back to article Tickle my balls, stroke my button and blow the fluff from my crack

“Give yourself a little blow job every morning and your working day will be a happier one!” These were the unabashed directions given to me during my first professional computing training course. The trainer was full of these saucy one-liners. Another of her favourites - for my trainer was a she - was: “If fluff gets down …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Honestly don't mean to sound holier than thou, but I still prefer a keyboard in most cases.

    1. Mike Allum

      It's not HTT at all, it's just practicality. I liken doing code editing with a mouse to playing the end of a piano concerto - the hand is going "keyboard - mouse - keyboard -mouse". All you need is the frilly shirt and the tails.

      I far prefer something like the CRiSP text editor where I can mark a column and move it without leaving the keyboard - and I (nearly) never paste the wrong side of a character.

      If you want REAL frustration try cutting and pasting on a vanilla Google Nexus 7 - it rapidly descends into Most Frustrating Video Game territory. Even hitting backspace on that thing is an adventure. Since owning it I've learned to type very carefully indeed. 8-)

      1. t.est

        This pasting on the wrong side is a windows feature.

        This never happened with System 6 up to MacOS9, OSX though has far less precision with it's pointing algorithms, but still not as common as in windows.

        How the marker is place from mouse input in Windows simply sux big time. Sometime one click marks a whole line, sometimes it places where you pointed it. Sometimes a triple click marks a whole line ( that's how it should be, as on the mac). But worst of all is when you have a whole word or line marked, and you want to unselect an have the marker to the left selection, you press on the left arrow key on the keyboard, but your marker goes to the right of what was selected.

        I so hate windows for these stupid design decisions, it may be fast, it may have all the software but is utterly useless if you want to work effectively.

        Apple should learn from it's original mac, never have this been better done than on the old good Mac.

        BTW the best ergonomic mouse is the Apple's third mouse in the picture the one in the middle. The second best is the one before that next to it, the edgy one. And while you and I would think that the round puck mouse would be the worst mouse the world have ever seen, I've actually used something worse, and that's a feat, because that Apple mouse was rubbish.

        And those who think you need right click possibilities, think again in the times around System 7.5 I had contextual menus working from just one mouse click. Ah that was good time's when you could grab a mouse the way it was most comfortable and have all the functions of what other systems needed 2 to 3 buttons for. I had a hard time using a PC mouse for my primary click would always generate a right click rather than the left click it was supposed to generate. Having the pointing finger leaning to the right side of the mouse simply is the most comfortable and ergonomic grip you can have. And the best of it, if you were a leftie it would not matter as the design is the same for both. I miss such functionally well engineered systems.

        Mac OS had technical flaws, but the user interface still rocks.

        1. RussellMcIver

          User error?

          What version of Windows are you using there sonny? Behaviour as far as I have always been aware is thus:

          * Single Click = place cursor

          * Double Click = select word

          * Triple Click = select whole line/paragraph

          Also left arrow key always goes to left of selection.


  2. returnmyjedi

    Precious memories

    I once spent over £30 of my hard earned pocket money on a mouse (possibly a Viglen one) to replace the awful standard effort that came with my Amiga 500 Batman Pack. The replacement was pretty shoddy, but still better than the 80s Mac one.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely you wont get away with such comments. Didnt you read the previous comment section where a simple joke offended so many men on behalf of the women? Or maybe you will be absolved because a woman said it first? Will she now be the target of offended commenter's (all men on behalf of women remember) as the sort of filthy mind that causes women not to join the IT ranks?

    We will see on this episode of reg commenter's...

    1. Grikath Silver badge

      Re: risky

      The article places the remarks at a time when the whole "political correctness" movement was still soiling its' nappies, and women in general were not Fragile Flowers in need of outraged abhorrence by some metrosexual wusses, let alone those who worked in any techie job at that time..

      I do believe most members of the female species of our race are quite capable of defending themselves from any perceived slight, by ripping your (virtual) tonkers off if necessary, and quite often do so in rather eloquent and amusing ways (innuendo optional). Funnily enough most of these outburst of female self-reliance and independence are aimed at those males who are condescending enough to assume the poor lady needs to be spoken "on behalf of" in the first place.

