The Null Device


I recently bought myself a Korg NanoKey. That's a tiny USB MIDI keyboard, about the width of a low-end MacBook, with two octaves of plasticky-feeling keys.

Laptop and Korg NanoKey
The NanoKey has received mixed reviews, with some admiring the concept and others complaining at how cheap it feels. I've only been using it for a week or so, but I'm extremely pleased with it. For one, it's tiny, which makes all the difference. It fits comfortably in a laptop bag, and is small enough to get out and use anywhere; I can take it out in a café without looking like some kind of attention-seeking weirdo, or even use it on a train (these have both been tested; the last one, in economy class aboard the Eurostar). Or, I can place it unobstrusively on the desk. The convenience factor is a big win; in contrast, I also have a 25-key Evolution MK-425C, which is about the size of a backpack, and has been gathering dust for ages.

Of course, as you can probably guess, the NanoKey is thin and plasticky. If you're guessing it feels cheap, kind of like a child's toy piano, you'd be right. No-one will mistake it for a Steinway grand any time soon. Though, given the convenience, that doesn't matter; it works well enough for what it does, which is sending MIDI notes better than the QWERTY keyboard. And furthermore, it is touch-sensitive; I was quite surprised to find this out.

It also came with a download code for the cut-down edition of Korg's M1 softsynth. Which is great should I ever need an Italo-house piano or similar.

The upshot of this is that I've been playing with music more, and when I do, in a more hands-on way; actually playing notes, rather than clicking and dragging. In any case, it was probably the best £45 or so I've spent in a long time.

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Speculation is rising over the health of the autocratic leader of a secretive polity after announcements that he won't be making annual public appearances. This time, it's not North Korean CEO Kim Jong-Il, but Apple God-Emperor Steve Jobs:

Several Apple employees contacted by have reported that they haven't seen Jobs since the company announced the CEO would not appear for a Macworld keynote. Jobs generally isn't very visible in public, but the employees said they haven't seen him on campus recently, either.

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