Touchpad problems … SOLVED! :)

I am thrilled! I am excited! I am happy! For the past few days I had been suffering a real bad case of “touchpad problems.” Let me explain.

So, a couple of days ago I switched on an old laptop and updated it to the latest Xubuntu 13.10. Till then I had been using a much smaller laptop with a very tiny, 11.6 inch screen. But, about a few weeks back I realized that I was done with those tiny-screens and really needed to get back to a larger screen on which to work. You see those tiny 10, 11 and 12 inch screen laptops have puny little bodies to go with those tiny little screens. So, the keyboards and the touchpads are smaller on those tiny laptops. And since my 11.6 incher was a Thinkpad, I had disabled the touchpad as I was only using the nipple.

Things were working ok for the first few days after switching to the 14″ behemoth. Or maybe I wasn’t noticing that things weren’t working out ok because I was too enamored with the larger screen. But, when you suddenly move to a 14″ behemoth, after years of using those tiny 11.6″ laptops everything changes. Let me explain some more …

You see on these large 14″ laptops the keyboard keys are well spaced out but you also have to move your hands a lot. But, an even bigger problem is that the touchpads are large on these larger laptops. And the biggest problem with those large touchpads is that they are placed right where your, err … my left palm would rest. Would that be a problem? It was a HUGE problem … at least for me. Because say I am in the middle of typing some code and suddenly the cursor would jump to a completely different location. Why? Because my left palm would “unknowingly” rest upon, i.e. touch, the large touchpad on the behemoth laptop.

This whole cursor jumping problem was getting so frustrating that:

  • I figured I would just throw this older, larger notebook after banging it on the wall a few times. (Yes, I do find computers, tablets and phones VERY frustrating and often contemplate whether I should just go about banging all of my computers, tablets and phones on walls. That was meant as a joke, all though I am sure my future employer will use that against me sometime.)
  • I figured I would go back to those tiny screen laptops/netbooks. But, no matter how much I zoom, i find it hard to work with those tiny screens and their smaller real estate. I mean, you zoom and you suddenly have only 50% of your code visible on the screen.
  • I figured I would get myself a trackball since that is what I was using till about a year ago. But, then, I looked around and realized that because of India’s crazily depreciating rupee and high taxes, trackballs cost a fortune in India! I mean, a China-made trackball sold by an Indian company … obviously without any warranty … costs close to about USD 60!!! That’s freaking crazy, but that’s what it is.

So, as I was about to give up on this older, larger computer and get back to my tiny, puny laptop it suddenly hit me! All I had to do was:

  • disable touchpad taps
  • switch from two finger touchpad scrolling to single finger edge scrolling.

So, I jumped into Mouse and Touchpad settings in Xubuntu System Settings and changed those two things! And voila! (I really need to find the meaning of that word voila, but, I am going to use it right now because I am really excited!) Now, the touchpad on my older, larger laptop behaves just as I want it to behave: no cursor jumping around and no typing in unknown locations. I am THRILLED! I am EXCITED! I am HAPPY!

Here’s how my mouse/touchpad settings were before I made the change … and I am going to assume those are the default settings for Xubuntu, after install:

Touchpad settings "before" I made the change. Notice that "tap touchpad to click" and "two finger scrolling" are enabled ... I guess during Xubuntu installation.

The default settings for touchpad on Xubuntu 13.10. Notice that “tap touchpad to click” and “two finger scrolling” are enabled here … and these setting were causing all the problems for me.

Here’s how my mouse/touchpad settings look after those two changes:

Touchpad settings "after" I made the change. Notice that "tap touchpad to click" is now disabled. Also, I have switched to "edge scrolling".

The new settings for touchpad on my Xubuntu 13.10 laptop. Notice that “tap touchpad to click” is now disabled. Also, I have switched to “edge scrolling”.

So, if your laptop mouse/touchpad is troubling you by making the cursor jump all over the place, change those two settings and you will be Happy, thrilled and excited like me. (I know that’s getting cheesy, but, you would realize my excitement if your cursor suddenly stopped jumping around and let you type your code in a sane environment.)

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