  4. Magister

    Them were the days..

    >>Looking back, it beggars belief that anyone would need to be taught how to use a mouse.<<

    Back in the 90's, I was doing some helpdesk support for a particular piece of software; one of the customers couldn't work out where he was going wrong and in frustration, got one of his female staff to phone up to find out "why this bloody thing won't work".

    The poor lady had never used a computer, full stop. I had to try to talk her through using the mouse to open a folder to delete a file that the guy had messed up that would then allow us to get their licence re-activated.

    It took 40 minutes of gentle persuasion in my calmest voice; and most of my colleagues left the room, because they couldn't take the pain of hearing me slooooooowly taaaaaalk heeeer throooooough eaaaaach steeeeep.

    It nearly made me take up smoking!

    (BTW, my first post after having been awarded the bronze award; thank you Drew. Can't believe that I've been at this place for a year)

    1. The Serpent

      Re: Them were the days..

      Also back in the nineties I worked for a company with, amongst many other things, a machine test lab. The company was in the phase where it was getting sensible to put a PC on everyone's desk. Bearing in mind it was about 1998 and so uptake of internet access was still very far from universal and even the presence of an actual computer in the home wasn't a foregone conclusion.

      The lab guys had their own little world in which they lived and the only computer they had regular access to was an Apple 2 which ran one of the test machines. Even then all they did was run the same control program routine.

      Apparently they had no experience of other types of computer, which became evident one day when I was doing my compulsory helpdesk stint. They'd had their new Compaq delivered but not installed and were fed up stepping over the boxes so they attempted to set it up on a table themselves. They said they were happy with the job they'd done expect that they weren't sure where the foot pedal should go.

      Obviously I was momentarily struck dumb, but after some questioning it became apparent that they did not know what a mouse was and thought it was some device analogous to the foot switch on a sewing machine.

      I love it when I can roll out that story..!

    2. Charles Manning

      Re: Them were the days..

      Ah yes, I did a few months of tech support when I was in the army.

      We regularly had many of the generals phone up to ask what their password was. It was easy enough to help them out. We set all the generals' passowrds the same and everyone in the office knew the password.

      They were really hard to help though, even though we tried to make it really easy. They could get a canned report by logging in and typing "R".

      One day I had to walk a general through this process for the umpteenth time. After about 3 minutes we had him logged in.

      "Ok, General now type R."

      ... 15 seconds of silence ...

      "So General, what can you see?"

      "There's a line of Rs across the screen"

      It just went downhill from there....

    3. mark 63 Silver badge

      Re: Them were the days..

      last week it took me about 25 min to talk a guy through typing in a short url , it was this long:

      the guy was apparently a doctor

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Them were the days..

        While trying to clear up the mess of a terrible ERP implementation at a company, the MD used to get me to come and copy files across for him from the network to his laptop. since the files he wanted always came from the same place I wrote a little batch file to do it and save me the bother.

        He still used to call me in to do it, when I asked why his answer was, "If I have to bother learning about this stuff, why should I hire you?"

  5. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Carry on Computing?

    1. Martin Budden

      Did she ask for a double entendre

      and did you give her one?

  6. Velv Silver badge


    Beauty and practicality...

    1. Ru
      Paris Hilton

      Re: NSFW

      I was half expecting you to link to this:

  7. Dave 126 Silver badge

    >I’ve been forced to use a 3D CAD puck - my trainer would have loved playing with that word - which was about as intuitive as reversing an articulated lorry while blindfolded.

    I've had a brief go with such a 3DConnexions Spacenavigator (a Logitech subsidiary), and didn't get on with. I guess I was just used to a different system of interacting with a 3D model, and it reminded me of the brief time I spent playing with Alias Wavefront- navigating felt like controlling a flight simulator, clumsily!

    I'm used to navigating 3D models with mouse + modifier = rotate, scroll wheel = zoom (and one uses zoom out and in to effectively pan). Standard views are associated with a pie menu (hold right button and swipe towards cardinal compass point). This system is better suited to product design than it might be architectural or naval design (where one might wish to move around 'inside' a model of a boat or ship).

