I am told that all Macs come with a three button mouse. I’m not sure I believe that, but it is what I’m told. But to me the three button mouse on a Mac represents one of interesting cultural features of Mac users. Years go, when I was arguing with my friend Mike about which was better,. Windows or Macs (Linux was not really an option at the time), he kept insisting that Macs were better for all sots of reasons. After he listed a long list of made up (I assume) reasons that Macs were better, I said to him: “Mike I’ve got three words for you that make all that irrelevant. ‘Three button mouse’. A Mac doesn’t even have two buttons. I love right clicking on things. I love middle clicking on things. I love using all sorts of combinations of clicking on tings” … I simply prefer the system with the three button mouse. (This was the days when the “context sensitive” right click had been added to a piece of software i was using a lot for my research: Quatro Pro. Remember that lovely spreadsheet?

Mike’s answer was, of course, “Macs have a three button mice.”

“Ah, No they don’t mike . They have one button mice.

“Sure, they come with a one button mouse, but you can get a three button mouse’

“Like on your machine?”

“Well no, I don’t have one.”

“Oh, like Ian’s laptop over there on his desk?” craning my neck to see…

“Ah, no, he doesn’t have one”

“OK, Mike. I see your point… I guess. Gotta go to a meeting now, bye” and I furtively left our lab and headed across the street.

Across the street was a major endocrinology research lab that had switched over to Mac’s a couple of years earlier, so there would be a dozen Macs of all ages and types in there. There was a newer genetics research lab that had just set up and all the people in that lab were using Macs. Those would be mostly new. And in our very own Stone Age Lab were a half dozen macs mainly used for graphic production, DTP, and word processing.

So I went over to the building with all the labs, and I stopped into the Endocrinology lab.

“Hey, Mary, do you use a Mac?”

“Yup, I love my mac” eyes brightening.

“Three button mouse on that baby?”

“No, but I hear you can get them.”

And as this conversation is happening, I’m walking around in the lab looking at all the Macs. A one button mouse here, a one button mouse, no three button mice anywhere.

I repeated the procedure in each of the other two labs, in the graduate student’s offices, and in two professor’s offices. Macs everywhere, one button on each mouse on each Mac. I probably looked at 35 computers.

One could argue that if no Mac users have three button mice than somehow Mac users simply don’t need a three button mouse. But that is not what I was told. When I snarkily told Mike that I preferred a three button mouse so I could right click and middle click, he did not tell me that I didnt’ need to do those things, that those were bad things, that one did not “need” to do these things on a Mac somehow. Rather, he simply told me that the three button mouse was a feature of the Mac. A feater that, apparently, does not actually, in real life, exist any more than, say, a Unicorn or a Windows Machine tha has not been rebooted some time in the last week.

Where I come from, we call that a de-lusion. And it is pretty typical of Mac Lovers, to be delusional about their operating system and their hardware. But they should not feel bad. It is also typical of Windows users. They think their system is great, that it works fine, and that they have not been assimilated into the Microsoft Borg. At least Mac users have a good operating system (these days) and are not delusional when they think about it.

So, the “Three Button Mouse Phenomenon” (or the TBM for short) is named for the particular delusion among Mac users back in the 1980s, before TBM’s were standard on Macs (as I am now told that they are), but it applies to all computer users in relation to their feelings regarding their precious operating system.

It does not, obviously, apply to Linux users. Linux users are not delusional. Ever.

Comments

  1. #1 6EQUJ5
    August 13, 2009

    When I was working on Sun Ultras, the mouse supplied had three buttons.

    My MacBook Pro did not come with a mouse. The Macally mouse I got has two buttons. In OSX under System Preferences, Keyboard & Mouse, Mouse, the choice of Primary mouse button is Left or Right. No third button.

  2. #2 Jeff Knapp
    August 13, 2009

    I have used a 3-button mouse for years. I find it invaluable. Some of my software requires it.

    True, the current incarnation of the Apple mouse is a 3-button mouse, though a somewhat unique implementation of it that works rather well.

    My biggest gripe right now is, finding a three-button mouse where the middle button is not also the scroll wheel (this includes the Apple mouse). If you can point me to one of those, I would be eternally grateful.

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    August 13, 2009

    Mice? Who uses mice? Trackballs are much better.

  4. #4 Miss Cellania
    August 13, 2009

    I’ve been a Macuser for 20 years, and they’ve all come with a one-button mouse. The last new one I bought was in 2007. Only last year have I EVER had to replace a mouse, so I was introduced to a three button mouse for the first time, since that was all the local discount store had. For $4, it beats ordering from the Apple store -but I rarely ever use more than one button, because my fingers are so used to the one button method.

  5. #5 oldcola
    August 13, 2009

    Mighty Mouse comes with four, not three clic options: right, left, scroll bar (clickable) and sides.
    And trackballs are much better anyway.

  6. #6 abb3w
    August 13, 2009

    oldcola Mighty Mouse comes with four, not three clic options: right, left, scroll bar (clickable) and sides.

    This, however, is not obvious from the appearance; and more annoying, the default behavior is for the right- and left- clicks to do the exact same one-button-mouse click.

  7. #7 Nathan Myers
    August 13, 2009

    Hey, I just noticed that the tilt-wheel on my (Logitech) mouse has started working to scroll my browser page left and right. Thanks!

    (This is on Linux 2.6.30, with X.org 1.6.1.901 using evdev, and Firefox (actually Iceweasel) 3.0.12. I don’t know which one changed to make it start working, or if they all did. Emacs just complains that “ is not defined”. Probably that’s fixable with a short addition to my ~/.emacs file.)

    It really was always possible to plug a three-button mouse into a mac, and it really would work if you did. But you would have to buy one, for that, and nobody did. Except me, because I was running Unix on mine, and X, and needed it.

  8. #8 NewEnglandBob
    August 13, 2009

    I have a Logitech 8 button mouse and I have used it for years. I only use 5 of the buttons though.

    Logitech MX500 Optical Mouse

  9. #9 Quiet Desperation
    August 13, 2009

    The whole argument is sort of pointless, and the world has generally moved from it. It’s not really a defining aspect of an operating system anyway. The Mac OS has supported multibutton mice since before it went to BSD Unix underpinnings with OS X. Just buy the mouse you want. Who even uses the mouse that comes with a computer? On the PC side they’re the type you find for $3 in bargain bins.

    The one button mouse was intended for rank beginners. Holding the control key and clicking was the same as a right click. *shrug* You got used to it and it seemed as natural as anything else.

    The decision for one button *was* backed up by heavy research into GUI design and human/computer interaction. Apple didn’t pull the decision out of their butt. The mouse is so ubiquitous now, however, that the research is probably out of date. As mentioned by others above, the current packed in mouse has multiple clickies.

  10. #10 oldcola
    August 13, 2009

    abb3w, that’s for old Mac user, like me, change them as you like via the preferences panel.
    And who cares about what’s obvious :-)

  11. #11 sinned34
    August 13, 2009

    I’ve only used a handful of Macs in the last ten years, and every one of them had a one-button mouse with a clitoris instead of a scroll wheel on top.

  12. #12 catgirl
    August 13, 2009

    In college, I always hated it when only Macs were left over in the computer lab, largely because of the 1-button mouse. Some people told me that I could just do CTRL + click, but that’s a real pain in the ass to do more than a few times. What I really want is a mouse that doesn’t give me carpal tunnel syndrome. I’ve heard they exist, but I’ve been too lazy/cheap to find one.

  13. #13 catgirl
    August 13, 2009

    Also, I am ambidextrous with mouse, and I haven’t seen a vertical mouse that would be easily interchangeable between hands.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    August 13, 2009

    As a point of information, the original multi button mouse is a Unix invention. Emacs uses the middle button (which can be simulated by the left and right buttons together) for flyspell, for instance.

    Also, “scroll up” and “scroll down’ are each buttons. So, a mouse may have a left, a right, a scroll up, a scroll down, a push scroll, a left side, and a right side.

