Microsoft’s Surface Laptop 2

God Bless Microsoft Word, eh?

Assum­ing Jesus Christ is in your thoughts this evening before yet anoth­er anniver­sary of his birth, I am infi­nite­ly aston­ished by the truth in what I’m about to sup­pose with you. If the Son of God was liv­ing today, most of us have agreed for a long time now that he’d use mar­i­jua­na recre­ation­al­ly – big fuckin whoop. I think it’s far more inter­est­ing and appro­pri­ate (we all know his birth­day was whol­ly recon­fig­ured into a con­sumerist hol­i­day long ago) to spec­u­late on how he’d behave after find­ing him­self inad­ver­tent­ly in the mar­ket for a new lap­top with­in the ~$1000 range (fol­low­ing a stubbed toe whilst walk­ing on water inci­dent, per­haps.) Sure­ly, it would not be entire­ly holy for him to opt in to the Fox­conn-com­plic­it world of Apple, Incor­po­rat­ed, nor the open­ly-blas­phe­mous one cre­at­ed and exu­ber­ant­ly grown by Google LLC, and I’m afraid he’d be too much of an End User idiot to inte­grate any of the sparse Lin­ux-ded­i­cat­ed hard­ware avail­able. In May of 2017, how­ev­er, Bil­ly Gates’ old Microsoft final­ly released “the lap­top we’ve always want­ed them to make,” but could its recent update be tru­ly wor­thy of our Lourde and Sav­iour? Or your new­ly-enrolled off­spring? Should you sprint down­stairs and swap out the new Mac­Book Air you just bought?


From an entire­ly valid per­spec­tive, an observ­er might declare my last two months of 2018 to be an out­right shame­ful peri­od defined by hypocrisy and trai­tor­ous betray­als. After final­ly tak­ing the time to explore the full nar­ra­tive sur­round­ing Lin­ux and the bloody tale of Microsoft’s cru­el geno­ci­dal destruc­tion of count­less cre­ative soft­ware projects through­out computing’s ado­les­cence (see: “Embrace, Extend, Extin­guish,”) I even­tu­al­ly declared myself “100% Open Source” and began out­lin­ing an essay designed pri­mar­i­ly to express that Lin­ux is final­ly ready to be the oper­at­ing sys­tem of the peo­ple with­out suc­cumb­ing imme­di­ate­ly to the brand of cyber­crack­pot ille­git­i­ma­cy asso­ci­at­ed with the L-word in the minds of the gen­er­al pub­lic so read­i­ly thanks to decades of mis­in­formed, con­de­scend­ing neck­beards. Such a feat would require entire new planes of cul­tur­al aware­ness and dialec­tal del­i­ca­cy, yet cer­tain­ly result in zero per­son­al reward from even the best pos­si­ble out­come, yet I pro­ceed­ed to pon­der the sub­ject very delib­er­ate­ly all the way through Octo­ber because I gen­uine­ly believed in a new democ­ra­tized future of com­put­ing. 2018 had been my Grand Awak­en­ing to the idyl­lic pos­si­bil­i­ties of Free and Open Source Soft­ware (FOSS) across the whole applied spec­trum from office suites to social net­works, yet – as two thou­sand eigh­teen comes to an end – I’ve man­aged to find myself among the most jad­ed, soul-sapped tech com­mu­ni­ty I have yet encoun­tered: Microsoft Admin­is­tra­tors.

Com­pli­ment­ing this Lin­ux-laden cul­ture in which I was not so long ago deeply embed­ded was a con­fused and frus­trat­ed out­look regard­ing what I felt were exces­sive and com­plete­ly idi­ot­ic sac­ri­fices across the industry’s hard­ware design to the greedy, glut­to­nous god of Light­ness. It seemed only rea­son­able to Myself As Con­sumer that the entire buy­ing pub­lic should exclu­sive­ly seek designs pri­or­i­tiz­ing great­est pos­si­ble per­for­mance and bat­tery life, even from portable com­put­ers and smart­phones, so I assumed my per­spec­tive on this updat­ed iter­a­tion of Microsoft’s most lap­topy Sur­face lap­top – which exists in large part to com­pete direct­ly with Apple’s beloved (and just-updat­ed) Mac­Book Air – wouldn’t be at all use­ful. How­ev­er, a few weeks ago, my employ­er prompt­ed me with a sweet sweet ulti­ma­tum: for the sake of a tax break, I want to spend ~$1000 on a lap­top for you as soon as pos­si­ble. Yes, I know I should con­sid­er myself a very for­tu­nate man — this wasn’t even the first time I’d been sur­prised with the “hey, I want to buy you a lap­top but it has to be today” expe­ri­ence, and may even be con­sid­ered a sort of sequel to my Tales of Whirl­wind Man­ic Con­sumerism, but it’s ulti­mate­ly one of the most idi­ot­ic strate­gies to achieve a major pur­chase deci­sion and com­plete­ly inad­vis­able for any­one on a bud­get. Still I was indeed thank­ful to be put in a near­ly-iden­ti­cal sit­u­a­tion of Con­sumer Elec­tron­ic haste, and have come to be espe­cial­ly appre­cia­tive of the spe­cif­ic time I was approached as such: just one week after Microsoft launched the Sur­face Lap­top 2.

Con­sid­er­ing the vast major­i­ty of its users are trapped inside my tele­vi­sion, there’s no harm in cov­er­ing the Sur­face brand with our vir­tu­al palm for a moment. If you’ll indulge me so, you’ll notice that Microsoft has actu­al­ly deliv­ered unto us The Lap­top II – as in, the sequel… the suc­ces­sor to every oth­er lap­top com­put­er yet con­ceived… but does this one machine tru­ly rep­re­sent the sec­ond com­ing of the Note­book Christ? Nat­u­ral­ly, it would be a bit zeal­ous to stand behind this extreme state­ment with 100% sin­cer­i­ty, but there tru­ly are cer­tain ele­ments of this Per­son­al Com­put­ing product’s exe­cu­tion which do indeed will its user to expect and/or desire from oth­ers in com­ing years. As I’ve stat­ed before, I also sim­ply can­not help but be jazzed by such brava­do from the mouths of even a com­pa­ny with as crooked and hate­ful his­to­ry as Microsoft’s. (Note: no oth­er tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny has actu­al­ly achieved what Microsoft his­tor­i­cal­ly has in this regard, and hope­ful­ly none ever will again.)

