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Update on the Scrollball Problem

On a whim, I tried an idea with the scrollball to see if it would help.

I applied a fair amount of ordinary spit to the scrollball (basically I licked it a couple times), and then did the standard press-down-and-exercise-the-ball method. This actually seemed to shake things up in there a little, so I licked the ball again and did it some more, with a bit more spit this time. Hmm, didn’t help as much, so one more generous lick, then flipped the mouse over, pressed the scrollball down onto a clean sheet of paper and rolled it around a bit.

That seems to have done the trick, for now. Hopefully the fix will last for more than a couple of hours.

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More Apple Stupidity

Yes, it is now my turn to bitch about the so-called “Mighty Mouse” (which has been renamed the “Apple Mouse”). You would think that Apple, a company which has been selling mouse-enabled computers for over 25 years, would have gotten it right by now. But no, there have now been not one but two major screwups in mouse design by Apple, in less than ten years.

The first was, of course, the original iMac hockey-puck mouse. I had one of those, and there was a fairly easy fix: When I got my Lime Green iMac, I also bought a little plastic attachment to hook around the mouse and convert it into a normal shape. It cost something like ten bucks, which is about ten times what it should have cost, but it was still cheap enough so it was hard to complain too loudly about it. (I also knew one person who actually liked the hockey-puck mouse. He was an 11 year old boy, who liked how the shape fit his small hand very well. How he dealt with the problem of not being able to feel which end was up is a mystery to me, though.)

The more recent error is far worse. I am, of course, talking about the fucking uncleanable scrollball on the Mighty Mouse.

When I first got this thing, I thought it was great. Finally, Apple had come out with a scroll-wheel-enabled mouse, and what’s more, it was actually a scroll ball, so you could scroll sideways if you wanted! Or in any direction at all, for that matter! Cool, right?

It certainly seemed that way at first, but even before I got the thing I was aware of people having problems with it. It seems that some fucking dumbshit forgot to include a way for people to clean the gunk out of the ball mechanism, so after a while, it starts to hang up. Knowing in advance that this was a notorious issue, I made an effort to keep my finger clean when I operated the thing, but sure enough, after six months or so (rough guess), I started having the same problem myself. At that point I did a little reading up on what to do about it. The best solution I found at the time was to press down hard on the ball and roll it around so as to force some of the debris out of the roller mechanisms.

That worked for maybe another six months. Then I noticed that I was having to do it more frequently, and it was becoming less effective than before. I would have to do it multiple times in order for it to work. And eventually it became entirely uneffective. At this point, my scroll ball will scroll down, but not up. This is actually an improvement over yesterday, when it would scroll up but not down–I was able to force some of the gunk onto the opposite roller, apparently. Problem is, up and down are both about equally crucial, I find. Thus, I am back to using scroll bars to navigate, and this is a pain in the ass.

What annoys me the most about this problem is that Apple never even bothered to fix it. Instead, they just started selling the “Magic ‘Mouse'”, which isn’t even a mouse but some kind of bizarre trackpad thingee. Of course, that’s fine for people who want to use a trackpad, but I would rather just have a mouse. I have found over the years that trackpads really suck. It takes five or ten times longer to do stuff than it does with a mouse. Trackpads also take away something I’ve enjoyed over the years, in that I am left handed but operate the mouse with my right hand (thanks to the too-short mouse cable on the Macintosh Plus, which was my first mouse-enabled computer). This gives me a slight advantage over people who use one hand for everything. But with trackpads, I’m back to using my left hand for everything, because my right index finger just isn’t as capable as the left one. So I would rather just stick to mice. That means I’m going to have to find a mouse that works on OS X, and that can scroll sideways. I wonder if there is such an animal?

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