I finally got a Mighty Mouse today. That alone would not be a good enough reason to blog a review since I’m sure there are plenty of people writing about it already. But it happened to coincide with my purchase of a MiniView™ Micro USB PLUS KVM Switch by IOGEAR.


Mighty Mouse

Naturally I was curious to see the two play together. A word about the Mighty Mouse. It requires 10.4.2 to really use its full potential. Although it seems to function as a mouse alright without installing the software that comes with it. The KVM switch was purchased to remove one mouse and one keyboard from my already cluttered desk. I planned to use it to switch between my server and my development machine, both of which run 10.4.2.

The first thing you need to do to install the KVM switch is to plug in your mouse, keyboard, monitor and optionally some speakers. Then you plug the cables provided into the two machines. The USB, audio and monitor cables are nicely combined into one cable with a split out at the end with some nice clips to manage everything. I couldn’t use the audio cable because my development machine is a dual processor Quicksilver which had the miniture audio port for the Apple speakers. Too bad. But I’m not that likely to be switching to my server to listen to iTunes anyway.

My first failed experiment was leaving my mouse plugged into my keyboard. The KVM doesn’t like that, as it is apparently doing some behind the scenes work to keep both computers thinking that a mouse and keyboard are continuously plugged into their USB ports. Both mouse and keyboard need to be plugged into the switch. This leads to a small problem since the Apple mouse has a shorter cable than (for example) the macally ioptinet mouse I was replacing. (The macally mouse is a great mouse and the one time I had a problem they replaced it right away. Great customer service!) You might find that the KVM switch is a bit of a stretch for an Apple mouse although in my case it was within reach.

After installing the Mighty Mouse software you have to reboot the machine. I started with my desktop machine and after the reboot things started working right away. The tiny scrolling trackball seemed to be a little hesitant at first. But after I rolled it for a while it started working smoothly. Right clicking is a little tricky if you tend to use your middle finger as I do instead of your index finger. This is because the mouse gets confused if you are touching on both sides.

The KVM switch normally uses a double-tap of the scroll lock key to cause the switch between systems. Of course the Macintosh keyboard doesn’t really have a “scroll lock” and for whatever reason hitting the F14 where you might normally see a scroll lock doesn’t do anything. It just doesn’t generate the right code. But it turns out that there is a keystroke sequence that you can use to program the switch. Holding clear on the keypad for a second and then pressing the - (minus) while continuing to hold clear and then releasing minus and then clear puts the system into KVM mode where you can do various functions. The pertinent thing in this case is to press the T which then changes the KVM switch to respond to a double tap of the control key.

I went on to reboot my server and here is where I made my big mistake with the KVM switch. I decided that I didn’t like how my keyboard cable and mouse cable were crossed and I switched the ports they were plugged into on the KVM switch. This is a bad thing. It turns out the ports a labeled for mouse and keyboard and I just got lucky setting it up. Plugged in wrong, the thing wouldn’t switch and while it would pass keystrokes through to the machine the mouse would not respond at all. Switching back again got the KVM switch to respond to the double-tap of the control key again but the mouse never came back. In the end I had to reboot everything.

So what to do next? RTFM. And sure enough there is a key in KVM mode for resetting the USB port. I will memorize this one (F5) because I think I may need it a lot. There is also a setting for dumping the current KVM configuration like so:

HK
NUM LOCK AND CTRL CTRL
OS
PC1-AUTO
PC2-AUTO-
KB
PC1-ENGLISH
PC2-ENGLISH

Doing this led me to the part of the manual where you can tell the KVM about your keyboard in case you want to use a PC keyboard with your Mac. Great, but I don’t have a PC keyboard so I best let it auto-detect my keyboard since I am using a Macintosh keyboard for a Macintosh.

I got to wondering about using the USB ports on my keyboard for other USB peripherals. I can tell you after experimenting with my camera that this doesn’t seem to work. But the USB reset key sure comes in handy after one of these experiments. So what does all this mean? I’m still happy to finally have a KVM switch and I’m getting used to the Mighty Mouse. Just keep in mind that there are some compromises here. For one thing, I need to get a USB hub or get used to plugging my camera and other USB devices somewhere beside the ports on my keyboard which have now become useless. And the Mighty Mouse is a little quirky but I’ve already grown accustomed to squeezing to get Exposé.

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operation, technology
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