Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

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jokooon
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Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby jokooon » Sat Jul 28, 2012 1:57 pm UTC

Okay this is really driving me nuts/crazy/conspirationist.

Do you know any study related to mouse acceleration and why is it a good thing, and why is it turned on by default on most OS ? Even scrolling on mac os is accelerated.

Any idea ?

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Xanthir
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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby Xanthir » Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:05 pm UTC

I don't know of any studies, but the answer is pretty easy, which makes me wonder why it's driving you crazy.

Linear mouse speed sucks. If your mouse is slow enough to let you do detail work, it takes a *lot* of motion to get it across the screen, but if it's fast enough to get across the screen easily, it can't do detail work.

Acceleration lets you do both. A quick flick sends it across the screen, but the same amount of motion done more slowly gives you a very small motion for detail work. This gives you both worlds, and does so in a very intuitive way.

Can you provide some context about why you are asking this question?
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jokooon
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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby jokooon » Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:24 pm UTC

What you're saying makes sense, unless the acceleration is progressive, if it's progressive, I can't predict where the pointer is going to land, because my brain cannot really measure speed to precisely predict where the pointer is going to land.

For what you say to work effectively, the speed should be increased by a linear factor is the mouse speed goes over a certain amount, but still keep a linear factor over 2 separate ranges of speed.

Image

For context: I have a mac, I purchased Mountain Lion because XCode 4 is not supported on Snow Leopard. I had overdrive, which is a shareware and still require a fee to upgrade, while it's just a simple setting not available by default in mac os x, while there are so many other shiny stuff with multipoint trackpads and whatnots. What drives me REALLY crazy is that even scrolling is accelerated.

I disagree that linear speed sucks, it's a matter of balance between precision and speed. I prefer having more precision and lifting my mouse once in a while than not being able to predict where my mouse cursor is going to land in less than a fifth of a second.

Derek
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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby Derek » Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:39 pm UTC

FTR, Windows uses a threshold (I think you can even configure when the threshold kicks in in the registry), Mac (I believe) uses progressive, and it can't be turned off as far as I know (yet another reason Macs are awful).

Linear mouse speed sucks. If your mouse is slow enough to let you do detail work, it takes a *lot* of motion to get it across the screen, but if it's fast enough to get across the screen easily, it can't do detail work.

See, I take the exact opposite view. Mouse acceleration sucks and makes it hard to effectively use the mouse. With linear speed you can essentially imagine a mapping from your desk to your computer screen, and you know exactly how much to move your mouse on your desk to move your cursor on the screen, no matter how fast or slow you make this movement. With practice your cursor becomes an extension of your hand. Acceleration ruins this connection between your hand and the cursor, so moving your cursor will never feel natural. I even use a laptop touchpad without acceleration (using one right now).

So if you find your mouse is either too slow or you can't do detail work, then get a better mouse. Preferably one that lets you adjust sensitivity on the fly. But of course more options never hurt anyone either.

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WanderingLinguist
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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby WanderingLinguist » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:44 pm UTC

jokooon wrote:What you're saying makes sense, unless the acceleration is progressive, if it's progressive, I can't predict where the pointer is going to land, because my brain cannot really measure speed to precisely predict where the pointer is going to land.


Obviously you need a new brain. When's the last time you upgraded?

Um, but more seriously... I used Windows most of my life. About five years ago, I made the unwilling switch to Mac (only partly unwilling, I was being paid to port software I'd written to OS X). At that time, I found the mouse to be quite awkward, and I didn't understand how anyone could adjust to progressive acceleration. However, to my surprise, I quickly got used to it. Now, when I go back to a Windows system, I find that no matter how much I play with the mouse settings, I can't find anything that feels comfortable. Not only has my brain adjusted to progressive acceleration, I've come to take advantage of it. Having essentially an infinite number of levels of mouse speed available to me that I can automatically and intuitively select from on an as-needed basis means I can accurately reach anywhere on my large (multi-monitor) desktop in usually just one hand motion (two if the target is very tiny and on the far opposite side of the virtual desktop).