I must be hon­est: it hasn’t yet been two months and I’ve already scuffed and per­haps even stained the beau­ti­ful maroon alcan­tara sur­round­ing my machine’s touch­able body, but it’s occurred to me that I might draw upon the vast library of auto­mo­tive inte­ri­or tuto­ri­als avail­able on YouTube – and even pur­chase some of the alcan­tara care-spe­cif­ic prod­ucts they rec­om­mend – in order to real­ly main­tain the exte­ri­or of the Lap­top II. After all, alcan­tara was unde­ni­ably car culture’s mate­r­i­al first. I should also con­fess that objec­tive­ly, the Sur­face Lap­top II is the best-suit­ed com­put­er for my per­son­al uses that I’ve ever owned or used for any length of time. Sub­jec­tive­ly, I don’t think all of the hard­ware design touch­es that make it so – like its key­board lay­out, divine 3:2 aspect ratio, and par­tic­u­lar I/O com­ple­ment – have yet had the chance to seduce my emo­tion­al brain into tru­ly lov­ing it as much as I cer­tain­ly should by any rea­son­able mea­sure. For my own sake, I hope I’m able to fall in child-like infat­u­a­tion with its mag­ic, but in the inter­im, I believe the cold­ness of my heart should hope­ful­ly pre­serve any use­ful com­men­tary I might have to add. Though this is undoubt­ed­ly the most time­ly review of a hard­ware prod­uct I’ve ever pub­lished, I’d still ask that you indulge my per­spec­tive sug­gest­ing the impor­tance of con­sid­er­ing it part of a pack­age with its oper­at­ing sys­tem, con­sid­er­ing that the whole of tech media would’ve unan­i­mous­ly declared it the year’s “best lap­top” were Apple’s aging, but still wide­ly-adored MacOS absent from the frame.

I’ve test­ed a bunch of lap­tops this year, run­ning the spec­trum of 2-in-1s, Chrome­books, Mac­Books, gam­ing lap­tops, etc. Everyone’s needs are going to be dif­fer­ent, which is why there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all for lap­tops. But enthu­si­asts’ lap­tops aside, I strong­ly feel the Sur­face Lap­top 2 is the best lap­top of the year. And by that I mean the best lap­top for most folks’ needs.

With as much humil­i­ty as pos­si­ble, I must add that I myself am any­thing but “most folks,” yet my expe­ri­ence so far with the prod­uct has been one of aston­ish­ing com­pat­i­bil­i­ty and bat­tery life. Using rec­om­mend­ed pow­er set­tings, the Sur­face Lap­top 2 endured four hours and twen­ty-two min­utes of a work­load it wasn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly designed for includ­ing heavy web brows­ing, image manip­u­la­tion, brief audio/video cap­ture with OBS, and mod­er­ate sub­se­quent edit­ing in Audac­i­ty and Open­Shot. Dan Seifert – Vox Media’s “only Win­dows user” – report­ed “about sev­en hours” of Microsoft’s claimed 14.5, but frankly, I don’t know what any of y’all are doin – I’m just thank­ful this machine is a bet­ter marathon­er than any oth­er I can recall own­ing. While we’re on the sub­ject, I con­sid­er Microsoft’s inclu­sion of a mag­net­i­cal­ly-attached pow­er cable and unas­sum­ing aux­il­iary USB charg­ing port on the attached pow­er sup­ply to be per­son­al god­sends – fur­ther evi­dence, even, that the Sur­face Lap­top 2 was actu­al­ly designed to be nice to use. For the sake of those read­ers actu­al­ly in the mar­ket for a new lap­top who’ve some­how found them­selves here, though, Ray­mond Wong’s review for Mash­able is the most thor­ough offer­ing you’ll find – it’s quot­ed front and cen­ter on Microsoft’s web page for the Lap­top II, even – but it’s impor­tant to men­tion that his crit­i­cal com­par­a­tive per­spec­tive pre­dates the late launch of its ulti­mate com­peti­tor, the new Mac­Book Air. Rather piti­ful­ly, how­ev­er, his colleague’s “good, but not great” res­o­lu­tion sug­gests that Apple failed to chal­lenge Microsoft’s rel­a­tive­ly mod­er­ate update enough to war­rant any revi­sion, and that Mash­able as a pub­li­ca­tion stands by my new laptop’s Best of the Year title, for what­ev­er it may or may not be worth to you.

If the new Mac­Book Air came in at the same price as the old one, it would be a steal. Sure, you pay for the priv­i­lege of being able to use macOS on the Apple ecosys­tem. But in years past that also meant access to cut­ting-edge fea­tures and design. As pret­ty as the Mac­Book Air is, there’s noth­ing that inno­v­a­tive about it. In today’s Apple, it seems, priv­i­lege amounts to just stay­ing cur­rent.

You won’t find many oth­ers who reg­u­lar­ly invest edi­to­r­i­al mer­it in pub­lish­ing 2500+ word lap­top reviews any­more, which I’d con­cede is plen­ty rea­son­able in the Sur­face Laptop’s case, at least. Per­haps your first point of com­par­a­tive entry should be a bare­ly-dat­ed con­ver­sa­tion between Kara Swish­er, Lau­ren Goode, and Dan Seifert on Too Embar­rassed to Ask regard­ing the original’s odds of tru­ly com­pet­ing in the “pre­mi­um lap­top” seg­ment (if you’d pre­fer to hear from those who strug­gle to take it seri­ous­ly, that is.) Assum­ing the orig­i­nal prod­uct direc­tion of the Sur­face line still stands, Microsoft doesn’t actu­al­ly intend to sell at high vol­ume, espe­cial­ly when it comes to this runt of the mar­que, which does not hes­i­tate to omit itself from the pop­u­lar dis­course of the moment sur­round­ing tablets as the future of all com­put­ing to which all of its sib­lings have con­tributed so much. Though I shall always remem­ber my dear­est Libel (the spe­cial edi­tion Spec­tre x360 with which I built most of Extra­tone) with great respect and deep fond­ness – I think it’s even worth mount­ing on some sort of plinth – the sig­nif­i­cant­ly-cheap­er Lap­top II has already demon­strat­ed true val­ue in its “pre­mi­um” seg­ment brag­ging rights with far supe­ri­or mate­ri­als and build qual­i­ty. If you’re look­ing for the pret­ti­est pos­si­ble slice of mag­ne­sium light­ness but aren’t the sort to have fol­lowed the sto­ry of Microsoft’s first ven­ture into per­son­al com­put­er pro­duc­tion since it began in the last year of the Mayan cal­en­dar, it’s worth your while to read Joshua Topolsky’s pro­jec­tions of the project’s impact on the pop­u­lar nar­ra­tive sur­round­ing Microsoft from history’s fresh­est pos­si­ble per­spec­tive: the eve of the first Sur­face tablet’s launch.

The entire tablet was designed in-house by Microsoft’s teams, and if you believe what was said in the pre­sen­ta­tion yes­ter­day, design and func­tion­al­i­ty in hard­ware has sud­den­ly become a big deal in Red­mond. That’s a big shift, and it’s an impor­tant one. The announce­ment of the Sur­face shows that Microsoft is ready to make a break with its his­to­ry — a his­to­ry of hard­ware part­ner­ships which relied on com­pa­nies like Dell, HP, or Acer to actu­al­ly bring its prod­ucts to mar­ket. That may burn part­ners in the short term, but it could also give Microsoft some­thing it des­per­ate­ly needs: a clear sto­ry.

