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The Keyboard Apple Should Have Made

As you may have gathered from reading, I’m a bit of a keyboard freak. My wife often comments on how many old keyboards I have stacked in my “IT supply closet”. Well, there’s a couple of reason for that. Firstly, I almost never use the cheap keyboards supplied by PC manufacturers by default. They are invariably total crap. Dell is the worst. I’m a big fan of Dell computers. I have an Optiplex running Linux right now. I use it as a file/media server. The keyboard that came with the box was a $10 throw away. Functional, but that’s about the best I can say. I used it for two days before switching to a full-sized Apple keyboard and putting the Dell clunker back in its box and into my closet. After 30 years in the IT business, this process has been repeated a dozen times at least. Next, I’m a sucker for the latest and greatest. I often replace perfectly good keyboards just to try something newer or prettier. Sometimes these newer, prettier keyboards don’t suit me. The action may not be to my liking or the layout doesn’t please me. Whatever. That probably adds another half-dozen to my pile. I’m also a bit nostalgic. I still have my old, original IBM mechanical keyboard that came with my first computer (a real-deal 8088 IBM PC). Besides Apple, IBM was the only PC company to supply a truly high-quality keyboard with their machines. I keep it even though it no longer works properly, thinking I’ll get around to repairing it someday. I’ve had it almost 37 years now. I just can’t bring myself to discard it. It brings back too many good memories.

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America, Watch Texas and Learn

When we retired, my wife and I moved to Sedona, Arizona last November. Sixty-one years ago, I was born in Baytown, Texas, about 30 miles east of downtown Houston. My two daughters and their families still live in Houston. Both have been displaced from their flooded homes. The home I sold last November has 7 feet of water in it right now. Thankfully, my daughters, their families and all my former neighbors are safe.

Since Saturday I’ve been glued to the TV watching the news coverage of Hurricane Harvey and doing my best to lend moral support to my daughters who have lost virtually all their material belongings. I try to remind them that everything truly important is safe and that anything that can be built can be re-built. I’m not sure my words help as they watch their homes fill with multiple feet of water.

Watching the news coverage does give me reason for hope. Unlike with hurricane Katrina, I’m not seeing a lot of victims standing around waiting for the government to help. I’m seeing every Texan with a boat or tall vehicle rescuing and helping their neighbors and other fellow Texans. Private citizens taking it upon themselves to give their time and resources to do everything they can to keep loss of life in Houston to a minimum. There is no talk of race or political affiliation. Just Texans, black, white and brown all doing everything they can to mitigate the suffering caused by Harvey.

Take a look, America. This is who we Texans truly are. When the chips are down, we don’t waste time and energy pointing fingers and blaming others for our plight. Our first instinct is to ask ourselves what we can do to help, then doing it. As always, my fellow Texans are making me proud to count myself among them. The rest of this country would do well to watch…




…and LEARN!  


iOS 11 Public Beta: Good enough for Everyday Use

I’ve been in the Apple Developer Program for almost 10 years. I’ve done some contract development work for a couple of companies, but for the most part, I just like access to Apple’s new stuff before everyone else. That meant a lot more before Apple’s Public Beta program began a few years ago. Still, a hundred bucks per year is a small fee for total access to all the goodies Apple puts on their developer site. I’ve always kept older model iPhones and iPads around to use as “Guinee pigs” for trying out Apple’s newest and shiniest software releases. One thing I’ve learned through the years: once an OS release gets to the “public beta” phase, the chances of bricking or otherwise FUBARing a device with it is almost nil. (DISCLAIMER: I said almost!) iOS betas usually go public at the beta 2 or beta 3 release. By that time Apple has found and corrected most all of the severe errors that could cause OS crashes. So it is with iOS 11.

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See? Told You So.

Back in February I wrote this post proclaiming my love for my new AirPods. Turns out, I’m not the only person who thinks AirPods are “the shit”. Today, published the results of a survey of 942 AirPod owners by Creative Strategies and Experian. AirPods received the highest customer satisfaction rating of any new Apple product! 98% of those surveyed said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with their new earbuds.

Those counting themselves among the dissatisfied numbered far less than one percent of those surveyed.

When asked about specific AirPod features, survey respondents were equally enamored:

Charge time, design and Bluetooth pairing all rated 97% or better while the most subjective feature, secure fit, rated 93%! That is totally amazing when you consider the huge variability in ear sizes and shapes plus the fact that AirPods don’t come with a selection of different sized tips like most earbuds.

This MacTexan would never stoop to anything as childish as saying “told you so”. Oh yeah, I already did. Anyway, next time don’t wait for fancy surveys to help you make up your mind. Just read


Whole Home Audio On the CHEAP!

I’ve written about this topic before, but recent events and speculation about Apple’s imminent abandonment of its Airport line of Wi-Fi products has prompted me to re-iterate. Yes, the scuttlebutt is Apple plans to discontinue development of its AirPort Extreme, AirPort Express and Time Capsule products. That’s too bad. I’ve always found them all to be very reliable with specs good enough for most users. I’ve routinely recommended them to my “non-geek” friends for their reliability, security and ease-of-use. AirPorts aren’t the fastest Wi-Fi devices for sure, but how much speed does the average user need to surf and check email? The current model AirPort Extreme and Time Capsules are equipped with 802.11 a/c, dual-band technology capable of wireless speeds exceeding a gigabit and their range is good enough to cover the average “3-2-2” suburban home. A single Extreme or Time Capsule is enough to provide wireless networking to a couple of computers while simultaneously streaming HD video to one or two AppleTVs.

The focus of this piece, however, is the Extreme’s little brother, the AirPort Express.

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