In the Forums...
Posted: October 1, 2000
Written By: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
This is one of those topics that we really haven't fully covered in any of our tweak guides - tweaking your peripheral devices. Peripheral devices, such as mice, keyboards, joysticks, and the like, are all important in one very significant way - they allow you to interface directly with the PC. And yes, this even includes the microphone. Either way, if you've just gotten a new peripheral and you want to get it working at peak efficiency from the start, or you've got some older input hardware that needs perking up, this is the place to look.
Believe it or not, these little devices have drivers of their own anymore. Particularly with mice, joysticks, and game pads (but not necessarily excluding specialty keyboards, sketch pads, etc…), drivers can mean the difference between "okay" and great performance - and occasionally whether or not they will function properly at all. Most of this kind of hardware also has special accompanying utilities to enable the extra features of the product (mouse wheel, extra buttons, etc.) that are very important. Grabbing these drivers and utilities is necessary for optimal performance. The best place to get the most up to date drivers for your peripheral devices are the manufacturers websites, but if you are having trouble finding the drivers you may want to check out windrivers.com.
Since the mouse is probably the most used peripheral device available for the computer, it is fitting that we spend at least a menial amount of time on it in the beginning of the article, don't you think? A few things need to be focused on when you are discussing optimal mousing performance - the first being cleaning. If you don't happen to be among the privileged elite with their optical mice, you (just like me) have to clean your mouse from time to time. Now, I'm not going to go into that here - Dan has written a wonderful article on the subject (which you can read here), and I've also written about the subject in my system-cleaning how to guide - but it is important that you do it to keep your mouse working at peak efficiency.
Another thing you need to take into account is your mousing surface - the better the surface, the more responsive your mouse will be. Now, companies like Everglide and Ratzpadz make excellent mousing surfaces, but if you are cheap (like me), and want something similar for less money, go buy a cutting board and some little rubber feet for it (to stop it from sliding all over…). These aren't quite as comfortable as the expensive surfaces with their beveled edges, but as far as the mouse goes, it doesn't care. Try to get one with as fine a grain texture as possible, as the mouse will catch on it the easiest. Another option is the affordable 3M Precise Mousing Surface which can be bought at most stores.
Of course, there are also the Windows internal mousing settings that need to be tweaked out for maximum performance. Within the mouse preferences applet in the control panel, you can select how fast your pointer moves across the screen, select right or left-handed mouse mode, and tweak your double-clicking speed at the same time. If you have an extended applet, such as the one that comes with the Microsoft Intellimouse, you can also set a menagerie of other settings that will effect your mousing experience.