back to article Users fail to squeak through basic computer skills test. Well, it was the '90s

Friday mornings can mean only one thing: El Reg’s weekly instalment of On Call, where readers share their tales of users’, um, naivety. This week, as a special treat for making it through the first month of 2019, your Vulture has picked out two stories from the On Call mailbag. Both take place back in the mid-'90s, when …

  1. GlenP Silver badge

    Not sure...

    ...about the first one.

    I can recall dismantling a keyboard and scrubbing, literally, the PCB under the tap after a user spilt a sticky orange drink (probably Fanta) on it. Given that a decent keyboard could be over £100 in those days it was worth doing.

    The keyboard did recover and continue working, and it probably avoided an embarrassing conversation for the user with his boss.

    Sadly the users today are no better, I've had to write off a laptop recently due to Coke (the Cola variety) damage,

    1. A K Stiles Silver badge

      Re: Not sure...

      The problem with mice is that just running it under the tap probably resulted in the case being full of water, containing some lovely electrolytes causing a short, or interfering with the (I expect) optical encoders on the ball rollers.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: Not sure...

        Water wouldn't harm a mouse. Causing a short could be a (temporary) problem. Or, the water moved some of the usual ball mouse inherent filth around where it blocked something. Ugh! Still, after all those years, I'm still traumatised by what I encountered when cleaning sticky mouse balls.

        1. m0rt

          Re: Not sure...

          "I'm still traumatised by what I encountered when cleaning sticky mouse balls."

          I remember a particularly lovely find when the mouse I cleaned had a live cockroach inside it.

          Ethiopia, and high elevation so it was the smaller variety.

        2. DJV Silver badge

          Mouse balls

          When I worked in IT Support back around 1998 we used to get numerous complaints about mice not working due to the build up of crap on the rollers and balls. I used to remove all the balls and take them to the nearest "gents" and give them a soak in a basin of warm soapy water. Other staff entering the loo would ask, "What are you doing?"

          "Washing my balls," I'd reply.

          1. Scott 53

            Re: Mouse balls

            I always attached a static strap to my wrist when handling the balls. Nobody wants a sudden discharge.

            1. Ike

              Re: Mouse balls

              Guffaw!!!, beer on the keyboard.

            2. IceC0ld Silver badge

              Re: Mouse balls

              nothing more to add, the icon will do the talking here LOL

          2. The Indomitable Gall

            Re: Mouse balls

            For me the issue was rarely the ball itself, but the accumulated crud that had transferred from the ball to the rollers.

            One of the PC magazines gave away a free cleaner that I thought was great -- it was a ridged ball on a stick and you just took the ball out then wiggled this in the whole to scrap out the rubbish.

            Then I realised it was quicker and easier to use the pocket clip on the lid of a cheap bic biro and just scratch it all off directly.

            1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

              Re: Mouse balls

              Single ended cotton buds (Q-tips for the leftpondian readership) used to work great as well.

              Used the cotton end to wipe, and the non-cotton end to scrape/scratch anything that was particularly attached and hanging on tightly. Or if all else failed then an unbent paperclip for the latter job (and of course any decent helldesk minion or BoFH has several of those around for poking in holes...)

              1. Gene Cash Silver badge

                Re: Mouse balls

                > Single ended cotton buds

                Hm. In 50+ years, I've never seen a single-ended q-tip. They always have cotton on both ends. If I need a "pokey bit" I usually end up snapping them in half. Fortunately they're paper sticks now, as there used to be hollow plastic ones that just bent, no matter the amount of force.

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: Mouse balls

                  "Hm. In 50+ years, I've never seen a single-ended q-tip."

                  You won't in high street shops, but your local electronics supplier (hah!) will sell them.

                  1. Martin-73 Silver badge

                    Re: Mouse balls

                    So Maplin then (RIP :( )

                    I'm lucky in that there's an RS trade counter closeby, they can get most anything, at a cost

            2. swampdog

              Re: Mouse balls

              Finger nail is best but only on your own exclusive mouse or ikky thoughts will ensue!

              1. Mark 85 Silver badge

                Re: Mouse balls

                Finger nail is best but only on your own exclusive mouse or ikky thoughts will ensue

                I have an Exacto knife just for that purpose. Works well with the toughest of hair balls. Hands (usually) stay clean.

              2. shawnfromnh

                Re: Mouse balls

                I did the manual getting dirty solution. A regular Qtip and alcohol, roll the little roller with a finger and hold the wet Qtip tightly against it. Took a while but was spotless at the end, I also wasn't a stranger to the fingernail scraping on the tougher stuck on stuff. Good feeling when doing that and every few months my keyboard gets a cleaning for everything on and in between the key and with a Qtip it fast also though a few times since it is unplugged I would use a paper towel and force to clean certain keys like the spacebar for instance. It alcohol doesn't work I carefully dampen a finger with straight Dawn dish soap and it'll dissolve any grease including tobacco and then paper towel and a Qtip to remove all residue.

            3. Doctor_Wibble
              Thumb Up

              Re: Mouse balls

              > Then I realised it was quicker and easier to use the pocket clip on the lid of a cheap bic biro and just scratch it all off directly.

              A bic biro is an absolute essential of any toolkit!

              The lid is also handy for pushing into the earth pin hole so you can use that gadget that you haven't bothered to change the two-pin plug on yet. Hypothetically speaking if one were to even think of doing that, which of course you wouldn't because who on earth would ever do such a thing?

              The rest of the biro is still useful so don't throw that away - other essentials include a couple of old credit/store cards, a bent coat hanger, the plastic window from the box which had the cheesecake, an old kitchen knife, and a really big bolt you found somewhere and you are sure will be useful at some point in the future.

          3. Snarky Puppy

            Re: Mouse balls

            A colleague brought some plums into the office to eat as an afternoon snack and left his desk briefly to run them under the tap in the small kitchen not far from his desk. His desk phone rang while he was away and was answered by a female colleague. In response to the caller asking where he was, she replied, with a perfectly straight face and accent, "He's washing his plums in the sink".

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Not sure...

          "Water wouldn't harm a mouse."

          Possibly not if the mouse internals are thoroughly dried before plugging it back in. But user with the sticky hands after dowsing it in orange juice probably neither flushed the internals out properly nor made sure the internals were dried out before plugging it back in. :-)

        4. Snowy

          Re: Not sure...