A pun­gent stig­ma fes­tered from Microsoft’s his­to­ry of inad­e­quate and inel­e­gant pub­lic rela­tions (espe­cial­ly com­pared to its great­est long­time rival) has remained in relent­less­ly obvi­ous orbit around every “sig­nif­i­cant” Win­dows and Office update for so long that its sta­tus quo has grown into a tru­ly inhib­i­tive force for all par­ties involved. Topol­sky is unques­tion­ably a com­pro­mis­ing favorite of mine, but it’s hard not to decry then-CEO Steve Ballmer’s fail­ure to com­pre­hend Josh’s day-after insight in the whole three months that passed before his Seat­tle Times inter­view in Sep­tem­ber, 2012. Ulti­mate­ly, The Big M is either inca­pable of under­stand­ing any alter­na­tive utopic Visions of Com­put­ing to its own, or sim­ply over­wrought with the same coun­teraspi­ra­tional care­less­ness its cul­ture has always depend­ed upon. In ana­lyt­i­cal terms regard­ing Ballmer’s uti­liza­tion of the forum’s oppor­tu­ni­ty to final­ly tell the fuck­ing sto­ry, at least, the timid­i­ty of a term like “pre-emi­nent soft­ware” as a viably bright new bea­con in con­trast with “peo­ple would say we were a soft­ware com­pa­ny” (empha­sis mine) – as if Steve-O him­self doesn’t even have the pow­er to pub­licly describe his company’s func­tion as its #1 man – com­bined at the apex of what was almost impres­sive­ly-neg­li­gent behav­ior.

I think when you look for­ward, our core capa­bil­i­ty will be soft­ware, (but) you’ll prob­a­bly think of us more as a devices-and-ser­vices com­pa­ny. Which is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. Soft­ware pow­ers devices and soft­ware pow­ers these cloud ser­vices, but it’s a dif­fer­ent form of deliv­ery…

Don’t make the same mis­take I did and wear your­self out try­ing to extract the mean­ing from these three sen­tences – there’s none to be found. Ulti­mate­ly, what­ev­er oppor­tu­ni­ty the Sur­face project could have pro­vid­ed for Microsoft’s iden­ti­ty has been vast­ly over­shad­owed by its suc­cess as last resort super­cat­a­lyst to restore any sense of dig­ni­ty and pride with­in the hard­ware com­pa­nies who pro­duce the vehi­cles. In Fall 2017, The Reg­is­ter quot­ed indus­try gos­sip regard­ing the company’s new CEO Satya Nadel­la and his intent to “exit the prod­uct line” because “over­all they are not mak­ing mon­ey [and] it doesn’t make sense for them to be in this busi­ness,” but new­com­ers to this con­ver­sa­tion should know that no sub­se­quent report­ing has cor­rob­o­rat­ed any­thing but a sus­tain­ing future of the line, though the mea­sur­able rate of inno­va­tion in Microsoft’s prod­ucts con­tin­ues to leave much to be desired. Now that you’ve heard from the experts, though, allow me to expand our lens a bit and exam­ine what the Sur­face Lap­top 2’s exis­tence sug­gests as per The Present & Future of Com­put­ing.

The Clam Clan

In case I’ve yet to men­tion it, all of my tech writ­ing is in sub­stan­tial debt to my much-old­er and child-ori­ent­ed sib­lings for pro­vid­ing 8 nieces and nephews over the course of 11 years – if not for any rea­son but the per­spec­tive offered by the slight­est obser­va­tion of their day-to-day lives. In this pro­found­ly bizarre and his­toric tech­no­log­i­cal sprint our species is expe­ri­enc­ing, the dif­fer­ences in their respec­tive rela­tion­ships with con­sumer tech as they’ve grown up are fas­ci­nat­ing­ly… dis­turbing­ly sig­nif­i­cant. My eldest niece Abby was born four years after myself in 1998, and her younger sis­ter Amber just quite three years lat­er in 2001. All three of us are Aquar­i­ans who went to the same pub­lic schools (aside from 2 excep­tions on my part,) and the two sis­ters have been close, sig­nif­i­cant influ­ences on each oth­er all their lives, yet the way Abby and I use and think about com­put­ers dif­fers sig­nif­i­cant­ly from Amber’s. Our first real PCs intro­duced an impor­tant social and intel­lec­tu­al vehi­cle to our pre-teen lives, and both of us still “live on” our machines as young adults. For us and many oth­ers from this short-lived micro­gen­er­a­tion of ours, bud­get lap­tops like the Dell Inspiri­on 2200 (which served as the first “real com­put­er” for both of us) intro­duced the inter­net and Being Online as a State of Being with AIM groups, MySpace, and Yahoo! chain mails before smart­phones and tablets were capa­ble of doing so.

Amber prefers to use her iPhone for most every­thing and regards her com­put­er as a tool for work – it’s boot­ed up and down exclu­sive­ly for that pur­pose, which is sig­nif­i­cant­ly health­i­er than the habit Abby, myself, and many of my Online friends devel­oped: we left our com­put­ers run­ning and Logged On all the time because we were oth­er­wise unreach­able. We learned from ori­gin to depend on them for 100% of our com­put­ing tasks – from stream­ing Pan­do­ra to play­ing Flash games with­in six bil­lion open brows­er tabs – which like­ly explains both our ADD and its result­ing influ­ence on the ease with which our per­son­al com­put­ers can dis­tract us. As a Jour­nal­ism stu­dent and pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er, Abby uses the new 15-inch Mac­Book Pro, and [Insane Blog­ger] David Blue has spent years look­ing for an alter­na­tive, becom­ing the first and only iPhone user to make exten­sive use of its Blue­tooth key­board sup­port in the process, but both of us are entire­ly unin­ter­est­ed in the rest of the industry’s insis­tence on con­vert­ibles, remov­able key­boards, or ‘pro­fes­sion­al’ tablets. I wish the Lin­ux com­mu­ni­ty was final­ly ready to drop the elit­ist pre­tens­es plagu­ing its nerdy his­to­ry; I wish I could final­ly tell some­one like Abby that a machine like the System76 Gala­go Pro could slot itself into her work­flow with­out los­ing her time or com­pat­i­bil­i­ty – that the rep­u­ta­tion sur­round­ing Lin­ux Peo­ple had final­ly lost most of its valid­i­ty and her desire to learn more about com­put­ing as a young woman and Pow­er User would be met with respect­ful and worth­while con­ver­sa­tion from their end. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I’ve still found some of the Old Guard to be elit­ist, social­ly behind, and juve­nile­ly pos­ses­sive, as if com­put­ing was still the niche inter­est from their 1980s and 90s child­hoods. Though this con­ver­sa­tion cer­tain­ly war­rants its own essay in the future, I’ll just express now that it’s a real shame some folks don’t real­ize the entire point of mak­ing great things is ulti­mate­ly to give them to the world.

