mouse pointer

The choice of computer mouse is a very individual thing and depends on many factors:

  • How many hours a day you work at your computer?
  • Is your primary computer a desktop, a laptop or notebook or even a tablet; but you won’t be needing a mouse if it is a tablet, will you?
  • How big your hands are.
  • Do you want/need to use wired, wireless or bluetooth?
  • Whether you use the scroll function or not.
  • Do you suffer from wrist pain?

In some of these instances, the cheaper type mouse that comes with your computer will serve your needs adequately, but if you, like me work for about eight hours every day, the comfort and functions of your mouse are particularly important.
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On the left below is a photo of the first mouse I paid in excess of $60 for and never regretted it at all. It was comfortable in my largish hands and I didn’t ever suffer any wrist pain even though I worked at my PC sometimes up to 12 hours in a day. The day I dropped it on the tiled floor and broke it was a very sad day for me.
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Luckily I was able to buy another different model  but with the same profile within a couple of days. That one too has died lately so I’m looking for a new one, the Kensington mouse on the right below might well be the one since I have had a word in Santa’s ear!
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The logitech 2nd from left has served as my laptop mouse for a couple of years – it does look a bit battered, doesn’t it? Very similar profile and quite comfortable. The third photo shows my big hands – imagine my right hand wrapped around one of these tiny mobile models! However, I do carry a retractable one around in my laptop bag, as a backup and the occasions when an extra mouse is needed to test someone’s computer.

 History of the computer mouse

Tracking Technology

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Did you know that the name mouse is derived from “Manually Operated User Select Equipment”? This makes the argument about whether more than one computer mouse should be called computer mouses or computer mice (as we do for the rodent variety). It seems there has been no absolute ruling and generally computer companies avoid the issue by calling them mouse devices. Probably mouses is technically correct, but it sounds awkward and people tend to use mice for the plural form.
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The original design for a mouse was mechanical; the mouse had a ball in a compartment underneath and embedded around the edge were some little rollers. These would clog up from the dust and dirt from the user’s desk and needed cleaning to keep the mouse running smoothly (I did this countless times when clients or friends complained that their mouse wasn’t working properly). There were also four sliding type feet that clogged up as well, but these devices were a boon when the alternative was just keyboard shortcuts.
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Along came optical technology and made our lives so much easier. A small LED on the bottom of the mouse translates the movement of your hand into movement of the mouse pointer. Laser mouse devices work the same way, but using a laser instead af the LED. Laser mice have a higher dpi (dots per inch) which means they are more sensitive. For general users this extra sensitivity is not really needed, but graphic designers and gamers often appreciate the difference and make a laser mouse their choice.

Wired Connectors

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The early mice (see above) had a serial connector plug, see picture below. Serial ports were the original standard for interfacing any device with any other device on a computer. Later, a smaller 6 pin Mini Din was introduced by IBM on their PS/2 personal computer and this led to the connector type being called PS/2. For many years PC’s had PS/2 connectors for both keyboard and mouse.
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Some computers still come with two PS/2 ports, but more commonly they just have one, the USB (Universal Serial Bus) being the most common type of interface on all computers, whether PC or Mac. All USB ports look the same, but there is the original USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 which allows much faster (almost 40x as fast) or increased delivery capabilities. The ports are backwards compatible, so you can plug an old USB 1.1 device into a 2.2 port and it will still go.

Wireless

Originally the mouse device was connected to the computer by a cable using one of the technologies above, but nowadays you have the choice (an increasingly common one), to go with wireless. The early hassles of wireless connections seem to have been ironed out and wireless usually works very easily on any platform. Yay! So much more freedom.

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Radio Frequency – this is the most common type of wireless interface. A generic mouse operates on th 27MHz frequency and the mouse is powered by batteries. More expensive models can come with rechargeable batteries or charging docks for the mouse. They may use higher frequencies and have a longer range.
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bluetooth.
Bluetooth was useful for lower speed devices like a mouse and was common on early laptops. They are also battery powered and use the 2.4GHz radio frequency to communicate with a receiver/charger supplied with the package or some other Bluetooth adapter...
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RFIDRFID (Rapid Frequency Identification) technology uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data to automatically identify and track tags, which for a mouse is movement. Developed by a company called A4Tech, the mouse must be used in conjunction with the included mose pad, but the advantage is that it is wireless and no batteries are needed.
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Wheels and Buttons

Nearly all mouse devices nowadays have three buttons, with the middle button also being a scroll-wheel. This scroll wheel is essential in my opinion to navigate up and down your screen and on web pages. Any other buttons, typically on the left hand side for a right handed mouse or on the RHS for a left handed mouse, can be programmed by the user to carry out different functions.

