This article is more than 1 year old

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? ®

More about

More about

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like