I may or may not have bought an entire out­fit to match the Sur­face Lap­top 2, but it’s yet to be seen whether or not I have the courage to do a pho­to­shoot with My New Machine.

The oppor­tu­ni­ty I’ve had in the past year to final­ly get my Lin­ux dis­tro fren­zy over with and out of my sys­tem man­aged to both rad­i­cal­ize and democ­ra­tize my under­stand­ing of MacOS, Win­dows, and Lin­ux as they are in the present. While I had noth­ing bet­ter to do, fid­dling with Ubun­tu Stu­dio and Lin­ux Mint to the extent I did through­out Spring and Sum­mer led me to fur­ther appre­ci­ate the val­ue of key­board short­cuts, gave me my first real pro­fi­cien­cy with a com­mand line, helped glob­al­ize my com­pre­hen­sion of my own tech­no­log­i­cal priv­i­lege, reac­quaint­ed me in a huge way with both the true his­to­ry of soft­ware and my own per­son­al past as an exper­i­men­tal test tube baby of Microsoft’s, and helped to answer a lot of ques­tions I’d wor­ried over for years about why soft­ware seemed like it sim­ply couldn’t improve any­more. While it’s true that impor­tant open source projects like Ele­men­taryOS con­tin­ue to sprout from the Linus Extend­ed Uni­verse and the grow­ing Open Source com­mu­ni­ty on Mastodon is filled with bril­liant, help­ful, unpre­ten­tious, and remark­ably curi­ous enthu­si­asts (prob­a­bly because many of those I’ve inter­act­ed with so far are non-cis and/or non-white,) lit­tle ole me was able to stum­ble upon some total­ly unnec­es­sary and excru­ci­at­ing­ly igno­rant sociopo­lit­i­cal com­men­tary by way of the white, mid­dle-age host and his undoubt­ed­ly-white and staunch­ly lib­er­tar­i­an caller on a live broad­cast of the Ask Noah Show. (It’s not as if I haven’t said igno­rant and very ugly things too, but I wasn’t a forty-some­thing father on a semi-pro­fes­sion­al talk show rep­re­sent­ing an entire com­mu­ni­ty.)

Essen­tial­ly, I was quite frus­trat­ed and dis­ap­point­ed to find that Lin­ux is still let down most by its own com­mu­ni­ty, but the oper­at­ing sys­tem itself is still much fur­ther along on its way to becom­ing a real alter­na­tive for the aver­age user than main­stream tech jour­nal­ism would have you believe. How­ev­er, in my case, final­ly tak­ing the time to real­ly learn about Open Source com­put­ing also helped me under­stand (sur­pris­ing­ly) why Apple and its envi­ron­ment con­tin­ue to be the best and most pop­u­lar choice for pro­fes­sion­al appli­ca­tions. Lin­ux Mint gave me tremen­dous pow­er in enabling me to alter, spec­i­fy, and redesign the most minute details of its inter­face, but I couldn’t have fore­seen how all-con­sum­ing such pow­er would be for some­one like myself. In ret­ro­spect, I’ve real­ized that I end­ed up spend­ing more time per­fect­ing my cus­tom Libre­Of­fice Writer short­cuts than I did actu­al­ly writ­ing – I some­how found myself in a mind state which jus­ti­fied uniron­i­cal­ly cre­at­ing a short­cut for the Short­cuts menu. Though I swore I’d nev­er suc­cumb to the bewil­der­ing hob­by of col­lect­ing and explor­ing dif­fer­ent Lin­ux Dis­tri­b­u­tions, it took no time at all for me to fill a fold­er with disc images of the installers for almost a dozen dif­fer­ent inter­pre­ta­tions of the oper­at­ing sys­tem after I’d made the sim­ple con­ces­sion to myself that I’ll just try Ubun­tu, that’s all. The most pro­found real­iza­tion from all this (arguably oth­er­wise wast­ed) time: for a user like me, a walled gar­den is actu­al­ly the best place to be pro­duc­tive because appar­ent­ly, I don’t have the self-con­trol to keep myself from run­ning away and/or fix­at­ing on com­plete­ly unpro­duc­tive tasks with­out its bound­aries. I think this phe­nom­e­non is per­haps the worst cul­prit in the per­sis­tence of the afore­men­tioned divide between “com­put­er peo­ple” and every­one else who sim­ply uses com­put­ers, as I’m sure any one of the lat­ter could tell you after all of five min­utes with a Linus type.

The most com­pre­hen­sive and some­what-urgent revi­sion to illus­trate the sig­nif­i­cance of this con­trast from my per­spec­tive regards the excep­tion­al iOS/MacOS mark­down-based note­tak­ing app Bear. Frankly, my own “Word Pro­cess­ing Method­ol­o­gy” essay from June has already become prob­lem­at­i­cal­ly out of date (and there­fore embar­rass­ing) in terms of my own knowl­edge of the seg­ment and its his­to­ry. Though I promised the con­ver­sa­tion was “done,” I’ve con­tin­ued to explore fur­ther into word processing’s his­to­ry as well as its cur­rent state. “I had a go at Bear’s free iOS expe­ri­ence and saw lit­tle func­tion­al dif­fer­ence from Day­One,” the old, neg­li­gent, cur­so­ry David Blue not­ed, but if I’d sim­ply been will­ing to cough up a bit more time and just $1.49 a month for Bear Pro, I’d have spared myself such shame and real­ized that the hype around this app real­ly is 100% jus­ti­fied. Bear is the most beau­ti­ful iOS app I’ve ever seen, but I’m now also ful­ly qual­i­fied to declare it the most effec­tive exe­cu­tion of “dis­trac­tion-free” writ­ing soft­ware to come along in the past 25 years. Devel­op­er Shiny Frog’s secret is their per­fect bal­ance between capa­bil­i­ty and sim­plic­i­ty. It turns out, Dai­ly Con­tent Lord Casey Newton’s word on this mat­ter real­ly was worth more than mine, not to men­tion more suc­cinct: “Bear may look sim­ple, but there’s pow­er under­neath the sur­face.”

