DOCUMENTATION WITHOUT WORDS ISN’T DOCUMENTATION – Marilyn Armstrong

A couple of weeks ago I bought myself an iPad Mini. It was $100 less on Walmart because it had iOS 9 on it rather than the current iOS 11. Anyone who knows anything about Apple knows it doesn’t matter what iOS is on it.

The moment you turn it on, it will instantly update to the new iOS — even if you would prefer it not do that.

I bought it. Less than $300 with 128 GB innards. Nice cream color. Brand new and their 4-year support was only $40 instead of the $69 Apple charges. Moreover, it’s local. Our nearest Apple outlet is a long drive from here and has been one of the reasons I’ve been loathe to get involved with Apple.

But it turns out, getting customer service is hopeless anyway. Whether it’s local or in some foreign country, service will be awful. Given the awfulness, you might as well pay less.

So now I have this iPad Mini which I got the next day. Cute little thing. We were on our way to visit Tom and Ellen, so instead of unpacking it, I stowed it in my computer bag and took it with me. Tom set it up in a few minutes and voilà. A functional iPad Mini 4.

I looked at it. “So what’s next?”

The cover (yes, purple)

I have no idea what to do with it. I read and listen to Audiobooks on my Kindle. So what do I do with this? My theory had been that I wanted something small and light that would get me into my email and let me correct typos on my blog without hauling 9 pounds of Dell wherever I go. I love my computer, but it weighs like two cinder blocks.

Tom has an iPad (regular size) and he uses it for almost everything. Almost. He also has a keyboard that also works as a case and a stand.

“Should I get the ridiculously expensive Apple keypad for this?” I ask him.

“God no,” he says. I look at his. It was a Logitech. No problem. I’m good with Logitech.

I go home and look it up on Amazon. Instead of $159, it’s $69.95. Except if I don’t mind getting it in purple, it’s $42.50. Purple is good. Goes well with the lovely cream. I order it. This is my “less than $300 solution to the $2000 problem.” What I really need is a lightweight but powerful computer, but that’s big money and we have home repairs lurking.

Maybe more dark violet than purple

It arrived today. In a nicely padded envelope. I open it. Take out the box. Eventually figure out how to open the box (I hate packaging) and remove the item. I’ve read a lot of angry reviews on how easily it breaks. I look at it. Yeah, I can see if you mistreat it, it would break. But in my entire life, I’ve never broken a computer or a cell phone. I take care of my equipment. If it breaks, it’s something internal, not because I dropped it or stepped on it or abused it.

I did notice a couple of people who suggested if everyone would treat their equipment gently, it would last longer. My sentiments exactly.

On the back of the box, it tells me what’s inside — including documentation, the keyboard case and a charging cord.

“Documentation” with REALLY SHORT cord

The documentation is missing the one thing that means documentation to me. No words. It’s a piece of cardboard with small, incomprehensible pictures. Which I follow until I get to a point where all I can say is “WHAT????” I know they want me to do something, but I have no idea what.

Documentation and the cord. Could they have made it any shorter?

I have no idea how to get it to pair with the iPad. It’s a Bluetooth device and I’ve got other Bluetooth stuff. It’s usually pretty easy, but I’m baffled because nothing is happening.

Finally, I say “Screw it.” I open my computer and look for installation instructions for the keyboard. Online. At Logitech.com.

Logitech says:


LOGITECH

Before you connect your iPad mini to the Focus keyboard case, make sure it’s inserted correctly into the case:

1 – Place your iPad mini so the camera lines up with the camera lens cutout on the Focus case.
2 – Snap the corners of the iPad into the holder to secure it.

To connect for the first time

1 – The Focus case doesn’t have an On/Off switch. To turn on your keyboard case, open it and rest the iPad mini on the strip directly above the keyboard. The status indicator on the top right of the keyboard will glow green.
2 – On first connection, your keyboard enters Bluetooth discovery mode and the status indicator will blink blue rapidly.
3 – Go to the Bluetooth settings on your iPad and select Focus Keyboard Case in the Devices list.
4 – If your iPad mini requests a PIN, enter it using the keyboard (not on your iPad mini).

Once the connection is made, the status indicator will turn solid blue. Your keyboard is ready to use.


There were no illustrations. They didn’t need any.

There were other instructions in case you want to connect the same device to a different iPad, but I only have one. It took me about 3 seconds to connect it once I had WORDS as instructions. Two paragraphs of WORDS.

No tiny pictures. One picture in the original “document” which had words in it, but no amount of squinting and changing angles enabled me to read those teeny tiny 4 point letters.

