May 29, 2010

Apple Pro Mouse, Better Late Than Never

I call this: mac,tech — Posted by KP @ 3:39 am

This is an Apple Pro Mouse from 2002. It’s one of my favorite pieces of Apple hardware ever, in terms of design. It also happens to be a terrible mouse, even before you consider the fact that it only has one button and no scroll capability. That one button does have a wonderfully satisfying click, though.

Because I love it so much, despite its near-uselessness, I keep it as close as any spare mouse in my life, in a box under my desk, along with a Microsoft travel mouse (which is probably even older) which has two buttons and a scroll wheel, and is about as bad at tracking. These two very portable, very attractive mice are the ones kept at arm’s reach when a mouse is suddenly needed. My absolute favorite time to use it is when my PC is freaking out because one of my Razer gaming mice aren’t playing nice with the drivers. In my mind the conversation goes something like this.

PC: You have no mouse.
KP: Yes. I do.
PC: No you don’t.
KP: This is a $125 mouse. Why can’t you see it as a generic mouse without the driver?
PC: If your hardware is already connected, please install the driver provided by the manufacturer.
KP: That would be much easier with a mouse. Can’t I just use this one to select the file?
PC: This one what?
KP: This mouse that’s plugged in.
PC: You have no mouse. If you would like to install a mouse, click OK.
(rustling under desk)
(sound of USB connector sliding in)
Pro Mouse: Boom.
PC: Name?
Pro Mouse: Apple Pro Mouse connecting, please.
PC: (sigh) Um, OK. What do you do?
Pro Mouse: I have an X axis.
PC: Uh huh.
Pro Mouse: I have a Y axis.
PC: Uh huh.
Pro Mouse: I have a button.
PC: Is Button 1 a left-click, right-click, middle-click, or other?
Pro Mouse: I have a button.
PC: You have a button? That’s what you do, you have a button?
Pro Mouse: Yes.
PC: Are you lost?
Pro Mouse: Is this the PC that has a 7-button mouse connected and can’t see it?
PC: I don’t know anything about a 7-button mouse.
Pro Mouse: But you see me, yes?
PC: Yes. Your hardware is now configured and ready to use.
KP: Thank you.

Tonight I’m packing for the summer stock season, and having decided that any more gaming will be bad for my productivity, I’m packing my gaming supplies, including the mouse that drives not only my gaming PC, but my home entertainment Mac. So the Mac needs something to do the simple pointing and clicking involved in watching TV and ripping DVDs, so the Pro Mouse has been promoted for a few days.

This practice has been going on since, well, 2002, but I’ve never blogged about it before or properly honored the Pro Mouse, so here you go.

What I Learned Today: Apple Power Adapter Tricks

I call this: mac,tech — Posted by KP @ 1:24 am

My favorite part about my life at the moment is that pretty much every day, I learn something interesting. I’ve decided to share them in a new recurring feature. Interestingly, my first few attempts at this had to be aborted when, in doing additional research for my post, I learned that the exciting new information I had received was not actually correct!

The connector in the power brick of an Apple magsafe AC adaptor is the same as a standard appliance cord

As a stage manager, the situation in which you’d be most likely to encounter this piece of hardware would be plugged in to the back of a boom box you’re using in the rehearsal room, or one that keeps the crew entertained in the shop. It’s also pretty common as a component of most other computer and printer power cords (a lot of PCs have the power brick somewhere in the middle of the process, and then one of these cords that goes from the brick to the outlet). Apple is essentially doing the same thing, they’ve just disguised it as something attractive, but without ruining its compatibility with standard cables. Feel free to use this knowledge the next time somebody tries to get your goat by saying, “I don’t understand why Apple feels the need to make these proprietary accessories.”

I read about this in a Lifehacker tip, which I hope will get published. The tipster suggests that if you find yourself stuck somewhere (he was thinking of it as a way to save money on international power adapters), you go out and buy a cheap kettle or other appliance, and take the cord from that. But I’m thinking of it more in the situation of finding yourself in rehearsal and either not having your extension cord for the Mac and needing to stretch the cord farther, or you’ve lost or damaged the fold-up two-prong adapter that plugs into the power brick. In that case, there’s probably a device somewhere in the theatre or studio that you can borrow the cable from temporarily.

I’m usually pretty thorough in my preparations, and have the longer cord and the two-prong adapter with me all the time, but I pretty frequently end up needing to lend one or the other to a coworker. I can’t wait for the day I need to use this trick, either for me or someone else.