Experiencing the Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation

The Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation are the best Bluetooth earbuds that I have used. Apple seems to know how to provide a user the complete package and offer a near flawless integration with their entire ecosystem. The entire experience has been well thought of, but I do have some minor gripes. What other manufacturers of Bluetooth earbuds fail in is providing a great app or UX and/or good sound and microphone quality. Apple seems to have this nailed down, even Google is no where near as good as Apple with their own Google Pixel Bud line but come very close and are getting better.

My very first Bluetooth earbuds were the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds. In my opinion they produced some really good quality audio and they felt extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. However, the Android app was very buggy and had a poor UI/UX, the earbuds could never truly turn off either and would drain while in the case. Also, after one of the updates to them I would have to constantly keep re-pairing them to my Android phone as it would forget the device. For the price that I paid for them I was very disappointed. The Apple AirPods Pro absolutely destroy these earbuds in nearly category. The only thing that these come close to compared to the AirPods Pro is the sound quality.

The next Bluetooth earbuds that I purchased were the Google Pixel Buds. While they did not produce the same sound quality as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds, they had a giant leap in overall UI/UX. I never had pairing issues; the battery did not drain when they were in the case, etc. Overall, I was extremely happy with the Google Pixel Buds, but the battery life of the earbuds are not quite what they used to be and now I can barely get through a two-hour podcast before one of the buds dies (normally it is the right earbud). When I switched to using an iPhone, I could no longer use the Google Assistant that the Google Pixel Buds provided integration for, so some functionality was lost (which is a little sad). Between not being able to take full advantage of what the Google Pixel Buds provide and the poor battery capacity now it was time to move on.

Now that I have several Apple products it only made sense to purchase a pair of Apple AirPods. From my friends who do have a pair (either the standard AirPods or AirPods Pro) they all rated them, and when Apple announced the new Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation, I knew I needed to buy these. I would have full integration and capabilities with the earbuds and would have a nice pair of new earbuds.

I’ll start with the aesthetics. The case is perfectly pocketable much like the Google Pixel Buds case. I do appreciate that there is a quick access pairing button at the back, a speaker to allow for finding the case when lost, and the ability to charge the case using the Apple Watch charging pad. However, I wish that the case had a more matte finish like the Google Pixel Buds case as I find the Apple AirPods Pro case is far too slippery and having a lightning port for wired charging in 2022 is inexcusable. The wired charging should really be done through USB-C. One more gripe that I have with Apple is that the actual cable they had provided in the box is a lightning to USB-A cable. Now most of the charging bricks that I have only have a USB-C port and even my new Apple MacBook Pro only has USB-C ports. What they need to do is have some port consistency here, especially if they don’t want to include charging bricks with their products or have people purchasing additional charging bricks for “environment reasons”.

The actual AirPods Pro fit in my ears extremely well and I appreciate the different sized ear tips in the box however the medium sized ear tips are perfect for me. The seal is good and very little sound leaks. The stems of the earbuds are not annoying or don’t get in the way either and was a concern that I had as these were the first earbuds that had stems. If there was one thing that I wished Apple would do was provide these in different colours as I would in a heartbeat buy these in black. I mean Apple does allow you to add an engraving to the case (which I did by the way). The different controls that can be triggered on the stems can take some getting used to unfortunately. Right now, I have the left stem controlling the different transparency levels and active noise cancellation while on the right stem I have Siri access. Sometimes turning active noise cancellation on and off does not work, perhaps I am not holding it for long enough; and changing the volume level using a swiping gesture is very hit and miss. I find that I am correctly moving my index finger up and down the stem and the volume does not change all the time. These gestures will take some more time to get used to and I perhaps need to pay more attention to what I am doing when the volume does change. I never had these gesture issues with my Google Pixel Buds though.

