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A problem of mice

The Computer Corner

By Charles Miller

Recently I faced quite a challenge in helping one of my senior citizen clients who was experiencing great difficulty using her mouse. In spite of her best efforts, every time she tried to click using the mouse her finger would come down on the mouse wheel (and yes, you can actually click on the wheel) or she would right-click when she needed to left-click. To say this was frustrating is an understatement. Debilitating might be a better word. For a while it appeared there was no way to resolve this dilemma. My client could move the mouse but could not manage the clicks. Trying to use the touchpad on the laptop was even a bigger obstacle. Then I recalled a long-forgotten box of junk in a dusty corner of my closet.


In the last year of the 20th century, Apple Computer introduced their “Optical Pro Mouse.” I hated it! I hated the fact it cost almost US$100. I hated that Apple had obstinately clung to the outdated and stupid idea that a mouse should only have one button. Into the junk box it went. Hmmm … “One button” did I say? It does not take a degree in ergonomics to figure out where this story is going, does it? Suddenly a mouse with one button did not seem so stupid after all, and my client could no longer press the wrong mouse button. Still, not having a second mouse button means there are things she cannot do now, such as one web browser feature I use all the time.


Reading a news article in my web browser, I saw a word I did not recognize. In the old days I might have had to pull a dictionary from the bookshelf, but today my computer allows me to select the word with the left mouse button, then right-click on the word to bring up a special menu that includes “Search Google for …” Mac users will find the same menu in Safari, which says “Look up in dictionary.” So after using the left click to select the word and then using the right click to bring up “Search Google for… ,” the Google search page displayed a number of hits tailored to improve my vocabulary, including this one from Wikipedia:


“The word “magisterium” is derived from Latin magister, which means “teacher” in ecclesiastical Latin. It originally had a more general meaning and could designate president, chief, director, superintendent, etc., and was only rarely a tutor or instructor of youth. The noun magisterium refers to the office of a magister. Thus the relationship between magister and magisterium is the same as the relationship in English between “president” and “presidency.” Since the time of Pope Pius XII, the word “magisterium” has also been used to refer to the persons who hold this office.”


That is only one example of how useful the right mouse button can be. It concerns me just a bit that by using a one-button mouse, my client cannot easily use certain features as I just did. However, I would not be at all surprised to learn that she already knows the definition of magisterium without having to look it up.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at)


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