          While I agree water would not harm the mouse plugging it in with water inside is not going to do it much good.

        5. Suburban Inmate

          Re: Not sure...

          I can't speak for mice, but one of my gerbils decided to take a leap into the fish tank once and it was fine.

          Until the cat got it.

    2. Chunky Munky

      Re: Not sure...

      I've lost count of the number of laptop keyboards I've had to replace in my present school, either through keys and the little rubber nipples under them mysteriously going missing (it was there last night but not this morning, honest!) to having laptops destroyed by everything from coke to coffee - again never the users fault as they don't drink (enter beverage of choice here).

      Saying that, I did meet possibly the most honest person in the country a few months back - she brought her laptop into the lab and right out said she'd broken her laptop 'cos she's spilt lemonade over it and to let her know the cost of replacing it which she'd pay as it was entirely her fault. As she is one of the most undemanding 'power' users out there and always makes sure we have cake and biscuits at the end of term / birthdays / Christmas etc, her laptop was 'inadvertently' classified as failing through normal wear and tear, so she was issued a nice shiny new one with the admonition to keep all liquids well away from it.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: Not sure...

        Ah yes, the old "being nice to your IT support" plot. Cunning, very cunning....

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Not sure...

          It never fails.

        3. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Not sure...

          Users who regularly invest in politeness, cake and beer can expect a good return.

          1. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: Not sure...

            I've had the odd present in the hopes I'll put them at the top of my to do list, keep quiet, replace something etc. Once had a girl appear at 6:30pm with a bottle of Scotch and a plea that I help her with a report that was due the next day. She had lied about her abilities in a few packages to get the job and now needed help quickly.

            1. Syn3rg

              Re: Not sure...

              I hope you married her...

          2. chivo243 Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Not sure...

            Chocolate and banana bread seem to do the trick around here...

        4. MonkeyCee

          Re: Not sure...

          As well as the "don't lie to IT" plan.

          Combined they work extremely well.

          I'll note that many of the good IT departments I worked in also had similar relationships with the other important groups in the organisation. Maintenance, cleaners, EAs, PAs and of course receptionists.

      2. thosrtanner
        Thumb Up

        Re: Not sure...

        +1 for her as well

      3. Sudosu

        Re: Not sure...

        So in this particular case, the cake was not the lie...

      4. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Not sure...

        My favourite "oops" story is a user who had just bought the, then very expensive indeed, Mac Powerbook 3400c and telephoned me one day after she had bought it to tell me that she had accidentally spilled a glass of red wine over the keyboard. On being informed that wine is acidic and it was probably going to be easier to claim on her insurance, she responded "Oh, I thought that if you poured a glass of white wine on top of the red then it countered the acid problem."

    3. WallMeerkat

      Re: Not sure...

      An HP Touchpad ruined by a glass of rose wine. It never did recover.

      1. Terje

        Re: Not sure...

        Rose, that's your problem, If it had been either white or red I'm sure it would have been perfectly fine, but I'm sure the touch pad had taste and just refused to work with someone drinking rose!

        1. Piro

          Re: Not sure...

          Hm, I, too, at one time, thought rosé was some kind of modern invention. It is not. In fact, rosé is probably closest to the original style of wine that would have been made, so it's a bit more interesting than it might first appear.

          1. m0rt

            Re: Not sure...

            That ^ may be the most interesting thing about Rosé.

        2. Joefish

          Re: Not sure...

          That's because you're drinking watery French or Californian cack instead of a Greek Rosé with a bit of body to it. At least get the Merlot or Shiraz Rosé, not that Grenache rubbish.

          1. kain preacher

            Re: Not sure...

            Don;t make me come over there and beat you with Bottle. California has some the finest wines. Often beating the french wines .

            1. The Indomitable Gall

              Re: Not sure...

              He was specifically talking about rosé. And he said he thought the French stuff was rubbish too.

            2. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Not sure...

              Good Californian pink Zinfandels (not to be confused with the stuff that's produced by well advertised megabrands) on a hot Summer day - should one occur. Just wonderful. Probably have to go there and sample a few first though.

            3. Tom 38 Silver badge

              Re: Not sure...

              California has some the finest wines. Often beating the french wines

              That's as bold a generalisation as saying that Californian rose is cack. There's a lot of crap wine coming from both places, and a lot of excellent too.

            4. Tomato Krill

              Re: Not sure...

              Great wines. Very excellent wines, superb wines. The best...

          2. pakman

            Re: Not sure...

            I saw some Malbec rosé a few weeks back and couldn't resist trying it: lovely. I'll be buying it again.

            1. Joefish

              Re: Not sure...

              Malbec - now you're talking - I'll keep an eye out. What got me into rosé was on holiday getting reds served at 35°C at the end of a hot day rendering them undrinkable, whereas the rosés came out chilled. And most Greek ones are as dry and full-bodied as a lot of reds. Mind you, the whites can be pretty heavy too; Santorini ones are particularly lush - something to do with bugger-all rainfall. There's a nice Tsantili rosé at most airports, although with 'Macedonia' on the label you should avoiding whipping it out in front of any former Yugoslavians at the moment...

              1. macjules Silver badge

                Re: Not sure...

                I certainly would not want to be whipping anything out in front of a former Yugoslavian, or even cleaning my balls in front of them.

              2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

                Re: Not sure...

                I used to like rosés when you could get a dark pink wine with plenty of body and flavour. Nowadays it's all pale pink battery acid. I've seen the craze for pale rosé blamed on "ladies who lunch". I've never met any, but they sound like the sort of people who'd ruin a drinking experience.

                Malbec sounds good. There used to be some nice, dark Spanish rosés, too.

      2. Symon Silver badge

        Re: Not sure...

        That's why I gave up the wine. Meths all the way for me...

        1. Ted Treen

          Re: Not sure...

          Isopropyl is better: no-one questions why you have it around.

          1. paulll

            Re: Not sure...

            Meths has a better bouquet, though

        2. short a sandwich

          Re: Not sure...

          Boots pharmacy assistants always look worried if you ask for chilled meths.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Not sure...

            Of course they'll look worried: they're wondering why you're asking for meths in a pharmacy rather than in a DIY place.

          2. m0rt

            Re: Not sure...

            Well stop demanding it at gunpoint and service may improve.

