Cursor crawl: a postmodernist afflication

I am still in Pasadena, bathing in the decanted light that is winter in southern california.  The conference on luxury by Virginia Postrel was really interesting, and I got to hear several very smart people say some revelationally smart things.

But as I wait to leave for the airport, I realize I have that terrible affliction, cursor crawl.  The cursor on my screen is no longer still.  It now heads up the screen at a slow but steady pace.  This turns my GUI into a game of whack-a-mole.  No sooner have I positioned the cursor over the thing I wish to "click" than it serenely continues its journey upwards, so that by the time I click, I am out of range.  Now, I position the cursor below the thing I wish to click, and wait.   Crawl and click, it’s a brand new game from Kenner. 

This should be a minor convenience, and, if I had a sense of humor, it might even be a little fun.  But instead it is pretty close to agony.  Watching the cursor crawl up the screen is indeed so painful, it might as well be making that sound of a nail on a blackboard.  Something happens to my nervous system, and I feel like shouting (which, it turns out, is not allowed at a Westin).

Something has happened to my nervous system.  It now presupposes the existence of computer technology (in this case a ThinkPad X40).  This machine is no longer "at my finger tips."  It is now my finger tips and, in good moments, the instrumentality that does my bidding in the electronic world.  To have some part of this malfunction begins to feel like a very personal malady, and an intolerable handicap.

This evokes a one of the theme’s of Virginia’s conference: that the luxuries of one generation have a way of becoming the necessities of the next.  This effect has happened in my life time.  Email, once kinda of useful, is now essential.  When failing technology turns it into a game of whack-a-mole, well, I’m a deeply unhappy guy.  I believe Adam Smith would understand.

3 thoughts on “Cursor crawl: a postmodernist afflication

  1. rkleine

    Grant — You are not alone! My Toshiba (an Tecra M2, or so proclaims a label on the underside) exhibits sportic episodes of cursor crawl. Upward, upward crawls the cursor. Like a homing pidgeon locked onto the appropriate magnetic field, the cursor slides ever so slowly toward the top of my screen. Like a deamon I strive to hold it back via the eraser tipped pointer device nestled among the g, h, and b keys.

    Oddly, the crawling cursor exerts considerable force. I can barely hold it back from its screen-top destiny. Weak me.

    Why does this happen? Are our machines possessed? Is there some pattern I inadvertantly tap onto the touch-pad that tells the cursor it is time to migrate?

  2. Peter

    Grant —

    Cursor crawl can indicate that your laptop/desktop is in fact doing stuff other that what you want it to be doing: What you are witnessing with the cursor are your prior instructions for the cursor to move, and its very slow response to these instructions, due to the machine’s preoccupation with the other stuff it is doing. Some of this other stuff might be well and good (eg, maintenance tasks), while some of it may be the malevolent actions of spyware, et al.

    Under Windows OS you can identify and (attempt to) kill any other processes via Control-Alt-Delete (press all 3 keys together). I don’t know the equivalent (if one exists) under the Mac OS.

    — Peter

  3. Grant

    Robert, possession, that’s it. I’ll see if ThinkPad recommends priests in the area. It’s the least they can do! Thanks, Grant

    Peter, Ok, so it’s not possession, it’s that sensational new software that writes books for you in the background with spare processing power. This is thrilling news, because there is no realistic hope that I could do this on my own. Thanks, Grant

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