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The Mouse That Scored
January 16th, 2001

Randy: Man, you look like you just found out that your father was an airline stewardess. What's up?

Gary: It's this damn mouse! It's full of gunk and won't track right. I just got fragged at Unreal Tournament because my mouse wouldn't aim straight.

Randy: Sure, that's the reason. And last week, it was your bursitis. And the week before, you had scurvy.

Gary: It could have been scurvy! I felt better after I ate an orange.

Randy: Man, I wish you had never found that medical book.

Gary: Look who's talking! You're the one who thought he had a....

Randy: Uh, can we just move on?

Gary: Back to the mouse problems. About a year ago, I switched from the standard Apple mouse to a three button mouse, mainly because of games like Quake and Unreal Tournament. Having those extra button configured right can really give you an advantage.

Randy: I have mine set up so the middle button switches weapons and the right button alternate fires. That way I never have to glance down at the keyboard to find my option key, for instance. Even the tiniest pause will get killed in a first-person shooter.

Gary: But then Apple came out with that awesome optical mouse, and I knew I had to have one. Imagine never having to scrape gunk from inside your mouse again.

Randy: Awwww. But I love to scrape my mouse.

Gary: Dude! Have some shame, will you? But, alas, the Apple mouse had only one button (actually, none, but who's counting?), and I was not going back to a single mouse button, no matter what. Thus began my quest for the perfect gaming mouse.

Randy: Well, enlighten me, Sir Dronesalot.

Gary: Well, I had three requirements for a superior gaming mouse. First, multiple buttons. Second, it had to be optical. And last, but not least, it had to come with Mac software. I think it is important to support developers that support the Mac, even though USB Overdrive can drive almost any USB device.

Randy: That's a good point. There are quite a few vendors that do provide native Mac support, so it's not like it is a real sacrifice.

Gary: After a little research, I chose The Mouse in a Box Optical Pro from Kensington. It had five buttons, including a scroll wheel, and software that appears to have feature parity with Windows.

The Mouse in a Box Optical Pro from Kensington.
With more buttons than you can... shake a thing with a lot of buttons at.

Randy: That is a good choice. The mouse has a very nice feel, and the software is very intuitive and has a lot of coolio features. I'll have to say, Kensington went all the way on the Mac version of Mouseworks. The Mouseworks interface lets you configure everything on the The Mouse in a Box Optical Pro. Including an important feature called chording. Chording, as most gamers know, is the ability to initiate multiple key strokes at once.

Gary: Lots of games use chording to perform specific combat moves. Two recent, big time game titles that use lots of chording are Bungie's Oni and Ritual Entertainment's F.A.K.K. 2 Heavy Metal. Imagine being able to program a triple key move to happen with a single mouse click.

Randy: It sounds like I would be kicking some serious butt in those games!

Gary: But chording on The Mouse in a Box Optical Pro has many more every day uses besides just gaming. One pre-programmed chording behavior that the Optical Pro Mouse supports right out of the box is invoking an applications menu of all currently open apps wherever you click both the right and left mouse buttons. Now, that's handy!

Randy: And with the Mouseworks software, you can customize the five buttons to cover any function you could imagine. Including the nifty wheel on top that acts as both a scroll wheel and a clickable button. You can even have buttons that paste blocks of text, such as your name, address and e-mail with just one click.

Gary: And the best thing of all about The Mouse in a Box Optical Pro is the performance. It works like a champ. It's smooth and responsive, whether I'm mousing on a mouse pad, directly on my desk surface or...

Randy: Or even when you're flat on your face on the floor, which is where I've noticed you do most of your mousing.

Gary: Hey, my desk chair is broken. It just dumps me there. It's not my fault.

Randy: Sure it does, Calamity Gary. But I do agree. The Mouse in a Box Optical Pro works great for gaming or for business. This is an awesome product. My only beef would be the color scheme. It's green and silver casing is not quite a perfect visual match for my new G4 tower. I wish at least the cord was clear like most USB cords are these days. The dark green wire is hard to hide on my computer desk.

Gary: Aww, who cares about color? It works. And I'll never have to pry a cats worth of fur and dust out of my mouse again. The only thing I would change is the dang name. With a product title like The Mouse in a Box Optical Pro from Kensington, it's just too darn long. And, really, most mice you buy come in a freakin' box. And then you take them out. A more accurate name would be Mouse in a Box When You Bought It, But Then Took It Out To Use It Optical Pro.

How about Optical Pro Mouse?

Randy: Or maybe Battle Star Laser Mouse? You know, really highlight the coolio red light that shines from the back of the mouse.

Gary: Huh, yeah. I'm sure they'll go for that one.

Randy: Oh, of maybe the Cylon Mouse?

Gary: Or how about the Randy Shut Up Mouse.

Randy: I could go with that.

Gary: Or how about I... wait, that's it? You're just going to accept that, and not start an immature and child-like fight?

Randy: Nope. Not this week.

Gary: What gives?

Randy: I'm saving it for the next column.

Gary: Why? What are we checking out next time?

Randy: My new Kensington cordless 3500 volt iTaser hand weapon!

Gary: Yikes! Check, please!

Randy: See you next time, folks.

Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.

The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.

You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .

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