          3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Not sure...

            Boots pharmacy assistants always look worried if you ask for chilled meths.

            Quite right too. You want it at cellar temperature, not chilled.

            1. Peter X

              Re: Not sure...

              | | Boots pharmacy assistants always look worried if you ask for chilled meths.

              | Quite right too. You want it at cellar temperature, not chilled.

              I think you'll find that everything in this shop is at seller temperature sir.

        3. Paul Cooper

          Re: Not sure...

      3. ActionBeard

        Re: Not sure...

        An HP Pavilion laptop of mine had cava spilled on its keyboard, and it worked fine once it had dried out a bit. I was using one of those saucer-type champagne glasses - they seemed a good idea at the time.

        1. DuchessofDukeStreet

          Re: Not sure...

          Unless you're pretending to be the Great Gatsby, they are *never* a good idea. Fizzy wine of any variety should be served in flutes to stop the fizz escaping too quickly.

          (Does it have to be *beer* o'clock? Can i have prosecco o'clock instead? Or champagne o'clock on pay day?)

          1. Montreal Sean

            Re: Not sure...


            You are obviously better paid than I am! :)

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Not sure...

            "Fizzy wine of any variety should be served in flutes to stop the fizz escaping too quickly."

            Depends on how fast you drink <hic!>

          3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Not sure...

            (Does it have to be *beer* o'clock? Can i have prosecco o'clock instead? Or champagne o'clock on pay day?)

            Beer or whisky for the men , fruit based drink for the ladies , those are the rules!

        2. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Not sure...

          Saucer-shaped perry glasses.

          Despite the damage done by that clod John Steed to the public perception, champers is properly drunk from a flute - the narrow mouthed tall glass that is vaguely tulip-shaped. Keeps it fzzy longer.

          Those saucer-shaped things are for Babycham and it’s ilk, or were when I was having glass ettiquette thrashed into me by Mr ‘udson, the Butler.

          Champaign is also an aperatif wine according to the French, but I reckon dentistry shouldn’t come into it at all.

    4. VikiAi

      Re: Not sure...

      In my experience, electronics don't have an issue being washed provided they are properly rinsed and thoroughly dried before applying power again (having no power includes removal of any batteries, including tiny RTC ones!). Proper drying generally requires a *complete* dis-assembly, too, which might not be worth the time required.

      The problem with the article's wet mouse was most likely that there was still water in it when it was plugged back in, which is never good!

      1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

        Re: Not sure...

        Sometimes the drying is helped by application of IPA (isopropyl alcohol, not the drink variety).

        1. Chris 15

          Re: Not sure...

          >Sometimes the drying is helped by application of IPA (isopropyl alcohol, not the drink variety).

          Depends where you apply it. Personally, I tend to drink IPA's rather than use them for diy or cleaning purposes...

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Not sure...

        "...properly rinsed and thoroughly dried... "

        Hairdyer FTW !

        Also, I remember a friend talking about an ex-colleague of his who did mobile repairs. He used to dry out damp electronics with a small handheld blowtorch... super-effective but definitely requiring a deft touch and a steady hand

    5. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Not sure...

      A friend of mine had a Siemens keyboard from the early 90s. It kept going until he replaced it in the early 2000s, but he was a chain smoker and also ate over the keyboard, so it went in the dishwasher every 6 months for a thorough cleaning - but only water, no detergent was added.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not sure...

        he was a chain smoker and also ate over the keyboard, so it went in the dishwasher every 6 months for a thorough cleaning - but only water, no detergent was added

        I tried this on a nice but filthy IBM keyboard (knowing it was "kill or cure"), and the keyboard never worked again. So try it by all means, know that the outcome tends to be binary.

      2. Glenturret Single Malt

        Re: Not sure...

        My (ancient) keyboard has a non-detachable cable. Would that go in the dishwasher too?1

    6. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Not sure...

      At one employers I was the person with IT responsibilities at a satellite office. There were mostly very non technical people in that office and they dreaded my holidays. So one week off I return to a package addressed to me waiting in the post. As I opened it to discover a laptop the manager appeared and confessed. Between her and another staff member they had managed to spill a large glass of water into a company laptop via the keyboard. Panicked about what to do they had:

      Pulled the power cable and battery,

      Mopped the keyboard with a cloth,

      Turned the thing on the side to drain it,

      Whilst still on the side they put a hairdryer on full heat pointing at the keyboard.

      They then left this for 15 minutes to dry out.

      The keys then deformed and started to melt where the air was hottest. More panic set in at this point and they called head office who put another one in the post. She hadn't called anyone else because she thought she could be clever and fix it herself. After that an email from myself was sent to all staff at the office and posted on the noticeboard in the kitchen about what to do if liquids were spilled again. They were particularly surprised when I suggested flushing the offending article with distilled water. At the bottom of the email was an instruction in bright red and a very large font saying that On no account were hairdryers to be used with the heat on. Manager replied to my email saying that I was now banned from taking any holiday in case it happened again.

      1. Missing Semicolon

        Re: Not sure...

        Such a shame. Right up to the hairdryer they were doing the right thing....

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Not sure...

          "Right up to the hairdryer they were doing the right thing"

          Nothing wrong with using a haidryer per se, just shouldn't have put max heat... and also if I read the post correctly, leaving it unsupervised for 15 min pointing at the same spot instead of evenly distributing the airflow

    7. phuzz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Not sure...

      A friend of mine came to me with her laptop, which had had an entire cup of coffee poured over it. Fortunately she'd had the presence of mind to immediately pull the power out, and then to bring it to me.

      I did a careful disassembly and cleaned of the worst of the brown staining with IPA, and then cautiously powered it back up.

      It worked fine, although it did absolutely reek of coffee. Not my favourite smell, but my mate was well happy with it.

      1. upsidedowncreature

        Re: Not sure...

        India Pale Ale?

        1. TheRealRoland

          Re: Not sure...

          They are higher in alcohol content, that's true...

          1. stungebag

            Re: Not sure...

            The Greene King one isn't.

            1. m0rt

              Re: Not sure...

              That is a little like saying 'Nescafé isn't real coffee'.

              Well, Duh!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not sure...

        Without wishing to sound like a smug twat.... check the bottom of your ThinkPad. It has several holes and, depending on age, will have a depiction of a water drop printed next to them. Anything spilt on the keyboard goes right though. I've tested it too (accidentally).. Cheerio

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Not sure...