The sound quality that the AirPods Pro produce is pretty good. I am not an audiophile, but I have used a variety of headphones (wired and wireless) and some earbuds, so I have experienced the good and bad regarding sound quality. The vocals are clear and crisp, and you can hear all the different instruments. I am impressed how Apple can provide an earbud that can produce such good sound quality. Out of the three different Bluetooth earbuds that I have used these provide the best sound experience followed closely by my original Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earbuds. Regarding the microphone quality, it is passable but not amazing. I didn’t have anyone complain about how I sounded when on Zoom calls and neither when I was taking a call. However, the microphone is no where near as good as any wired headset like the Apple wired headset. The active noise cancellation is good on these and transparency mode also does its job well. I am not a massive fan of the spatial audio feature (when available) currently. Admittedly I need to listen to a little more music to see how I truly feel about the spatial audio feature.

Overall if you are in the Apple ecosystem then you should instantly buy a pair of AirPods or if you want to spend a little more and get some more features then the AirPods Pro are the way to go; you will have no regrets about it. I would not recommend another pair of earbuds. Apple have spent a good amount of time ensuring that the entire UI/UX experience from pairing to switching between your multiple Apple devices is seamless and fluid. Nothing will beat these if you are in the Apple ecosystem; however, if you have an Android device then these would be an okay purchase but there are several other earbud manufacturers out there like Sony, Bose and even Google that offer a better experience with your device (this has been relayed to me from friends and family that have Android devices but AirPods or AirPods Pro).

Microsoft AU Store: Where are the games in the catalogue?

Today I was feeling generous, so I thought to buy my brother an Xbox game and gift it to him. He had been talking about a couple of games recently, so I wanted to look and see what the Xbox store had. I was already on my PC, and I didn’t want to go over and turn my Xbox Series X on just to gift him a game. I hopped over to the Xbox AU store page to browse their catalogue of games to see what a good game to gift would be, and that is when I noticed something very odd.

This is the page that was presented to me.

I was sort of confused. Maybe the filter was broken or there was something wrong with the options on the left-hand side that had been selected. I checked all of them out and everything seemed to be fine with those filters and options. I went into incognito mode and tried the page again with the same result. Last resort now and that is to try another browser; both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge showed the same broken web page. I have seen my fair share of broken web pages working in the software industry but this one is a big oof to me. I can only hope that it is a security setting or privacy setting I have enabled that is causing this; but if that is the case then I am a little more concerned about what information Microsoft is needing from the user just to show the games on the page.

Microsoft, if you want people to purchase and look through your catalogue of games you have available on your Xbox platform through a web browser then you need to have this functionality. Again, I hope that this is just something on my end and others are also not experiencing anything like this but if they are then it is not a good look when a core component of your website is not functioning as intended.

On the plus side, I did gift my brother a game, Cult of the Lamb. He has been talking about it for a little while now so searching for that specific game and buying it as a gift was a smooth and easy process. Searching the catalogue of games though is not.

Google Home iOS/iPadOs App Device Networking Issues

Sigh, I really do hate writing negative blog posts but sometimes it’s a good way for me to vent my frustrations with software and hardware when there is a lack of consistency and synergy. Consistency here being the main pain point.

For some time now my hidden wifi network has been split between both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands (different SSIDs). Originally I was using the Netgear SmartConnect functionality to juggle the devices between the two. However I was getting constant switches, network dropouts, etc so I turned the feature off. It was not so smart and was causing constant frustration for me 😦

For the time being I have all my high volumed traffic devices like my laptops, tablets connected to the 5Ghz band as they are all used to consume media and are all extremely close to the router. Every other wireless device I have is connected on 2.4Ghz which is mainly my Google Nest hubs, Chromecasts, etc. and spread across the house. Each of the devices connected on the network can communicate with each other.

Recently I bought a Google Nest Hub Max and used my iPad Mini to connect it to the network. The wifi that it connected to originally was my 5Ghz band. This was all fine as all my devices like the tablets are all on that same band. However I don’t have my iPhone 13 Pro connected on that band, it is on the 2.4Ghz band and this is when I started to notice a glaring problem.

