5 buttons? Wireless? *kabloom*

15 February, 2007

The computer mouse is one of the worst human-computer interaction devices ever invented and I hope it dies a rapid death.

Every year or so I explode with fury at the absolute inadequacy of the mouse. It forces my hand to adpot some permanently cramped expression of agony only emulated in the natural world when you fall into a pit of lava and your outstretched arm is the last thing to be consumed by the all-devouring magma.

Not only that but it forces me to stretch out for it, my arms sitting as far apart from one another as if they were being held back by heavies as I’m eviscerated for not paying my loan shark in time.

Even then, I have to move my hand in ever smaller amounts, trying to pinpoint tiny little places on a screen where clicking one of the buttons underneath my fingers will actually perform some action. This never happens anywhere else in real life: it’s freaky and unnatural.

It’s absolute rubbish.

My anger has only built since I got my tablet PC, Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. The Wii in particular has a pointing and navigation device which is at somewhere near what I might normally do; you know: up, down, left, right, select an item. These things aren’t that tough. I promise you I don’t need five buttons on my mouse.

I would guess that most of my time in front of a computer is spent either writing code or reading web pages. When I’m writing code I’m almost permanently using the keyboard. I can understand why this is. When I’m reading, why force me to hover inanely over my keyboard and mouse so that I can scroll up and down the page or move between links? Why not let me sit back with a little wireless widget which lets me just scroll up and down? Or give me a keyboard which dual-functions as a touchpad, or anything, something, just let me throw my mouse away and never suffer it again.

So here, yet again, begins my annual attempt to do without a mouse for as long as I can. My desktop aggregator, BlogBridge, has already proved itself a loser (because you can’t open links in posts in a browser window without the mouse). Ubuntu at home would be a lot easier if the Deskbar history ordered items by which one I run most often. More comments like this to come, I rather suspect.

See other posts tagged with general hci rant and all posts made in February 2007.


15 February, 2007 at 14:19

You’ve hit exactly upon my own frustration with coding, the need to constantly leave the keypad to move around.

I was toying with the idea of a Frogpad before Christmas (left hand words, right hand pointing)but the price tag and the lack of available left handed models (not sure why, but they were in short supply) put me off.

a colleague’ got a nifty scroll wheel beside her numerics on her keyboard so she can drift up and down lines of code using the base of her hand.

If you’re suffering aches and pains I can highly recommend a mouse bean in the short term. Take care!

15 February, 2007 at 14:49

This is exactly why I’ve been exploring the idea of getting a tablet these days.

I’ve found a little application called “Launchy” for WInXP that all but eliminates mousing. Try it. It’s fantastic.

Ubuntu, ironicially, given Linux’s command-line heritage, does not seem as easily made mouse-free these days.

15 February, 2007 at 15:12

I think it depends on the work you do. Obviously for photo retouching a mouse is much better than a keyboard for most actions. I never really liked trackpads on laptops, but for what I use my iBook for (a lot of browsing and simple writing) the trackpad works well, and I don’t even miss the mouse.

Chao Xian
15 February, 2007 at 16:36

Wasn’t only that trapped nerve and all the tension in your neck being released then.

mathew peet
15 February, 2007 at 21:00

On my laptop I am using the nipple device that ibm thinkpads have. I bought a wireless mouse when I got the laptop but I realise i’m usually happy to use the nipple thingy which is conveniently located for my hands on the keyboard. My trackball is new and I don’t know how to set it up to allow easy scrolling, which is a real pain 🙂

At home I am experimenting with a trackball, this has the advantage of no arm movement, no mouse lifting. However I suspect the best thing for at home would be to have a lower desk position so I’m not sure this is a good test 🙂

I would like to experiment with a pen as a pointing device.

I think eye tracking technology would be useful to build into the computer, even if it was only able to tell which screen I was looking at this would be useful most of the time 🙂

Imagine how little information needs to be communicated to scroll a page. There has to be a better way.

Maybe we should have foot peddles too 🙂

15 February, 2007 at 23:00

Trackpads aren’t too bad unless you are forced to use someone else’s pc that is not configured properly and to travel from one side of the screen to another is about 3 swipes of the trackpad – shudder.

I find the nipples are a pain and you end up with a tense finger as some of them need a (relatively speaking) hard push which puts tension on the finger all the time – this was the case on my old laptop.

Having said all that, using an external mouse on a laptop is cheating.

28 March, 2007 at 15:38

I agree, one of my friends has RSI, though it may have been from using a non-mouse-enabled interface, as she works for an insurance company.