Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Mouse

Yep, a computer mouse?  Computer mice come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.  However, they all have one primary function that is the same, moving the cursor on the screen.  Most mice also have at least 2 buttons and a wheel.

Mice use a couple of different forms of tracking technology, the most common tracking method is optical.  Optical mice use a light to track the surface as it moves across it.  Laser optical mice use a laser beam for tracking, they offer more accurate and faster tracking.  Laser mice are becoming increasingly popular because of the impressive tracking speeds and being able to work on almost any surface, including in some cases glass, mirrors, and other transparent surfaces.  An older and no longer common from of tracking is the ball mouse.  A ball mouse used a larger rubber ball that was tracked by two wheels.  The problem with ball mice is they could only be used on only a few surfaces (namely mouse pads) and they collected dirt and dust and often got junked up and would work very poorly.

Laser and optical mice are usually rated in DPI (dots per inch) for how fast they track.  Now, a higher DPI does not necessarily make the mouse better than a lower DPI mouse it simply means that a smaller movement of the mouse will result in faster movement of the cursor on the screen.  Its not uncommon to see Gaming mice to go as high 6000+ DPI.

Most mice now days have at least 2 buttons and a wheel.  The two buttons are usually referred to as the left and right mouse button.  Obviously (I hope) the button on the left side of the mouse is the left mouse button and is the most commonly used button for opening files and programs, clicking buttons, ect.  The button on the right side of the mouse is the right mouse button and is usually used for opening menus and properties, for example right clicking on a file to rename it.  Just to note if you use your mouse on the left side of your keyboard you can flip these buttons around so the right mouse button actually is left mouse button.  The wheel on a mouse are used to scroll content, such as on a webpage.  The wheel on the mouse is also a button and is usually referred to as the middle mouse button.  The middle mouse button is used for scrolling or if you click on a link on a webpage it will open that link in a new tab (or window).  Mice also come with a number of additional buttons such as backward and forward buttons, custom programmable buttons, as well as DPI adjusting buttons.

In addition to mice there are also trackpads (or touch pads) and trackballs.  A trackpad is the touch sensitive surface on a laptop that uses a fingers movement across the surface to move the mouse.  Also most trackpads also accept single and double tapping for left mouse clicks.  Some newer mouse pads with the correct software also support multi-touch.  Multi-touch allows one to use both fingers on the trackpad and allows for similar gestures as a smartphone, such as pinching to zoom.  Some people have trouble with trackpads not reading there movements correctly, if that is the case try wetting your finger slightly.

A trackball on the other is like an upside down ball mouse, rather than moving the mouse around, a large ball is mounted to the top and you move the curse by rolling ball with your finger.


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