Send In the Clones: Battle Royale – Google Drive/SkyDrive/Dropbox

Upload / DownloadGuest Contributor, Bruce Berls. Originally posted at Bruceb.com - http://www.brucebnews.com/2012/04/technical-notes-about-dropbox-skydrive-and-google-docs/. The second article in a series on Cloud Storage Dropbox, Microsoft Skydrive, Google Drive: Send In The Clones

This is not an exhaustive list, just a few things that stand out about the cloud syncing services in their current forms. None of these is a reason to choose one or the other service, they’re just interesting things to know.

DROPBOX

SPEED Dropbox has become tremendously popular because of its speed and reliability. When you modify a file on your laptop, the changes are synced to your desktop computer in the time that it takes you to push your chair in front of the other keyboard. Dropbox uses very smart technology to sync folders with an absolute minimum of data being transmitted back and forth.

HIGHER PRICE At the moment, Google Drive and Skydrive are cheaper if you want to purchase large amounts of storage space. I expect those price differences to even out quickly. Dropbox is likely to adjust its pricing, perhaps in the next few days.

NO ONLINE EDITING Long-term, the key differentiator is likely to be that Dropbox does not let you open files directly into Google Docs or Microsoft Office Web Apps. Neither of those is currently used heavily but I expect them to become better known and more useful; if Dropbox is cut off from them, it will be a real disadvantage. I’m hoping a solution will be cooked up by Dropbox or a third-party developer.

GOOGLE DRIVE

NO DELTA UPLOADS I saw an unconfirmed report of a technical shortcoming in Google Drive: reportedly it is remarkably inefficient about using your bandwidth to upload and download data.

Dropbox uploads and downloads only the changed bits in a file – “delta” uploads, if I understand the vocabulary. If you change a few words in a Word file, Dropbox does not upload the entire file, just a few bits of data that cover the changes.

Apparently, Google Drive will upload the entire changed file in that case. Any time any bit in a file is changed, Google Drive uploads and downloads the entire file again.

When you’re working with big files, that potentially leads to delays in the syncing process. It’s also just ugly from a technical perspective.

Similarly, Google Drive reportedly requires uploads to be duplicated in situations where Dropbox is smarter – if you have a duplicate file in two folders, for example, Dropbox uploads it once, Google Drive uploads it twice. If the report is true, Dropbox engineers are a big step ahead of the Google Drive engineers.

NO RIGHT-CLICK SHARING Google Drive and Skydrive also have one shortcoming compared to Dropbox in the process of sharing files. You can right click on a file or folder in the Dropbox folder on your computer and get a link to share with anyone with a single click. (Dropbox just enhanced its sharing features a few days ago, making it even easier to use the service for sharing files.)

Neither Google Drive nor Skydrive offer any right-click menu on files or folders – not for sharing, not for anything else. Sharing can only be done using fairly clumsy controls on each website.

SKYDRIVE

NO SELECTIVE SYNC The big shortcoming of Skydrive only affects people storing very large amounts of data in it: there is no way to do a selective sync on a computer so that only certain folders are synced. When Skydrive is installed on a Windows or Mac computer, the entire contents of the Skydrive folders are always copied to the computer. That may not be what you want if you’re using the service for large photo, music or video collections and you want to add Skydrive to a notebook with a small hard drive.

NO DELETED ITEM RECOVERY A more interesting shortcoming is that Skydrive currently offers no recovery of deleted items. When a file is deleted, it’s just gone. When you delete a file from the Skydrive folder on your computer, the file goes in the Recycle Bin, so frequently that won’t be a terrible problem. But it’s an odd omission; being able to recover deleted files for 30 days is basic and easy to implement.

FETCH FILES FROM OTHER FOLDERS Skydrive does, however,have one interesting feature that the other services don’t offer. You can reach through it to the file system of another computer connected to your Skydrive account and download any file from that computer, no matter where it’s located, as long as the other computer is turned on.

skydrivefetch

The “fetch” feature requires authentication for security – you can’t reach into the remote computer unless you tap in a code transmitted by email or text message. (That might only be required once for each computer. I haven’t tested to see if network drives can be accessed this way.)

