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2,001 Tips

Two Mice Are Better than One

Whether you share your PC with a left-handed user or just get tired of using the same old mouse all the time, you can double dip on your input device choices. Attaching one device to your serial port and one to your PS/2 port lets you switch between trackball and mouse or left- and right-handed devices without unplugging and replugging. Note that both devices need to support the same drivers (for example, Microsoft Mouse), or you'll have to switch drivers. To change drivers, go to Control Panel/Mouse and exchange the driver by clicking on the Change button under the General tab.

Take a Stroll with AutoScroll

The newest Windows 95 applications from Microsoft, including Office 97 and Internet Explorer 3.0, support autoscrolling. In these apps, if you click the middle button of any three-button mouse, you can scroll through your document just as if you had hit the Down arrow on the right side of the screen. In the future, some non-Microsoft programs will also support this feature.

Pick a Port

Although you can connect your serial port to either COM1 or COM2, Microsoft suggests that you pick COM1 whenever possible. Windows locates and services the mouse more quickly on this port, although either will work.

Conspicuous Cursor

Use the options in the Control Panel/Mouse menu wisely, and you'll always be able to spot your cursor easily. The newest Microsoft Mouse software, IntelliPoint 2.0, provides a number of options to improve the visibility of your cursor. Engage the Mouse Trails option so that your cursor looks like several arrows in a row when you drag it across the screen. The Sonar feature shows the location of your cursor by enclosing it in a circle when you press the Ctrl key.

Rest Your Wrists

Add a wrist rest to your mouse pad to help avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. Choose a pad that is separate from the mouse pad so you can adjust the pad and the rest independently for the best fit. Never choose a wrist rest with a prominent front edge, since that can compress sensitive nerves.

Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

Do your mouse a favor and clean it regularly. Whenever moving the mouse seems slow or rough, it's time for a brush-up. Turn off your PC, unplug the input device from the system and remove the ball (you can do this by turning the cover over the ball counterclockwise). Clean the ball itself with a mild detergent and wipe it dry with a lint-free cloth. Clean dust and lint from the ball cage using a cotton swab. For hard-to-free grime, use a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab. Then you're ready to reassemble and get back to mousing.

Location Is Everything

Try to place your mouse so that your arms and hands are in a comfortable, relaxed position. Your forearms should be parallel to the floor and your wrists and hands should be in line with your forearms. The best height for your mouse is 26.5 inches, rather than the 29 inches of the traditional desktop.

Stay Off Skid Row

Look for a mouse pad with a natural rubber base to avoid skids. Either cloth or plastic pads work well; it's a matter of personal taste. If you choose a cloth pad, look for one that is decorated with sublimation (a permanent die process) rather than with a raised silk screen that can wear off. A plastic pad should be textured so it's not too slick.

You Deserve a Break Today

Don't sit at your computer for hours at a time. A full day of pounding at the keyboard and clicking on the mouse can leave you with sore wrists and aching back. Get up and walk around or switch to a non-computer task every few hours to avoid a build-up of stress and strain.

Mouse Snaps to Attention in NT

Enable the "snap to default" feature in Windows NT 4.0 to make your mouse pointer automatically hover over any dialog box buttons that appear. To do this, go to the Motion tab of the Mouse Control Panel. Enable the check box that says "Snap mouse to the default button in dialogs," and your mouse comes running when you need to click on a button.

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