Side effect of an aging iMac: Bluetooth mouse rage

Overall, the 2009-vintage iMac that I’m typing this on has aged not just well, but better than any other computer I’ve owned. But every few months, I can expect it to send me into a few hours of powerless rage, all because its Bluetooth mouse keeps making a change of batteries a drama-filled exercise.

imac-mouseIt happens something like this: After a few days of the menu bar flashing a low-battery icon for this “Magic Mouse,” that peripheral will finally go offline–most likely when I’m trying to wrap up an e-mail or a story. I’ll pop open the hatch on its bottom, remove the spent batteries, and pop in a fresh pair of AAs.

And that’s when the green LED on this rodent will either fail to illuminate or blink on and then off. I’ll go through the same troubleshooting steps each time: try different batteries, try cleaning the terminals in the mouse with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol, then try cleaning the ends of each battery with the same.

Eventually, this rodent will decide to accept its new power source, and that’s when the Bluetooth battle begins. I don’t know if it’s the age of my iMac or of the mouse, but it seems to take anywhere from a few hours to day of having the Bluetooth link repeatedly drop for no apparent reason before the device pairing sets in–as if it were glue that needed time to cure.

I thought I’d knocked the worst of this wonkiness out of the system this spring when I trashed a batch of preferences files and booting the iMac into “Safe Mode.” But then I had to go through another round of iffy Bluetooth pairing after a battery change a few days ago.

A less stubborn person would buy a new mouse already, but I can’t get too excited about paying $49 for a Magic Mouse 2 that can only be recharged with a Lightning cable that blocks any use of the mouse as a pointing device. And would become instantly redundant when I buy a new desktop computer… should Apple ever get tired of selling models that saw their last update a year or two ago. But that’s a separate gripe.

Whenever Apple does deign to ship a revived iMac or Mac mini, one thing’s for sure: I will order it with a wired keyboard.

 

Weekly output: text-message backup, travel tech, startups and patents, Bluetooth mice, rechargeable batteries

This week ended better than it began, journalistically speaking.

5/28/2013: How do I back up text messages?, USA Today

Notice the long, parenthetical paragraph starting with “Update”? That’s what you have to write when you leave significant, relevant info out of a story. Here, it was my failure to note that iOS and Windows Phone include text-message backup options that, while they don’t let you view old SMSes away from your phone, do at least ensure you won’t lose them forever if your phone dies. I did not think to mention them because I’d elected to focus the piece on ways to get text messages off of a phone–but, alas, I never thought to revise the question to specify that use case.

Kojo Nnamdi Show travel tech5/28/2013: Travel Technology, The Kojo Nnamdi Show

I talked about the intersections of travel and technology–from inflight WiFi to apps that can help guide your journeys–with guest host Christina Bellantoni and iStrategy Labs chief marketing officer DJ Saul. This was excellent timing, as I’d spent most of the two prior weeks out of town. I do, however, regret missing a chance to rant yet again about the woeful state of the C/D concourse at Dulles.

5/31/2013: Ask A Startup About Patents. You Might Get An Interesting Answer., Disruptive Competition Project

I attended a pitch event for startups, Fortify Ventures’ Demo Day, and asked each of the five companies that presented there if they’d applied for any patents and what sort of exposure they thought they had to a patent-infringement lawsuit.

5/31/2013: Finicky Bluetooth mouse? Check your rechargeables, USA Today

Once again, a problem with my own computer yielded the material for a Q&A item, which in this case doubled as an opportunity to question my own and others’ enthusiasm for cable-free computing. The column throws in a tip about how it’s easier to recycle rechargeable batteries than you might think.

In addition to prototyping this weekend’s USAT column on Sulia, I criticized a dumb implementation of a smart calendaring feature in Gmail, voiced my exasperation at CVS’s addition to paper coupons, wondered about the weirdly limited free WiFi in the Smithsonian’s Kogod Courtyard, and (ahem) compared a couple of exercise-tracking apps in a way that missed a key detail about one of them.