A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....
A Day Late And A Dollar Short, But Running As Fast As I Can September 13th, 2001
Well, as usual I seem to be several months (2 years?) behind everyone else, and no, I have not tried OS X yet nor is this about that. I have just discovered the new optical mouse.
This mouse is SO cool. It's made by Microsoft (other companies make them too), and I still think it is cool. It is called the Intellimouse. I'm not about to do a sales pitch for Microsoft, but I will have to discuss this specific one to some extent to explain it. Actually, Dave Hamilton of The Mac Observer did an excellent review of the larger version of this product in November 1999. The review contains all the pertinent information, including a picture. Dave noted the price to be about U.S. $75 when first introduced. The larger version retails today for about US$50, and the smaller one that I have retails for under US$40 if you look around enough. I got mine (new) from eBay for U.S. $30 plus shipping. As I just noted, there is more than one size available. By luck I choose the smaller version and it fits my small hand (6 inches from finger tip to wrist) perfectly. USB connection is required which means you need a USB equipped Mac to use it. The same version of the mouse works on both Macs and PCs.
What Is So Special About It?
I'm glad you asked. I suppose the most noticeable thing is the complete absence of the rubber ball on the bottom. Rather the mouse contains a digital camera embedded in the bottom. To quote Dave Barry "I'm not making this up folks." There is a red light that illuminates the path of the mouse. The camera takes 1,500 pictures a second and that is what guides the direction of the mouse. Whatever, it really does work.
And to think I was proud of myself for learning to use a regular digital camera.
The second important feature is that you do not have to use any kind of mouse pad. You can use it on almost any surface except glass, even your jeans. I have tried it with several surfaces and actually like to use it on another new product that I also just discovered. There are now mouse pads that are no thicker than a piece of paper. I like the feel of how the mouse moves on one of these new mouse pads rather than the wood of my desk. I don't know how much these new mouse pads are because I received mine as a gift, but I'm quite sure they are available in all office supply stores. Mine has an adhesive back which holds it firmly in place, but it can be removed and placed somewhere else just like yellow sticky notes.
The next important feature is all the buttons. On the top are two buttons and a wheel and on the side there are two more special buttons. The two on the side are for internet use. They allow you to go backward and forward in your browser without having to move your cursor to the backward and forward buttons. You can also program them to other tasks with the accompanying software. The top left button functions like any one-button mouse. The top right button defaults as a "Control-Click" so you can access contextual menus from the mouse. You can also program it to do other tasks instead. The wheel in the middle can be set to make your windows scroll up and down. You turn the wheel to scroll or you can set it to automatically scroll a specific number of lines at a time. It doesn't take too long to get comfortable with it although at first I kept clicking the top right button by mistake. While shopping for the mouse I saw others advertised that do not have the side buttons, but I find them really helpful.
More Questions and/or Insight From Observers
One observer reported that he had purchased a refurbished Mac and he wanted to know how he could touch up a few scratches, etc. in the case. One of the other TMO staff members suggested that the paint sold in tiny cans used by kids to paint figures would work just fine.
Arline Edwards reports that she is a new user at the age of 81 (way to go Arline!) and asked if I had written any columns on including attachments with e-mail. I referred Arline to the Computing With Bifocals Index that is linked at the bottom of each CWB column. For Arline's benefit and any others who find the Index helpful, I have reformatted it by subject to reduce the amount of search time involved now that it has gotten quite big.
Observer James Edwards wrote about the way he maximizes the benefits of his LC and Quadra 660AV. He suggests that users of those older machines consider adding a Presto Plus Card. I was not familiar with this and must admit that even after reading James' further explanation I am still fairly clueless. However, I think this is important information for those of us living on limited budgets who can't afford to constantly upgrade to the latest versions of computers and I am betting there are readers to whom this will be perfectly clear. James wrote:
I don't know if you ever tried to download any large files on a Mac LC or not, but it can make you much older very quickly. I do not remember all the speed stuff. But the LC is limited to how fast it can download with a modem. Even the 56K modem will not gain all that much ground if any. It was a few years ago when I discovered the Presto Plus card from Sonnet. They actually designed the card with schools in mind. What the card does is upgrade the LC to a 68040 CPU which runs 66/33MHz. It also adds 32megs of ram which the LC can find after loading their software. The card also allows the LC to run up to OS 8.1 on the LC. The Presto plus has the FPU chip on it also.
It helps the LC run much more quickly in most all areas which most of us found to be a very slow process at the normal 16MHz speed that the machine normally runs from the factory. Another plus that will be of use to many owners is the Supra Express 56K modem. It will run much faster but is limited to the bottle neck problems in the serial port of the LC. But, it will double the download speed compared to the Supra 144LC modem that I had.
I gather what he means is that installing the Presto plus, or having it installed in your Macintosh LC or Quadra 660AV will make it much faster. Head over to the Mac Observer Forums if you have more specific questions, and the TMO Mac Specialists there will answer your questions. As always, I am extremely grateful to Observers who take the time to write.
If you have any questions, comments, or tips, let me know and I may include them in a future column.
Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping. To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.
Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color,
covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.
Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.