These are all things that might be changed as these services evolve in the next few months. They are the kind of quirks that come along with any new technology – any of them might be important to you as you begin to use the service but it’s hard to predict that and discover missing features ahead of time. Good luck!

***

Bruceb Consulting is one of the leading IT consulting firms in the North Bay, providing computer consulting and IT support to law firms, small businesses, and individuals – onsite in Sonoma County and Marin County, and remotely for clients all over California.

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It Etches! It Sketches! It Helps You…Stay Productive?

While scanning the elements of my News Feed on LinkedIn the other day I came across an interesting post by Jeb Ory, CEO of the mobile relationship management startup 5Degrees, and a fellow Chicago Booth graduate.  He wrote about a skill that has all but died on the vine in the business world, of taking notes. 

Jeb’s post prompted some self-reflection about the importance of note-taking in my life.  Consultants are always exploring the new: new clients, new industries, new functional areas.  Throughout this discovery process, there is a dangerous tendency toward overestimating the power of focus, as noted in The Wall Street Journal recently.  Note-taking is an important tool for augmenting our abilities for recall.  In meetings, conference calls, and even the informal “stop and chats”  that (Larry David’s criticism notwithstanding), putting pen to paper can really help manage the information overload.

As I’d noted in a previous post, traveling consultants face myriad challenges.  We can add one more to this list: solving the question, “what to do with the pile of legal pads on which I’ve jotted down great ideas, notes, and million-dollar ideas?”  Reams and reams of paper with notes do not fit in well with the peripatetic lifestyle of a consultant.  The risk of considerable back pain aside, it is nearly impossible to glean insights from illegible chicken scratch jotted down a few days ago, especially after a red-eye flight or ten.

And Now for Something Completely Better…

I tired quickly of cramming legal pads for cross-country trips into overhead bins, and knew there had to be a better way. Enter into this conundrum Penultimate, a revolutionary iPad app that brings method to the madness, and does it with style.  It shatters the notion of the iPad as a frivolous toy, pushing it more into the realm of productivitySteve Jobs’ criticism of the stylus notwithstanding, I ponied up the $20 bucks for the RadTech Styloid and was soon “off to the races,” as they say.

I quickly discovered that Penultimate rocks the house, because it:

  • Allows for a more natural, free-flow note-taking experience than tapping furiously on a laptop keyboard a la Carrie Bradshaw
  • Integrates with other productivity tools.  As Apple has spawned a robust cottage industry of apps, it is not surprising that Penultimate seamlessly integrates with leading edge applications such as Evernote and Dropbox (another tool that I am passionate about).
  • Appeals to your eco-friendly, tree-hugging instincts.  Think about it: a week-long workshop, or marathon brainstorming strategy session will likely yield a lot of great ideas, but also a lot of pads of paper.  Think of how many trees in the Brazilian rain forest you could save by capturing that stuff digitally.
  • Great for brainstorming interactively with clients and prospects.  You can reap the collaborative benefits of a whiteboard without the noxious fumes of Magic Markers, or the damage that endless erasing can do to your wardrobe.
  • Convinces your spouse or significant other that you didn’t just blow a couple hundred bucks on yet another gadget, but have instead invested in a productivity-enhancing game changer.  My wife will back me up when I say this is the most important one.

Couple O’ Caveats

Don’t get me wrong.  There is something pure and organic about capturing notes with a ball-point pen.  When speaking with clients informally, it’s better to casually jot down notes rather than pull out a computerized device.   And yes, the touch-and-feel aspect notwithstanding, the iPad screen can seem a bit cold and sterile.  And as with most apps, Penultimate may have limited appeal to change-averse technophobes loathe to introduce modifications to their comfortable routine.  Finally, after an all-day strategy session you can keep writing away without having  to plug your legal pad into the wall for “more juice.”  The same, unfortunately, cannot be said about the iPad / Penultimate approach.

Cure the Pain, One Meeting At A Time

Nonetheless, this app puts the “ultimate” in Penultimate, and does so in spades.  It turns your iPad from a cool gadget to an “Etch-a-Sketch on steroids.”  Next time you’re trying to quickly jump to conclusions through stacks and stacks of paper, consider a better approach.  Hop on over to the App store, and shell out the whopping 99 cents (Stylus not included) to take your productivity to the next level.  Your clients, your spouse, and your long-suffering back will be eternally grateful!