          "Anything spilt on the keyboard goes right though..."

          Major spillage will go through, but given that there are quite a few horizontal surfaces inside, and given that any fluid has a little bit of adhesion even to vertical or near-vertical surfaces, it would still need a good drying out.

          Of course anything non-water especially sugary drinks needs to be rinsed out as well

    8. dom_and_cats

      Re: Not sure...

      Given that we're talking mid 90s (i.e. pre USB) the mouse was probably a PS/2, and could have simply stopped working just because it was unplugged from the PC to take it off to the tap and plugged back in again without a reboot.

      How things have changed.

    9. Christopher Lane

      Re: Not sure...

      I can beat that - two days ago. HP laptop + Coffee + three sugars + ...wait for it... + the coffee was made with condensed milk.

      Unbelievably only the keyboard was goosed; that pure sugary goodness was too thick to get in to anything important. £22 later (and a lot of cursing and chiseling to remove the now firmly welded keyboard) and all is good.

      Ah so many stories from our various building sites that I could regale you all with...

    10. matthewdjb

      Re: Not sure...

      In the early 90s we switch over from IBM 3270 Terminals to herds of Vaxen and VT100 keyboards. The network guys had a washing line strung over their area with keyboards hanging from it, drying out from user spillage.

      Apparently, diet coke was fine, but anything with sugar in - like full fat coke - made the keyboards unrecoverable.

  2. A K Stiles Silver badge

    Mice are not particularly intuitive

    We've just learned to use them because we had to. They were / are the cheapest effective solution for using windowed applications.

    1. hmv Silver badge

      Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

      In the distant past, I was helping a student when I noticed that they had turned the mouse over and were using it as a trackball; I pointed out that it might work better the right way up.

      So it could be argued that trackballs are more of an intuitive solution (although one example isn't statistically significant).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

        "I noticed that they had turned the mouse over and were using it as a trackball"

        <rehash>Not quite the same, but I had a colleague who complained his mouse wasn't working... I turned round to discover he had managed to put the mouse on top of a 3.5" disk and was sliding the pair across the mouse mat and wondering why the cursor wasn't moving</rehash>

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

        "So it could be argued that trackballs are more of an intuitive solution "

        I suspect that at the time, few people had seen much of either before being sat in front of a PC with a mouse attached for the first time. But at least some will have seen trackballs in video arcades, eg missile command, centipede etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

      Life is not intuitive, but if you *keep* smashing your head on the floor, as a 12 month old may trying to stand, then something might be wrong with your thought process. ;)

    3. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

      What do you mean? I saw Scotty pick up the mouse and talk into it... Baaad M'kaay

    4. WallMeerkat

      Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

      But we are all used to them now, though my toddler is more comfortable with a touchscreen interface than trying to understand how a mouse moves a cursor on a WIMP interface.

      Though I did get used to the little "accupoint" and similar nib mouse in old laptops, touchpads in modern laptops (though they are a pain for some drag and drop / select operations). And in every office you always have at least one person using an external touchpad or a trackball.

      Still better than using joysticks on some GUI applications on 8 bit micros in the 80s.

      A bit like cars - it took them a while to standardise the clutch-brake-accelerator layout, even the steering wheel from an initial tiller back in the days of steam cars. For anyone learning to drive it is not initially intuitive, but once you learn it's like riding a bike and you couldn't use any other layout. (Though clutch pedal-less automatics are useful in heavy traffic...)

      1. Andy A

        Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

        -- A bit like cars - it took them a while to standardise the clutch-brake-accelerator layout, even the steering wheel from an initial tiller back in the days of steam cars. For anyone learning to drive it is not initially intuitive, but once you learn it's like riding a bike and you couldn't use any other layout.

        As someone who owns a car with the accelerator in the centre and brake on the right, I have to say I found it quite quick to get used to. Changing between that and my "modern" car takes only a couple of seconds to flick the mental "switch".

        I still cock up the odd gearchange on the crash box though.

        1. swampdog

          Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

          Some people can't adjust. Watch someone drive and you have a good insight into their inner self(*). Decades ago when mopeds had gears like motorbikes a mate had a yamaha "fizzy" and could not get used to the normal "one down, rest up" sequential gearbox of most bikes. My father was spectacularly bad when faced with a semi-auto. People at work who race off on cold engines tend to have trouble completing projects whereas your peugeot and citroen drivers are erratic.

          There's an unwritten book there.

          (*) You'd never guess from my monika I never wash my car ;-)

        2. Lilolefrostback

          Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

          You cannot leave it there: what <emphasis/> are you driving?

        3. AK565

          Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

          Whay kind of car is this? ???

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

        "A bit like cars - it took them a while to standardise..."

        It's taken motorbikes even longer to settle on a 'standard' configuration with left lever = clutch and right pedal = rear brake... and now with automatic / clutchless transmissions and electric bikes I think we will soon be going back to the layout that is more familiar from bicycles*, ie left lever is back brake and the feet just stay on the pegs with no controls to work with. As to 'minor' controls, BMW have only recently settled on the 'single switch for all indicators' that everyone else uses. My old R still has 3 seperate switches for left / right indicators and turning them off.

        To be honest I don't think ANY of that is intuitive, some layouts are easier to work with than others, and we get used to them because we learned that a long time ago. That counts for mice as well as for vehicles.

        * I do wish bicycles would standardise left/right levers as rear/front or front/rear.

    5. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

      I don't know, all you need to know about controlling it you can get from accidentally nudging it and seeing the cursor move, even if you originally thought that it should be used in the air as per the story.

      Even if you don't do that, just take a look. Back then it would have had two buttons (no scroll wheel) and the ball.

      Well, that's three possible sources of input to try. Left click, right click, move the ball.

      Oh! the ball moves the arrow on the screen! maybe I shouldn't be waving it around in the air, as it obviously needs something to move it, maybe by rolling across the desk as the mouse moves?

    6. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

      Back in my primary school days, the local education authority got all creative, and bought me a CCTV system for reading. It was a 21" TV (massive cathode ray of course this was the 80s) with a TV camera pointed downwards onto a lit roller-table on the right. The table surface was mounted on a 2-axis thing on ball bearings, so you could roll the relvant bit of your book underneath the camera. You then had to zoom to the appropriate magnification (I seem to remember it would do at least 20x), focus and read away.