Now I have a lovely purple keyboard case that types. It’s a bit small, but so is the iPad. If I can figure out what to do with the iPad, that will make me happier.

I could use it to play games, but I can play games on my Kindle and my computer. I could watch Netflix, but … why? This is basically the problem I have always had with iPads — not having any idea why I need one and what it can do for me that isn’t already being done by something else.

Tom says I need to mess around with it and find cool stuff for it to do. Okay. I’ll do that. Whatever cool stuff is. It is possible I’m not really cool enough for devices.

A BROKEN MOUSE

EDITORIAL NOTE: Mice to me means multiple tiny furry creatures who slip into my house and eat anything they can find. Mouses, on the other hand, are computer accessories. I call them mouses in the plural. Please try and cope with it, even if it sounds odd to you.


My mouse stopped working. It was fine, then suddenly, it wasn’t fine. It seemed to be multi-clicking everything. It seemed to hang the computer on most menus and was particularly persnickety working on graphics.

Logitech Mouse

I figured it must have been the last Windows “upgrade.” I probably attribute everything to one or another Windows upgrades. Why didn’t it occur to me that the mouse wasn’t working properly? Because I’ve been using some version of this same Logitech mouse forever. More than 20 years at least and I have never had one stop working.

I’ve had Microsoft mouses go bad and a couple of Dell’s too. Some of them never worked properly in the first place, but the Logitech mouses have proved as close to indestructible as anything in my electronic world. I have replaced them when they wore out. Sometimes the feet wear out and occasionally I eat one too many pieces of toast and jelly and wind up with a sticky wheel. I’m pretty sure jam is not good for mouses.

The feet can come unglued or the buttons stops spinning properly. Fair is fair. I work my mouses hard and everything will wear out.

But. None of them ever stopped working.

I had finally concluded that there was something wrong with the mouse having tried every other thing that ought to have fixed it. That’s when I read that there was a thing called the “dreaded double-click effect” that apparently has been known to occur in Logitech mouses. Never to one of mine, but apparently well enough known as a glitch that it was worth mentioning.

I ordered two more mouses — one exactly like this one (which is from the other computer that I use only occasionally). It is smaller, almost a “travel-size” mouse … and a bigger one. I will let my hand decide which one it likes better.

But the thing that’s funny is that it took me almost a full week to dope out the mouse was broken. I am so used to these mouses always being just fine, it never crossed my mind that something — other than a dead battery — could go wrong.

I think you could call that a strong recommendation for the product. Even though this particular mouse up and died.

Everyday goodies that make a difference …

I write a lot about computers and computer-related equipment. I also write a good deal about photography and photographic equipment. Strangely missing from my writing are the many “low tech” items on which I depend and many of which are so integral to my life that I don’t know how I would manage without them. Most of these were reviewed on Amazon, which for a variety of reasons, is my shopping site of choice. Most of these items are available elsewhere, but not around here.


Copco 2510-9963 Acadia Reusable To-Go Mug, 16 Ounce Capacity
Price: $7.99

Copco 2510-9963 Acadia Reusable To-Go Mug, 16-Ounce Capacity (Kitchen)

Copco 2510-9963 Acadia Reusable To-Go Mug, 16-Ounce CapacityEver since Dunkin Donuts “improved” their cups, I have been looking for travel cups with a screw top that are big enough (16 oz.), will fit in my car’s cup holders, and will help me not spill my coffee into my computer keyboard. I have very specific preferences in lidded cups. I hate handles and the pressure fitted lids that explode all over the place when you open them.

I was actually searching for a new coffee machines — not finding what I wanted — and there were these cups. I read other reviews, then ordered 4 of them.

I don’t know how I lived without them. They are solid and the screw tops have a rubber gasket inside the lid that, assuming you get the lid on straight, keeps the coffee in the cup and off your clothing and equipment. It also keeps your coffee warm much longer than most of these cups.  They required just a quarter turn to open or close and you don’t have to jiggle it around to get it to fit on straight. They don’t have handles to get in the way and they fit comfortably into auto cup holders. They are not bad-looking, either. AND they were very reasonably priced.

Well designed, right-sized, and a great price! I haven’t drowned a keyboard since I got these about a year ago. That’s a record.