Those long­time Lin­ux and Win­dows diehards who’ve tol­er­at­ed me thus far, lis­ten up: MacOS may be ancient, neglect­ed, and full of incon­gru­en­cies, but its sin­gle-mind­ed method­ol­o­gy paired with Apple’s iCloud real­ly does make it the most effec­tive and ele­gant envi­ron­ment for most peo­ple to sim­ply get shit done. It’s clear that many of you have real­ized the impor­tance of sim­plic­i­ty for com­pact and/or edu­ca­tion­al dis­tri­b­u­tions, but let me just add that the democ­ra­ti­za­tion of Lin­ux pro­vides a gar­gan­tu­an devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ty to make some­thing that beats MacOS at its own game with­out start­ing from such a shit­ty premise and all of its result­ing com­pro­mis­es – all with­out detract­ing from any oth­er tech­ni­cal­ly-mind­ed dis­tri­b­u­tions what­so­ev­er. That is the mag­ic of The Dis­tro, remem­ber?! If you’ve exist­ed in a sim­i­lar state of con­fu­sion to that of my entire adult life regard­ing the appeal of Apple prod­ucts – despite hav­ing once been an exten­sive OSX user, myself – you’re very wel­come for the insight. Instead of pay­ing me for the pro­found self-improve­ment I’ve just pro­vid­ed, try pri­or­i­tiz­ing this new­found knowl­edge the next time you talk to your Mac­Book Pro-lov­ing friend about their work­flow. If you’re like myself, you’ll find their argu­ments have mag­i­cal­ly trans­formed from the bewil­der­ing bull­shit they’ve always seemed to be into chal­lenges for future com­pet­ing oper­at­ing sys­tems to sur­pass Apple’s old bitch and excel in because MacOS and even its much-younger iOS coun­ter­part – as well as the bil­lions of peo­ple who depend on them – des­per­ate­ly need real com­pe­ti­tion in order to main­tain their via­bil­i­ty, much less become what prod­ucts of the world’s wealth­i­est com­pa­ny should be.

Yes, the man­ner in which these oper­at­ing sys­tems are per­ceived real­ly is an impor­tant dis­cus­sion prompt­ed by a prod­uct as insignif­i­cant as the Sur­face Lap­top 2 because as you read, the indus­try is brac­ing for anoth­er par­a­digm shift in com­put­ing, which many believe (pre­pos­ter­ous­ly, I might add) could be as sig­nif­i­cant and dis­rup­tive as 2007’s intro­duc­tion of the iPhone. This machine of Microsoft’s and its “new” Mac­Book Air coun­ter­part could poten­tial­ly be the last designs to car­ry us to a com­put­ing future where the tried-and-true clamshell design is for­gone entire­ly by the main­stream, but Apple’s release of this year’s new iPad Pro prompt­ed even the most Cuper­ti­no-lov­ing tech com­men­ta­tors to respond with gen­uine dis­cord along with a few long-over­due shouts of “are you crazy?!” I’m very proud of The Verge’s Nilay Patel, in par­tic­u­lar, for so elo­quent­ly decon­struct­ing its usabil­i­ty for all but the very wealthy. “It is impos­si­ble to look at a device this pow­er­ful and expen­sive and not expect it to replace a lap­top for day-to-day work,” he reminds us in the intro­duc­tion to his full review of the updat­ed prod­uct, along with a beau­ti­ful­ly tran­sient sen­ti­ment which I think we all need­ed to hear again: “I don’t think peo­ple should adapt to their com­put­ers. Com­put­ers should adapt to peo­ple.” Even some­thing as con­sumerist and bour­geois as the intro­duc­tion of anoth­er pri­ce­point-bur­geon­ing Apple hard­ware flag­ship can turn a sim­ple tablet review into a much-need­ed man­i­festo for a user-cen­tric way for­ward for the indus­try, which is itself wor­thy of cel­e­bra­to­ry encour­age­ment.

I’ve favored The Verge and its cast long past the point of excess through­out the span of my work about tech­nol­o­gy, but Nilay’s review and its accom­pa­ny­ing episode of The Verge­cast are tru­ly spe­cial and pro­found gems of con­tent that shouldn’t be passed up. Appar­ent­ly – as the Edi­tor-in-Chief imme­di­ate­ly insists as the episode begins – his “ongo­ing the­o­ry” that “the more impor­tant you are, the less actu­al­ly impor­tant work you do, and the more like­ly you are to be an iPad user” roused anger from “that whole class of [bil­lion­aires,]” but the expe­ri­ences behind his argu­ment actu­al­ly sug­gest that Apple’s own favorite child of late – into which it has begun invest­ing and there­by implic­it­ly spon­sor­ing over its much old­er broth­er as the ulti­mate heir of the majority’s future com­put­ing – has unequiv­o­cal­ly failed to do its part in grow­ing the iPad Pro into the “lap­top replace­ment” we’d all heard so much about. Of iOS 12’s per­for­mance as an oper­at­ing sys­tem beneath true work-relat­ed tasks, he exas­per­ates “you have to spend all of your time fig­ur­ing out how to do stuff instead of doing stuff,” which I couldn’t help but hear as echoes of my own late Lin­ux lamen­ta­tions. As thank­ful as I am to have final­ly achieved enlight­en­ment of the Plan­et Apple, I’m afraid I was piti­ful­ly late: its very nat­ur­al laws under­went their most bru­tal tests of the 21st cen­tu­ry this past year. Now that I’ve final­ly come to adore the ele­gant effec­tive­ness of a new gen­er­a­tion of iOS apps like Bear, I’m faced with yet anoth­er of the episode’s state­ments of weight: “I think it’s time to stop pre­tend­ing that the future of com­put­ing looks like Apple’s restric­tions.” On the oppos­ing end of the line, the world’s first tril­lion-dol­lar company’s oth­er major prod­uct release of 2018 man­aged to dis­ap­point even the most fanat­i­cal fans of its orig­i­nal oper­at­ing system’s best-sell­ing plat­form with an insult­ing­ly mediocre update to the Mac­Book Air mar­que upon which it once so fond­ly dot­ed.

My best friend’s par­ents bought her the orig­i­nal Sur­face tablet when she enrolled in art school, and her frus­tra­tion with its lack­lus­ter key­board (among oth­ers) leads MacOS alter­na­tive-seek­ing users like us to wish Microsoft had start­ed with a tra­di­tion­al design like the Sur­face Lap­top first. Per­haps Apple and Microsoft’s empha­sis on their tablets is noth­ing but a bit pre­ma­ture for the most cur­rent crop of users, and the rest of my nieces and nephews will expand upon an entire­ly dif­fer­ent method­ol­o­gy of user­ship when they receive their fresh­man com­put­er. Those elders of us who still take the Clamshell form seri­ous­ly and love print­ing our doc­u­ments are appar­ent­ly fac­ing a future indus­try sat­u­rat­ed with prod­ucts we can’t believe in, but it’s up to you to decide if this issue is worth expend­ing your ener­gy in advo­ca­cy for either camp. With my 120+ word per minute pro­fi­cien­cy with phys­i­cal key­boards, I for one have been com­plete­ly bewil­dered by the iPad as any­thing but an indul­gence for read­ing text on the web, and I’m pleased as punch with my Sur­face Lap­top 2. Even if it proves to be the last new com­put­er I’ll ever own to come as opti­mized for my use, I’m just grate­ful and aston­ished it hap­pens to be the best yet.

