Sunday, July 7, 2013

One step forward, One step back

Recently, the inventor of the mouse prototype, Douglas Engelbart died. While there have been many eulogies, obituaries and praises stating that the mouse was the best invention after the computer, I beg to disagree.

Though, it cannot be refuted that the mouse is one of the iconic inventions ever, which almost changed the perspective of a computer, with GUI coming in, made it more user-friendly to the common man, I am going to take the computer geek's perspective here to stand on saying that the mouse is overrated.

Moving one's hand back and forth between the keyboard and mouse? Few things can be more irritating than it. It is funny how Microsoft had to develop a game called 'Solitaire' to make people understand the concept of 'drag and drop'. Who needs the middle button when you have space and shift+space? Page up and page down? Who needs left click when you have Enter? Who needs right click when you have the 'drop down list' key ( the one between right Alt and Ctrl ).

An online experience such as filling out a form, or a list, is almost twice as fast, using keyboard alone than keyboard+mouse. But again all this, this comes from a computer undergrad, who sits in front of the computer almost 12 hours a day, meaningfully during weekdays, and meaninglessly and aimlessly so, during the weekend. Maybe my hands are tuned towards using the keyboard better.

For me, the fundamental reason for moving away from Facebook is the absence of extensive keyboard shortcuts. Just 'L' and 'C' won't do, man! We need better. Twitter and GMail have recognized the potential of keyboard shortcuts and the speed one can achieve with them and have an amazing range of keyboard shortcuts.

All said, I don't hate the computer mouse, I just don't think it deserves the hype that it gets. Especially from the opportunistic pseudo intellectuals who scroll away everyday and come to praise it on the day of demise of its founder alone.

RIP Douglas Engelbart.Your contribution made the computer experience better to the common man.