  8. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    GEM without a mouse?

    The article seems to imply that you were using GEM before ever using a mouse. If so, that must have been fun.

    I managed to use WFWG 3.11 for a couple of years without a mouse, though (my boss was too tight to buy one) so I suppose it could be done.

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: GEM without a mouse?

      At uni, when there was high demand for the Windows machines in the computing centre, I could usually find one that had been abandoned by a business student because the mouse was dead or missing. I'd occasionally get incredulous looks when I started using one, having been told "that one's not working"..

  9. Smallbrainfield

    I have a 7 button mouse for gaming which is probably as many buttons as I'll ever need on a mouse.

    Never really enjoyed using Apple mice though, always found them a bit uncomfortable and the one button restrictive. (Almost like they were trying to prove a point). Which is weird 'cos if you plugged in a 3 button MS mouse you could use the other buttons just like you can on a PC (or you could, it's a few years since I tried).

    I believe newer Apple mice have other options like some sort of side grips to access other functions?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Mac Right Button

      >Which is weird 'cos if you plugged in a 3 button MS mouse you could use the other buttons just like you can on a PC (or you could, it's a few years since I tried).

      The right hand mouse button on a Mac is the same as using the left-hand button + Alt (I think, or is it Ctrl? I can't remember) so support fopr extra-buttoned rodents is easy to implement. Other keys in that area also modify the behaviour of the scroll-wheel (scroll up/down > Scroll left/right, > zoom in/out)

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: Mac Right Button

        You still can.

        Apple trackpads and the Magic are capable of right-clicking too, but under OSX this capability is disabled by default. Once you tick the box in system preferences, right-clicking is just a two-finger tap on the pad or a click on the right-hand side of he Magic.

    2. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: I have a 7 button mouse for gaming which is probably as many buttons as I'll ever need...

      I'm the happy owner of a SteelSeries WoW mouse, that sports 12 buttons + wheel-click. After a month of using it with World of Warcraft, I was using all the buttons. It really rocks for gaming -as long as you take the time to configure it properly. For most productivity apps... meh. Two buttons + wheel seem enough for most tasks.

    3. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: I have a 7 button mouse...

      Apple tried putting side buttons on its mice some years ago but they never caught on, I suspect, because they didn't produce a click. This meant 99.9% of Mac users didn't realise they were buttons while the remaining 0.1% didn't know what to use them for anyway.

      Apple's own Mac mice have supported right-clicking for a long time, even before they came with that dreadful uncontrollable trackball: you just tap/touch on the mouse anywhere right of centre. It was part of The Reality Distortionist's vision: lots of functions and gestures but only one physical button.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I have a 7 button mouse...

        I've never been a fan of Apple mice - fortunately, I don't often have to use them! And that iMac 'hockey puck'... what were they thinking?

        My favourite is a Logitech MX Revolution Darkfield - though I wouldn't have paid the full RRP for it. I mean, the ability to use it on glass is nice and all, but hardly essential to me. However, the button placement and 'hyperscroll' wheel are lovely.

        I was a bit naffed off by the poor selection of mice in PC World, recently. Out of the two dozen models on show, all bar a few were generic two-button + scroll wheel models, and overpriced at that.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: I have a 7 button mouse...

          Personally I still like the Microsoft Intellimice - 4 button plus trackwheel, and with the correct driver software the button actions are configurable on a per-application basis. The two side buttons (fairly naturally within easy reach of your thumb and little finger when the mouse is held) I find quite useful in general work. For example my thumb button is set up under IE (all we have at work) for back and under Outlook (ditto) it's new mail.

          When I go home or on-site and have to use standard 2-button + wheel mice I often end up trying to click on a button that isn't there and generally having my workflow disrupted.

      2. Michael Thibault

        Re: I have a 7 button mouse...

        >99.9% of ... users didn't ... know what to use them for anyway.

        Much the same can be said for the middle button of a three-button mouse. Sure, 100 linux monkeys will tell you that you're holding it wrong, and that there's a shit-ton of different things you can do with it (most depending on your use of the terminal... sigh!). But anyway, there's no standard use for the middle button. So, YTF?!

