drunk mouse syndrome

Computing Dictionary

drunk mouse syndrome definition


(Also "mouse on drugs") A malady exhibited by the mouse pointing device of some computers. The typical symptom is for the mouse cursor on the screen to move in random directions and not in sync with the motion of the actual mouse. Can usually be corrected by unplugging the mouse and plugging it back again. Another recommended fix for optical mice is to rotate your mouse mat 90 degrees.
At Xerox PARC in the 1970s, most people kept a can of copier cleaner (isopropyl alcohol) at their desks. When the steel ball on the mouse had picked up enough cruft to be unreliable, the mouse was doused in cleaner, which restored it for a while. However, this operation left a fine residue that accelerated the accumulation of cruft, so the dousings became more and more frequent. Finally, the mouse was declared "alcoholic" and sent to the clinic to be dried out in a CFC ultrasonic bath.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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