in-between screens

Well, having experienced the joys of widescreen life for a few days, I am once again in front of my back-up monitor. To cut a long story short, my bargain turned out to be just plain cheap, and I'm trading up for something made by a company I know better.

I'm not naming names, being reliably informed that the defect wasn't normal, even for this "bargain" range. On the upside, I'm now supremely qualified to extol the many virtues of widescreen monitors, because I'm currently missing all of them, badly.

First off, you have to get a widescreen monitor! No, stop reading and trade-in your monitor, come back when you're done, it's amazing! On reflection, I think widescreen monitors could finally be the thing that breaks that nasty full-screen mode habit that many windows users have, working inside the box.

Widescreen monitors are all about multiple windows, so they suit my working style completely, as well as being perfectly suited to movies, of course. I can't handle full-screen windows, and instantly feel claustrophobic if something gets maximized. Applications that insist on launching that way are uninstalled, or in the case of a rare app that is both auto-maximizing AND essential, a write a macro to- scrub that; I just uninstall them these days. Maximized, it's so Windows 3.1, innit?

Widescreen monitors are about having lots of windows open all-at-once. Being able to flit from one task to the other with a wave of your magic wand (or similar pointing device). Depending on your working style, a widescreen monitor could potentially make you 50% more productive, simple by having everything *right there*.

My top and bottom toolbars are 50% longer, also. Squeezing these updated babies back into 1024x768 has been a painful experience, and instead of click to get to reg crawler, for instance, it's click-click, and that's like one whole extra click, but, I keep telling myself, it's only for one more day. All my resized window placement macros keep throwing things off-screen. Arrghh! One more day, I tell myself. A count-down mantra, today being the last day.

Of course, all these productivity gains count for nothing if you end up watching movies the whole time, and that's definitely a risk. Not only that, but all your old movies will have a whole new life about them, so There's also the temptation of re-screening all your favourites DVDs sometime real soon. If you update to a 5.1+ sound card at the same time, God help you!

When I packaged up my widescreen for its return, and plugged in this thing again, I was immediately taken by how much the screen resembled an old fish bowl, which just goes to show how quickly the eyes adapt to the perfect flatness of an LCD, which I vaguely remember finding briefly weird and concave. That lasted minutes, but the fish-bowlness of this old screen took a whole day to wear off.

Going backwards is always hard, even if it's only temporarily. Everything feels cramped, squished. When you upgrade anything, it's natural to get a bigger and better version, at least with items where bigness is desirable; screens, RAM, hard drives, that sort of thing, and already I'm considering what it might be like computing with a 22" widescreen monitor, or perhaps a 30" widescreen monitor, or perhaps the whole wall, but whatever size it is, it's gotta be 16:10. I can't go back to regular rectangle screens.

On the subject of industry-wide techno bloopers, which I was last time around, and going backwards instead of forwards, which I am this time around; here's something you must remember to check before buying a wireless keyboard..

Are the data transmissions encrypted?

"Oh, I never thought of that!", is the reply I've heard every time I bring up the subject, or "neat idea!", or something like that, indicating that they hadn't thought of this, not even remotely. Neither had I, until I considered buying a wireless keyboard, an item these folks already owned. In each case the answer, of course, was "No", followed by a short pause, followed by the realization of a Very Stupid Mistake.

It wasn't their fault. it's the manufacturer's fault. When you "advance" a technology, you don't diminish, or downright remove existing features, do you? Stuff we rely on, or take for granted, like basic security. I realise that There's usually a slidier between security and convenience, but when it comes to wireless input devices, no trade-off is required, the whole thing can and should be completely transparent to the user.

I'd love to give an accolade to Logitech for building some quite beautiful keyboard combi sets that ARE encrypted, but sadly their corresponding wireless optical mouse lacks even basic orientation controls, something I've come to rely on since Windows Oatcake1. Try again, guys!

It takes some skill to plant a working keylogger on someone's computer without direct physical access. Much easier to just sit outside their house with a radio, or even a matching receiver, feeding your keystrokes directly into a notepad on their laptop. In short; anyone within fifty feet can read what you are typing. Well, now you know.

If everyone stops buying unencrypted wireless keyboards, the manufacturers will soon get themselves up to speed, you mark my words! Damn! I love that phrase, and must remember to use it more often, and I Will, YOU MARK MY WORDS! I'm not entirely sure how you mark words, exactly, let alone mark them on a computer screen, but if you have the software, or know what it actually means, feel free to mark away. I often make stuff up as I go along, but it usually turns out to be right enough.

Snap up the old cheap models for the kids, perhaps. At least until family input device encryption systems, with access and parental controls become the norm, invented, even. All in time, and no small amount of emailing on our part, I assume.

I got a letter from my local council today (they are stuck in the last century, around 1953, in fact. Needless to say, the "letter", was paper. *sigh*) . As well as reminding me how much rent I am supposed to pay, they have also seen fit to inform me that they may, or may not, be using "covert" CCTV cameras, and no sign will need to be displayed if the equipment is used for: and then a list of every angle they could think of, covered. I'm assuming these won't be installed inside council houses, but it didn't make any distinction.

So the police state is really here, then. You better start encrypting your keyboards right away, or anything you type could come back to haunt you later on, YOU MARK MY WORDS! Just feels good in the mouth, don't you think? it's probably the "Mark My" part that's the best, perhaps it would work with other things, YOU MARK MY NOSE! Hmm, perhaps not.

It works best after wild proclamations, I feel, like..

When the revolution comes, eBay sellers who add other costs into their postage rates will be first up against the wall, YOU MARK MY WORDS!

Except it would have to be something believable, which the above sadly isn't. Though if everyone mailed them saying "is that the real postage cost, or are you just a twat?" they would probably have a re-think. that's people power, and so I guess, really it's your fault that wireless keyboards aren't encrypted, and loads of flat panels have only D-Sub, and all the rest; you didn't exercise your people power, and now look at the mess!

This fishbowl is a nice wee size for emails, though, so I've been catching up on some of that, pointing web masters at dead forms, defining flaws in companies products and procedures, passing on a few free ideas and suggestions, and generally making a nuisance of myself under the guise of doing my bit.

For fun, or perhaps in protest, if I could swing that convincingly, I'm going to close my blog abruptly, and not even leave a signature. But not today.

for now..

:o) The Writing Entity @

In the N.E. of Scotland, and perhaps other places, "Oatcake" is used to denote a distant non-specific numerical reference, for instance, "I've been paying into that insurance policy since Nineteen-Oatcake, and There's still nae enough to buy a loaf", usually referring to the farthest time possible, or to some time which is either irrelevant or doesn't require further granulation beyond the prefix (or rarely, the suffix). Can also be used in a response to a time-frame question, in the form "Oatcake-Oatcake", which means, "I don't know", or "I don't care", and is considerably more portable than "how the fuck should I ken?", another common response to such questions.

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