touch and ted

by oBelIX

Disclaimers – “I work for Microsoft, not in the team that makes this mouse though. All opinions are my own. I paid for the mouse myself – unfortunately, people do not yet pay me to profess my opinions on hardware to the world”.

With that out of the way and an utter cluelessness on what to say (“yes, the rasmalai post will come. so will the england trip ones and the banff trip ones and “about vancouver IV”) I shall do a review. I got this touch mouse thingie the other day. If you pop on over to the website and see the video it looks very glitzy and full of jing-bang-whizz-shizz. Every once in a while I buy something because I’m curious and think it’s a generally good idea at the time. If you think about it – the idea of this mouse is pretty good – its not just a regular mouse – it supports touch stuff so you do lesser moving the cursor around when you are using only the mouse.

Of course, using only the mouse may seem like an anathema – after all, it is well established that the keyboard is the fastest way to navigate a computer and that applications without proper keyboard shortcuts are poor.

Look, feel and packaging: The mouse comes in a small tiny box. It’s unfortunately the kind of packaging that will leave you scratching your head on how to open. I’d advise reading the instructions (there’s a small leaflet with two steps). Or you could just use brute force :-). The mouse itself is heavy. It takes a little effort to get used to the weight and frankly, after a week of using it I am still not used to it.

The working: The mouse works well. The laser-LED thingie on it tracks on paper/table/mousepad and very accurately.

Touch and the software: The idea with the touch is that there are a bunch of gestures.

  • one finger to scroll/pan
  • thumb to go back/forward (think IE/OneNote etc)
  • two fingers together – up maximizes, left snaps left, right snaps right.
  • three fingers together – alt+TAB

Unfortunately, the most used gesture – the scrolling doesn’t work very well all the time. You need to fiddle with the settings in the Mouse control panel to actually get it to behave better. Plus, you need to run the background app elevated if you want scrolling to work in apps running elevated. This is just sad.

I also end up doing the two finger gestures by mistake. It’s just a minor annoyance :-).

The three finger gesture is super awesome. It’s basically a show all running apps – kind of like alt+TAB on steroids. When you have a ton of apps open ALT+TAB doesn’t usually cut it. However, showing thumbnails of each window on a 24-inch display is really really useful.

the absolutely worst thing: there is no middle click. you do not realize how much you use the middle-click until someone takes it away from you.

tl;dr – this is just not worth it. the idea is nice. it needs more refinement. I’d like the mouse to be less heavy. I figure the annoyances with the touch are all in software which will be fixed. PLus there is no middle click. To cut to the chase – don’t buy this. Yet.


And with that out of the way, and if you made it this far down the post here are some nice ted talks I saw recently:

Benjamin Zander on Music and passion: This is about classical music and why everyone should listen to it. Mr. Zander is convinced that everyone should love/understand classical music. He however does fail to convince me of that – I don’t mind classical music if it’s playing but I’m not going to go out of my way to play it. However, he is very inspiring to watch and a delightful speaker. I’d say, spend the 20 minutes and watch this – it is worth your time.

Rory Sutherland on Life lessons from an ad man: This talks about advertisement and the importance of intangible value. The talk is witty, full of amusing anecdotes and makes a very compelling argument. A quick sampler (paraphrased):

A group of engineers were given the job of making the train ride from London to the English CHannel tunnel more bearable. They came up with a plan that involved new tracks, new lines and a 6 billion pound price tag and reducing the journey time by 20 minutes. If you ask me that’s a waste of money. All we need to do is hire supermodels to walk the aisles and serve you free beer. Not only would that make the journey more bearable, heck people would even ask for the journey to be longer. And you’ll probably save 3 billion pounds.

The talk is full of witty stuff like this and some other fun gems along the way. Again, 20 minutes very well spent.