Another day, another random prediction

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

Sometimes it seems like everyone in the IT world thinks they’re a psychic – every other day there’s some headline declaring the imminent death or arrival of something computer related.

This time it’s the turn of the humble mouse.  Not the little rodent that goes squeak squeak, can’t stand cheese and craps in your cereal – the computer mouse, first developed by Xerox and a seemingly inseperable part of the computer system.  But if Gartner is to be believed, the mouse is facing extinction as new gesture and touch technology comes to the fore.  Hmmmmm.

Now, I have a Wii and that uses gesture technology of a sort.  It has a wireless controller and I can point and click at a button or image on the screen and by the miracles of modern technology it knows what I’ve clicked on.  It even knows what angle my hand was at, how far away I am from the TV and if I had the thing turned in my hand by a couple of degrees.  Pretty impressive stuff but the button I’m pointing at with my Wii remote is about 4 inches wide and a couple of inches high and even then I have to give the remote a wiggle to find out which edge of the screen the pointer has disappeared off and then herd it towards the button with my finger poised over the button to click when I veer over it.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the Wii interface (even if it’s a bit Mac-like) and for playing games it’s great but for clicking an icon on a desktop or a link on a webpage?  No, I don’t think so – not unless your desktop icons are the size of a Vista “extra large” picture thumbnail and your web browser is displaying everything in a 128pt font.

Touch is, perhaps, a more viable alternative.  I have a HTC Touch mobile phone and it works well despite the relatively small screen.  Even with my podgy fingers I can press buttons and menu items that are really quite small.  The software controlling the touch screen presumably centres on the middle of the area covered by my finger or thumb and makes the click happen where it figures out I intended to press.  But the monitor on my desktop PC is filthy already with various sets of fingerprints, handprints and sticky sweet residue (the kids use it, not me – honest) and it’s not a touch screen.  I don’t even want to guess how many virulent diseases are living in the crap that my hands, face and pocket leave on the screen of my phone.  How often do you fancy cleaning the shiny screen on your 21″ TFT?

The mouse works well because it’s an extention of your arm when you use it.  Your arm is resting on the desktop when you use it, keeping it stable.  Unless you have severe co-ordination problems (or no arms) you should be able to control a mouse fairly easily without wandering around the screen like you do with the Wii.  And if you have an optical mouse, you don’t even have to worry about sticky balls or dirty mouse mats, let alone a smudgy, fingerprint-covered touchscreen.

I appreciate that Gartner are professional analysts and no doubt the analyst who came up with this prediction is a technology expert.  I may not be an industry insider but I use a computer intensively all day, every day and unless someone comes up with a revolutionary new way for me to move that little arrow around the screen, my mouse will still be on my desk in 50 years time.

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