Of mice and geeks

My 4 year old mouse (which came with my computer) finally bit the dust, so I’ve been using this opportunity to see if I can finally find a reliable wireless mouse.  I’ve tried the Logitech Anywhere MX, the M510, and will probably check out the M705 as well.  I’ve relegated my Anywhere MX to use on my MacBook because of its awesome ability to work on nearly any surface (even more so than other laser models), a welcome feature given the number of times I’ve had to use a newspaper as a makeshift mousepad every time a hotel I stayed at had a ceramic or glass desk.

But for some reason I never get good results using a Wi-Fi mouse for the desktop PC.  I don’t know if the 24-inch real estate makes the difference more obvious, or if I’ve just gotten too used to working with a plain old wired, optical mouse, but it always feels unnatural.  The M510 I’m trying now is pretty heavy (even when I take out one battery), and no matter how many times I adjust the speed, I’m always misclicking here and there.  Logitech also has this tendency to disable the scroll’s function as a middle button (in favor of using hyper scroll, yawn), so curling my finger to click the middle button has also been a minor aggravation for me.

Do others have trouble making a permanent transition from wired to wireless mouse use?  I’m kind of curious to know.  I’m going to check out Best Buy this weekend for Logitech’s wired M500 mouse (and their wireless M705) and see if maybe Microsoft has still been able to produce a few worthy alternatives.  Remember when the Intellimouse was all that and a bag of gummi bears?  I miss those days.

Update:  I’ve played around with the M510, MX Anywhere, M705 and finally the corded M500 mouse from Logitech (check their current mouse line here).  I find it interesting that the location of the sensor does seem to make a difference.  My clicking accuracy is far better when the sensor is positioned in the center rather than to the extreme side like I’ve seen in a lot of wireless mice lately.  That’s why I had a lot of difficulty with the M705 and M510, since I seem to be one of those geeks who pivot the mouse with their wrists rather than move the entire arm.  This difference doesn’t seem to be obvious when using a smaller screen such as on a laptop, but on jumbo monitors like mine it’s definitely noticeable.  Both had off center sensors so my pointer never seems to be precisely where I want it to be.  I’m sure after enough practice and time my muscle memory can adapt, but I’m not in the mood for change, so I opted to go with either the M500 or MX Anywhere (both of which have centered sensors).

Just to confirm I wasn’t imagining this, I went to Mouse Accuracy to test my click accuracy with all the mice I’ve tried, with interesting results.  When using mice with off center sensors my clicking accuracy was just a notch below 50%.  Using the M500 and MX Anywhere, my accuracy ranged from 80 to 90% instead.

I gotta say, I didn’t think I’d like the MX Anywhere, but it’s definitely growing on me, so much that I’m wondering if I should get a second one for the desktop, even though its smaller size makes it more appropriate as a mobile mouse.  The M500 is ok, but it has the downside of being corded and having a less resistant scroll wheel, which makes its use as a middle button a bit more cumbersome.  It’s a horse race for now, but it does look like the MX Anywhere might just win it by a nose.  Besides, I need to be moving past cords and going wireless wherever I can to reduce the cable jungle I’ve got going on in my home office.

Backup on the Road – A Review of Seagate’s FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-Portable Drive

Collective Bias and Seagate was kind enough to send me a complimentary GoFlex Drive in exchange for this review.

I’m not big on external hard drives, partly because they tend to take up too much room and I haven’t really seen a pressing need for them. In fact the only reason I have a drive for my desktop now is because of the shiny neon lights, and you know how I am when it comes to shiny objects.

Western Digital Neon Hard Drive
I shine and dazzle with my hard driving awesomeness.

It never occurred to me to get an external drive for my MacBook though until I received the FreeAgent GoFlex Pro Drive from Seagate.

Seagate GoFlex Drive Box
750GB?? I’ll take it.

I’ve really been behind on keeping up with the latest and greatest in hard drive technology, so when I opened up the box, I was pretty impressed to see just how small this drive actually was.

Comparison of FreeAgent GoFlex Drive size with wallet
Wow, it’s hardly bigger than my wallet!

The drive came with two cables, and an instruction manual so bare it didn’t even bother describing the difference between the two cables. Apparently one is a standup dock that doesn’t require any specific connection type (USB, eSATA, Firewire, etc.) while the other cable includes a USB module and cable for the drive to connect using plain old USB 2.0. The drive is pretty versatile in that you can purchase additional modules from USB 3.0 to eSATA for just about any connection setup imaginable. The downside though is that they can be pretty pricey, offsetting any potential savings in cost if you need something speedier than USB 2.0, but it does make the drive virtually futureproof.

Since my MacBook still only has USB 2.0, I’m content to use that for now. I didn’t like the fact that the standup dock takes up TWO USB ports, so I used the other cable instead. Connected the drive to my MacBook, and it was immediately recognized by MacBook’s native Time Machine software. It really is just plug and play here, which could account for the lack of instructions.