Logitech Wireless Mouse M310 Dark Aces (910-002087)
Offered by LLYtech
Price: $14.71

Logitech Wireless Mouse M310 Dark Aces (910-002087)Logitech Wireless Mouse M310 Dark Aces (910-002087) (Personal Computers)

I have a lot of computers in my home, 8 or 9 at last count. I have 4 of these mouses (don’t argue; mice are fuzzy and squeak, mouses are electronic and point). One lost a foot after heavy use and has become a back up  … but it still works. These never die from use. If you drop them often enough, they might break, although I can’t count the number of times I’ve dropped mine and it doesn’t seem to mind … but wear out? Not in my experience.

I’ve had many mouses from many manufacturers and my favorites have all been from Logitech. Of the many Logitech mouses — and they certainly make a wide variety from ultra high-tech to basic and compact — this model is my favorite, not only mine, but everyone in the house. It’s a good size for any hand, large or small. It’s comfortable, accurate, and it doesn’t have any bells or whistles which for me is a big plus. The transmitter is tiny; you can leave it in your laptop. It won’t get in the way when you pack the computer in its case, even if it’s a tightly fitting case. Its one of the ones that theoretically you can use to operate multiple devices, but I’ve never succeeded to making it perform properly and inevitably wind up using a receiver for each device. It works without special software. It has what you need, no extra doodads, wheels, or buttons to annoy me. I have had fancier mouses and hated them. I always return to this model.

It comes in more colors and designs than I can count and at least one of them is always on sale. If you aren’t picky about the color, you can find what you one  at a price you can afford. If you’re picky, you can pay more and get something that will match your computer, your decor, or your shoes. This one tickled my fancy. It’s a bit girly, but I’m a girl. I gave my husband the solid red one, which was okay with him and took this one, which he felt was a tad feminine for his taste. My granddaughter has a blue striped one. My son has a grey one with some sort of design. Other than the color on the casing, they are exactly the same and work precisely the way you want a mouse to work.

I love Logitech products. I have Logitech keyboards, mouses, speakers, and other accessories. They are well made, reasonably priced, and last forever. You can’t ask for more.


Lodge Logic L8DOL3 Pre-Seasoned 5-Quart Dutch Oven with Loop Handles
Price: $29.99

Lodge Logic L8DOL3 Pre-Seasoned 5-Quart Dutch Oven with Loop Handles

Lodge Logic L8DOL3 Pre-Seasoned 5-Quart Dutch Oven with Loop Handles (Kitchen)


Stuck as I am with an electric range, the Lodge series of cast iron solve so many problems. Their flat bottoms work fine on my smooth top stove. I’m sure it would work just as well on a gas range. Great cookware.

You can keep a pot of chili or pasta sauce simmering without scorching for hours … and there is nothing easier to maintain than cast iron. Treated with even minimal care, these will last forever and are as non-stick as Teflon without the side effects.

It’s easier to clean than even the best stainless steel, better quality and a more durable almost anything … certainly more so than fancy and much more expensive brands.  I’ve owned all kinds of cookware over the past 40 years and finally, came back to where I started: nothing is better than cast iron and Lodge makes excellent cookware in all the right shapes and sizes. Whatever you need, they make it and you can probably afford it. It doesn’t get better than this.

If there is a fault, it is that it is very heavy. This pot, when full, weighs a lot. NOT something to pick up with one hand!

That being said, I have a whole set of this cookware and I love and use every single piece of it. It’s the best.


Lodge LCC3 Logic Pre-Seasoned Combo Cooker
Price: $29.99

Lodge LCC3 Logic Pre-Seasoned Combo CookerLodge LCC3 Logic Pre-Seasoned Combo Cooker (Kitchen)


Talk about useful, this is as close to a pot that will do everything as any pot possibly could. Chili pot, frying pan, dutch over, stew pot … that and more. If it has a flaw, it is the problem with all good cast iron … it is heavy. This is a very substantial piece of cast iron and when it is full, even heavier (obviously). It can be difficult for someone with weak wrists to lift. That being said, its advantages hugely outweigh any problems. It heats evenly and keeps an even temperature. It works very well on my flat-topped electric range because it has a flat, smooth bottom. No small thing if you are stuck with using an electric stove. I should think it would work even better on a gas range.

It holds enough to feed a family, if not a crowd. It is the perfect pot for a couple and is my go-to pot for just about everything. Season it properly, treat it as cast iron requires and you will have a lifetime of use from it. Best pot I’ve ever owned and that includes some absurdly expensive pieces from big name manufacturers. The frying pan top is relatively shallow and you can use it as you would a griddle. Great for eggs … or pancakes. Or anything else, actually. I recommend this without reservation.


