Mouse Troubles – Update

I gave up on the G604… it’s just super flakey on the iMac. I’ve been using the Naga, plugged into the USB. There’s probably no reason I can’t use it BT. I just haven’t got around to it. The 12 keys are mapped to the SHIFT-Number row. Seems to work alright.

The G604 is now on the Surface, though I’ve hardly used it, as I don’t normally pack it in the bag. The Arc Mouse is in the bag all the time and gets used instead.

Even more… the Logitech M555 that I thought was dead, wasn’t. Even though I thought I was resetting the BT to use it, I must have been doing it wrong. Turns out it is paired with the iPad. So I will keep that set up.

My other mice… Well I have my old Magic Mouse. I’ve paired that with my work laptop (a boring, clunky, overly large Dell – doesn’t even have a touch screen). That leaves the Magic Mouse 2 sitting here next to the iMac…. in case of, I dunno, … something??

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.

Surface Pro 7 – Review Update

Thought the device could do with a longer review. In the main, I’ve not used it nearly as much as I expected. Almost to the point where I think I would have been better off just getting a HDMI-Lightning connector for my aging iPad. But that’s being coldly logical…. but where’s the fun in that?

Whatever, it has worked excellently in the areas that I purchased it for. It has surprised me in areas that I secretly hoped it might work out (gaming). Overall I’m happy with it, though as it’s been about 10 years since I bought a PC, and more than that since I last purchased a PC laptop, I can’t really compare it to anything. Oh, except the heavy, large, cumbersome and slow work laptops I sometimes need to use. (Which reminds me, my new work laptop is due soon – wonder what rubbish that will be).

Gaming

Not really what I picked it up for, but anyway. Playing some scrollers, it is fine. Trine and Assassin’s Creed Chronicles : China seemed to run without much problem. I can hear the fan start up, so even these will have a effect on battery life. Remember, it’s only onboard graphics, not a discrete card. Massive slow down when I tried Rise of the Tomb Raider though, enough that I deleted it straightaway. Mechwarrior Online wouldn’t even start.

It does play Wow alright, at least for questing, I’ve not tried it in a dungeon. The Arc mouse isn’t great for WoW, as I usually use a 17 key Naga. But it’s workable. Enough to grind out some solo questing.

Office Work

It works well for this and I have no complaints. Being a full system, it has the full versions of applications. I find the keyboard pretty good to type on. It does have a little more flex than a standard laptop keyboard but not enough that its noticeable. The keys are well spaced for my normal man sized hands. I like the hot keys up the top, as they are used much more frequently than F keys these days. I really like the backlighting too, the first keyboard I’ve used with it.

I do have the Creative suite installed (well some of it) but haven’t had cause to use it yet. I imagine Photoshop will work well, but it might be a little slow when generating high def movies in Premiere, but I don’t know yet. I do most of my video work on my iMac.

Connectivity

Wireless and Bluetooth connectivity are excellent. GSM connection would be nice to have (I think the Surface Pro X has that option), but I just hotspot my phone. For that I use the USB-A, as it charges my phone as well and is more secure.

The USB-C I have a dongle left over from an Apple, that gives me USB-C to HDMI and that works well.

Discovered the nicely tucked away microSD slot. Massive expansion in storage if you buy a large card. Most of my stuff is cloud stored, so it’s okay. I do have to watch how many games I load though!

You’re not going to be able to connect a whole lot at once, but the USB-A, -C and microSD pretty much covers everything these days. You can get a range of USB-C dongles to connect other stuff even all at once. I haven’t been motivated to do that yet.

Battery Life

I’ve not really pushed this so far. Obviously gaming pushes the battery, I can probably play WoW for a couple of hours. Using it in class to play videos and put things on the screen, it happily goes all day and then some. Even while charging the phone. It would be an unusual day if I took my charger with me.

Tablet / Laptop Mode

It switches readily between the two. I sometimes find the screen a little unresponsive to my finger, but I put that down to the screen protector I’ve added. Keyboard folds readily underneath and you’re in tablet mode. Most controls are workable with your finger, but if I get stuck I just use the stylus.

Using the stylus in the little writing box mostly works well. I also haven’t actually done that too much, so I know some my feeling of being underwhelmed is about practice. The Apple Pencil on the iPad was the same (and needed an OS update or two).

Other Comments

I do like the face recognition for unlocking it. It works quite quickly even in darkness and opens the device.

Physically, it slides nicely into my backpack.

Peripherals

I’ve added a glass screen protector and a case. The case is a Procase Cover. I liked this one as it covered the whole device, seemed moderately rugged and covered the fold out stand. I don’t actually use the Surface’s stand when its in the case. While some of the colourful or picture cases were inviting, I needed something more substantial, where if I’m carrying it about at school, I can relax about it. Been a solid cover so far.

