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Welcome to Chloe

Chloe is a name I’d long figured I’d give to a daughter, if I were the breeding type, but ‘Chloe Clark’ always seemed too ridiculous a combination. The staccato of repetitious ‘C’s in ‘Chris Clark’ has always bugged me to some extent, ‘C–L’s could only be worse. Considering I’m also fond of the name Clarice, you have to worry about the psychological well–being of my future progeny.

Incidentally, I’ve just named my 12–inch PowerBook Chloe.

Picking her up two days ago, it turns out my first notebook computer is also my first girl computer —a shock to us all, no doubt— and thus she was dubbed Chloe. It’s been a positive experience thus far, and I’m still amazed to see such a full–featured computer in such a tiny package. The loss of screen real estate migrating from a 17" CRT to a 12" LCD wasn’t as painful as first feared, she’s noticeably zippier than the desktop she’s superseding, and the keyboard is deceptively comfortable (though having an extra key where there was none before [ie– the function key] will take some getting used to).

Small, sexy, and well–named, I’d probably date her if she weren’t inanimate.

Touchscreen? Huh?

Generally speaking, I consider myself a pretty keyboard–savvy kinda guy; and with Mac OS X being the keyboard–friendly place that it is once you’ve enabled full keyboard access, there aren’t too many times in the day I need to reach for the mouse (or trackpad, though I dislike those things immensely). The moments I do need to reach for the mouse are ones where the mouse would honestly be quicker, and given that you can’t really move and resize windows from the keyboard, it’s an out–and–out requirement at times.

What I’d like to see though, in place of (or in complement to) the trackpad/mouse situation we’re all currently familiar with, is touchscreen. Need to move or resize a window? Just reach out and drag that sucker! Can’t be bothered hitting Ctrl–F5 then tab–tab–tab–tab–tabbing your way over to some obscure NSToolbar item that just doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut? Just punch it! The metaphor of on–screen interaction that we live through the mouse is a poor substitute for actual interaction with the screen, and I dare say that the time it takes for you to take your hands off the keyboard and touch any given point of your screen is less than the time it would take to remove said hands from keyboard, grab the mouse, and acquire the same target with the mouse. This is true of laptops, where the screen is mere inches away, but not so true of desktops where your monitor is practically a foot and a half from your keyboard. Hey, I never said it was a perfect idea; just that I wanted to see it; moreso because it is technically feasible in this day and age than because of any particularly futurist bent.

The mouse is growing stale; and though I’m still in line for one of those funky cerebral implants the 21st Century was supposed to deliver to us, I don’t expect it to arrive any decade soon. We need a new device for human–computer interaction —something along the lines of the gloves in Minority Report— and soon… before I grow old and unable to adapt to new methodologies. Where the hell is Xerox PARC when you need them? Why aren’t Sci–Fi writers employed deep in the bowels of hardware manufacturers’ R&D ThinkTanks? And what the hell ever happened to the Nintendo Power Glove?