Control issues and dead mice :/>

By Christopher C. Happ
2004 All rights reserved

Not so very long ago—there was no mouse on my desk.  This was an invention of the 1980’s.  Windows 1.0 hit the shelves in November of 1985. 

Before that, DOS, (Disk Operating System) was king. It was conceived and used by IBM in the 1960’s. It was later licensed to Microsoft, where it was steadily improved and features like defrag and file compression were added   

I remember spending many hours learning DOS commands.  C:/dir/w: typed into the command line, would display a wide directory of the C drive, or A drive(A:/) after typing that command and hitting the Enter key.  To run what is now called error checking, you typed C:/chkdsk or chkdsk/f for fix when you were through with a session, you simply typed: exit —monitors were black and white or green—no pretty colors. No horrendous “blue screen of death”, to indicate that the system had crashed.  Instead you would see a series of insidious hexadecimal characters scrolling across the screen. 

I had a DOS command book that was thicker than the Los Angeles phone book.  This was in the days of those big-ass thin plastic floppy disks.  Computers did not yet have large hard drives, if they had them at all.

I was getting good; I had my big plastic disk organizer filled with different projects and programs.  If you wanted to use a program like WordStar or any of the early word processing software, you had to load it from a disk!

When Windows point and click came along, I was devastated!  Now any moron could use a computer, my stature as guru, would soon end!  There was even a time when you could get on the internet—then usually referred to as the worldwide web, by typing a command. Then there were a few bulletin boards, with crude graphics and listings for clubs or opinion. Actually the military had been using the worldwide web for decades before the home user had access.

Then those damnable mice came along.  Now there are many types, mechanical, optical, infrared, and cordless; oh that’s right, now it’s called wireless!  Somehow my cat knows that this black oval piece of plastic is a mouse.  He regularly beats the shit out of it, as evidenced by it hanging off the desk suspended only by its cord (tail), upon my arrival. 

Mechanical mice, the ones with the cool little super ball inside, have their problems.  Lint, cigarette ashes, cat hair and dirt all take their toll.  You will know when your mouse needs to be disassembled and cleaned because you will be forced to do the mouse -Watusi, based on an ancient dance, you must shake, rattle and roll the contraption, like a geek in the throes of St. Vitus Dance,until it will roll smoothly again.

Mine is about shot.  During one of my mouse-ball cleaning attempts, I must have broken off a small piece of something, because now, it works quite poorly. I find myself spinning the mouse in ever greater circles on the desk, like a crazed hip-hop D.J.  It is frustrating to say the least.  Being possibly the cheapest person on earth, I look for ways to fix it or live without it.  I thought back to pre-mouse days and realized that there are other navigation techniques available through the keyboard.  These long forgotten commands come in quite handy during a full-blown mouse crisis.

Looking up at the toolbar in Word, you may recall the Alt key.  Each menu heading: File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, Tools, Window and Help have an underlined letter.  If you depress the Alt key and then the corresponding underlined letter, the drop down menu appears under each heading.  I had forgotten about the function keys—F1-F12.  F7 will do a spell check for you.  Each drop down menu also has hints for the use of function keys and key combinations for the Alt, shift and Control Key.  Using these and the arrow keys and enter key, you can get most things done easily.  In Outlook Express the Control key can help out a lot.    Check this out.  Where you see a plus sign, it means you depress the first key while pressing the next key, when there is a comma you press the first key, then the second.

Here is a quick list for Outlook Express

Control= CTRL

CTRL + m = send/receive command

CTRL+Shift+b= address book

 CTRL +d= delete

CTRL,< =previous e-mail

CTRL,> = next e-mail

CTRL+ r=reply to sender

CTRL + N= New Message

CTRL + y= go to folder


And Word:

CTRL+P= print

CTRL +S=save

CTRL+A=select all



F7=spell check


You may already know this or perhaps you have forgotten.  When you experience a mouse melt-down you will thank me. 



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