Sarasota PC Monitor

Practicing the Black Art (3/00)

Liven up your mouse

by Vinny La Bash
Member of the Sarasota Personal Computer Users Group, Inc.

That little rodent sitting on your mouse pad may be smarter than you think. Along with the keyboard, your mouse is probably the tool you reach for most often. If you stop to consider how often you reach for this tiny powerhouse to open and close programs, to highlight text, to drag and drop items, and navigate through Web pages, its importance begins to take on a whole new meaning. Just try getting through a day without it. Lately, there has been a "factoid" floating around CNN that states in authoritarian tones that, "The average Web surfer will perform 42 million mouse clicks over a lifetime." How CNN could possibly know this is beyond me, but it underscores the point.

Because you use a mouse for so many different tasks, it's important to understand how it works and what you can do with it. It's quite likely that the mouse you are using is configured to its default settings, and you're not taking advantage of the features that make using your mouse more productive. If your mouse is operating without any problems, customizing it may not seem like such a big deal. But tweaking it to fit your personal tastes will make it a tool that's even more useful. In addition, configuring and customizing your mouse is easy and it takes only a few moments.

A typical mouse has two buttons, a primary and secondary, which we generally refer to as the left and right buttons. Some mice have a third button and others a wheel. There are many more variations, but we will examine only the most common configurations.

A mouse is an extension of your hand, allowing you to control objects on your system. There are five basic actions that you can perform with a mouse: point, click, double-click, right-click, and drag. Whenever you point your mouse cursor over an object, the mouse cursor changes shape. This shape determines the action you take. A two-headed arrow indicates you are ready to resize an object. If your pointer turns into a hand, you are positioned over a link or a shortcut. There are fifteen shapes your mouse pointer can assume. Each pointer shape is a visual cue that indicates what Windows is doing or what you can do in a given context.

Let's take a look at some of the standard mouse functions. Go to Start/Settings/Control Panel, open the mouse icon, and you will see the Mouse Properties dialog box. Moving through the tabs lets you change your mouse into a Southpaw, adjust double clicking speed, adjust how fast the mouse pointer moves, and even activate "ghost" cursors.

Try it! You might like it. If you have one of the IntelliMouse or MouseMan models, you will have many more features to explore.

After you understand how to configure your mouse to suit yourself, you will probably be curious and want to know how to change your mouse pointer. You may even be pleasantly surprised to discover that most of your mouse cursors can be animated to make your desktop more interesting.

Pop over to the Mouse Properties dialog box and select the pointers tab. You will see something resembling Figure 1.

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Figure 1

If you would like to replace the standard hour glass "system busy" pointer with something a bit more interesting, highlight the "busy" icon and then click browse.

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Figure 2

Scroll through the available selections until you find a suitable choice that ends in .ANI. The ANI indicates an animated cursor. Click Open, then OK, and your "busy" pointer now has a life of its own.

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Figure 3

If you don't see any animated cursors listed, it means they were never installed. In that case, open Control Panel, select Add/Remove Programs/Accessories, and select Mouse Pointers as shown in Figure 3. You will need your Windows 98 Installation disk. While this gets you started, you can do a lot better on the Web. There are many Web sites where you can download enormous collections of animated cursors for your pleasure. Try these sites first. Set/1001/themes.htm cursor.html crsrjava/index.html

Because your mouse has moving parts, it is subject to mechanical failure. You should remove the mouse ball about every three months and clean it thoroughly with any good dishwashing liquid. Before you reinsert the sphere, clean the contacts on the inside with a Q-Tip soaked in denatured alcohol. The ultimate in mouse-ball maintenance procedures was the following memo that supposedly went out to IBM Field Engineers.

Abstract: Mouse Balls Available as FRU (Field Replacement Unit)

Mouse balls are now available as FRU. Therefore, if a mouse fails to operate or should it perform erratically, it may need a ball replacement. Because of the delicate nature of this procedure, replacement of mouse balls should only be attempted by properly trained personnel.

Before proceeding, determine the type of mouse balls by examining the underside of the mouse. Domestic balls will be larger and harder than foreign balls. Ball removal procedures differ depending upon the manufacturer of the mouse. Foreign balls can be replaced using the pop-off method. Domestic balls are replaced using the twist-off method. Mouse balls are not usually static sensitive. However, excessive handling can result in sudden discharge. Upon completion of ball replacement, the mouse can be used immediately.

It is recommended that each replacer have a pair of spare balls for maintaining optimum customer satisfaction, and that any customer missing his balls should suspect local personnel of removing these necessary items.

To re-order, specify one of the following:

P/N 33F8462 - Domestic Balls

P/N 33F8461 - Foreign Balls :

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Copyright 2000. This article is from the March 2000 issue of the Sarasota PC Monitor, the official monthly publication of the Sarasota Personal Computer Users Group, Inc., P.O. Box 15889, Sarasota, FL 34277-1889. Permission to reprint is granted only to other non-profit computer user groups, provided proper credit is given to the author and our publication. We would appreciate receiving a copy of the publication the reprint appears in, please send to above address, Attn: Editor. For further information about our group, email: Web:

The Sarasota Personal Computer Users Group, Inc. has 1,600+ members and was established in 1982. We are members of the Assoc. of PC User Groups (APCUG), the Florida Assoc. of PC Users Groups, Inc., and we are members of the America Online Ambassador Program.

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