Create a new document — point and click. Transfer a file to a Zip drive — drag and drop. It's hard to remember when the mouse represented liberation from the drudgery of keyboards rather than a source of drudgery itself. But that's what it's become.
At least until recently. Kensington Technology Group has released Expert Mouse 5.0, an innovative add-on designed to minimize the time you spend pointing and clicking. It's an oversized trackball surrounded by four buttons. Each button can be programmed to execute a complex series of commands — it's like writing macros for your mouse. You can automate the drawn-out process of saving, printing, and closing a file. Or you can program it to scroll through documents at the speed that's right for you.
Expert Mouse 5.0 runs on Windows-based computers and costs $99. A Macintosh version (Turbo Mouse 5.0) is also available for $110. For more information, call 800-535-4242 or visit Kensington Technology on the Web http://www.kensington.com .
Why spend time at the office changing CD-ROMs on your desktop computer?
Panasonic now offers a five-disc CD-ROM changer that lets users switch among electronic databases, business applications, supplier directories — and yes, even the occasional game — by selecting them from a menu bar. Switching a CD takes less than five seconds. The changer is even smart enough to make selections for you. If a user launches Microsoft Word, for example, the Big 5 automatically locates the Bookshelf.
The five-disc Big 5 changer costs $249 and fits inside your computer. For more information, call 800-742-8086 or visit Panasonic on the Web, http://www.panasonic.com/alive .
Want to email a newsletter to your colleagues without typing it in by hand? Want to enter 50 business cards into your electronic contact manager without losing an afternoon?
Then you need a personal scanner. Specifically, you need the PaperPort Vx scanner from Visioneer. The PaperPort is remarkably compact (it's designed to fit in the space between your monitor and keyboard) but offers all the functionality of bigger devices. It also has some special features: To enter business cards, for example, just run them through the PaperPort scanner and drag them to the CardScan icon. The software distinguishes among names, addresses, and phone numbers and creates an electronic card file that flows directly into ACT!, Now Contact, and other popular contact managers.
The PaperPort Vx is available for Windows-based computers and the Macintosh. It costs $299. Call 800-787-7007 or visit Visioneer on the Web, http://www.visioneer.com .
A version of this article appeared in the April/May 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.