I understand your complaints: We get very used to the nuances of our pointing device, and changes can be very disorienting and unwelcome. But give it some time and see if you adjust. You might find progressive acceleration isn't as bad as you think. Anyway, it isn't as if you've got to change from QUERTY to DVORAK or something.

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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby Xanthir » Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:31 pm UTC

I'm with Linguist. Progressive is the best. If you can't get used to it, either you haven't tried it for long enough, or your brain is broken.
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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby Derek » Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:33 am UTC

WanderingLinguist wrote:Having essentially an infinite number of levels of mouse speed available to me that I can automatically and intuitively select from on an as-needed basis means I can accurately reach anywhere on my large (multi-monitor) desktop in usually just one hand motion (two if the target is very tiny and on the far opposite side of the virtual desktop).

I also have an infinite number of mouse speeds available, by varying the speed of my hand. I don't see your point.

And FTR, I use a very high sensitivy, a 2000 DPI mouse with Windows mouse speed in the middle (which corresponds to 1 "dot" to 1 pixel). That means I can cover the entirety of my 1920x1280 monitor in less than one square inch. Precision is only an issue if I need frequent pixel-perfect movements (2-pixel precision is easy), which is only when I'm using MS Paint (not often). For these times I turn the sensitivity down temporarily, but it would entirely possible to, and many people do, use a lower sensitivity all the time while using more desk space and have as much precision as anyone could ever need, while also never having to lift up your mouse to cover the entire screen.

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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby WanderingLinguist » Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:30 am UTC

Derek wrote:I also have an infinite number of mouse speeds available, by varying the speed of my hand. I don't see your point.


Think of it speed-sensitive steering on a car, except backwards. When you're driving fast, you need to turn less, so having the steering wheel tighten up (i.e. give you finer-grained control at high speed) is very useful. At slow speeds, you need to steer a lot more, so the steering wheel needs to operate over a different range of values, as it were.

Similarly, if the mouse movement is handled linearly, it requires much better motor control or higher speed at the extremes of that range. By mapping it to a curve, you get more out of it where you need it.

I'm sure your fancy 2000dpi mouse works fine for you, but not everyone is going to have that kind of fine motor control over a 1x1 inch area (or want to be continuously adjusting their sensitivity settings). And even if they did, not everyone is going to want to go buy a new mouse. I get that you're happy with your mouse, but I don't think your use case is the most common one. Also, keep in mind that some people have different use cases-- you mention MS Paint (which partly makes me wonder if you're trolling) but there are professional graphic designers who DO need pixel-level accuracy (yes, I know you can zoom in, or adjust the sensitivity, but why do so if you don't need to?). Though personally, when I need an input device that maps to every pixel on the screen, I use my Intuos tablet...

Anyway, I find that mouse acceleration in Windows does help, but I find the gradual curve on the Mac (the "progressive" acceleration) much more comfortable. This is after using both for many years. In the end, though, it really comes down to individual preferences. However, I do recommend trying to live with the progressive acceleration on the Mac and see if it grows on you.

If not, you CAN turn it off. It's not an option in the UI, but it can be turned off on both Windows and Mac by either a registry edit (Windows) or entering a simple command in the terminal (Mac). Just google it; there are lots of hits right at the top with clear instructions. And although I haven't looked into it, there's very likely a 3rd party program for Mac that will emulate Windows-style acceleration, if you are desperate.

I don't see why we're arguing over something that's basically personal taste: I'm just suggesting to the OP that they give it a little longer, and see if they get used to progressive acceleration. They might not -- in which case, they COULD turn it off or go buy a 2000dpi mouse ;-)

Derek
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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby Derek » Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:35 pm UTC

I don't see why we're arguing over something that's basically personal taste: I'm just suggesting to the OP that they give it a little longer, and see if they get used to progressive acceleration. They might not -- in which case, they COULD turn it off or go buy a 2000dpi mouse ;-)

As I mentioned, more options are always good and I don't really care what settings other people use. I'm just explaining why I think linear mouse speed is better (which is an opinion, yes). Don't take anything personally. (Maybe this should be moved/split to religious wars?)

