Saturday, October 18, 2008

Football and and Apple Store adventure

Well, it was an exciting finish to a tense, somewhat frustrating game. UCLA football improved to 3-4 on the season, making a comeback win against Stanford, 23-20. With just over 2 minutes left, down by 4, and inside their own 10-yard line, Kevin Craft and the struggling Bruin offense found a way to move the ball over 90 yards to get it in the end zone. It's great to see the team overcome this adversity to eke out another W.


I went to the Apple Store in Manhattan Beach yesterday, eager to see the new laptops announced at last week's event.

I immediately got distracted by the new nanos, which I still hadn't seen in person despite them being released a month ago. I have to say, they're amazingly small, and Apple didn't seem to waste any space on unnecessary casing. The device is tiny and I can fit a whole bunch of these in my pocket. The screen is sharp and vibrant. It still uses the Click Wheel that was first seen in the 4th Gen iPods, and it does a decent job navigating the device. The only problem I had was that the screen is too small, though for something that small at that price, what do you expect? Also, it was sometimes hard to make menu choices because I kept overshooting my target. I've gotten used to the superbly precise control of my iPod Touch, so going back to the click wheel would take some doing.

Now on to the new laptops. There is, of course, the Macbook (consumer/midrange) and the Macbook Pro (high end laptop). Both use the new "precision unibody aluminum" enclosure, and I have to say they're really a step up from anything else out there design-wise. When the lid is down, both of these look like oversized zen garden pebbles. And when I say oversized, I mean width and length. Thickness, not so much. They're a very impressive 0.95" thin.

Those who use laptops know that the standard mouse device is a trackpad with a button at the bottom (or two buttons on Windows PCs). Apple's thrown the paradigm out the window but eliminating the button. That is, there's no button at the bottom, but the entire trackpad is a button! See it for yourself! I was a little skeptical about this at first, but after trying it, it's really intuitive and not at all difficult to get used to, especially if you're used to using a mouse. You move your finger across the trackpad to point to what you want to, and then click your finger right where it is. No need to use a separate finger to find the button at the bottom to click.

Swipe two fingers to scroll up and down through windows, and click with two fingers for a right click. Pinch in and out to zoom and rotate your fingers in a circular motion to rotate what's on the screen, just like on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Swipe left or right with three fingers to change apps (like your cmd-tab or alt-tab on Windoze). Swipe upwards with four fingers to use Exposé to show the Desktop. Swipe downwards with four fingers to use Exposé to show all open windows. There are even more, but I don't know what they are at this point.

Not only are these controls very neat and easy to use, but they're also very very useful and they increase productivity. How? Well, they take the place of time-consuming keystrokes. I'm very amazed at the way Apple just keeps innovating.

One problem I had with the regular Macbook (but not so much the Macbook Pro) was the limited viewing angle. If I moved off to the side a couple of inches, the image got distorted pretty quickly.