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New toy

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I got a new toy!

After a week of my venerable old mouse (a cheap Logitech Wheel Mouse, specifically) missing clicks and accidentally dropping items in the wrong place due to a failing button 1, I decided that it was time to retire it and buy a new mouse. I was gonna just buy an identical replacement when I saw that my local CompUSA had those new shiny silver IntelliMouse Explorers. Well, I couldn't resist the thought of a mouse with no ball and cool red lighted ground-effects, so I plonked down my cash.

So far, I'm really happy with it. Here are the pro's and con's I've found so far. . .


  • It's big. Really big. Bigger than their white mouse and a lot bigger than my dinky little Logitech. When you've got huge hands like mine, it really feels good.
  • The wheel is excellent. It's similar to the old wheel, but they molded little grooves into it, so it's easier to flick with your finger. The old mouse wheels got slippery if your fingers were wet.
  • The driver software is much better than the old wheel-mouse software. In the past, I had set up the Logitech software on Shelly's computer (which had the Microsoft wheel-mouse). The old Microsoft software limited all of the cool wheel scrolling capabilities to Internet Explorer and Office, while the Logitech software could use it pretty-much everywhere. The new software now allows wheel scrolling everywhere. So far, it appears to be every bit as good as the Logitech software.
  • The movement is superb. It had a little trouble with my old plastic Ouija-board mouse pad. I dumped that and tried it on my plain white desktop, and it works very nicely. Their optical technology really works. The mouse-pad industry's gonna feel the pinch if these things catch on :)
  • I'm never gonna have to clean a mouse again!
  • The color. Actually, I don't know if it's really a pro, but it cracked me up when I finally figured out what it looks like. It's sort of a satiny primer-gray. After looking at it for a while and trying to place where I'd seen the mouse before, I figured it out. It's exactly the same color as a TRS-80!

To quote my wife, "you've finally come full-circle" :)


  • The ground-effect lights aren't as cool as I'd hoped. The tail-light glows bright red, but you can't really see the glow under the rest of the mouse unless you have the lights off.
  • The buttons aren't as stiff as I like. I usually rest my fingers on the buttons while I'm mousing around. It seems a bit easy to accidentally press 'em.
  • They're expensive ($75). On the good side, though, their driver software shows that they're coming out with an standard mouse soon. From the picture, it looks exactly like their standard "melted dove bar" mouse, except it's got the tail-light.

Finally, this mouse is USB, and includes a USB-to-mouse port convertor plug. There isn't a 9-pin serial option for it, and it doesn't look like there will ever be. Looks like the old serial mouse has finally gone the way of the dodo.

On the games front, I've decided to make a new bitmap object that'll solve all of my ills. Basically, all bitmaps are gonna be an identical bit-depth (either the screen depth or a set depth you choose). As you load bitmaps out of resources, they'll be converted to the standard bit depth. This will make things like bitblt's much faster and easier.

I also figure that this way, I can support several different screens just by distributing a different resource-only DLL with the game. For example, I could have three different DLL's for 2-bit grayscale, 4-bit grayscale, and 8-bit color screens. The games could work with any of the DLL's, simply converting the bitmaps to the standard bit depth as they are loaded.

This'll also be handy for people who are trying to save on memory. If you've got a cool color handheld, but you don't wanna spare a lot of memory for games, you can just use the (presumably much smaller) 2-bit DLL. The games will be B&W, but they'll work just like the color versions.

If it seems like I'm really over-planning things, I am. I plan to re-use the hell out of 'em.
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