Mouse Trouble

For a long time I have used the Razer Naga Molten as my mouse. It’s been excellent. Recently though it’s had a little trouble moving about on the desk. It turns out that the slick plastic sliders on the bottom of the mouse have worn right down to the hard plastic shell. It was becoming awkward to use. And I can’t seem to find a way to just replace those parts.

I started investigating replacements and of course the first place to look was Razer. Here, the Naga was now in several versions, with the fanciest being the Naga Pro. This had the three swappable side plates (so normal configuration, 6 buttons and the 12 button like my Naga). It added wireless, including Bluetooth.

But the Razer software no longer supports OSX. Though I’ve never used the Razer software on my existing Naga. With my birthday coming up, I put in my request.

Success! Birthday came along and so did the Naga. It connected fairly simply to the iMac. Obviously the software wasn’t working but I didn’t think much of that until I tried to play WoW.

Here I came across the problem I didn’t face with the older one. The Naga Molten has a switch on the bottom. This manually selects the 12 side buttons as either the top number row on the keyboard or the number pad. Now I had always had it as the number pad. This worked great as I used the number row on the keyboard for my attack rotation, then the Numpad on the Naga as my interrupts and other more situational actions.

Well, that’s what the software does in the newer ones. That software that doesn’t work on OSX. Mapping the keys in WoW didn’t help because the mouse thinks its the number row. I did manage a work around as I made them all bound to SHIFT-number.

I was kind of disappointed, so I handed the Naga over to the Surface to work with. I do like that I can actually use it for multiple computers. I have the USB cable connected to the iMac, which works. And when I switch the BT on, the Surface connects to it.

Anyway, after some more research, I picked up a Logitech G604 for the iMac.

This is also a Bluetooth mouse (that was one of the criteria for my choice) and it has 6 side buttons. The Logitech software also works on OSX.

So this arrived and connected. It was really slow to move across my desktop (I have the 27” iMac and another 27” screen slaved to it). Then I got into the software and messed about with the settings. This helped.

I’ve also set up the keys when outside WoW as a bunch of short cuts.. cut, copy, paste, screenshot. Works well for that.

I have struggled a little with it in WoW, but I’ve also not played much so I reserve judgement on that side of things. I can’t quite seem to get the Logitech software to automatically switch profile as I thought it did. Again, I haven’t played with it much to be sure.

However, I have been having trouble with it even working. It will often lose the BT connection and simply stop. I’ve had to go through the reconnection steps several times. Switching it off, clearing it from the iMac’s BT list etc have eventually got it up and running.

The other trouble is that, well as I said, without the G-Suite application running, it’s really slow across the screen. At the OSX login screen (there are profiles for each family member on my iMac) its slow. And it remains slow even after login (or wake up from sleep) until the G-Suite kicks in. This can be several seconds. Or it isn’t until I actually open it. Or it just doesn’t.

This has all been quite frustrating. Sometimes it all gets back together, or I have to switch on the Apple Magic Mouse that I have, or I’ve resorted to plugging the Naga in (via its USB) cable. On one recent afternoon I had to dig out an old Apple Trackpad to get some response from the cursor on screen.

So in summary. Naga Pro isn’t great for OSX (well it’s not supposed to be). G604 seems really flakey. Apple Magic Mouse is good for general stuff, but not games, make sure you keep a trackpad around…

Anyone got an older working Naga they want to let go?

Oh and my old reliable Logitech M555 that I kept for travel seems to have died.

2020 – From my perspective

Really, 2020 has been an unforgettable year. Tragedy for so many and upheaval around the globe. For Australia it started with the ongoing bushfires, and then just as things were getting back to normal, the COVID crisis hit, upending everything for pretty much everyone.

I am certain that I will cop some flak for this, but to be honest for me, and I mean just me, it was actually a good year.

Professionally I had two unexpected opportunities to demonstrate my abilities and I am satisfied that I did good work. Supporting the Bushfires response and then the COVID response I got great feedback. From the bushfires, one of the executives I was working for wrote an appreciative letter to my own exec. Big plus there, though it won’t mean a promotion or a raise though. It did feel good to be appreciated in that way.

This fire broke out very close to home.

For my new profession, teaching, I graduated at the start of the year with my paperwork finally arriving in March. My accreditation with NSW was also completed and I started actually working, as a casual, one day per week for Term 4. It was great to start, and I have a lot to learn, but I also discovered that there is work there, and I am in demand. That’s again a positive for the future. Oh, and I confirmed that I enjoy it and would love to have my own classroom.