If I open the Google Home app on my iPad (connected on 5Ghz) I can see the new Google Nest Hub Max and can modify the settings for it. If I go to my Google Home app on my iPhone 13 Pro (connected on 2.4Ghz) I can see the device in the list of devices in my home but I can’t modify the settings. All I see is a message that read:

Disconnected device

Connect to your Wi-Fi to cast

Check that Disconnected device is online and your phone or tablet is connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Additionally, make sure local network is enabled in your phone or tablet’s privacy settings.

Google Home app for iPad

So this message makes perfect sense I guess if the devices were not on the same underlying network. If I change to the 2.4Ghz band on my iPad Mini then I can see the device and modify the settings. However there is one big glaring problem with this. If I change back to the 5Ghz band and then try to change my bedside table Google Nest Hub Gen 2. settings I can. Even though *drum roll* the Google Nest Hub Gen 2. is on 2.4Ghz. This also applies to my Google Nest Hub Gen 1 in my kitchen. I moved the new Google Nest Hub Max to the 2.4Ghz band with the other devices for consistency.

To summarize what I am seeing:

  • The iPad Mini is on 5Ghz and can see:
    • the Google Nest Hub Max (connected via 2.4Ghz) but cannot modify the settings
    • the Google Nest Hub Gen 2 (connected via 2.4Ghz) and can modify the settings
    • the Google Nest Hub Gen 1 (connected via 2.4Ghz) and can modify the settings
  • The iPhone 13 Pro is on 2.4Ghz and can see:
    • the Google Nest Hub Max (connected via 2.4Ghz) and can modify the settings
    • the Google Nest Hub Gen 2 (connected via 2.4Ghz) and can modify the settings
    • the Google Nest Hub Gen 1 (connected via 2.4Ghz) and can modify the settings

I am not sure what is going on. I don’t know if this is a software bug with the iOS/iPadOS versions of the Google Home app or if this is an issue with the actual Google Nest Hub Max (a restart and reset also did not help or fix the problem). I contacted Google support but they just ran through the usual support troubleshooting process and could not come to a resolution.

Is anyone else having this issue?

Microsoft OneDrive Personal Vault macOS Missing Feature

As someone who uses OneDrive as one of my main cloud storage solutions for random documents and photos due to having it available with 1TB storage via Microsoft 365; I wanted to take advantage of all it has to offer. That means having access to the Personal Vault. However it appears to be explicitly missing from the OneDrive app on macOS.

Coming from using a Surface Book 2 as my main laptop I never had any issues accessing the Personal Vault through the Windows 10 app. However since I have recently moved to the Apple MacBook Pro 14” with the M1 Pro and installing OneDrive, that feature is completely missing 😦 Looking at the official Microsoft documentation, it appears that the Personal Vault is just not available on macOS.

This is a real shame as it is available on Windows 10/11, Android and even iOS/iPadOS. You can obviously log into the browser to access the Personal Vault but by installing the official app it would make sense to have access to this feature. Unless it is a market ploy to not bring feature parity across different platforms for the app to entice the user to migrate and move to Microsoft’s desired platform, aka move away from macOS and go to Windows.

This is not a big deal for me and only a minor inconvenience, but it really is annoying when companies do this. So now if I ever have to move files to the Personal Vault and I am on my MacBook I need to first store them on OneDrive in a random folder then either log into my OneDrive using a browser or go to my iPhone, iPad or gaming PC and move the file from my OneDrive folder to the Personal Vault. The extra steps could be completely avoided if Microsoft did not play these types of games with consumers. I mean Outlook for macOS looks and functions IMO better than it does on Windows so…

Short Term Experience: MacBook Pro 14” M1 Pro

The MacBook Pro 14” M1 Pro is my very first personal Apple laptop. The MacBook Pro that I have spec’d out has a 10-core M1 Pro CPU, 16-core GPU and 16-core neural engine; 32GB of unified memory and 1 TB of SSD storage.

I was always going to go with the M1 Pro as from what I read, the M1 Max had the same CPU but a much more powerful GPU. As someone who has no real need for a more powerful GPU, the M1 Max was completely unnecessary. Plus there were several videos that I saw where benchmarks of the M1 Max GPU was not reaching its full potential and being throttled. Not to mention there was always going to be a greater chance the laptop fans would spin up and the laptop getting hotter to the touch.

