Re: The big secret is this: your scroll wheel is also a button.
"No, people don't know."
You should have put a poll at the bottom of the story. It'd be interesting to see how much of the target audience didn't know about the wheel/middle button. I'd expect a high number of readers reading the story and asking themselves why the story was even written for this audience :-)
Personally, as a FreeBSD user and reading El Reg with Firefox, I'd find it very awkward without the middle button. My usual MO is to start at El Reg "Latest" stories, scroll down to last read/visited story/link then scroll back up to the most recent story, middle clicking anything that looks interesting on the way up, opening a number of stories into new tabs. Likewise when commenting, highlight/middle click to quote something and ctrl-c/v to copy the URI. Those of us "oldies" probably know about and use various short-cuts because a) we've used them for so long the habit is ingrained and b) once upon a time, GUI users were not 100% assumed to even have a mouse and there were keyboard short-cuts fore pretty much everything, just like the pre-GUI days and again, the most common ones which have survived are ingrained into our muscle memory :-)
I find it interesting that Windows and Windows programs in particular doesn't often show the keyboard shortcuts in the menus any more. Looking up at my Firefox menu running on FreeBSD, I note that the menu bar still shows the likes of <u>F</u>ile, <u>E</u>dit, <u>V</u>iew etc, , indicating that ALt-F will open the File menu and said menu also has an underlined letter for each choice so, eg ALT_FT is <u>F</u>ile, New <u>T</u>ab, and that also has next to it, CTRL-T informing the user that is the shortcut key. Many of these shortcuts still work in Windows, but with no actual manuals to read and little chance of seeing the hints in the menus, younger Windows users seem to use the mouse for everything, often slowing them down as they reach between mouse and keyboard. I'm sure we've all seen the users who, to log in, use the mouse to click in the username box, type in the username then reach for the mouse to click in the password box because no one, least of all the Windows OS itself, has told them about TAB/Alt-TAB to move forward and backwards through form fields.