    It is worth noting that the configuration file for a Linux computer’s mouse is a basic bit of text that is very configurable. There is not a mouse or trackball made that will not function with Linux, and that is not perfectly and arbitrarily configurable. You could probably link “shut down computer now” to a mouse button.

    … man, that how cool would that be ….

    So, how do you configure your mouse? After all of these discussions on the command line you should know about how to do it without a GUI. You already know that /etc is where configurations go. YOu may also know that the bottom layer of the whole GUI thing is the x11 windows management system (but see below). So look in /etc for something that says x11 and you’ll quickly find a subdirectory with x11 in the name and inside that various configuraiton files. Make backup copies of the files and mess with them as much as you want. Then, later, when you’ve totally borked your system reboot and log on to a command prompt or minimalistic installation and replace the files you screwed up. (Resist the temptation to reinstall the system!)

    Below: This is one of the cleaner, more useful bits on how to mess with the mouse/trackball:

    http://linuxreviews.org/howtos/xfree/mouse/

  15. #15 Rev Matt
    August 13, 2009

    Everyone seems to be confusing “supports” with “ships with”. News flash: You can go to Target/Wal-Mart/Best Buy/Amazon and buy a different mouse. You can buy a trackball. Either one will work just fine, all the buttons will work though you may have to install the preference pane from the manufacturer to configure them to do what you want.

    @6EQUJ5: if you have the stock mouse installed, it only shows you the available buttons. Why show you options for buttons that your mouse doesn’t have. Attach a mighty mouse (now the standard mouse, I believe) and it will show the center button as well.

    This is the sort of poorly researched tech writing I expect to see on CNET.

  16. #16 Heraclides
    August 13, 2009

    It does not, obviously, apply to Linux users. Linux users are not delusional. Ever.

    Aren’t we the fanboy; read your own posts… Linux, this, Linux, that: never a jot of thought that because different solution works just fine, it’s just fine.

    (I’ve used both Linux/Unix and Macs for over 20 years.)

  17. #17 charfles
    August 13, 2009

    I prefer 7 buttons with the Logitech G5. It even has tiny weight cartridge you can customize to give it the perfect feel. Any mouse that comes with a PC these days is just crap, you really have to buy a decent one even if it’s just for comfort.

    The multitouch on newer Macbooks are far more intuitive and customizable than any other notebook input I’ve used before: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VeAOK8Rxoo

  18. #18 Peter Lund
    August 13, 2009

    No, it’s older than Unix, sorta(*). (I suppose you really mean X?)

    Xerox PARC mice had three buttons back in the 70’ies. The original Engelbart/English mouse only had one button — but it was augmented with a special 5-key keyboard for the other hand.

    *) Depends on whether you count the early non-C versions.

  19. #19 Alcari
    August 13, 2009

    “I prefer 7 buttons with the Logitech G5″
    Uhh, I’m using a G5, but how are you reaching 7 buttons?
    left, right, middle, side button, tilt and scroll is only 6

    I couldn’t live without though, especially while browsing. Middleclick for “open in background tab”, Left+right for “open in new tab”, side button for “previous”, rightclick+tiltwheel for changing tabs left and right. Thanks to Opera, I’m all set for some major carpal tunnel ;)

    Speaking of mice (or is it mouses in this case?), ever notice how horrible it is if you suddenly find yourself wielding a mouse without scroll wheel?

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    August 13, 2009

    Reverend Matt: You criticize commenters on a blog and then call it poorly researched tech writing? You are an ass, sir. Furthermore, your link goes to a dead end, so you appear to be spam as well.

    Heraclides: Gee, I never thought of it that way. Maybe I’ll start using IRONY. That might be fun.

    Peter: Correct! Since my first OS was Unix and that is all I knew, I see the history of computers as mainframes with Unix followed by various desktop computers, and eventually, Unix comes to the desktop. So when I say “Unix” what I really mean is “The Garden”

    Alcari: Yeah, it’s like having a tooth pulled and they haven’t put a new one in yet!

  21. #21 Rich Wilson
    August 13, 2009

    In the late 80s I heard an Urban Legend that only Macs could have 1-button mice since Apple had patented it. The joke being that only Apple would patent an obviously inferior idea. I can’t find any support for the legend however.

    A friend of mine at the time often argued that obviously three was the ideal number. Left, Right and Fire!

  22. #22 Jadehawk
    August 13, 2009

    as a graphic designer who needs to zoom in on shit and scroll all over the place, the Mighty Mouse wins for one simple reason: SCROLLBALL SCROLLS SIDEWAYS AS WELL AS UP-AND-DOWN

    and yes, while it looks like a one-button-mouse, it has four buttons: left-click, right-click, scrollball, and sides.
    :-p

  23. #23 Greg Laden
    August 13, 2009

    This mighty mouse …. it scrolls sideways? I think I may need one of those.

  24. #24 Erin R
    August 13, 2009

    The mightymouse DOES scroll sideways, but the side-click buttons can be very frustrating when you first start using it. It’s easy to accidentally click them and send your windows flying off to the side of the screen or whatever you’ve programmed the side clickers to do.

    Now that I’ve gotten used to the mightymouse, those extra buttons are VERY useful. Still, it’s something to keep in mind.

  25. #25 travc
    August 13, 2009

    Yeah, any modern system can support pretty much any mouse/trackball.
    “What it ships with” matters a hell of a lot with laptops actually… so maybe that is a better focus for the fame war ;)

    Another issue, what is the system/application designed to use? Macs are quite functional with a single button paradigm, but it is inferior for those willing (or already used to) a multi-button mouse interface. Lots of Mac apps support multi-button now (and likely more and more in the future), but it often ends up being implemented as an afterthought since it has to be fully functional with a single button mouse to be a conforming mac app.

    On the other hand, systems/apps which require a multi-button mouse can be a nightmare for those not used to it. I still get annoyed at the behaviour of old school emacs, gv, xfig, and some others… And my first real work on computers was under Unix (HPUX) way back in the day, so it isn’t like I’m unfamiliar. Fortunately, the metaphor for mouse input is crystallizing around something generally sensible these days.

    PS: The multitouch trackpad on a macbook is really quite nice IMO. It is silly that it doesn’t split the big-ass button, but I tend to only use the button when dragging anyway. Linux support (last time I tried about 6 months ago) wasn’t really there unfortunately. I haven’t booted my laptop into Linux for a while.

    PPS: The macbook trackpad does not work reliably in extremely humid conditions. Mine failed epically at actually being usable in the rainforest.

  26. #27 Alex
    August 13, 2009

    Jadehawk @ 22: “as a graphic designer who needs to zoom in on shit and scroll all over the place, the Mighty Mouse wins for one simple reason: SCROLLBALL SCROLLS SIDEWAYS AS WELL AS UP-AND-DOWN”
    My 2006 Logitech G5 does that too. Also has a botton that adjusts the sensitivity on the mouse too (this is actually quite useful, when one of your uncoordinated friends tries to use your computer as you don’t have to adjust any actual settings).

    charfles @ 17: “Any mouse that comes with a PC these days is just crap, you really have to buy a decent one even if it’s just for comfort.”
    Not always, my previous computer came with a G5. The advantages of DIY :)

    I think that the three button mouse phenomenon is just part of the problem with pre-built computers; they decide what the machine should have, and if you want something different you have to do it. It may be compatible with a three button mouse, faster CPU/RAM/GPU, or whatever, but it is up to you to go buy this stuff because they don’t think most people want/need it.
    This is my biggest problem with Macs, and the reason why I assemble my computers myself.

  27. #28 Jeff Knapp
    August 14, 2009

    I find the sideways scrolling extremely useful – especially in programs like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro. I turned off the side buttons because they just got in the way. Also, the mini roller ball that takes place of the normal scroll wheel doubles as the middle button like most other mice but, it doesn’t get in the way nearly as much as normal scroll wheel/mmb combos do. Like anything with a well designed uniqueness, it takes a little getting used to but, once you master it, its uniqueness proves invaluable.

