jardino
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The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:05 pm

Would anyone around here care to express an opinion on the future of computer mice versus touch pads, touch screens and so on?
The reason I ask is that I am teaching my grand-children Scratch on my RPi and fancy getting them an integrated system such as the Pi-Top from ModMyPi. However, my curmudgeon wife says "no" - because "modern" computers - including those in the school - don't have mice because they're old-fashioned.

(I just need some ammunition before I go and buy one anyway!)
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drgeoff
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Re: The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:18 pm

When you are doing something that needs pinpoint precision on the screen a well-engineered optical mouse is hard to beat.

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Re: The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:18 pm

I'm looking round my office now. It's filled with modern computers. Everyone has a mouse. Everyone also has a trackpad too but people only use it when they don't have their mouse handy.

A touch screen will never replace the fine control provided by a mouse. I can click on the screen and accurately place the text cursor between the two character. Now try to do that on a touchscreen.

If the school computers don't have Mice, then they are poorly preparing the pupil for the workplace.
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mooblie
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Re: The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:45 pm

Aside from the advantage of pixel-level precision of mice, mentioned above, there is the massive advantage of an entirely-absent interface methodology with touchpads etc:.: viz. the mouse-over.

How does one hover over a button, menu, icon, control, link, title bar, , etc., etc. to generate an informational pop-up or user-interface acknowledgement with a touch gesture interface? You can't. Absolutely massive difference.

In the days of Symbian (Psion, Nokia, Ericsson, etc.) this required an entirely different familiy of OS flavours, as it is SO fundamental.

Touch-only users miss this entirely. Not "mice are rather old-fashioned", rather "touch is rather (very?) limiting",

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Burngate
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Re: The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:17 pm

Touch-pads are evil things, as are all their kin. They were only invented so the big MegaCorps didn't have to pack a mouse with their computers.
Have you ever heard of anyone replacing a mouse with a touch-pad? Can you even get a separate touch-pad?

Several of my laptops came with integrated touch-pads, over the years. Each one very quickly got covered in cardboard, after the pointer shot off to random points on the screen, just because my thumbs happen to hang off the sides of my hands, just above the touch-pad while I'm typing.

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Re: The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 7:23 pm

Functionality before fashion always (in the workplace) - I used a trackball system long before the "Personal Computer" existed and the early mice were, to some extent, the "same" device working upside down. The first optical mice I used (Sun workstation) required a special (graphical) mat ...
Like @Burngate I find most touchpads almost impossible to do anything sensible with - the only exception was this "trackpad" on this mini-keyboard: http://www.cpmspectrepi.uk/raspberry_pi ... eyPad.html which has associated "mouse buttons" (similar to it's trackball cousin: http://www.cpmspectrepi.uk/raspberry_pi ... yBall.html) . I've yet to discover the way to copy and paste something easily (especially on the forum) via the touch interface of my Fire tablet - connecting a mouse to it makes things much, much easier. So "Long live the mouse" :-)
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Re: The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 7:38 pm

Burngate wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:17 pm
Have you ever heard of anyone replacing a mouse with a touch-pad? Can you even get a separate touch-pad?
Some years ago I was enlightened by Apple and got a desktop trackpad to replace my mouse. I can do everything I could with the mouse and more (multi-touch). I don't have to chase the mouse around the desktop; the pad doesn't move. I would not go back to using a mouse.
Pointer precision is poor, but that's still ok for general interaction with the desktop.

However, the average mouse is both inexpensive and robust. It won't break easily and if it does, no big deal. Something like a Pi-top might not be as disposable.
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Re: The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:03 pm

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hippy
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Re: The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 8:10 pm

I don't think mice are going to disappear any time soon. I personally don't like touch pads nor trackballs because I find they quickly give me RSI-like aches. I have got a gigantic 'trackball for kids' which is however quite comfortable to use.

As for touch screens; they have their place. But for coding or any time you need precision they are simply a pain. It's almost impossible to put the cursor on the right line or between characters first go using a touch screen.

Scratch runs in a browser so you could fire up a phone or tablet, launch that, see how you get on with using a touch screen there.

I am not clear if you are saying you want a mouse and your wife won't let you have one, or won't let you have a Pi-Top because it hasn't got a mouse. I'm sure it's possible to add one but perhaps not.

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Re: The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:34 pm

Computer mouse will stay... specially for those requiring precise cursor control, as in CAD and/or digital image processing.

a good future contender for the computer mouse might be the Brain Wave Interface controlled GUI.....
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Re: The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:03 pm

"Because they are old fashioned" ? What kind of argument is that ?

Wheels are old fashioned but we still use them a lot. Wings are old fashioned but most airplanes have them. Shoes have been around forever but we still wear them. Don't tell me, kids in school don't use pencils and paper anymore and never learn to write.