The size choice was also something I agonized a little about originally. My current work laptop is a 15’’ MacBook Pro and that is a little too large to use when on the train and on the lap when on the couch. The 16’’ with the bulky design while probably having better thermal performance than the 14’’ was going to be just as annoying to use when not at table and may be a little too heavy. The 14’’ seemed like the right balance between performance and portability.

Aesthetically I like the space grey colour, with the black keycaps and black keyboard inlay. The thicker body of the laptop is also something that I like because it means the thermal performance is going to be better even if it comes at the cost of size and weight. I always prefer function over form and the last couple of Apple laptops have favoured form over function. Having a good number of ports available to me is a nice addition too. As someone who has used Windows or Unix laptops exclusively in the past, I was never short on ports.

The keyboard is one of the better keyboards I have used on a laptop and is on par with my Surface Book. My 15’’ has the butterfly key switches and they are just way too loud, have very poor key travel and is just an uncomfortable typing experience for long periods. The tactile feedback and key travel for me is also near perfect for the 14’’.  Having full sized function keys is great and the touch ID button on the top right is perfect. The trackpad as usual is near perfect as with all Apple MacBook laptops. The exclusion of the touch bar is also something that pleases me.

I thought that the notch would be annoying or hard to get used to, but I barely notice it. I have not installed software to “hide” the notch and I don’t exclusively use dark mode, so it is not hidden throughout the day. The menu items for the apps that I use has also not been an issue causing odd overflow problems either. Perhaps I will find an app that will cause problems but for now the notch is a non-issue. Do I think it could have been smaller? Yes, especially because there is no FaceID built it. The notch reminds me a little of the Pixel 3 XL.

I have not really used the speakers much on this device yet as it is not primarily used to consume media, but from the videos and music/podcasts that I have listened to, it has been fine. I know the 16’’ has larger and even better speakers but the 14’’ is entirely acceptable and much better than any Windows laptop I have had in the past, including my Surface products. Apple seems to always have the best sound producing laptops on the market.

The display is also pretty good. The colours seem to be accurate enough; I don’t do any photo or video editing, so I really don’t need anything too perfect. Having a “high” refresh rate screen is also a bonus. I think that the screen is comparable to any other high priced or tiered Windows laptop though. With the M1 Pro chipset I can also have more than one external display so that is a nice addition to have.

Now on to macOS. As someone who has primarily used Windows but macOS for work, the transition has not been too difficult. I do miss not being able to natively snap windows to the left and right and a couple of other Windows nice to haves. Having Unix running under the hood instead of having to run Windows Subsystem for Linux is a bonus, especially as a developer. Regarding battery life and performance, it is impressive. I never hear the fans running, the laptop never gets hot, and I really don’t need to charge it. So, kudos to the Apple engineers to build a chip that performs so well, does not crumble and throttle under pressure and get hot to the touch (unlike my 15’’ MacBook Pro).

I have run into some small issues with macOS though. One of my biggest annoyances is updating any app from the App Store. It is painfully and confusingly slow. I have a 100 Mb/s download and when I do a speed test, I get that, however updating an app through the App Store that is several MB in size takes way too long. I am not too sure how to resolve this issue.

If you are in the market for a high priced yet very high-quality laptop then the MacBook Pro 14’’ M1 Pro is a great choice (if you can find it in stock or are willing to wait for shipping). With the performance being so good, you may not need it all and the M1 may be the better choice. So, before you commit to spending so much cash on the 14’’ consider the M1 options.

iPhone 13 Pro/iOS Impressions from a Pixel 3/Android User

Last week on Wednesday my new Apple iPhone 13 Pro finally came in. I was super excited to get it all unboxed, SIM card inserted (I put my case on and then realized I needed to put the SIM card in, then had to take the case off again :facepalm:) and then put the case back on, ready to use as my next phone for the future (or until Apple no longer supports the device). Below are some of my initial and first impressions from someone who has only used an Android phone consistently in the past and is using an iOS device for the very first time as their main mobile phone.

