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Re: OT: Laptop for College Bound Student?

On Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 10:35 AM, Gregory Seidman <gsslist+debian@anthropohedron.net> wrote:
On Wed, Jun 11, 2008 at 03:55:14PM -0700, Paul Johnson wrote:
> On Wed, 2008-06-11 at 09:31 -0400, Gregory Seidman wrote:
> > I love Debian, but for a laptop I'd go Mac and MacOS X every time. I'd even
> > lean Mac for a desktop.
> I have reservations for Apple laptops in general because the input
> devices built in have, historically, sucked.  Until 1997 (and far later,
> possibly not even today, in public schools with Apple hardware), you
> couldn't find a keyboard made by Apple that had the key bumps on the
> correct (F and J) keys, only the wrong keys that only Apple and Apple
> alone seems to have put them on (D and K).  Going to school where the
> keyboards were predominantly Apple even if the hardware connected to
> them was not, and having been taught by my folks to type the right way
> on a PC keyboard in kindergarten ("these computer things are probably
> going to take off, it's probably best if the boy knows how to type"),
> this was especially annoying and bothersome for most of my childhood.
> Continuing the tradition of inferior input, MacBooks today come
> pre-crippled by lacking a proper mouse.  It's 2008, and even Apple runs
> NeXT now:  Put 3 buttons and maybe a scroll rocker on the on-board mouse
> already!

Mac input devices have come a long way. I have an older MacBook Pro in
front of me and the bumps are on F and J. It also has a nice touchpad which
maps the following:

1 finger tap = left-click
2 finger tap = right-click
1 finger drag = mouse move
2 finger drag = scroll (vertical and horizontal)

There is also the actual button for left-click or left-click-and-drag. The
touchpad can be configured to support left-click-and-drag with a
tap-then-drag but I don't like it. When I need a middle-click or
right-click-and-drag the modifier keys are sufficient (in X11, middle-click
is Option-click and right-click is Command-click). My understanding is that
the touchpad on the MacBook Air provides even better input, including
multi-touch gestural input ported from the iPhone, and that this newer
touchpad has found its way to the new MacBook Pro and maybe MacBook.

I also use a (tragically no longer manufactured) Kensington Expert Mouse
PRO trackball which has appropriate buttons that just work. In fact,
essentially any third-party USB input device Just Works. And the "Mighty
Mouse" that comes with desktop systems supports right-click out of the box
(though it requires changing a preference).

I really like the mighty mice that I am currently using on my mac.  It has left and right button
(though the it doesn't appear that it should).  The track ball in the center is convenient, as well
as providing the third button.  There is a fourth button on the sides of the mouse.  The only
problem is that the track ball on the mouse sometimes gets clogged and stops working.  It is
cleaned relatively easily with paper strips and alcohol, and as a last resort, you can take the
mouse apart (I've had mine for a couple of years without even considering doing this).


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