      This was as an alternative to the unweildy 5x magnification reading glasses I still use today. You'll have seen the sort of thing used by surgeons doing close up work (glasses with small telescopes on the front).

      Anyway the idea was I could read books without glasses - but actually moving them around on the tray was more awkward than using my reading glasses. I've found a similar thing with large print, the paper's too huge and the books are incredibly heavy.

      But the reason for the story was trying to write. Instead of hold paper on desk in front of you and write, it was hold pen about where a mouse would be if you have a very long keyboard (with num pad). Then look at screen directly in front of face, and wield pen 18" to the right of you. It's very weird. Takes a lot of practise. Did mean I had no problems with mouses later on though.

      As a bonus, with a fine tipped pen, I could get my handwriting so small, that nobody could read it - unless they used the CCTV or a magnifying glass...

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

        A bit off on a tangent, but reminds me of a skill I learned whilst doing undergrad lab demonstrating in my postgrad days. The UG were working on the lab benches (basically big tables) with the normal stools/bags etc so you couldn't really work beside them, so tended to work across the table from the other side.

        They all had lab books etc, into which we also would write stuff to help them along whilst explaining the particular experiment they were doing. It always caused surprise during the first few weeks of doing this when I'd pull their book towards me and start writing in it upside down (ie so it was still facing them and they could read it normally). Was always easier doing that then turning it round, writing my bit and then having to turn back for them to read.

        Towards the end I was told my upside-down handwriting was actually neater than my normal writing. That said I hold a doctorate, so my normal writing looks like a drunken spider's output anyway.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

          Anon Custard,

          I'm impressed. We've got a salesman who is rather adept at reading upside down. Which can sometimes be rather useful... For which reason when I used to work in the buying department of a retail company - we were under instructions not to bring sales droids to our desks. That's what meeting rooms are for, even if it's a tad less convenient.

          A friend of mine is a furniture designer. And impressed me when sketching out ideas for improving my kitchen over dinner. As he was able to describe his suggestions, while simultaneously drawing them upside down so I could get his point. But I suspect that's much easier than writing the wrong way up.

          1. swampdog

            Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

            It is. I'm out of practice reading upside down but can still draw the wrong way round and read mirror writing. I'm left handed and old enough for the attempt to be made when young to make me use a pen right handed so I'm somewhat ambidextrous - forced to use a fountain pen but ultimately adopted the two typical left handed solutions. Tbh I'm pretty shite writing with my left hand these days as well. It's months since I had to do anything more complex than address a letter. Bloody computers - and ditto my spelling.

          2. fruitoftheloon

            @You're still not spartacus:Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive


            I have a marginally bonkers autistic brain, many years ago I damaged my right wrist using a mouse, so I then moved across to a Wacom tablet.

            I'm also ambidextrous, so I would use a pen in my left hand [to tick things off of a list], and the wacom tablet-pen in my right hand - simultaneously, shortly afterwards I realised I could write backwards with my left hand but nor forwards...

            Hence an incredibly useless ability, but it did spook the hell out of a lot of colleagues, also I can read upside down and back to front quicker than most people read normally.



            1. No Yb
              Thumb Up

              Re: @You're still not spartacus:Mice are not particularly intuitive

              You're not alone... I find it easier to write backwards with my left hand.

        2. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge

          Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

          When I was a baby, my mother used to read my Noddy books to me at bedtime. As I grew a bit bigger, I used to ask her where she was on the page, so she started following the text with her forefinger, and I used to watch it from the opposite side as she progressed. I learned to read upside-down before I could read up the right way, and still can today.

          When I was in the services, I also learned to read and write backwards on the rear side of the transparent Display A and Display B maps so that the scientists could work their magic on the front side without us minions getting in the way.

          I also learned to read Cyrillic characters whilst on holiday in Yugoslavia (pre 1980), although I don't speak Russian. A recent episode of University Challenge featured a picture round with Russian cities named in Cyrillic, but none of the contestants could read any of them, they were as plain to me as if they had put LONDON on a map of the UK.

    7. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive


      They were / are the cheapest effective solution for using windowed applications.


      And a bloody sight better than the god-awful capacitive touchpads on laptops that are the bane of my life. Let your wrist droop a bit too low while coding, and the cursor is suddenly somewhere completely different which, if you didn't notice the switch, means you insert your new lines of code in a completely different place than where it was meant to go, ending up with a complete mess that takes hours to decipher what you had intended to do.

      1. Alterhase

        Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

        Touch pads drove me crazy until I learned how ot switch them off. On one laptop, I even had a "app" which turned off the touch pad for a couple of seconds each time you hit a key on the keyboard.

    8. Paul Shirley

      Re: Mice are not particularly intuitive

      Intuitive or not, for gaming the optical mouse user will almost always thrash every other controller option. It's a really precise & fast input. Old roller ball mice not so much, even if the balls were clean the rotation sensors often couldn't keep up.

  3. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    "He powered up the PC, but as soon as Windows loaded he immediately picked the mouse up off his desk and waved it around in the air."

    When Michael asked him what he was doing, the user replied that he was trying to "make the mouse move".

    After being told the mouse had to stay on the desk, the user was apparently unaffected by the embarrassment that might take hold of someone in this situation, telling Michael that his training was at fault.

    True manager material (the user, not Michael). Wonder if said user got a good >KZERRRRT< along the way?

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      "make the mouse move"

      When I was introducing people to mouse based systems I saw this type of misunderstanding a lot - it's not a "user" error, it's the fact that we were not teaching them how to use the new systems, we just figured that if we knew how to use them then they would by some sort of telepathic magic.

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      If you're honest with yourself and think way back, your early mouse experience was probably like mine -- pushing the mouse to the edge of the desk and off the side because the pointer wasn't quite at the edge of the screen yet... then embarrassedly realising that I could just pick it up and move it back without the pointer moving.

      We all had problems getting our heads round the mouse when we started.

  4. bryces666

    felt pad

    The mouse on one of my own first computers became unreliable, it wouldn't track properly (this was before I knew much about computers).

    I opened up the mouse, looked perfectly fine to my untrained eye, the felt pads on the rollers for the mouse ball looked fine, nice and evenly coated. It was only later I learned they should have been bare metal and the felt pads was actually the fluff and dust they had picked up in use!

