Mousetrap

When I answered the call I heard my client's frantic voice. "We think we might have a virus. Something weird is going on with four of our computers. The mouse pointer keeps jumping all over the screen. Please help," she said.

"Turn 'em off. I'll be right there," I replied.

I was curious to see what sort of demonic possession was causing the weird mouse dancing. I booted and sat at one of the affected computers. When I moved the mouse, the pointer jumped all over the screen. When I removed my hand, the pointer kept moving smoothly, and then stopped. A moment later, it moved again on its own.

I felt a chill of terror shoot up my spine. A hacker infiltrating my client's network and gaining control of their computers would be bad -extraordinarily bad. I knew my client's antivirus protection was current and a solid firewall protected them, yet my stomach felt sick.

To end any hacker's remote control, I dove under the desk and pulled the computer's network cable to disconnect it from the Internet. When I came back up, I mustered a smile of confidence for my client's benefit, to hide the thumping of my heart -no doubt visible through my shirt. I looked at the screen. The pointer moved again, without the help of my hand.

I turned away, nibbling my cheek. (It helps me think.) On the floor, I saw four new, empty boxes of wireless mouse/keyboard combo packs. The four desks with the misbehaving computers were set up in the center of the room, with two desks facing the other two. My client had installed the four wireless mice and keyboards and had all four transmitters bunched together so that the signals were conflicting. Each of the mice and keyboards fought for control of its neighbor. A funny situation -in retrospect. Even with the temporary loss of color in my face.

Some people are crazy about wireless mice and keyboards and some people, like me, aren't. If you love wireless mouse and keyboard, then celebrate. For me, the more difficult setup and ongoing maintenance of a wireless mouse and keyboard ruin the benefit of having one.

My reasons are many. I'll share a few:

My mouse cable is plenty long. I don't even notice it. If it were too short, I'd buy an extension so that I could, once again, not notice it.

I don't have to remember to cradle a wired mouse. Back when I used to think "the more wireless, the more progressive," I'd always forget to put my mouse in its cradle to recharge. There's something maddening on a primal level about moving a mouse while its pointer ignores you.

I buy no batteries for my wired mouse. Do you know how many batteries my wired mouse spares me from buying? Or how much time I save? It seemed my wireless mouse always needed new batteries when I sat to begin important task.

No transmitter. My wired mouse and keyboard doesn't make me find a pen to press a microscopic connect button along with the transmitter "connect" button, and in the correct order. When I move my wired mouse, it works, always.

Features removed. On many wireless keyboards all lights are removed to save battery power. I happen to want to look at the keyboard to see if my NumLock or Capslock is on.

Kids don't run off with wired mice. Lose a good half hour of time looking for a hidden wireless mouse and you might not mind plugging in.

Response is always crisp and without lag. Wireless lovers will argue, but I notice improved responsiveness in my wired mouse and keyboard vs. the wireless. Don't email me to rebut, I won't change my mind.

If you thought getting a wireless keyboard and mouse made you "higher tech," but you share my frustrations, don't be afraid to come on back and plug in!

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