BOOT CAMP 010
Although your PC came with a mouse don’t think you’re stuck
with it, there are plenty of other ways of moving the pointer around the
screen, and making things happen. In fact you don’t even need a mouse at all,
which is worth knowing if your rodent expires or suddenly stops moving. On the
Windows 95 desktop, and in most programs you can select icons or menu items by
pressing the ‘Alt’ or ‘Tab’ keys on the keyboard, then move through the selections
using the cursor arrows and confirm a choice with the enter/return key.
It’s also possible to move the mouse pointer from the
keyboard. Some Windows 95 keyboards have the facility already built-in,
otherwise it can be enabled from the Accessibility icon in Control Panel. Click
on the mouse tab – assuming your mouse is still working – check the ‘Use
Mousekeys’ box and then the Settings buttons. There you will find a second
check box for the keyboard shortcut, that will allow you to switch between the mouse
and keyboard mouse control using the numerical keypad.
Nowadays mice come in all sorts of weird and wonderful
shapes so if you find yours uncomfortable or difficult to use it’s worth trying
a few others for size. Don’t forget, if the pointer moves too quickly you can
slow it down to a sedate crawl. Just click on the mouse icon in Control Panel,
select the Motion tab and adjust the speed slider to suit.
Most PC mice have two buttons; some have three but don’t let
that bother you. Very few applications make use of the centre button, and those
that do normally provide a keyboard alternative. Wheel mice are a relatively
new innovation; the wheel or roller makes it easier to scroll through long
documents and switch between open applications. They’re a boon for word
processing, especially on fast multimedia PCs, where high-speed graphics make
it difficult to move copy and paste blocks of text.
A standard mouse is fine for most applications but they do
have their limitations. For those with joint and muscle disorders or limited
movement in their hands they can be difficult to use. A trackball is the best
alternative, they’re a bit like a large upside down mouse, they remain
stationary, whilst the user moves a large ball. They can be a bit tricky at
first, especially if you’re used to a mouse, but once you get used to it, they
can be fast and accurate. Trackballs take up less space too, which can be an
advantage on a crowded desktop but they are dearer than an ordinary mouse, the
cheapest models cost from around £40 upwards.
It is very difficult to draw accurately with a mouse. Most
designers and artists prefer to use a graphics tablet, also known as digitising
pads or bitpads. A hand-held stylus, in contact with a touch sensitive pad
controls cursor movement and menu selections. For a lot of people it’s a far
more natural way to draw and manipulate images. The smallest graphics tablets
are about the size of a paperback book with a footprint the size of a sheet of
A5 paper; serious models are between A4 and A2. Prices start at less than £100
and rise quickly to several thousand pounds for professional models.
Touchpads or Glidepoints are a common feature on laptop PCs
and effectively miniature graphics tablets. Pointer motion is controlled by
finger movement on a small touch-sensitive pad. They’re now available as
alternatives to a mouse or trackball, though like graphics tablets and
trackballs they cost a good deal more and you can expect to pay at least £45
Virtually all pointing devices plug into the standard mouse
port or serial communications socket, so they are very easy to fit. Standard
mouse driver software is included in Windows 95, but more elaborate and exotic
devices usually come with their own drivers on a floppy disc. Windows 95 should
detect a new non-standard mouse as soon as it is plugged in though you may need
to run the Install new Hardware utility in Control Panel, to configure it
A joystick is almost mandatory to play most new PC action
games, you may be able to use a mouse and keyboard instead but they’re a very
poor substitute. Joysticks have their own dedicated connector called a
Gameport; it’s often incorporated into the PC’s sound card, on the back of the
main box. Joysticks are enabled from the Game Controller icon in Control panel.
Windows 95 has a good selection of driver software included as standard,
however many joysticks come with their own installation software. If your model
isn’t included simply click on the ‘add’ button on the Game Controller window
and follow the instructions.
Game controllers come in a bewildering range of styles;
dedicated game-players fiercely debate their relative merits, but for most
people comfort is more important than fancy features, which relatively few
games or software packages may support. Force-feedback is a case in point where
the joystick moves or vibrates under the influence of small servos built into
the base of the joystick, controlled by the game software.
Racing car game and flight simulation aficionados’ favour
highly specialised controls, to make their game-play feel even more authentic.
They include steering wheels, control yolks, even handlebars, and for added
realism they can be combined with pedals and rudder bars. Needless to say
they’re also expensive, a good Formula 1 steering wheel and pedal set will set
you back the thick end of £150!
Drivers are small programs that tell Windows 95 how to
communicate with a particular piece of hardware, like a mouse, joystick or
A 15-pin female connector socket designed exclusively for
joysticks and other control devices
High Speed Graphics
Multimedia computers are great for fast action games but
they can actually be too quick for applications like word processors. When
scrolling through a document the display can move so fast that it’s almost
impossible to read the text
You will often find that you want to change the volume of
your PC’s sound system, however the volume control is not very accessible on a
standard Windows 95 installation. Normally most users get to it via the View
menu option in CD Player, (Start – Programs – Accessories – Multimedia – CD
Player – View – Volume Control), but there’s a quicker way, and you can have it
permanently on the taskbar if you so wish.
From the Start menu click on Settings, then Control Panel
and the Multimedia icon. Click on it and select the Audio tab. About halfway
down there’s a small box marked Show Volume Control on the Taskbar. Check the
box and it’s done. On the far left side of the taskbar you will see a small
loudspeaker symbol; when you click on it a volume slider and mute switch will
appear on the screen.
Incidentally, it’s a good idea to put the CD Player on the
Start menu, if you’re in the habit of playing audio CDs on your PC. From the
Start menu click on Settings then Taskbar and select the Start Menu Programs
tab. Click on the Add then Browse buttons and look for the Windows folder.
Double click on it to open it up then move the horizontal slider along until
the CD Player icon appears. Highlight it, click open, then next and select the
Start Menu folder at the top of the file tree. To complete click next and then