Look and Feel

The Apple iPhone 13 Pro is built like a tank when compared to my old Pixel 3 phone. It is very close in size, with the iPhone 13 Pro being only slightly taller, wider and thicker but it is significantly heavier. I think the combination of the battery, stainless steel frame, and front and back glass make up most of that weight. When I pick up my old Pixel 3 it is like picking up a feather compared to picking up my iPhone 13 Pro. It took me a little bit to get used to the new weight difference. I do like this weight change though as it does feel a little more premium.

I like the way the phone does feel in my hand too. It is not too large and manageablefor single hand use, which is one of the reasons why I moved from Android to iOS. I am sorry Google but the Pixel 6 Pro to me does not look good, I absolutely hate the curved display on the edges and being such a large size makes it a deal breaker for me. The case helps to ensure that the frame does not dig into my hand and slightly protect my back cameras as there is a little lip.

One thing that I do know about Apple products is that generally they make extremely well-built products, be it their laptops to their tablets. Sure, sometimes they make “foldable” devices but by and large Apple does not skimp on using quality materials for their products. Paying for more premium products to get a better finished product is a no brainer for me and is something I am willing to pony up for. This may not be possible for everyone, but I am in a fortunate position where I can do this, so I took advantage of it.

I am a little disappointed in that it has a lightning port to charge the iPhone 13 Pro and I cannot use my many USB-3 cables that I have laying around, but it is what it is. The silent switch on the left-hand side of the phone is superb and I wish more phones incorporated something like this as it is very useful. The massive camera bump is not an issue for me, and I am not too fussed about the notch compared to other people. A single hole punch camera hole is a little cleaner but you lose out on Face ID.

iOS 15

Moving from Android to iOS I knew was going to be a little difficult at the start but there are a number of frustations that I have with iOS when compared to Android.

Less customization is something I knew I was going to lose on iOS. I did generally keep my Pixel 3 stock with what came out of the box, but I did like the ability to change the icon shapes, folder shapes and the ability to keep the icons, folders and widgets at the bottom of my screen and not have them all go at the top. That is my first gripe with iOS. Why does Apple not allow me to have icons, folders and widgets placed anywhere on my screens? I would like to have even easier access to my apps and folders by only using my thumb.

Something I thought I would not get frustrated by was notifications. Now I have to perhaps make some more changes in the settings, but I find notifications are absolutely horrible on iOS compared to Android. I find I am missing more notifications on iOS compared to Android. The notification center is okay but not great. I would like to have a small notification indicator on the top bar to know that “hey you have a message, etc.” instead of looking at the notification center. I am not too sure if it is a bug but there are times when I would get a message and sometimes I would get a notification sound and other times I would not.

I do like the iOS settings, permissions and app management compared to Android. Everything is more clearly laid out and is much easier to manage. Pulling down the control center from the right-hand side is also nice to have, but I found the universal pull down anywhere at the top on Android (notification drawer) to get access to quick settings and notifications is a little easier and more user friendly than how iOS makes you swipe down elsewhere for the notification center. If iOS could adopt something like this then that would be great.

My biggest two gripes are to do with notification/media volume levels and universal back gesture behavior on iOS. On Android you have dedicated alarm, notification/caller/alert and media volume controls while on iOS I found that managing my audio levels a major pain. I have no idea how I can keep my notification/alert levels high while keeping my media volume levels low. If I use the buttons on the side and keep the volume low all my sound minus the caller audio is low, and if I raise it then when I watch YouTube or listen to music, I need to quickly lower the volume. Perhaps I am missing something or have not set something up correctly but why are those volume levels paired? I would like to have all my notifications and alerts at the same level as my caller volume levels but keep my media volume levels low.