        Similarly, the right button (on non-antipodean mice) is nothing special. At all. It does one thing: contextual menus. Wooot! Hot Damn! Like you couldn't engage the other half of your brain to pull on a finger, then another finger, and then press one of the modifier keys concentrated in the lower left and right corners of your keyboard to--well--modify the click you're making with the left button? Oh, that hand is too busy keeping time. Why didn't you say so? But, WTF...

        The decomposability of a mouse click (mousedown+mouseup, as in HyperTalk) and consideration of time (duration and sequence, in particular, of the two sub-events) makes the second/right (contextual menu) button unnecessary--or, at least, not strictly necessary. Nice to have n buttons (if n<π) but you can get the same functionality out of a single-button mouse; a little software gives me a third way to invoke the contextual menu i.e. get the same result as using the button at the other end.

        Love the trackball of the Mighty Mouse, BTW, but the side buttons ... definitely a puzzlement.

        1. Alistair Dabbs

          Re: I have a 7 button mouse...

          >> Oh, that hand is too busy keeping time

          Assuming you have another hand. A couple of people I know have just the one, so I can see why additional button actions on a mouse would be helpful for accessibility. I also happen to like right-clicking for contextual menus because for most people it means they don't have to memorise any menus or shortcuts or have to go hunting for the right command: if the software developer has done its job properly, right-clicking will always call up the appropriate tools for the job in hand.

          As for measuring the time between mousedown and mouseup, this is the bane of the life of many trainers and customer support staff. Beginners often tell me that double-clicking doesn't work but what they're actually doing is clicking twice in not-very-rapid succession or clicking, moving the mouse a few pixels, then clicking a second time. I can't tell them they're doing it wrong when it's obvious to me that it's the computer that's too dim to understand what they're trying to do.

    4. Suricou Raven

      Re: I have a 7 button mouse for gaming ...

      FPS Gaming is an area where buttons are good: You can't afford the fractional-second delay of moving a hand on the keyboard. Even a bumbling FPS player online is going to need at least four buttons (Fire, alt fire, next weapon, previous weapon), with two of those being handled by the scroll wheel. If you want to be at your best then most games can use more. If you can bind center button to 'Bloody enemy just rocket-jumped up onto my sniper position, get out the shotgun' then you've found a way to save yourself a precious half-second of scrolling through weapon selection or moving a hand from the movement keys to weapon select and back. Half a second really matters when the enemy is turning to point his rocket launcher at your face.

  10. Thomas Gray

    Trackpads and tablets

    I've used a fair few mouses (or meece, take your pick) over the years, and have decided that the best setup for me is an Apple Magic Trackpad, and a large Wacom tablet. The only thing that comes close, ergonomically, is a trackball. There's something much more intuitive about moving your hand over a surface, with or without a pen in it.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Trackpads and tablets

      Depends if you're a ginger cat and dislike them perhaps.

      If so then perfectly understandable old chap.

  11. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Mouse training

    We had an Archimedes in primary school in about 1990- the only thing I remember on it was a a mouse-training jigsaw game, to get us used to the concept of dragging. We didn't really need it- many of us had Amigas, STs or an 8086 with Lemmings.

    Up to the next school, and a whole room of Archimedes. RiscOS used 3 mouse buttons by default, IIRC. I can't remember having any difficulty in getting the hang of it, or using word processing or DTP. Two years later and we were all using Mac LCIIIs, with one button. Ah well.

  12. xperroni

    No (much) need for a mouse

    When I bought my first notebook I decided to give up the mouse event as I felt it was the better pointer device, because I thought there'd be times when I wouldn't be able to use one (e.g. while seated on a bench at an airport), and I wanted to be able to properly use the trackpad when the need arrived. Of course it was terribly slow and awkward to use at first, so I started using keyboard shortcuts more – which resulted in a net speedup of computer tasks.

