A Gripe and A Fix.

Part of the Apple experience comes from aesthetics. The hardware to the software all look so good and make interfacing with a computer a more human experience, less geeky and, I believe, makes work more enjoyable… of course a stable OS goes a long way too.

But, Apple (and many other manufacturers) miss the boat by not including a ‘Pointing Stick’ style mouse in their laptops. Years of use with IBM laptops (now Lenovo) convinced me the convenience of a Trackpoint or Pointing Stick on the keyboard outweighed the ugly. Moreover, after adapting to Apple’s trackpad only configuration, I have wrist pain in my right wrist from mousing. Switching to a lefty mouser helps, but probably only forestalls the inevitable, pain developing in the left wrist.

Although not a full-time solution, there are available desktop USB keyboards with built-in Pointing Sticks which a Macbook will recognize, so that while at a desk, an alternative and wrist relieving option exists.

Lenovo sells a full-size Ultra-Nav USB Keyboard that has both a Trackpoint and Trackpad option built in. Because it has a Windows key (shudder), you still get your command key for the Mac. The keyboard also has additional USB ports so your not going to lose a USB port by plugging it in. It costs a measly $99 and, as an added benefit, you get that beautiful IBM snap on the keyboard, a huge benefit for any touch typist. If you really want to kick it old school, PCkeyboard.com sells an old style IBM keyboard, the Endurapro, that actually uses springs underneath the keys. This is that old-school clickety-clackety sounding keyboard, but those springs and the tactile feedback are much missed by many typing pros, authors, writers and geeks. The Endurapro does not, however, have additional USB ports but does have that ugly retro welcome to 1991 feel that you just can’t find anywhere else. It retails for $99 as well.

Stevenote – The Two Best Announcements

For those of you who don’t know yet, Steve Jobs gave the keynote at WWDC today. The two best announcements are (1) a new 3G iPhone, built in GPS and excellent price ($299 16gig); and, (2) push services for calendar, email, pretty much everything (a.k.a. lookout Exchange and RIM). The upgrades for push services require a $99 per year Mobile Me subscription which includes 20 Gigabyte (?!?!) of storage. Mobile Me replaces .Mac and, hopefully, results in services that are not painfully slow (iDisk is pretty useless IMHO). In the meantime, .Mac is down probably due to the changeover or, just because it’s still .Mac and still sucks.

While waiting for .Mac Back to My Mac to come back up, you can watch the new 3G iPhone commercial here.

MacBook Air On the Road; ModBook Gets Probed

Traveling this week with the MacBook Air. A few things of note: air2.jpg

  1. On a five hour flight from Las Vegas to Anchorage, the battery was still chugging along at 25% (wi-fi disabled) when the flight attendant told me to put it away because we were landing.
  2. Some early reports suggested that a high-speed USB internet adapter would not fit in the Air’s unique flip down USB port. However, the Sierra Wireless AirCard 595U slides in no problem.


  3. Some shock and dismay when attempting to lock the Air down with a Kensington cable as the Air has no Kensington lock receptacle!
  4. On the plus side: the Air actually fits inside my hotel’s in-room safe (unlike the 15″ MacBook Pro replaced by the Air).

In other news: PC Mag reviewed the ModBook and gave it a paltry 3 out of 5 recommendation. For a rig that costs $2,600+ it really should do much better than 3 out of 5. PC Mag found the ModBook fell short by having terrible handwriting recognition, no rotation of the display (you are stuck with portrait mode); including a GPS antenna instead of WWAN (yeah, that’s just bone headed); lack of keyboard; and, heavy for a slate (5+ versus Motion Tablet’s 3.3 pounds). So, guess that makes the Air the better choice at this point even though it has neither built-in WWAN or GPS. 

iPhone SDK Announced, Alphabet Soup Down 3 Letters

Today Apple (formally) announced the release of a Software Development Kit.  An SDK allows independent third party developers to create applications for the iPhone.  Applications will be distributed through iTunes and subject to Apple approval (Good: no crap malware sneaks through. Bad: you must Trust Apple’s discretion in allowing/disallowing applications onto iTunes).  In any case, this comes as really good news for me, someone too timid to jailbreak/hack their iPhone into third-party software submission. Also, for you Enterprise drones in the big firm or corporate world, Apple licensed ActiveSync to wash away all of your Microsoft Exchange woes and ease the minds of IT Staff everywhere.  Oh, yeah, and ActiveSync will allow push email, calendar and address book syncing… a.k.a. watch out Palm & RIM.  You can get all the gory details at either tuaw or Lifehacker.

