The Magic of Mice

One thing that Apple really seem to have had problems designing is their mice. Really surprising seeing they have such a background in GUI computing systems where Windows, Icons, Mice and Pointers are so important.

The Mac Classic mouse was awful compared to its Microsoft mouse contemporary. And not to be proven wrong, Apple persisted with only having one button for quite a while. Then they caved.

Mu Rodents

From Left: Mighty Mouse, Magic Mouse, Apple Keyboard

The Mighty Mouse (now only called the Apple Mouse due to copyright issues with a supper squeaky super hero) was a breath of fresh air, and the first Apple pointing device I ever coveted. They took the big clicky button away completely. The whole mouse is the button. Mash anywhere and you get a left click. Hold option on the keyboard, and get a right click. But it doesn’t end there. It’s simple in the control panel to add a right click. All you have to do is actually just click on the right hand side of the mouse. But thats not all! They also included squeeze buttons on the sides that can be assigned a custom action. I set mine for Expose. But wait, theres more! Just about every other mouse in existence at the time had a big scroll wheel to allow you to scroll up and down. But what if you have a wide spreadsheet? or a horizontal list of items like cover-flow in iTunes. Mighty mouse uses a small scroll BALL for scrolling freely left, right, up and down. But here is its archillies heel.
Mighty mouse cannot be dismantled to be cleaned. You have to break apart glued components to access the inside of the mouse, then you get to the roller ball, and find id solidly gunked up with the grease and crud from your fingers for the last year, and it wont scroll smoothly, or at all any more. This mouse costs a LOT of money for a mouse, and has a use life that can be cut short just by normal use. If your kids get to it, kiss it good bye. I’ve gone through two of the suckers.

So apple thought long and hard, and instead of finding some way to allow you to clean the ball, they threw it away completely and gave you a mouse with a touch surface.

I was hooked, I had to have one, then found out something disappointing. On all of Apples other touch surfaces, there is a common gesture language. swipe, flick, multi-fingred swipes, pinch, zoom, rotate etc. Cool! Can Magic mouse do these? Nope. Only scroll, and go forwards and backwards. Oh. any squeeze buttons? Nope. Can you configure a middle click for getting gadget bar to display? Nope. So I never bought one.

Until I heard about BetterTouchTool. This allows you to configure actions for wide variety of gestures. To start with I’ve copied the track pad, and added three finger swipe down for Expose, and three fingered tap for Gadgets. Then added three finger swipe up for Application Expose, Three finger swipe left and right to switch workspaces. Pinch, zoom rotate all added. Extra goodies in the current version also add some window controls, to allow window snap actions copied from one for the few nice things about Windows 7

Better Touch Tools Preferences

So I had some winnings on the Melbourne cup pool at the office, so I re gambled on buying a Magic mouse, install BTT, and I love it. Apple should be paying this guy to write their mouse driver (but I fear he gives way to much choice to keep Apple happy – but fantastic for a power user.)

This also meant that I had a spare bluetooth Mighty mouse – I give it a spin with pairing to my HP TC4400 Laptop, and Viola, cordless mouse in Linux Mint 9 and Windows 7 without also having to carry a USB dongle. Much more compact in the Laptop bag. Only downside, is I have to use the laptop track pad until I log in, as Windows and Linux only seem to pair Bluetooth devices after login. In Windows I even have to force it to reconnect manually. But the mouse with the wired tail in my Laptop bag has now been replaced.


One comment

  1. chromeronin

    Update on the Bluetooth Mighty Mouse and my HP Laptop – the issue was paring between Linux and Windows – the mouse sees these as different machines and needs to be repaired. If I pair with one OS only, it connects from the login screen OK in either Linux or Windows.

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