Praise be to the Microsoft Natural Keyboard

I've been typing for a very long time. I was originally taught touch typing using an old-school manual typewriter in Year 3 by a nun. I spent much of my childhood dicking around with computers starting with the Dick Smith Wizzard, learning to program. My teenage years were (mis)spent chatting on bulletin boards, then the Internet.
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By the time I left high school I could do about 140 words per minute at typing so my first real job was doing data entry for a mail order porn video company, typing in peoples' orders for, erm, adult entertainment. To this day I can type a credit card number in about 5 seconds without looking at the numeric keyboard.

Once I got a real job I found my wrists started getting sore from all the hours at the keyboard. Real ergonomic keyboards cost an absolute mint so I started trying out Microsoft's recently-released ergonomic keyboard, borrowed from someone at work who'd tried it and given up finding it too weird. Once I stopped crossing-over for the "b" key, I really got used to it and I haven't been without a couple since.

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I've owned about every iteration, including the diabolical "Elite" whose sin was to change the layout of the arrow keys. I tend to own one for work and one for home, and end up having to buy a new one every 1.5 years or so as they wear out. Not bad given the amount of work they seem, and I often eat my lunch over them. I had one die when our ceiling collapsed in our London flat a few years back, it never really got the grit out and half the keys stopped working a few days later.

This email was prompted by me having to run out and buy yet another. A cluster of keys on the left-hand side had stopped working. Yet again they've changed the grade of plastic on the keys, though they seem okay. It's a bit less clacky too.

So thanks Microsoft. At least you've got one product that has mostly been superb! Now if Logitech would just bring back the superb Trackman Marble FX I'd be very happy!

Logitech TrackMan Marble FX

Music I've been enjoying

For those of you who don't religiously observe my last.fm feed, I've discovered some awesome new music recently, from a variety of sources. And I don't mean The Wiggles. Blame Louis for that...

Grimes
If you haven't discovered Grimes yet, you should definitely check her out. Quirky and catchy. At first I really didn't dig it, what with its reverb overload a la mode, but there was some hook in it that kept me coming back. Now I'm hooked. Sadly all her Sydney gigs sold out in minutes and I missed out.

Hidden Orchestra
On a totally different tack, this collective from Edinburgh are a jazz orchestra with more in common to hip hop and post rock than jazz. Kind of a more electronically influenced version of The Necks. In fact, if The Necks ever programmed All Tomorrow's Parties (dream ticket!) these guys would definitely be on the bill. Love it. And the new album is awesome.

Zoey Van Goey
Staying in Scotland but sounding more like a band in the Canadian orbit around The New Pornographers (listen to You Told The Drunks I Knew Karate to see what I mean), these guys have beautifully catch pop choruses and harmonies. If this song and cute video doesn't put a smile on your face, you need a heart transplant. Discovered through their link to fellow Wegies Belle & Sebastian and The Delgados.

Civil Civic
Finally one of the bands introduced by a colleague. They're somewhere in the same area as Ratatat, possibly somewhere out near Tortoise? I dig it anyway.

First Sydney FC home game of the season

Saturday night was the first Sydney FC home game for the season. A lovely warm afternoon and 35,000 people packing the stadium. Given the last home game last season had around 7,000, it was a very different experience having that many people around. We're used to spreading out across a dozen seats with the kids and all our kid equipment. Not so this time, very few empty seats. We couldn't even force our way into our usual spots in The Cove it was so jammed with people.

I spent the second half of the game walking Ruby around with a pram to get her to sleep. She slept through Del Piero's amazing free kick goal and resulting pandemonium. The view from higher up was quite a bit better anyway, as you can see from my photos.

Gonna be an exciting season if Sydney can get their shit together. We looked good in the last 20 minutes but were pretty poor the rest of the time.

Ahhh democracy

Spent the morning handing out for The Greens in Marrickville. The powers wielded by local government are quite incredible. According to one old Greek lady, since the Greens came in she's had to pay someone to empty her gutters of leaves, because a Green council likes trees or something.

And if you've been listening to nothing-dodgy-at-all-oh-no local "Independent" crypto-Tory candidates Vic Macri and Morris Hanna, the Greens policy is to have 24 hour, cycle-thru brothels and injection rooms on every street. Sounds like a nice little piece of small business, which is supposedly what those two are all about.

The genuine Tories even managed to find some local supporters to hand out for them this time around, amazingly. Will probably take their votes from zero to the dizzying tens.

Labor volunteers are generally quite nice, deluded lefties who think they belong to a left-wing party. Interesting interplay when the candidate, Sam Iskandar, visited the booth and pointedly ignored the two volunteers. Different factions or something?

Ahhh democracy. Fortunately most of the people are lovely, and it was rather pleasant once the sun rose over the church and we could thaw a bit.

Let's put the people smugglers out of business

Clive Palmer has a knack for making statements that get him loads of publicity. This time around he's said something really sensible. ABC reports:
"If a family wishes to fly to Australia and they don't have a visa and can safely fly, the Australian government should instruct airlines to allow them to board," he said in a statement.

I say we take this even further and put them out of business by undercutting them. Allow anyone, no matter what passport they hold, to fly to Australia on payment of a $5,000 bond. If they're issued with a visa on arrival, they get their money back. Otherwise, profit!