Nikhil Torsekar is a Senior Manager with Peritius Consulting, a management consulting firm focusing exclusively on strategic execution.  He has over 10 years of experience delivering innovative solutions to clients in health care, telecommunications, automotive, and financial services industries.  When not talking about his fanatic interest in Penultimate, Twitter, or devices that start with a lowercase “i,” he enjoys running, reading, and spending time with his awesome family.

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Finer Things In Life – FTIL #8: Pleasure Metrics

breguet tourbillon perpetual calendar watch

Please get your mind out of the gutter – this is a family friendly blog… :-)  No, not that kind of pleasure metrics, rather the pleasure one gets from owning watches like the Breguet Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Model 3755pr, pictured above for cool 250K each.  I know – some are lucky enough to wear what’s equivalent to a down payment on a house on his or her wrist…

Learjet

ForbesLife recently published a quick snapshot of the 2-year inflation rate, from 2010 to 2012, in the ultra-luxury goods segment – from handbags to Learjet to watches.  While most of us certainly don’t think about dropping almost 10MM for a 2000HP speedboat, it was an interesting read.  If nothing else, it makes you think about our government’s assertion that 2% – 3% annual inflationary rates or increase of money supply in circulation represents a healthy growth.

A few indicators:

  • Slightly more affordable version of the aforementioned Breguet – Messidor Tourbillon in rose gold, from 139.9K in 2010 to 146.9K in 2012
  • Petrossian Special Reserve Ossetra (1 kilo ultra-exclusive caviar, one of the few items that dropped in price) – from 18.4K in 2010 to 12K in 2012
  • Magnum Marine 80 (2.4K HP speedboat) – 8.95MM, no change in price between 2010 and 2012, same with Rolls-Royce Phantom (380K) and Bombardier Learjet 40XR (10.61MM)
  • Hermes Kelly bag in calfskin – from 7.3K in 2010 to 7.5K in 2012
  • Courtside-seat ticket at LA Lakers game – from 2.5K in 2010 to 2.7K in 2012
  • One night stay at overwater 1  bedroom villa at St Regis Bora Bora during high season – from 1.33K in 2010 to 1.56K in 2012

krug clos du mesnil champagne

While I will not be purchasing a bottle of Krug Clos Du Mesnil for 1K anytime soon, my wife and I had the pleasure of sharing a bottle of ’96 Henriot ‘Cuvee des Enchanteleurs for our recent 10 year anniversary thanks to a dear friend and a business partner.  Delicious…   Now if only I could afford the Omega Skeletonized Tourbillon Co-Axial Platinum Limited Edition watch…   Here’s to enjoying our slice of finer things in life!

 

 

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What Would You Cut Out in a Financial Pinch?

diva cfo survey graphic aicpa

Graphic Courtesy of DivaCFO.com

Guest Contributor, Stephanie Bruno

The graphic above represents statistics mentioned in the AICPA (American Institute of CPAs) article, “Americans Likely to Keep Cell Phones, Protect Retirement in Pinch.”    So Divas, would you rather give up your beloved iPhone or cut back on eating at restaurants if you were in a financial pinch? We’re definitely going with the majority on this one – keep our cell phones and ditch going out to eat! Let us know what you would give up in the comments below!

With her mother Susan Bruno, Stephanie Bruno is the Chief Editor of DivaCFO.

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Tidbits #10 – A Question of North Korea

kim jong il team america deceased

Cartoon Leader (Recently Departed)

Yes, you guessed it.  My nickname is the “great leader.”  A colleague once jokingly called me as such, and it stuck…  No I am not from North Korea – I was born in Busan, South Korea; raised in California; and educated in NY and Pennsylvania.  But it happens at every business mixer, cocktail party, etc…  As soon as someone figures out I’m Korean-American (vs. any other Asian heritage), the dreaded question is asked.  “What do you think about North Korea?”  Ugh…   People, politics, blah, blah, blah…   Can’t speak for other Korean-Americans out there, but I’d rather talk just about anything else including the weather and the three-legged duck, than North Korea…

