant watch” again.
I realize this is more of a compugripe than anything, but anyway… thanks for listening. If you have a similar problem please write a comment below and let me know.
Oct 13, 12:07 am
— Kelly Martin
I wrote an article about 18 months ago about slicing VMware Fusion virtual machines into tiny chunks that are easy to backup with Apple’s Time Capsule and Time Machine tools… but I found an even easier, and more elegant, solution to the problem of backing up Windows files. Simply enable file sharing in VMware Fusion, such that your Windows “My Documents” get synced with your Mac’s Document’s folder. Then Time Machine can use its native capabilities to monitor versions of a document and backup only those changes. The minor caveat here is to exclude the virtual machine itself from full backups using Time Machine – because those 20Gb or 100Gb backups are no longer required when you sync all your important data.
Aug 6, 11:36 pm
— Kelly Martin
I was an early adopter of the iPad, the least expensive version available at $549 here in Canada. I’ve had it for several months now… but before buying I was not even sure if I’d like it. I took the plunge, since its not that much money. Soon I discovered that I do indeed like — but not love — the little touchscreen device for what it does. It is great for reading, surfing the web and consuming information, but it’s input capabilities are quite limited compared to traditional computers. My wife loves our iPad, I would say, as evidenced by the number of times I’ve seen it in her hands. But here’s one thing that bugs me about this little touchscreen computer: it doesn’t work with most standard Flash websites, of which there are a great many.
Flash is very popular, for now
Flash is the technology that YouTube built its business on, and it’s not going away anytime soon though it is losing ground fast. Years ago was its glory, when YouTube was sold to Google for more than $2 Billion dollars, and all their video technology was based on Flash at the time. The folks at Adobe must have been tickled pink. But the technology world is not static, and years of development has passed. Things change for the worse, or in the wrong direction, while other things improve. I’m not sure why Flash is so off-the-rails at times – like its problem with being a major CPU hog at unwanted times.
I agree with many of the media expends, bloggers, pundits and technology leaders out there, including the essay by Steve Jobs, who have all said that Flash isn’t moving forward fast enough, isn’t fixing some inherent problems in its internal infrastructure. A few have even argued that it’s a dying technology in one sense, at HTML5 picks up steam with all major browser vendors supporting its new video-based features. Flash, well it may indeed fade away quite a bit over these next few years. It’s up to Adobe, and whatever happens I think Flash is pervasive enough that remnants of it would still be everywhere and for years to come. Flash has its set of problems, including a pile security issues, patch management that was late and buggy, and it’s tendency to be a CPU hog and slow and crashable and infrequently updated… Abode needs to work closer with hardware manufacturers including Apple and figure out how to make it more efficient to run on low-power devices… who knows? If I could predict the future I’d be a very rich man. For the most part I like Flash, and I certainly like many Flash-based websites that couldn’t have been created without the technology from Adobe.
Keeping it easy for children – a lesson in Ease-of-Use
A good friend of mine was visiting us today, and he brought his wife and three children along. The pre-teen children quickly noticed the iPad with its unusually good looks (it is a beautifully designed device like many Apple products). The oldest girl was intrigued and asked if she could try it out, and we quickly browsed to a website that was predominantly Flash-based. The screen went green and blank, and nothing happened…. I until scrolled far down on the page to finally find any HTML content in there. You see, Flash doesn’t display at all on iPads today, just HTML text and images. It was very confusing and not a great way to show off the iPad to my guests, I might add.
The iPad’s touch interface is amazing
Eventually we found a different website she was interested in that displayed fine on the iPad, and I could show her the cool zooming capability of the iPad known as “pinch” and “expand” by making these gestures with our fingers… scrolling takes just one finger, and it is a very nice to touch a display and have it respond naturally. Apple is still a wizard in User Interface (UI) design! No one should argue that they pioneered multi-touch gesture displays and technology with their iPhone, and even back in 2007 it was revolutionary to smartphone technology. That might be why they grew into a huge billion-dollar business for Apple overnight, and why they’ve sold so many of them.
Apple and Adobe finding common ground
I wish that Adobe would finally write an app that provides Flash capabilities for the iPad and iPhone, and then upload it to the iTunes Store for approval. Make it free, of course, just like Flash plugins we find on personal computers. Then millions of users can have the ultimate in choice… instead of that choice being decided by Apple. I, for one, would like to see how much faster my iPad’s battery drains, and how much hotter the device gets, when Flash is running on it. Even with these tradeoffs, I still want Flash. It would be a good strategic move too for Adobe to help keep Flash alive in the HTML5 era, which is soon upon us in all major browsers out there and threatening to dethrone Flash once and for all. Adobe, time to strut your stuff.
