I Finally Threw My Apple Mighty Mouse Across the Room

For software developers, the new Intel Macs are the best thing since sliced bread. And someday maybe I’ll write a blog post listing all the reasons why. Of course, Apple has already highlighted some of the reasons in their ads, including that it has all the power of *nix and can run Windows software. Who can turn down a combo like that? (But some of Apple’s ads stretch the truth, at best. For example, my Mac crashes about as often as a Windows box.)

When I struck out on my own last November, I got a MacBook Pro to develop software with. And ever since then, I’ve had everything I’ve needed right at my fingertips. And I’ve been generally happy with my purchase.

(Except Firefox sucks CPU. Literally. As I use it, it consumes more and more CPU. Right now, just sitting quiescent, it uses about 80% of half a 2.33 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo. The phenomenon does not depend on which websites I’ve been viewing, which extensions I have installed, or which version of Firefox I’m using. No other application does this. Ugh. Hold on a sec… [sound of Firefox being killed and restarted] There. That’s a little better. Just killing Firefox, restarting, and restoring the session drops its CPU usage to 12%. Still a little higher than a quiescent web browser should be using, but much better than 80%.)

When I bought my MacBook Pro, I also got an Apple wireless Mighty Mouse. It was–and still is–a très cool design. The wheel scrolls right-left as well as up-down, and it has 3 buttons on the top as well as a fourth “squeeze” button on the sides. It worked well, until…

What they didn’t tell me in the store was that it would probably break after only a few months. I use my MacBook’s track-pad for most of my computing, because I keep the mouse in my home office. When I take the laptop on the road–or even just to the living room–I use the track-pad. The mouse is much easier to use, but the track-pad is more mobile. Maybe it was because I use it so infrequently, but it did last for more than just a few months.

Then I started having trouble with my mouse’s scroll-wheel. It would stick sometimes, as if the CPU were just too overloaded to scroll the video smoothly. Then about 6 months after I bought it, the scroll-wheel stopped working correctly. I could scroll up, but I couldn’t scroll down. And when I tried to scroll side-to-side, it would instead scroll up and down. At first, I thought it might be a weird software problem. But some research proved it was a hardware problem.

On Apple’s website, I read reviews by customer after customer, all complaining that their scroll wheels developed similar problems after only a few months. Oddly enough, all of these reviews appear now to have disappeared from Apple’s website, including the review that I myself left. (What? Aren’t they interested in my opinion on their product?) Actually, the reviews probably all disappeared when Apple quietly released its new version of the Mighty Mouse, even though they don’t appear to have improved the scroll-wheel design.

So you can’t read about it at Apple’s site anymore. But you can read similar reviews at Amazon, such as:

I loved my wired Mighty Mouse until the scroll ball just wouldn’t work any longer…

I know that some people said that the scroll button stops working after a few months, but I think that has to do with the way it is used, i.e. with dirty fingers… [except I’ve never used it with dirty fingers, and it still stopped working]

After only a month of use, the scroll ball can go in any direction but down, and there’s no apparent way to clean it out…

There are MANY reports on apple’s store website (in the might mouse reviews) of the scroll button going out within months. For a seventy dollar mouse, this is ridiculous…

As I said, there are no reports–pro or con–on the Apple store website anymore. But that part about needing to replace a $70 mouse every few months because the scroll-wheel gets dirty and there’s no way to clean it…

Actually, Apple does have instructions on how to clean your Mighty Mouse:

Use a clean lint-free cloth lightly moistened with water. Wipe the ball and the surrounding area, making sure to rotate the ball itself to ensure complete coverage. If the scrolling feels rough or if the scroll ball isn’t scrolling up, down, or side-to-side, hold the mouse upside-down and roll the ball vigorously while cleaning it to help dislodge any particles that may have collected on the internal hardware.

Uh… Seems like a pretty ridiculous cleaning procedure for a mouse. Besides, I’m not used to my mouse’s scroll wheel becoming dirty, and i am used to opening up the mouse and cleaning off any dirty parts inside, which I can’t do with this mouse. Trust me, I tried. But I was desperate, and no one was looking. So I turned the mouse upside down, and I whipped the ball back and forth and up and down with a clean moistened cloth.

And it actually worked… For a couple more months. Then I did it again. And it kept it working for a little longer. Until the wheel broke again. And so forth. Until today, when it stopped working and wouldn’t fix. I’ve owned this thing for not even a year. (On my other computer, I have an old mechanical-ball mouse from the days before there were scroll wheels, and it still works like a champ.) I got so fed up with the Mighty Mouse–and the vigorous cleaning of the ball didn’t help–I finally grabbed the dang thing, clenched my teeth, and pitched it across the room at about 100 MPH.

On the bright side, now it’s open and I can clean it. However, one of the delicate flexible interconnects inside ripped in the process, and so it’s dead. I’ve killed it. Seeing that it was already dead, I took the opportunity to crush it like a giant cockroach between my fists. (I hate cockroaches.)

Was the Mighty Mouse worth $70. Only because I got a good blog post out of it. But I ain’t doing it again.

So, can anyone recommend a good Bluetooth mouse with a 2-dimensional wheel?