What are your favorite pointing devices? Mouse? Touch pad? Stylus? J-key? Track ball?


I like computer mouses just fine, even the old-fashioned kind that grandma used to use. No, not really. I doubt that my grandparents would have had much use for any kind of mouse. But some of us who are grandparents have used one-button computer mouses such as the early Macintosh ones.


I have liked the mouses with two buttons, with scroll wheels, with three buttons. I have liked optical mouses going back to when they came with smooth pads with grid patterns so they had something to read. I don’t care much whether they are cabled or wireless.


So far my all-time favorite computer pointing device has been the large trackball that was a third-party device for my Atari ST1040.


That had to be a while ago! The Atari 1040ST was called ST for Sixteen. Bits, that is. The 1040 meant 1 meg of memory. The chip was a Motorola 6000, same one used in a Mac back then, but utilized much better. The GUI interface was GEM, and the machine boasted TOS in ROM.


What I just said was that the operating system was in the read-only memory. Before that I said that there was a graphical user interface, back in the days when most computers other than Macintoshes were using DOS, the disk operating system by Microsoft that had a command line interface (shudder). I forget what GEM stood for, but it was an early graphical interface that I liked very much. It looked fine on the Atari’s monochrome monitor.


That track ball pointing device actually utilized a billiard ball in a cradle. There were buttons on the cradle, for clicking. The ball itself, obviously fairly large and heavy, was spun by using all the fingers on top and sides. It was wonderfully easy to control, and very fast.


Usually I tether a notebook mouse to a notebook or laptop computer. I just prefer using them, although there are some notebooks that have pretty decent touch pads.


There is one pointing device I find highly portable and quite useful: my right forefinger. Some of you use your left; that’s fine, too. For eons human forefingers pointed at various objects or gestured for emphasis, pushed buttons, picked noses. More recently they have become computer devices, moving cursors and selecting and opening files or launching programs. With Windows 7 and some other OSs they have teamed up with thumbs to perform pinching or spreading gestures and move text and objects on the screen.


Now the human forefinger can use almost any likely surface to control a computer. It needs a Celluon Evomouse to do so.


Supposedly the mouse has EVOlved to become this superior kind of critter. It does not look like a rodent, but vaguely resembles a small dog, maybe a Scotty. It has two green beams emanating from its “face,” and those read your finger movements on a surface near your computer, that the Evomouse can “see.”


The surface in front of the Evomouse becomes a virtual trackpad, as you move your forefinger (or sometimes that finger and the next one) on the surface. You can tap once or twice for clicks and double clicks. You drag, scroll, operate menus, move the mouse pointer or cursor wherever you would like.


There’s a built-in sensor. The “reader” takes very little space and doesn’t have to roam. It works with about any device that has Bluetooth HID support—Windows in all recent and current versions, Android, Palm OS, Symbian, RIM OS, but so far, not Macs running OS X.


Celluon also makes the Magic Cube, which projects a pretty normal appearing QWERTY keyboard onto a flat surface.


Evomouse and Magic Cube are starting to ship. The Evomouse is priced at $100, and the Magic Cube is $200.


I have seen demos, but have not tried the devices. But I would like one of each, for sure.