Effect of COVID

Look, my family was kind of insulated from the upheavals. My wife’s profession and mine were both required to work throughout and there was never any threat to our employment. My daughters’ schools did close for a term, but we managed their online access. Being tech savvy and having several computers and iPads, but most importantly a reliable internet connection, meant that schooling online wasn’t an issue. After being released from the COVID taskforce after a couple of months, I did do some random periods of working from home as well, and I love it. From that perspective it proved to my entire organisation that working from home, or remotely are viable depending upon your particular role.

COVID initially made the traffic very light when commuting.

None of our extended families have so far caught COVID, and most live in small rural areas, so not high risk anyway. And work wise, many of them are retired, or in school or continued to work pretty much as normal. Again, this has lessened the impact on us. I don’t know anyone personally who has had COVID.

I am very thankful for the particular circumstances that my extended family found itself in during COVID.

We did cancel a planned holiday to Hawaii. I didn’t mind. I wasn’t really wanting to go at that particular time and it was going to be a hassle with eldest’s school too. We got about 95% of our money back as well, which helped. And our planned Christmas in Philippines was not even considered. We did take a few days down the far south NSW coast, consciously staying within the state, just in case.

Bikes

Well, the first comment is not really me, but the MotoGP has been a stellar year with all sorts of things happening. Jack Miller (#43) kept me on the edge of my seat in several races. To finish with a second place in the last race and hand Ducati the constructor title was an awesome way to step across to the factory team. Outside of Jack, there was some amazing racing and epic moments.

I was a little sad when the Australian round was cancelled. I had not planned to attend this year and if it hadn’t been cancelled back in Feb (I think) it certainly would have later. However, my Mrs is happy for me to attend next year. And I have a bike that I will enjoy even more riding down there and back. I have been busy looking at different routes there and back.

And they call it a “work trip”…..

Bike wise, I got several “work trips” in and some other minor rides about the place to break up the commute. Even the commute was broken up with a total of about 4 months of commuting to the city. I do enjoy filtering past all those cars…

Filtering…. see ya suckers 🙂

The bike is running well and I have done little things to fix it up. Replacing the broken fairing piece and sorting out the OEM tail to properly mount the Givi rack were little niggles of mine. I’d still love another 50-100km from the tank, but that’s not too much drama. I don’t really have any other “jobs” left to do on it now. It’s now in better shape than when I got it, 30,000km ago.

Of course, I did miss out on getting a new one. It’s still a goal of mine, but I think it might be 2022 perhaps.

Bytes

Not a lot happened in this arena. I picked up a Surface Pro, to use for teaching of course. First laptop in a long time and first new Windows hardware in 10 years! It worked out well for a couple of teaching days already.

No, this isn’t moving away from the Apple ecosystem, but until they make a MacBook with a touch screen/pen input, I don’t see the point. Admittedly the changes they have made to iPadOS have made it significantly more useable for a work/study environment.

Sure, part of the decision to get a Surface Pro is the “new toy” in lieu of the new bike 🙂

Dungeons and Dragons went from strength to strength this year. I DM’d a regular group online and they worked they way through the Icespire Peak/Leilon modules. A (mostly) regular Friday evening group stood up as well, with different people running it and different adventures. I’ve ended up DM’ing some of those Fridays as well, kicking off an adventure based around Saltmarsh which is proving entertaining. All online through Roll20.

That has been a lot of fun, made some new friends and got back into one of my hobbies. It even saw me complete a heap of painting of miniatures too. This young green dragon came out well (mini is about 12cm wingtip-wingtip).

So I do extend my sympathies to those who have lost family or friends or who’ve had work upheavals, lost home or businesses. That’s why its with some awkwardness, I have to say that for me, 2020 was actually a good year.

Let’s hope 2021 is better for all!

2018 in Review

I haven’t written last years review yet, so here goes.

About Bikes

Well a good year for the bikes, finishing on a dramatic change. Most of the year was commuting to work, with the odd day ride squeezed in occasionally. I managed to get my little ones out for a ride and they both enjoyed it.

Of course, there was the big adventure to the MotoGP, only 11 years since the last time. I found some fun roads, I had some great weather, I enjoyed the challenge and the solitude. The Daytona performed excellently for a bike being asked to do something the designers NEVER intended. However well it went though, it wasn’t as easy as it would have been on the VFR so I finally made the decision that was 4 years in the making.