  28. #29 Dunc
    August 14, 2009

    A feater that, apparently, does not actually, in real life, exist any more than, say, a Unicorn or a Windows Machine tha has not been rebooted some time in the last week.

    [sniff sniff] Mmmm, bait…

    systeminfo | find "OS Name"
    OS Name: Microsoft(R) Windows(R) Server 2003, Standard Edition
    systeminfo | find "Up Time"
    System Up Time: 80 Days, 0 Hours, 56 Minutes, 13 Seconds
    

    It’s only 80 days because I turn my machine off when I go on holiday…

  29. #30 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    And becauase you’v installed nothing on you computer and do not use it for antyhing but checking uptime? Am I right?

    Besides, what’s 80 days?

    We know that you MS users lie about your update stats! ….

    http://blog.eracc.com/2009/07/24/linux-and-unix-uptime-vs-microsoft-on-netcraft/

  30. #31 Dunc
    August 14, 2009

    No, that’s my work machine. I’m a software developer, so I install and uninstall all sorts of software all the time. I haven’t had to reboot for a software install since I got rid of that useless piece of shit known as Adobe Acrobat.

    As I said, it’s only 80 days because I turn it off when I go on holiday. You know what holidays are, right? I know it’s a bit of a European thing, but I’m sure you’ve heard of them.

    Which was the last version of Windows you actually used significantly?

  31. #32 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Dunc: The last version of Windows I’ve used significantly (and it has been very significant at the end use level … like, I can see the computer sitting right there next to me now … but not in any development sense … is XP.

    I went to an IT meeting recently where the IT guy started to talk, then saw me at the table and said … “Oh, Greg is going to not like anything I’m about to say, but he has to understand that all those problems Windows used to have were fixed in the last version.”

    Spit takes all around. I saw that guy walking down the street yesterday and he still had that vacant zombie look …

  32. #33 Dunc
    August 14, 2009

    So do you actually accept that I have right here a Windows machine (which actually gets seriously used) that’s been up for significantly more than a week? Or are you calling me a liar?

  33. #34 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Dunc, I’m sure that if you say 80 days, you’ve got 80 days. What I am saying, though, is that Linux machines generally do not have to be rebooted ever unless there is a kernel upgrade.

    BTW, how did you install all that new software without rebooting as per instructions? As far as I can tell Windows still makes you do that. Or are you mainly using virtual machine type programming languages?

  34. #35 Dunc
    August 14, 2009

    I dunno what the heck you’re installing. There’s this thing called “shadow copy” that lets you install and update software (including running software and bits of the actual OS) on-the-fly without a reboot. It’s been there for ages. There may be a lot of schonky software out there with badly-written installers that still insists on a reboot (such as the aforementioned POS called Acrobat), but there’s generally no [i]need[/i] for it. Unless you’re still using the bloody registry, I guess… (Which there is very little excuse for in this day and age.) Admittedly, the vast majority of software I use these days is .Net based.

    These days, I’m surprised (and offended) if an install or upgrade requires a reboot. Can’t remember the last time it happened though (other than bastard Acrobat). Maybe IE8 (spit) on XP?

  35. #36 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    So, they got rid of the reboot thing for installing, say, Office, or service packs or security upgrades on XP????? Cool!

  36. #37 Dunc
    August 14, 2009

    It’s been quite a while since I last installed Office or a Service Pack, so I can’t say for sure. Certainly, for regular day-to-day software maintenance, there should be no need for reboots.

  37. #38 Linux in Exile
    August 14, 2009

    I call bullshit. Dunc, the only way I can guess that you are running a Windows workstation without having to reboot for 80 days is if you aren’t patching it.

    I can guarantee that Windows wants you to reboot after installing system patches. Certainly true with Windows Vista, and even moreso with Windows XP.

    Sure, you can install Windows patches while you are “live” on the system. But remember that Windows can’t install all patches when you’re still using the system. If you assume that just because the Windows Update process finishes, you are done installing updates, you are mistaken. Windows definitely needs to run in its own “single user mode” (that time between clicking “shutdown” and your system actually shutting down) to finish installing certain patches. And there was a set of patches released just a few weeks ago that definitely required shutdown for the patches to install.

    So I don’t believe that your system is really staying up for 80 days, not if you’re patching. And if you aren’t keeping a Windows system patched, your system is probably pwned by malware now.

    Maybe you mean that you haven’t had a crash in 80 days, though.

  38. #39 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    OMG. So, this means that Dunc’s computer is like the Dorian Gray of computers.

    Don’t reboot no, Dunc! Just keep it plugged in and running, and when it is not looking throw a bucket of water on it!!!! Or something!!!!

  39. #40 Linux in Exile
    August 14, 2009

    Okay, I didn’t spot the “systeminfo” data* that Dunc provided. Just saw it. So now I’m definitely convinced Dunc isn’t patching. There’s no way to keep your Windows system up for 80 days if you’re actually installing Windows updates.

  40. #41 Ben Zvan
    August 14, 2009

    “Apple didn’t pull the decision out of their butt.” – Hear hear.
    It was ages until Mac OS natively supported right-click/ctrl-click; system 8 if I recall correctly. Before that, there was no need for more than one button; everything you needed to do you could do with one. Today, you can still get to the context menu with a long-click in most cases.
    Since then, I’ve gotten used to right-clicking, but I know software developers (who use Macs) who don’t think Mac users would all ‘get’ right-click commands. Now I use a trackball with two buttons and a ‘chording’ option to invoke scroll. It’s kind of too bad that I don’t use the Mighty Mouse much because I rather like it, especially the horizontal scroll. On the other hand, the multi-touch trackpad on my laptop does that admirably. So Greg, if you want to try out a Mighty Mouse, I think I have a spare you can use.
    Oh, and on the subject of rebooting: I was once disappointed to retire a Linux box because I would loose my uptime count. Turns out older versions of Red Hat looped the counter at 512 days.

  41. #42 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    … so, Linux is also humble, with a counter that only goes to 512…

  42. #43 Dunc
    August 14, 2009

    Whatever patches get pushed out on our network get installed automatically whether I like it or not. They’re centrally-managed, so it’s up to our sysadmins and totally out of my hands. This machine is clean, as far as I can tell (quick scanned every 4hrs, full system scan once a week).

    What is this [i]crash[/i] you speak of? Some NT 4.0 thing, yes? I’ve had individual apps go down, but I don’t think I’ve seen the entire OS collapse since Win2k Server RC2. Maybe once or twice on 2k Server RTM, never on 2k3 Server.

  43. #44 Dunc
    August 14, 2009

    Ah, frell, I’m having tag issues today…

  44. #45 Ben Zvan
    August 14, 2009

    A poorly coded application can still take down an entire system on Linux, Unix, Mac, Windows… there’s only so much you can do to prevent that. Running Oracle Calendar for example, is just begging for a kernel panic.

  45. #46 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    This is why the distro is so important. If you use a conservative distro and stick with recommended software things go wrong less often and less badly.

    Not that I do that, but I’m just saying.

  46. #47 Rev Matt
    August 14, 2009

    I wasn’t referring to the comments as poorly researched, I was referring to the original post being poorly researched. You refer to a situation that happened years ago without first checking to see the current state of the art, yet make repeated comments implying that it is currently the case the Macs don’t work with multi-button mice. Further, the fact that they didn’t for a long time ship with multi-button mice (an idiotic mistake on Apple’s part for which they were roundly criticized) is not the same as they didn’t *support* them.

    Frankly the reason this bothered me so much is you are very tech savvy and I am used to seeing you get these sorts of things right even if I disagree with the point you’re making.

    I’ll concede to being an ass, but not spam; just someone with a misconfigured website.

