Review: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonmic Keyboard

Microsoft Sculpt keyboard
The Microsoft Sculpt keyboard

Anyone who has to sit near me in an open office for any length of time usually comments on the punishment that I tend to give keyboards.  I type (both general text and code) very quickly.  When my fingernails are in good condition (i.e. I haven’t spent the weekend with power tools) this fast typing can make a sound like heavy hail on a conservatory roof.  I’ve worn out keyboards before with one work laptop having to use ascii codes every time I needed to type s, n, j or i1 until a replacement arrived.  It’s not that I’m a heavy typer, just that I do a lot of it, especially as a  hands on manager over the years, I’ve had to write reports, documentation and code, so I’ve learned to be very, very fast at it. Continue reading Review: Microsoft Sculpt Ergonmic Keyboard

Using OneNote for Open University TMAs

Image from

I get a lot of attention when using my surface for note taking at work, studying on the tube or train and during OU tutorials, making full use of multiple notebooks, tabs and pages in OneNote.  I’ve written before about using the surface but following a discussion after my most recent tutorial I realised I hadn’t covered the way I use it along side the OU’s electronic TMA submission process1.  A lot of people on the same maths course as I am tend to use \LaTeX and typeset their marked assignments.  While I am a great fan of \LaTeX and appreciate how clear this is for the tutors to mark, I have always preferred to hand write assignments.  While there is some aspect of writing by hand helping to cement ideas more than those typewritten, the main reason I prefer to handwrite is that the exam is handwritten.  If I don’t force myself into regular, neat mathematical writing then it’s easy to make mistakes in the time pressure of the exam.  Simple things like forgetting to underline vector or matrix definitions can cost marks and if the examiner can’t distinguish a 0 from a 6 then you’re going to be in trouble! Continue reading Using OneNote for Open University TMAs

Surface Pro: how I use it – a review

Surface Pro 3I first used the Surface Pro 3 on my trip to Boston to take notes at ReWorkDL rather than scribbling on bits of paper or taking a full laptop and found it to be a great replacement for an A4 notebook, but didn’t really use it to its full potential.  At the start of November, I joined a new company and I’ve been using the Surface exclusively for all my note taking, as well as for studying for my OU Maths modules.

With the recent release of the Surface 4, there may be people wondering if they’re worth it, and what use they’d get out of it.  There are plenty of technical reviews around so I’d suggest using those as a starting point, and if you’re headed out to the sales, you might find my experiences helpful.   Continue reading Surface Pro: how I use it – a review