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I Shall Call You...Mini-Mouse
August 23rd, 2001

Randy: Oh, no. This can't be good. Gary! What could you possibly be doing with that?

Gary: With what? I don't see anything? It's cool.

Randy: Dude! Why do you have skateboard kneepads on with shish-ka-bob skewers sticking straight out of them?

Gary: Oh, that! Yeah. Well, as you know we have been doing quite a bit of traveling lately, and we aren't rich, so we have to fly coach.

Randy: Right. It sucks.

Gary: This is the equalizer, my friend.

Randy: This "equalizer" intrigues me. Continue.

Gary: You just strap these on when you get to your seat on the plane. See? With the skewers pointing forward.

Randy: Oh, no.

Gary: That's right. When the clown in front of you slams his seat back, threatening to crush your PowerBook, he'll get a kidney-tickling surprise.

Randy: It's a bit unorthodox, but I like it! You know, I have another suggestion that would improve working on the road.

Gary: It better not be my "Deplaning Acceleration Blowtorch." I worked hard on that one.

Randy: No, but I would like to hear more. Another idea is to find the perfect traveling mouse for your PowerBook.

Gary: That was a lot of work for that crappy segue, dude.

Randy: It's what we do. Now on to the rest of the column. Most peripheral makers make a smaller than normal mouse designed to be the road warrior's companion. We checked out a couple made by some Mac-friendly companies.

Gary: Macally makes the iOpti Jr, a full-featured mini-mouse, and Contour Design makes the even smaller MiniPro. Both are viable options when looking for a good portable mouse.

Randy: It goes without saying that we won't even consider a mouse that is not optical. Mechanical mice are so twentieth century.

Gary: Both of these are optical, multi-button USB mice, the only kind worth talking about. So, which one is right for you?

Randy: Well, the Contour Design MiniPro is smaller and easier to stow, thanks to its neat carrying case. It also is significantly cheaper, with two models to choose from. The Titanium-styled MiniPro Ti retails for $35, and the iMac/iBook-styled MiniPro goes for a paltry 25 smackers. Both Contour Design's MiniPro and Macally's iOpti Jr come with changeable color faces so you can make sure your mouse matches your computer.

Gary: On the other hand, the iOpti Jr is a bit larger, but has more buttons and a scroll wheel. It is also more expensive, having a suggested retail price of 50 bucks. And no carrying case, dang it!

Randy: The Contour MiniPro is not without its faults. It has a strange, two-button layout. The second button is a small button that is right below the larger main button. They should have kept the standard left-click, right-click convention in place at least.

The Contour Design MiniPro Ti

Gary: The Macally mouse is bulkier, but does have a standard two-button plus scroll wheel layout. And it feels sturdier than the MiniPro.

Macally's iOptiJr

Randy: I have taken the Contour Design MiniPro with me on several trips and I have to say I love it. It's tiny size, light weight and cool little clam shell style carrying case made it really easy to drop in to my computer bag, without a winding tangle of cable clogging up my bag. The MiniPro's case holds the cord neatly wrapped around the mouse.

Gary: Doesn't the unusual button layout hamper you?

Randy: For everyday mousing it's not a problem, and having a real mouse beats using the track pad on my PowerBook any day. However for gaming I would have to say it is a problem. Try playing a round of Heavy Metal FAKK 2 constantly reaching under the palm of your hand to hit your right mouse button and you'll soon be deader than Gary's wedding reception.

Gary: Hey! That was a free meal!

Randy: But when I travel I always bring a game pad for Virtual Game Station, so that's my work-around.

Gary: Well, I use a mouse on my PowerBook all the time, not just when I travel, so I really like Macally's iOpti Jr. It has the standard button layout and because of its size, smaller hands like my wife's, fit this mouse perfectly. Besides I gotta have my scroll wheel.

Randy: Humm, it looks like we are in, what's referred to as, a Canadian standoff.

Gary: Take off, eh? Well it's good to know there are plenty of great companies making great Mac products. Both Macally and Contour Design have been making awesome Mac specific devices for years. And these products all come with rock solid software drivers. None of that "just use sprockets and it should work" lame excuse.

Randy: (Clearing throat) Cough...Thrustmaster...Cough...

Gary: Each mouse comes with it's own easy to configure USB Control Panel that allow you to tweak the button setup and speed.

Randy: So you know it's going to work right. No suprises.

Gary: (Clearing throat) Cough...Thrustmaster...Cough...

Randy: Gary, what do you say we test out your new "kidney tickling mandatory courtesy" travel device? Strap on those Mad Max kneepads and let's see if they work.

Gary: Except we can't afford any tickets to get on a plane for the test run.

Randy: Tickets! We don't need no stinkin' tickets.. We'll take a little trip across town on a vehicle called a New York City bus. I know a few regular passengers that I think deserve to be your first test subjects.

Gary: Yikes! Okay folks, the next column will probably be coming from the lockup at Riker's Island. See you then!

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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