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Matias tactile pro 2.0 takes steps back

After almost three years of regular and hard use the keys started to stiffen up on the Matias Tactile Pro 1.0 keyboard and I thought I'd try out the newly released sequel.

Basically the entire review can be summed up as this: It's 4 steps backwards, one step sideways, and 0 steps forward.


The above image shows 3 steps backwards:
(1) One of the only two USB slots is now occupied by a gargantuan dual-USB cable used to plug the keyboard into the computer
(2 + 3) Matias decided to abandon the clean Apple aesthetic and spam up their keyboard with stickers
(3) This sticker is the kicker. It reads "USB 2.0 dock" and the box advertises it as being the greatest thing since sliced bread. Plug in all your fancy digital cameras and gadgets! Well, seeing how Apple mice have an extremely short cord the only thing you'll be getting at 40x the speed is your mousing action. WooHoo!

(4) The 4th step backwards was the removal of the light on the "caps lock" making it impossible to know whether you'll simply be typing OR YELLING.

Though this isn't an actual photo of my keyboard, the same flimsy feet were kept in the back. Step sideways: check.

Pretty much the only good thing I can say about this keyboard is that the mechanical keys are fantastic and luckily they are the sole reason I bought the keyboard. This comes with a 5 year warranty which from my experience (and keyboard usage) should outlast about 5 or 6 Apple Pro keyboards, which is good considering it's $150 price tag.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on May 25, 2007 | Comments (19)

You CAN use 100% Recycled paper in any printer

Have you ever noticed that you simply can't find a ream of paper that is marked both "100% recycled" and "inkjet" or "laserjet"? Seems to be because it doesn't exist. Or does it?

A possible answer came by reading the back of a ream of "100% recycled copy paper" from Staples.


You can see that they have a little chart that helps you find the best paper for you and obviously points you to their more expensive "premium" papers for all things. But you'll notice that they have used a very carefully written phrase for their top-of-the-line printing paper:

"heavier weight, ENHANCED CLARITY for laser and inkjet printers"

Reading between the lines this suggests that you absolutely could use any of their papers in your inkjet or laserjet printers, but that you probably wouldn't want to.

Look, it is true that the pores of the premium paper are tighter (less ink bleed, better clarity) and the paper is thicker and more white (better color) but if you don't need it for quality prints from your digital camera or presentations for a project you'd be doing everyone a favor by using the recylced paper. Maybe toss the recylced in one tray and the premium in the other so you can switch depending on the job.

So far I'm one ream in (printing on both sides) of 100% recycled paper with an HP LaserJet 1012 and have had no problems with performance, clogging, etc. I will report back if this changes but I don't expect that it will.

For the record here is how recycled papers help:

30% Recycled "copy" paper

100% Recycled "copy" paper

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on May 11, 2007 | Comments (0)

Using your Treo 700p with your car stereo

With just 2 accessories and an auto manufacturer with foresight enough to see past the iCraze and who uses the industry standard (and blasphemous) 1/8" "AUX" (auxiliary) port you can enjoy all of your pTunes with stunning quality on your next road trip.


Cheap 'ol Radio Shack 1/8" to 1/8" cable:

SPE to 1/8" Stereo adapter:


I don't have a list of manufacturers that provide an AUX port on their stereos but it really should be everybody. The reason? It is a universal standard. Every single music player on earth either uses it out-of-the-box or can be made to use it with no more than one adapter. Why make a dock for one generation of one music player? (*ahem iPod..*)

Our last two rental car upgrades were Chryslers (Jeep Grand Cherokee and PT Cruiser) and they both had the port right there for easy access. We also rented a Saturn Ion and it also had the Aux feature so this suggests you can also make it a certain distance into the GM line and jam out on the road.

The Treo battery life is just stellar and it survived the trip from New York to Washington D.C. and still had 75% of it's battery left.

