New Keyboard and other matters

Chaos Manor View, Wednesday, August 05, 2015

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded—here and there, now and then—are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

“This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

– Robert A. Heinlein


After this great glaciation, a succession of smaller glaciations has followed, each separated by about 100,000 years from its predecessor, according to changes in the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit (a fact first discovered by the astronomer Johannes Kepler, 1571-1630). These periods of time when large areas of the Earth are covered by ice sheets are called “ice ages.” The last of the ice ages in human experience (often referred to as the Ice Age) reached its maximum roughly 20,000 years ago, and then gave way to warming. Sea level rose in two major steps, one centered near 14,000 years and the other near 11,500 years. However, between these two periods of rapid melting there was a pause in melting and sea level rise, known as the “Younger Dryas” period. During the Younger Dryas the climate system went back into almost fully glacial conditions, after having offered balmy conditions for more than 1000 years. The reasons for these large swings in climate change are not yet well understood.


I seem to have recovered from the bug – probably stomach flu. It is Wednesday, and we have had our usual conference and lunch; I have more fiction work to do, and this is a part I have to do. Unfortunately something is wrong with communications, and I don’t know what it is.

I have the Logitech K360 keyboard; it has separated keys, and thus makes it easier to avoid hitting two keys at once. I think I am typing faster already, but it is apparently not as convenient as the Surface Pro 3 keyboard. The Logitech has smaller keys, and reminds me of the chicklet keyboard of the late and unlamented PC Junior, but now that I am become a two finger typist I can’t complain; I am already making fewer errors on this than I was yesterday on the Comfort Curve keyboard I used before the stroke. The Logitech may not be the best “large key” keyboard – indeed it is not a large key keyboard at all; the keys are smaller than the comfort curve keys, but they are separated so that it is easier to avoid striking two at once.

I think I will use it a week and see if it improves anything; but it seems to be doing so already. It is not perfect, but it may be the best available – or maybe I will end up doing all my work on the Surface Pro 3.

{There is more on my experience with the Logitech K360 below; I am beginning to like it.}


    Per our recent discussion, the first of the new Intel generation is now officially launched.


It is not time to build a new machine until some other way to exploit its ability appear, but I expect to build a new PC for Chaos Manor sometime after Thanksgiving; until then the main systems are only a couple of years old, and we’d never notice the improvements. Those who have not upgraded to booting from Solid State drives should stay away from places that have this; the experience of near instant booting is hard to forget. The main wait in reboot now is as the CPU checks devices – yep, that’s a device, yep, that’s another – since the loading of the OS and programs is so fast. The new CPU’s will do the same for bringing up the operating system, and while the old will still work, you’ll wonder how you stood the slowness; but that won’t be just yet. I think by Thanksgiving it may be time to upgrade. Probably I’ll use Thermaltake cases. Mine have been quiet, powerful, reliable, run cool, and easy to service. They are also elegant and don’t needlessly flash lights at me. Of course the elegance is a luxury, but amortized over a five year life they don’t cost that much more, and at my age I hope I deserve some luxury…

I will also look into keyboards; there are probably better keyboards than this Logitech K360, but I have been typing rapidly with it and it hasn’t been the painful experience I’ve been having since the stroke: there may be better than this; I think the Surface Pro 3 keyboard may be better; but this may be Good Enough. If your problem is sloppy typing hitting multiple keys, do try the Logitech K360.


Upgrading Tablets

The biggest problem with tablet computers (such as Jerry’s Surface Pro and

my Dell Venue Pro) is that they come with extremely limited “hard drive”

space. Apparently, the Transcend 512 GB SATA III MTS600 60 mm M.2 SSD

(TS512GMTS600) ( is a drop in

replacement for the 128GB SSD in my tablet. It might work for the Surface

Pro, too. If so, it seems like a reasonable upgrade for you to undertake.

Pity that the RAM is soldered onto the mother board. 4 Meg of RAM also

cries out for an increase.

Fredrik Coulter

Eric replies:

I’ve read accounts of successful Win8.x upgrades to Win10 on devices with as little as 32 GB of storage. Offload all your data files and temporarily uninstall the bulkiest apps if necessary. It’s minor hassle compared to the price still demanded by tablets with storage in the hundreds of GB.

According to this, the SSD inside the Surface Pro 3 is an mSATA device, like the one in Roberta’s PC. The Dell Venue Pro is using the newer M.2 form factor but it is still a SATA-III drive rather than the much faster PCIe-connected interface also supported in that standard.

So yes, the tablets are upgradable but the process is not for the faint of heart. It would take only a minor mistake to completely trash your device, and even if you get it right, reassembly so everything fits together to factory spec is not trivial. You really want this done by someone with as much experience as possible in dealing with these kinds of devices.

Peter is more emphatic

Microsoft’s Surface tablets simply must not be opened by end users. They are literally glued together inside. They are designed to be serviced by the company, but the adhesive films must be replaced each time, and I don’t think Microsoft will provide that material to end users. Someone might be able to find some similar adhesive to hold the machine together again, but that just seems like a really bad idea to me.

If a tablet will be a person’s only personal computer, sure, go for the biggest RAM and SSD configuration offered, which is 8 GB of RAM and 512GB for the Surface Pro 3.

But for people who will be using the tablet as an adjunct to another machine (a desktop, a full-size laptop, etc.), I think it’s wiser to save money on the tablet by taking the smaller SSD. This choice will also save small amounts of weight and power consumption.

Whether to get the 4 GB or 8 GB option for RAM depends mostly on the user’s workload. If the machine will be used primarily for a single application at a time (like OneNote), the larger RAM configuration may also be a waste of money and power.

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My minor dilemma is that I find it easier to write on the Surface, because of the keyboard; but fortunately the Logitech k360 may have solved that. But that’s my problem and unlikely to be yours. As to backup on the Surface, I’m getting a Terabyte external drive to attach to the docking station; that ought to do it. I’ve no desire for any other upgrades to my Precious… I’m beginning to use it for fiction now. I do need a cable to attach the docking station to a BIG monitor.






Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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