Logitech diNovo Keyboard, Mac Edition

Since I got my Mac Pro back at the start of 2008, I have been using the Logitech diNovo Edge (Windows) keyboard with it. I was a hang-over from my Windows PC days, and as a keyboard I was very happy with it despite the rather high price. My only real complaints were that I had a bunch of keys on it that I couldn’t use (the Mac simply didn’t recognize them) and the Logitech Control Centre software uses a couple of kernel tricks that break certain bits of software (like A Better Finder Rename for example).

So after a lot of deliberation I decided to splash out on the much cheaper diNovo Keyboard Mac Edition and it arrived this morning. I am now wondering if I shouldn’t be calling this blog “I spenddiNovo Keyboard Mac Edition my money so you don’t have to”? Ok, the first thing I need to make clear is that this keyboard shares the diNovo name and colour scheme with the Edge and that’s where the similarity seems to end. If you think you’re going to get the build quality and feel of the Edge, then either stick with the Edge or buy the diNovo Edge Mac Edition which for reasons best known to Logitech, isn’t available in the UK.

Right, let’s start with the construction. As I mentioned, the colour scheme is the same but the Plexiglass of the Edge is replaced with glossy black plastic.  The aluminium palm rest at the bottom is still there, and although the spec says it’s aluminium, it feels like painted plastic. The keys themselves are the same dimensions as on the Edge, and have a similar feel to the Edge, but the first thing I noticed when I started typing is that the keyboard sounds different. The spacebar has a nasty ‘clack’ to it, reminiscent of the old IBM keyboards from the nineties. On the subject of keys, the layout and spacing is almost identical to the (wired) aluminium Apple keyboard with the numeric keypad, except that the styling of the Apple keyboard makes it look and feel less cluttered.

Caps Lock LightWhat about the rest of the keyboard then? Well the neat ‘features’ of the Edge are all gone. The diNovo Mac Edition has a small green power light which illuminates when you switch it on and then goes out after ten seconds, presumably to conserve power. There is also a small orange light on the Caps Lock key to indicate whether it is on or off, although you can disable this in the Logitech software (and have the Caps Lock status shown in the OS X menu bar instead). That’s it… gone are all the nice touches of the Edge, but then that’s a reflection of the fact that the diNovo Mac is a lot cheaper – on Amazon UK it’s currently £58.98 + postage vs. £94.96 + free postage, a saving of around £30 ($50).

On the subject of downsides… the diNovo Mac Edition uses a Logitech 2.4GHz wireless dongle rather than Bluetooth, thereby taking up another of your USB ports. What’s more, the keyboard isn’t compatible with Logitech’s new ‘Unifying’ receiver (bang go my thoughts of running this keyboard and my MX Revolution mouse through just one dongle). Also the batteries are not rechargeable via the dock arrangement the diNovo Edge has, although they say these batteries will last three years (I’m two years and 364 days off confirming that figure!). And for the Health & Safety guys out there, this keyboard is not adjustable in any way – the angle of the keyboard is fixed unlike the Edge which had little retractable feet to change the angle of the device.

There must be some plus points, yes? Well yes, the keyboard is fully ‘supported’ by OS X so you’ll have the Ctrl, Alt and Cmd keys in their proper places as well as the full range of (programmable) function keys, where on the Edge the function keys were, well just there. Some of them did what you expected (as their Mac equivalents), and some of them… errr, didn’t. Also, you now have more configuration options via the Logitech Control Centre (LCC) software rather than it simply telling you there’s a keyboard there and not letting you configure it, which is what it does with the diNovo Edge. The LCC software will let you:

  • Program function keys 1 thru 6 and 13 thru 19. (F7 thru F12 are fixed).
  • Toggle the Caps Lock status between the OS X menu bar and the little orange light on the Caps Lock key itself. Interestingly you have to switch the keyboard off/on for the change to take effect.
  • Display the Caps Lock status on the screen, rather like a Growl notification.
  • Toggle the function keys between standard and ‘fn’ by using the fn key on the keyboard. This effectively doubles the number of function key assignments you can have.

In the past I’ve had an issue with the Logitech software. To get the @ and ” keys assigned correctly for UK users, you had to load the Logitech UK Intl key map. That was fine except that the kernel extension it used to make it work would break some software. If I had Logitech UK Intl enabled, I was completely unable to type in the input boxes used by A Better Finder Rename, but switching to the default British (Apple) key map, it would work again. PublicSpace (the Better Finder Rename developers) were very responsive and helpful in helping me pin this down. Anyway, the diNovo Mac Edition has the correct key map for the British (Apple) layout, so that’s a problem solved.

Take your pick...

Take your pick...