Further Notes and Reading

A good com­put­er should not be so user-friend­ly that it tricks you into believ­ing that its world, full of pas­sive con­sump­tion and active sur­veil­lance, is the same as the real one. Instead, it should be just annoy­ing enough and full of weird nov­el­ties to remind you that a com­put­er is just a tool that you use to do stuff… In Mac­World, sync­ing to the cloud is so effort­less that I’ve nev­er actu­al­ly both­ered fig­ur­ing out how to enter the cloud and poke around the archive of my dig­i­tal past. It’s there some­where, prob­a­bly, but find­ing it would take more effort than liv­ing with the latent dread of expo­sure and ridicule.

The best com­put­er is one you hate a lit­tle” — The Out­line
  • Microsoft Announces Sur­face Tablet PC” — PC World
  • Microsoft For­ti­fies Com­mit­ment to Open Source, Becomes Lin­ux Foun­da­tion Plat­inum Mem­ber” — The Lin­ux Foun­da­tion
  • I’m not pos­i­tive, but I believe my Lap­top 2’s cool­ing fan may already be expe­ri­enc­ing some dust-bred block­age
  • Yes, appear­ance is very impor­tant when you spend the mon­ey for a machine like this — the ques­tion I prob­a­bly should’ve ded­i­cat­ed time to con­sid­er: Is the Microsoft Sur­face line actu­al­ly cool?
  • Is the stor­age space enough? Con­firmed: I HAVE ENTERED THE CLOUD
  • The best exe­cu­tion I’ve yet seen of an auto­mat­i­cal­ly back­lit key­board.
  • …but the auto-dim­ming fea­ture of the dis­play should be imme­di­ate­ly dis­abled and left off for good. It’s jumpy enough to be dis­tract­ing and doesn’t actu­al­ly con­tribute much of any­thing to the expe­ri­ence.
  • WHERE IS THE TIME, WINDOWS 10?
  • 3:2 aspect ratio for read­ing and com­po­si­tion — ACROSS THE ENTIRE SURFACE RANGE!!??
  • Once again, I can… touch the web, and once again… I’m not quite sure why. This is the only advan­tage I could see from the Mac­Book Air — Apple’s neg­li­gence is actu­al­ly well-placed in regards to omit­ting a touch screen.
  • I can’t imag­ine ever desir­ing a lap­top even 1/100th of a pound lighter, and I would love to spec­u­late that these two prod­ucts can be the last of the Great Con­sumer Tech Design Diet because it’s left so many of us con­fused even still. It’s just a shame I don’t have a 5th arm/leg hybrid limb to serve as the Lap­top 2’s tray and allow me to con­tin­ue typ­ing at my full capac­i­ty whilst walk­ing around upright.

First Boot and Disassembly

My Com­paq Portable arrived suc­cess­ful­ly in one piece just after I pub­lished my intro­duc­tion to this project last month, and I found it to be in even bet­ter shape than I expect­ed. How­ev­er, I’m afraid my exam­ple did not escape The Key­board Prob­lem — 100% key­board fail­ure thanks to decom­pos­ing foam used in pre-1984 machines. After the near-spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ence of its first boot-up, I was only able to acti­vate a sin­gle key when prompt­ed by DOS (2.12, I’m assum­ing) to enter the cur­rent date — the num­ber 5. This is by far the most com­mon ail­ment among Portable buys, and it was far from unex­pect­ed. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, my com­plete lack of per­son­al work­space at the moment will like­ly prove to be the most stub­born obsta­cle to restor­ing func­tion to the key­board for longer than I’d like, but I’ve been able to main­tain sound patience. (Also, nobody seems to know what a “punch” is? Maybe I’m mis­at­tribut­ing the term.)

Both the sheer vol­ume of obscure doc­u­men­ta­tion on the replace­ment of the foam and met­al con­tacts and the dif­fer­ences between each restorer’s approach is quite aston­ish­ing — one claimed to find suc­cess using only mate­ri­als from a dol­lar store, which isn’t often said of com­put­er repair projects in 2018. Hack­a­day’s cov­er­age of the repair is care­ful­ly con­sid­ered and com­pre­hen­sive, and there’s more than enough dili­gent ref­er­ences avail­able to ren­der any detailed records of my own attempts a waste of time. My first chance to peek inside came while I was sur­round­ed by new Port­land friends in their com­mu­ni­ty house, who were all amus­ing­ly bewil­dered by my deci­sion to buy such an object. I broad­cast a boot-up on Periscope, as well as a longer attempt to elec­tro­cute myself and repli­cate a forum poster’s claimed typ­ing using only his fin­gers to con­duct the nec­es­sary cur­rent across the con­tacts. I sup­pose the bull­shit is obvi­ous, but I was more than will­ing to sac­ri­fice my life, as you’ll no doubt observe.

The key­board itself was ridicu­lous­ly well-fas­tened and overde­signed, and the first sight of the Portable’s inter­nal archi­tec­ture revealed by our removal of the main cov­er pan­el was a gen­uine­ly gasp-induc­ing expe­ri­ence. I’m cer­tain­ly not a well-expe­ri­enced and/or pro­fes­sion­al hard­ware per­son, but I’m com­pelled to note that I have nev­er seen elec­tron­ic hard­ware built this well — even in agri­cul­tur­al imple­ment appli­ca­tions, much less con­sumer-tar­get­ed prod­ucts. I com­plete­ly under­stand why retro elec­tron­ic nerds love these so much and I can only hope to soon chan­nel a suf­fi­cient imi­ta­tion of their dis­ci­pline to get the key­board func­tion­ing ful­ly.

The rot­ting foam is actu­al­ly quite dis­gust­ing.
Though the ABS main rear pan­el has obvi­ous­ly been removed before, the beau­ty of the Portable’s inter­nal machin­ing had me gasp­ing.

To Watch “Beloved Le Mans 24 Hour Endurance Race,” Whiny Bitch Turns to JavaOS

The 2018 24 Hours of LeMans is an hour away from its halfway mark and it looks like I will fail once again in my year­ly attempt to artic­u­late why it’s such an intense, one-of-a-kind expe­ri­ence, but I’ve includ­ed my progress in this go so far just below.


For 5 con­sec­u­tive Junes, I’ve made a point to stay up one whole week­end in order to fol­low “The Super­bowl of Motor­sport” — a few quaint men hurl­ing them­selves around a dou­ble-dig­it, flap­per-era French rib­bon in machines built specif­i­cal­ly to tor­ture them­selves with record-break­ing effi­cien­cy — to “wit­ness the pin­na­cle of engi­neer­ing, dri­ving, and ath­let­ic excel­lence.” In 2016, I even both­ered a young Extra­tone with this entire­ly off-beat event, which Tim, Kaleb and I unsuc­cess­ful­ly attempt­ed to stream on YouTube. Every year, I spend some of the day try­ing to artic­u­late why exact­ly this one race is so mag­i­cal. At 6 this morn­ing, this year’s 86th annu­al Cir­cuit des 24 Heures du Mans began with a green flag wav­ing more than 5100 miles away. Imme­di­ate­ly after­wards, Andre Lot­ter­er was too late to brake, crash­ing into Ben Han­ley and com­i­cal­ly releas­ing the entire nose of his LMP car. The release of a year’s worth of antic­i­pa­tion and prepa­ra­tion often makes the first few hours of the race feel like a mad dash.

