M. Giant's
Velcrometer
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks


Monday, September 07, 2009  

Track Down

There are so many tiny little things in this world you take for granted until they stop working properly. The little lens in your DVD player. Fuses in your car. Tear ducts. Neurons. Even tinier, more delicate things that I haven’t even had to think about yet but someday will when they inevitably break. And another new one: track sticks.

I’ve had this laptop for a little over two years now, and with a few hiccups it's worked brilliantly (now pardon me for a minute while I go back up everything on it). But it is subject to physical wear and tear. All of the letters are still visible, but the surfaces of the keys are getting shiny as the texture wears away. The scroll-lock key keeps trying to break free and escape, which is ironic for something that says "lock" right on it. And there's this hourly error message that I keep meaning to call the help desk about. These are essentially non-issues. But I don't know what to do about my track stick.

What I love about my laptop is that along with our home wi-fi, it allows me to hang out in any room in the house (or even outside) while doing work. Many pleasant hours have I spent sprawled on our bed tapping away while Trash works on her own computer, kiss-blowing distance away. But it doesn't make sense to use a mouse in this position, so I don't. That's what track sticks are for, right?

But then the other night I made the mistake of doing some editing work that required a lot of cut-and-pasting. After a while, I noticed that the cursor wasn't traveling as quickly or as fluidly as it used to. I think what gave it away was that as I was waiting for the little arrow to travel from one side of the screen to the other, I got up, went to the bathroom, made a sandwich, ate it, and went to the bathroom again.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the little rubber cap, which has been losing its tiny little bumps for some time now, was actually beginning to crack. So what do I do now? I've fixed letter keys before without difficulty (whatever that scroll-lock key I may or may not have partially cannibalized might like you to believe), but I have no idea how to even get at this, let alone fix it. Do I need to go to back to Hacker-Mart and find a big bin of track-sticks to root around in? Or do they just have a track-pole that I can whittle the end off and take home with me? I seriously have no idea.

The laptop is equipped with a track pad as well, but I'm not so great at using that. Or maybe it's that it doesn't work. I suppose I could spend some time practicing clicking and dragging with it, but something tells me that hours of doing that would only result in the discovery that it's not really designed for that. Or I'd finally get the hang of it seconds before wearing it down to the point where my thumb goes through it. In fact, I even had another joke here until I accidentally stuck it into an e-mail to my boss (don't worry, I don't think it was a joke about him).

In the meantime, I suppose I could always get into the habit of carrying my mouse around with me when I compute at large. I can easily imagine reaching down next to my hip to click and scroll. Or, alternately, I could just keep a spare mouse and pad in my bedside table and plug it in when I work on the bed.

I think I'm going to hold off, though, until I've determined whether it's geekier to fix my own track stick or keep a mouse in every room.

posted by M. Giant 12:00 AM 2 comments

2 Comments:

Or you could spend $8.73 on new TrackPoint caps.
http://www.amazon.com/IBM-73P2698-Trackpoint-Cap-Collection/dp/B0001CLYL6

By Blogger MailDeadDrop, at September 7, 2009 at 11:19 PM  

And a finepoint silver Sharpie works great when you need to re-etter a key!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 8, 2009 at 4:59 PM  

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