  47. #48 omar
    August 14, 2009

    The windows Uptime utilities have notoriously been known to be in accurate. This is why third party utilities are used by system admins. Dunc’s computer has been shut down over night when he was not present to see it happen as part of the standard maintained system routine. He is just unaware of this.

  48. #49 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Rev Matt: I know this is a common problem on the interenet, where people don’t know what to do with historical information, things they can’t google, etc. Please tell me this is not happening here!

    The current state of the art, as you say, is utterly unrelated to my commentary. This is not about mice. It is about men. Or, really, mice and men. And women.

    Now, the support and ship dichotomy is somewhat interesting, and does relate to the actual technology. However, it actually underscores my point. When Mike says “oh, yeah, three button mouse, no problem” he is referring to the support. When I say “Oh, show me the mouse” I’m referring to the ship.

  49. #50 Norm
    August 14, 2009

    My XP machine at work has been up non-stop since last May (and probably longer, I just can’t remember past then). My Vista machine at home gets shut down every night, but it has never crashed, ever. Certain apps will crash quite often (e.g. ArcView 9.x) but they don’t bring down the OS.

    I think the whole “Windows crashes constantly” meme stems back to the very crash-prone Win95/98 versions – those guys would go down almost every day. It was during the Win95/98 years that I developed my “ALT-F-S” tick (ALT; File; Save) that still uncontrollably fires in my left hand every 5 minutes.

  50. #51 Hank Roberts
    August 14, 2009

    > In OSX under System Preferences, Keyboard & Mouse,
    > Mouse, the choice of Primary mouse button is
    > Left or Right. No third button.

    Check the illustration for using the middle finger.
    You’ll see why they didn’t include the option.

  51. #52 Dunc
    August 14, 2009

    Dunc’s computer has been shut down over night when he was not present to see it happen as part of the standard maintained system routine. He is just unaware of this.

    I’m pretty sure I’d need to log back on if that were the case.

  52. #53 James Sweet
    August 14, 2009

    When I work from home, I use a laptop instead of my desktop machine at work. My three main complaints, in order of importance:

    1) Less resolution.
    2) No middle-click.
    3) No dual heads, like my machine at work.

    Yes, I find the middle mouse button more valuable to my work than a second monitor. And I work in image processing, so looking at an image on one screen while I use the other one to look at a different image, or code, or whatever, is standard practice for me.

    Not getting involved in the Mac/PC/Linux holy war, but I just wanted to add my two cents about that all-important third button. I miss it.

  53. #54 Brian X
    August 14, 2009

    Greg:

    As some other commenters pointed out, MacOS has supported right-clicking since Mac OS 8 came out; in fact, I bought a 2-button mouse for the system I was using at the time for precisely that reason. (It’s not my problem that Apple waited until 2004 or so to start shipping multi-button mice as standard.)

    In fact, even MacBooks now have “multi-button” trackpads — the most recent models track the number of fingers you’re using on the pad, so you can click with two fingers for a “right-click” and drag with two fingers to scroll. (The MacBook Pro line even lets you turn pages with three fingers.) It’s a bit counterintuitive but it really doesn’t take long at all to pick up.

    But all that said, I’d like to defend the single-button mouse. When Apple started using it, there were two primary issues: small screens on the original Lisa and Macintosh, and a need for complete simplicity. There simply wasn’t any need for a right-click the way Apple designed the system; the rhythm of “select item, click menu” works fine on a small screen, and I think Mac users by the early 90s were so used to it that the two/three button thing really wasn’t a concern for most of us. Two buttons was a Windows thing; three buttons was a relic of the pointlessly complicated Athena widget set that ruled Unix GUIs in those days. I really don’t think it was until larger screens became commonplace that there was even a benefit to having multiple mouse buttons on a Mac program.

    All that said, like I said at the beginning, I’ve been using two and three button mice on my Macs since 1997 or so, but I wouldn’t have bothered had Apple not added Contextual Menus at that point.

  54. #55 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    yes yes yes yes yes. The fact that they supported them BUT NO ONE HAD ONE EVER is THE POINT. (in a sample of some 30 computers owned and operated by unmitigated geeks)

    Jeesh….

    The problem here is that I did not say “Oh, Mac, you are the perfect computer and always has been and nothing could ever go wrong, here, let me give you a blow job or whatever you want because you are so astoundingly perfect” that Mac Symps become outlandishly offended! Which is the point! Do you not see that you are all making my point!

    Oh, I get it. You’all are just kidding, right?

  55. #56 Stephanie Z
    August 14, 2009

    Nah, I think it’s just that the Mac users aren’t understanding that it’s one thing to love their computers, as they have for years, and another thing to love their computers the way Linux users apparently do.

  56. #57 Brian X
    August 14, 2009

    Greg:

    Maybe I should explain it this way. A GUI interface is a command language like any other; it just happens to be mostly spatial/gestural rather than word-based. Complaining that the MacOS, which was designed in the early 80s on extremely limited hardware (the development machines up until shipping had 64K RAM), didn’t support a feature that was mainly used on laboratory workstations with eight times as much memory and triple the processing power is sort of like going into a store in Mexico City and wondering why they don’t understand your Quebecois French. Sure, I can say all the same things in French and Spanish (and English for that matter), but given the circumstances, I wouldn’t expect to be understood.

    Or, to quote the Jargon File, if you want Athena, you know where to find it. The rest of us will code switch.

  57. #58 Brian X
    August 14, 2009

    Or, alternately…

    You wouldn’t expect a PowerShell script on Windows 7 to run on a bash shell in Linux, right? So why would you expect the Mac interface to work like Windows or X?

  58. #59 Rev Matt
    August 14, 2009

    *When Mike says “oh, yeah, three button mouse, no problem” he is referring to the support. When I say “Oh, show me the mouse” I’m referring to the ship.*

    Agreed, totally valid criticism. And I’ll cop to focusing on the specific example to the detriment of addressing your larger point, which is also completely valid and distressingly accurate in many cases.

  59. #60 Interrobang
    August 14, 2009

    I’ve had uptimes on my XP box equivalent to Dunc’s, and I get automatic updates. I actually do work on it; most of the time I’m running Firefox, OpenOffice, Winamp, Exodus, Gadwin PrintScreen, and Netscape Mail; less frequently RoboHelp, Audacity, and AcidXPress. The last time my computer went down it was because we had a hell of a storm and 20 000 people in my immediate vicinity lost power. I generally have no complaints about my system (OpenOffice 3 is a piece of shit, though), but if you’ll notice, I am not using too many Microsoft software products — no IE, no Outlook, no Office, no WMP, no MSMessenger, which I think makes a big difference.

    Funnily enough, I’ve never had a problem with Acrobat, although the new RoboHelp needs some real improvements and probably shouldn’t have been released. Note to epileptic technical writers: Don’t upgrade RH yet!

  60. #61 Ben Zvan
    August 14, 2009

    Greg: You keep saying it’s the difference between ‘supporting’ and ‘shipping with.’ When did Linux start shipping with a 3-button mouse?

  61. #62 cga
    August 14, 2009

    hi, i didn’t read all the comments but i want to say something:

    on new macbooks the mouse is obsolete. the multitouch touchpad has it all and it is the future. you can use it with one, two , three and four fingers to make different actions.

    really. after years spent on linux (and i still do but that’s not the point) or windows with a mouse i really find this revolutionary multitouch something that makes sense of a touchpad. really.

    on desktop is not there but apple really is ahead of the times with multitouch.

  62. #63 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Complaining that the MacOS, which was designed in the early 80s on extremely limited hardware (the development machines up until shipping had 64K RAM), didn’t support a feature that was mainly used on laboratory workstations with eight times as much memory and triple the processing power is sort of like going into a store in Mexico City and wondering why they don’t understand your Quebecois French.

