Aleksandar • Vacić

iOS bits and pieces

Click keyboards

I type a lot. I mean, a lot. Code, email, documents, articles, whatever - keyboard is still the main input device for me, much more than mouse is.

All keybords should be like this

Now, ignoring the high-school time when I owned Amiga 500, I’m typing on PC keyboards for little over one decade. I changed probably two dozen keyboards in that time, either at home or various companies I worked for.

There is only one I really loved and that is Focus 2001, the old model, with Print Screen, Scroll Lock and Pause keys at the top. New model include stupid, useless Sleep/Wake/Power keys, and the middle part of the keyboard is totally ruined. A depressing-to-look-at successor, since the type-feel of this keyboard is fantastic. Just the right dose of pressure, clear clicking sound and desired letter is up - there’s no chance of mis-typing or false-typing, something often happening with my current HP-branded soft-touch garbage.

These sentences are written on the very same Focus; I found it in an old closet, wrapped away long time ago when some keys (both Shifts among them) deteriorated from unhuman usage (pinball simulators and Mortal Kombat). I unhinged the problematic keys (there was like 8-9 of them), clean them separately, washed the whole board, reattached the keys and it all worked, apart from the Space key, of which one under-part was broken. I worked-out a replacement using some plastic and glue, and it seems to work so and so.

Even so badly broken, it is better than membrane-based keyboards you can buy for 10 bucks in any store.

Product activation

As the company that sells envious amount of software, Microsoft has vast interest in fighting piracy and unauthorized use of its software. Since Office XP they introduced product activation. In the nutshell, this means that apart from required product key, you must activate the software with Microsoft in the first 30 days or 50 starts or something similar. Activation can be done over Internet or telephone.

It’s doubtful how effective this really is, since product activation can be voided with cracks. PA sounds like a good solution since it should prevent users of pirated software to do thing like automatic updates, but even that can be circumvented. I have no idea what impersonation routines Microsoft uses. I would expect AU service to ask for the product key and some sort of PA id which should not be easily faked or could be checked in some sort of internal database. This could also be nonsense.

But the locking of activation down to your computer innards - that is plain stupid. If you change any internal part - graphic card, hard disk, whatever - you need to repeat the activation. Death blow to the whole concept comes with the limited amount of activations per product key.

Let me illustrate…

Altec Lansing arrives and takes the throne

For some time now, I’m collecting old computer parts to bundle computer system for my sister. I have practically everything apart from motherboard, memory and speakers. I planned long time ago to replace the memory with something more akin to overclocking, so the memory is somewhat solved. I’ll fetch some used nForce2 board, which left me with speakers.

I’ve had Jazz J-7907 for several years (four or more, can’t remember) and they were working acceptably. My wallet would start screaming every time I went to visit a friend with hardware 5.1 decoder and set of Jamo speakers, but I thought that nothing like that is possible on PC speakers, hence I never bothered to look for new speakers.

Now, I needed to buy something. I could’ve gone cheap with used speakers for €20 or something. After a bit of thought, I figured that it’s about time to update my sound system, as it turned out to be the oldest component in my home setup. Quick surf through hardware sites yielded Altec Lansing 5100 - often mentioned as “look-upon” set in the middle class. I read several reviews from the web and decided to get them; little below €150, here in Belgrade.

Official image of the setup

Reviews are one thing, but the actual sound experience can be so different from person to person. Sound experts can rate them as promising or not bad, while general users would rave (difference similar to what good web site means when you ask me and average Joe). So, I employed the one and only way to test 5.1 speakers: The Lobby shooting spree scene from The Matrix.

Man, how good this beauty sounds.

Dream is complete

It is hard to find the right words. There is nothing new to see, nothin' else to expect, to eagerly await. The dream is over, I’m awake.

For the previous two extended installments, I could not wait and kept buggin' the local distributor for weeks, hoping to pick it up the same day it’s out.

Because of the personal tragedy, enthusiasm for the last part was missing. I did not bought it the first day it was in the store. The whole week passed, as I decided to wait for the collector’s gift set edition to appear.

The urge to watch as soon as I got home was also gone. With Two Towers, I first got it into the DVD player, hit Play and then took my shoes off and changed clothes (while the intro was running). With Return of the King, I got home, talked to my girlfriend, called my mom and sister in Pirot, had dinner…there was no rush at all.

Ring, with faded image of Arwen Undomiel

I finished the first watching now, and despite the dark thoughts that clouds my mind in the last few weeks, Return of the King managed to transcend me into this beautiful, enchanted world - for those few hours I was…calm. Words fail me and are slow to come by. It will need more viewings. I might never get to do the actual writing of the whole trilogy. It would not matter really. These will be the movies I will replay for life.