On that note, here are my thoughts on former neighbor to the north of the border that recently made yet another headline for failed launch of its long-range missile system for the 3rd time.  Bottom line – sad really…   Politics and everything else set aside, only the people suffer…  Have you seen a recent satellite picture of the Korean Peninsula at night?  South Koreans were extremely gung-ho on the promise reunification until they saw the economic toll it took on West Germany after the two Germanys reunited in the early 90’s.  Now that the generation that possesses first-hand memories of the relatives to the north, have begun passing away, it’s not clear if the topic of reunification will stay as relevant as before.

When I was stationed in the DMZ in the 90’s as a US Army officer, we had an annual exercise called Warsteed or 7-day war.  If there were ever to be a real conflict in the Peninsula, the prediction was gloom and doom – it will be over in a week, and everyone dies.  Unlike in Iraq or Afghanistan where there’s room to maneuver and fight, South Korean cities are some of the most densely populated cities in the world.

Reunification – not in our life time.  War – hopefully not.  Diplomacy – yes please…   Sad, really…

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All Positive on the iPhone 5!

iphone5 iphone 5 features

Let’s talk some more about iPhone 5 and consider users’ motivations to upgrade.  There’s a ton of reasons to purchase the newest iPhone when it releases this fall season.  Reasons like: a bigger screen, better camera, better resolution, new design and same design (yeah, that’s right, it’s both), full HD video recording, 64GB models, no more storage, better battery, 3D display, enhanced voice controls, iTunes cloud enhanced features, as well and no home button!

iphone 5 iphone5 tile home button

With the iPhone 4 having a better camera over prior models (5Mpx digital camera), the iPhone 5 will hopefully include a 8Mpx digital camera or more. The screen will maybe have 4 to 5 inches diagonally making it bigger than the current generation iPhone 4.  Since the screen is wider, the resolution could (and logically should) be better as well.

 


iphone4 iphone4

The iPhone 5 may have the same design as the iPhone 4, but could have the glass on the back replaced with brushed metal. There is also a rumor saying the new design could be inspired by the iPad 2, which would mean the thickness would be reduced with a sleeker profile that features metallic black sides and rounded  edges.

For the iPhone 5 and its low cost models there may not be internal memory storage included. This could be where everyone (users, carriers and Apple) might run into some issues. With a better version of iCloud, that may also mean that Mobile Me is enhanced. iOS 5 will be launched the day of the iPhone 5’s release. The iPhone 5 will more than likely be available in white just like the iPhone 4’s. 3D display is still being considered.

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Constructive Conversation – Guest Post by Scott Beilke

constructive conversationHow are your conversations?  The quality of your conversation is an indicator of your workplace culture and a window into your team performance and effectiveness.   The key behaviors of a leader manifest through conversation.  In fact, you could argue that leadership is a stream of conversation.  A constructive conversation is at the heart of leading well.  It centers on a common purpose, makes a difference and is guided by a leader. A constructive conversation creates, refines and shares knowledge.
A constructive conversation:

Is a Dialogue Is not a debate
Is about Listening Is not about preparing an answer
Is about Being Open Is not about making judgments
Is about Connecting Is not about controlling

Constructive conversations happen when people feel safe enough to raise normally untouchable issues, challenge one another’s viewpoints and collaborate to resolve issues.  As a leader, you’re the role model for the way conversations materialize.  Your ability to conduct constructive conversations is an indispensable leadership tool.

Scott Beilke is a change leadership consultant and director at Brighton Leadership Group

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Clinton Global Initiative America and SMBs: Hot Stuff or Hot Air?

Gabrielle Lyon

Gabrielle Lyon - Photo by Chris Guillen

In early June the Clinton Global Initiative America  will descend on Chicago with a magnetic field attracting cross-sector C-Suite representatives from around the country.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Clinton Global Initiative (or its younger sister, CGI America), here’s how it works: CGI entices a who’s who to come together to work on fixing big problems with new ideas.  People are put into rooms with a working agenda and through the course of two days (give or take) they surface a bunch of ideas, mix or mash them together, and come out the other end with an ambitious agenda, a big vision and a set of commitments that leverage funds or access to resources to move the needle on the big problem.  CGI America is specifically focused on developing solutions that will “address unemployment, prepare Americans to be competitive global citizens, and rethink current models that shape our economy and society.”  Solutions take the form of commitments. Commitments are what the convening is all about.  It’s all about commitment.

