A very silly mishap

Last night, something very stupid happened to me: I tripped up in my main PC’s cables and brought the behemoth crashing about the place. There was some resulting damage with the keyboard PS/2 socket being put out of action and a busted USB port and mouse. When this happens, thoughts take on the form of a runaway train and the prospect of acquiring a new motherboard and assorted expensive paraphernalia trot into your mind; there are other things that more need my cash. Of course, the last time to be making such big decisions on computer components is when a mental maelstrom has descended upon you.

Eventually, I got myself away from the brink and lateral thinking began to take over. What helped was that most of the system seems unaffected and I am using it right now to write this post. While a spare will work for now, a new ergonomic mouse is on order but cheaper alternatives to the keyboard conundrum have come into play. If PS/2 wasn’t an option, then USB remained one and that was the line of attack that was taken. It involved a visit to the nearest branch of PC World after work but I came away with a new USB hub and a USB-compatible keyboard for less than the price of a new AM2+ Gigabyte motherboard that would have served my needs. An otherwise functional Trust keyboard may have been retired but that was a less expensive option than a full PC rebuild, something that I may still need to do but it can be left for a whole lot longer than the immediacy that flashed before my eyes within the last 24 hours. In fact, acquiring some cable ties should be higher on the acquisition wish list so as to avoid cable-induced tumbles in the future. It really does pay to able to step back and see things from a wider perspective.

Evaluating an ergonomic mouse

Recent hectic mouse work has left my right hand feeling the worse for wear so a recent opportunity to try out a work colleague’s Evoluent VerticalMouse 3 was one that I took up. I gave it a go for a day and it left me impressed enough to go out and order one for myself. It’s not a cheap item with some selling for a smidgen less than £60 and others selling for significantly more than this. Also, it is a handed item with the latest version being available to right handers like myself and an earlier one for lefties. It will work with Windows 2000 but the supplied software is for XP and later.

The idea behind the gadget is an intriguing one: rather than having your hand held parallel to your desk as with a conventional mouse, you have it almost perpendicular to it. The claim is that when you have your arm this way, it is less likely to get tired. The arrangment sounds as if it might not work but it does in practice: your thumb is the anchor for the hand and the little finger (lúidín in Irish) rests on a little ledge that stops it getting dragged along either the mouse mat or the surface of the desk. This arrangement does allow you to relax your hand on the mouse. You get the usual mouse functions plus extra buttons that you can use to go back and forward through web pages; even without installing the included software, you get these. However, I have observed drift of the mouse cursor across the screen of my home PC when the unit is not being moved around. At first, I wasn’t sure what is causing this but it now appears to be the mouse mat that I was using. I’ll continue to give it a go.

Update: a mouse such as this really needs you to rest your arm on the desk for it to be at its most helpful. That’s fine for work but my home set up had me stretching my arm and that leads to a lot of discomfort. That isn’t the fault of the mouse: it is actually telling me something useful. The primary cause is a pull out keyboard drawer that I have to use due to lack space on the desk itself. So, I raised up my full tower computer case a little from the floor and now use that as a platform for the mouse. I know that it’s an unconventional approach but it seems to be working so far and I can make further adjustments if needs be…