    Brian, I did not complain about the feature in this post. IN this post, I mention to my friend mike that I’d like to have that feature, yes. But the post is about how Mac users were claiming that the feature existed in the total absence of its implementation anywhere. For the fourth time, I’m aware that the macs supported multi button mouses and four the fourth time this post is about something else.

    It is about, it turns out, how Mac users can’t understand even slightly complex things if there is the perception that the slightly complex thing is somehow dissing their macs!!!

    Ben: Linux has always shipped with the DIY mouse, if I remember correctly.

  63. #64 Ben Zvan
    August 14, 2009

    So you’re saying that Linux has never actually shipped with a three-button mouse, only supported them?

  64. #65 Hank Roberts
    August 14, 2009

    > a mouse that doesn’t give me carpal tunnel syndrome

    First, a moment of remembrance for the WordStar diamond key pattern for cursor control and a note that carpal tunnel does seem to be associated with mousing — grip and ‘structural splinting’ — as well as just with repetitive motion.

    My physical therapist’s advice: find the biggest trackball you can, one that’s so big you can’t possibly wrap your fingers around it and squeeze.

    I have trackballs from these folks — they’re great:
    http://www.cursorcontrols.com/R60_standard.html

    And a couple of Crayola Kids Trackballs (serial)

    This is a newer version of the Crayola without the primary colors, and with USB:

    http://kidcomputers.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=BIGtrack_Kids_Trackball

  65. #66 Brian X
    August 14, 2009

    But the post is about how Mac users were claiming that the feature existed in the total absence of its implementation anywhere. For the fourth time, I’m aware that the macs supported multi button mouses and four the fourth time this post is about something else.

    Your point is self-contradictory. Yes, no Mac shipped with a multi-button mouse until 200something. But the implementation was there — the Contextual Menus extension in the System Folder; the right-click equivalent was a control-click. Since that is admittedly a bit awkward, I (along with many other Mac users) went out and bought a 2-button mouse — mine was a MacAlly mouse that came with a control panel that patched the system to recognize a right-click as a control-click. MacOS X didn’t even need the control panel — its predecessor, NextStep, was already a multibutton interface and Apple has only refined the interface since then.

    (In fact, my current laptop is a Mac OS 9 machine. Since I usually use it in my bedroom, a mouse is not an option and I control-click on it all the time.)

    It is about, it turns out, how Mac users can’t understand even slightly complex things if there is the perception that the slightly complex thing is somehow dissing their macs!!!

    That’s a cheap shot, Greg, and you know it. The design process behind the original Mac interface was a fairly intensive one based heavily on usability studies, and it’s always gotten an unfair rap from the command line crowd. We Mac fans have always taken care of our own in the hacking department; it’s not our fault no one wants to listen to us.

  66. #67 Stephanie Z
    August 14, 2009

    And how is it different to say, “Mac supports a 3-button mouse, but you can do pretty much everything the average user is going to do with the one,” than, “Linux has great command-line support, but the average user can do just fine with a decent GUI”? Choices are choices, and great, but they aren’t what most people are looking for on a daily basis.

  67. #68 Brian X
    August 14, 2009

    Stephanie:

    That actually gets you into one of the fundamental problems with Unix — there’s so much choice (especially when it comes to GUIs) that the underlying OS is almost irrelevant. The trick when designing an interface of any sort is just enough choice — you should be able to do almost everything in a fairly straightforward manner, but not be locked out of doing the not-so-straightforward things. On the classic MacOS, we had AppleScript as standard since System 7.1.x, which does literally everything that a DOS batch file can and then some. On OS X, we also have Unix shell scripting and Perl. No one has to use these tools, and by and large they’re hidden from the casual user. But they’re there, and no harder to get to than any Linux box.

    Mac fans get very, very tired of being told their systems are toys or status symbols not suitable for real work — we’ve been doing real work on Macs for a quarter century now and we know what our systems are capable of. Greg’s opinion here is pretty typical of people who don’t get this — despite the existence of a multibutton interface on the Mac platform for over a decade now, despite the fact that I can go into my laptop’s system folder and send the actual system extension that does precisely what Greg is asking, I’m hearing that the implementation doesn’t exist.

  68. #69 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    The trick when designing an interface of any sort is just enough choice

    QED

  69. #70 Brian X
    August 14, 2009

    (And as far as irrelevance goes: let’s hypothetically create a random Unix distro in four different incarnations — Linux, Solaris, Darwin, NetBSD, and ohmaybejustforfun NTOSKRNL. If the userlands are all identical, how long would it take the average user to figure out which system is actually the OS without checking the kernel logs?)

  70. #71 Ben Zvan
    August 14, 2009

    “Mac fans get very, very tired of being told their systems are toys or status symbols not suitable for real work”
    I agree. It’s a lot like being told that Atheists don’t believe in anything or that Libruls want a global Fascist Commune. It’s never been true and we get a little angry every time we hear it.

    Apple was a pioneer in the affordable home computer and in the implementation of a graphical user interface. They were the first to ditch the floppy drive and the first to make USB standard equipment. They didn’t ship a 3-button mouse because you didn’t need a 3-button mouse, but they supported them just in case you had a use for one. I even remember a two-button trackball on an old Mac Plus, but I don’t remember what it bought you.

    A sample of 35 computers, all in the same company, would be just as valid in my office to determine that nobody uses Linux. Sure, it’s supported, but nobody uses it.

  71. #72 Stephanie Z
    August 14, 2009

    Brian, I don’t think Greg is being consistent enough to say anything except that he’s trying to rile Mac fans. He’s certainly not saying we can’t do things with our systems. He is, perhaps, saying that we don’t use or expect to use their full power even as we’re aware of and happy to have options, but seeing as he’s also trying to tell people who won’t use the full power of Linux to give that a try, I’m not sure what the point is.

    I played with AppleScript, but I never did anything complicated enough with my home machine to make it worth the effort to create the script and get accustomed to using it. I do most of my computing by muscle memory, so retraining myself to anything new takes some serious investment.

  72. #73 Brian X
    August 14, 2009

    Greg:

    Quod demonstrandum non est nihil. (Excuse my dog Latin.)

    You want to do real work on Legos, go ahead and run Slackware. If it works for you, it works for you. But some of us don’t particularly want to get thrown in the deep end when we’re first starting out; that doesn’t mean we only want a shallow pool. (Hell, I just switched from a KDE environment (Knoppix) to a GNOME environment (Ubuntu) and I’m still getting used to it. GNOME in many cases does exactly what I’m saying an interface shouldn’t do, which is why I got rid of gnome-screensaver and replaced it with xscreensaver. That’s something I shouldn’t have had to do in the first place, which indicates sloppy work on the part of the GNOME developers.)

    I know there are people who still long for the days when Unix GUI meant “eight xterms and a Mosaic window”. But those people are fooling themselves if they think everyone can or should try to work that way, or that people are stupid for not wanting to do that. There are plenty of people out there who can do beautiful page layouts with TeX, but try getting a professional graphic designer who has only ever worked in fully visual media to do that. Not only will it not work, there’s no point in even trying. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

  73. #74 Brian X
    August 14, 2009

    Apple was a pioneer in the affordable home computer

    Now I’m as big a Mac fan as you’re going to find, but, uh, no. Apple ][ systems routinely cost twice as much or more than Commodore or Atari systems until the mid-80s; I’d wager an awful lot of kids’ only exposure to Apple systems was in school. PETSCII aside, the Commodore 64 offered far more out of the box for the average child hacker in the early 80s than the Apple did. Apple didn’t really pull forward until the Mac started to outclass the Amiga and Atari ST, by which point everyone was getting their lunch money stolen by IBM and Microsoft.

  74. #75 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Let me rephrase it one more time. There are roughly three answers to the question being asked in the late 1980s: “I like my windows computer because I can use three buttons. Your mac seems to have one button.”

    Answer 1, which is what I would expect from typical Mac users who typically believe that Mac can never ever be anything but perfect:

    “Who needs more than one button? Hey, we don’t even need a backspace key, we’re so cool! And our shit don’t stink either!”