So what are my conclusions then? Well it’s early days as I’ve been using this keyboard for less than a day. So far I have to say that I still prefer the diNovo Edge from a comfort perspective. As I type this I find I am resorting to the ‘hunt and peck’ style of typing, rather than using all my fingers as I had managed to do with the Edge. That’s probably more to do with the keyboard being new and very slightly different rather than anything else and will hopefully improve with time although it’s fair to say that the diNovo Mac Edition feels more cramped than the Edge. Will I keep it and grow to like it, or will I get frustrated and donate it to a good cause? (My step-mother may be getting a Mac Mini and will need a keyboard). Can’t really say at this stage. In a perfect world, Logitech would sell the diNovo Edge Mac Edition in the UK, rather than what is essentially a re-badged diNovo Keyboard for Notebooks. But it’s not a perfect world and so I shall persist with this for a while at least.

If you like the Apple aluminium ‘extended’ keyboard with the numeric keypad, and wonder why they don’t make a wireless version, well the diNovo Keyboard Mac Edition would probably be what you’re looking for, if you can live with the cheap and noisy spacebar. If you’re after the experience the diNovo Edge gives you, then you’ll probably feel disappointed as only the elusive diNovo Edge Mac Edition will fill that gap, and it’s even disappeared off the Logitech’s US website now.

Finally, if you’re a little confused by some very similar sounding keyboard names, then blame Logitech. There’s the diNovo Edge (essentially the Windows version), the diNovo Edge Mac Edition (a proper Mac version of the Edge), the diNovo Keyboard Mac Edition which I’m looking at here, and the diNovo Keyboard for Notebooks which is what this Mac keyboard seems to be based on. Their marketing men must be laughing all the way to the bank!

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Quickbitz – Windows 7 Family Pack… How much?

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard - Apple Store (U.K.)Yesterday I placed my order on the Apple Store for the family pack of Snow Leopard. It will cost me the princely sum of £39 and will allow the upgrading of up to five Macs in my household (there’s just four at the moment). By contrast I read today that Microsoft has announced its pricing for the Windows 7 Premium Family Pack in the UK. It comes in at £149 and will allow you to upgrade just three PCs under the same roof.

Now whether or not you subscribe to the idea that Windows 7 is really just a bug fix for Vista, or Snow Leopard is just a series of patches for Leopard, the Snow Leopard deal seems far better given that the Windows purchaser also has to factor in the cost of a decent security suite (antivirus, antispyware, etc.) as well. 11727-windows7boxes

I am currently running two Windows VMs for personal use – one is XP SP3 which I bought back in the mists of time, the other is the RC evaluation version of Windows 7. All I use them for is to run Helium Music Manager (and I have two Eset Smart Security licenses to cover them both), but I am seriously considering whether it’s worth going any further with the Windows 7 VM or just ditching it as an expensive curiosity…

One other thing – Microsoft has said that Windows 7 Family Packs will only “be available in limited quantities”. Do they really need to resort to tactics like this to sell copies of Windows 7?

Netgear is forgiven (sort of) and Entourage is dead, long live Entourage!

My initial joy with my new Netgear DGN2000 ADSL router gave way to disappointment as it repeatedly dropped my internet connection. At times the connection would stay up for as little as 30 seconds at a time! No amount of fiddling with settings made any difference, but the probem did eventually seem to go away, only to return with a vengeance a couple of days ago. Enough! Good as the router may be, it is obviously on the threshold as far as my BT connection was concerned and flakey connectivity just wouldn’t do seeing as I need to work from home some times.

Enter the Linksys WAG160N. A very sleek looking device to replace the misbehaving Netgear. Setup was a breeze, the Mac setup guide walked through getting setup for BT’s connection and within 5 minutes of unboxing it was all systems go…. for about 10 minutes! Then sure enough, the Linksys….. dropped my connection. Several hours of tweaking, rebooting and swearing followed before the Linksys was put back in its box and my old D-Link G624M was reconnected. So I’m back on an 802.11g MIMO router – slow but much more reliable than the other two.

My guess is that BT have done something. Why else would a router work for days then keep dropping the line every 30-60 seconds for a few hours before working again? What chance have I got of convincing BT that it’s their problem? In all honesty both the Netgear and the Linksys routers are fine, it’s just that they can’t cope with my dodgy line. What next – I have no idea.

And so on to Entourage 2008, Outlooks younger dumber brother. When I first installed Office 2008 for Mac I was full of anticipation that Entourage might be a worthwhile replacement for Outlook on the PC. How wrong I was… Entourage is probably equivalent to Outlook ’95 and while I did persist (honest I did!) I kept going back to Leopard’s native Mail.app. So it was with some excitement that I read that this is the end of the line for Entourage. Office 2010 for Mac is reportedly going to get Outlook – re-written from the ground up using Cocoa. Where do I sign up for the beta??!

My ‘not so speedy’ WD 1TB Drive

My Mac Pro sports four 1Tb drives. Sounds like a lot but in truth it’s not that much with the way I have it set up which is:

  1. The boot drive has two 500Gb partitions, BootA being a 500Gb Leopard system partition and a 500Gb ‘VMA’ partition where I store all my VMware Fusion virtual machines (currently 186Gbs-worth).
  2. The second 1Tb drive is a clone of the first. Twice a week I use SuperDuper to clone disk #1 to disk #2 so if my boot drive ever fails then I’m good to go off disk #2 without (hopefully) too much loss of data.
  3. The third 1Tb drive is where I store the bulk of my data. That’s music, photos, videos, etc. That all gets backed up daily to a LaCie 1Tb firewire drive, and weekly to a network drive.
  4. The fourth 1Tb drive is my TimeMachine drive…. yes I’m paranoid about backups!

