December 01, 2004

Of Mice And Men

I watch the advancement of computer mouse technology with a touch of bemusement. Of all the little components that make up today's desktop computer, I've always thought that the mouse should just remain simple. Instead, they're growing entirely too complex.

My initial mouse training came about in high school, working on the then-revolutionary Macintosh. The mouse was a simple thing: a single button hunk of oval plastic that took a maximum of two minutes to master.

There was even a brief tutorial program on the Mac that taught students the nuances of clicking and dragging, and the excessively difficult maneuver known as double-clicking. It was a silly little program, but seeing as how there was precious little else to do with the Mac, roughly 98 percent of my classmates probably ran through the tutorial six or seven times just for the heck of it.

I continued to use the single-button mouse for many years, but then a little company known as Microsoft came about and unveiled an operating system called Windows 95. Perhaps you've heard of it.

Windows 95 was an operating system that revolutionized the world of home computing. For the first time, millions of Americans could experience the joy and wonder of having their computers lock up and crash for no apparent reason. Almost overnight, people learned the hidden meaning behind the term Ctrl+Alt+Delete, affectionately referred to as the "three finger salute."

Windows 95 also prompted a revolution in mouse technology, introducing a second button. I'm not sure why, exactly, but whereas I was able to learn the single button in under two minutes, it took me an eternity to get used to that infernal second button. But, because all the really cool computer games supported Windows 95 rather than Macintosh, I had no choice but to endure the new double button mouse.

Then, as the Internet became an indispensable part of our daily lives, the mouse powers that be decreed that a third button should be placed between the two main buttons, and that button eventually morphed into a scrolling wheel which, for some reason that still escapes me, I JUST HAD TO HAVE.

From there, mouse developers just started going crazy. Mice were introduced that had as many as seven or eight buttons. Apparently, the developers forgot that the standard issue human hand only features five fingers.

Still other mice make use of the revolutionary track-ball technology, which, if you've ever attempted to use, is kind of like trying to navigate an airplane through a hurricane using nothing but your thumb and forefinger.

As you may have surmised, I had to purchase a new mouse over the weekend, because my old mouse--a five button optical mouse with scrolling wheel--up and died on me Saturday night. It's sad when a computer mouse dies; the cursor just kind of hangs there on the screen, unmoving. It's the computer equivalent of a flatline.

My new mouse features yet another innovation that strikes me as unnecessary, but which I had to have nonetheless: wireless technology. Using it, I could, if the mood so strikes me, walk as far away as eight feet from my computer and still move the cursor, all without the maddening limitations of a traditional, wire-bound mouse.

Now I just have to sit back and wait for my keyboard to up and croak, because there are some really cool keyboard innovations available. You still have to type Ctrl+Alt+Delete though. I know this because my computer crashed while I was installing the mouse software.

Ain't technology grand?

Posted by Ryan at December 1, 2004 12:22 PM

So... _why_ aren't you using a Mac?

Oh... right... games.

That's what Playstation is for. (or XBox if you must patronize MS)

Admittedly, my Mac did crash on me the other day, but that was the natural result of a hard drive failure. (The aftermarket drive, naturally... the original drive is still right as rain...)

Posted by: Strider at December 2, 2004 09:32 AM

My favorite control-alt-delete phrase is "The Vulcan Nerve Pinch."

Strider: Did your Mac come with BOTH available software titles?

Posted by: Rob @ L&R at December 4, 2004 01:44 PM

Omg thats right! Please come see me and my friends! ;)

Posted by: watch moi at March 16, 2005 03:45 PM
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