Now to the back gesture. This is something that I need to get used to as on Android I would swipe left from the right edge to go back to whatever screen I was on and even to previous apps sometimes. On iOS 15 there is no universal back gesture itself. You can go back to the main home screen by swiping up from the bottom or you need to press the dedicated back button located somewhere on the app which can be either on the top left or the bottom. It would be great to have a single and universal way to go back to the previous screen from any part of the right edge, but I guess that would fundamentally change the way iOS would work and would require apps to be re-worked to allow for the gesture.

All in all, I am not finding iOS very difficult to get used to. I am using many of the native Apple apps instead of my usual Gmail, Google calendar, Gboard apps, etc. But I do have installed Google Chrome and Google Maps as I have all my favourites, etc set up there and it would be a pain to migrate all of these to Safari or Apple Maps (as well as this being my only Apple device at the moment for personal use). All the other apps that I had used for travel, fitness, my smart home are all there so I have not lost anything but I did need to buy new licenses for the iOS app versions which is a little bit annoying but expected.

Final Thoughts

I knew there was going to be some initial teething issues with using iOS. I knew I had to adjust to the way iOS worked compared to Android. I knew that moving from a Pixel to an iPhone was going to require a little bit of mental and physical gymnastics. Overall though I did not find the initial migration and adoption of an iPhone or iOS that difficult. I do miss the ability to perform some customizations, the more accessible notifications and universal gestures. However I gain some of iOS’s handy streamlined, accessible and user friendly features while being housed in what I would again call a mobile tank.

Now I do have an iPad Mini 2021 version coming my way as well so that I can take more notes, read a little more and also watch videos and surf the web a little easier. Plus the new Apple Watch series 7 is also being delivered sometime next month. Did I jump completely in the Apple ecosystem? Yeah. For me to take advantage of everything that Apple offers I need to really start looking at investing in their ecosystem, even if it is for the next 5 years and has a very very steep entry cost. But I feel that in those 5 years (at least) it may be all worth it and I may be a permantely converted Apple user for mobile, tablet, watch (and perhaps laptop).

Google Nest Hub Radio Alarm Issues

I have both Google Nest Hub generation 1 and generation 2 devices, which seem to have issues consistently in playing a radio alarms. Doing a quick Google search and it appears that I am not the only person having this problem. The dates from the results also suggest that it has been a persistent issue for a number of years unfortunately 😦

I have factory reset the devices, tried a number of different radio stations, etc. and it seems that every other day the radio alarm will not play and a traditional alarm will played instead. I double checked to ensure that the devices only have a single alarm and it is a radio alarm.

Both devices do not have issues with network connectivity and the only thing that I can think of is that there is some software bug that is causing the radio alarm not to play. However the one problem with that is the radio alarm sometimes does play. Generally if it is a software issue then it would either work or it would not work, ie. 0 or 1.

I am a little confused about how to resolve this issue as it seems that Google support know of “an issue” with radio alarms but have given no other information. The troubleshooting steps I have already gone through from the support forums and have not helped. One solution I found was to have instead a routine that is triggered at a certain time and to play a radio station instead of having a radio alarm. But that sort of defeats the purpose of having a radio alarm.

If anyone out there has any solution or steps that I can try to resolve this issue then it would be greatly appreciated. I love both my Google Nest Hubs and with the second generation the new sleep sensing features are fantastic as I have difficulty wearing any watch or ring to monitor my sleeping pattern, etc. while I sleep.

Transferring digital content between storage devices

This morning I was trying to move some applications from my internal solid state drive to a USB thumb drive so that I can install the applications on my Surface Book 2. I found it a little odd that during the entire transfer process the progress stayed at 0%. A small Windows “error” message appeared but in my haste I did not read the message and selected “skip” for all the applications. This was my first mistake.

When inserting the USB thumb drive into my Surface Book 2 and copying the applications locally it went extremely fast. I was a little surprised by this and was even more shocked when I opened the folder on my Surface Book 2 that was supposed to have all the applications from the USB thumb drive be completely empty. Perplexed I went back to my desktop PC to see if the applications were still there and they were. I tried to move the applications to the USB thumb drive again. This time paying more close attention to any message that would appear.