And seemingly fate gave me the chance to swap the bike for the Ninja which I did. Though by the by the end of 2018, I was very uncertain if I had done the right thing. The Daytona was gone and the Ninja sat unridden in the garage, looking dirty and tired.

About babes

The kids… well one finished primary and is off to high school this year! They had a great year, probably they would both count the Japan trip as the highlight, I would put it a tight second after the MotoGP trip. They both enjoyed their ride around the block on the bike too.

About bytes

Well the computers this year have been almost exclusively workhorses, with my study and my girls work as well. I did tuck in to BattleTech and love that. Oh, now that study is on hold….

Oh, I did get the new iMac didn’t I – it seems like so long ago. That was like changing to a new car without even realising. It just doesn’t break down all the time like the old one, but otherwise everything looks the same. And to be honest, I don’t really notice the faster start up etc, because everything is usually open.

The Playstation got retired (faulty wireless board, still works with USB), the Wii got passed to a relative and the kids picked up a Switch. Cool little device that.

About Study

I would love to be saying I’m done, but I have one prac unit left before I graduate. And no certainty of when I will get to do it. Hopefully when I write the 2019 review I will be able say done.

BUT the main thing is that I LOVE IT. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it had it been my thing straight out of Uni, but I think that time in between and the life and experience in that time will set me on a good path to this new career, whenever it is that I actually get started.

NAS is restored…

After ordering the wrong HDD last week (I ordered 1TB instead of 2TB) I have received and installed the replacement HDD into the NAS. Overnight it has rebuilt itself and so is back ONLINE 🙂

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 5.30.25 am.png

Now that this is up and running I can restore the iTunes library that normally resides here. Not sure of the best way to do this. I only need to reimport the movie/TV shows as I’ve switched over to Apple Music (just to experiment).

Either I could reach back into the Time Machine backup and restore the old library files. This is what I have usually done. Alternatively I could reimport the files. I worry that this will lose all the info I have manually typed into the library. They will also ALL import as Home Movies, which will mean ages and ages of updating each one (imagine the TV Series)..

Think I just answered my own question.

Might sort the Time Machine Backup of this new iMac out first… what do you say? The fun never ends.

And its a great way to procrastinate TWO assessments…. errr????

[UPDATE]

Actually I think I have a better idea??? Perhaps this is an opportunity to update the NAS itself. I could suck all the data off it (it’s less than 2TB) and then upgrade the OS, wipe the pool etc. Clean it right up, while nothing is really using it.

Not sure…

 

Deed is done.

The decision was made, the transaction complete.

The iMac has been replaced with….

…..

….

 

..

 

another 27″ iMac.

Well I bet that was a surprise.

IMG_2720
Can you tell which is which???  (ok the default wallpaper and the smaller keyboard give it away)

Went out yesterday and bought it from the Apple Store. Using education prices I got a discount and also a set of wireless Beats headphones. JB Hifi could beat the Apple Store prices, but not by much (about $50) but couldn’t throw in the headphones. I didn’t particularly want the headphones but since they are free and worth $400 (retail), why miss out on it. I figure I could use them with the iMac when trying to ignore the Mrs watching her shows on the PC next to me……

I picked up the base 27″ which means a 1TB Hybrid HDD and a basic i5, with a Radeon 570 card. A massive step up in performance when compared to my late 2009 iMac. Not going to win any races, but fine for me. Heck, now I have the first 4K (well 5K) display in the house (our TVs are full HD, not 4K). As long as I can study and I can run videos at full screen, I will be happy (actually I haven’t tested that yet).

First impression was – it’s lighter – I discovered as I picked it up to walk out of the store. Eventually, when getting it home my first impression was the screen is really nice. Initially the brightness was right up, but it was actually the fineness of text and lines of dialog and windows that made the biggest impression on me. When I eventually connected the Dell 27″ 1440 monitor I had with the older iMac, yes, the screen is much nicer in the new iMac.

IMG_2721
Here it is, all set up as dual screen. The Beats are on the desk to the left of the iMac. This shot really hides the difference between the Dell and the iMac.

The next impression is speed. It’s certainly quicker than the older model. I have decided that once its all up and running and I can confirm that everything I want is either moved or backed up, I am intending to wipe and restore the older one. I’m sure it used to be quicker than it is these days.

I decided not to do a restore from the Time Machine. I thought, its time for a bit of a spring clean. So I’ve moved email and photo archives and my current study over and very little else. The rest is available either from backup, NAS or the cloud.

