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Why Apple's Mighty Mouse is like the Apple III


If you're old enough to remember the fiasco that was the Apple III, you may know what I'm talking about. The Apple III was supposed to be Apple's business computer. It flopped, in part because Steve Jobs demanded no fans were to be used in cooling the beast. The result? The machine would overheat, loosen the solder used to hold chips in place, and the machines became legendary for their craptacular performance. The fix by Apple was to hold the machine a few inches off the table, and let it go, making gravity jam those chips back into place. Nice huh?

Well Apple's done it again with the so-called "Mighty" mouse. Their 3 or 4-button wonder is great, as long as you don't get hooked on using the little scrollball. Never mind the fact that you can't move in X and Y directions at the same time (as you can using 2-finger trackpad scrolling)-- the trackball is a piece of junk. I mean, the build quality is nice (just like those Apple III's had heavy-duty aluminum chassis), but after about a month of frequent use, the thing gets jammed with gunk, making it largely unusable. And yes, I wash my hands regularly...

Apple's fix? Here's the parallel to Apple III: the fix sucks. You can't remove the ball, so you really never can get inside the mouse to properly clean it out. Apple's own KB on cleaning the Mighty mouse says, "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." You know, I'm getting tired of doing this every week, just to use a mouse. Apple's innovation is legendary, but sadly, they have lately been innovating new annoyances. From 3rd-gen iPod batteries, to breaking iTunes 7 to locking up the Finder, Apple's having a run of small but glaring mistakes in their otherwise newly-untarnished reputation. Or maybe I expect too much in the age of commoditized computing?

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