 

Buying a computer mouse

A quick search on eBay will show just what a variety of choice there for buying a new mouse – some are fun, some are fancy, some for serious gamers and some ergonomic models for users like me. So how do you choose?

Narrow down the options with these requirements:

  • Do you want wired or wireless?
  • Do you need laser or will Optical suit your needs?
  • What size – full-sized, medium or small (also called compact,  mini, mobile, laptop etc)
  • PS/2 or USB? USB is more common but if your computer does not have many USB ports, but does have PS/2 ports, using a PS/2 mouse (or keyboard) will leave an extra USB port available for other peripherals.
  • Scrolling – do you need left and right as well as up and down?
  • Buttons – does your work (or play) require advanced features?

A great place to see what is available is on eBay, even when you want to shop locally. The wide variety of mouse devices listed there will give you a good idea of all the functions and help you narrow down your choice.
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I have a mouse collection on eBay, just for the fun of it – see some of my pics

See my Collection here http://www.ebay.com/cln/plfbus/Fun-Fancy-Mouse-Collection/66866785015

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I’m sure we have all complained that our PC is slowing down at some stage, so perhaps some of the tips here can help in your own particular case. They are all fairly simple, designed for beginners to implement if you follow the steps given.

1. Defrag Your Disks to Speed Up Access to Data

One of the factors that slow the performance of the computer is disk fragmentation. When files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when the file is opened to piece it back together. To speed up the response time, you should monthly run Disk Defragmenter, a Windows utility that defrags and consolidates fragmented files for quicker computer response.

* Follow Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter
* Click the drives you want to defrag and click Analyze
* Click Defragment

This may take some time, so perhaps leave a defrag running overnight or while you do something away from your PC.

2. Detect and Repair Disk Errors

Over time, your hard disk develops bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing difficult or even impossible. To detect and repair disk errors, Windows has a built-in tool called the Error Checking utility. It’ll search the hard disk for bad sectors and system errors and repair them for faster performance.

* Follow Start > My Computer
* In My Computer right-click the hard disk you want to scan and click Properties
* Click the Tools tab
* Click Check Now
* Select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box
* Click Start

3. Disable Indexing Services

Indexing Services is a little application that uses a lot of CPU. By indexing and updating lists of all the files on the computer, it helps you to do a search for something faster as it scans the index list. But if you know where your files are, you can disable this system service. It won’t do any harm to you machine, whether you search often or not very often.

* Go to Start
* Click Settings
* Click Control Panel
* Double-click Add/Remove Programs
* Click the Add/Remove Window Components
* Uncheck the Indexing services
* Click Next

4. Optimize Display Settings

Windows XP has a nice visual appearance but it costs you system resources that are used to display all the visual items and effects. To customize your settings, right click My Computer, select Properties and then the Advanced tab and under Performance, click Settings. Windows looks fine if you disable most of the settings and leave the following:

* Show shadows under menus
* Show shadows under mouse pointer
* Show translucent selection rectangle
* Use drop shadows for icons labels on the desktop
* Use visual styles on windows and buttons

5. Speedup Folder Browsing

You may have noticed that every time you open My Computer to browse folders that there is a little delay. This is because Windows XP automatically searches for network files and printers every time you open Windows Explorer. To fix this and to increase browsing speed, you can disable the “Automatically search for network folders and printers” option as follows:

Click Start, and then click Control Panel, Double-click Folder Options and on the View tab, de-select the “Automatically search for network folders and printers” check box.

6. Optimize Your Pagefile

You can optimize your pagefile. Setting a fixed size to your pagefile saves the operating system from the need to resize the pagefile.

* Right click on My Computer and select Properties
* Select the Advanced tab
* Under Performance choose the Settings button
* Select the Advanced tab again and under Virtual Memory select Change
* Highlight the drive containing your page file and make the initial Size of the file the same as the Maximum Size of the file.