    1. Handel was a crank

      Re: felt pad

      Rest assured, you were not the only one to undergo that thought process

    2. muddysteve

      Re: felt pad

      Am I the only weirdo who used to enjoy cleaning out the old mechanical mice (only mine, mind, I don't want someone else's "felt pad" under my finger nails).

      1. src

        Re: felt pad

        I miss it too.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: felt pad

        When I was a PFY, back when IT was fun, I used to take mice apart, used alcohol to clean the rollers etc - proper job.

        As the years past, and I became more cynical and jaded - small driver, scrape that muck off. Job done!

        1. Is It Me

          Re: felt pad

          A sharp blade did the job very nicely too.

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

            Re: felt pad

            I still occasionally have to do it on my optical intellimouse. Not around any ball/roller of course, but MS in their wisdom put 4 pads on the corners of the base to give some clearance between the pad and the emitter/detectors.

            They seem to collect gunk and crud just as well as the old mice innards used to.

            And yes it is oddly satisfying cleaning it all off occasionally.

            1. whitepines Silver badge

              Re: felt pad

              Those aren't for clearance. Those are to provide a slick surface with minimal contact area for the mouse to slide on. Every decent mouse has them.

              The alternative is scraping your mouse, literally, along your desk. And having the entire underside of the mouse, including sensors, coated in desk grime. I prefer the replaceable feet personally...

              1. Mr Army

                Re: felt pad

                I recently purchased a Viper 570 gaming mouse purely because the pads weren't the usual plastic that wears away but made of ceramic - glides perfectly and no sign of scuffing or wearing at all after 34 months of heavy use on any available flat surface. Worth every penny.

            2. Osricson

              Re: felt pad

              Am I the only one who's just looked under their mouse for the first time in what seems a decade and also seen the fluff??

              1. Pontius

                Re: felt pad

                Definitely not. Guilty as charged...

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: felt pad

            "A sharp blade did the job very nicely too."

            I found that using metal blades to clean the rollers almost always ended up with the mouse picking up crud at ever faster rates. Probably because the rollers got scratched from the metal tool. Using plastic tools to scrape the rollers clean seemed to result in less need for cleaning. (also making sure all traces of grease were also removed with soap and water on the balls and IPA on the rollers.)

      3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: felt pad

        @muddysteve - nope, not the only one. Maybe we are a minority, though. I used to like trying to get the strip of gunk off rollers in one piece. Unlike others, I was quite happy to clean any mose I could. Then again, I like removing big blackheads from people's skin, so I probably am weird!

        1. 404

          Re: felt pad


          I just wanted to see if I could spell the sound I made after reading the above post. Pretty close I think.

  5. OGShakes

    Mice are weird

    My Dad used Apple Mac computers, since he was a graphic designer, starting in the 90's with one running system 7. When ever he tried to use my Windows PC with a 2 button mouse, he could not figure out which button to press. This was made worse once I got a mouse with scroll wheel and he refused to touch a windows PC ever. To be fair later in life he chucked the mouse completely and just used a graphic tablet!

  6. defiler Silver badge

    How I met your mother

    First time I met my wife I inadvertently knocked a can of Irn Bru into her keyboard...

    1. Handel was a crank
      Thumb Up

      Re: How I met your mother

      Interesting euphemism

      1. m0rt

        Re: How I met your mother

        Would have been less interesting had it been Rosé......

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: How I met your mother

          Come on, even in Scotland we don't have Rosé in cans! They're too small...

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Re: How I met your mother

            Apparently cans of wine are going to be available this year. It's more "environmentally friendly", read: cheaper than glass.

  7. Julian 8

    When I used to do desktop support we had many a drink end up in a keyboard and mouse. After getting to the its a Tea/Coffee the first question was "did you have sugar" which always threw the user. If thney did we directed them to take the KB to the sink and flow a lot of water through it. If there was no sugar we were a little more relaxed as the sugar is what caused the sticky damage. (soft drinks and hot chocolate were also sink runs)

    Going back way before that I did have a user who wanted a "smaller" mouse. When I asked why and went to his desk he promptly showed me the mouse going over the mouse mat and diaganonally corner to corner, but the pointer on the screen not doing quite the same. His thoughts were a smaller mouse would make the journey

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      When I used to do desktop support we had many a drink end up in a keyboard and mouse.

      Serves you right for taking your desktop into the pub.

      1. whitepines Silver badge

        With the pub here being the average "enterprise" in Blighty, no? Still I think drinks before noon might be overdoing things a bit...

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "When I used to do desktop support we had many a drink end up in a keyboard and mouse."

      The Keyboard and Mouse is my local too!

    3. jmch Silver badge

      "Going back way before that I did have a user who wanted a "smaller" mouse.... "

      You should have gotten him a bigger mouse pad

  8. Spanners Silver badge

    Mouse cleaning equipment

    30+ years ago, I remember being in Glasgow University library and a lady there in a full Muslim Burka dismantled the mouse on her MacSE and cleaned every part of it using her traditional garment. The image of this cross-cultural and cross-era event stays with me.

  9. CT

    My keyboard's jammed

    User: "My keyboard's jammed, can you take a look"

    Me: "Have you been eating doughnuts again?"

    Yes, it was literally (raspberry) jammed, with the jam causing the keys to stick in the down position.

    1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: My keyboard's jammed

      I just had to:

  10. VikiAi

    The mouse-waving guy was just ahead of his time.

    Should have patented the concept of the "Air Mouse".

    (I assume that's how they work, having never owned one but seen them advertised all over the online cheapie shops).

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: The mouse-waving guy was just ahead of his time.

      Like the Nintendo Wii controller?

  11. Symon Silver badge

    "Have you ever stifled your laughter"

    What's the only word that's an anagram of itself? Sorry ---->

    1. Vincent Ballard

      Re: "Have you ever stifled your laughter"

      You've missed filets, fliest, and flites.

  12. Admiral Grace Hopper Silver badge

    OJ - the juice is loose

    Orange juice and PCB tracks do not play well together. It's less of a problem now that the peripherals are largely disposable or wear items, but we used to have fun when companies like Philips thought it a good idea to put expensive electronics in the beverage landing zone. I've already related the tale of the Maestro keyboard and the OJ which was my first experience of a keyboard/corrosive fluid interface.