When I started the move of the applications to the USB thumb drive again progress showed 0% for an extended period of time and a small Windows “error” message appeared again, most likely the same error message that I ignored the first time. But this time I read the message and the critical information from the message that I gathered was “has properties that can’t be copied“. Doing a very quick Google search for that specific phrase led me to double check the format of my storage devices that I was transferring the digital content between.

Low and behold when comparing my internal solid state drive of my desktop PC where the applications had originally been downloaded to and that of the USB thumb drive; the formats were different. The internal solid state drive was NTFS while the USB thumb drive was FAT32. I had originally used this USB thumb drive as a bootable Linux distribution but no longer needed it and must have reformatted it to FAT32 instead of NTFS.

So if you get an error message when transferring any digital content from one storage device to another ensure that they are formatted the same otherwise your transfer may not occur successfully. And also ensure that you correctly read and comprehend any messages that appear during this process 😛

Using a Logitech MX Ergo Wireless Trackball Mouse

While working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic I was in need of a new mouse to use. My work laptop is a Macbook Pro 15” and for extended periods of time using the mouse track pad is not great, even though the large size makes it easy to use. At the office I would use the Apple Magic Mouse (which I am not really a fan of) and right now using the mouse track pad long term is not an option with my current working from home setup.

Using a USB connected mouse (corded or receiver) is a little difficult, as most USB connected mice are not cabled with USB-C or have a receiver that is USB-C which is the one of the only ports my Macbook Pro has. I could buy a dock or a dongle but I’d rather get a wireless Bluetooth mouse to keep my ports available if need be and would not want to spend the extra money on a dock.

Seeing as I was going to be using this mouse for extended periods of time I was thinking of getting an ergonomic mouse and I watched a number of different YouTube videos discussing the types of ergonomic mice and good Bluetooth mice, and read a number of articles covering a range of Bluetooth enabled ergonomic mice. At the end of it all I found that the mouse which covered everything I was after was the Logitech MX Ergo Wireless Trackball Mouse.

The criteria I had (in no particular order) for the ergonomic mouse that I personally bought had to:

  1. Cost under $200 AUD. I am not in the market for a gaming mouse and do not really want to spend a fortune on a mouse I would primarily be using for work. There are suitable mice for under $20 AUD so :shrug:
  2. Bluetooth enabled. As I stated above, it is critical that this mouse not have a dongle to connect to my laptop as my only wireless means. Happily the Logitech MX Ergo Wireless Trackball Mouse can connect to a computer via a USB cable, a USB dongle or Bluetooth. So many options which is great.
  3. Rechargeable battery. I do not want to have a wireless mouse that takes removable batteries, and I do not want to buy some more rechargeable batteries.
  4. More than two buttons. Having the option to navigate pages, go between lines of code that I previously visited and jump across different class files helps in my day to day work.
  5. Horizontal and vertical scrolling. All mice that I pick up in the future must have this option. Not being able to scroll in all directions with the mouse wheel is a massive pain and should be standard in 2020.
  6. Comfortable for extended periods of time. This is really subjective, but what I found was among the ergonomic mice there was a general consensus whether the mouse was comfortable to use for extended periods of time and did not cause strain in the forearm and wrist.

I was a little hesitant to get this mouse even with the stellar reviews because to move the mouse cursor, you move your thumb on the trackball and the mouse stays where it is. Once I started using it though and adjusted the speed to be a little faster, it was really easy to use and I had no problem performing my daily tasks. So the learning curve is really (IMO) fairly low. Some people may take some time to adjust to not moving your arms and wrist to move the mouse cursor but long term I think it is far more beneficial for you. Plus there is a button that allows for fine grain movement if you really need precision which is a nice bonus.

The Logitech MX Ergo Wireless Trackball Mouse is fairly heavy (which is good as it will stay put when placed), does not slide around, has the ability to be tilted at a slight angle to change the position you hold it (does not go completely vertical), and is built extremely well i.e. does not feel cheap or poorly made. The time I have spent using the mouse I have not been able to fault it. If I could change some things on the mouse I would have it support USB-C for charging as the port for charging the mouse is micro-USB, and I would support a number of different angles instead of just the two it currently supports.