I’ve been asked to serve as one of a handful of advisors for the STEM Education strand.  Along with 11 other working groups (including Clean Electricity, Early Childhood Education, Housing Recovery, Small Business, and Workforce Development), STEM Education will have a hundred or so CEO-level representatives from corporate America, philanthropy (individual and foundations), government and a scattering of nonprofits.

I’m the cofounder of a science education organization based in Chicago called Project Exploration.  Our mission is to make science accessible to students of color and girls through personalized experiences with science and scientists.  We’re trying to change the face of science – literally and figuratively – by creating out of school time experiences for young people to work with scientists and experience the wonders of discovery first hand – in labs, on expeditions and, most of all, in their own lives.  We foster long-term relationships with middle and high school students and reach out especially to young people who struggle in school.  After a decade of this work our students are graduating high school at more than double the rates of their peers in Chicago Public Schools and more than half of them go on to pursue higher education and degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and math. (See more about our 10-year study here:  Link)

I served as the Executive Director of Project Exploration for nearly 12 years and in that role focused on slow and steady growth: being able to support personalized relationships with our participants has been central to our organizational development strategy.  A dozen years after we opened our doors we’re a 15-person, $1.8 million-dollar organization with a growing national reputation (and national recognition) for leveling the playing field in STEM education.

We’re small – we’re not the smallest nonprofit, but we’re no Field Museum or After School Matters.  So how are we going to contribute to the impact of a conversation where the landscape is being defined as the whole darn ocean?  We’ve got two places: the agenda itself and how we think about scale:

We’re in the midst of setting the program agenda for the STEM Education working session and trying to design a program that will address the weak STEM education program in the US.

The first rub is a philosophical and educational (or, more specifically, a curricular) one: which part of WEAK is actually the issue? This set of choices will shape the agenda and, in turn, define how the proverbial needle-moving, solution-focused “commitments” get made:

  • Is it workforce development? (Students aren’t getting real-life skills to be able to work in the STEM companies who want to hire them?)
  • Is it that students can’t pass national and international tests of science proficiency?
  • Is it that students of color and girls are underrepresented in the workforce we have?
  • Is it that teachers are underprepared and under-resourced and that’s why students don’t do well in STEM or pursue STEM as a career?
  • Is it that STEM initiatives focus on some students but not others – that is, STEM as it’s currently taught focuses on engaging students in the top 5% or 10% academically and the rest are written off?
  • Is it that STEM is supposed to teach critical thinking and wonder for the world but instead the curriculum teaches memorization and accumulation of random facts?

So many weak options to choose from: each suggesting a different set of solutions and strategies.  In an advisory role I’ve got a great chance to leverage Project Exploration’s experience to help shape and agenda that draws on what we’ve seen matters for young people least likely to get involved with STEM.

Here’s the second rub, and the one that most pertains to SMBs (Small and mid-sized businesses).  The CGI game plays on a court that lends itself to BIG: commitments need to be about affecting things “at scale,” “taking things to scale” or “being ambitious.” “Ambition” and “Vision” are the currency of the land. (For example, last year the STEM group emerged with the 100K in 10 initiative focusing on teachers. The goal: prepare100,000 teachers to be STEM teachers over the next 10 years.)

To (perhaps) state the obvious, the issues facing SMBs participating in the CGI scene come down to:

1)     Getting in the door. Getting an invite is all about who-knows-who and who can contribute to commitments; and

2)     Cold hard cash: With a $3K price tag for participation you might ask is it even worth it (that’s a blog post in and of itself).  Sparse comps can be leveraged by getting a recommendation, getting a sponsor or bringing something for a commitment.

If you’re in the door you potentially get access to big fish and big fish-food.  If you want to take something BIG or to scale this would be the place to try to launch.  But what if you like being small or mid-size?  What’s the game?  How does a small or mid-size group make use of a seat at the table?  This is what I’ve been thinking about.

