Thursday, February 11, 2010

Is there a mouse in your house?

It always amuses me when industry pundits predict the "inevitable extinction" of a certain type of tech (sometimes they even go for a vague timeframe with "imminent demise"), if only because so often the tech in question, be it hardware or software, then proceeds to demonstrate an amazing longevity. It's a shame for the dinosaurs some of these prognosticators weren't around to interpret their tea leaves; they might still be with us.

This time we have the inevitable extinction of the desktop mouse. I know some people love trackpads. Personally I can't stand them. Part of it is just personal, as in preference, but a lot of it has to do not only with how I work, but the work I do. I write a lot, and not just plain English. The ability to precisely select blocks of text, be it html, javascript, VB, or whatever, is critical to me - missing one comma or even a space in a selection I need to cut/copy and paste elsewhere can utterly break code, and can send me on a hair-tearing search for the problem. Especially if I've neglected to put on my reading glasses.

I do a moderate amount of image editing as well, and there again precision is key, although to be fair an optical or laser pen would work even better (it'd work better for text selection, come to think of it). That's still using a pointing device, though, not sliding my finger along a touchpad. I like the feeling of something I can wrap my fingers around and grip.

Maybe I'm just old fashioned. But maybe I'm also needing the physical outlet of being able to click furiously on a button in frustration. Like so many others in these hi-tech times, I rely on a cellphone, but I have never been able to hang up on someone in a truly satisfactory manner with one. There's something about slamming a heavy receiver down into a cradle that just can't be beat. Even socking a cordless phone sharply back into its station doesn't quite cut it. The ability to at least SNAP the cellphone shut is one reason I prefer a flip phone to a "candy bar" form factor. I don't care what anyone says, you CANNOT dramatically end a call by just pushing a button.

Likewise I can't see being able to express myself fully with a trackpad. I can not only grip my mouse, and smack the buttons, I can spin the scroll wheel, bang it on my desk, and even throw it across the room.   I do for this reason concede the eventual demise of the wired mouse in favor of the wireless, but certainly not imminently or inevitably; too many people don't like to have to change or charge batteries.   I suppose a wireless trackpad could work well for forehead slamming, but then again that's what your desk is for, or your monitor if you still have a heavyweight CRT.

As far as I can tell I'm not alone in my continued love affair with the mouse. There seem to be a lot of folks who still like to heft something in their hand, and they seem inclined to keep their fingers wrapped around their pointing devices until they're forcibly pried loose. So to those who cry "THE MOUSE IS DEAD!" I will shout back "GET A GRIP!". I know I've already got one - have you? ;-D