You can­not spend one sec­ond look­ing back,” com­ment­ed a Radi­oLe­Mans host after just half a minute had passed. (I still can’t keep up with their names even after all these years, but they are step one of LeMans watch­ing.) By 6:11, the his­toric and infa­mous­ly-dan­ger­ous Cir­cuit de la Sarthe was declared wet. Since 2015, I’ve cheered on a par­tic­u­lar Brazil­ian veg­an called Fer­nan­do Rees through two tours with Aston Mar­tin Rac­ing – my favorite team – and one with Corvette, last year, but nei­ther he nor his team are present this time.

Com­mit­ted­ly keep­ing up with a motor­sport event designed more for man­u­fac­tur­ers and stark tra­di­tion than its fans – the luck­i­est of whom nap in track­side tents amid the rain and com­bus­tive son­ic hell on the oth­er side of the plan­et – which has served as the pin­na­cle emo­tion­al, phys­i­cal, and tech­ni­cal tri­al (yes, in that order) through­out the entire his­to­ry of auto rac­ing does not sound like a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence, but emo­tion­al­ly, I’ve become deeply inter­twined with LeMans and formed a rela­tion­ship with it like no oth­er has approached or even approx­i­mat­ed with any oth­er sport­ing event. I wish I knew enough about the his­to­ry and tech­ni­cal­i­ties of endurance motor­sport to write about it pro­fes­sion­al­ly because the sto­ries it gen­er­ates are always engag­ing, no mat­ter what. Jack­ie Chan and Patrick Dempsey are LeMans’ most rec­og­niz­able patrons to the gen­er­al pub­lic.


My beloved Le Mans 24 Hour Endurance Race has start­ed. I can not close my eyes until Toyota’s vic­to­ry moment. Shar­ing impres­sion of LM to all over the world#LeMans24 pic.twitter.com/m8mattD1By

— ぽめぽめ51 (@51chanman1) June 16, 2018

(SAME.)

It’s long since been rea­son­able for me to pre­tend I’m able to com­plete­ly sep­a­rate auto­mo­tive top­ics from Extra­tone, so I final­ly gave in and cre­at­ed a Honk chan­nel in our Dis­cord. Please feel free to stop by and/or invite your friends with the link extratone.com/honkdiscord.

Spectre Open

The break­ingtrend­ing news about my dear­est lit­tle Libel is prob­a­bly quite bad. It turns out, my charg­er cable trip­ping inci­dent a few weeks ago was a tru­ly-destruc­tive one. I not only destroyed the X360’s DC port but the port’s brack­et as well. Would you believe me if I told you I actu­al­ly found cof­fee stains on the bot­tom of its cool­ing fan? I expe­dit­ed a new port and strug­gled to install it today — though I orig­i­nal­ly got its charg­ing indi­ca­tion LED to light up pos­i­tive­ly, the fid­dling that was required, fol­low­ing appears to have dam­aged either the new part or the machine, itself — I can no longer elic­it any response from it what­so­ev­er. I have a feel­ing some sol­der­ing would do the trick, but every day with­out a com­put­er of my own to use presents a prob­lem if I’m to accom­plish any Extra­tone-relat­ed work at all.

Please give me a break: the last time I had to dis­as­sem­ble a com­put­er to this extent, Dual-Core CPUs were just becom­ing afford­able. The prop­er avenue for the cable is also less than an after­thought, yad­da yad­da, etc. etc. (“The Open Web” refers only to my right to com­plain to absolute­ly no one but The Good Gourd.)

Spectre DC Port

Google Ana­lyt­ics is act­ing a fool (it turns out, all I need­ed to do to get us back up in search results for “Extra­tone” was com­plete­ly break my account,) but I’ll be damned if authen­ti­cat­ing The Extranet with Bing wasn’t the quick­est web-admin­is­tra­tive task I’ve ever done. Less than 60 sec­onds to ver­i­fy and approve com­pre­hen­sive sitemaps — no fuck­ing lie. Despite our huge down­time at the begin­ning of the year, both it and Duck­Duck­Go were quick to rec­og­nize us as the top rel­e­vant result for “Extra­tone,” leav­ing only Google to Square The Fuck Up. Grant­ed, you’re appar­ent­ly more like­ly to be sent our way if you’re look­ing for “opg,” “om6,” “u3u,” or “ruu.” If that’s how you’ve end­ed up here, wel­come and con­grat­u­la­tions! This is, indeed, the place you’ve sought.

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Editor’s Note: Please dis­re­gard the JavaOS data — that’s all me.

Logitech G203

A COMPUTER MOUSE

Is it everything or nothing?

This is by far the most expen­sive mouse I have ever bought at $24.99. It is also per­haps the loud­est piece of com­put­er equip­ment — periph­er­al or oth­er­wise — that I have ever encoun­tered in my entire life with the lit­er­al vol­ume of its click­ing noise, light­ing effects, and the quan­ti­ty of accom­pa­ny­ing bloat­ware. Then again, it is also my first piece of gam­ing gear — a moniker to which I am tech­ni­cal­ly new. A world in which a $50 periph­er­al is con­sid­ered “thor­ough­ly afford­able” is not mine any­more (it nev­er was, but only because of my lim­it­ed ado­les­cent income,) but that’s okay. Per­haps this pur­chase will prove to be the gate­way to my very own Sick Build. Regard­less, my adult life is still full of plen­ti­ful click­ing, and a high-qual­i­ty, “vari­able res­o­lu­tion” mouse should have some sort of place when doing my tax­es, repeat­ed­ly apply­ing for health insur­ance, read­ing dai­ly news for hours, and accu­rate­ly lik­ing Joke Tweets. And — for the sake of a more thor­ough gamer per­spec­tive — I down­loaded all 10GB of Eve Online and clicked around in space for an evening, just in case.

After fif­teen min­utes spent look­ing for the end of the G203’s 6.6-foot USB cable, I plugged it in to my Spec­tre and made the mis­take of man­u­al­ly seek­ing out its Win­dows dri­vers. I thought the 115mb instal­la­tion file was com­i­cal­ly exces­sive for a mouse, but after inad­ver­tent­ly join­ing The G Team, enhanc­ing my new Gam­ing Gear, and appeas­ing the prompt’s request for a reboot, the com­plex­i­ty of the soft­ware more than jus­ti­fied its foot­print, if not its exis­tence.

