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A few weeks back a slew of the latest Microsoft Windows XP updates rolled through my system, via the automated online arrangement.
I keep things set so they download automatically, and then nag at me shortly after boot up until I install them.
As I suffered horribly from lots of Apple Mac updates and app installs in years past-- and know such problems can arise with any computer system-- I often dally a while before allowing the updates to install. Partly to watch the news and see if such updates result in a meltdown of PCs across the nation, before I unleash them onto my own system.
But I must admit that for me problems in the aftermath of an XP update have been pretty rare.
This time proved to be an exception, though.
My usual biggest and most common problems with my set up consist of Mozilla Firefox hanging up or crashing maybe once for every couple thousand web sites I visit (I visit TONS of sites: how do you think I collect all those tens of thousands of reference links to be found on my site?)
Or, alternatively, due to me running with only a pitiful 640 MB of RAM, whenever I try to use Adobe Photoshop Elements with, say, more than one large pic open at once-- or at the same time my web browser's open. I frequently hit the metaphorical ditch then, too.
Both of those problems are annoying and sometimes a bit constraining, but largely just inconveniences more than anything else.
But this time I ran into a potential show-stopper.
For my mouse pointer would freeze up on-screen immediately upon boot-up. And my optical mouse be stone cold dead. It's usual gleaming red light nowhere to be seen.
This meant I'd be stuck at the log-in screen, unable to click my icon and type in my password.
I'm no MS-DOS geek from the PC's nightmarish early years, and so not familiar with whatever arcane command-line key codes you might enter to get past this point.
So I pushed in the PC's main power switch in the center of the machine's face plate. Maybe more than once, to get it to notice. And it rebooted.
After reboot the mouse worked again. And the problem didn't recur again for a few days.
But then it did return. I got past it the same way. But maybe the third or fourth time it occurred, simply rebooting didn't fix it, and I was stuck.
So I had to move to one of the Macs sitting around the place to do some web study on the problem.
Yes, I have a XP laptop I could use-- and a different XP desktop-- but the laptop has a tiny 15 inch screen, and both the laptop and desktop have their screen resolutions set pretty high-- so high it's difficult for me to read them with or without my reading glasses. Those other machines' keyboards are also situated somewhat awkwardly, due to their normal purposes around here. So it was just easier and faster to boot up the desktop G4 that happened to be handy that day, rather than reconfigure lots of other things.
I also have vision problems with the Macs. But this was my best choice of the moment.
Just in case anyone wonders about it: I use the PCs here to help troubleshoot problems with the Macs about ten times more often than the other way around. You can see plenty of evidence for that across the board in my user logs.
Macs lost their ease of use advantage over PCs gradually, beginning around the early 90s, as Windows kept improving, while Apple largely stood still, or even went backwards with the Mac OS. Then the replacement of the original Mac interface with that of the awful OS X seemed to put PCs permanently into the lead.
At least until Microsoft decided to roll out their own version of OS X: Vista. Ouch! Talk about seeing one mistake and wanting to see if you can make a still bigger one...!
I must admit I haven't used Vista. Just read numerous horror stories about it. While also reading stories where Apple brags about OS X finally getting features XP had years before (check out 'time machine' for one major example).
I intend to stick with XP as long as I can-- and then maybe move to Ubuntu.
Yes, I'd love to see the Mac regain the functionality it possessed in its glory days again. But that possibility appears bleak so long as Steve Jobs is at the helm. Plus, even if they regained their former qualities, I'd be hard-pressed to afford to pay the hefty penalty premium required for Apple wares, plus any software or accessories you buy for them afterwards.
And I'd worry about being 'orphaned' awful quick by Apple, too. They often did that to the majority of their users even in their best days.
Anyway, I did some surf studies, and ran across various leads to check out, as well as keyboard tricks to use when the mouse wasn't working.
Using Control-Alt-Delete to bring up the task manager did NOT make my mouse work again, as one site suggested it would.
Pressing the Windows key to access the Start menu, then the Escape key, did NOT help me regain a working mouse.
There was also listed the possibilities I might have to fiddle with the mouse drivers my PC was using...or update the BIOS or re-install my optical mouse software...or check for conflicts with my anti-virus software...
Or maybe my optical mouse was simply dying, and I'd need to replace it.
All the above were suggestions I found online.
But the lead that actually worked was shutting down the PC, removing the PS/2 adapter from between the PC and the mouse USB cable, and plugging the mouse directly into the PC's USB port.
I believe when I bought the optical mouse, the instructions specifically told me to use the adapter.
But apparently Microsoft's latest XP update conflicted with those instructions regarding a mouse Microsoft sold me a couple years back (the mouse was a Microsoft product).
I guess it's been a week or two since I removed the adapter, and I've not had a mouse problem since.