    Though I hate to sound like an Apple drone trying to pass removed functionality as improvement, losing the mouse was actually an improvement to my computer experience.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. John Riddoch

      Re: No (much) need for a mouse

      As ever, it depends on the task at hand. I do use a lot of keyboard shortcuts and remember an occasion my mouse died and I was forced to use Alt-keys for a while until I could get out to a shop for a replacement. Being able to use just the keyboard for common tasks saves time switching between keyboard & mouse.

      However, FPS games are far better on a mouse, I remember the jump in effectiveness on Quake 2 when I switched to mouse.

      FWIW, I still hate trackpads - I can use them at a push, but I'm not effective with them. I find the nub mice in the middle of the keyboard easier to use.

      Main thing is, use whatever works for you.

  13. Anonymous Coward 101

    For lefties, multi button mice are immensely irritating to use. The buttons rub against my fingers and drive me mad as a hatter.

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

      It's hard to find a decent 5 button mouse that isn't right hand specific (or costs a fortune from Razer).

      For years I used a Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 5 button jobbie till the cable started to short out through wear, and I was most dischuffed to find they had been discontinued a while ago.

      At 12 years of use that mouse was the longest serving piece of kit I've had, it's now been replaced with a £1.99 shenzen special from ebay- the only requirements were non-right handed shape and 5 buttons.

      1. dogged

        I got new (brand new in pack) Intellimouse Explorer off Ebay last month.

        I'm a lefty who mouses right-handed so weird right-hand shapes don't concern me. The reason for ImE is simply that it's the only mouse I've ever used that's (almost) big enough.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          There was a symmetrical Logitech mouse with five buttons: L, R, Middle (on the scroll wheel), plus Browser Forward and Back (reconfigurable, though). The trouble was that the Browser buttons were mounted one on each side of the mouse, where you might want to grip the mouse to pick it up.

  14. vroomfondle

    What, no...

    ... "Dear reader, I married her" at the end? She sounds great.

    1. Mike Taylor

      Re: What, no...

      I think i had the same trainer. Taught me Quark at about the same time it got half point type. She was a lovely lady, outrageous flirt, but very happily married. She was incredibly popular.

  15. JulianB

    This might be apocryphal

    if not downright untrue, but when I was first taught Lotus SmartSuite, the tutor swore that he'd just done a class where all the students turned their mice over and tried to move the ball around with their fingers. This was apparently their second-ever training session: the first had used a trackball.

  16. Cyberelic

    dos on the keyboard

    I never got on with early MicroShaft stuff, I could never remember all the strings of code, so I only started computing with enthusiasm when I got an Atari, with a mouse.

    T'other half was already banging away in WordPerfect (in DOS) and I remember a heated argument when she avowed that she could draw a circle in dos using the keyboard...


    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: dos on the keyboard

      >she avowed that she could draw a circle in dos using the keyboard...

      What, by pressing the 'o' key? : D

  17. Darryl

    I guess I'm in a minority... While I think one button is a little too minimalist, I'm not a fan of buttons protruding from every surface of a mouse either. Two buttons and a wheel are all I can get used to. Seems like I'm always accidentally clicking the side buttons when I grab the thing and when I try to scroll, I might press too hard on the wheel, or tilt it sideways, and next thing I know, I've created a new document or started Internet Explorer or something.

    My first order of business is always to disable the side buttons and wheel click/tilt ones.

  18. harmjschoonhoven

    There is a story that a class of KLM stewardesses, first confronted with a computer mouse (I personally know a KLM stewardess who is quite familial with the animal variant, al least her cat is) tried to move them over the screen like a lightpen, a device predating the mouse.

  19. Palf

    I've been using a Logitech Trackman Marble for what seems like well over a decade, and don't want to switch. The thumb is the strongest digit, so natural for movement. It fits to the hand perfectly. And no scraping over a surface either - I detest scrapies.

  20. BoldMan

    I remember back in the mid 90s when I was working as tech support for a defence contractor (based in new Malden) that was a Mac shop being asked why I had a set of biro pen lids in the toolkit. I then showed that person how to clean the accumulated crap off the mouse rollers in his mouse using the pen top as a scraper...

