There’s some things remote control just can’t do
I go this evening to remote-control my computer at work using Timbuktu, and I notice something very weird. I can’t move the mouse – I can type just fine, but my mouse movements aren’t being transmitted, and even stranger, the pointer is wiggling slightly.
Bizarre. Figuring it was some software glitch, I restarted the Timbuktu process on my work computer. No dice. I switch from Timbuktu to Apple’s built-in remote control, and I am able to move the mouse, but as soon as I stop moving it, I see the pointer start to randomly jiggle around.
Something is really weird. I check the running processes for anything suspicious. Nothing. OK, maybe it is something in my user’s environment, so I switch to another user on the computer. Still we have the jigglies. At this point, I am pretty certain there is a hardware issue at play. In fact, I am pretty sure what it might be – when I left Friday night, I probably knocked my mouse into a position where the laser was tracking off the edge of some papers or a seam in my desk – so basically it was as if there was a person physically moving my mouse (the reason I was still able to use Apple’s remote control but not Timbuktu is because Timbuktu has logic built in to always give the user of the computer being controlled ‘ownership’ of the mouse if they physically move it; apparently Apple’s remote control doesn’t have this ‘feature’)
I can’t leave my computer in this state; I don’t want it to be unlocked and open for several days while I am away, and furthermore, my LCD displays could be damaged having the same image displayed continuously for days (yeah, LCDs get burn in also). What I needed was some way to remotely tell the Mac to ignore that mouse, act like it was disconnected. Alas, unlike a USB hard drive, there’s no way to “dismount” a mouse. Some Google searching and a browse through USB Prober didn’t come up with any solution. Rebooting wouldn’t work either, since this was a physical issue.
I’d like to think I found some magic solution, but what I did was very low-tech. I drove over to my office, saw that yes indeed the mouse was laying askew against some papers, and moved the damn rodent to a secure position, and drove back home. Problem solved.