Pause For Reflection

2016 has certainly had some very low points: Brexit, Trump, terrorist attacks in the Bataclan, Nice and Berlin, the ongoing horror that is Syria, the assassination of Jo Cox, and the loss of the talents of Bowie, Alan Rickman and Victoria Wood.

At times like these, walking with the dogs in the woods is a good way to lift the spirit.

Xmas 2016

It’s also good to come across 99 reasons why 2016 was a good year.

Best wishes to one and all.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Why I Loathe and Detest Facebook

Alas, I have to have a Facebook account because of my community work. And you can be damn sure that even though the community groups are “closed” and “members only”, that Facebook knows absolutely everything that is going on inside them…

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Lenovo YOGA Mouse

Lenovo has a wide range of computer accessories, and recently they sent me an example of the new Lenovo YOGA Mouse for me to review. Lenovo tells me that, up to the end of December 2016, North American users can get a 25% discount off the listed price by using the code YOGASOCIAL in the online Lenovo shop.


It’s designed as a travel mouse, and has a few tricks up its sleeve, which I’ll cover later.

It comes in Lenovo’s “Champagne Gold” colour, which makes it a natural to pair with my Lenovo Yoga 900s:


It’s a wireless mouse, offering two modes to connect to your PC or laptop: 2.4 GHz wireless, or Bluetooth 4.0. The wireless dongle can be stored inside the mouse when travelling, or when Bluetooth is being used for the connection:


Lenovo supplies a USB to micro-USB cable with the mouse, since the mouse is fitted with a rechargeable battery. Lenovo claims that the battery will have a 1 month life from a 2 hour charge. I don’t think that the battery itself is replaceable, and Lenovo gives no indication of what the total expected life of the battery might be.

At the bottom end of the mouse is the switch to select the wireless mode (and Bluetooth pairing), the micro-USB charging port, and the power switch that, when held in for two seconds, turns the mouse on or off.


The two halves of the mouse rotate 180° about the central hinge to transform it from the flat travel mode into the mouse mode. When in flat mode, it can also be used as a remote control for a media player or for presentations. Rotating the mouse into the flat mode causes what was the underside top panel of the mouse to become uppermost. At the same time, this surface now becomes touch-sensitive, and it lights up with the controls. Pressing the central mousebar switches between the two modes of the remote: media or presentation.


Personally, I find the media mode to be the more useful of the two, and that’s down to the fact that the mouse uses touch for these modes, and not physical buttons. When I’m giving presentations, I’m looking at the audience or the presentation. Then it’s far easier to have a control in my hand that has physical buttons to control a presentation. I can feel the button and not have to physically glance at the control to ensure that I’m touching the right place on the mouse. I found it far too easy to accidentally touch a control to cause my presentation to jump forwards (or backwards!). The other thing I miss in this mouse when it’s in presenter mode is that it doesn’t have a laser pointer, and I certainly wouldn’t want to juggle two devices when giving presentations.

I’m afraid that after trying the YOGA Mouse out in presentation mode, I very quickly went back to my trusty (and ancient) Acom Data USB Wireless Laser Pointer Mouse.

In media mode, the YOGA Mouse is much more useful – it is no problem to glance at the mouse to control media playback and volume by touch.

As a traditional mouse, the YOGA Mouse works well for me.


The left and right mouse buttons are both physical switches, which I like. The central mousebar is both a physical switch, and a touch-sensitive surface. When in mouse mode, it can act as a scrollwheel by stroking along the bar. Pressing the section with the Windows logo on it will bring up the Windows Start menu on your PC.

When necessary, it can be charged from a PC or laptop fitted with a USB charging port. When the battery is getting low, the indicator just below the Windows logo will starting blinking with an amber colour. Just don’t expect to use it as a wired mouse while it’s being charged – the micro-USB connector lifts the mouse from the desk surface. It’s best charged when in flat mode as shown here, and the charging indicator changes from amber to white when fully charged:


In summary, I found this to be a perfectly good travel mouse. It’s got an elegant and slim design, and is flexible in its connectivity options. The media mode is a clever idea, but the presenter mode leaves something to be desired in my view – a clever idea in theory, but one which in practice falls short; at least for me. Aside from this, it’s a nice device, and one that should readily appeal to those of us who insist on using a mouse with our laptops.

Posted in Computers and Internet | Tagged | Leave a comment

Cause and Effect

A good article by Naomi Klein in the Guardian today on why America’s voters’ heeded the siren song of Trump. The core:

Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatisation, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They see a future for their kids even worse than their precarious present.

At the same time, they have witnessed the rise of the Davos class, a hyper-connected network of banking and tech billionaires, elected leaders who are awfully cosy with those interests, and Hollywood celebrities who make the whole thing seem unbearably glamorous. Success is a party to which they were not invited, and they know in their hearts that this rising wealth and power is somehow directly connected to their growing debts and powerlessness.

For the people who saw security and status as their birthright – and that means white men most of all – these losses are unbearable.

Trump says what they want to hear. Whether he can deliver it is probably akin to asking how many angels can dance on a pin.

Posted in News and politics | 1 Comment

Shit – Meet Fan

Back in May, I feared for a world where both a Brexit and a President Trump would be facts. Now, my worst fears are realised. We seem to have sunk to a new low, and there ain’t no light at the end of the tunnel. As I said last August, I ponder on how much the world has gone to hell in a handbasket in this year of our lord, 2016. I truly wonder whether we shall live to see the dawn of 2018.

Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Posted in News and politics | 1 Comment

Microsoft Surface Studio

Microsoft held a presentation in NYC yesterday and talked about both software and hardware. In software, the next major Windows update has been dubbed by Microsoft “the Windows 10 Creators Update” (being a grammar pedant, I note, with sadness, the missing apostrophe). It’s expected in the Spring of 2017, but those of us who are in the Windows Insider program are already seeing parts of it take shape.

The most obvious new features in Windows 10 are the support for 3D capture and manipulation being built into Windows. For gamers, there will apparently be improvements enabling them to share and broadcast their gameplay. Not my thing, but I’m sure this is important to some.

In hardware, alongside an upgrade to the existing Surface Book model, there was a totally new member of the Surface range introduced: the Surface Studio. It’s a gorgeous-looking device (with corresponding premium prices to match). It’s also aimed squarely at graphics artists and designers. Although it looks at first glance like a high-end All-in-One desktop PC, it converts at the touch of a finger into a drafting table. Microsoft also introduced a new peripheral for interacting with the Studio – the Surface Dial. Using the Surface Pen and Dial with the Studio display looks to be a major step forward for artists and designers, and presents a challenge to Microsoft’s competitors (Wacom and Apple) in this area. Perhaps it was no coincidence that this was unveiled the day before Apple unveiled its latest products.

For a good in-depth look at the background to the development of the Surface Studio, see this story from Fast Company.

Needless to say, I couldn’t possibly justify the purchase of a Surface Studio for myself – it would be a wasteful extravagance – but it certainly is a beautifully-designed piece of hardware.

Posted in Computers and Internet | Leave a comment

RIP, Sheri

Learned today that the author Sheri S. Tepper has died. My favourite book of hers has to be The Family Tree. For almost two thirds of the book there are two very different plotlines intercut with each other. And then the kaleidoscope shifts and the two lock into one with the force of a sudden revelation. A brilliant coup de théâtre. The story is good too.

Posted in Books | Leave a comment