Wednesday 20 July 2011

The Formerly Magical Trackpad

My Apple Magic Trackpad died tonight, aged less than six months, after a week-long illness. Numerous battery transplants, resets and reboots were unable to revive the patient. In lieu of flowers, donations to its replacement are now being gratefully accepted.

Whiskey. Tango. Fox?

Hardware — any hardware, but especially Apple kit — isn't supposed to die after mere months of daily use. I expect better from systems, and especially from Apple. Were I anywhere else on the planet besides Second World Singapore, I would have a reasonable degree of confidence that those expectations would be fulfilled. PAPaganda notwithstanding, this is the Potemkin city where having the highest-paid politicians on the planet doesn't mean that products or services (beyond political control-related security "services") are up to the same levels as would be expected in, say, Tanzania.

So I'm back to using the mouse that I'd been using for nearly two years before buying the Trackpad. With the wheel and five buttons (that I know of), it's certainly adequate for most ordinary-user or Web-developer tasks in Snow Leopard.

But trackpads are The Future™, a reality emphasised by the new OS X 10.7 "Lion" release, and by what's rumoured for Windows 8. While mice are comfortable and familiar to essentially everyone who's used a Mac in the last 27 years, or Windows PC in the last 15 or so, there are actions and gestures that the trackpad is simply a more natural fit for, and to which a trackpad user's "muscle memory" rapidly adapts. Going back to the mouse feels both familiar and foreign, not unlike attempting to ride a bicycle for the first time in thirty years (another recent experience).

So, I'll probably buy a replacement trackpad fairly soon. That is, if I can stay online long enough to get useful work done; we've had intermittent failures in the DSL service here of late. (Or am I allowed to say "intermittent successful access"? This is Second World Singapore, a family-run company town that dislikes any attention paid to the clay feet of its mighty statuary (and I'm not dissing the Merlion here).


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