Mac Lab Report

Thoughts on Two-fingered Scrolling, Mighty Mouse, and Optical Mice

- 2005.12.07

Okay, I just discovered this by accident: If you are using two fingers to scroll on a PowerBook trackpad (assuming your 'Book supports two-finger scrolling), you can hold one finger stationary on one hand and scroll with one finger of the other hand.

Why would you want to? Because it gives you finer control than the two-finger method.

Try it and see.

Speaking of scrolling around....

Mighty Mouse

As longtime readers know, I was the Last Pundit to Defend the One-Button Mouse. Then, when I changed my mind and decided to go to the two-button camp, Apple comes out with the Mighty Mouse the very next week.*

So I eventually got one. I'd been using a Logitech USB wired two-button mouse with a scroll wheel. I liked the scroll wheel well enough, but it's "lumpy" and thuds from notch to notch as you roll it. I prefer a smoother wheel action.

The Mighty Mouse has a tiny trackball as a third button, so its motion is quite smooth. In use, I found it easy to adapt to the second button. Occasionally I'll click the right button by accident when I'm working on a cramped and messy desk, but for the most part it works okay.

I'm not dexterous enough to control the side buttons, so I deactivated them. That's not a complaint against the Mighty Mouse; I'd do it anyway to anyone else's multibutton mouse.

It was hard enough going to two buttons, so gimme a break, okay?

I like the side-scrolling feature of the trackball. I look at a lot of large images on my computer, and sometimes I really need to scroll sideways. Recently I set out to work on a poster that will eventually be 4 feet by 4 feet. When I view the whole thing, it's too small to see, and when it's big enough to see, it's wider than my screen. Thus, side scrolling.

Optical Mice

I like the Mighty Mouse enough that it is now on my desk "docking station" where I put my PowerBook when I get to work. The Logitech is now relegated to my travel kit.

Occasionally I have to use one of my student computers in my lab to help a student, and whenever I use an older mouse with a ball, it really makes me appreciate optical mice. As soon as I can get to it, I'm replacing all the older mice with optical mice.

If you haven't tried two-button mousing yet, consider the Mighty Mouse. It's different enough that it still has that sweet Apple flavor - but not so different you'll be thrown off by it.

*That's only a mild exaggeration. It was probably like 9 days. Or a month. But you get the point.

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is a longtime Mac user. He was using digital sensors on Apple II computers in the 1980's and has networked computers in his classroom since before the internet existed. In 2006 he was selected at the California Computer Using Educator's teacher of the year. His students have used NASA space probes and regularly participate in piloting new materials for NASA. He is the author of two books and numerous articles and scientific papers. He currently teaches astronomy and physics in California, where he lives with his twin sons, Jony and Ben.< And there's still a Mac G3 in his classroom which finds occasional use.

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