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2009-01-29 00:59:01
20090128.211
 
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Page 211

Sorry it's late, this week. It's down to a lot of things, starting with my hosting company helpfully changing all my passwords to require an extra class of character [1] and limiting simultaneous connections from the same username to 1 [2] and changing the hostname I had to log into to upload files [3].

They broadly ended with my adventures in buying-a-new-mouse land, where my last mouse lost complete use of its middle-mouse button [4] and I had to go and buy a new one. From a shop, because I didn't feel like waiting three days to have such basic functionality restored.

Except, you know what? It turns out that it's basic functionality that's pretty missing from high-end mice these days anyway. My local PC World, for example, is typical of Peterborough retailers. It sells two kinds of mice: wireless laser mice with a billion buttons, or tiny notebook mice with maybe three if you're lucky. I like five, as MS have been putting on their Intellimouse Explorer for about ten years, but there weren't any Intellimouse Explorers in PC World. I expect they're too mundane, not cutting-edge enough for PC World's notoriously discerning customer base. Instead, the MS offering was the Sidewinder X5, a gaming mouse that looks like it was carved out of a block of wood by someone who learned how to use a chisel a month ago and hasn't got the hang of sandpaper yet.

I ended up buying what looked like a standard Logitech mouse, forgetting that every single Logitech mouse I have brought into my house in the last five years I have hated with a passion. It seems that ever since they switched from LEDs to lasers for their surface tracking, their optical mice have been suddenly really bad for precision graphics work, which is a good deal of what I use a mouse for. I'm not sure whether it's the resolution or the response time or what, but one way or another they've sucked. This new one - the MX620 Cordless Laser - takes this sucking to a whole new level by also overriding Windows' default mouse acceleration which everybody is already used to in their drivers. You can change the mouse acceleration in the driver settings, but none of the options seem to be "the same way it was before you messed with it".

Also, the accursèd thing doesn't have a working middle-mouse button. It has some annoying free-wheeling tilting scrollwheel which has to be really heavy to freewheel which I turned off because it's annoying, and as a result of being really heavy is also about ten times as hard to press as a mouse button should ever be. So I had to re-map another, too-far-out-of-the-way button to middle-mouse, and now I'm contemplating ordering a normal mouse which works online and then taking this piece of crap out into the garden and whacking it with a lump hammer until I feel vaguely better.

Did I mention how it bluescreened my PC the first time I plugged it in because - as best I can tell - it draws a huge amount of power from the USB socket you plug it into? Other devices on my powered hub don't work at the same time as this mouse's reciever is plugged in. I am filled with hate.


Congratulations on reading this far. As a prize for putting up with my enraged drivel, have a recipe for a curry which I thoroughly enjoyed for dinner today:

[Serves two hungry people or more not-so-hungry people.]
350g lamb
1 medium onion
chunk of ginger root ~2cm cubed
2 cloves of garlic
6 cloves
2 cardamom pods
3cm stick of cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
1-3 teaspoons red chili powder (depending on how hot you like your curry)
some black pepper and salt
350ml sugocasa
2 tablespoons concentrated tomato puree

First, grind up all the spices with a mortar and pestle.

Trim and dice lamb.

Next, heat about 50g of butter and a bit of vegetable oil in a large-based pan with a lid [5]

Chop up onion into quarter-rings or so. Grate ginger, crush garlic.

Put the onion, garlic and ginger in the frying pan with the oil, and fry on a medium heat.

When the onion has gone a bit soft, put the lamb in the pan. Pour half the ground-up spices over the lamb, then shuffle it a load so the chunks get covered, then pour over the rest and do it again.

Once the lamb is cooked, pour over the sugocasa (or half-blended tomatoes, if you don't have any) and stir into the meat, then add the tomato puree and about 500ml of hot water. Cover the pan simmer it, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has been reduced so that it's thick and doesn't drip off the spatula. If this takes less than twenty-five, thirty minutes, you may need to add a little bit more water and continue for at least that long.

Goes well with rice.

 

[1] Which they told me about.

 

[2] Which they spectacularly failed to tell me about.

 

[3] Which they told me two different things about on two different pages on their website.

 

[4] My second-favourite button.

 

[5] I have a straight-sided frying pan which has a clear lid with a tiny hole in which is perfect for this kind of recipe. It came from Tesco.

 

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I love Microsoft mice. The wireless mice fit my hand perfectly. I've heard a lot of good things about the new Arc mouse, but not sure if that would work for what you want to use it for. I haven't tried it yet myself, but I'm looking forward to trying one.

I also love trackballs. If I could find a good trackball with a scrollwheel I'd probably never look back at a "normal" mouse again. Trackballs just give you so much more precision and control over a standard mouse, and you never have to worry about hitting the edge of your mousepad with one. It does take a little getting used to though. I've been using my Kensington Orbit for close to 10 years now and have never had a problem with it.

2009-01-29 21:29:46
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You know, over several years it didn't really occur to me to try different surfaces, I'd figured that the nylon-fabric-topped mousemat I had would be good enough... but yeah, it's probably pretty reflective under bright light, so quite possibly under infra-red as well. Thanks for the tip! I'll try some other things, starting with paper.

The sad thing for me is that many years ago, I had a Logitech mouse that looked like this, only with an LED and a cable, and it was probably the best mouse I've ever had. But I foolishly kept fiddling with it and the metal-foil 'Logitech' label which was sunken into the body where the palm of the hand sits started to peel off, and it got pretty uncomfortable to hold. These days I just wish I'd bought five of the things while they still sold them... :/

Meow, I enjoy your comic.

I use Logitech mice and keypads almost exclusively (for quality in construction, but not in design). The trick is to use a paper or similar surface for mousing because the optical sensor isn't filtered and is easily confused by the slightest reflection.

I can't hide the fact that the drivers are designed to suck. You can try using a third party-driver, but I can't reccomned any one in particular.

If you do go with a cheap brand like Labtec or (S'ho) and find that the mouse sometimes stops working, get someone to resolder the PCB.

^- - ^