Monday, January 18, 2016

Pluggable Bluetooth Foldable Keyboard

Early this new year, I decided to try my hand out at writing - again - and decided to take a writing course to help guide me. I've read lots of books on how to write, and I never really got anywhere with that. Perhaps, having a proper teacher to guide me would help.

This is the perfect excuse to buy a new toy, a portable keyboard. Loads of keyboards are available, but I wanted something that was both cool and usable. The Pluggable Foldable Keyboard fit not only both requirements, but also within my budget - the Microsoft Universal Portable Keyboard is supposedly the creme ala creme, but it's almost double the price of the pluggable, and perhaps 15% less cool as it only has one fold. It does however, appear to have a much better keyboard layout.

Depending on how things go, I may pick that up if the pluggable dies. But anyhow, here's a short review for the Pluggable keyboard.

The keyboard appeals to the geek in me. Made of 3 sections, 2 of the sections fold over the middle, forming a compact, solid brick to bring along. The pluggable also includes a very well thought out case that folds over to become a stand for your phone or tablet. What's better, is there is a slide out stand, so you can adjust how your device tilts.

Switching on the keyboard simply involves flipping open the keyboard, and tapping a key will connect it to the phone, assuming it's already paired up. The keys themselves are not as big as the keys on a macbook pro (that's the only comparison I can give, really), about 1.4cm vs 1.5cm on the laptop, and the laptop has a wider spacing between keys. Based on my quick calculations between the Q and P keys, the Pluggable is about 85% of the macbook pro's keyboard.

In practice, the Pluggable took a while to get used to. The right shift key is rather small, and shares the space with the up arrow key. Many times when I wanted to type a question mark, I ended up moving the cursor up and adding a slash. I got over it a few hours later.

On the left side, things are rather cramped, and I tend to hit the Capslock key, again, that was less of an issue once I got used to it. Page up/down, home and end work as expected, as well as the Ctrl-home/end key combos.

The main thing that I can't seem to get to work is using the Ctrl-Delete/Backspace to delete a whole word. I use that quick frequently, and I have to go back to holding down the backspace. Rather annoying, if I'd already typed out a long sentence and want to get rid off.

If not, so far it's been great in use. I've seen some reviews saying that the keyboard is easy to tilt when pressing the keys on the left and right edges. And this is rightly so... if you are smashing the key.

Verily, you CAN tilt the keyboard up on its side, but it requires a significant amount of pressure. I've no idea how people are getting it tilted to one side in normal use.

The build quality is also very surprising. The keys themselves are well made, and with a pretty good feel to the response. When folded up, it's made of a strong light metal, and the brushed finish gives it a luscious feel, without being a fingerprint magnet.

The case is also well designed, and everything fits together like eggs in a carton. Given as I've only been using it for several hours over the last 3 days, I can't tell you much more. Very pleased with this purchase though. The good sized keys, wireless connectivity and compactness of the package are a boon for writing on the go.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Z3 Battery Life Oddities

2 days ago was the start of another charge cycle, and I was hoping that I'd eek out maybe another day if I bothered to turn off the wifi connection during the day as I only have a wifi connection at home.

Oddly enough, the battery kept draining even though I only turned on my phone quite rarely.

Today, I just left my wifi connection switched on, so that it'd be hunting for it the whole day. Surprisingly, the battery life dropped only by a few percent over the day. Why the hell is that? One would think not searching for the wifi every few seconds would save lots of battery.

Well I guess I'll leave it on for now :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Modstep and NanoStudio

I'm right now deep in overtime mode at work, which is actually not too bad, as I'm working reasonable hours (by my standards), and I get paid OT every hour I work over, which is very nice.

As I'm now logging 10hr days on average, I've decided to not work through lunch as I usually do, and spend some time NOT doing work in the hopes that the hour off work would clear some of the cobwebs upstairs. How well that works, I've no idea.

I've been working on some pieces in Symphony Pro, but not getting any kick to really pull stuff through. The mind again wanders to thoughts of electronic music, and checked out some online reviews of what's good to get.

Just before bed, I discovered Modstep, which had quite a few rave reviews. I should have checked it out further, but just pressed buy. During lunch today, I was going through the manual and app and I found it rather difficult to use. For readers of this post, keep in mind my primary tool is Finale with Logic for sequencing, not step sequencers or DAWs like Ableton/Reason.

I wish there was a tutorial to make up a song, but whatever. I'm sure it'll arrive someday.

I then took a closer look at other music making apps, and one very popular choice is Nanostudio. From the reviews, it ticked all of my boxes: a subtractive synth to play with (called Eden), and many samples to load into the pads. There is also a sequencer that I'm more familiar with that appears very well thought out for use with a tablet.

It seems really fun so far, though I haven't done more than play with the various presets for Eden and fool around with the pad instrument. I've never explored this side of music, can't wait to come up with something!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Important new year things.

So, after weeks of attempting to win FTL, I finally did it! Blew the bloody rebel super flagship to bits with my super team!!! I must say it is pure luck, most of it was down to taking down their shield generator and the Ion cannon disabling each incarnation's special weapon.

Previously, I'd never ever passed the 2nd incarnation of the flagship, which used drones as its main weapon of choice. I'd just get cut down incessantly. This time, for some reason I luckily managed to ion cannon the drone control and took it down!

The final stage against the super weapon, I honestly don't remember too much. I do remember killing off all the crew on the flagship, which promptly switched over to pure AI control. From what I read, this is BAD, as all systems on the flagship will automagically regenerate. Somehow or the other, I managed with the skin of our teeth to blow it up! Woooo!

The replayability factor of this roguelike is still very high - I have barely unlocked the various ship classes, and each ship has several variants that I've not bothered to try unlocking. Add in the numerous weapon systems which, again, I've not yet tried. This will be a game that I probably won't be playing on a day to day thing, but will be fun to bring up here and now.
In other news, I'm very pleased with the battery life of my sony z3. Its easily giving me 10hrs of screen on time, and this is over 5 days. Granted, I have no life and the main things I use my phone are for a) Kindle b) Alarms etc c) Weather/news. Which is a massive step up from the Galaxy S6, which I have to recharged by end of day 2. Even when I'm not bloody doing much with it.

In these few weeks, I must say that the power button is probably the first thing that is starting to annoy me, as it's rather small. The flap for the usb port/recharging is also one thing, but I've bought ha 3rd party magnetic recharging cable and it appears to work quite well - no need to pry open the slot unless I'm downloading photos.