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Michael Webber
Insatiably curious.
Insatiably curious.

Michael's posts

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When I checked out the iPad Pro 9.7 when it was first rolled out, I didn't understand the lack of trackpad. Especially since Apple was famous, at that time, for saying they wouldn't introduce a Macbook with touchscreen because it wasn't ergonomic to constantly take your hands off the keyboard to reach up to the screen to use "touch". I agree. It's not ergonomic. (Of course the real reason touch is on Windows is so you can use the device in tablet mode, whether wrapped backwards behind the keyboard, or detached from the keyboard.)

Now the New York Times has confirmed my prejudice against trackpad deficient iPads:

"The other issue is ergonomics. Using the touch screen in combination with the Apple keyboard can be a pain on the wrist. Say, for example, you are using the keyboard to scroll through an email or website: If you want to open a link, you have to lift your hand away from the keyboard and tap the link. Or say you want to adjust the screen brightness or hit pause on a music track while typing: Both actions require reaching up and touching the screen. These keyboard-to-touch-screen reps get tiring. In my experience, using a keyboard and trackpad on a laptop feels like a more comfortable combination for crunching through a busy day of emails, messages, documents, spreadsheets and calendar entries."

That having been said, I'm not against using an iPad as a substitute for a laptop in the right conditions. For example, if I'm traveling and don't expect to type much, an iPad is fine for media consumption, email reading, news reading, and even for virtual keyboard email replies. If I need to type more, I haul along an accessory Bluetooth keyboard, I'm a big fan of the Logitech K380 which pair with 3 different devices at the same time, and of the AmazonBasics Bluetooth Keyboard, which only pairs with one device at at time, but is slightly cheaper and lighter and more compact, but still with a great keyboard feel.

If I expect a LOT of typing, it's laptop or go home. Unless I'm flying, in which case a tablet/keyboard combination doesn't have to be pulled from my luggage during TSA inspection, while a laptop is a hassle.


The Mummy is as good as Wonder Woman. I've seen them both, I like them both. I don't understand how critics can love Wonder Woman and hate The Mummy. I recommend them both. But I think Tom Cruise made the wrong choice! (In the movie.)

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This is why I always pack my carryon luggage with items I want just in case I get stuck with an airport sleepover. From volcanic dust to a bad power supply (must have been one heck of a power supply), things can intervene at mass transit hubs.

So, basically, Windows 10 S is both Windows 10 Schools and Windows 10 Security. Which makes sense. There is a switch in the normal "Windows 10" Settings options to block installs from non-Store sources, which techies could argue provides the same level of protection (no programs from the "internet" - but then we all know people who would be tricked into turning that protection option back off. You know, grandma and grandpa, almost all the ran and file office employees and definitely all the execs.

What's nice about "S" is that there is an option to upgrade to Pro for just $49. That's a good buy up from "Home." If you opt out of the "S" security track, you at least gain some bonus features for your $49 payment.

Also, if MSFT is offering "S" free to laptop makers, it let's MSFT recoup some of its lost license fees.

BTW the "free to upgrade through December 31" offer might be limited to the upscale $999 Surface edition. And it's not written in stone that the upgrade on low end machines will be to "Pro," although sometimes I have seen "Pro" squeak into some sub-$200 consumer/edu laptops.

The Linux users are probably howling with laughter that (A) Windows runs its desktops in Admin mode (which allows users to carelessly sabotage themselves) instead of local mode, and (B) that Windows doesn't require re-entry of a PIN or password to let programs install - just clicking on an "are you sure" button.

Apple owners remain blissfully in the dark about security issues.

And Chromebooks? Until ChromeOS REQUIRES periodic reboots, a lot of Chromebook owners continue to run out of date ChromeOS versions because they never actually shut down. they close just the lid to go to sleep.

Personally I think we need operator licensing laws before putting computing devices out there. Laugh if you will, but 20 years from now corporations and governments won't be defending themselves from centralized hacking attacks, but from networks of compromised consumer devices. Or isn't that happening already?

How to survive a 14 hours transpacific flight.

1. Stay hydrated. Grab water whenever offered, ask for a refill with meal service, stay away from alcohol (it dehydrates us) unless you have your own water bottle to re-hydrate.
2. Get up and walk a little, periodically. See #1, above. If you drink water and don't want to suffer, the trips to the bathroom will keep your body from going into (dangerous) full zombie mode (blood clot risk if you don't move around).
3. Plan for both hot and cold flights. In other words, layer. Once in a while the temperature will be just right, but usually it's too cold (it takes extra fuel to heat the cabin more). SO, wear a light foundation layer like a wool or synthetic tee shirt (or light short sleeve shirt), but bring along a fleece sweater or light jacket like the Marmot Windshirt.
4. Fight boredom. That book you've been meaning to read because it has good reviews? Don't bring it. Bring your favorite popular fiction instead - on your phone to save weight. An exhausting flight is not time to finally be a good reader.
5. Bring snacks and keep them at your seat. At a minimum, bring one energy bar stuffed in your pocket or purse. If you forget, hoard any offered in-flight snacks even if you aren't hungry at the time - you might want them later.
6. Be studiously polite to all flight attendants and other travelers, especially your seat-mates. Don't, on the other hand, start interesting conversations, you'll just tire yourself out. Silent seat-mates have probably learned this tip the hard way.
7. Be low-maintenance with flight attendants, but don't hesitate to ask for what you really need, whether an in-between snack if you are about to pass out or get moody from hunger, or water. Be grateful when you get what you want but don't complain if you don't get it. This is definitely one of those times when sheeple do better than wantwolves.
8. It's worth having a seat-side bag. Not so big there isn't room to stretch our your legs. A small daypack you can repurpose for groundside touring is perfect.
9. Pay attention to where you stow your overhead luggage if you can't get it exactly over your aisle. Remember it's easier to move forward than backwards when there's a rush to disembark, so try to stow your bag or luggage towards the front of the cabin and not behind you.