The pen is still great. I use the buttons to open other apps which it does quite quickly. One press and I have OneNote open, two and Whiteboard opens. Handy. As above, more practice.

The Arc Mouse is a fine mouse, and it’s slim nature when stored is a big plus. As above, not so good for MMO gaming 😉

Battery wise both have lasted some time.

Review – Apple Watch

I feel like I’m late to the party, but I’ve finally gone out and joined the smart watch crowd. The main driver for me to be late is that many of the places I have worked over the past few years have bans on smart devices (along with all electronics) – either in particular areas, or in entire buildings. It was just easier not to have one.

But with teaching a watch is really useful. You know, for telling the time. For example, about 10 minutes before lunch starts, I need to ensure that some students are sent off to collect the lunches from the canteen. In one class I looked after, there were 4 clocks around the room – none of which were working.

I bought the 44mm Nike SE version. I plan to use it a lot as (drumroll) a watch (I know, crazy right). But besides that, as a teacher, being able to see incoming messages, and see my schedule without opening my phone are also a good thing. It’s a perception thing about being distracted by the phone, most especially when doing playground duty. A watch is less obtrusive.

Secondly it replaces the long dead Fitbit Charge 3 I had. Seriously, we’ve had 3 of these (paid for 2) and they last a year. 2 of the 3, the screen just went black. So the Watch becomes something to track my heart rate while running with the bonus of being able to have GPS and music without needing my phone. It doesn’t think that when I’m riding my motorcycle I’m doing 10,000 steps, 12 flights of stairs either, like the Fitbit would.

So that’s what I plan to use it for. And after 4 days, it’s doing all those well. You can even scribble responses back to people and it’s not too painful. Slower letter by letter, but then I was raised on the old multi tap SMS, so it’s okay. The Strava app works well and is simple to start tracking stuff. having the “complications” on the screen are a bonus.

I discovered Nike Training app, and am experimenting with that. In this case, the phone app and the watch work together. I guess in a similar way to the new Apple Fitness (which I will try soon) apparently works together.

The phone and watch also work together when using Maps for direction. Alerts, with sounds and haptic feedback along with text work in sync with the directions on the phone. Its quite handy.

Battery life – well so far in what is probably close to a “normal day” for me, which included a Watch/AirPod only run, was at 50% by the end of the day. I don’t know how long that would take to recharge, as I just left it overnight. Perhaps a couple of hours? I’m not worried about tracking my sleep as I experimented with that when I had the Fitbit and didn’t find it particularly useful. I know why I’m tired. I go to sleep late, have to always wake up at least once in the middle, and then always wake early. Just literally not spending enough time at sleeping. Getting to sleep is no trouble. So leaving the watch on the charger is no worries. I suppose some long haul travel might run it down, but then you’re likely to spend plenty of time in airplane mode (so battery saver) anyway.

The SE misses out on the always on display, but that’s almost never been a problem in a string of fitness/running and now smart watches that I’ve owned, so its the same there. It is quite responsive to movements to wake up, or a tap.

Overall, really happy with it.

BattleTech – a longer review

Battletech – I promised a review later, and it’s now later.

I am only a little way through the story, and I know that there are many who have finished. I do not know how long the story is, I think I am up to about the 4th or 5th story mission (called Liberation:Smithon). At the moment I am leaving that mission aside as I train and gear up my lance.

My first impressions of a faithful recreation of the table top game, along with decent graphics and AI are still pretty much unchanged. The first, that its a faithful recreation of the table top is for me a real positive. I think that has made it easy for them in that balance and such have basically been play tested for 30 years. The great big positive for me is that turn based copes very easily with random interruptions. I can stop and sort out life stuff without stressing about what the enemy are up to. I know it isn’t everyone’s favourite way of playing, but I don’t mind it.

The graphics look good on my iMac. I imagine there are more impressive games and on more capable systems there are more impressive games. But graphics aren’t everything.

The story is fine. It’s very similar to the really old “MechWarrior” game, where you are a merc with a story and the intent is to carry out some contracts until you’re geared up enough to finish the story. What I do like in this version is that the story engages you as you go. In the old game every time I headed back into the story I was arrested and the game ended. I gave up and just set about getting awesome mechs and lots of money. Turns out I should have gone back at that stage.

Anyway, the game does get a little slow during some combats when there is a lot of actions queued up. The random number generator can be a bit vicious sometimes, but it works both ways. Sometimes a game will be tough, sometimes its not.

The rounds can take quite a bit of time, an hour or more. But I don’t find that a bad thing 🙂

So overall I am very happy.