The mouse isn’t dead, which means we should nuke it from orbit

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler stepped into a bit of a bear trap (or should that be mouse trap?) when he proclaimed the “Apple’s Magic Trackpad Signals The End of The Mouse Era“. To put it mildly, the general reaction is that his judgment was hasty, and he’s followed it up with an even stronger statement “The Mouse Is Dead. I Just Killed It. Now Can We Move On?” Clearly he’s being dramatic for effect, since we all know the mouse is not dead. However, I take that to mean we aren’t doing enough to kill it.

I’ve been pretty clear in showing I’m no fan of the mouse. I’m addicted to pen input, which is built-in on my Tablet PC and enabled with a Wacom Bluetooth Graphire tablet on my media PC. I’ve also been using a Wacom Bamboo pen + multi-touch tablet at my home desktop setup, which I plan on moving to work where my right index finger is being steadily destroyed by that accursed mouse. Siegler thinks he’s killed the mouse? Pfft. I’ve killing the mouse for years, so stop trying to pilfer my rightful kill.

Clearly though, my work is far from complete. I welcome the Magic Trackpad as an ally on in this mission, and if Siegler wants to proclaim that it “signals the end of the mouse”, that’s fine by me. I don’t really care how multi-touch trackpads, pen tablets, and other mouse alternatives get adopted, as long as the mouse gets crushed in the process. I say we take off and nuke the mouse from orbit, but death of a thousand cuts works too.

The bottom line is, while I disagree with Siegler’s literal claims, I fully agree with the spirit of his statements and believe he’s headed in the right direction… primarily because I’m like a mile ahead of him on that path. Hope he and many others are able to catch up soon.

Side note: in case you were concerned, Sumocat does not kill actual mice. In fact, I regularly go out of my way to defend rodents from my squad of ultimate badasses trio of (not-always) killer cats.

  

Comments

  1. GTaylor says

    I don’t understand why each specialized in/out device (or any information handling device) that comes along has to replace, remove, eliminate, nuke from space, the preceding types. As long as a device has some feature of usability, for me, it continues on the desk or the near by left hand drawer for when it is wanted.
    I just bought a ipaq 211 with a clunky touch screen, a stylus, and it will be paired with my bluetooth thumb keyboard because I want an information manager in my pocket that can be pulled out and used while I am on the phone.
    On the other hand… Black and white units, such as you features in the photos, have clearly surpassed any other four legged life form and most of the others.

  2. aftermath says

    It is amazing how long the mouse has been with us. As a tablet PC guy, I tend to rely on pen more than the mouse. Like sumocat, I’ve got a Wacom Bamboo pen + multi-touch tablet that I use when I need auxiliary input. It’s better than a mouse and better than just about anything else FOR ME (everybody is different).

    Even though I wouldn’t mind seeing the mouse die, I don’t want to lose my hand to arthritis in the process. Unfortunately, all of the marketing hype in the world can’t fix the ergonomic issues inherent to trackpads. They’re just not recommended for extended periods of use (ironically, early studies also suggest to all of this “swiping” and rigid screen tapping that we do on touch screen devices are similarly unhealthy). Hopefully, people who cover technology look into some the related issues and incorporate what they find into their coverage of these kinds of products. It would be terrible to see people get enthusiastically advocated straight into a program of occupational therapy and rehabilitation. It reminds me of when my wife and I were designing the dining area of our new house. We were all set to go with a very elegant, modern bench seating design, but it didn’t take long for us to realize that as good as it looked in photos, and as much as it transformed our dining area into a very stylish and appealing space, benches are not very practical or usable to live with. Ultimately, we sacrificed a little bit of style, and got a lot more function by going with a more traditional arrangement. I suspect that this peripheral is the same. It looks great, but you’d be well advised to do little more than look at it if you enjoy your body. If you pick through some of the reviews of this product carefully, you’ll notice people identifying the joint fatigue that comes with small digital manipulation. Many people connect external mice to their laptops because they are in fact more comfortable and usable than the built-in pointing device (in a related point, I can’t wait to be at a coffee shop and see somebody attach an “external track pad” to their macbook.)

    Having purchased, used, and sold most of the products from Fingerworks (the company that Apple bought in order to get its hands on the multitouch IP that it “innovated”), this is basically the Apple release of the Fingerwork iGesture pad. That was a nice little device that focussed more on usability than Apple’s release of it. It didn’t kill the mouse, and hopefully this won’t either, at least for the Apple crowd.

  3. Flo says

    Hi,

    I’m thinking about buying the Wacom Touch+Pen. Is the larger version worth the rather larger price tag, or is in your experience the standard version large enough ? (I’m running a dual monitor setup, with 21/19 inch screens)

    and has anybody every found a universal stylus/pen, that works on those tablets and a tablet pc ? (in particular it would be the Motion LE1600)

    Thanks

    • Sumocat says

      Hi Flo,

      I have not used the larger one, but the small one has worked well enough for me running two displays extended using a DisplayLink USB adapter. Keep in mind, extending the display essentially splits pen input on the Wacom tablet between the two screens, i.e., left half controls the first display, right half controls second. I should point out, when I use a mouse, I set the acceleration very high, so I’m used to a high ratio of cursor movement to hand movement (short hand movement translates to rapid cursor movement). Because of that, the smaller one probably works better for me since I prefer to move the cursor across the screen with one movement. Whether that works for you depends greatly on how you personally operate and what kind of work you do. Touch input is like a standard trackpad.

      Oh, and if you’re thinking about plugging your Bamboo into your Tablet PC, expect driver conflicts. I can get it to work, but I’ve never gotten it to work seamlessly without rebooting between docking and undocking from my desk setup. One of the reasons I want to see about using my Bamboo at work.

      As for a universal pen, Wacom uses a different digitizer in the Bamboo than Tablet PC Penabled, and they don’t make a cross-compatible pen.

      • Flo says

        Thanks for your answer.

        Actually I got hold of an older Bamboo tablet (pen only, no touch). I really like it, though I’ve noticed that my hand tends to rest on/touch the tablet quite a lot when I use it. Does the touch+pen version have some form of palm rejection or how does it prevent accidental swipes ?

        • Sumocat says

          Yes, when the tablet recognized the pen by proximity (which enabled cursor hover control), touch is disabled. This can create some problems if I lift or move the pen tip away from the tablet while my hand rests on it, but that’s not normally an issue.

  4. Scott says

    I feel that the mouse will die only when the keyboard dies: the two just work too well together on the desktop (and a mouse is just too handy when playing certain games).

  5. Tim says

    I tried pen input, it’s ok but I still prefer the mouse. By the way, touch on a screen larger than 5 inches just doesn’t work for me at all, too cumbersome to get around the screen. I tend to do alot of one-handed touch screen navigation, and holding a device larger than 5 inches and doing one-handed touch screen navigation on that larger screen just doesn’t work for me.

  6. Sharon says

    My pen is my best friend. The mouse quickly causes me carpal tunnel pain. Track pad cramps my thumb and forefinger after a while.

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