Fly Your Linux Box by Gyromouse
Let's talk about in-air technique. I should have had the video camera going the first time I picked up the Gyromouse--I definitely was a geek looking doofy. I picked up the mouse and squeezed the trigger button. I started waving the thing around, and the cursor went from one side of the screen to the other. It was a little tough to move the cursor and then release the trigger.
After a few minutes I got the hang of it. Double-clicking the trigger keeps the move function engaged, but don't unleash this feature in a presentation unless you've practiced for a while. Everyone in the audience will think you've had 14 cups of coffee, because the cursor will be shaking all over the place.
The best way I've found to use the Gyromouse in-air is to hold the mouse in my right hand (I'm right-handed) and brace it against my right hip, with my thumb and pinky finger resting lightly against my hip bone. I then can hold the trigger button down and swivel the mouse in the direction that I want the cursor to go. I also can release the trigger at the end of the stroke, move my wrist back to the beginning position, pull the trigger and move again if I need to go further. At the same time, my thumb can click the left or right button and spin the wheel, without too much effort.
Using the mouse on the desktop is natural, like any other optical desktop mouse, except that you absolutely don't miss the mouse cable. Now that you're up to speed on setting up and using the Gyromouse, let's see how we can use it effectively on your Linux machine.
By far, the best use of the Gyromouse is during OpenOffice.org presentations. Doing presentations while un-tethered from the laptop gives the presenter much more opportunity to connect with his audience.
During a recent presentation for AITP (Association of Information Technology Professionals), I found myself running my show from the middle of the room at the projector table. I didn't want to stretch a huge VGA cable across the floor to the lectern, so I had the laptop sitting on the table with the projector. This setup made it hard to face the audience all at once, however. Sure, I was out there in the audience, but for part of the time my back was to one section or another. Fortunately, the audience was gracious and didn't grumble much. This kind of problem is no more, now that I can take the mouse and keyboard anywhere in the room.
Don't forget that geek appeal factor during a technical presentation. People generally look at presenters as experts. Believe me, using cutting-edge technology, such as the Gyromouse, absolutely enhances the expert image.
How does it work for everyday Web browsing? As a writer, I scan many, many Web pages during the day searching for things. I read daily news sites, vendor pages, other articles and so on. Anything that can speed up the process means I can get down to my real job--writing.
Using the Gyromouse makes life much easier when I have to cruise through all those pages. The in-air mousing capability reduces my movements as opposed to pushing a regular mouse around the desktop, and it lets me fly through pages at twice my normal speed.
The product is right at home on the desktop. It is completely optical and senses patterns on whatever surface the mouse happens to be sitting. When you need to go airborne, simply pick it up and it automatically starts moving the cursor when you pull the trigger button. It is a little awkward at first, mousing in air and clicking with the thumb and then mousing on the desktop and clicking with the finger, but you get used to it.
I've even started using the compact keyboard with my laptop. It sounds funny, but I like the feel of the Gyromouse keyboard much better than my old laptop keyboard. Plus, it lets me back away from the LCD a little bit. Now that I'm over 40, doing this helps me focus on the screen better. It's also easy to put the keyboard on my lap and lean back in my chair.
Another way I've effectively used the Gyromouse is with x2x, my laptop and two other Linux lab machines. x2x lets you use one keyboard and mouse to control all three machines, kind of like an X-based KVM. Simply wave/roll the mouse over to the left monitor and you have control of that screen. Wave/roll it to the middle monitor and you can type there. The same goes for the right-hand monitor. Couple that setup with the wireless Gyromouse/keyboard combination, and a sysadmin could clear two keyboards and mice off his or her desk. You even could work standing up for a change of pace. And I haven't even started exploring the possibilities with multi-headed displays.
For you war drivers out there, the Gyromouse works pretty well in the car, because it doesn't need a surface to roll around on. The only drawback I've had is that when I put it down to punch on the keyboard, it sometimes moves the cursor as the optical sensors become active.
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