Ask the Geek: Steadymouse

Adam Darack is the IT administrator for the town of Edgartown. He writes regularly about the technological issues facing Island business owners. Got a question? Send it to onisland@mvtimes.com with the subject line “Dear Geek.”

Dear Geek,

For various reasons, sometimes people’s hands tremble. It can be due to age, sickness, or other things, but regardless of the reason, this can make using a mouse infuriating. Is there a way to make a mouse more user-friendly for a person whose hands shake, which keeps the mouse pointing at things all over the screen?

Thank you,

Frustrated Mouser

Dear Mouser,

Thanks for writing in. I recently had a conversation with someone who was helping a friend who has Parkinson’s disease, and used a program to help them be able to use a mouse more effectively. The program is called Steadymouse (steadymouse.com), and was written by someone to help his grandfather, who also had Parkinson’s.

I’ve encountered many people on the Island whose hands shake for the reasons you mentioned. Many of those people have told me that using a mouse is challenging, and I’ve adjusted the sensitivity settings on their computers, but to be honest, it never made much of a difference. For this week’s article, I decided to reach out to the developer of Steadymouse, get an evaluation copy to use, and give it a try.

First off, within a half-hour of my requesting an evaluation version via email, Ben Gottemoller, the founder of Steadymouse, wrote back and provided me with an evaluation license of the software along with installation instructions. That’s great response time, and his instructions were both clear and concise. Installation was a breeze, and within a minute or two I was testing the functionality.

I started shaking my hand back and forth, and instead of the mouse shaking the pointer all around the screen, it stayed fairly steady. A quick and easy adjustment in the program settings made the mouse very steady. I instantly became a fan of the product. It “dulled” the sensitivity of the mouse’s movements to a level that was effective, and allowed for easy use despite my efforts to thwart it.

I know firsthand that much of the elderly population shares a level of frustration with overall mouse performance, accidental clicking (there’s an option in this software to ignore accidental mouse clicks), and having the pointer not end up where they are directing it with the mouse. Steadymouse seems like a great solution, and I will definitely be recommending it.

There are two options for buying the software, $47 for a onetime purchase that does not include updates, and $127 for a lifetime version that includes all updates. Ben, the founder of the software, has obviously put a ton of time and energy into developing this solution. He posts that he’s worked on this for 12 years, gives a 70-day money-back guarantee, and even mentions, “If you are struggling to make ends meet, send an email to financialaid@steadymouse.com explaining the situation, and we’ll work something out. Our first priority is helping people.”

I’m impressed — that’s a pretty nice offer that I rarely if ever see made by a software company. I laughed out loud when I read this line in his documentation: “There’s a saying that ‘Ninety percent of the software development takes 90 percent of the time … and then the remaining 10 percent also takes 90 percent of the time.”

I have personally developed enough websites and software to agree. It’s amazing how something so simple to use can take seemingly forever to develop and perfect. This seems like a great, useful piece of software with an equally great developer and founder. If you need to keep a mouse steadier, or know someone who does, I’d definitely give Steadymouse a try.

Thanks for writing in; I think there’s a large segment of people both on-Island and off who will benefit from your insightful question and the information I was able to come up with as a result of it.