  13. Kane Silver badge

    Reminds me...

    ""He powered up the PC, but as soon as Windows loaded he immediately picked the mouse up off his desk and waved it around in the air."



    Scotty: Computer. Computer? Hello, computer.

    Dr. Nichols: Just use the keyboard.

    Scotty: Keyboard. How quaint.



    Mines the one with the aluminium oxynitride in the back pocket

    1. Symon Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me...

      "Why? How do we know he didn’t invent the thing?"

  14. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

    Mouse ball sucked up by vaccum cleaner?!

    As I recall they were like steel shot with a rubber coating that was solid and heavy enough to use as high calibre musket shot and kill people.

    I do recall finding spiders nesting in one, given the inside of the mouse was effectively void.

    The worst was the debris that collected on the sensor wheels, not the ball though. These would get caked in some sort of solidified mucus and collect enough hair to make a fairly convincing wig. Usually this hair would have to be surgically removed with scissors and sharp knife.

    Those were the days...

    1. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Mouse ball sucked up by vaccum cleaner?!

      Only decent mice had the steel balls coated with rubber. Cheap ones had plastic balls that might as well have been teflon...

      Having had an Archimedes, I can attest to the difference between the Acorn mouse and the Clares mouse.

      1. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: Mouse ball sucked up by vaccum cleaner?!

        And some, I think IBM, mice had steel balls without the rubber. Mouse mats were mandatory with those.

        1. Roger 11

          Re: Mouse ball sucked up by vaccum cleaner?!

          Wow. Never saw one of those. OTOH, I have three Model M keyboards and I'd bet I could kill someone with one.

  15. Sequin

    After a user spilled a drink into his keyboard and finding that they didn't have a spare on site, it took the disassembled keyboard in to the staff toilets and ran it under the taps to remove the sticky residue that was jamming various keys. After drying the circuit board using toilet paper, I tried to dry the keys using the hot air hand dryer. Unfortunately, the thermostat in the drier was set to a ridiculously high temperature and this caused the keys to become malleable and the airflow caused them to deform, so that when it cooled down everything plastic was jammed solid!

    To cover up my shame I had to make a trip to the nearest Maplins and buy another keyboard!

  16. John Watts


    The only thing I miss about ball mice is being able to put sellotape over the hole and watch colleagues scratch their heads and crawl under the desk to check whether it was plugged in.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Sellotape

      It also throws off many optical rodents, try it.

  17. Joefish

    I knew someone who was more than happy with the occasional mouse tracking glitch, and definitely didn't need any support, cleaning or replacement whatsoever.

    Later learned this was because the interior space of the mouse was where he kept his... ahem... 'stash'.

  18. Joe Harrison

    Washable keyboard

    Plenty of waterproof washable and antibacterial keyboards/mice available for the use of clumsy or germophobic users. Accumed or Logitech for example.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so long ago, Mainframe-to-XP migration

    I worked for a while at HBOS subsidiary. Even as late as 2004 there were significant chunks of call centre operations running on dumb terminals. Some of the older staff members had never touched a GUI. As part of the XP migration I absolutely insisted that Solitaire be retained as a training tool. It was, after all, a call centre and absolutely everyone could see you playing it while manning the phones.

    I would argue it probably improved productivity. There are few more soul destroying jobs than answering calls from incompetent mortgage brokers asking "where's my mortgage offer" to reply with "you haven't sent in document X" fully in the knowledge that the broker was walking off with their 1% commission, while you were on the phones barely on minimum wage.

    Twats :-P

    1. Alterhase

      Re: Not so long ago, Mainframe-to-XP migration

      Many years ago, when teaching an "Introduction to Computers" class to adults, I recommended Solitaire as a way to practice mouse skills....

  20. Andytug

    Shameless repost of an allegedly genuine IBM memo from the 80's...

    If a mouse fails to operate or should it perform erratically, it may need a ball replacement. Mouse balls are now available as FRU (Field Replacement Units). 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 by 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 may be used immediately.

    It is recommended that each person have a pair of spare balls for maintaining optimum customer satisfaction. Any customer missing his balls should contact the local personnel in charge of removing and replacing these necessary items.

    Please keep in mind that a customer without properly working balls is an unhappy customer.

    1. Ochib

      Re: Shameless repost of an allegedly genuine IBM memo from the 80's...

      Snopes says "Maybe"

    2. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: Shameless repost of an allegedly genuine IBM memo from the 80's...

      IBM never called it a "mouse" -- it was always a "pointing device" in IBM documentation.

  21. schafdog

    MacBook Pro 17”

    A friend of mine managed to spill red wine on/in the keyboard. Not sure what he did to fix it but it survived years on with redly colored keyboard.

    Oh times when Apple was durable...

    Wait my own 17” got three drop of condensed water on the trackpad and it stopped working. It actually started working again after a week only to die some time later when similar few drops hit the start button.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: MacBook Pro 17”

      "three drop of condensed water"

      Having just read about coffee made with condensed milk further up, that phrase just gave me a "WTF?" moment before my brain re-engaged and realised what you meant.

  22. NXM

    optical mouse problem

    I used to work in a industrial unit with skylights, and had a red mouse that was shaped like a ladybird. Every now & again it wouldn't work, and I realised that was when it was sunny outside. The infra-red was passing through my hand, and the red plastic, then swamping the mouse's optical sensors.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: optical mouse problem

      When we replaced our incandescent lights with CFLs my rollerball mouse started misbehaving, the barely visible flicker enough to trick the rotation sensors. Had the sunlight problem with the previous one as well. It's a miracle they work at all.

  23. Emjay111

    Two true anecdotes - mouse related of course.

    First one is not so interesting. I used to have a trackball which on some days, would refuse to work correctly. The cursor was all over the place and moved in random directions compared to where I was scrolling the ball. Problem traced to excessive sunlight coming through the window and onto the trackball. Resolved by dismantling the thing and spraying the inside of the case with black paint from Halfords.

    Second story - my own technophobe Dad went to his local library for some computer familiarisation lessons (much to my surprise). He took my step-mum along with him for support (also never used a computer in her life). Anyway, they were let loose on one of the library PCs after a basic explanation from the tutor.

