Apple’s Last Mouse

I finally broke down and bought an Apple Magic Mouse a couple of weeks back to replace an aging Logitech MX Revolution. I’m happy with my new input device, but I suspect it will be the last Apple mouse I ever buy. That’s because I’m convinced that this is Apple’s final mouse.

When I first started using it, I thought of the mouse as a hybrid device that cleverly combines old and new input ideas. After using it for a while, I’ve started to think about it as a transitional device. The Magic Mouse isn’t about the mouse at all. It’s all about the Multi-Touch surface. 

My guess is that Apple will soon proclaim the mouse dead and drop it from their product line. Only the Magic Trackpad will remain for desktop computers. 

Is the Magic Trackpad a superior input device? Based on my experience using the Trackpad on my Macbook Pro, I’d say it’s better for most tasks but not as good for tasks that require fine control. The Multi-Touch, finger-driven interface is great, but it would be even better to have a large Trackpad that could transform into a Wacom-style pen tablet device. Perhaps a gesture could toggle modes.  

Of course, even touch surfaces may someday be obviated by eye- and voice-controlled desktop computing. I can see how such future tech might work well for routine tasks, but I wager we’d still need some sort of physical input device for precision work (e.g., detailed selections, drawing). I bet that device will look a lot more like a Trackpad than a mouse. It could also look like an iPad running a Trackpad app.

Vonnegut’s Biographer

Author Charles J. Shields has started a blog about writing ‘And So it Goes,’ a Kurt Vonnegut biography due out this November. What better name could a Vonnegut biography have, really? I look forward to reading it. I’m always struck by how Vonnegut talked in the same fashion as he wrote. From Shields’ post about his first meeting with the author:

He walks rather slowly, loping along, and stoop-shouldered too from writing for nearly sixty years. During the walk, we made small talk. Nothing memorable. I had a strange feeling of not being able to get much of a purchase on the conversation. Vonnegut doesn’t converse with you as much as make pronouncements. Apropos of nothing, he mentioned that only one-third of New York City public school students graduate. “Most of them who drop out are black,” he said. “Slavery was not such a good idea. My hero, Voltaire,” he went on, “speculated in the slave trade.”

When we reached the restaurant, the owner, a tall, slim blonde man in his late thirties opened the door and beamed. No one else was there.

“Welcome on a cold and rainy day,” he said, in a Dutch-accented voice.

“This is my biographer,” Vonnegut said, indicating me.

“Well, it’s about time,” said the restaurateur happily.

“No, it isn’t,” Kurt replied with a shrug. “It’s too late.”

Vonnegut died months after they met. Shields plans to post a new entry each Saturday chronicling his five-year journey to write the biography. 

I’ve read and own nearly all of Vonnegut’s books. Slaughterhouse Five is certainly great, but my all-time favorite is surely Cat’s Cradle. If you’re a fan, do yourself a favor and get a copy of ‘Kurt Vonnegut’s Audio Collection.’ It includes Slaughterhouse, Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions , and short stories from Welcome to the Monkey House, all read by Kurt Vonnegut. Even if you don’t like audio, you owe it to yourself to hear Vonnegut reading his own works.