Being close to the ground – when everyone else is up in the air – can make a difference for real impact that matters vs. real talk that never materializes into anything tangible.   When you get this many well-intentioned, well-connected networkers together there’s a good chance that everyone will have something to talk about.  But the real question is can rubber connect with road?  This is where having data, being a model and being able to contribute real-life stories that can help others think about realities and opportunities of operationalizing becomes a set of chips worth having, holding and showing.

The issue of engaging and retaining young people of color and girls from families who may be poor or living in under-resourced neighborhoods to STEM is an issue that’s been on the national agenda for 50 years with little to show in the way of impact.  Project Exploration has data and a model based on personalization that lends itself to adoption rather than replication.  In a big ocean being a landmark can really help navigators – and that’s how I’m hoping to approach it all.

So to the question of “Hot stuff or hot air?”  I’m inclined to think being an SMB with data and real-life stories will offer a great chance to be hot-stuff – and, perhaps importantly for CGI – a chance to keep the overall program being too much hot air.

About Gabrielle Lyon

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon is the Cofounder and Senior Explorer of Project Exploration, a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the face of science by ensuring students of color and girls have personalized experiences with science and scientists.  Lyon has nearly two-decades of experience as an education activist, convener and nonprofit leader.  She received her BA and MA from the University of Chicago and her PhD from the University of Illinois Chicago. She blogs for Project Exploration and her personal blog, Schooling Science. www.schoolingscienceblog.org.

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FTIL 7 – Buying Your Own Island (Part 1 of 3 part series)

buy your own island

If you Google “private island sale,” 52MM results return in less than a second.  It is a thriving industry indeed…  There are tons of brokerage houses – asides from more well known, full service shops like Private Island Online and Vladi Private Islands, there are tons of niche dealers specializing in specific regions like the Caribbean, Virgin Islands, Canada, Bahamas, Europe, etc.  Vladi boasts a database of more than 10,000 private islands worldwide and claims to have brokered over 1,000 transactions in the last 30 years.  The prices range from $25,000 to $50MM, although typical tranactions range between $200K and $800K.  Here are some special requirements or steps you should follow before plopping down the cash.

  • The island should not be too far from general population in case of emergency
  • Fresh, drinking water must be available
  • The host country must be politically stable
  • The land itself should be suitable for development, unless you intend to use it for otherwise
  • Use a good lawyer – ensure the title is free and unencumbered and pre-ownership is clear in a Registry of Deeds

Lastly, drive before you buy.  Stay a day or two on the island to ensure no surprises.  There are bargains to be had.  The cheapest island sold in 2007 according to public records was an eighth acre in Lake Charlotte, Nova Scotia, Canada for $1,500.  Happy hunting…

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The Magic Mouse iPhone…?

magic mouse iphone iphone5 iphone 5

 

There are some sneaky rumors being leaked out on the iPhone 5. What’s true and what’s not? I have heard news on a ton of features and changes Apple will be doing with its newest iPhone design. The iPhone 5 is said to be shipping out in September of this year, not this June or July; Apple is adding new features and changing the design of the phone itself.

 

New features such as:

  • Faster multi- core processor based on the Cortex A9 design
  • Upgraded graphics and video processor which will boost the media’s capacity
  • New near- field communication technology lets you use your iPhone as your payment device
  • Antenna design will be different
  • Increase of memory – meaning more storage capacity
  • Increase in screen size from 3.5 to 3.7 inches
  • 1080p video recording and 8 megapixel camera is a possible upgrade
  • Very likely to have 4G LTE connectivity
  • Magic Mouse, Ciccare design

 

Some suspect that Apple could have a problem with its new design, because there is no visible audio jack and this will be a problem when using wired headphones.  It’s been heard that the new iPhone will have curved glass screens.  Displaying a sharper image and a bigger screen, Apple is gearing up to compete with its main competitor Samsung Galaxy S II with its 4.6 OLED display. The many features mentioned come from both rumor channels and straight from Apple itself.magic mouse iphone curved

 

The question is do you adore the new Magic Mouse design? Or do you prefer the current design?

 
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