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My wife often accuses me of solving my problems by buying more stuff. I have a tendency to think of new products to meet perceived needs rather than trying to think a little harder and develop a cheaper solution from the material at hand. Part of the problem is that I do not perceive myself as being very handy. But, today I thought outside of the store.
I have been having problems with the left mouse button on my Trackman Marble Wheel. It would not stay “held” consistently unless I pressed very hard. Since I use the button for selecting moving file and selecting text was frustratingly difficult. So my first thoughts slipped immediately to getting a new trackball. I thought about a new mouse as they are much cheaper but I hate mice. I don’t understand why people like pushing a plastic box along their desk and then finding themselves with one arm at the far side of the table.
Unfortunately, the computer world does not share the same affection for trackballs. Trackballs tend to expensive relative to their mouse counterparts, although they are quite a bit less expensive than the ridiculous prices I paid when I first bought them. While I have been using my current trackball for the last 8 years, I have never been fully happy with it. The best trackball that I used was the TrackMan Marbel FX. This was a ps/2 model I used back in the days of Windows. I liked it because it fit comfortably and it supinated the hand. The palm of the hand was turned outwards. This is the same position that ergonomic mice use. By placing the hand in a more vertical position,their is less stress on the wrist. I can definitely feel the difference in wrist strain between having the palms flat (pronate) and the palms turned outwards (supinate).
Why not try and get the old trackball working with Mac OS X I thought. So I attached a PS/2 to USB adapter to mouse and plugged it in. I had hoped that by using USB overdrive, an excellent generic mouse driver, I could run the 11 year old trackball. The ibook did not recognize that anything was plugged in. It turns out, I need a PS/2 converted and not just a physical adapter. Since the trackball comes from the days before USB, there is no circuitry telling the computer what the heck is hooked up to it. The converter, unlike the adapter would provide the necessary circuitry.
The whole process was getting too complicated and potentially as expensive as buying a new trackball. A recent review of Logitech’s Mac OS X drivers were not very complimentary, so I would likely have the additional expense of buying USB overdrive. This was not very fair, if having bought on expensive mouse or trackball, one would have to pay more money just to get the software to run it properly. Too bad for Logitech, I was in no mood to further support a company that did not care enough about its Mac users to create software that actually worked. So as with all problems, I slept on it.
My solution was to change the left and right buttons since the right button is still working properly for now. Then I strapped the trackball to an index card box using rubber bands. I now have a working vertical trackball.