WanderingLinguist wrote:
Derek wrote:I also have an infinite number of mouse speeds available, by varying the speed of my hand. I don't see your point.


Think of it speed-sensitive steering on a car, except backwards. When you're driving fast, you need to turn less, so having the steering wheel tighten up (i.e. give you finer-grained control at high speed) is very useful. At slow speeds, you need to steer a lot more, so the steering wheel needs to operate over a different range of values, as it were.

Similarly, if the mouse movement is handled linearly, it requires much better motor control or higher speed at the extremes of that range. By mapping it to a curve, you get more out of it where you need it.

That argument would be fine if steering a car and using a mouse were remotely similar forms of input. In particular, steering a car can't have the 1:1 mapping that makes using a mouse so easy.

I'm sure your fancy 2000dpi mouse works fine for you, but not everyone is going to have that kind of fine motor control over a 1x1 inch area (or want to be continuously adjusting their sensitivity settings). And even if they did, not everyone is going to want to go buy a new mouse. I get that you're happy with your mouse, but I don't think your use case is the most common one. Also, keep in mind that some people have different use cases-- you mention MS Paint (which partly makes me wonder if you're trolling) but there are professional graphic designers who DO need pixel-level accuracy (yes, I know you can zoom in, or adjust the sensitivity, but why do so if you don't need to?). Though personally, when I need an input device that maps to every pixel on the screen, I use my Intuos tablet...

Like I said, I use a very high sensitivity, I'm not the normal case. My point is that even with this sensitivity, I can still get as much precision as I need for almost all tasks. Most people use a much larger surface area to move their mouse, which means that precision is even easier. Over what area would you estimate you move your mouse? (Honest question) I'm also not saying you need a 2000 DPI mouse, but the really cheap ones really aren't acceptable in my book. 1000 DPI is probably enough for the majority of people.

And no, I'm not trolling about MS Paint. I'm about as far from an artist as you can imagine, but sometimes I use MS Paint for a simple diagram or something like that, and I'm kind of a perfectionist about making things line up. This is literally the only time I turn down mouse sensitivity. Actually wait, I remember I also turned down my sensitivity one notch for Bit.Trip Beat (for some reason this one game just didn't feel right on my normal sensitivity).

If not, you CAN turn it off. It's not an option in the UI, but it can be turned off on both Windows and Mac by either a registry edit (Windows) or entering a simple command in the terminal (Mac). Just google it; there are lots of hits right at the top with clear instructions. And although I haven't looked into it, there's very likely a 3rd party program for Mac that will emulate Windows-style acceleration, if you are desperate.

This was only ever a real issue for me once, when I was at a LAN party in a Mac cluster (I have no clue why it was held in a Mac cluster either). I found some tool that mitigated the acceleration, but it clearly wasn't perfect and the mouse still felt funny. But that was the result of about a five minute Google search, so I certainly could have missed something better.

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Xanthir
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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby Xanthir » Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:54 pm UTC

Derek wrote:That argument would be fine if steering a car and using a mouse were remotely similar forms of input. In particular, steering a car can't have the 1:1 mapping that makes using a mouse so easy.

Bwuh? Sure it can. Map the angle of the steering wheel to the angle of the wheels. Done.

No one would do this, of course, but it can be done.
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jokooon
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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby jokooon » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:37 pm UTC

Ok I think we can move this thread to religious wars.

Agreed - this really isn't a CS topic. And so moved. - phlip

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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby WanderingLinguist » Sun Jul 29, 2012 8:43 pm UTC

jokooon wrote:Ok I think we can move this thread to religious wars.


Well, it seems we're all sort of in agreement that "more options are better". But yeah, this is probably less of a computer-sciencey thing.

And now I kind of want to get a 2000dpi mouse and see how it handles ;-)

jokooon
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Re: Can you enlighten me about mouse acceleration ?

Postby jokooon » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:37 am UTC

Honestly I'm more concerned about the mouse shape than its precision. But we'll talk about this in another thread.


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