Saturday, April 03, 2010

in which i break up with atk

This is personal and filled with drama...I broke up with America's Test Kitchen! In an email, no less (they won't take my calls):

For years, I've been damn-near evangelical in my love for Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. I receive your publication and I own your cookbooks. While perusing recipes with a friend (who pays for web membership) we hit a recipe that was blurred out and reserved for "Editor's Choice" memberships only.

...I've had it with premium memberships, elite memberships and all the other marketing crap that striates and monetizes every level of information and makes everything into a goddamn tollroad. I am heartbroken to say this, but I'm done. I'll go elsewhere for recipes from now on.
Seriously, I'm bummed. But a girl has to set some boundaries.

*see shameful update

happy easter to my peeps

To all you believers out there, enjoy your chocolate-covered resurrection celebration tomorrow.

Today, however, take comfort in the words of the great philosopher, Miracle Max:
See, there's a big difference between mostly dead, and all dead.
—Miracle Max

magic mouse?

They call it the magic mouse. I didn't know this when it came with packaged with my new iMac at work. See the smooth top surface? No buttons, just touch control. Not unlike the surface of an iPhone, I assume, but I don't know if it's the same technology. Something about the magic makes me less inclined to research.

Of course it's wireless, so when IT dude asked me if I wanted to keep it or get a "regular" mouse, I said I'd try this one. More because I dislike cabled mice so much I bought a wireless one for work on my own dime. Or my own $10, which was how ridiculously cheap wireless mice are these days.
Excluding this magic one, which is not so cheap.

Okay. So why a post about the humble and innocuous mouse? Because it triggered a phenomena that I hadn't expected nor experienced before.

20 years of mouse technology has seen dozens of changes that seemed significant to me. The addition of scroll bars. The transition from little wheels and balls (chock full of desktop bellybutton lint) for motion to laser sensors. And of course, wirelessness.

Some failures (for me) were Apple's first round mouse that looked cute but required visual "righting" because you couldn't tell quickly, by feel, which curve was the top. And the trackball: a large ball inserted into a stationary mouse–which some folks loved but not me. I draw with my hand and wrist in a movement that I couldn't quite transfer to just my fingertips. There's also the Wacom-style pads and styluses, which my coworker swears by. The tablet seems quite intuitive but I never have felt quite as comfortable with it.

All these things were nice little adjustments that happened over time and made computer life a little more pleasant. I played with the pristine little lozenge and thought its low profile might be a problem. It wasn't.

Here's the amazing thing: the touch movement, scrolling and clicking were so...intuitive I was unaware how quickly I'd adjusted. Within days, I was at home with my now Flintstone-like block-o-plastic mouse and realized I was dragging my finger over the completely non-responsive surface* of a mouse I'd used for years.

In less than one week, my decades-long training on clicking and scroll bar use was seamlessly supplanted. That is creepy and amazing. I hadn't personally experienced technological evolution at this speed before. If mice were a species [yes, I'm chuckling] this one would be the genetic super mouse that adapts as its ancestors die off. That is, if it wasn't priced $50-$60 in a market where you can get a decent wireless mouse for $10-$15.

The only drawback is that it's so sensitive that sometimes I'll be working in a palette window of one of my programs, adjusting an image size or line width. Then, I'll move the mouse to my main window when suddenly the 25% adjustment that I chose is racing up to 90% because the cursor was still active in the little field. It interpreted my innocent move as a command to scroll the numbers up.

The other surreal behavior is that when my fingers are just hovering over the top, Magic Mouse thinks I'm just asking for something very quietly and complies. Like a Ouija board planchette, it sometimes moves things around without my participation.

See? It really is a magic mouse.

*Like whispering at a rock concert, nothing is communicated.