Jun 242014
 

I remember the year my husband’s first mouse died—his corded computer mouse, that is. John grabbed his scissors, snipped the cord, and in a flash of humor, in the spirit of creativity gone astray, or maybe just plain old relief, he hung it from the ceiling in our basement, where our home office was located.

“I’m hanging it in effigy,” he declared.

Well, I can’t say I did the same thing when my beloved Logitech mouse died recently, but I did take a memorial photo of sorts, as it has been with me through at least two desktops and three laptops. How do you know when your mouse has to be replaced? When it stops highlighting text and can’t use a scroll bar, it is time to be retired.

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To be honest, my new mouse doesn’t look all that different from the old one. It’s a hair shorter, uses an advanced optical sensor versus the laser sensor on the old mouse, but basically, it’s new, shiny and it WORKS. And they both have one failing, too. Neither mouse works on a glass surface. There is a Logitech model that is designed to work on glass, but wouldn’t you know it, I don’t like its size or shape. A mouse, after all, either fits your hand like a shoe does a foot, or it doesn’t.

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Both of my mice have a scrolling wheel on top that is multi-directional: up, down, left, right. That’s tremendously useful in a spreadsheet, but I discovered today that the side-to-side motion takes me in a flash from the top of my Etsy screen to the bottom. On my laptop, using that little wheel, I can flick back and forth between the home page of my Web site (as you see it) to the composing screen in front of me right now. Nifty! And it gets better. On Facebook the side-to-side motion of the scrolling wheel takes me from my news timeline to my business page, and back. As Hannibal in the old The A-Team television series used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Some of my younger readers might be wondering why I bother using a mouse if I have a laptop with a touch pad. Or a laptop with a touch screen. I have both. “A mouse is old technology,” I hear you muttering under your breath. The answer is that I like all of my keyboard devices—not only a mouse, touch pad and touch screen—but also keyboard shortcuts. I grew up on WordPerfect, where keyboard shortcuts were your first, middle and last name. In fact, I have customized my WordPerfect keyboard so that with certain combinations of keys, I get such German characters as Ä, ä, Ö, ö, Ü, ü, and ß. It’s a lot faster, for example, to perform Ctrl + s for the ß character, than it is to scroll through a visual representation of a modified keyboard to locate that character, and then click on it. And yes, I use Microsoft Word, too, in case you think I am so old-fashioned that I don’t use standard office productivity software.

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When you’re in your 50s, it’s fun to think back to Pre-Mouse Era, when offices were just being automated. My first job out of college was as the administrative assistant to the president of Kalmbach Publishing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Those were the days of the IBM Selectric typewriter, when Wang computers were used mainly in bookkeeping departments, and when photocopiers were just beginning to replace mimeograph machines. My boss insisted that I type everything in triplicate using carbon paper because he wanted to cut down on the cost of photocopier toner. He also didn’t believe the head of the billing department when she said that one day computers would be used to write letters. Those same letters were dictated for me to transcribe from a belt, probably magnetic tape, about six inches in width that I slipped onto a Dictaphone drum, and marked with a wax pencil to indicate start and stop dictation times.

We’ve come a long way since then, and though computer mice are part of computing history, they are not yet dead. Rest in peace, Little Mouse.

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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