Dial AA and AAA Battery Storage Box
Offered by MMP Living
Price: $4.04

Dial AA Battery Storage BoxDial AA Battery Storage Box (Kitchen)

It’s exactly what it says it is … and just what I need.  After I made the big move to rechargeable AA and AAA batteries, figuring out what to do with them so they wouldn’t get lost became increasingly urgent. You’d think it would be no big deal to find a convenient and inexpensive box in which to store your charged batteries … but you would be wrong. Most of the boxes are fancy, expensive … overkill in the extreme.  Then, I found this and the problem went away. Light, small, closes securely.

Good rechargeable batteries are expensive, so you don’t want to lose them. You can pay a lot of money for something fancy that does the same thing, but this works, holds both AA and AAA. It’s the no frills solution.  Sturdy and worth the money.


OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Utensil Holder
Price: $19.99

OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Utensil Holder (Kitchen)
OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Utensil Holder

I like to keep utensils within reach while I’m cooking. This means next to the stove on the counter top. I want to be able to grab things I use for daily cooking without searching. Many times, I’d just as soon not leave whatever is cooking, even for a couple of minutes, so having things within arm’s reach and visible matters.

I’ve used all kinds of containers to hold the spatulas, wooden spoons, and those myriad hand tools I use daily, but none of them enabled me to keep them in any kind of order so that I could grab what I wanted without dumping everything all over the place. This container is the best looking container I’ve found, but its design is also practical. It fit in a narrow space, yet it holds a lot of utensils and keeps them upright and separated. It contains everything I need and with room for more. I thought I was being self-indulgent when I bought it, but it has turned out to be a big improvement in “kitchen dynamics.” Easy to clean, too.


Eco To Go Cold Drink Tumbler – Double Wall 16 oz. Capacity – Smoke
Offered by California Tools
Price: $2.99

Eco To Go Cold Drink Tumbler - Double Wall -16oz. Capacity - SmokeEco To Go Cold Drink Tumbler – Double Wall 16 oz. Capacity – Smoke

I am always toting a drink around with me, usually fruit juice. It’s next to me when I travel, watch TV and most importantly, work at the computer. I am not the most graceful individual and have knocked over a lot of drinks over the years. I get particularly twitchy about having a glass of liquid next to the computer and have been looking for a cold drink cup with a good cover for years. This is IT. It’s big enough, solidly made, keeps stuff cold, is easy to clean and sturdy. It fits fine in my car’s cup holders too. And finally, with 3 dogs in the house, I spend a lot less time worrying about a wagging tail sending my drink flying! The screw on lid fits on easily and the rubber gasket forms a nice, tight seal. It is NOT dishwasher or microwave safe, but I don’t care about that. I have plenty of other glasses and cups that I can nuke. These are GREAT cups. The clumsy computer user’s best pal.


Case Logic JDS-6 USB Drive Shuttle 6-Capacity-Black
Price: $5.98

Case Logic JDS-6 USB Drive Shuttle 6-Capacity-BlackCase Logic JDS-6 USB Drive Shuttle 6-Capacity-Black (Personal Computers)


Always losing your flash drives? This may help. It’s got 6 slots, it zips shut, it’s a nice little case and gives you someplace to put them where you may actually find them again. Before I bought this case, I lost my flash drives almost as soon as I bought them. Since I got this simple little case, I can find my flash drives. Sounds like no big deal? Do  you now where your flash drives are? I do.

So many things, so little time … I’ll post more soon.

Just one of those days …

I know I’m not the most graceful of women. I have some coördination issues that made me less than a sterling athlete, but I’m not a total klutz. Not usually, but … today was just one of those days.

It started out normally enough. One of my coffee mugs has gone missing, but I’m pretty sure it’s rolling around somewhere on the floor under my desk. It’s cluttered and unlit down there, but I’m going to have to brave the dark and try to find my cup. It’s one of my Copco lidded mugs. I depend on them to prevent simple clumsiness from turning into a catastrophe.

My missing mug. If you spot it, please let me know.

For the past few days, I’ve been having problems with my keyboard. It’s hard to be certain where the blame lies, but I’m pretty sure it’s me. I have an incorrigibly bad habit: I eat at the computer. I know I shouldn’t because I have dropped all kinds of things on my keyboards and it inevitably results in the death of the keyboard. I suspect the primary culprit was strawberry jam, but the salsa and mayonnaise didn’t help either. I thought I’d cleaned it up, but my space bar was sticking and wreaking havoc on my writing.

