GAH! Surface Pro 3

Microsoft has just released news of the Surface Pro 3.

It is the same kind of machine as the Surface Pro, looks like it has similar tech specs, but…it only has a 1.4″ increase in screen size (12″ diagonal instead of 10.6″). WAAH. Why couldn’t it have been a 15″ screen? That would have been perfection!

Well, I will keep looking at convertible laptops, and hoping to find something. Waah.

The Wacom Cintiq Companion

I just spent a good 15 minutes writing this review, and Wacom’s site won’t let me post it unless I log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google or LinkedIn, none of which I use. So I’ll post it here. Maybe someone will stumble across it and get some use out of it.

I currently own and use daily a Surface Pro for my computing needs, and when I want to draw, I connect an Intuos 4 and an external monitor. (The Surface Pro screen is too slick to draw on with its stylus.) But I’m just a dilettante; I draw fan art and sketches for knitwear designs and ideas for home d├ęcor, nothing serious.

When I began to run out of hard drive space on the Surface I cast around to find a bigger machine – both a more robust one, and a physically larger one for better viewability. The Cintiq Companion seemed to be all I ever wanted in a machine – big SSD, more RAM, larger screen. So after months of dithering, I ordered it with the intention of replacing my Surface Pro entirely.

With great excitement I loaded Painter 12 onto the machine, and sat down to draw. The first problem was that I couldn’t calibrate the pen. Tried it several times over the course of the day, but kept finding myself watching the little dot on the screen instead of being able to put my pen down and draw. The next problem was the weight. It’s not that much heavier than the Surface (3.9lbs compared to the Surface Pro’s 2), but it was heavy enough to be cumbersome. It dragged my tote bag all out of proportion and I felt a more sturdy bag ( = additional investment) would have been required, in order not to rip the bag open and drop the expensive hardware on the ground.

Lastly, I’m baffled by all that wasted space around the edge of the screen. I understand the plastic bits where the Wacom buttons are (though I have never bothered to learn what these are for, on my Intuos), but between the edges of the display and the thick plastic frame, there is still almost an inch of dead space, like a frame itself. To be fair, the Surface has this same problem – but the Surface doesn’t have the giant plastic bezel with extra buttons on it like Wacom products do. A 13.3″ screen with no frame around it would have been awesome (and I’m investigating 2-in-1 convertible ultrabooks now for that reason), or even a 15″ screen with the frame.

See the darkest black bit? That’s the actual screen. Everything around it (paler grey area as well as the plastic machine frame) is excess.

In short, for the amount of time I would have spent actually drawing on the screen, I felt this was an expensive (and heavy) piece of machinery that wouldn’t suit my needs. I’m sure it’s great for people who draw at a desk all the time, and people who can calibrate the pen properly, but for me, for just doodling around in Painter 12 and needing to carry it around for my other work, it wasn’t worth the expense, and I sent it back.

The Wacom Cintiq Companion. A 13.3″ screen inside a 15×10 frame.

Etsy Sale

Any of my Etsy followers here? I’m running a sale for the rest of May – 20% off everything with code 20PERCENT. Stop by and have a look! The store contains finished knitwear as well as yarn to create your own beautiful handknits.

Home Work

Alex does homework. That’s not what this post is about.

Recently, both cats have been acting rather agitated. They will run up to a section of interior wall and start meowing at it, or clawing at it. Chris and I suspected there might be mouse activity in the walls, so we had our exterminator service come and do a home inspection. The only place they found activity was in the crawl space, so we are going to have that stripped, sanitized, all the openings blocked up, and re-insulated/re-vapor-barriered (?) and whatnot.

To take our minds off this, we planned some landscaping activity. You may remember our new retaining walls that were put in by the city a few summers ago. The lower wall’s plant bed has dwarf euonymus bushes (which are really rather large; the term ‘dwarf’ no longer really applies) and a giant holly bush which was once a 3′ tall thing in a pot we bought to decorate the porch at Christmas. This thing is growing astronomically. There is also one ‘Marmalade Skies’ rose bush in that lower planting bed, off to the right, and a giant ‘Duchesse de Brabant’ rose bush off to the left. That one is the best-growing rose I’ve ever owned or seen.

The upper planting bed has nothing but ‘Amadeus’ climbing roses (we chose these because they were (a) climbers (b) red and (c) disease-resistant). They too are ferocious growers. We trimmed them all back to 12″ stems last fall and many of them are 4′ high already (or higher). But because they’re climbers, there’s a lot of leafy underpinning without a lot of floral/visual interest, even when in full bloom. What we did this week was purchase several rose shrubs, called “Flower Carpet” (though they do grow higher than you’d expect, with a name like that) and planted them in between the existing climbers, to make a thicker, more leafy and more rosy upper planting bed. We just put them in this morning, and I suffered the usual thorn-related miseries (see below), but we have high hopes of them.

Below that, a picture of the back garden as it looks right now. The new Flower Carpets (the color is ‘Pink Splash’) are in between all the rose bushes on the upper wall, except not in the spaces behind the two largest euonymus (or whatever the plural is) and the holly bush. They wouldn’t be visible there.

My battle scars.
My battle scars.
The garden on May 3.
The garden on May 3.