243: Appropriate Term

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Appropriate Term
I know a lot of people hate these, but I prefer them to touchpads.
Title text: I know a lot of people hate these, but I prefer them to touchpads.


This is a simple comic offering increasingly not-safe-for-work names for a laptop's pointing device. This stick was an alternative to a mouse, but has largely been supplanted by the touchpad.

"TrackPoint" is the trademarked term used by IBM (and later Lenovo) for the pointing stick implemented on ThinkPad laptops. They are usually colored red, as in the comic. Other manufacturers have alternative names for their implementations, and typically use diferent colors. It is obviously the most formal of the four names. The more informal two are nub and nipple mouse (referencing breasts), with the last, most informal being clit mouse, a reference to clitoris (part of the female genitalia).

The title text notes that Randall prefers pointing sticks to touchpads.


[A diagram of a TrackPoint pointer on a keyboard, under which is a continuous line labeled "Tone of Conversation-Formal to Informal." There are four boxes under this line.]
How to refer to the pointer thing on laptop keyboards:
Very formal: TrackPoint™-style pointer
Formal: Nub
Informal: Nipple mouse
Very informal: Clit mouse

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"Nub" tending towards "Nipple", in my part of the world. Also various alternatives based on it looking and feeling like a pencil eraser (also 'rubber', in local vernacular, normally without the non-local 'prophylactic' association to that word, thus going towards the SFW end of the scale).

I liked them too. Touchpads are too prone to being tapped or brushed when typing on the keyboard, potentially changing the window focus or active mouse position at awkward times mid-composition. Which is why a lot of people get them disabled and get a USB mouse, perhaps travel-sized, for using with their laptops. Or at least disable the "tap equals button-click" behaviour and rely on the (marginally less accidentally pressed) actual left/right(/centre) buttons for that purpose. I use whatever's there (see below about preference to keyboard, though), due to temporarily working with many different people's devices. I can get on with just about anything that isn't touchscreen-only (and may eventually get used to that, also).

However, you all remember the awkward self-centering nature of the 'nub', right? The firmware treats an extended period of the 'nub' at rest as being at true centre and thus nullifying any previous motion. Applying a steady pressure to (say) move a scroll-bar gradually sideways or up/down, to review a table or graphic being edited would soon result in the mouse movement stopping as it assumes the offset position is centre. You naturally automatically compensate by applying more offset to keep it moving (perhaps to repeat). You then either hit the maximum deflection limit and have to stop trying or else finish your scrolling and let go of it (and the left-button/whatever that you're also holding down). Now the cursor is rapidly retreating in the opposite direction as its position at the mechanical centre is being treated as movement in the other direction.

You can fight it for a temporary stillness (although you never make the situation better, just can temporarily hold the cursor still when that's important) but eventually you have to let the nub sit there and wait, often with the mouse cursor representation moving towards an the edge (or corner) of the screen, and often hitting it. If there's now no perpendicular edge-wise motion to it (or is 'cornered') you're never quite sure when it stops being a mouse forced against the edge by the presumption of movement and becomes a mouse cursor resting against the edge, for lack of input to take it anywhere else, so you may wait a bit longer than you need before trying the 'nub' again to elicit movement onto the next bit of the screen that truly needs the mouse-cursor's presence.

(Personally, I've always been a big fan of keyboard shortcuts for as many things as I can do to replace a mouse. But now we're onto the realms of software that has tabbing between active controls, but in a really bad non-sequential order. Active KillDisk is one perpetrator, with some of the tickboxes on a given dialogue being mis-arranged in the internal tab-order list. A couple of shift-tabs sometimes needed to reverse-traverse the focus onto the next bit you want to 'click' on, even though it is visually the next item down... But I digress.) 04:20, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

I really enjoyed this rant, thank you. In part because of its level of nerdy detail, in part because I genuinely learnt something about these funny little joysticks, and largely because of the "but I digress" at the end of a multi-paragraph description of cursor moving algorithms. 192·168·0·1 (talk) 20:30, 19 January 2023 (UTC)
You're welcome. ;) (Wow, very nearly ten years ago! But, yes, 'twas indeed I who wrote that. And, yes, I still often do digress. Nor have I stopped being an IP-only contributor.) 22:18, 19 January 2023 (UTC)

Rather then 'very informal,' perhaps we move the tone to 'erotic?' (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Is it worth mentioning that men also have breasts, and nipples? Nitpicking (talk) 21:10, 20 August 2021 (UTC)

my friends and i call it the red button thingy An user who has no account yet (talk) 22:26, 12 September 2023 (UTC)