Thoughtful, detailed coverage of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, plus the best-selling Take Control ebooks.

 

 

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Type Faster by Competing in Races

A fun way to improve your typing speed and accuracy is to join an online typing competition at typrX. This typing competition keeps track of your typing speed, while allowing you to compete against other people, either around the world in public races or with friends in private races. To set up a private race with your friends, follow these simple steps.

  • Once you have a typrX account, click the Create Private Race button on the front page and you’ll be taken to the private race page.
  • From there, copy the track code URL and send it to the friends you want to join the race.
  • You can click the Delay Countdown button to add 10 seconds to the clock if you are waiting on your friend to join the race.

Visit typrX

 
 

Two-Fingered Blackout PowerBook Dropping

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I asked Apple to loan me a new PowerBook so I could test first-hand the hardware features they added in the latest refresh a few weeks ago: the scrolling trackpad, the Sudden Motion Sensor for hard drive protection, and increased backlighting for the keyboard. You can read about these features in Apple's marketing materials, but it's nice to test them first hand.

<http://www.apple.com/powerbook/>

Using the scrolling trackpad is more natural than it may sound. You use two fingers to gesture across the trackpad to simulate a mouse's scroll wheel, which works horizontally as well as vertically; the sensor has no trouble telling the difference between one finger or two. (I've been waiting since college for 3D gestural recognition; a scholar-in-resident spent a year working on that, but obviously we're not there yet.)

Apple says the keyboard backlighting is up to 10 times brighter than in the previous models, and, man, are they right. In a fully darkened room in the back of my office, I kept hitting the brighter-backlight function key and the room got brighter and brighter. It's so bright, in fact, you'll set it below maximum for most situations.

As for the Sudden Motion Sensor, which detects quick movement and locks the hard drive heads, you may ask, did I drop the PowerBook from a great height? Hey, this is a loaner, and I'm responsible for returning it intact. So, no. But I did shake it and drop it in my hands, and it surely did pause and restart the drive without a skip. For a more entertaining test of the Sudden Motion Sensor, see Amit Singh's exploration of the sensor's capabilities, including software that adapts to the PowerBook's position (such as a self-adjusting window that stabilizes itself according to how the laptop is tilted).

<http://www.kernelthread.com/software/ams/>

 

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