MacBook Air – The Litigator’s Review


So, I bought in. But, it’s no shocker. Prior to switching, and a LONG time ago, I ran a desktop computer and an IBM X20. Why? Power at home, utility on the road. The X20 fit perfectly for long sessions doing document research & review, went through depositions, hearings and meetings with a breeze. The desktop provided screen real estate, more power, a dedicated DSL connection and loads of hard drive space. The more things change, the more they stay the same.Evolution, not revolution.Many fault the Air not because of what it is, but because of what it isn’t… revolutionary. The Air fits a niche, but doesn’t redefine a product line like the iPhone, or practically invent a market, like the iPod.So, present day, I run a MacBook Pro 17″ for screen real estate, power, hard drive capacity, lots of i/o paths (firewire, usb 2.0, dvi etc.) and the Air goes to depositions, meetings, hearings and, of course, the couch… because it’s just that light and I’d rather surf tech reviews and news or summarize depositions than devote my full attention to another mindless professional sport.No, the Air is not for everyone. For professional hardcore computer users, it’s a second laptop. For students (with enough capital backing), or everyday users who travel alot and like to carry their computer along, it’s a first and only computer. If you really want to edit video in Final Cut Pro and massage images in Aperture, get MacBook Pro.


D4… You Sunk My Battleship!

At some point, Microsoft began pushing the Tablet PC format. Any professional (attorney, accountant, psychologist, investigator, auditor, physician) should be in love with the tablet form factor. Setting a laptop between yourself and a deponent (or anywhere on the table for that matter) instantaneously creates a perceived barrier to communication. You know how you feel when you are at some bureaucrat’s counter and they look at the screen you cannot see? Laptops accomplish the same thing for interviews of any kind. The tablet form factor eliminates the “You Sunk My Battleship!” feeling from any interview or deposition.Also, walking to a podium carrying a tablet seems much more natural than walking to the podium carrying an open laptop… Sorta like carrying a large notepad. And, of course, typing notes while speaking with a judge fails miserably when compared with jotting notes on the flat screen of a tablet. In short, I miss my tablet.

Air Everywhere.

So, back to the Air. It doesn’t eliminate any of these issues, but does mitigate some of them. The Air’s light and thin characteristics make it much less obtrusive and more natural to carry around a courtroom. But, that screen still sits at a 90 degree angle, raising the barrier between you and your audience, deponent or interviewee.Battery life, though advertised at 5+ hours has been coming in around 3.5-4.5 depending on usage. Of some note, however, is that the battery takes much longer to charge than your typical MacBook. Typical battery life on my prior slates/convertible tablet PeeCees averaged from a low of 1.5 (?!?!?) to a high of 2.5. So though not making the grade on advertised battery life, the Air lasts a lot longer than my PeeCee tablet setups. Also, the Air’s harddrive capacity and processing power actually exceed most of my prior tablet setups. This means I can carry more information and have it accessible for a greater length of time than previously. Finally, and without a doubt, the Air trounces prior set ups, whether tablet or ultraportable PeeCee, in processing speed, memory and display. So, while not perfect, it fits for now.

A Word on ModBook.

No doubt some of you are wondering why not just buy a ModBook? Well, because I could put my hands on an Air at the Mac store local. I have no idea how well Axiotron integrated Spaces & Expose, features of OS X I cannot live without (especially on a smaller screen). Also, I still need a keyboard and a pure slate simply won’t cut it… In fact, I previously moved away from a Motion Tablet M1600 because it was a slate and switched to an IBM X60t simply to keep the keyboard without having to carry extra junk. Finally, Back-to-My-Mac will play an integral part in trial presentation (more on that in a later post) and I need to know for certain that the ModBook will play nice with screen sharing. Right now, I cannot test any of these things out and because Axiotron is a third-party vendor, no guarantees exist that any of these features will work the way I need.

Pros & Cons

Pro- Light; goes anywhere; super bright and fast screen (almost feels like an instant-on computer); small form fact makes it less obtrusive.

Con- Still a laptop; battery life not as advertised; a little bit expensive.This review, of course, focused on the litigator perspective for the MacBook Air. If you want a ‘spec’ breakdown, I suggest: TUAW’s review.