    Answer 2, which was the astonishing answer Mike gave me (and which was verified by examining four separate labs each with their own purchasing policies, proclivities, histories and, in those days, no overarching IT department):

    “Oh, yes we do. La de da.” (when in fact no such thing could be produced … kinda like a unicorn, or god, or whatever.)

    Answer 3, the correct answer:

    “Macs support the multi-button mouse, but they ship with one button mice for some reason. It is nice to have the option of adding whatever kind of mouse you want, but most Mac users seem to want only a one button mouse so the three button mouse is kinda rare.”

  75. #76 Ben Zvan
    August 14, 2009

    “Apple ][ systems routinely cost twice as much or more than Commodore or Atari systems until the mid-80s”
    How much did a Unix system cost? You know… one with three buttons.

  76. #77 Stephanie Z
    August 14, 2009

    Greg, you’re getting mostly answer three in this thread, only with the reason instead of “some reason.” Is adding information the problem? Is it equivalent to being defensive?

    And by the way, about a third of this thread is about Dunc’s uptime and about half about the actual devices people are using in the place of whatever their computer shipped with.

  77. #78 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    I remember how much the Unix systems cost in the mid 70s. More than the Apple II. Or even the Apple IIe.

    In 1986 one of the labs to which I refer above got a vax. I remember it well because two of us (Hey, Joe, you might have been the other guy, I don’t remember) carried it from Peter Ellison’s station wagon (Peter is the brother of THE Ellison, BTW) up the front steps of the Peabody, loaded it onto a four wheeler, and then brought it via elevator up to the lab where it was set up to do fancy dancy statistics. It cost 10,000. I remember that because the dept admin kept saying “Don’t drop that, it cost ten thousand dollars!”

    The reason it cost 10,000 is because it was used. Originally, it was closer to 30K

    About a year later I remember Terry Deacon, who was a serious DOS user at the time, showing Ellison a Mac (something like a Mac II) and explaining what an icon was. (For those of you know know terry, that is a very funny joke.) Or maybe it was Ellison explaining it to Deacon. (Even funnier.) Anyway, the Mac Meme spread from there.

    It did remain true, however, that the Macs were more expensive for the same computing power, even when the Windows equivilant was not a piece of junk. Also, for me, I has much more powerful programming tools with C, various versions of basic and fortran, and most importantly Clipper (because I used a lot of data) and the Mac was not realy giving me what I needed. When it came time to finish my thesis a few year later, I did about half the graphics on “Power macs” with AI. The lab had five or six, and at least one was in the shop at any pointing time because the hardware was total crap and the network never worked because the network was total crap. But all the Mac lovers loved it as long as there were enough machines that you could find one that worked….

    (NOt enough buttons on the mice, though)

  78. #79 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Stephanie, I agree that this thread is a lot of answer 3. There is not much information about the culture of computer love (the point of the OP) being added in an etic sense. Only as emic. But that’s OK, I can interpret that …

  79. #80 Bob
    August 14, 2009

    This is the problem: This is a technical post that you are suddenly saying is about culture but no where do you mention culture. You are merely backtracking.

  80. #81 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Let me rephrase it one more time. There are roughly three answers to the question being asked in the late 1980s: “I like my windows computer because I can use three buttons. Your mac seems to have one button.”

    Answer 1, which is what I would expect from typical Mac users who typically believe that Mac can never ever be anything but perfect:

    “Who needs more than one button? Hey, we don’t even need a backspace key, we’re so cool! And our shit don’t stink either!”

    Answer 2, which was the astonishing answer Mike gave me (and which was verified by examining four separate labs each with their own purchasing policies, proclivities, histories and, in those days, no overarching IT department):

    “Oh, yes we do. La de da.” (when in fact no such thing could be produced … kinda like a unicorn, or god, or whatever.)

    Answer 3, the correct answer:

    “Macs support the multi-button mouse, but they ship with one button mice for some reason. It is nice to have the option of adding whatever kind of mouse you want, but most Mac users seem to want only a one button mouse so the three button mouse is kinda rare.”

  81. #82 Enoch
    August 14, 2009

    Check your mailbox for a memo from the department of redundancy department.

  82. #83 Enoch
    August 14, 2009

    “Where I come from, we call that a de-lusion. And it is pretty typical of Mac Lovers, to be delusional about their operating system and their hardware. But they should not feel bad. It is also typical of Windows users.”

    The difference is in which operating system meets the expectations of the de-lusoin best!

  83. #84 Stephanie Z
    August 14, 2009

    I find the translation from “I hear you can get one” to “They’ve all got ‘em” and “a lot of answer 3″ to “you are all making my point” to be a bit more interpretation than I care for. Not all geeks are computer geeks. Not all geeks are required to expend their geekiness on something because one of them does. If they were, you’d be at the mercy of every grammar pedant who showed up here.

    So now you’ve met Brian and Ben, who used multi-button devices and scripting on their Macs, and I know one other person with whom I can argue comma prescriptivism without either of us spouting nonsense. He’s still not going to write straightforward prose, and I’m not going to write literary fiction in which I agonize over every word. When it comes down to it, however, we both love language. We just work with it differently.

  84. #85 Ben Zvan
    August 14, 2009

    “Power Macs” Were those made by Apple or licensed? The licensed ones tended to be sub-par. On the other hand, from what I’ve seen, the dominant reason for a machine in a computer lab to fail is abuse, not workmanship.

  85. #86 Jeff Knapp
    August 14, 2009

    Greg – it seems one of your big complaints is about how passionate we Mac users defend our choice of platform; how we think our choice is superior to others.

    Um… Gee…

    Aren’t we a rather black kettle at the moment? How vigorously have you been doing exactly the same thing? To whit, “Anybody who complains about having to use a command like is just being a pansy-ass and needs to man up and learn it. The command line is the true way to compute!”

    Have a look at the tone of your past four posts on Linux and command lines/mice. It’s all there.

  86. #87 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Jeff, this post is not about Mac users. It is about computer users. But, since the object case is a Mac user, that touches a raw nerve because criticizing macs is not allowed. Even when they are built on a PowerPC architecture and never work! Ha!

    And Jeff, I want you to go to the last paragraph of my post and read it out loud three or four times until you get it.

    Nobody ever reads the last paragraph, I know.

  87. #88 CyberLizard
    August 14, 2009

    I like my Powerbook G4. I like my homebuilt Linux boxes. I’ve even had Windows boxes that I’ve liked. And on every one of them I used the same Microsoft Intellimouse with IntelliEye 1.0 USB and PS-2 Compatible.

    And I haven’t had to reboot any of them since Creation 6,000 years ago.

  88. #89 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Stephanie, you are being defensive! Not at all unexpected considering how new your power book is.

    Ben: These were computers sold by some fly-by-night company called “Apple” and the architecture was the “Power PC” that for a while was “the only way to do things” because it was how Macs were built. All of them. Nice blaming the victim action, though!

  89. #90 Jeff Knapp
    August 14, 2009

    It does not, obviously, apply to Linux users. Linux users are not delusional. Ever.

    Touche. You got me.

  90. #91 Jeff Knapp
    August 14, 2009

    You are a pretty arrogant bastard, aren’t you? You like to mess with people as a way of demonstrating your superior intellect. I get it.

  91. #92 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    No, I just mess with people who don’t read the last paragraph. Thank you for telling me I have a superior intellect, though.

  92. #93 Ben Zvan
    August 14, 2009

    “…criticizing macs is not allowed. Even when they are built on a PowerPC architecture and never work! Ha!”

    You’re starting to remind me of someone I once knew on Facebook, Greg. Are you going to un-friend me now?

  93. #94 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    You’re starting to remind me of someone I once knew on Facebook, Greg. Are you going to un-friend me now?

    No, you have not said anything bad about Linux. Plus, I’ll just chalk it up to you being too young to remember the early Power PC architecture days, which everyone at Apple has tried to forget.