Finally, remember that unlike the old adage "the journey is half the fun,", arriving there is pretty much ALL the fun. Air travel pretty much stinks these days in economy class, don't make it worse by losing your cool.

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The advantage of the rumored Windows "cloudbook" isn't what it CAN do, it's in what it CAN'T do. The new-concept Windows cloudbook simply won't download and install apps "from the wild" (from internet websites), only apps from the official Microsoft App Store. This should go a long way to protecting the device from malware infections - especially malware that gets installed by grandma and grandpa when they clicking on links in phishing emails.

Other than that, the proposed new-concept Windows cloudbook sounds just like prior Windows "cloudbooks" (like the epoynymous Acer Cloudbook) since they are limited to an almost unworkable (if you install full Windows Office) 32gb local drive.

However, I expect the new-concept Windows Cloudbook to run Word Mobile or even to run web-based Word, which should be fine for K-12 students.

Also, apps from the MS app store should be more full-functioned and offline capable than current Chromebook "apps".

The good news in this new approach is a substantial layer of protection against malware and viruses. The bad news, is that Google Chrome, my favorite browser, isn't in the Microsoft App Store.

BTW the hardware specs for WIndows Cloudbook aren't too shabby:

* Quad-core (Celeron or better) processor (most full-fledged Win10 "cloudbooks" only get dual core)

* 4GB of RAM (most full-fledged Win10 "cloudbooks" only get 2gb)

* 32GB of storage (64GB for 64-bit) (most full-fledged 64gb Win10 "cloudbooks" only get 32gb despite thke 64gb version taking a lot more disk space)

* A battery larger than 40 WHr (to pretty much assure a 10 hour battery life - current Windows cloudbooks range from 6-12 hours)

* Fast eMMC or SSD for storage (I'm happy to see the word "fast" in MS's prospectus - good write speeds are hard to find on existing eMMC Windows cloudbooks)

* Pen and touch (optional) (I wish MS had spec'd IPS screens - the viewing experience is much better, and in a classroom with teachers checking work is probably pretty helpful in that regard)

BTW, Windows "cloudbooks" are usually more usable in terms of running apps without the internet and storing files locally than Chromebooks.

I'd take one of these in an instant for cafe browsing and Google Docs work over, say, the Lenovo Yoga Android. Should be much cheaper, and equally or more secure. The Achilles heel is going to be "app availability" on the MS App Store - a lot of developers haven't made their traditional Windows programs "App Store friendly" yet; they've always counted on users just installing their programs the traditional way via a download from a website. With the "new-concept" cloudbook, it's App Store or NO programs.

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Rachel Leigh Cook remade her original "this is your brain on drugs" public service tv spot in light of the mass incarceration of people of color due to the "drug war."

If the drug war were effective, maybe we could accept substantial - but not massive - incarceration. But in most ways the "drug war" has been about as effective as the "Vietnam war," if anybody remembers that.

I don't think diversion into drug rehab programs works. But something is definitely wrong when white people on Oxycodone (by prescription for the better-heeled white people) get a pass and brown and black skinned people get a ticket straight to hell, i.e. incarceration. Especially when any incarceration squashes future employment, future education. I'm not saying more white people should be incarcerated, but I am saying too many non-white people are being incarcerated.

America shouldn't be a "prison nation". We've got to give this some serious thought.

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You know, we thought they didn't exist anymore then we saw videos on YouTube of people slurping them down.

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Another great review on the 2017 iteration of the now-venerable iPad. This review confirms that per subjective viewing AND instrument tests, the screen is better in color accuracy and color range than the iPad Air 2. Darn close to the Pro, now.

The 2017 iPad is easier and cheaper to repair than the Air 2 and Pro because it has a 2-piece panel - top touch screen laid almost on top of, but not quite touching, the color panel. In the Air 2 and Pro 9.7 the two pieces are glued together, which further improves the iPad line's long-standing good performance in terms of reflectivity, but makes repairs more difficult and costly - and we all know that cracked screens are the Achilles heel if all phones and tablets and laptops. Not common, but always a possibility. The two-piece is great for schools where these are sure to be abused.

The second difference is reflectivity coatings. Apple figured out how to combine fingerprint repellent an anti-glare coatings on the iPad Air 2 and Pro. They left the anti- glare coating off the 2017 iPad.

My reaction is this: meh. I have the Pro 9.7 and the coating and glued panels don't make any visible difference. There are still lots of reflections in normal office and kitchen indoor lighting the reflections only become an issue for me when doing serious video watching - movies and TV. (YouTube is fine it's the fast-food of video.) For Netflixing I just do what movie theaters have done since the dawn of cinema - turn down the lights.
And I do have some qualms about the long term durability of anti-glare coatings.

So all in all, like the review author, I think Apple has very likely done a fine job of cost-reduction without losing the qualities that make the iPad the gold-standard for tablets.

The HP Instant Ink subscription program for most of their current ink jet printers is a bargain. $2.99 per month is the lowest tier for 50 printed sheets per month. If you go over, the pro-rated rate for additional sheets is about 6 cents per page. If you go under, you still pay at your agreed rate. It's month to month so so can increase it during the school year or holidays.

The rate per printed sheet is the same for all size pages up to standard letter (and legal?) sizes. Here's the huge perk. 8.5x11 color photos are also 6 cents per page, not the roughly $2 per page from other companies.

Don't know how HP makes this work, but I'm loving it. We are slowly printing out our formerly digital-only pix. 
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