A few weeks ago I bought a fancy new mouse to replace my fancy old mouse. Sure it’s nice and comfy, but how much do I actually use it? When you pay close to a hundred euro for something you want to make sure it’s doing its job.

Yesterday I tried.

For the whole day, when the freelancing clock was running, so was IOGraph – a handy tool for recording mouse movements.

A day of coding

I have dual screens, am running Ubuntu and use Emacs to write code. Certainly the sort of environment that favours using your keyboard over your mouse and yet, the mouse gets used quite a lot.

The image above shows paths my mouse has taken through the day, dots show where the mouse has been standing still for a while – the bigger the dot, the longer the time – and I am honestly not certain what the circles around small black dots are. Clicks perhaps?

Other than the fact I use my mouse more than I thought, three patterns emerge.

  1. There is a blank space roughly down the middle where I never place my mouse – the dividing line between two monitors. You can see the left is wider than the right.
  2. Despite being used a lot, the mouse spends most of its time standing still. Most of the image is taken up by relatively few very large black dots. The largest two are right where I had two terminal windows that I often switched between (one running a server instance, the other used for git). The rest are mostly on the far right where I have my browser. Apparently I like to click around, then leave the mouse there when I go back to coding? Or maybe page loads are slow?
  3. Emacs takes up the left half of the screen. I sometimes put my mouse here, but rarely for long because the cursor gets in the way.

You can also notice I spend a lot of time switching the last few tabs in Chrome, possibly opening and closing them as I browse the interwebs for help with Ruby? That’s all the lines going to the upper right corner.

Here’s a screenshot of the desktop as I left it last night. Most of the tabs already closed because I have to save memory, but you can still see the rough layout of the windows I worked with. Had I some photoshop skill I’d overlay IOgraph output over the screenshot.

Workspace

Workspace

Now I wonder if mouse patterns are different for other languages and technology stacks … I have experimenting to do!

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