    I have said many times that I think a modern G-X mac with OSX is a brilliant machine. There are three reasons I don’t use one. a) can’t afford it (but I likely would bite the bullet if the other two reasons were not in effect); b) I really like Linux … Linux is not a cheap alternative to me, it’s a model for producing software and running it that i’m more comfortable with than the corporate model and c) I can’t see what is on the screen because my eyes are funny. Not being able to see what is on the screen is limiting. The down side of “just enough options” as stated above is that for me it means “it just does not work” while for others it might mean that it just does work.

  94. #95 Ben Zvan
    August 14, 2009

    “I’ll just chalk it up to you being too young to remember the early Power PC architecture days” That’s really funny considering that we retired a beige G3 not too long ago. (I believe I did say that Linux never came with a 3-button mouse and that UNIX was too expensive to be competition in the 70’s.)

  95. #96 DuWayne
    August 14, 2009

    Damn you Greg, you’re a big blue, motherfucking meany!!!

    I will simply note my limited experience with Macs and my experience not with Macs. When I was a kid we had the Commodore 64. While I was totes jealous of my friends who had the 128, I felt quite sorry for my friends who had Apples, because their computers sucked balls compared to ours.

    Later I discovered the internets were available to me, in the MSU student union, even though I wasn’t a student. Some strange MI law made it possible for even stoner fucking musicians to come and use the computers. I hated getting stuck with the Macs, because they were slow, sometimes confusing and the motherfucking mice only had one fucking button!!!

    Macs started getting better, but I can’t afford that. I would rather spend the money on a little more power, run linux and have a decent machine for considerably less money.

    And my mouse, btw, also side scrolls. Not sure what it cost, but it had to have been under fifteen bones, because that’s my cutoff for fucking mice…

  96. #97 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Actually, now that I think about it, they were Mac II’s.

  97. #98 Ben Zvan
    August 14, 2009

    My Fortran class was taught on a Mac II.

  98. #99 Stephanie Z
    August 14, 2009

    Heh. I got a–whatever I got, some Book thingy–because of the muscle memory issue and because it was the best deal I could find on computing power in a laptop. Both are time issues, which was the deciding factor for everything after I volunteered to edit the podcast. I’m using a bunch of open source software that I’m not particularly familiar with and doing a task I refuse to be bad at. Familiarity and a boost from a ridiculous processor mean I’ll still get some sleep.

    And if you reread what I’ve posted in this thread, I might be making a more subtle point than you’re crediting me with.

  99. #100 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Damn you Greg, you’re a big blue, motherfucking meany!!!

    Blue? Like as in IBM?

    At least, unlike the gun-show blog posts, we know that everyone here is simply parodizing themselves and each other (and their operating systems!).

    Meanwhile, people my daughter’s age don’t even know that there are different operating systems because it is pretty irrelevant.

  100. #101 Dan J
    August 14, 2009

    I guess I’m just going to end up going back to a DECWriter paper terminal. No speical drivers or configuration there. Simple text with a nice reminder of what I’ve been working on.

  101. #102 Brian X
    August 14, 2009

    Greg:

    I do want to point out that I was using PowerPC Macs from the very beginning, and the early NuBus machines were really quite good hardwarewise; the first PCI PowerMacs were even better because of their flip-top cases. I can think, however, of three situations where the hardware wasn’t quite so good: 1) the Power Mac 7200 (PCI, PowerPC 601) had a nasty firmware bug involving the floppy drive where if you put it to sleep with a floppy in the drive, it would go into an irreversible coma and had to be rebooted; 2) the 62×0 series was the first round of PPC603 machines and were Road Apples by any definition of the term (wonky hardware, fucked-up cache design); and 3) System 7.5.2, which was mandatory on the first run of PCI PowerMacs, was a godawful piece of crap that should never have seen the light of day and was replaced in short order by the badly misnumbered System 7.5.3, which was probably the biggest overhaul ever given an OS that received only a minor version change. (For those who don’t know, among other things, 7.5.3 ripped out the entire networking architecture and replaced it with something borrowed from Unix.)

    I have a funny feeling that your wonky lab systems were in category 2 or 3; either that, or you had someone who liked to ResEdit things in the system that were none of his business.

  102. #103 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    The wonky lab computers, which were real, were six, really had one in the shop at almost all times, etc. were probably Mac II’s, now that I think further about it. I seem to remember PowerPC’s coming into the picture later on.

    Later on, I had quite a long and intimate relationship with a couple of PowerPC’s and I’m very aware of how good they are. The one I’ve got now can’t be run because it tends to catch on fire but otherwise…

    (Serves me right for being the first kid on the block to get the new Mac)

  103. #104 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Stephanie: book thingie

    As if you don’t know what computer you’ve got and everything about what’s under the hood!

    I’m using a bunch of open source software that I’m not particularly familiar with and doing a task I refuse to be bad at.

    What are you using, anyway? Is it working?

  104. #105 Shawn Smith
    August 14, 2009

    DuWayne, regarding the Apple ][ vs. C-64:

    Expandability:
    Apple ][: Good, up to 7 or 8 cards, to handle everything from connecting printers to hard drives to putting on a whole other computer (Z-80 cards).
    C-64: Not so great. One expansion port, but connections for needed peripherals already built in.

    Disk Drive:
    Apple ][: Reasonably quick, 140k capacity (160k with special drives and changing the DOS). Controlled completely by the CPU, and timing critical. In other words, when the drive is busy, the computer isn’t doing anything else.
    C-64: Dog, dog, slow without an accelerator (usually in the expansion port) and 140k capacity. Had a CPU on the drive, alowing the C-64’s 6502 to simply specify what memory needed to be moved to/from which disk sector.

    Sound:
    Apple ][: One little speaker that had to have the drum moved in and out by reading a memory location correctly to get sounds. No interrupts available.
    C-64: 4 x fully ADSR-specified voices with specified frequencies.

    Graphics:
    Apple ][: 4 different modes: text, low res, hi res, double hi res, with the possibility of having the last 4 lines of text with graphics. Memory mapped graphics pages are fixed in the middle of memory (8k – 24k), requiring larger programs to be fragmented. The display was grouped into 40×24 characters, where each character was 7×8 pixels in size. The character set was selectable between 2 options (flashing and redundant inverse vs. lowercase and mousetext.) 80-column and double hi res graphics used the same memory locations in the other 64k bank of memory.
    C-64: Up to eight independently displayed sprites, on top of a 40×25 character screen, where each character was 8×8 pixels, and where the character set could be changed to user-specified glyphs. The graphics data could be placed in any of the 4 x 16k blocks. Interrupts could be set to trigger when the display was on a given scan line, which would allow the placement of more than 8 sprites on the screen at the same time, and/or the display of more than one character set.

    Cost:
    Apple ][: $1200 – $2500.
    C-64: $500 – $800.

  105. #106 PK
    August 14, 2009

    Someone wanted a mouse with three buttons without scroll wheel. I use these:
    http://pc.pcconnection.com/1/1/23056-hewlett-packard-accessories-usb-optical-3-button-mouse-dy651a.html

    HTH

    PK

  106. #107 Jeff Knapp
    August 14, 2009

    No, I just mess with people who don’t read the last paragraph. Thank you for telling me I have a superior intellect, though.

    LOL!

    Have a good weekend. I’m outa here for a whole ten days of much needed R&R.

  107. #108 Jeff Knapp
    August 14, 2009

    @106 – Thank you! That is exactly what I need. Why I could not find one, I don’t know.

  108. #109 Greg Laden
    August 14, 2009

    Jeff: Ten days? No internet? Has that been done before? Is it even possible?

  109. #110 MikeFM
    August 14, 2009

    Actually Mac mice by default are four buttons (well the two side buttons count as one) and the middle button doubles as a trackball. It’s my favorite mouse except that it costs two much and the side buttons are positioned so that they are bumped to easily. You also have to get a really big mousepad if you have a 24″ iMac.