    1. Snafu 2

      I find a nail file with a hooky end (for cleaning under fingernails) perfect for this job

  21. maladmin


    It was only 10 years ago when I started my current position. Mandatory training at the time included a 3 hour session on using email (lotus notes). The first hour of that was devoted to using the mouse!

    On the day the training lab configuration was broken, not surprisingly the trainer had no clue. I started the session by fixing the network configuration then I still had to sit through the email tutorial.

    Things have advanced since then, the email training is now a 1 hour on-line course.

  22. bobloblaw114

    Didn't somebody patent a keyboard with 4 balls, one on each underside corner? No need to take hand off keyboard, you just slide the keyboard around to move cursor.

  23. wim

    Engelbart's name

    I think a better / other explanation of his name would be

    "bard of angels" as in an singer / teller of tales, who traveled around. They were highly respected in their time.

  24. Alistair Silver badge

    Okay -

    am I the only one around here that throws out the mouse and uses a trackball?

    I still have the dead carcass of the first trackball I ever found. It just plain made so much more sense. Especially on the tiny desk I had in my room. And yes, I am a computer packrat.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge


      I have a considerable stash of Trackman Marble FXes, two or three in use at home, one at work, and a couple of spares. As a bonus the one at work keeps colleagues from grabbing my input devices when they want to show something, using my computer (I hate that).

      The other pointing device I use is the venerable IBM (now Lenovo) clitmouse. Conventional mice, whatever number of buttons they may have, don't really work for me.

  25. mark 63 Silver badge

    optimal evolution

    mice have now reached their peek:

    3 buttons - no more, no less

    laser tracking

    job done

    The only way forward from here is some sci-fi , wave your hands around ui

    1. cortland

      Re: optimal evolution

      -- The only way forward from here is some sci-fi , wave your hands around ui --

      Someone will Kinect with that. Or has! Let's have a Wii dance, lads.

      Don't forget the lubricating icon

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: optimal evolution

      job done

      Bah. If I have to take my fingers off the home row, it's a defective design.

      Here's a nickle - buy yourself a real input device.

      The only way forward from here is some sci-fi , wave your hands around ui

      "Sci-fi"? Gestural interfaces have been around for dogs' years. They haven't caught on because for most applications they're rubbish.

  26. IT Drone

    Embarrassing language

    A young programmer colleague assigned to support a big project implementation in Norway couldn't work out why all the middle-aged ladies got a fit of the giggles when he asked if he could use their mouse to show them something. One day it was explained to him that "mus" was slang for female genitalia. (

  27. J. Cook Silver badge

    Still rocking the trackball over here as well...

    I'm using an ancient corded Trackman Wheel that I had pulled from service when I got a cordless one, and promptly put it back in when the cordless one flaked out one too many times in the middle of a gaming session.

  28. C 18

    Mouse ball oxen!

    It's not a 'hands on' interface until you stick your maulers into a bucket of goo for the XistenZ immersive experience...


  29. cortland

    Some years ago

    I worked for a company that made and sold their own computers (not enough to keep doing it after they became cheaper to buy than make, though) and we had a discussion with a still extant VERY large firm over a mouse they were selling.

    It went for upwards of $75 in stores; we couldn't get them down to less than (IIRC) $8. Profit, eh?

  30. EJ

    Intuitive, these mice are

    I remember when we first started rolling out distributed computing devices and mothballing the green screen terminals. We had PC training classes for staff. In my session, as we were covering how to log into the PC, one lady alerted the instructor to the fact her PC wasn't working because her pointer wasn't able to move. I looked up to see the woman holding the mouse about a foot off the desk surface, hovering it in mid air, and just trying a combination of 3D motions with the mouse. The ball of the mouse wasn't in contact with anything, and thus there was no movement of the pointer.

  31. Andee

    Sonic the Hedgehog would jump via the Mega Drive's A B or C button, not "X".

    Arguably you could have been playing with a six-button pad which was released in late 1993, and did indeed have an X Y and Z button, although the game wouldn't recognise those without a bit of specific tinkering. The only other way would be if you were playing the game through an emulator with the "X" key as your A/B/C input, or the Ultimate Mega Drive Collection on PS3/360, both of which had an X button on their controllers.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019