Windows XP sizes the page file to about 1.5X the amount of actual physical memory by default. While this is good for systems with smaller amounts of memory (under 512MB) it is unlikely that a typical XP desktop system will ever need 1.5 X 512MB or more of virtual memory. If you have less than 512MB of memory, leave the page file at its default size. If you have 512MB or more, change the ratio to 1:1 page file size to physical memory size.

7. Remove Fonts for Speed

Fonts, especially TrueType fonts, use quite a bit of system resources. For optimal performance, trim your fonts down to just those that you need to use on a daily basis and fonts that applications may require.

* Open Control Panel
* Open Fonts folder
* Move fonts you don’t need to a temporary directory (e.g. C:\FONTBKUP?) just in case you need or want to bring a few of them back. The more fonts you uninstall, the more system resources you will gain.

Hope you find these tips useful.
Best wishes
Trish


If you send or receive e-cards (electronic greeting cards), you may not think too much about whether they are safe for your computer or not. They are free and fast, making them a popular and convenient alternative to traditional greeting cards.

To send an e-card, you simply go to an e-card site, choose a card from a number of different categories, and then send it off to your recipient with a personalized greeting. Some of the more well-known companies are Hallmark, 123Greetings, American Greetings or Blue Mountain, but it’s worth doing a search as you’ll find many great e-card sites specialising in topics such as sports and nature & also charity e-cards.

Receiving an e-card is fun too. Often, these cards come equipped with short video or music clips. Millions of people receive e-cards for special days like Christmas, Easter and personal birthdays every year.

E-cards are created the same way Web sites are; they’re built on the Internet just like this page. So when you send someone an e-card, you’re actually giving them a link to click, which takes them to the online greeting card you created for them.

Not all e-cards are harmless cards, though; some may contain viruses, spyware, adware, phishing attacks or spam. At best, this is annoying and can involve pop-ups, lots of unwanted junk mail, or other minor disturbances. At worst, these viruses can crash your system or hack into your email contacts.

There are a number of ways you can protect your computer from unwanted surprises that come in the form of e-cards. The following are some tips for online safety for e-cards.

Know what to look for:

The best way to be safe from online viruses is to keep your eyes out for anything suspicious. A good indication an e-card is not legitimate includes:

  • There are misspelled words or names. The inclusion of non-letter characters such as * @ # $ % , if your name is misspelled, words are spelled with letters in the wrong order such as “Best Wsihes” or are misspelled in other ways, there is a possibility that it is spam or a virus.
  • Make sure you recognize the sender’s name before clicking on any links. The sender should always be recognizable, either in the subject line or the e-mail itself. People don’t normally send e-cards to strangers, so you should probably avoid opening e-cards from anyone you don’t know.
  • The e-card has an attachment. Most e-card companies that are legitimate don’t put their e-cards as attachments. Rather, they have a link you follow to the company’s website that takes you directly to the card. By downloading attachments, you can unknowingly be downloading a virus or other type of unwanted intrusion onto your computer.
  • Be cautious. If you have any suspicion that the e-Card you have received is fraudulent do not open, and do not click on any links within the e-mail if you do. Legitimate e-mails will always give you the option to pick up the e-Card by typing in the address of the Web site, rather than clicking on the link.
  • Preview a link’s Web address before you click it. If the link doesn’t show an address, move your mouse pointer over a link without clicking it to see where the link goes. (The address should appear on the bottom bar of your Web browser.)

Keep your anti-virus & firewall etc software up to date.

You should also have anti virus software, a firewall, anti-spyware and anti-adware installed on your computer to help to detect threats and protect your. In most cases you can get all these programs free, but they do need to be updated and run regularly to give you the best protection. Spyware and adware not only compromise your computer’s security, they will often slow your system down.

Read fine print and terms of service.

If you receive an e-card that has a check box saying you agree to their terms of service, be sure to read the fine print. If you are like most people, you simply check the I Agree box without even looking at the print. This can be a big mistake, because with spam e-cards, you might be agreeing to have them download spyware or adware or even to have access to your computer’s address books.

When in doubt, delete.

If something doesn’t look right, such as the name of the sender or vague subject lines, just delete the card. It’s better to safe than sorry.

E-cards are fun to receive and send, as long as you’re careful when doing so. The above tips will help you be safe online with e-cards.

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