A mouse by any other name (please! ... )

Saturday 19 December 2009 7:00 AM

"Mighty Mouse" as a name for Apple's previous desktop rodent really didn't do it for me. But as it came bundled with my last computer, who was I to complain? But at any rate, it scarcely lived up to the jingle I remember from my prehistoric black & white television days in short pants. Unlike his erstwhile namesake, this mousey - for all his undeniable cuteness - had not "come to save the day". He was (well, still is actually) sore afflicted, like his many cousins, with fluff constipation. The treatment for this condition was never an exact science, despite the widely documented search for a rolled gold cure. Forget the 'gold' bit. A mouse thus ailing did very little rolling at all, which was far from 'mighty' for him or indeed anyone else.

Well now Apple has released MM's nephew, and in the process demonstrated that the great originators of the winsome initial lowercase "i-" for every data-bearing device under the sun, just don't have any creative baby-naming pizzazz left for digital rodents. "Magic Mouse" just doesn't ... Well heck, I'm not sure that it doesn't make "Mighty Mouse" seem almost poetic. And that's quite apart from recycling the same initials - a deed destined to frustrate forum junkies no end.

However what the younger and marginally more diminutive MM lacks in naming, he more than makes up for in .. well, doing what rodents of the digital age are supposed to do on one's desk (or indeed, lap or chair arm in the case of this little critter).

He does take some getting used to. Initially, having just parted with the cash, I was inclined to agree with some unfavourable reviews suggesting gross ergonomic misfortune. I could feel my larger-than-average hands beginning to ache already. But after a few more days' adjustment, I reckon I'm hooked. In fact I'd now go so far as to rate this bluetooth mouse as the most satisfying mouse I've ever used. (And I've been through many of numerous shapes and sizes - some with 'tails', some without, and the latter both RF and bluetooth.) And this despite it being one of the smallest and with precious little to grab onto.

The secret, I've now decided, is to abandon any idea of actually wrapping one's hand around the critter, in favour of holding it lightly between thumb and ring finger. (Perhaps little finger as well if you have a smaller hand, but I'm only guessing there.) Doing it that way, it glides around beautifully. I'm used to bluetooth mice these days. But my usual gripe is that the device becomes horribly sluggish and inaccurate, if not downright unuseable, when something even slightly intensive is happening. With this mouse however, tracking is smoother and pointing more accurate than any mouse I've used, except at those times when there are some processor-hungry things happening. But then nothing works well at those times anyway. Mind you, I must mention that I've used it almost exclusively on a one of those recent design optical mousepads. It seemed to do OK on my thigh too, but I didn't really try that at length.

Perhaps the most pleasing bit is when using it to scroll a page (vertically and/or horizontally). You just sit it on the desk, release the thumb and ring finger, and gently glide the tip of the index finger over the shiny surface. Pure rodent heaven.

Some thoughtful person has already developed a freeware utility called MagicPrefs which adds some great functionality, and one suspects that can only get better. I have picked up a few rumours about hacks enabling the MM to work with a Windoze PC, but that's not officially supported. So just another reason to get a mac, guys.

Happy mousing Christmas!