On the way back we decided to try an experiment and use our all-you-can-eat data plan (which is a real bargain on Sprint) to pull up some streaming radio stations using the Blazer Browser.

Your mileage will certainly vary (so to speak) but we had a rock-solid (no skips) stream from no less than three stations along the 'Jersey turnpike. We tested:
- soma.fm (128k Groove Salad stream)
- a 128k shoutcast.com trance stream
- a 64k virgin.co.uk stream

Since you are using your transceiver this will chew up a fully charged battery in just over 2hrs so you may want to be plugged in to power to use this one.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on May 11, 2007 | Comments (0)

Using the Samsung SCH-u740 with Mac OS X

vzw-black-u740-official.jpg So long as you time things correctly (generally using a combination of about 8 in person and over the phone reps at Verizon) you can take advantage of their "new every two" program and get a new phone for free every two years and not incur any special service charges or pro-rating of your "old" contract.

Until Palm has a phone that's actually cheap (and maybe a little thinner) we decided not to add another one to the stable of tech toys, but instead would tread into the murky waters of the "other" phones to find a suitable second phone for my better half.

The Samsung SCH-u740 has been making its rounds and getting high praise so we thought we'd check it out. Unlike most phones this one actually felt solidly constructed and the multi-directional hinge did not feel flimsy.

While it would have been fine to get this and use it as just a phone (esp. as it was free) we thought we'd see if there was more that we could do with it so we started searching the internet for options.

We know that Verizon is notorious for crippling services and we discovered that as expected, bluetooth was pretty much useless out of the box with Mac. You can pair the device to your computer but then all you get to see is "no services available".

We also know from experience from our last Verizon phone, that they want to make email the only way to get your pictures off the phone. After going through the laborious process of emailing the entire phone's worth of pictures (40+) one at a time (at $.10/photo) we were determined not to go through that again.

If that weren't bad enough there is even more: the only obvious way to get music on the phone is to buy all of it through Verizon VCast (with data plan that we had no interest in purchasing).

Luckily with the purchase of a few accessories you can use the "back door" to both load up your phone with your music but also to get your pics and videos off of the phone for free.

Everyone wants more storage for their media these days and like many phones this one has a slot in the side for a microSD card. buy.com seems to always have a deal on them and you can get 1GB anywhere from free to $10. Go buy one.

When you get this card and click it in you can format and use it by going to the following menus on your phone:
- Settings and Tools / Memory -> Card Memory -> Options (lower right hand contextual menu) -> Format Card

Once formatted pull it out of the phone and use your fancy card reader for your computer to mount it as an HD. Different computers will require different readers. We like to reduce desk clutter so we picked up a fancy 12-in-1 card reader for use with our MacBook's Express Card slot. But any card reader that does SD or microSD will do.

Here is how our chain of data looks before plugging it all in. From left to right: Samsung phone, microSD, microSD to SD converter (free with microSD card), Express Card 12-in-1 Adapter, MacBook Pro

Here is how your card will look in your OS X Finder. You can see that the phone created folders to put everything in. Just drop music into the my_music folder and it will become available for play. Curiously the phone created a folder called PALM. I don't know why or what that does.

Navigate into the my_pix and my_flix folders to copy photos and videos you've taken**

** To tell your camera to use the expansion card instead of internal memory for the camera and camcorder just start up one of those services and select:
- Options -> Memory -> Card


Update September 05, 2007: Copying your own movies to your Samsung u740
One of the commenters at the Amazon A Store had noted that this Samsung (along with a number of other phones) uses the Third Generation Mobile Video Standard or .3g2 format.

Apple is a member of this alliance and as such has put this format in the export options of it's newest versions of Quicktime. Here is a walk-through of how we got a short .mov to work on our Samsung:



Here is an online thread with lots of info and feedback on the phone:

Here is some software that one might be able to use to synchronize *all* of the phone's data with your computer:

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on May 11, 2007 | Comments (18)