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Dave Approved: Mighty Mouse

Posted on Saturday, August 6th, 2005

Dave!This has been a very odd week for Macintosh users. It started with Mac-faithful attacking their own, and ended with a mouse.

I have long enjoyed the writings of Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing. But earlier this week he blind-sided me with a rant aimed at Apple that just didn't make much sense. It was all bizarre paranoia and speculation that had no basis on fact or historical context. I had started to write a lengthy rebuttal rant, but ultimately decided against it given that Blogography's readership is about a millionth of that of Boing Boing, and most people here wouldn't care anyway. Fortunately, John Gruber (an increasingly rational voice in the blogosphere) wrote up a better rebuttal than I ever could today over at Daring Fireball.

About the only thing I can add is that it seems unlikely Doctorow has suddenly gone crazy, and more probable that he is simply using the power of Boing Boing's popularity to threaten Apple off a course of action they may (or more likely) may not be pursuing. A dangerous road to start walking down, but since he's as big a Mac fanatic as I am, I guess he felt he had to try.

On the entire issue of Digital Rights Management, I am surprisingly neutral. Sure I wish we didn't have to live with copy protection on our music and media, but I fully realize that something has to be done to minimize theft, and it's something we just have to accept. When it is unobtrusive and allows me reasonable access to materials I have purchased... like music through the iTunes Music Store, I don't care. When it prevents me from accessing content I've legally paid for... like television shows on my TiVo which only Windows users can access, I am outright hostile (if I had wanted to be forced to use Windows shit, I would have bought a Windows Media Center PC, you TiVo dumbasses).

With this in mind, I want an Apple iMovie Video Store and Video iPod. I want an Apple-friendly Digital Video Recorder that allows me to catch up on television shows while I travel. I want them bad. Really, really bad. And if the DRM is as unobtrusive as the iTunes Music Store, and the pricing is reasonable... I won't have a problem with it. Because as our digital lifestyles becomes ever-more entwined with our computers and mobile devices, there has got to be an option for Macintosh users to have access to commercial video content past the DVD. It's the big missing piece that Microsoft is addressing that Apple is not, and failure to do so is going to hurt far more than any anti-DRM rant.

In happier Apple news, I love me the Mighty Mouse!

Mighty Mouse!

Well, THAT Mighty Mouse is okay, but I'm talking about the new Macintosh Mighty Mouse...

Mighty Mouse!

For Apple's entire existence, the concept of a two-button Mac mouse has been nothing more than a pipe dream. Apparently Steve Jobs felt that they were too complicated and too ugly for the Mac, so the Mac faithful either bought ugly 3rd-party alternatives, or made do without. I had tried a couple of two-button mice, but always went back to my Apple mouse and using the "CTRL" key to get that ever-elusive "right click."

Until now.

The new Apple "Mighty Mouse" has finally addresses Steve Job's reluctance to part with the elegance and simplicity of a single-button mouse. And it does so in a very ingenious way. You see, out of the box, it acts exactly like Apple's mice have always performed... a single-button mouse that's beautiful to look at (albeit with much nicer tracking and a smoother "flow" than Apple's old Pro Mouse). BUT, for Mac users who want more, your wish has been granted.

Though whether it works out for you will depend entirely on how you are accustomed to using a mouse.

If you are like me, who holds a mouse with two fingers covering the top of it, you'll do just fine. To "right-click" you simply lift the finger on the left-side, and push down. Genius. This means that people like myself can still click the ENTIRE mouse to get a "regular-click" and only have to make a slight modification to our mousing habits to get that magical "right-click." For Mac users accustomed to Apple's one-button mouse, this is golden. However, if you are accustomed to a "real" two-button mouse, this probably isn't for you... because, in reality, a "right-click" is in fact a "no-left-click", and different than what you use now.

In addition to being able to "right-click," the Mighty Mouse also has a tiny "scroll ball" on top that allows for window scrolling and "middle clicking." Most people are referring to this new feature as "the mouse nipple" which seems about right. For the most part, I love me the nipple. It is smooth and intuitive. And though "middle-clicking" takes some getting used to, once you manage to figure it out, it's very cool (I've set mine to bring up Dashboard, which is quite handy!). But all is not perfect in nipple-world...

  1. Even though the wheel has a feel of 360° motion, it doesn't allow for diagonal scrolling. You can only scroll horizontally OR vertically, but nothing in-between. This seems kind of silly, but I guess Apple had their reasons. Maybe 360° movement was too unwieldily or something?
  2. The nipple is really zippy for scrolling in most windows, but slows down to near-uselessness in Photoshop... even at the "fastest" setting. Since this is where I would use the feature most, it's a bit of a bummer. Hopefully Apple or Adobe will address this soon, because it would be a handy feature when working on large images.

The last new feature is the "squeeze-click." If you squeeze the two pads on the sides of the mouse (the same "hold pads" you use to pick up the mouse while click-dragging), you get a fourth button out of the deal. This seems a brilliant idea, except I have a bit of nerve damage in my hand, and it is difficult for me to squeeze tightly enough to make it happen. For most people, this is not an issue, and being able to have a fourth unobtrusive "button" will be a good thing. Like all buttons, the "squeeze-click" is programable to do whatever you want. Anything from pulling up the App Switcher to manipulating Exposé.

As I said earlier, how much you love the new Apple Mighty Mouse will entirely depend on how you are accustomed to using a mouse now. If you already have a two or three button mouse, and are happy with it, then the faux "no-left-click" is probably not for you. Personally, I do love it. It acts exactly like the Pro Mouse I am used to now, so I don't have to re-train myself... yet has added functionality that is much appreciated. My best advice would be to go to an Apple Store and play with one for ten or fifteen minutes before buying one. If you hold a mouse like me, and use a mouse like I do, you won't be able to go back to Apple's old mouse again.

Movie Quotable of the Day: "He's Hitler with a tail! He's "The Omen" with whiskers! Even Nostradamus didn't see him coming!"
Day-Before-Yesterday's Answer: Dumb and Dumber (1994) with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.

Categories: Apple Stuff 2005, Dave ApprovedClick To It: Permalink


  1. mrjerz says:

    Ditto completely on the DRM thing. In fact, what’s interesting is that just before he wrote that screed, I was telling a friend about Cory’s, ahem, slightly alarmist rantings on Boing Boing. I enjoy the site, but have grown a bit tired of his rants against the protection on intelectual property. I’m no expert on it, but I just feel like because it’s software doesn’t make it freely available to everyone.

    Anyway, I love the Mighty Mouse review. I really want one, and we will be getting a new iBook soon, so that might just have to be added for my Power Mac. Bummer about Photoshop, though. I use CS, not CS2, so I wonder if that would change things?

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