Question might be what is a good replacement for a mouse?

Laptops have track pads and perhaps those "nipple" things on ThinkPads. Neither or which are a comfortable or precise to use. Generally annoying.

A joystick might do. Good for games but a bit clumsy for navigating apps on a screen normally.

Direct brain wave interface, hmmm, in my case that would be chaos!

The best I have experienced so far is the 5 inch diameter track balls that used to be built into 1970's style radar display consoles. Kind of hard to describe to those who have not experienced one.

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Re: The future of computer mice

Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:18 pm

Heater wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:03 pm
...
The best I have experienced so far is the 5 inch diameter track balls that used to be built into 1970's style radar display consoles. Kind of hard to describe to those who have not experienced one.
I suspect that's similar to, but larger than, the one (snooker ball sized?) I used c.1977 - IIRC with a some form of CAD software running on a "mainframe" .
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Re: The future of computer mice

Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:50 am

Heater wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:03 pm
Laptops have track pads and perhaps those "nipple" things on ThinkPads. Neither or which are a comfortable or precise to use. Generally annoying.
That's a "track point" and I rather like them, though since I haven't used a laptop for years, I don't have anything with one at present.

Put me down as another person who hates track pads. Touch screens are ridiculous unless it's sitting horizontally on a solid surface (that is, you'll either give up using it or develop incredible muscles in one arm if you're using a normal monitor at a normal distance). While mice are okay and I'll use them if that's what is at hand, I really prefer a trackball. You don't need a lot of space and you can take your hand off it and everything will stay put.

I only have two issue with trackballs... First, if one is setting up systems in public, you have to watch them like a hawk to make sure that kids don't steal the ball. Second--for my own portable use--there are mini travel mice, but I have yet to find a mini travel trackball. I wish really Logitech would make one...

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Re: The future of computer mice

Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:55 am

I agree with the above that for now at least when it comes to precision a mouse is currently still the best tool for the job..

btw about 10 years ago i helped the local CAB move their scheduling of appointments onto a google calendar set up, part of which was a 20 minute run through with the front counter volunteers ( all stereotypical twinset clad old biddies with blue rinses) but as word got round there was 'free computer training' going on about 30 of them crawled out of the woodwork, it was mayhem, 30+ bodies 10 seats and puters!!
And my first direction 'open up the google browser by pointing the mouse atit and double clicking' resulted in 3 people using the mouse to touch the monitor screen!! - it was a long afternoon....

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Re: The future of computer mice

Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:03 am

I have lots of HIDs , tried many over decades to find something better than a mouse.
I still use a mouse and keyboard.

Kids are touch experts these days but I made sure mine had a PC, no Xbox or Playstation.
So without my help he taught himself to touch type 100+ words a minute.
Turns out Sugata Mitra was right, give a kid a PC and they learn how to do stuff without being taught.
He uses a mouse and keyboard much, much better than me now.
Chatting in online games is a great motivator to learn to type fast :D

I found one of my old PS2 mini trackballs and had it apart last week to see if it can be converted to USB.
But a google found this http://wiki.seeedstudio.com/Grove-Mini_Track_Ball/

The great thing about Pi's is you can try things like this gesture sensor.
https://github.com/kriswiner/APDS9500
DIY HIDs, with USB Arduino boards can even make them act just like real HID's so you can avoid making drivers.
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Re: The future of computer mice

Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:31 am

A mouse is not really necessary at all, but indeed is highly convenient.
Back when all I had was Windows 3.11, my computer lacked a mouse altogether.
Navigating Windows with a keyboard for several months taught me la lot about how to make the most of my OS.
Most of those same keyboard shortcuts have persisted through each iteration of Windows and still exist today in Windows 10.

Indeed, a handy skill to have when your mouse breaks.


As to being replaced? Hardly!
Without a mouse, how do people play Fps games?
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Re: The future of computer mice

Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:47 am

@FTrevorGowen,

The old Marconi Radar trackballs were much bigger than snooker balls. Same material I believe. They had a wonderful feel to them what with being so massive and solid, yet very smooth and precise.

@W. H. Heydt

Not these babies, they were set into the steel tops of the radar operators console. Something similar to those in some pictures here https://marconiradarhistory.pbworks.com ... Museum.pdf. The ones I was writing software for in the min 1980's were a bit more modern looking and the big round vector graphic displays were much bigger.

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Re: The future of computer mice

Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:04 am

Burngate wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:17 pm
Touch-pads are evil things, as are all their kin. They were only invented so the big MegaCorps didn't have to pack a mouse with their computers.
Have you ever heard of anyone replacing a mouse with a touch-pad? Can you even get a separate touch-pad?

Several of my laptops came with integrated touch-pads, over the years. Each one very quickly got covered in cardboard, after the pointer shot off to random points on the screen, just because my thumbs happen to hang off the sides of my hands, just above the touch-pad while I'm typing.
I never use a mouse. I used to use the trackpoint on my old Lenovo machines. I now exclusively use the touchpad.