Mar 12, 11:18 pm
— Kelly Martin
It’s a simple solution to a rather complicated problem: how do you backup very large virtual machines on an hourly basis with VMware Fusion, Mac OS X and Time Machine or Time Capsule? It’s easy!
Ever drop your laptop and lose your data? Or had a hard disk fail without warning, causing data loss and much grief all around? I know many people who have lost their data and found themselves grief-stricken. Was it was months or years since you last “backed up”? You’re not alone, but that doesn’t make things easier. All those files you’ve been working on for months. Gone. You never though it would happen to you.
I use a MacBook Pro laptop and the fantastic Time Machine automated backup system. It even works wirelessly and backups up huge amounts of data for me every day. There’s just one problem: I use VMware virtual machines extensively throughout the day, and can need to backup close to 100 gigabytes of information on a daily basis. That’s not practical using a standard 802.11n wireless connection today (the fastest available).
I solved the problem, though, thanks to some help from a few clever people. I found a way to slice my virtual machines (VMs) into tiny little bite-sized pieces that Time Machine can backup more easily. The solution is all to do with Apple’s sparsebundle disk technology.
What is a sparsebundle, and why should I care?
Sparsebundles are wonderful things that will make your life better. They are an OS X specific technology that works excellent with VMware Fusion, large virtual machines, Apple’s Time Machine offering and the Time Capsule wireless backup router/storage device. Sparsebundles can take any large number of files and folders on your computer and package them up into a single file that acts as its own disk or portable filesystem – a sparsebundle disk image. It’s like any age-old zip or tar file, only much better and optimized for modern filesystems. They are portable and can even be encrypted. They work seamlessly with the innovative OS X Time Machine filesystem. These sparesebundles are special kind of disk image that slices your data up into into many thousands of smaller 8 Mb pieces that can easily be backed up when they change. A practical application of this in backing up large virtual machines, which are often so large they’re difficult to backup on an hourly, or sometimes even daily, basis. Using sparesebundles with VMWare Fusion is such a great idea I wish I’d thought of it sooner but alas, other people have already written at length about them.
You should care because you can backup large virtual machines on an hourly basis, which is very difficult to achieve using even the fastest USB and eSATA technologies today without a little filesystem help – in other words, Apple’s Time Machine backup technology.
In my first few days of usage, my Time Machine backups went from over 80 Gb every hour to just 1 or 2 Gb on average. That’s a dramatic improvement. It makes wireless backups every hour feasible and even easy (automated). It is not at all difficult to get VMware Fusion to use virtual machines that are inside sparesebundles either, but it does take a little prep.
After searching the Internet about VMware Fusion, Time Machine and the issues with large virtual machines, I came across an excellent article by Mark Wheadon, called Efficient backups: storing VMs in a sparse bundle. It walks you step-by-step through getting it working with VMware. Everything is very easy and the benefits are almost immediate.
The only potential downside is a performance hit you may experience when doing very heavy disk activity, as sparsebundles cause additional overhead on the server or desktop. This is largely OS and disk dependant, and seemed to improve for me when Apple’s OS X went from Leopard to Snow Leopard. I suspect newer SSDs would further reduce any performance hit. Either way I think the excellent benefits of automated, hourly backups virtual machines outweigh the minor performance hit. The advantages in having automatic, incremental Time Machine backups of large virtual machines is clear. Careful attention to the individual virtual machine’s configuration settings will help mitigate any problems – in other words, don’t use VMware Fusion’s Snapshot feature while using sparsebundles! Just turn it that feature off and you’ll be glad you did.
It’s nice to know that even if my laptop was dropped, destroyed or stolen, all the data on both my home and work computers, together comprising almost 500 Gb of data on my Macbook Pro as I write this, in early 2010. My data will always be backed up to save my butt if the computer is lost or stolen – right up to within an hour before I left the office and things went awry.
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This is my retro website, a homepage that dates back to the day when the Web was still coded with text editors, well-worn keyboards, elbow grease and Unix servers... the guts all neatly hidden from sight thanks to hyperlinks.
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owned by Kelly Martin, except where noted. © Copyright 1998-2012.