Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Wireless Keyboards / Mice

I'm unsure of the state of the more expensive wireless keyboards, but I had my first brush with the technology recently. I needed a USB keyboard for my laptop, so I decided to upgrade the old HP ps2 keyboard that had served me well. A trip down to dick smith revealed that the standard of most low range keyboards was not as I would have thought the years of technology advances would bring. I had used cheap USB keyboards on the other computers in the house - and hate them, the keys advertised as 'soft' annoyed me, and seemed to stimulate RSI. I much prefer the easier to press, but 'harder' feel that Microsoft offer in their multimedia keyboards. Alas dick smith did not have any of this type, instead stocking mainly Logitech, who subscribe to the 'soft' theory. Finally I found one I liked, alas, $60, so much for my $20-30 dollar budget (who wants to pay lots for a keyboard?, it's not like its an all that complex piece of equipment). Why so much? It's cordless, and comes with a mouse. Hmm, I hadn't been too keen on cordless, but what the heck, I need it today. I bought it, brought it home, and was at first excited by the thought of my chord not bumping my yellow pages monitor props (pretty much gathered I'm cheap yet?). After using it for a small while, I quickly realized, that it wasn't going to keep up with my typing. There was a delay from the end of a sentence, to when it was typed out on screen. Is this the case on all keyboards, even the more expensive range? I don't know, perhaps bluetooth are better? But for now, my advice is to stay away from the cheaper ones. I took it back, after trying to get used to it, and am now sitting on my trusty PS2 keyboard again, until I can track down the Microsoft version (they make great hardware, despite their software 'reputation').

Synergy - Open Source program similar to KVM switch

Ok, so maybe not exactly like a KVM switch, but good enough for me! So here's the situation, I have a laptop which I take to work and uni, it's sitting next to my dual 19" LCD monitors connected to my main computer. My laptop is VPN'ed into work, so I can keep an eye on emails while I do some uni work on my main PC. I get an email which requires my attention, so then I have to move all the way over to the laptop, and use it's keyboard and mouse. A pain, but I don't want to fork out for a switch to swap control over. I need to no longer! Thanks to a great open source program, Synergy. Install it on both computers (even works across platforms!), and set one up with two 'screens', named using the computer names, and then set up 2 links (one to go from your main computer to laptop, and then visa versa) Then fire it up on your laptop, tell it the hostname to connect to (this didn't work for me - but IP address did) and away you go. Very cool, and saved me alot of time!