Friday, March 7

Easter mice

What a day. The daffodils are bustin’ out all over, and I fixed two computer mice. Other things happened too, but fixing two dead mice is supreme over all. The mice are made by Apple, and they do things that other mice just don’t do, like scroll so smoothly it’s like buttered silk. I have other brands of mice, but they’re jerky and, well, jerky. The problem with Apple’s mouse is when the scroll ball mechanism gets dirty down inside, it gets really jerky. Finally it simply doesn’t work. I had one mouse die on me, so I bought another and enjoyed fine mousing for several months till it too died.

Apple makes its mice so you can’t just locate the magic screw and open them up and clean them out; the exterior shows no point of entry. In an inspired moment I remembered a really old technique I used when fixing radar sets in the Navy—violence. Only difference is back then it involved using a shoe against the side of the machine (usually the right side)—a swift kick. Boots got a better result sometimes. I did have to modify this method though. My new technique was to simply drop the mouse on its “head” from about five feet (1-1/2m) onto a ceramic tile floor. Pop! Parts fly everywhere, so be ready to do some sweeping to get them all back; some of them could be essential.

After checking out how these things are put together, I found a much kinder way to get inside. All you need is a thin knife blade and a modified Phillips screwdriver. I tore into the scroll ball mystery box and marveled at its clever construction, then took all the incredibly teeny parts out and washed them in degreaser. I lost a couple of parts in this process, but determined that I could live without horizontal scrolling to the left (never used), and put it all back together. Four drops of Krazy Glue made everything whole again. I repeated the whole process (sans the floor drop and parts loss) on the other mouse and got it working too.

Parting-out mice isn’t totally new to me. When daughter Hilary was a little kid, the family dog brought home a prize he had just killed, a ground squirrel. With an X-Acto knife, we parted it out as an anatomy lesson. We couldn’t make it work again, though; we must have lost some parts.


hhhorses said...

And remember when we put the mouse in the vacuum chamber? (Oh wait, that was just a nefarious thought, we didn't actually do it... it was tempting after it went "skrikky skrikky skrikky skrikky skrikky" all night up in the corner where it couldn't be hit with a thrown object...)

We don't have mice here, though I do use my Wacom tablet on occasion. We both have laptops, and their touch-sensitive track pads negate the necessity for mice. The kangaroo rats and chuckwallas are another matter, however.

Tom Hurley said...

The mouse in the vacuum chamber—I had forgotten our fiendish plot. Trouble is, we never caught one alive and dead ones just wouldn’t have much entertainment value. Especially after the cat was done with them.