Mice (was: RE: Winders software that you can't live without )

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From: Lisa Dusseault (lisa@xythos.com)
Date: Sun Dec 10 2000 - 08:58:27 PST

Speaking of mouses,
For the first time, in Fry's, I saw a retail version of something my
classmates built 9 years ago, that I thought was great at the time and still
like the idea of it. It's a mouse that gives you a little tingle when your
activation spot travels over something that can be pressed. The best
example of this is trying to find the edge of the screen you want to resize,
which is just a few pixels wide. Ever hunt for that edge? Now you can feel

The original one my classmates built was very cleverly built by hand; they
cut away a little bit of the primary mouse button and put a little kicker
that could pop up through the hole. It was easy to feel where your index
finger ought to be because the little hole was there, and the kicker tapped
your fingertip whenever going over the edge of something like a button. It
didn't interfere with pressing the mouse button itself, except perhaps
psychologically -- I remember not wanting to press the button until the
kicker wasn't kicking me. :) It was a little surprising, too: although
gentle, it was so sudden it was a little shocking. The version in Fry's
might be a little better in that respect; the tingle was very mild and
didn't depend on where your fingers are.

Their tests involved mousing back and forth across a screen to place the
mouse in a vertical band and click inside it. When you click in a band on
one side, a new band appears on the other. The goal of the test was to
measure the speed and accuracy of the feedback-mouse; each subject did the
same test with an ordinary mouse.

While the results did not show a measurable increase in speed or accuracy,
as I recall, it was the subjective feeling of several of the subjects that
it decreased their need to focus on the screen and carefully watch the
location of the mouse pointer and the edge of the band. Just like when you
know you're typing in a window your eyes can sort of glaze over and let your
fingers work, this seemed to transfer work load from eyes to fingers, which
IMHO is a good thing.

I can't really give due credit to these before-their-time innovators,
because I only vaguely seem to remember that Peter Roschke was one of the
students involved, but I might be confusing him with the other Peter in my
class, or maybe they were both involved. Their names aren't even on my
class alumni list (http://sydewww.uwaterloo.ca/Alumni/class1996.html) (on
which my own information is obviously out of date (though now that I've
noticed, I'll fix :) )

I hope the company hasn't tried to patent the whole concept, because this is
definitely prior art!


> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Klassa [mailto:klassa@cisco.com]
> Sent: Saturday, December 09, 2000 7:16 PM
> To: Jeff Barr
> Cc: 'Joseph S. Barrera III'; Eugene.Leitl@lrz.uni-muenchen.de;
> fork@Xent.Com
> Subject: Re: Winders software that you can't live without
> >>>>> On Sat, 9 Dec 2000, "Jeff" == Jeff Barr wrote:
> Jeff> Also try mapping the middle button (the mouse wheel) to "Back". It
> Jeff> makes browsing really easy since you need not keep dragging your
> Jeff> mouse to the top of the browser windows.
> I've got it set up as a middle-click under VNC... I wonder if doing the
> "back" thing would mess that up. I'll have to try it.
> Jeff> Sadly, that new mouse is the first MS mouse that does not
> work well
> Jeff> in the left hand. Given that BillG is a southpaw, I am surprised.
> The other thing I've noticed is that it's not as nice in the right hand,
> either. :-/ It's too *slick* (I mean, on the outside; it's hard to grip
> it like I've gripped other mice; it's as though I have to exert extra
> effort to move it tiny amount, because I can't fine-tune the position with
> my fingertips). It's hard to describe what I'm trying to describe. :-)
> It's also funny how the standard drag, lift, drag, lift pattern doesn't
> quite work at first (at least it didn't for me), because the optical
> mechanism picks up movements within some distance of the desktop... I had
> to make an effort to lift the mouse higher when doing that.
> I'll be posting a summary of the recommendations I got, by the way. A
> bunch of folks asked...
> John

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