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MSE: Mouse and System Enhancer- by Ryan Dill

MSE: Mouse and System Enhancer, is just that -- a little program that tacks on some cool enhancements to your existing OS/2 Warp system. Brought to you by Mark Kimes, the creator of the FM/2 file manager and associated utilities, MSE improves your system's coolness factor with no major downsides. Like Kimes' previous software, in creating his Mouse and System Enhancer he has succeeded in making an application packed with useful stuff.


Firstly, MSE allows you to give your mouse pointer a 'Sliding Focus' -- that is, the ability to change the system's focus simply by moving the pointer over a window, when normally you'd have to move over it and click on it. (This is also called the X-Mouse feature, in homage to UNIX's X-Windows, one of the first environments to adopt it.) Like other programs which have this sort of sliding focus (NPSWPS and X-it!, for example), MSE allows you to set the delay time before the focus changes, and to either leave the newly-focussed window where it is, or bring it to the top of all other windows.

Unfortunately, unlike other programs, MSE does not appear to have a 'Jump to Focus' feature. In other words, when a new window (like a File Open dialog or warning dialog) pops up, the pointer is often somewhere else, so the focus has to be manually moved to the popped-up window before that window can be used. Hopefully this feature (automatically 'jumping' the pointer focus to a popped-up window) will be added in the next release of MSE, as it makes using a sliding focus much easier.

MSE also includes an enhancement for the default OS/2 file dialogs which allows you to see many more files and directories (GIF, 9.7k) at once; this cuts down on annoying scrolling through file dialogs.

The new dialog also allows for user-defined directories and files to be grouped in drop-down lists at the dialog's top -- great for directories you use often and don't want waste time hunting for. Another nice added touch to the new dialogs is that clicking on the word 'Directory:' or 'File:' in a dialog actually opens the corresponding WPS object -- the directory folder or the file, just as if you had double-clicked on it in the WPS. This adds a new dimension of power to a previously simple widget. For any programs which might have problems with MSE's file enhancements, the particular program's name can be added to an exceptions file and MSE won't try to use its enhanced dialog for that program.

Another feature MSE grants users is a number of virtual Desktops. For those of you who've never used them, imagine your current Desktop size multiplied nine times: you can only see one-ninth of this Desktop at once, but you can have programs open in any part of it, out of sight (different from being minimized), not cluttering up your field of view. MSE allows you to switch between these Desktops simply by moving the mouse to the edge of the screen (or by moving with the Shift key held, in case you don't want to switch Desktops by moving the mouse by mistake). As with the file dialog, you can simply add any programs you don't want to be affected by virtual Desktops to an exceptions file; this has the effect of making those programs 'sticky', so they'll stay with you no matter what virtual Desktop you move to. The 'map' of virtual Desktops can either be a small-as-possible window that stays out of the way, or a map large enough that you can actually see what programs are running in what Desktops (GIF, 5.5k).

By far one of the best features of MSE is its ability to configure mouse actions (GIF, 8.9k) to do whatever you want. You can: set a window to close if you right-click on its title bar; set a calculator to pop up if you move the mouse to a corner of the screen; cause any number of your own personal menus to pop up if you click mouse Button3; set Alt+Button1 to minimize all windows... the combinations are nearly endless. Window-rollup, window-to-front, minimize-all, if you can think of a reason for wanting to do it, MSE can probably do it. Anyone who's ever reconfigured their mouse behavior will be in heaven.

MSE's quick-and-easy screen capture option is also a snap -- as is managing the captured images. A single button click and the WPS folder MSE stores these screen shots in is open.

The program has a clock and swap monitor big enough to notice, but not big enough to annoy, an enhanced clipboard you can attach to any of your mouse actions, the number of features (GIF, 6.7k) stuffed into this little package is pretty amazing. But wait: afraid that with all these features, it'll drag your system down like a tar pit? Not to worry -- in the author's words:

MSE is page-tuned, which means that any parts you don't use don't take up valuable memory, and seldom-used parts take up memory only while in actual use, and can then be swapped out until the next use. IOW, it plain old fashioned doesn't use any more memory than absolutely necessary at any given time.


I guess the thing that impresses me the most about MSE is the configurability -- you change its features in practically any way you want, and still have ways you haven't tried yet. I'm a Desktop enhancement junkie myself, and I really like MSE. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone who doesn't think their mouse is doing enough for them.
 * MSE: Mouse and System Enhancer
by Mark Kimes
download from BMT Micro (ZIP, 165k)
Registration: US$25.00
Ryan Dill is a student in Computer Science at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS and copy editor for OS/2 e-Zine!. He is reported to be relieved that, with the advent of Warp 4, talking to your computer is no longer considered a sign of mental instability.

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