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
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
44000 Old Warm Springs Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94538
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
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
Thanks a gain to the following:
email@example.com (Ted Whitely)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul A. Hepp)
email@example.com (Bill Heiser)
firstname.lastname@example.org (John F. Detke)
email@example.com (Craig Anderson)
sbe20!sbe1!felix@uunet.UU.NET (Felix Finch)
etnibsd!vsh@uunet.UU.NET (Steve Harris
firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Musgrave)
email@example.com (Jerry Springer)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Colin Macleod)
halsey!truman!alan@uunet.UU.NET (Alan J. Rothstein)
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