Nat­u­ral­ly, I was thrilled to opt-in to let my new mouse speak to its moth­er­ship, hop­ing that it would even­tu­al­ly men­tion my hands, which are by far my most flat­ter­ing fea­ture (also, it would be nice if it told them how awk­ward it is to use its soft­ware as long as it remains exempt from UI scal­ing.) Then, the one hun­dred and sev­enth edi­tion of my mouse’s update tool sug­gest­ed that I down­load high­er per­for­mance! (Appar­ent­ly “DPI” means “Dots Per Inch,” and I’m sure 8000 of them is an upgrade from my old roller­ball!)

By default, the huge­ly bright LEDs on the G203 cycle smooth­ly through the col­or­band, which is desir­able to some­one on Earth, I’m sure, but I do not know of them. Come to think of it — out of all of the many Gamers I’ve known and con­versed with about every top­ic imag­in­able, I’m almost pos­i­tive that their own mice — or com­put­er mice as a whole, real­ly — have nev­er come up. Even for these, life is too short to search Con­sumer Reports for com­put­er mouse reviews, but per­haps all of us are in error. I only pur­chased the G203 because all of the majesty of Columbia’s Best Buy (appar­ent­ly the hold­er of the “Worst Best Buy Store in the World” title not so long ago) was sold out of all mice with­in what I then con­sid­ered to be a rea­son­able price range, and it was the one of the remain­ing “expen­sive” but still doable options with the high­est reviews upon a briskly skimmed Google search. Now, I think I can see why. There is a cer­tain qual­i­ty in the way it feels that I’ve clear­ly been miss­ing out on amidst my as-yet-life­long habit of using the cheap­est, knock­off-brand periph­er­als.

First: that ser­rat­ed scroll wheel! Wow! Incre­ment­ed scrolling was the shit, wasn’t it? Can you actu­al­ly read while you two-fin­ger ges­ture scroll? I’m pret­ty sure I can’t, regard­less of how seam­less the expe­ri­ence may or may not be. I can nei­ther imag­ine nor hope this sort of engage­ment — with the web, any­way — will be viable for much longer, but it is a nice option. To be force­ful, notice that options being sort of a theme, here: out of a lack of cheap­er options, I spent a bit more on this, very option-sat­u­rat­ed mouse, and now I can’t move my laptop’s point­er from over six feet away — should I wish — albeit with the oblig­a­tory anx­i­ety over the destruc­tive poten­tial such a teth­er includes, left exposed to the whims of whirling pets or limbs. Of course, you are no doubt won­der­ing why a wired mouse? Isn’t that your whole orig­i­nal lim­i­ta­tion?

Like the smart-mind­ed PC gam­ing enthu­si­ast, I find the poten­tial advan­tages of blue­tooth periph­er­als to be over­shad­owed by their dis­ad­van­tages in a big way. Not so much the inevitable delay of wire­less­ness as was com­mon­ly lament­ed upon by the com­pet­i­tive elite first-per­son-shoot­ers, but the lit­tle slice of bur­den stacked on top of the pile of bat­tery-oper­at­ed devices I already own. Even sans-Tes­la, quartz or smart watch, portable gam­ing con­sole (or, con­sole of any kind with wire­less con­trollers,) tablet, wire­less head­phones, portable speak­ers, eread­er, smart glass­es, and smart jack­et, the pow­er cells in my lap­top, iPhone, and flash­light gen­er­ate plen­ty of charge anx­i­ety enough, and I’d like to hold out for as long as is rea­son­ably fea­si­ble before mul­ti­ply­ing my exist­ing duress. How­ev­er, as per my own obser­va­tions (though not mea­sur­able num­bers,) the G203 seems to be increas­ing the drain on my Spectre’s bat­ter­ies, whether by its huge, always-run­ning soft­ware pres­ence, its phys­i­cal USB draw, or both. Quan­ti­fy­ing the sub­se­quent has­sle of charg­ing my lap­top more often so that it could be mea­sured against that of charg­ing an equiv­a­lent blue­tooth mouse is nei­ther straight­for­ward nor inter­est­ing, but it’s not as if I’ll be using this machine off the charg­er for very much longer after over a year of extreme­ly heavy use.

As long as tools have exist­ed — cer­tain­ly as long as they’ve been sold — they have been divid­ed pri­mar­i­ly into two cat­e­gories: prod­ucts for ama­teurs, and prod­ucts for pro­fes­sion­als. I come from a time when “pro­fes­sion­al gamer” was an oxy­moron (unless you count stuff like snook­er, I guess,) yet now I’m using such a cus­tomiz­able mouse that its hotkeys can be mapped to hotkey map­ping and its sen­si­tiv­i­ty (the dots per inch spec) can be switched “on the fly.” How I’m going to make full use of these func­tion­al­i­ties with­in my word proces­sor has yet to be deter­mined, but when/if it is, it will be com­plete­ly imple­mentable in absolute­ly no time at all. The Log­itech G203 is nei­ther ama­teur nor pro — it is a “prodi­gy,” which from my per­spec­tive has to be an inher­ent­ly nos­tal­gic angle. Top­i­cal­ly, more than any­thing at this moment, I would like to bring the core char­ac­ters of Halt and Catch Fire to life just to show them this mouse, its soft­ware, and all that they are con­stant­ly beg­ging to do togeth­er — like “con­trol­ling [my] Dis­cord client,” what­ev­er the hell that could pos­si­bly mean.

The Log­itech G203 is offi­cial­ly “gamer gear,” but it’s impor­tant to clar­i­fy the term’s mean­ing in both hard­ware and soft­ware for an adult in 2018. And yet, at least it remains over­whelm­ing­ly clear that we will all even­tu­al­ly die.The Log­itech G203 is offi­cial­ly “gamer gear,” but it’s impor­tant to clar­i­fy the term’s mean­ing in both hard­ware and soft­ware for an adult in 2018. And yet, at least it remains over­whelm­ing­ly clear that we will all even­tu­al­ly die.The thing that got us to the thing did so a long time ago — it’s full of nazis and captcha-trained, Pres­i­den­cy-mak­ing Russ­ian robots, now, and my new com­put­er mouse is tak­ing the ini­tia­tive and han­dling all of my cor­re­spon­dence for me. Every­thing is pos­si­ble, but the end is nigh. The same prac­tices we once used in our youth to bide our time and hide from the truths of our finite exis­tence have grown to encom­pass them as well and left no suf­fi­cient dis­trac­tion with which to replace or reverse them — even obnox­ious­ly loud click­ing and bright spec­trum-cross­ing light shows. Now, we must pro­ceed whole­heart­ed­ly under the weight of the knowl­edge that we will soon reach the ulti­mate final­i­ty of the infi­nite rest, our USB mice in hand.