SUMMARY 2: Track-balls

From: Paul Hostrup-Jessen (smaug!
Date: Fri Jun 18 1993 - 07:24:01 CDT

Hello Sun-managers,

Since the previous summary concerning track-balls was sent out, I have received
further information - the replies were useful and plenty! Here are some more
hints for all of you:

1) We are currently using track-balls on ours sun workstations. You can
   talk to Tim Loring of Cad/Cam Resourses about getting a track-ball.
   The number is 508-650-4800.

2) A company called Mouse-trak makes one. Costs about 199.00 US. Tel US
   1-800-533-4822. In Denmark Tel: 42 80 42 00.

3) We are using MouseTrak track-balls with Sun/386i and IPX systems. They are
   advertised in various unix magazines, so you could get the contact
   information there.

4) Sorry to hear about the wrist pain, I'm going thru my own battle with Carpal
   Tunnel Syndrome (fancy medicine-speak for wrist pain and finger numbness).
   You may also wish to look at wrist pads for the keyboard, and lower tables
   to type on. There's LOTs of CTS & "ergonimic" literature over here that
   explains the "proper" typing body mechanics. We've a few trackballs from
   Logitech. I personally don't like them, but they seem well built (no
   problems in 2 years) and work fine with Sun3's and our sparcs.

5) We have a logitech opto-mechanical mouse on one of our stations, and the
   user loves it. I can't <bang> wait <bam> for my <crash> Sun optical mouse
   (pass the fuse) breaks :-)

6) I've got a trackball on my Tatung clone of an SS1+ or whatever. Address is

                ITAC Systems Inc.
                3121 Benton Street
                Garland TX 75042

   About $200, and worth it for me. I'd buy it again myself if I had to
   use a different computer and the company was too cheap.

   I program and use emacs mostly, sometimes FrameMaker (one of those fancy
   wordprocessors). I like the trackball better than the mouse. This particular
   one has a good sized ball which you can get to spinning, and I've gotten
   pretty good at just zapping toward a corner and let it spin on its own;
   some trackballs purposely have their balls embedded in molasses, and they
   don't coast at all, so you can do very fine movements I suppose, such as
   for CAD work maybe. I have no problem getting this one in the narrow cracks
   between windows or one window edges. It's also got a button to change it on
   the fly between the-faster-you-go-the-WAY-faster-the-arrow-goes and as-fast-
   as-you-go-is-exactly-as-fast-as-the-arrow-goes modes. The ball or one of it
   rollers or gears has developed a burr or dirty spot which sometimes (once a
   week?) bothers me for about 5 seconds, then it works loose. It has never
   lasted long enough for me to get bothered enough to take it apart and look

7) LogiTech makes a sun-compatible Trackball (actually a thumb-ball). They also
   make a sun-compatible mechanical mouse. Their (US) phone number is:

   415-795-8500 Logitech Inc.|6505 Kaiser Dr.|Fremont, CA 94555

8) Track-balls are available for SUN and other UNIX Workstations from
   Mouse-Trak. US Phone Number: (800) 533-4822.

9) There are indeed track balls for Suns. I am using one right now. Mine is from a company called MicroSpeed

   S-Trac for Sun Workstations by
   MicroSpeed, Inc.
   44000 Old Warm Springs Blvd.
   Fremont, CA 94538

   Another is
   MouseTrac by
   3121 Benton ST.

   There are others, I just can't think of them now.

10) I have a track-ball made by ITAC Systems Inc, 3121 Benton St., Garland,
    Texas 75042, USA, phone 214/494-3073, fax 214/494-4159. UK dealer is NTWare
    Ltd., 12 Horseshoe Park, Pangbourne, Berkshire RG9 7JW, phone 0800-526457
    (probably not usable from outside UK). I got this free in a prize draw at
    a Sun UK User Group meeting. I'll append the comments on it I wrote for the
    SUKUG magazine:

    When I've seen adverts for trackballs in the past I've looked on them
    as gimmicks, so when I won one in the SUKUG conference prize draw, I
    expected to play with it for a few days and then give it away to anyone
    else who was interested. However 7 weeks later I'm still using it
    and don't want to go back to my mouse.

    The "mouse-trak" is a plug-in replacement for the usual Sun optical
    mouse. However the plug is the mini-DIN style used on type-4 and
    type-5 keyboards, and the machine on my desk is only a Sun 3/50
    which had a type-3 keyboard which uses a different type of mouse connector.
    Luckily we just happened to have a redundant type-4 keyboard from
    a 3/280 which I could scrounge and plug in to my 3/50 so I could use
    the mouse-trak. I had a quick skim through the manual, found I didn't
    need to change anything else, and booted up.

    In use, it seemed strange at first. You rest the heel of your hand
    on a pad at the front of the box and your middle fingers then fall
    on top of the ball. The left and right mouse buttons are at each side
    of the ball and are easily reached. The middle button is slightly
    more awkward, lying in front of the ball, so you have reach down
    to it with your little finger. The layout is symmetrical, so left-handed
    use should be the same.

    I soon got used to the mouse-trak, and started to like it. Moving
    the pointer around the screen is done just with your fingers, which
    is more comfortable than waving your whole arm around the desk. To
    move from one side of the screen to the other you can spin the ball
    and brake it when the pointer gets near the target. I find click-and-drag
    operations much easier, because holding down a button with one finger
    is independent of rolling the ball with the others. With a Sun mouse
    it's too easy to let go the button at the wrong point, which can have
    unfortunate consequences if you're navigating a hierarchy of pull-right

    Occasionally the ball doesn't want to roll in a particular direction,
    perhaps because of slight irregularities on its surface, but if you
    twiddle it sideways a little it goes. There is a little toggle switch
    to "gear-down" cursor movement by a factor of 4 for more precise
    positioning, but I've never needed to use it. The mouse-trak occupies
    less space than the pad for an optical mouse, which is a definite plus
    if your desk gets as cluttered as mine usually is.

    In the academic world at present it might be difficult to justify
    spending #160 on buying a mouse-trak, since it's a substitute for something
    you've already bought, but if you have a richer employer (or get given one
    free !) I recommend trying it.

    After this was printed I got a phone call from the company telling me I
    really ought to be using my thumb to press the middle button and that
    using my little finger as I described might cause strain. It felt more
    natural to me though and I haven't changed yet.

    They also suggested that I unscrew the base occasionally and clean out
    any fluff or grit that might spoil the smooth movement.

11) We use the mouse-trac by Itac Systems Inc (214) 494-3073. We have them on
    Suns, Vaxstations, Macs and PC's. They are great, but a little pricey
    (~$180.00). I have seen several resellers advertising them. I can't work
    without mine.


Thanks a gain to the following: (Ted Whitely) (Paul A. Hepp) (Bill Heiser) (John F. Detke)
 spitpa! (Craig Anderson)
 sbe20!sbe1!felix@uunet.UU.NET (Felix Finch)
 etnibsd!vsh@uunet.UU.NET (Steve Harris (Michael Musgrave) (Jerry Springer) (Colin Macleod)
 halsey!truman!alan@uunet.UU.NET (Alan J. Rothstein)

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Fri Sep 28 2001 - 23:07:56 CDT