Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Long-Time Computer Geek Learns A New (Simple) Trick…

You can tell I’ve been working on a laptop / notebook trackpad waaayyy too long by this one.
I have this mouse at home. It has “hyper-fast” scroll-wheel capability according to the manufacturer packaging. “Ok,” I’m thinking, “that should be cool.” (The last time I bought a mouse, it was maybe 2002 or something.)

Now, the whole reason I bought a mouse was because I get tired of doing longer writing and extensive web work on a laptop trackpad and keyboard. It’s just not comfortable for longer pieces of writing, and I type far faster on a full-size keyboard. When I’m at home, I use a 25″ monitor off the HDMI port, a USB keyboard, and a USB mouse. I’m still working on the laptop, but with all the full-size I/O (input/output) devices. I have a set (less the monitor) permanently set up in my office, and the full rig in my workshop. I use the same keyboard in both, but I couldn’t find the same mouse for the workshop. I bought the Logitech M500 mouse you see to the left.

I had no idea what that little button was on top. To be honest, I didn’t even notice it. (That is VERY unlike me.)

So I’m using this new mouse with “hyper-fast” scrolling on the wheel, and hyper-fast it is. You can whip the pages on the web (and documents) up and down like you were Superman or the Flash on the mouse. However, nothing would sit still on the screen. Go to click on something, and suddenly your pointer is ten sentences or two pictures lower or higher on the page. Everything on the screen was bouncing around like a yo-yo. It was crazy-making. I got to the point where I just stopped using the scroll wheel, intending to get out and buy another mouse for the workshop. It was driving me nuts. It was driving a couple of my friends nuts, too! (I sometimes do computer coaching with a few friends who are also clients in my workshop.)

Now, the mouse in my office doesn’t have the “hyper-fast” scroll wheel. It’s also a Logitech. The scroll wheel on that one ratchets. Spin it, and it goes “click, click, click” as you spin it. When that thing stops, the page or document doesn’t budge. It’s a piece of cake to use, and comes in very handy. It makes getting around pages and docs much easier. Finding folders in the PC’s documents folder is a ton easier, too.

Between the two mice, it was a complete dichotomy. I would work in the office for a few days, and get used to that handy-dandy scroll wheel. Then I would come to the workshop, and it would be fifteen minutes of yo-yo before I got myself to avoid the scroll wheel and drag the scroll bars on the pages and windows. Ugh!

So yesterday, I finally get to Office Depot. I’m paying particular attention to the scroll wheels on the mice. Do they ratchet, or do they freewheel? I started noticing that there was a little button just behind the scroll wheel on some of the mice. Sure enough, there was one that looked an awful lot like my mouse in the workshop. I checked the mouse description. (It was a Logitech) Sure enough, it had “hyper-fast” scrolling featured. I tried the feel of the scroll wheel. “Click, click, click,” it went as I spun it. So I tried pushing the little button just behind the scroll wheel, and gave it a spin.

“Zooooooooommmm!!” It was going like roller skates on greased glass. I pushed it again. “Click, click, click.” “No damn way!!” I was thinking.

So I bought the mouse, with a sneaking suspicion in the back of my mind. “That sure looks an awful lot like…” Nah. Couldn’t be. I’m a very capable geek! I notice little details, and I teach people this kind of stuff all the time! Still, I kept the receipt handy, and didn’t take the new mouse out of the packaging.

I got back to the workshop, and sure enough, there was a little black button right behind the scroll wheel on top of the mouse sitting on my workbench. The unopened mouse that looked identical to the one on the workbench still sat in the bag. I reached out and spun the scroll wheel on my old, “defective” mouse. “Zoooooommmm!!” I clicked the little black button; “Click, click, click, click….”

I turned around and took the brand-new mouse back to the Office Depot, and bought a couple of decent, environmentally-friendly mouse pads, my head bowed in internal “crow-eating” mode.
Go ahead, laugh! I don’t blame you! I invite you to chuckle until you bust a gut, get stitches in your side, and wind up on the floor trying to breathe normally! I totally deserve it!

It just goes to show, there are little things that you can always learn, no matter how long you have been working with technology. Things change. Even little things that you though were bedrock.
So if your mouse wheel is spinning a little out of control, slow down, take a breath, laugh a little, (or a lot) and realize that while we still breathe, there are always new things under the shop lights. Maybe I should re-read that old literary classic, “Of Mice And Men”…

Dan S.

Click to enlarge pic...or stop the hyper-scrolling.