Jul 052010

I use a Kinesis ergonomic keyboard. I use a mouse as well; but I like having a touchpad handy. They’re especially convenient for scrolling without going to the mouse.

Considering how widespread touchpads are on laptops, they’re rather scarce as desktop accessories. Aside from Cirque’s Smart Cat line (also rebranded by Adesso), there’s really not much out there.

I tried perching a Smart Cat in the (rather abundant) space between the Kinesis keyboards key wells. I had to replace the rubber feet with thicker ones to raise it up a tad; this surface of the keyboard where it sits is slightly convex. But it was never as convenient to use as I’d hoped. I thought this was because, between the rubber feet and the thickness of the device, it just wound up being raised up too much.

I came across ErgonomicTouchpad.com a few months back. This site looks like it could have been adapted from a television infomercial; so someone capable of firing a synapse will naturally feel somewhat embarassed while looking at it. What they’re selling is simply a touchpad with the same characteristics as the Cirque GlidePoint (i.e., tap-click, secondary tap-click in the upper right corner, vertical scroll on the right) with no bezel or housing to speak of—just a velcro backing. Two sizes are available. The larger one fits comfortably in the same spot where I had the Smart Cat; and I figured it would resolve the height issue I had with the Smart Cat.

And I suppose it did. But rather than be easy to use, it just pointed out that the device height wasn’t really the problem. The problem was that I still had to pick my hand up off the keyboard to use it. And if I was going to do that, I might as well use the mouse.

So now I’ve got the little one positioned between the thumb keys on the keyboard. This works pretty well. I can just slight my right hand over a bit to work the scroll area; and if I pivot my hand, I can work the touchpad with my index finger.

Kinesis keyboard with touchpad

Kinesis keyboard with touchpad

Jul 032010

So I’ve been pondering the prospect of building a Linux HTPC using MythTV. Unfortunately, the HD picture looks…bleak.

From what I’ve been able to find out from browsing the MythTV wiki, you can get Linux-supported cards that can read an unencrypted HD signal; but service providers encrypt everything but your local channels. So what’s the fucking point?

It appears that one’s options are to either get a Windows PC equipped with a CableCARD, or TiVo.

Well, I’m not setting up a Windows PC for this. No way.

I’d been idly wondering how TiVo manages to stay in business these days; but now that I look at what they’re offering, it’s not a bad deal. They charge for the box less than it would cost me to build an HTPC that I’d be satisified with. Their box is probably smaller, too. And I see it has an eSATA port; so hopefully that means that it can record to an external drive. Their service fee is a bit less than what Verizon wants to charge me for their DVR. Now, Verizon has waived their DVR equipment fee for the first year; but after that year, TiVo’s deal will look even more attractive.