Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Magic Mouse and Ring Finger Solution

I use an Apple Magic Mouse and really do love it. I use Adobe InDesign CS4 for writing technical documents. I also have a ring finger. Each of these things works well by itself. Together, they don't work well. This is a typical systems engineering problem. Each part works as designed, but together they don't work well.
Now you are probably wondering why these three things don't work together - millions of people use mice, thousands of writers use InDesign, and almost all of the people on Earth have ring fingers. Let me explain.

  1. The Magic Mouse is so very, very cool because the entire surface is touch sensitive. It is very easy to use and allows you do things you could never do before with a mouse. For instance, many mice have had a little scroll wheel and OSes are designed to use the scroll wheel movement to scroll up and down inside a window. Some mice have little trackballs that allow you to scroll left or right, too. The Magic Mouse is almost like giving your fingers a trackpad on top of the mouse. Implementing a multiple button click function is simply a matter of the programming that determines where your finger is when you press. Very cool. Very habit forming. In just a few short weeks, my hand is already forgetting how to use older mice.
  2. Adobe InDesign is a very powerful publishing product. I've been using FrameMaker since 1987 and find that InDesign has many of the features I've use in FrameMaker, but is even more powerful and flexible. One of the interesting concepts in InDesign is the pasteboard. Your document sits atop the pasteboard. If you want to move a frame, text, image, or other object out of your document quickly, but without deleting the object, then you can just slide it over to the pasteboard beside the page. Only the objects on the page are printed or exported to PDF, so you can use the pasteboard to keep your miscellaneous collection of stuff very easily. The pasteboard is larger than your page, and by default adds about 8 inches to each side of your document. This means that your pasteboard for a letter sized document is around 24 inches wide. Since my screen is not 24 inches wide (is Santa listening? I'll be a good boy) the windows I use have horizontal scroll bars. For the most common case, the page is in the center of the scroll bar. I've spent a few hours trying to figure out how to make the pasteboard thinner, but none of the tricks work.
  3. My ring finger has a tendency to rest on the right side of the mouse while my index and middle fingers wander about the mouse top and click.
OK, so now you should be able to recognize the problem. My ring finger is interpreted by the Magic Mouse to do a horizontal scroll and InDesign extends the scrolling area by 60%, most of which is area I rarely use. In other words, while I'm working away, I get suddenly scrolled off into the blank area of the pasteboard. Since the document is in the middle, I have to scroll back to the center, which is harder to do than scrolling full left or full right.
The solution I've found is to put a small bit of painter's tape over the area where my ring finger rests. I could have used duct tape, and that would make a good joke, but I prefer the painters tape for now.

So far this is working well. A programmatic way to build dead spots on the Magic Mouse would be a useful feature. InDesign could allow me to control the horizontal size of the pasteboard. All of these programming changes are perhaps not difficult, but will also not be solved soon. For now I can be highly productive without having to horizontally scroll back to center on InDesign.
Now, about those deadlines...

1 comment:

  1. or try software MagicPrefs
    and, Configure scrolling like this:
    http://img243.imageshack.us/img243/937/screenshot20100511at235.png

    ReplyDelete