Seagate GoFlex Drive connected to MacBook
Oh YEAH, we’re hooked up baby.

What I really like about the drive is its ability to be used by both PC and Mac computers. It gives me the option of synchronizing my music, photos and videos on both my desktop and MacBook, which can be REALLY useful. If you get this drive as well and want to set it up this way, check out these instructions first.

I already use an Eye-Fi card to sync my photos and vids between my two computers, so for now I’m opting to use the GoFlex Drive as a backup solution for my MacBook, as well as provide additional space for future videos. My MacBook’s internal drive is an SSD with “only” 128GB of space, so having an additional 750GB to play around with will definitely come in handy. The drive itself includes third party software for syncing and backing up content, but I feel more comfortable using my MacBook’s native apps for that for the time being.

It’s certainly not the fastest portable drive out there, but for my needs it’s perfect, and it’s slim enough that I can keep it in my keyboard case too.  Using this along with a cloud backup solution helps me sleep a lot better at night, especially when I’m on the road.

Digitizing my cold hard cash at Coinstar for a gift card and a woman (but mostly a gift card) #NOFEECoinstar #CBias

Due to being awesome, I have been paid (at Coinstar’s request) to blog about Coinstar’s products/services as part of a Collective Bias shopper insights study.  All opinions are my own, but they are awesome opinions.

Because I’m a guy, I like to keep my spare change in a sophisticated and completely hi-tech manner: my jean pockets.  None of those man purses or pouches for me thank you very much.  I am HARDCORE.

So on the occasion that I pull out some greens to pay for something, I usually jam whatever spare change I get from the purchase into my pockets, then unload them into a pouch inside my suitcase when I’m back at the hotel, and ultimately into my coin bank when I return home from another crazy traveling adventure.  My coin bank is cleverly designed to be completely undetectable to the naked eye.

Coca Cola Soda Can Coin Bank
State of the art, undetectable coin bank.

That’s generally been my habit since I graduated college, though usually when I’m ready to cash in I head over to the credit union.  I’ve tried the Coinstar machine once before at Stop & Shop but lost nearly $8 from the fee I had to pay just to redeem my cash, so I never bothered to use it again, at least until now, when they got smart and introduced a NO FEE option.

Koko inspects a fake coin bank
“Yeaaah, I don’t think this is a real soda can.”

With my coin bank now at capacity, there was no better time to give Coinstar another try, so I grabbed my *ahem* soda can, and headed over to my favorite Stop & Shop. (BTW, check out Coinstar at Facebook and Twitter.)

For whatever reason Stop & Shop has that vibe that makes me prefer going there for groceries over other supermarkets, and particularly because their self checkouts are blazing fast and usually don’t have a line to them.  Anything that allows me to run in and run out with bags full of food in as little time as possible is WINNING in my book. (Check out Stop and Shop’s Facebook page for more info about their supermarkets.)

Coinstar Machine at Stop and Shop
A slot machine I can work with.

The Coinstar here was located next to Redbox and their customer support/lotto center, right by the entrance. About as convenient a place as you could hope for.  Long Island being what it is though (as in, filled with rancid, uncouth human beings such as myself), I basically got shoved aside by some battle axe of an old lady who wanted to use the Coinstar machine, not to redeem coins mind you, but to scratch off an instant lotto game she had just purchased.  Sigh.

The battle axe finally left, so I finally had the machine to myself, and started sifting through the NO FEE options.  As it turned out you can select from a variety of different gift certificates, but I was surprised to find out that despite touting the option of redeeming your coins for a Stop & Shop gift card, there weren’t any gift card choices that you could actually use at Stop & Shop itself.  Weird.

Gift Card Options at Coinstar
Y U NO GIV Stop & Shop option?

Ultimately I picked Amazon.com as it has the widest range of goods, though I might have picked a Stop & Shop card instead had that option been available.  I slowly dumped my coins in, and watched and listened as the machine chirped and beeped away while tallying my coins.  Net total:  $77.28.

Total coins redeemed for Amazon.com via Coinstar
Wow, I should save coins more often.

The machine then gave me a second chance to turn my coins to cash instead, but the fee was nearly 10 cents to a dollar.  Um, no.

Gift Card Receipt from Coinstar
I cropped out the gift code.  No freebies for you.

That said, this was pretty convenient, as long as the NO FEE options offer a nice library of gift cards to choose from I’ll likely continue to use this in the future than go to the credit union (where I have to wait in line and then stand there like an idiot while they slooooooowly tally the coins.)  Plus I rarely visit my credit union anyway, so this kinda works out perfectly.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a few niceties I’d like to buy off of Amazon.com now…

Oh and if you have a moment check out my Coinstar Google+ album and share.  Thanks for reading!