I'd guess I must be the exception that proves the rule.
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Re: The future of computer mice

Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:39 am

Heater wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:03 pm
The best I have experienced so far is the 5 inch diameter track balls that used to be built into 1970's style radar display consoles. Kind of hard to describe to those who have not experienced one.
That sounds like the kids trackball I have which is about the same size, well built, smooth, comfortable and precise. Seems it is from Microsoft -

https://thumbs.worthpoint.com/zoom/imag ... 23f4db.jpg

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Re: The future of computer mice

Thu Nov 08, 2018 12:36 pm

All our school computers have mice, bar any special needs that make trackballs easier.
They are not going away.
---
buy one, they are not a lot of money.

--
as a side
Though touch screen and a mouse and keyboard work well, I have laptops, and AIO and you miss the touch screen after a time, it's just easier to use when typing to click and select things than find the mouse. Move to the mouse when needed.

As for trackpads, I've never got on with them, some are poor to use. BUT then proper 'trackpad' are used for high accuracy work, CAD/Artists, but you also have a pen too and you could easily get rid of the mouse.

the thing is, asking older people what to use with an OS like Raspbian which is designed arouns mouse and keyboard and are use to a mouse and keyboard they will always say a mouse(or trackball) and keyboard is the way to go.
Design the OS around touchscreen or touchscreen with a high accuracy pen and speech too and the OS would work well.
People just don't like to try the change. I still don't like 'gestures' myself, I don't trust doing it properly.
Windows10 works nicely with keyboard and a touch screen (and not even an accurate modern one), move to the mouse for accurate work.


But your wife is wrong, they use mice in the schools, all the ones near me do, primary, secondary and the one I'm sat in now) unless they are using tablets (ipad etc) at the time.

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Re: The future of computer mice

Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:03 pm

Gavinmc42 wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:03 am
DIY HIDs, with USB Arduino boards can even make them act just like real HID's so you can avoid making drivers.
Exactly. Those technologies have allowed the not-for-profit I work for to develop this —

http://www.makersmakingchange.com/lipsync/

It's a sip-and-puff mouse controller for people who can't use their hands. A mouse for your mouth. It's also open source, so we've had folks modify it for gaming on X-box.
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Re: The future of computer mice

Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:44 am

Exactly. Those technologies have allowed the not-for-profit I work for to develop this —
Had not even thought about 3D printers for stuff like that, been buried in the software world for too long :(

The wife had an Ultrasound today, fancy new portable big laptop size machine.
Much better than the old one a decade + ago to see the baby.
I joking said "They will have ultrasonic attachments for Smartphones soon".
The operator said "they do, for iPad , only $1M at the moment" :shock:
Got me thinking, hmm Raspberry Pi medical gear.

I think you just got me hooked on 3D cases for them now.
Done a few medical Pi prototypes, cases has been the biggest issue.
Off the shelf ones are clunky and need a bunch of modifying.

A Pi Tricorder has been floating around in my head for a few years.
Been mentally collecting the pieces.
Wonder if I can get some time on the Titanium 3D printer?
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Re: The future of computer mice

Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:00 pm

Everyone seems to miss one important fact that helps prove the mouse is here to stay. We tried the touch style interfaces before the mouse took there place.

Remember when the early graphical systems would come with a light pen (same thing as a touch screen, just a different time)? It was a major fad, that everyone latched onto. The mouse was already around though people thought the idea of directly pointing at the screen was a winner, so the litht pen was number one.

Then people began to realize the limits of the lightpen and the metephor of directly touching the screen. There are way to many things that can not be reliably done that way, that are much better suited to the mouse. Even many of the old GUI's for desktop computers came with drivers for using a lightpen in place of the mouse, did not work out so well.

So the new fad of directly pointing at the screen (touch screen with or without stylus) is not likely to last for anything beyond smart phones (and maybe some tablets).

The track pad has been a bain since it was popularized in the early 1990's, it is not as accurate as a mouse. The track ball is a bit better, though still not as intuitive as a mouse.

The mouse is here to stay, at least for desktop and laptop computers, for a long time to come. It is the most reasonable way to interface for many many applications.

Would you recomend a computer without a keyboard to do any real work on? An on screen touch keyboard just does not cut the mustard when doing anything extensive. The same goes for the mouse.
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Gavinmc42
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Re: The future of computer mice

Sun Nov 11, 2018 10:57 am

Ergonomics, Mouse and keyboard allows the wrists to rest on the desk.
We would probably all be fitter if we had a Minority Report type interface.
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PeterO
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Re: The future of computer mice

Sun Nov 11, 2018 11:35 am

You might find this of historical interest :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRIeLZ-_Y2Y
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