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The StartX Files: When Musophobia is a Way of Life

Feeling the Caress of the Warm Mouse in My Hand

March 27, 2001

In the few weeks since I stopped writing about window managers, I have gotten scads of e-mail messages about the ones I missed.

"Dood," they typically begin, "what about [insert window manager here]? It rox!"

Some of the less charitable ones start out with: "Dood! What about [insert window manager here]? It rox! Your column sux!"

I could spend an entire column on why this recent usage of the letter "x" in the place of "cks" is really annoying. If you are going to take the time to write a missive to someone who writes for a living, then at least do us the courtesy of writing out the entire word as spelled in the dictionary. My column sucks.

That being said, I have been looking at the window managers out there that were not covered in the original alphabetical run of window manager reviews I did. And by golly, there are quite a few that I did not list.

So, starting next week, I'll be starting another round of examinations again, delving into even more esoteric window managers like ratpoison, ion, and foXdesktop.

On first glance, I have already noted a pattern in many if these window managers. For some reason, several of them seem to go out of their way to eliminate or reduce the need for the mouse.

Critics of the mouse device are quick to point out the time that's wasted in picking up your hand, moving the hand to the mouse, moving the mouse across the mouse pad, clicking something, and then moving your hand back to the keyboard to start typing again.

Like sheep, these critics say, mouse users are content to go about their daily computer lives doing nothing but repeating this useless repetitive motion over and over again. Sure, like we want to keep hitting the backspace key until it's worn down to a nub.

Still, I'd like to think there is some merit to this position. As a writer, I have fallen victim to the perils of repetitive motion stress. I have a natural keyboard (not made by Microsoft, thanks very much) that I must use to type anything over a few pages. If not, my wrists really start to ache, I get cranky, and then next thing you know there's flamebait out there for everyone to warm their collective rear-ends on.

So if there is something to this no-mouse argument, I am perfectly willing to give it a go.