Several hours later I realised that I forgot to copy the iTunes folder and set that up on the to connect to the store on the NAS. Of course, this is after I packed away the old iMac. So now I have all my music downloaded from Apple Music and stored on this iMac, and a big folder on the NAS with nothing pointing to it. Might have to work through that in the next few days. However, I did learn about browsing my Team Machine backup so the old iMac can sit away getting dust as everything I would need is here on the backup disk…. Time Machine scores YET again (really, its one of THE BEST THINGS about OSX).

Of course, in the middle of all of this, one of the NAS drives has died, so I don’t want to do too much copying and working on the NAS until I replace the drive. Got a couple inbound at the moment. Half think I bought an extra last time, but can’t think where I stored it if I did.

Overall, its like the old one has just been refreshed. I don’t think Mrs has even realised, and probably won’t, until she spots the box from the new one under the stairs.

 

The iMac is in a medically induced coma…

I think that it is finally over for my long suffering iMac. I am considering some form of euthanasia for the poor thing. I’ve shut it down for now.

I’ve had it powered down as I was away for several days, however since restarting it, if left to its own devices it will reboot within about 15 mins. The heatsink (basically all of the rear of the aluminium casing) is very hot, even when all I am doing is some word processing and internet browsing. This is a symptom of the internal problems that are causing the trouble and has been steadily getting worse, certainly over the past 12 months or so. Still it’s fought on for at least 2 years since the problems resurfaced after replacing some internals some months before that (3 years ago maybe?). I suppose it has done pretty well for a 2009 computer.

For now I have returned to the PC, but I will need to replace the iMac. I guess this is the advantage of the way that study is accessed online these days. As long as you keep your work in the cloud, you can switch computers and devices as you desire.

Of course, it’s not all roses on the PC. For reasons I can’t figure out yet, it won’t let me upgrade or reinstall (as I uninstalled it during trouble shooting) Apple iTunes. Makes syncing with the various devices in our house, somewhat problematic. But there is no fear of a shutdown and the SSD is nice and fast….. again, this one is doing well for another 2009 computer, though with some upgrades about 4 years ago.

So a big purchase is expected shortly. I will also need to get a USB-C to HDMI/DP adaptor in order to connect the other screen to the new iMac as it’s currently connected through mini DP on the ’09 iMac. Extra dollars, I’m sure. On the plus side, through Apple Education pricing (which I should qualify for) I can get a set of Beats Wireless Headphones for nothing, worth about $400. Not something I would have chosen for myself, but if they’re giving them away…

With assessments due on Jan 8 and Jan 12 I really don’t need this!

AirPods – A Review

Like many people, I listen to music a lot. I listen in the car, on the bike, around the house (when I don’t get shouted down by the family), studying, walking around town, at work etc. And a fair chunk of that is using earphones. I’m no audiophile, so I’m generally happy with my normal earphones, which at the moment are the ones that came with my iPhones. They sit well in my ear and the cord is a nice length.

But the length isn’t always great, like when I’m working on a computer at home or at work. The cord dangles across the keyboard, or when it’s plugged into the back of the iMac it doesn’t really let me move about much.

So I thought about trying these AirPods out. I figured that as they also work with the iMac at the very least, it will make my study at home more pleasant. At work, I could use them to drown out all the other people’s radios and not have the cord dangling across my keyboard.

As I’m walking down the mall I unpacked the small box and was pleasantly surprised to find them partially charged, so they paired straight away and there I was, using them. I did feel a little self-conscious at first, but you have to realise this. If you put the normal Apple earphones (EarPods?) without the cord, next to the AirPod, they’re actually about the same dimensions, so they only look weird because there’s no cord, not because they are massive. And they are a LOT smaller than some of the Bluetooth phone earpieces that I’ve seen.

They have been really handy over the past month. When using them the range (as long as there are no walls in the way) is up to around 10m, which means I can move around the desk area, or the kitchen with the phone charging in one place, and listen to music without interruption. No cords to dangle over the keyboard or restrain your head.

Swapping between devices is probably the letdown. I vaguely recall Apple saying that they would swap automatically and they don’t. To be honest, I don’t know how you would implement that. Imagine you’re watching a video on your iPad and Facebooking on your phone. You probably wouldn’t want that pop-up video on Facebook to suddenly override the dramatic reveal in the movie.