  110. #111 Stephanie Z
    August 15, 2009

    Honestly, I can’t remember whether I bought a Pro or not. It was a factor when I bought it simply in terms of what the package was, but now that I’m using it, it’s just the MacBook and sleek and zippy.

    I’ve got Open Office, Audacity, Soundflower and Line-In running. So far, so good, although I’m trying to figure out how to keep myself from hearing myself back through Audacity without patching in another computer on the call to do the actual recording, which I can do. I’m sure I can find the solution, but it will take time, and time…well.

  111. #112 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2009

    Is this problem while using Audacity with skype?

  112. #113 Jeff Knapp
    August 15, 2009

    Greg wrote:

    Jeff: Ten days? No internet? Has that been done before? Is it even possible?

    Ten days, no internet, way high up in the Rockies outside of Beaver Creak, CO. Yep. It can be done and, probably for gaining any sense of real-life perspective, needs to be done. You know, join the real world of humans, mountains, trees, nature, that sort of thing. Pushing pixels all day (even if it is cool VFX shit) makes Jeff a very dull boy. In fact, since I am going to bed in a few, this will be my last post before unplugging.

    Here goes…

    *pushes ‘post’ button*

    **blip-psfffft**

  113. #114 Pete H.
    August 15, 2009

    When I put NetBSD on a Mac IIsi (that’s a 1990 computer) I bought a 3-button Mac-compatible mouse (three buttons; no scrollwheel, like a real UNIX mouse). I wasn’t using the Mac OS (7.0) any more, but the mouse came with a System 7 control panel that enabled all the buttons, if I had wanted to.

    I get the feeling with some of these commentators that when they say “years ago,” the mean the days of OS X 10.3

  114. #115 Stephanie Z
    August 15, 2009

    It’s a problem of getting all of the audio from different sources into Audacity while only getting the audio I want back to the interviewer and not causing any feedback.

  115. #116 Andrew W
    August 15, 2009

    I’ve read the article & the comments. I’m impressed by 2 things:
    1) The writer of the article takes time to read the comments & reply to them.
    2) The comments have not descended into the typical morass of teenage(of all ages) name-calling & automatic gainsaying that normally charaterises an internet comment list of this length. They contain actual facts & information.
    Keep it up, people

  116. #117 Nigel
    August 17, 2009

    Logitech still make a 3 button mouse which they appear to only sell through OEM channels. The HP part number for this is DY651A (USB) and the IBM part number is 40K9201. I also have PS/2 version from IBM which was available fairly recently as a FRU, but I can’t find remember the FRU number.

    If anyone can find out contact details for the account manager at Logitech that handles these I’d be quite happy to know.

  117. #118 Nigel
    August 17, 2009

    P.S. The FRU for the PS/2 IBM one is 89P5069 and the stock part number is 89P5068.

  118. #119 Kelly
    November 18, 2009

    Okay, so after reading this whole sh*thole of a blog, I’m still baffled at why any of this matters. If you wanna use a three/four/seven button/trackball mouse, then do it, regardless of the OS! Since they all support it now, what’s the big deal? Geez, talk about making a mountain out of a molehill!

    And although I’m a new Mac user, I’ve had plenty of experience with Windows and Linux to realise, like some of the others, that the OS really only matters to the individual. So stop being such a know-it-all/hater and let all of us have our own thing. Especially since you so obviously prefer Linux.

    Good luck to you all. I wish you the best, despite your whining and complaining about things that aren’t relevant.

  119. #120 Greg Laden
    November 18, 2009

    Kelly, if you think this is about the mouse than you totally missed the point. Perhaps you should start at the beginning and read it again.

  120. #121 GBurnett
    November 19, 2009

    Yes! That has been my biggest complaint about Macs forever. Number two is lack of customization, but that has improved with OS X. It’s just insulting to only be given one button; Apple is implying that you are just too dumb to use more than one button. I’m a trackball man myself, but jeez – I could not do without at least a second button and a scroll wheel.

  121. #122 Kelly
    November 19, 2009

    No, I understood the point entirely – why did apple make something that was both insulting to customers and behind the times? The answer is – wait for it – irrelevant. Because now they make a 4 button mouse, so it’s a moot point. In all honesty, I feel like you’re just looking for ways to bash apple and in hindsight, no less. It’s a pretty cheap shot. But if you’re still using Linux, then why bother with the post? It’s like the complete opposite of a mac fanboy – you’re just looking for ways to say “f*ck apple”. But in the end, none of this matters, not even our posts, because people are going to do what they’re going to do – and that includes buying OS’s that you feel are inferior, despite your opinions.

    But my original point still stands – who cares anymore? Get over it. Use whatever effing mouse you want with whatever OS you want. Live and let live, Greg. And then get over yourself.

  122. #123 Stephanie Z
    November 20, 2009

    No, Kelly, you still missed the point. The point is in how the user responds to having it pointed out that the mouse is insulting and behind the times.

  123. #124 Brian X
    November 20, 2009

    Apple based a lot of their early interface decisions on usability studies that they were doing at the time. One thing they did was to design the interface around a single button; on a single-tasking OS on a rather tiny screen, that was really all that was needed. People who gripe about old-school Macs having only one button are completely missing the point — a second button wasn’t even needed for the way the interface is designed.

    GBurnett:

    Dumb doesn’t enter into it. The idea was a consistent and intuitive interface — the Smalltalk interface that Apple had shelled out so much for a demonstration made rather confusing use of the mouse button (at least by 1979 standards) and the Mac (which was already working under a dictate of strict simplicity because of original project lead Jef Raskin) wanted something simpler and more robust. Menu bar at the top? That way you don’t overshoot the window looking for a command. No context menu? On a small screen, you didn’t need it. (In fact, it isn’t even that bad on a large screen — it’s just that people aren’t really used to it so they complain. Apple should have added it much sooner than Mac OS 8, but even then they probably did it mainly as a reaction to Windows.)

    Greg:

    the current Mac mouse situation is rather complex — the Mighty Mouse is actually a four-button mouse with a tiny trackball instead of a scroll wheel, and the new mouse is… hard to explain… but it’s more or less based on the current multitouch trackpad interface. Which is extremely cool, but hard to sum up in a sentence or two.

  124. #125 Greg Laden
    November 20, 2009

    Kelly, as Stephanie mentions, yes, this post is about the culture of Mac users (and Stephanie and her husband, who are good friends, are Mac users who have probably gotten quite annoyed at my guff in that regard!). There have always been multi-button mice available, so your point about them being made eventually is incorrect and, again, not really speaking to the point.

    I’m not bashing Apple. I actually like Apple’s products in many ways. This is not a cheap shot. It is part of a larger set of posts on technology and culture. And yes, you are totally correct when you insist that “people are going to do what they are going to do” … somehow you have absorbed a key point of my post despite your best efforts to avoid that!

  125. #126 Greg Laden
    January 23, 2011

    Here’s the problem with mouse buttons: http://xrl.in/72oz

  126. #127 John
    September 5, 2011

    My 2 year old son just broke my 3 button 1990 mouse on my Linux machine. I’m trying to get by using a 2 button mouse w/ a scroll wheel that has a 3rd mouse button feature somewhere. I desparately need to fix my 3 button mouse or find a new “real” 3 button mouse.

  127. #129 Greg Laden
    September 5, 2011

    Then there is something like this one which appears to have a middle button thingie PLUS a scroll wheel (plus buttons on the side)

  128. #130 Dassie
    Earth
    January 8, 2013

    Funny blog post. Old, too!
    Just for fun, today I installed an (ancient) 3-button serial mouse on an XP PC. Works fine, but I do miss a scrollwheel. The middle button seems to do nothing, though, and Google is not being my friend in trying to get the middle button to do something, anything. Maybe it’s a Windows driver thingie.

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