Date Published: 05 December 2008
I bought an Alienware laptop a few years ago as sort of a gift to myself after coming back home from Iraq. As it turned out,that computer didn’t actually last very long because of Alienware’s crappy support policy, but it did come with a Func Industries mousepad that I still use to this day. Let me tell you why.
Back in the day, I used to have time to play computer games, and I was a bit of a Counterstrike addict. I wasn’t the best or anything, but I had a lot of fun with the game. One thing that’s required for such First Person Shooter games is a decent mouse, and ideally a decent mousing surface. This is why Alienware, the self-proclaimed gamer’s computer manufacturer, was including a high-end mousepad with their multi-thousand dollar gaming laptop (not for free mind you – I paid for it).
Of course, it wasn’t long before work and family and life in general required me to cease my Counterstrike playing. As it happened, a hard drive crash in October 2005 (at a Findlay user group talk on Caching, no less) was the final nail in the coffin – I never reinstalled the game after that. But the mousepad had proven itself.
Seriously? A Mouse Pad?
Yes, seriously. No, this isn’t one of those foam POS mousepads designed for roller ball mice that ultimately just collects dust. The Func mouse pads are better. They’re two sided, with one surface having greater friction than the other and designed for use with old school ball mice. The other side (the one I use), is very smooth and most mice slip and slide over the surface with minimal drag. They’re also a bit larger than your typical $5 or less foam mousepad, and very thin. The pads I prefer come as two pieces – a rubber base and the pad itself (which is plastic and usually rigid). The rubber base keeps the thing from sliding around on your desk or table.
Aren’t Mousepads like, so 90s?
You might think so (I kind of did for a while), but it turns out that our new love affair with optical and (Mike Myers voice) “LASER” mice has the unfortunate consequence of making the mouse surface important. Here are some of the places where optical/laser mice tend not to work so well, for me:
- My desk at work – it’s faux wood from Staples/Bush and the mouse pointer jumps all over when used on it directly
- My glass covered kitchen table at home. It’s glass over wood. Duh, optical mice not so good.
- Every speaker lounge at conferences where there’s a cloth table cloth – mice move slowly on cloth, and often jump.
- Most hotel lobbies with glass table tops – very common. Stone/granite surfaces are also often bad.
- Hotel rooms – many have glass desks or glass tops over the tables/desk.
So, in all of these cases, it’s handy to have something to use as a mousepad. At conferences, that notepad you usually get in your attendee bag, or a magazine, can work in a pinch. But having a real mousepad is so much nicer if you’re trying to get any real work done. Every little annoyance is just one more distraction when you’re already not in an ideal work environment.
The Func mousepads travel very well. They’re rigid and a side benefit I’ve found with them is that they tend to keep my magazine or other papers from crumpling up so much in my bag when I travel, since the rigid pad keeps them flat. And the mousepads weigh almost nothing, so I don’t notice them in my bag.
In fact, I’m such a fan of these things that we recently ordered a bunch of them for Lake Quincy Media, both for our own staff to use and to ship to some of our partners as gifts. If you get one from us, let me know how you like it, and whether you agree with my enthusiastic approval of them or think I’m nuts for caring so much about what my mouse sits on.
Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing on code quality and Domain-Driven Design with .NET.