Returning Things

I’m composing a longer review of Windows/Windows 8.  However, I wanted to write a shorter piece on the state of technology in general.  I’m having a lot of problems, lately.  I’ve commented a few times about the difficulty of interacting with the mass of information using the sort of input devices we have and this is an expansion on that theme.  I have pretty severe RSI (that’s repetitive stress injury, known by many as “Carpal Tunnel” [which is just one example of a spectrum of injuries {tennis elbow is another}]).  It is plain and simply from writing 100’s of 1000’s of lines of code in the span of a few years.  But writing code isn’t just that, it’s as much, using mice.  I’ve calculated that I have probably tapped a keyboard upwards of 5 million times and moved my mouse 30+ miles and clicked something like 1 million times.  That’s a lotta short bursts of muscles.  It hurts.

Anyway, done whining.  Point is, I don’t just pity myself.  I try my best to avoid it.  I use trackballs, mice, keyboard shortcuts.  In fact, I’ll publish a little presentation I did for a job a while back on User Interface use.  It’s interesting.

Point of this article, however, is that with the emergence of Windows 8 I figured I would get on the “touch” bandwagon (since it’s finally moving to the line of products with which content creation is done).  On Nov. 1st I bought an Acer T232HL Touchscreen monitor as well as a Logitech T650 Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad and also, of course, Windows 8 pro.  I also bought a Microsoft Natural Ergo Keyboard 4000 (I bought this against my best judgement because I knew about the RIDICULOUS stiff spacebar that has been around for years and which Microsoft never fixes [the solution is simple, move to a split space bar!!!!! JERKS {ticks me off because there are no good options anymore for an Ergonomic keyboard and everything about this keyboard is great <standard placement of keys |for the most part|>}]).

I returned the touchscreen the next day.  There is a noticeable lag (fraction of a second, but still… it’s not present on other touchscreens and it is annoying and finally not something I expect from a $449 product) between touching the screen and the system registering the touch.  This is no good for selecting text or many of the other things that a programmer does day to day.

I tried to accept the keyboard.  I tried to accept the stiff spacebar that took me from typing 90 words a minute down to 45.  I tried.  I kept it a full week.  But finally, I returned it, too.

The last holdout was the Logitech touchpad.  Now, I’ve had lotsa problems with Logitech.  I’m on my 5th Marble Trackball.  All their mice have the same problem these days.  The mechanism that registers the clicks degrades over time (probably 50,000 clicks?) until finally you can’t click without double clicking.  This is annoying in many situations, but also makes dragging and dropping impossible.  So I just call and have them send out a new one.  It’s a well oiled process, by now.  I have a second Marble that I keep to use while I wait for the replacement they send me.  I don’t have to return the old one.  They know about the problem and just send it out.  Usually arrives in 3-5 days.  Frickin’ absurd.

Anyway, the touchpad.  I held out.  I’ve tried to make it work.  Sad thing is, it works most of the time.  But then randomly, it refuses to register.  It accepts gestures, like the two fingered swipe to left or right or up or down for vertical and horizontal scrolling.  But occasionally it doesn’t register.  I’ve tried moving the laptop to which it is connected closer to my area so as to rule out a wireless signal issue.  That has no effect.  It is literally 2 feet away in clear line of sight.  I modified it to a two-fingered tap for right clicking.  This only works sometimes.  But the most annoying thing is that it seems about 12-25% of the time, when I move to use it it doesn’t register that I’m touching it at all.  I understand that it goes into a sort of sleep mode to preserve battery.  Nevertheless, sometimes it takes literally 5-8 tries to wake the thing up.  Doesn’t matter if I leave it plugged in.

So, I’m returning that today too.

That leaves Windows 8.  OhhhGrrrr!!! I have problems with that too.  But Windows is another beast altogether and so I’m saving my griping for an entirely different post.  It will be more carefully written than this one, which is sort of a one-off gripe because, after having spent over $700 bucks, I ended up returning $600 worth, and if I could return Windows 8, I sure would.  But of course, that is open software, so I’m stuck with it.

It’s a sad state of affairs when multinational billion dollar companies cannot produce refined products.

All these things probably work okay for the “average” user.  The sort of person that doesn’t move their mouse 2 miles a year and tap out a million keystrokes.  But what about us content creators?  Aren’t we the ones this whole PC (non-Apple) market is all about?  Am I unique?  I don’t think so, not entirely.  Of course, I do consider myself to be somewhat of a UI-ninja (master), but still, why can’t these companies produce a product and refine it over time and STICK WITH IT???  Why is every year a new product, forgotten and consigned to the dust of next years product?

Apple is no panacea either.  Especially for someone who writes in .NET.  Anyway, Apple has nothing in the way Ergonomics.  Nothing I’ve seen, anyway.  But at least their Trackpad’s work well.  Apple is Industry standard in what they do, they just don’t do what I need.  Too bad.  I would invest heavily in products by a company that was committed to helping me do what I want to do.

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