But swapping is simple. Swipe up on iOS and then from the music widget select the little (almost looks like wifi symbol) and choose your headphones. A few seconds later you’ll hear a tone and the AirPods are now connected. Even on the iMac you select your Bluetooth drop down and connect to your AirPods.

I’ve set one ear to start/stop with a double tap and the other works on Siri. Voice clarity for someone on the other end seems pretty good, even on a busy street. Their volume level does seem a little quieter than the normal EarPods. Battery lasts for a while (several hours) and it’s only a short rest in the case and they have significant charge. I haven’t managed to empty the case yet, so not sure how many charges you’ll get out of that.

They are pricey, and I haven’t looked at any other Bluetooth headsets to compare.

Overall I have found the lack of cords as by far the best part of them. They are quieter with somewhat less bass than the regular iPhone earphones

Last Legs?

The iMac is starting to reboot often. Started this afternoon sometime. It seems to realise that it can’t wake from sleep so it reboots (and then can’t find the bluetooth keyboard). Happened about 4 times this evening.

I’ve removed the BT keyboard and I’ll see how that goes.

Next, I’m going to duplicate the Time Machine process on a new HDD.

Then I’ll look at a full rebuild, it’s probably well overdue anyway.

After that, if it is still occurring, I’ll have to consider retirement. Considering it’s a mid-2009 iMac, having lasted 8 years isn’t too bad.

Update: So after removing the BT keyboard and the Magic Trackpad (so now its the normal keyboard andMagic Mouse) the iMac has been behaving properly again. She fights on….. I wonder when the next iMac update is, 6 months away at least I expect. Not going to look at the iMac Pro, not required.

Dying of the Light

I said I had two WoW problems (of course, there is the unspoken – I have resubbed to WoWcrack problem as well). The second is of course the iMac. Levelling with Miss 9 means running the PC and the iMac (any thoughts of an iOS version of WoW, lol) together. Normally not a problem. The PC, an ancient first gen i7 with a 9500GT – it’s pretty noisy but still running ok. As it boots from an SSD it’s very quick to start up actually. And then there’s the iMac.

So I talked somewhat about the problems a couple of posts ago. Even WoW is enough to push it too hard. It can be as long as an hour, or as little as ten minutes before bad things start happening on the screen and I need to quit. As long as I quit before a complete failure (with usually a mostly blank display) it seems to be able to carry on doing word processing etc after I’ve quit.

Otherwise, a reboot gets it back running. Still, that won’t last forever.

The case, the main heatsink for these computers gets very toasty. It always has, but it seems if this cools down then I get a bit longer out of it than if I try to start WoW when it’s already warm. I’m sure that’s either the root cause of the problem (heat stressed components failing over time, it’s a late 2010 model after all) or a symptom of it (the dying video card working harder than it needs to).

So come on Apple, announce MacMini updates if you’re going to so I can decide what to do. I’m starting to lean back towards the cheapest MacMini (second hand?) I can get and spend the money on a PC instead. Either way, I have 2 keyboards, 3 mice and a display all ready for whichever box I head down. I may be dual boxing on one screen.

Of course, I have all my fingers and toes and eyes crossed hoping I won’t get a total failure of the iMac before I am ready. Heck it’s hung on for a year already (more than 2 if you count back to when my original problems started occurring!)

NOTE: I am not considering the smaller iMacs (21.5″) as there is no advantage over the MacMini. None of the smaller ones run a discrete video card, only the larger Macbook Pros and 27″ Macs do. So I would be paying extra money for a (nice) screen.

Progress is a funny thing

So when I was about 10, if I wanted to listen to music, I put a tape in my Walkman, put the headphones on and pressed play. If I wanted to listen in the lounge, I moved the tape in the Hi-fi in the lounge and pressed play.

Today to listen in the lounge I used my phone app to switch on the amp, and then remote control my iMac to select the playlist and play over the network.

The iMac dutifully fetched the songs from the NAS, then AirPlay across to the Amp, which played it out the speakers, while displaying the track info on the TV.

So, including the switch and the router (for the Wifi), that’s SEVEN devices, just to play a song.

It sounds silly like that, but then when you think that I can

  • play the same music upstairs or in the computer room (I can actually play different music in both if I get the Apple TVs involved) at the same time;
  • play music outside;
  • play a movie inside and music outside;
  • play a movie on the computer, a different one upstairs, another different one downstairs, while listening to music outside.;
  • and only have 1 copy of the music or movie on the NAS.
  • and listen to music on the phone on headphones.

maybe it isn’t so silly???