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Trackballs

Mine just drank my mocha...

     
4:00 am on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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My beloved Logitech Trackman Marble T-op, which I have been using since late 1997, finally drank a double-shot mocha this evening and died despite my best efforts at resusitation. Needless to say, I am now in the market for a new pointing device. Any reccomendations?

My requirements are pretty simple. It has to be a thumb-operated track ball, as using any other kind of track ball causes shooting pains in my forarm (tendonitis). It also has to have at least three buttons. A wheel is OK, but certainly not necessary. Finally, it must be wide and long enough to rest my whole hand on. Otherwise I will end up with hideous hand cramps.

What's sitting on my desk right now is a Microsoft "Track Ball Optical", which is almost good enough - it needs to be a little wider. If I keep it I will probably, in all seriousness, attach a piece of foam rubber or the like to the right side to support my hand. I've got 14 days to decide before I can't return it.

11:18 am on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I've got a 2 month old Logitech optical wireless trackball - only two buttons and one wheel. I also wanted three buttons (I loved having a double click programmed in for a single click) but I've found all the other programming I need with the options this model gives me.

I tried the MS but I didn't like the feel. I've also got one of those gel wrist pads - a necessity for avoiding repetitive stress

11:28 am on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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As I can't use any trackball which you move by your thumb, my choice seemed pretty slim & I ended up with a Kensington two button jobbie. It's great for those of both left and right handed dispositions, has a neat blue trackball illuminated by leds and works surprisingly well even in PhotoShop.

There's a distinct lack of scrolly wheel though, but getting back into the habit of using the cursors wasn't such a chore. It isn't optical either, but cleaning your balls (for want of a better description) isn't as much of a chore with this as it was with a mouse.

R.

12:25 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I'm using a Logitech TrackMan Marble Wheel - 2 buttons and a clickable wheel (which you can programme to do just about anything).

The ball is thumb operated and the mouse unit itself is wide enough to rest the whole hand on. I like it a lot!

12:50 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Cant u just dry out the old one?

JOAT

<added> or buy the same model? </added>

1:55 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Drying it out was the first thing I tried. I'm now on the somewhat standard cycle of giving it a few days, trying to see if it suddenly works again, and if not opening up the case to see if I can find any other bits to clean.

The model got discontinued a few years ago, and replaced with a succession of trackballs each of which was almost, but not quite, as good as the last :( However, Dad found a crate of four of the original model, in the orriginal packaging, on Ebay last night and is having them shipped to me :)

(Wheels became popular, so they had to add one - first it was stuck in the middle of the middle button, which was detrimental to the perfect ergonomic design. Then they removed the middle button all together and placed the wheel between the two buttons, like it is on most mice. That, of course, makes the trackball too narrow. Then they fiddled a little more with the shape, still not getting it right again. Now the closest thing you can buy is a wireless version.)

5:25 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Rx for keyboards, mice, and trackballs which have had too much to drink:

1) Unplug it - Quick!

2) Dunk several times in clean water to remove sugar, cocoa, caffeine, etc. Do this quickly - the idea is to flush not soak.

3) If possible, dunk in rubbing alcohol, or flush with rubbing alcohol to "pull the water out".

4) Shake fairly vigorously to drain liquids.

5) Blow out with compressed air if available - do not overdo the pressure!

6) Allow to air dry in moderately warm environment for several days (Stand keyboards on end).

7) If it doesn't work, say bye.

If you can get into the case, dunking of the electronics is not required, just flush the contaminants off.

If you just spill water into it, unplug it and start with step 3.

I've had fairly good success with this approach over my many years of negligent coffee-drinking in the lab.

Jim

5:37 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We are indeed in a perlious profession.

May I suggest we start a thread on the dangers of leaving cables hanging at excitable dog height.... ;)

JOAT

5:40 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thanks, Jim. I'll see if I can't use that prescription to bring my trackball back. It got #1 right away, of course, but from there went to cleaning it with dry absorbent matterials and then skipped to #6. But even with a crate of four on the way, resucitating this one would be nice.

-Andrew

8:19 pm on Jan 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Poor little thing. You've got to remember that caffeine is for the computer USER, not the equipment. No matter how it begs, the trackball does not need a mocha.

That said, I've heard taking the 'guts' out of a keyboard and running it through the dishwasher can work for gummy-liquid soaked keyboards, and if you've got four new trackballs in the mail, you've got some room for experiementation with the deceased...

My old keyboard never did recover from the double latte my ferret decided to feed it though. Sometimes the caffeine is just too much to handle. ;)

1:21 am on Jan 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Results so far:

Jim's suggestion improved things a bit. The orriginal trackball is now capable of moving the pointer accross the screen, and of right-clicking. Left and middle, unfortunately, are still disabled.

The new Trackmen arrived today, and I am much pleased to have returned the MS trackball to its packaging pending a return. For someone with slightly narrower hands than mine, it would have been a fine choice. For me it was not. Other than the Logitech part number, which is one digit different between the old and the new, the only difference I can see is that I haven't worn the texturing off the case of the new one yet.

Just 'cause I'm stubborn, I'm going to take the old one in for surgery and see if I can bring it back to life that way.

4:00 pm on Jan 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Just 'cause I'm stubborn, I'm going to take the old one in for surgery and see if I can bring it back to life that way.

And I could! I took it appart, cleaned everything in sight with q-tips, rinsed out the button contacts, and let it dry for a week. Just before coming in to work this morning, I put it all together and took it to work with me, where I am now happily using my aged and beloved trackball.

(OK, less than happily. I put it together before coming to work because my hand hurts so badly I couldn't face the idea of using the mouse attached to my workstation. But I am happy that it saved me from that mouse.)

5:47 pm on Jan 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Good news! :)

Jim

6:26 pm on Jan 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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jdmorgan's advice aside, try to avoid giving your keyboard a taste of plum wine as well. An old beau of mine tried it once. Despite water, alcohol, etc., the keyboard never did completely sober up! Kept doing weird things when I'd hit a key. *sigh* Never trust an unrepentant drunk!
6:47 pm on Jan 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Glad it's up and running again. :) Just remember that it doesn't need a sip of your coffee, no matter how much it may beg in the future.
8:28 pm on Jan 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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As far as alcoholic drinks are concerned, the trackball is pretty safe, as are the rest of my peripherals. Wine pretty much stays at the dinner table, and if I'm having anything stronger I'm probably not trying to program at the time. :)

Mivox - you mind if I add your comments about the care and feeding of trackballs to the fortune files at my site? I'm thinking something like


You've got to remember that caffeine is for the computer USER, not the equipment. No matter how it begs, the trackball does not need a mocha.

--mivox, www.webmasterworld.com/forum9/

coming up amongst the assorted other oddities that go in the footer on one of my web sites.

8:35 pm on Jan 22, 2003 (gmt 0)

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:) I'd be flattered. hehehe.

Of course, your trackball may think I'm a big meanie, but it's best not to have to perform surgery again in the future, I think.

 

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