A tale of two mice, in which our hero, Billy Nibbles totally ignores all advice and common sense and buys something in Currys without checking the price elsewhere first. Let me say, in my defence, the item I am writing about only cost me £30 even in the dreaded "C-word". I was using my other PC the other day, a Toshiba laptop which my wife mainly uses for school stuff which needs taking to and from work, when I became utterly frustrated with the mouse, which would not track properly even on the mouse mat, let alone the kitchen work-top. The problem with a mouse mat combined with a laptop, is that the former is doomed to get put in the carrying bag, only to emerge creased or bent, and therefore destined to be as fit for purpose as a chocolate tea-pot when it comes to using it next time. This was the "next time". No amount of stripping the mouse down and de-fluffing its ball (oooooh, I say, steady on there!) would improve the matter. The mat was all out of shape, and the kitchen surface had crumbs on it. Rather than clean the kitchen (after all, dirt is a protective coating for furniture), my mind raced in any direction but that! Then I remembered the Targus Optical USB "mini" mouse that I currently had on my main PC. Being an optical mouse with no moving parts, it works admirably on the painted top of my tower system without even needing a mouse mat, and so its fate was sealed. Downstairs it came, where it was duly installed on the laptop's USB port, and where it has been ever since, working away like a little diamond. It always was a bit on the small side, (and I have written about this previously); so being part of my laptop kit seems like a good career move for it. Unfortunately, the Logitech mouse that was displaced by this move just didn't match up to expectations, what with it having unreliable balls and all. So off out I went. Now where I live,
PC World (arghh, hold up crucifix and garlic) and Currys are on opposite sides of the A4 dual carriageway in Brentford. Ah, NOW I see the true meaning of "between a rock and a hard place"! Remembering that the previous mouse had cost around £30, I was quite pleased to find a full-sized one with much the same specification for £29.95. This one is made by Belkin, more famous for their multi-point mains adapters than mice. For the Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowens amongst us, it's a two-tone dark-blue and silver affair, with a central wheel, which also doubles as a third push button. Although primarily intended for USB use, it also comes with a line adapter to plug into the PS2 port on your PC, which, as it turns out, is just as well. Like its predecessor, it works on practically any flat (and not so flat) surface as long as its got some identifiable texture, so glass is out! It never has any of those annoying dithers, much hated of ordinary "fluffy-ball" mice! It is the same pleasantly curved shape on both sides, unlike the ergonomic mice that seem to refuse to accept the existence of left-handers by being curved to the left Installation was straightforward enough, with the usual CD-ROM giving options to customise the mouse performance, like the double-click speed and visual appearance of the cursor. You can also alter things like the "gear-ratio" of how fast it tracks your screen. There was however one minor niggle, which I have never got to the bottom of, preferring to take the easy way out. Every now and then, I would get an error message on boot-up that Windows couldn't find a PS2 mouse. Well spotted, Windows, there isn't one! Without, at that point, a working mouse, it's a bit fiddly to get past the error message, involving much use of the Tab and Alt keys, but it can be done, well by me at least, but it's just not worth the hassle if someon
e else turns the machine on and diverts me from something vital like The Simpsons. For some reason, the PC was failing to see the USB driver for the mouse. This also occurred with its predecessor, so it is something to do with my PC, rather than the mice. Reinstalling the software only works for a couple of sessions, and then it's back to square one. As I say, the easy way out is to use the PS2 connector, which is what I am doing. Ironically, the laptop has no such problem and both mice work in USB mode on there. As it turns out, this is not such a disaster after all, since I can already think of at least two other bits of kit needing the USB ports, so going back to PS2 has saved me buying a USB "hub" just to get more ports - for now that is! Belkin kit in general can be seen at www.belkin.com and more specifically, the mouse can be viewed at http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Merchant_Id=&Section_Id=99&pcou nt=&Product_Id=115398&Section.Section_Path=%2FRoot%2FComputerAccessories%2FMiceTr ackballs%2Fct_Id> Oh yes, AND it comes with a lifetime warranty!