New Toys for my Computer

A few weeks ago I started having problems with my email program running away with me.  I was sending empty emails, and duplicates, and I had no idea why.  And the problems spread to the web site I usually use to look up the TV schedule.  I’d click on a program description, and the box would snap open and shut too fast for me to read it.  Same thing with Twitter–it took several attempts to open a picture (Twitter was invented to disseminate pictures of cats, right?).

In due time I realized that the problem had to be related to my mouse.  I went to the control panel and tried adjusting the click speed, but that had absolutely no effect.  I tried googling terms like “hair trigger mouse,” and found nothing.  Then last weekend, I finally figured out what was actually going on–the mouse was randomly sending out double clicks when I was sending out single clicks.  Not every time, but often enough to be really annoying.  By then it was even affecting my attempts to select text.

When I googled “mouse sends double clicks,” I found plenty of folks who’ve had the same problem with aging mice (and mine was coming up on four years of steady service).  It makes sense–even optical mice must have some sort of physical mechanism for transmitting clicks.  I found instructions on taking a mouse apart to fix it.  Yeah, right.  Back in the day, I had no trouble removing the ball from the underside of a mechanical mouse to clean it, but that day is long gone.  The obvious solution to this problem, and the most common advice, was “buy a new mouse.”

So yesterday I stopped at the local Office Depot and found myself staring at a display of at least thirty different mice, about two thirds of which were wireless.  I wanted corded–this was for a desktop computer that never moves, and a corded mouse doesn’t require batteries.  I thought I might as well pick out something a bit higher up the scale than the simple mouse that came with my computer, so I settled on an ergonomic critter with some extra buttons and features (Logitech model M500).

The trickiest part of installing it was tracing the old mouse cord to the back of the computer to detach it.  I don’t know what I unplugged on the first try, but it wasn’t the mouse.  Once I had the new one plugged in, Windows took over and made it work.  There were a couple of features that needed the Logitech driver, so I downloaded that, but it wasn’t needed for the basic mouse functions.

The new mouse solved all the problems I had attributed to the old one, and even a few I hadn’t recognized.  It has a control that switches the wheel from free spinning (and very fast) action to line-by-line motion.  And it has two buttons on the side that function as back and forward clicks on web sites.  The Logitech driver lets you program various buttons to do all sorts of things.  Highly recommended for right-handers.  If there’s a leftie version I did not see it at Office Depot.

I have a new piece of software to play with, too.  The folks at Literature and Latte, the source of Scrivener, have released Scapple for Windows.  I’ve been envious since they released it for Mac, and this fall I downloaded the beta version of the Windows release.  The full release came out a few weeks ago for the princely sum of $14.95.  Scapple is a brainstorming, note-jotting, what-you-make-of-it program that turns your computer screen into an expanse where you can make notes, move them around, connect them, and generally play with them.  My first Scapple file is full of plot notes and ideas for the story I’m working on, thrown all over the screen.  A friend recently showed me the extremely neat plot outline she’d made with Scapple on her laptop.  You can pull Scapple files into a folder in your Scrivener project, too.  Here’s a sample:

Scapple sample



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