I pried the top off the space bar to see if I could clean the crumbs and crud from underneath it. There were a lot of crumbs in there, but nothing sticky, surely not enough to make the space bar stick like that, but it was definitely going down, but not coming back up. I think I broke its spring while I was prying it up. Or maybe it was already broken. It’s possible the box cutter wasn’t the optimum choice for prying it up but in my defense, I didn’t have anything else with a thin blade. The space bar was uncooperative and I broke the tip off the box cutter’s blade. Or maybe I broke the tip yesterday while I was prying the battery out of my telephone. That box cutter is really useful.

Anyway, I eventually decided my keyboard was done for. It’s less than three months old and I wish I could blame someone else, but I keep remembering strawberry jam, salsa, and mayonnaise and can’t help but think these may have played a part in the keyboard’s untimely demise.

I unearthed my old keyboard, the one I was using before. It isn’t exactly broken but it has a few sticky keys of its own.  I was still going to have to get a new keyboard. One key is worn blank. I think it’s the “C” but it doesn’t matter; I need a keyboard. Meanwhile, the old one would have to do because it’s all I’ve got.

I detached the useless keyboard, regretting my careless treatment of it. I extracted the box in which I was storing the original keyboard and mouse that came with my computer. I took the batteries out of the mouse I’ve been using because I don’t like it anyhow and was going to replace it. They were pretty fresh, so I put them in the keyboard, which is wireless and requires a couple of AAs. I put the keyboard where it belongs on the tray, set the mouse, freshly re-batteried on the mousepad. I dumped the now useless keyboard on the floor …  I’ll have to throw it into the bin, but I’m not emotionally ready yet. There’s no point in saving it. I put the mouse I don’t like, but which isn’t broken, in my extra laptop case. I’ve never used it for a computer, but it’s a convenient place to store miscellaneous accessories: spare mice, portable speakers, worn but usable mouse pads, a trackball that no one likes but is brand new.

My monitor IS my computer … and they couldn’t have put the ports in any less accessible a location Why?

I had to plug the transmitter for the keyboard and mouse into the USB port. For some reason, computer designers persist in putting ports and plugs in the least convenient locations. Thus, the fast USB ports are on the back of the monitor. My desktop computer is an all-in-one, so the monitor is the computer, 24 inches of bright, high-definition glass and components. To plug something into one of the high-speed ports, you have to tilt the whole thing all the way forward so that it’s almost lying face down on the desk.

That’s when I knocked over the coffee cup. There wasn’t much coffee in it, and like all my cups, it’s lidded so I managed to move the keyboard before coffee got into the keyboard, but the sealed base got pretty wet. So did a lot of my desk.

I went across the hall to get a roll of paper towels, knocked everything off the sink,then left it on the floor because I can only deal with one emergency at a time.

I wiped up the coffee and decided it was a good time to take the cup back to the kitchen before I knocked it over again.

Back to the bathroom, where I cleaned up the stuff that on the floor. I decided to leave the paper towels in my office because it seemed a roll of paper towels, given the way the day was going, might be good to have at hand.

By then, it was past lunchtime, so I went into the kitchen where, while trying to heat up some soup, I knocked the whole thing over. You wouldn’t think such a small bowl could make such a big mess, but liquid really spreads out and it gets under everything.

That was when I officially declared that I was a danger to myself and others, decided that I should avoid anything involving sharp objects, moving vehicles, or open flames. When Garry got back from picking up our granddaughter, I told him he was going to make a Mickey D run tonight because I was not safe to drive or cook.

He said he’d noticed that the bathroom had undergone some alterations and I mumbled “Yeah, a bit” and he observed mildly that I had kept the paper towels. I said, with only a hint of bitterness, that I felt I should keep them nearby because I was sure to need them.

I ordered a new keyboard. I hope I can control myself and not drop food in it. Replacing keyboards is getting expensive.

Perhaps my coördination will have returned by tomorrow. I hope so because  I was planning to go shopping and I need to drive.

Amazon.com: Large Print USB Computer Keyboard: Marilyn’s Review

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

I don’t usually recommend products. but this one has really improved the quality of my life. I can actually read my keyboard, even in dim light. It’s comfortable to type on. The keys are full size and springy, which took a bit of getting used to, but it’s a huge improvement over the standard Dell keyboard I got with the computer. Worth it and more  … and not all that expensive, either!

A note about tablets: I will never buy a tablet because I hate moving stuff with my fingertips, I prefer a mouse, and I’m a touch typist. There is NO way I can imagine trying to input a long piece of writing on one of the virtual fake touchscreen keyboards … and if I’m going to buy a separate keyboard, uh, hello? Why don’t I just get a laptop? Oh, right. That’s exactly what I did. Hm. Imagine that.

See on www.amazon.com