WD RangeAnyway, this obviously isn’t how Apple shipped the Mac Pro to me – that was a machine that had a single Western Digital Caviar 500Gb drive (model WD5000AAKS). I added the 1Tb ‘data’ drive first by buying a Western Digital ‘Green’ 1Tb drive and it worked brilliantly. Quiet, cool and did the job of storing my precious data just fine. I was so impressed that I added another for TimeMachine and now I have four of them. They are still good drives but I think installing one as my boot drive was maybe pushing it too far. It works well enough but it seems to have slowed the system down. These are 7200rpm drives and are built for their green credentials rather than outright performance, like say the Western Digital ‘Black’ or ‘Blue’ versions.

So, when Snow Leopard hits – rather than upgrade my existing Leopard installation on the 1Tb ‘Green’ drive, I’m thinking about building a new boot drive from scratch using a Western Digital VelociRaptor 300Gb drive. Yes it’s quite a bit more expensive (per Gb) than the Green drive, it’ll certainly be hotter as it’s a 10,000rpm drive and it’ll probably be noisier. But it’ll be a lot FASTER and it seems the Mac Pro benefits from a speedy boot drive. I’ll keep the other three 1Tb drives and re-jig how I clone the boot drive for recovery, but it’ll be interesting to see how snappy it makes the Mac as currently I seem to spend too much time waiting for OS X to access my ‘Green’ boot disk.

Goodbye old friend(s)

Today CleanApp is doing its stuff on two applications which I have used a lot in my Mac days.

The first is NetNewsWire. I’ve been a fan of this app since I got my Mac, having been a FeedDemon user on Windows. It’s clean uncluttered layout was just what I wanted and the fact that in the early days I could keep my feeds in sync whether I was using NetNewsWire or FeedDemon was really handy. Truth is though, I only use Windows for one or two specific tasks these days and reading RSS feeds isn’t one of them so the sync feature is not really critical any more. Also, even though I installed NetNewsWire on the iPhone, it was more out of curiosity than anything else as I much prefer to read my news on my 24″ monitor. The actual nail in the coffin was the introduction of adverts in the newest releases of NetNewsWire. Yes I know I posted a tip on how to block the ads using LittleSnitch, and someone commented that you can also use your Hosts file to the same effect, but it’s more a case of not wanting to have to. How long would that tactic last before blocking ads would somehow mess up the app completely?

Vienna

Vienna

So have I abandoned news feeds altogether? Not at all! I have switched to using Vienna instead. It has the same sort of nice uncluttered interface and most of the features that NetNewsWire had are there or will be at some point. Sure there are a couple of things I miss at the moment, like not being able to flag a news item from a button on the toolbar (you have to right-click/Ctrl-Click and choose from the menu instead). Also, if I double-click an item to see the full article in my browser, the colour of the item doesn’t change in Vienna to indicate that I’ve done this (in the past this proved useful for a few items I forgot to flag). Still, these are minor points and Vienna works just fine at the moment. Oh and one other thing… every time I see the word Vienna that song by Midge Ure in his Ultravox days pops into my head!! Please make it stop!

The other application that CleanApp has worked its magic on is Nambu. Now it seems these days that there’s no end of Twitter clients out there, each with their followers and for me Nambu was the one I used the most. However, the developers of Nambu have called time on it so it’s days are numbered. The Tr.im network is closing at the end of the year and they’ve said it’s unlikely Nambu will be developed any further. It’s a great shame but I respect their decision.

Now the question is what to replace it with? Well possible candidates are Twitterrific ($14.95) or Tweetie ($19.95 or ad-supported), but I really would prefer one that’s free and doesn’t contain adverts. My other main requirement is  that it doesn’t require Adobe Air in order to run, so the search is on….

Addendum – there’s a new lease of life for Nambu. The developers aren’t going to can it and are currently working on the beta of a new version. Check out the Nambu blog for more information. Me? I’ve already registered for the beta!

Quickbitz – The value of a Macbook

I watched a video on You Tube recently showing a celebrity (some chap who calls himself Ice-T) taking a claw hammer to a Macbook and destroying it. Now I hate to criticize because after all it was his property to do with as he wished, but I can’t help thinking that rather than reduce it to a pile of mangled bits that will end up in a landfill, there was a better way for this to pan out.

From his comment at the start of the video it would appear that the display wasn’t showing an image. Suppose that rather than demolish the thing on video as a result, he donated the offending Macbook to be refurbished. Perhaps as a celebrity he could have signed it and the repaired item could have been auctioned with the proceeds going to charity.

Ho hum…