I hate, loathe, and abominate the mouse. Nay, not the wee sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie that I chase with a hockey stick (a hard-to-find, left-handed Easton) each winter through my Manhattan apartment, putting a panic in his breastie; a creature which at least provides me with some honest exercise.
I can’t abide that contraption attached to the computer which must be gripped to navigate a cursor round a computer screen, a move which necessitates removing one’s hands from the keyboard and removing it to a misshapen blob, interrupting the flow of work.
This bizarre maneuver requires the fine muscle control akin to the skill of a drafter, just to place the cursor over the few pixels that make up the word “File.” Then one must click those pixels, scoot the mouse down to another set of pixels and click again. Then more moving and clicking. And then all more still.
Why? To open some document, probably Word, where one will begin to fret over font and typeface and style and tabs and everything else that used to be the domain of the typesetter. All this minutia is so fascinating that people often forget the actual words are more important than their display. WYSIWYG, all right. Word documents are the ugliest in creation.
Your author spends his days writing code and words, tasks which are anti-mouse. Statistical software that requires a mouse to work would cause all analysis to proceed at the pace of an abacus. Imagine having to point and click and point and click and on an on each time one wanted to redo an analysis! The mind boggles.
The mouse also promotes sore wrists. I used to have a permanent ache until I gave it up and switched to typing.
Before the complaint arises, let me admit, gracefully, that the mouse is just the thing in the absence of a pen that can write on the screen. If graphics are your game, then some method must exist for you to interact with the screen. The mouse is singularly ill adapted for this purpose, but it is, as the saying goes, better than nothing. And recall that most people, of course, are not using their computers for drawing.
Never mind all that: Apple’s great innovation was to force people to use its own proprietary, expensive mouse (a creature that this corporation did not invent, much to its credit). Apple’s actual invention was to remove utility from the Microsoft mouse, decreasing the number of buttons from two or three to just one. So now, with just one button, one could do less (but pay more), unless one also placed their hands on the keyboard in a peculiar fashion, much like a concert pianist rehashing some Liszt knuckle-breaker, to mimic the absence of the missing buttons. What a workout!
How much better, then, to remove the necessity of the mouse altogether? If one wants to delete a file with a mouse, the number of actions required are numerous. Much navigating, pointing, and clicking. No simple task. What if, instead, instead of all this forced labor one wrote, “rm file”? This is the beauty of the command line.
You object: “Oh, but you have to memorize that ‘rm’ means remove, and that taxes the little grey cells.” True, but why is this memorization different than knowing the myriad steps involved deleting a file with a mouse? I’ll take your silence as an agreement.
Macs now offer the Linux-like command line, incidentally (didn’t you know?). PCs have a command line, but it is anemic, and Microsoft is always threatening to eliminate it.
I recall the first Macintosh (I’m that old). All those slick “icons”, moving status bars, pictures—what a treat! But I had to agree with Jerry Pournelle that the “Mac was a wonderful operating system attached to a toy computer. ” (A comment that put him on Steve Jobs’s, may he rest in peace, everlasting S-list.) A very expensive toy, at that. And unless one was an Apple adept, it was painful to use one. The mouse was, admittedly, fun at first. It is now a pain.
Microsoft PCs were then “Get a cup of coffee” computers, meaning that when one started the boot process, one could go to the coffee bar, there to linger, only to return to find the machine was still loading “Personal Settings.” The early Macs booted up all right, but were “get a coffee” machines for every task. This is one big reason why the PCs took an early lead are (still) found on the business desks. The mouse on these machines could be used, but it could often be eliminated. New versions of Windows are more Mac-like, which means the mouse is once again a necessity.
The religious devotion of a certain population segment with their Macs is wondrous to behold. Yet thinking about the mouse, especially on Macs, it is useful to recall that the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley.
Update The original Mac ran hot because it had no fan—“Steve Jobs insisted on that.”