A few months ago I decided that in the interests of making my tiny, uncomfortable workspace just a wee bit more ergonomic I’d pick up a trackball for my main computer. I used to love trackballs back in the day! I’ve had a couple of Kensington devices, and so forth. And no, I cannot use those Logitech “thumb-ball” things, never mind my general dislike for the Logi brand nowadays.

I spent a few days reading and researching and price-checking and such before settling on a Japanese brand name, ELECOM. (And that’s the last time I’m doing their preferred stylized all-caps presentation in this post.) Between the various offerings, such as the “Huge” and the “Bitra” and so forth, I settled on the “Deft Pro” which seemed like the best compromise between size and cost and general ergonomics. It arrived early in November.

And for a while, things were fine. The software was a bit hard to find, let alone install and get working, since Elecom isn’t really targeting an English-speaking market. But once I got it working and set up a few of the extra buttons to do useful things (I love having a double-click button, okay?) I started having a moderately good time. Sure, it was a bit plastic-y and the ball travel could be a bit sticky, but overall it was an improvement over just a regular mouse.

Every now and then I’d get some glitchy behavior, like random window focus changes, but nothing too worrying.

Then, last night, right in the middle of the weekly co-op Satisfactory game with the kids, the pointer stopped moving. Buttons worked, but no way could I get that cursor to go anywhere. Popping the ball out confirmed there was nothing obstructing the optical sensor. I unplugged the device entirely (yes, I go wired) and back in again, no change. Plugged into a whole different USB port, no change. I swapped out for the wireless portable mouse that I use on the Chromebook, a whole other device, and still no change! I had to keyboard-control my way around the Task Manager to terminate the Elecom software before I could get any mouse at all to do its job again.

What in the world?

So, out goes the Elecom and away goes its software. I’m using one of the cheap regular mice that came with the computer. There’s a Sanwa Gravi on its way to be my next trackball experiment. It’s basically a knockoff of Microsoft’s venerable “Trackball Explorer,” which was indeed a very good unit. We’ll see how it fares. Mostly I’m just hoping it’s good enough to keep me from wanting to drop a bunch of money on a Gameball or something…