    My Dad relates that after a while, they had to call the tutor over, because they'd run out of desk surface with which to use the mouse. Not realising that in some situations, you might need to pick the mouse up and start moving it in the same direction (depending on various resolutions I guess), he'd got my step-mum to sit in front of the monitor and call out directions, so he could click on a particular part of the screen.

    He was several feet away from the PC by now, when he ran out of desk.

    Reminds me of The Golden Shot on ITV (I'm showing my age now).

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      What speed was the mouse set at?

      Moving my mouse about 7cm will get it across two 4k monitors. Back then, 800x600 was a good resolution, 640x480 was standard.

  24. FuzzyWuzzys

    Wrong way mouse

    I knew several people who used the mouse with the cable running under their hand and they'd move with one hand, reached over with the other hand to click the buttons! I remember using a mouse on my Amstrad CPC as early as 1986, the picture on the box actually showed you how to hold it and how to operate it, it was never rocket science but somehow in the mid 90's people still hadn't got any idea.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Wrong way mouse

      Well to be fair, if the only reference you have is a "real" mouse then it's understandable.

      How many scurrying rodents have their tails coming out of their noses?

      The buttons and usually the ergonomic shape would of course be clues though, I grant you.

  25. Manolo

    1998, prime minister of The Netherlands tries to use a mouse

    (At least he was not called Dik Kok, but Wim Kok)

  26. MarthaFarqhar

    Dell Laptop. Incontinent cat. Keyboard a nice place to rest. You can guess the rest.

  27. Tommy Pock

    I went to fix my mother-in-law's printer, after she'd bought one and tried setting it up herself. She'd done most things right, except for the USB cable - which she'd plugged into the PC's ethernet port (it does fit, try it)

  28. Rufus McDufus


    My very first full time job was tech support in the Comp Sci dept at a well known London university. One day a senior lecturer came down with a sorry looking (probably Sun) keyboard. She said she'd puked on it, and then in her infinite wisdom decided to soak it in cooking oil to see if that helped. Needless to say it was knackered, and I wasn't super keen on investigating further.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Once upon a time (also in the Nineties) someone played a joke on our CFO. The CFO's Windows desktop got a new desktop image -- a screenshot of a BSOD. The CFO had a conniption -- even though, right there on top of the "BSOD" were the usual collection of Windows icons.

    Boy, did we laugh about that!!

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mouser mat

    There used to be a long haired grey cat round here that would break in occasionally.

    Her Majesty uses a mouse right handed, while I use it left handed and therefore we have a mouse mat on either side of the keyboard. When the cat had gained entry he found that the left hand mouse mat made a very pleasant place for a cat nap, while HM was using the right one. When I came along to use the computer I found the cat on the mat. Did you know that a Logitech M325 optical mouse will work on a sleeping long haired grey cat?

    1. Alterhase

      Re: Mouser mat

      Ahhh -- Left-handed mice!

      I once did support work for a company where one of the vice-presidents was left-handed and used a left-handed mouse. Whenever I came to help him with some computer issue, I took me a long time because I was always clicking the wrong mouse button....

      1. AK565

        Re: Mouser mat

        Being ambidextrous (I can write with either hand), a left handed mouse doesn't even register. What makes my brain completely short circuit is when left handed people simply pick up a right handed mouse, move it to their left, and use it with their left hand! I come along, click with my index finger, and cant figure out why im getting these errant right clicks!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in ze olden dayz

    I used to be the poor guy who had to clean the mice on a voluntary basis.

    Invariably the machines had been crudded to death and upon sitting down found that one or more things didn't work.

    Typically the floppy drive was misaligned, mouse was crudded to Hell and back or something else was screwy.

    Some nice person saw fit to start going round STEALING the mouse balls resulting in someone supergluing the base.

    Note, Zip drives really do suck. I very nearly lost 2 weeks work because the drive did in my disk(s) and resulted in

    me having to reconstruct it from the previously written copy.

    To be honest even a Minidisk (tm) would have done a better job at 140MB per disk.

  32. Cartimand

    When magnets (and ignorance) really suck

    I recall, sometime back around the early 90s, Royal Mail IT was switching from the 5.25" to 3.5" floppy format.

    One tech support guy I sat near entertained us with the tale of a user complaining that the new disks would not retain any data.

    On visiting the site, he confirmed that the disks were indeed totally empty and asked the user how they were being stored.

    She replied that, for convenience of access, she was attaching the most frequently used disks by their metal sliding read/write door to a magnetic clip on her cubicle, only to find that all her Wordstar and Lotus 1-2-3 files had magically disappeared...

  33. BitCoward

    Squeaking through a more formal sort of PC testing

    An old employer insisted all staff took the ECDL: European Community Driving Licence for IT. I strolled through the email, wordpro and spreadsheet sides, but I was a bit rusty on the database section, even though I used Access regularly. The test used a "live environment" where a question would come up and clicking on the wrong menu item would fail that question. After realising my normal " let's try this" method would result in a fail I resorted to lateral thinking and opened a second window with standard Access. After that, all was plain sailing but my respect for a testing system that could be so easily gamed meant I had no respect for the qualification. Swings and roundabouts...

    1. Spanners Silver badge

      Re: Squeaking through a more formal sort of PC testing

      My problem with the ECDL was that it only acknowledged one way of doing stuff. In a Windows GUI, there are usually 3 or more ways. I just can't remember what they were then...

    2. MCMLXV

      Minor correction

      ECDL: European Computer Driving Licence

  34. GX5000


    Why is it that non one ever talks about the REAL issue with ball mice?

    The effing rollers needed to be cleaned!

    Those little bars were the real issue and the cake on them was always of the wrist sweat variety.

    If you washed the balls but didn't clean those then shame on you!

  35. DaveB

    Gyrony mouse

    Back in the 80s working for Digital Equipments CSS Graphics group based in Reading, we started work on project Garnet.

    Garnet was part of the gemstone programme.

    Garnet was to be a 3D workstation with a resolution of 1024 x 768 and 24 bits of colour, groundbreaking for late 80s.

    Digital's marketing recond they could sell these to the oil industry and the film industry with a unit price of over $600k and a total market of about 14 units.

    The problem was how to move a cursor in 3d space, enter gyrony mouse fitted with a gyro to allow you to move it in 3D space.

    Needless to say this project never made it to production and was replaced with Jaguar (Just Another Garnet Under A Rename)

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