Backwards Technology

Why do technologies sometimes go backwards?

Take the humble mouse. Years ago they had three useful buttons. Then they
dropped down to two and got scroll wheels.

There have been exciting forays into side-buttons, built-in rollerballs, mice
that accept gestures or squeezes and of course there was the truly terrible
mighty mouse which only had one button but was supposed to detect when you were
trying to use it as a two-button. It never worked and I threw mine away.

Why not just give it two fucking buttons?

Anyhow, the world seemed to have settled on the two-button scroll-wheel mouse.
Probably becuase it worked and if you missed the third button that badly you
could use the scroll wheel to click with. The truth is though that most apps
were built for windows which required.. two buttons and no more.

There was still the issue of getting crap stuck round your mouseball but that
was soon resolved by the optical mouse which didn’t even need a ball and shortly
after this they got rid of the mouse-cord as well! No more constant drifting to
the right because there’s 2M of mouse-cable hanging off your desk.

I naively thought we’d reached the pinnacle in mouse technology until last week
when I went to buy a new one.

All the optical mice have moved from infra-red to laser in order to increase
mouse accuracy. Unfortunately this has had the slight drawback of reducing the
number of surfaces it will work on.

You can’t use a laser-based mouse on a mirrored or glass surface, it’s actually
LESS accurate on fabrics and seems to me to just be fiddling for the sake of it.
Even a 40 year old ball-mouse will work on my kitchen worktop but will the brand
new logitech v350 I just spent £30 on? Will it fuck!

Why is it in the human nature to invent problems just for the sake of solving
them? Can’t someone get to work on a pair of hover-boots or something instead of
adding useless shit to the things we already have?

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