Scalpel! Superglue! This mouse won't fix its own ball

Desk detritus baffles even the brainiest of boffins

Who, Me? Hurrah! A fresh week awaits! Who knows what delights lurk within. One thing is for sure, it all starts with a tale from the Who, Me? mailbag.

Today's story comes from "Dave" (no, definitely not his name) who was working for a small software and hardware consultancy. "Every engineer," he said, "was either a computer science or electronic engineering graduate."

The place was potentially a support nightmare. "No two PCs in the company had the same configuration," Dave explained, "and just about everyone ran them with the cover off, to make swapping out boards easier, or for access to test points."

This being the early 1990s, wired rodents were appearing on desks: mechanical things with rubber-covered balls to direct pointers on desktops. The wireless optical devices of today were a distant dream for many back then.

However, make-do-and-mend was also still a thing, and being populated with clever graduates from the sciences, there wasn't too much support needed. People liked to try and solve their own problems.

And it was over to the desk of one of those clever people, performing open heart surgery on a mouse, that Dave wandered.

The unfortunate device had been flipped over. Its cover was off, and its ball removed. The boffin was poking around inside with a scalpel and had a tube of superglue to hand.

"Whatcha doin'?" asked Dave.

"My mouse has been missing movements," was the response, "and when I looked inside, the little rubber O-ring thing has come loose, and I'm trying to glue it back in place"

Dave had never seen an O-ring in a mouse, "but sure enough," he said, "on the encoder shaft, just next to where the ball should contact it was a little shiny black rounded bead, with a wall thickness of maybe half a millimetre at its thickest point."

The science graduate had decided that its purpose was to improve traction between mouse ball and encoder shaft.

It wasn't.

"He was trying to glue in place all the crud and grease picked up from his desk surface, polished to a high sheen by constant movement."


Ever had to deal with a situation for which the only solution was a new hardware and a pack of wet wipes? Or are you of the generation that could call "new balls please!" when a mouse packed up? Let us know with an email to Who, Me? ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Running Windows 10? Microsoft is preparing to fire up the update engines

    Winter Windows Is Coming

    It's coming. Microsoft is preparing to start shoveling the latest version of Windows 10 down the throats of refuseniks still clinging to older incarnations.

    The Windows Update team gave the heads-up through its Twitter orifice last week. Windows 10 2004 was already on its last gasp, have had support terminated in December. 20H2, on the other hand, should be good to go until May this year.

    Continue reading
  • Throw away your Ethernet cables* because MediaTek says Wi-Fi 7 will replace them

    *Don't do this

    MediaTek claims to have given the world's first live demo of Wi-Fi 7, and said that the upcoming wireless technology will be able to challenge wired Ethernet for high-bandwidth applications, once available.

    The fabless Taiwanese chip firm said it is currently showcasing two Wi-Fi 7 demos to key customers and industry collaborators, in order to demonstrate the technology's super-fast speeds and low latency transmission.

    Based on the IEEE 802.11be standard, the draft version of which was published last year, Wi-Fi 7 is expected to provide speeds several times faster than Wi-Fi 6 kit, offering connections of at least 30Gbps and possibly up to 40Gbps.

    Continue reading
  • Windows box won't boot? SystemRescue 9 may help

    An ISO image you can burn or drop onto a USB key

    The latest version of an old friend of the jobbing support bod has delivered a new kernel to help with fixing Microsoft's finest.

    It used to be called the System Rescue CD, but who uses CDs any more? Enter SystemRescue, an ISO image that you can burn, or just drop onto your Ventoy USB key, and which may help you to fix a borked Windows box. Or a borked Linux box, come to that.

    SystemRescue 9 includes Linux kernel 5.15 and a minimal Xfce 4.16 desktop (which isn't loaded by default). There is a modest selection of GUI tools: Firefox, VNC and RDP clients and servers, and various connectivity tools – SSH, FTP, IRC. There's also some security-related stuff such as Yubikey setup, KeePass, token management, and so on. The main course is a bunch of the usual Linux tools for partitioning, formatting, copying, and imaging disks. You can check SMART status, mount LVM volumes, rsync files, and other handy stuff.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022