There is special Logitech software that you can install which allows for greater customization of the buttons and other special features. But out of the box the mouse does everything I want it to and I do not need anything more. Having the option to pair across two devices is nice, so if you have multiple devices that could use a Bluetooth mouse this is a bonus. Overall I am please with my purchase and I hope that my right wrist and forearm will thank me for not putting more strain on them. If you are in the market for an ergonomic mouse, or a Bluetooth mouse then this mouse may be the one for you. I have not tried it to play games with but for working day to day, it does the job really well.

Resolving my restarting PC issue

Last weekend my gaming desktop PC started to randomly restart itself. It first did not appear to be after a set period of time or when there was a certain application running, it looked really random. I noted it down and said to myself that I am going to fix the problem in the coming week or next weekend. I was not looking forward to the troubleshooting and diagnosis process.

During the week I was a little busy with other things and I never even got a chance to turn on my gaming desktop PC, so fixing it during the week did not happen. As the weekend came along and I just finished my lunch on a bright and clear Saturday I said to myself that I should probably fix the problem.

Now I have only ever experienced this type of issue before once and have heard a number of different people have the same problem. In my case originally the problem was the PSU and I had to replace it. The issue here was that every single story had a different solution to the problem. Googling the problem will also give you some general and generic answers. The problem could be:

  1. Hardware related – something could be faulty
  2. Software related – some virus or application writing to an area of memory it shouldn’t
  3. Firmware/Driver related – graphical drivers or even deeper problems

I was hoping that the problem was hardware; I had not installed any new software and if I had a virus I would be concerned; Nvidia had put out new graphical drivers but I had not updated any other firmware on my machine. And fortunately enough for me this time around it was only hardware related. My thought process in resolving the problem and narrowing it down to a specific piece of hardware (if it was not hardware related I would have gone through the process of troubleshooting the software, etc.) was to piece by piece remove all hardware component and see if the PC restarts.

I started off by removing and unplugging all my audio equipment and disconnecting my PC completely from the network; not too important and I would not have thought they were the culprit but I need the space and room to work. The first hardware component I removed and test was my GPU. I was hoping that my GPU was not the culprit (it wasn’t) as buying a new GPU right now is out of the question for me. Once my gaming desktop PC restarted with the GPU out I also uninstalled and removed any driver and Nvidia software. Sometimes updates to the graphic drivers causes problems; it has done that to me a number of times. Still the issue persists.

With the GPU removed and all the accompanying software/drivers removed with the issue not resolved, the next logical piece of hardware to remove is the RAM. I have configured 2 8GB RAM sticks, and I first removed the RAM stick that is in Channel A but #2. Issue still unresolved. I replaced the first RAM stick in Channel A #1 with the one I removed first. Low and behold the restarting issue could not be replicated.

To verify that it indeed was the RAM stick, I changed them over to see if it would restart but it didn’t. I was a little confused. After talking to my dad and a couple of my mates on Discord, they said that potentially it was that the RAM stick was just having contact issues and needed to just be reseated. So I played around a little more with my RAM configuration and I could not reproduce the issue. Restarting would normally and reliably occur after at least 10 minutes of my gaming desktop PC being on and logged into Windows 10 when I was testing on Saturday. But now with both RAM sticks (even just having the one identified as the faulty RAM stick alone) installed the issue could not be replicated. This is good news.

I inserted back my GPU, installed the latest Nvidia graphic drivers and made sure everything was up to date, and then just let my PC run a video in the background waiting for it to reboot. It did not happen. Looks like reseating the RAM sticks resolved the problem. Thankfully I do not have to purchase any new hardware and I can still have my PC running with 16GB worth of RAM and not the 8GB if one of the sticks was faulty. So the lesson to be learnt is to methodically go through each of your hardware one by one, noting down any configuration changes and testing to see if the issue can be reproduced consistently. Once the issue has been resolved, see if you can reproduce the issue by reverting the change you had done; once that is confirmed see if your fix when applied again resolves the issue.

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