Mouse hell
May 12, 2011 10:59 PM   Subscribe

My Microsoft Setpoint (wireless optical) mouse isn't selecting properly anymore, especially text, but seems to work properly in every other way.

This is an older HP running XP SP3. The optical mouse has always been slightly jumpy, due to infrared signaling wonkiness, with the pointer returning to the Start button unexpectedly or sometimes disappearing for a second or two, but this is new -- last two weeks or thereabouts.

It's replicable in all browsers, even in Notepad, and across all profiles, and is impervious to all safe modes I've tried. The driver is "up to date" (standard, unchanged PS/2 mouse driver), and I've reinstalled it to make sure.

Basically, when I try to select text, I never know whether I'm going to be able to. For instance, in the paragraph above, I tried to select "returning", starting at the r, but moving my cursor to the right nothing was highlighted until it reached "to", and then it selected the entire word "to" plus the following space. Often it seems to be selecting words, a mode I associate with MS Office, and is very sensitive to punctuation. (Like letting me select "punctuation" without the period.) Other times I can only select part of a word before it skips ahead, and if it picks up again the existing highlighting disappears and reappears where the mouse is now selecting. The best results are from multi-clicking to get a selection of an entire line of text -- or on MeFi and other writing-type pages, an entire paragraph. But trying to actually mouse-select the paragraph might get me just two letters in the middle or a word or two at the end.

Visually, the cursor moves about the screen completely smoothly, arriving exactly where I expect -- so it doesn't seem to be a signal issue. It's just the clicking and selecting behavior that's odd. It's nearly impossible to use Google Maps, and in games like Hex Empire, I'm never certain whether I need to click once, twice, or three times to get the effect I want, but these are both mainly because a click can sometimes seem to cancel itself immediately rather than the button-click being mushy or not detected. In Angry Birds on Chrome, I can't click and pull a bird -- I click and they fall to the ground.

There aren't any optical/infrared interferences in the room, I've changed the batteries, and wiggled the USB connector.

I think this might be explained by a failure mid-movement of the mouse to detect a continuously-held button. But the mouse itself is only a year or two old, and usually I can tell when the mechanicals of a mouse are going bad. I'm transitioning to a new computer soon, but I'd like this one to be in good working order for other family members who aren't as good at working around things as I am.

And yes, I'm a former tech support/network admin guy, so I feel I should be able to figure this out -- or this is in some kind of tech blind spot for me! I guess I've run out of ideas and hope somebody recognizes this as something.
posted by dhartung to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is pretty strange behavior - I wouldn't be surprised if it was a hardware failure. Have you tried using the mouse with another computer or plugging another mouse into this computer?
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:31 PM on May 12, 2011

I guess I was just sleepily bargaining as a hedge against denial. I have a laser printer that just more or less died too. I've gone ahead and set up a recycle/trade-up via Logitech.
posted by dhartung at 2:33 PM on May 13, 2011

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