The humble cursor is a wondrous thing, allowing us to navigate our way around a computer screen with a keyboard and mouse combo. At least until we all go touch crazy and start using tablets. The problem with the cursor is it’s so tiny that it just doesn’t do the job required of it in certain situations.
I’m thinking of times when you need to show an individual or group something on your laptop or monitor. Like a formal presentation at work (on the occasions you aren’t merely trying to stave off boredom), or an informal presentation at home (when you really shouldn’t ever be bored). Thankfully there is a free tool which fills this void and is available as a download. For free. As is the MakeUseOf way.
Pointerstick for Presentations
PointerStick is a small, unobtrusive program which offers a simple solution to a simple problem. It was created by Nenad Hrg and is available to download for free from SoftwareOK.com as well as the usual outlets such as CNET Download and Softpedia.
PointerStick is far from perfect, which means we need to break this piece of software down into the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I know it’s cheap, but it works on occasion.
PointerStick has many good qualities. The program is tiny (v1.55 weighs in at just 726Kb), although as more features (such as more textures) are added it will no doubt become a little more bloated. That’s true of almost every program, though.
There are a range of options available to anyone using PointerStick for presentations:
- The size of the pointing stick can be changed from tiny to huge.
- The transparency level of the pointing stick can be adjusted.
- There are different textures to suit any mood or situation.
It’s also very simple to switch on and off; You can have the program running in the taskbar and click Show the Stick’ and ‘Hide the Stick’ to instantly make a change. Or you can click ‘#Esc’ to stop the program from running altogether. CPU usage is tiny, so PointerStick will not cause your fan to crank up and your PC to start whining.
The biggest problem is the constant orientation switching. PointerStick has been designed so that the non-cursor end of the pointing stick is always facing outwards towards (or beyond) the edge of the screen. Which means that any exaggerated movement changes the orientation in an instant.
This harms the usability of PointerStick quite badly. I would much rather the orientation remain the same (perhaps horizontal) at all times.
The cursor also remains visible at the end of the pointing stick. I’d prefer it be hidden under the end instead so as to make the pointing stick the only focus of attention when it’s being utilized.
PointerStick is rather ugly, it has to be said. The program is fine; being simple to navigate, easy to use, and laid out in a way that makes it accessible to all but the dumbest of users. And I suspect the nature of the program means it will be used by some absolute beginners to the world of computing.
However, the pointing stick itself is another matter. Changing the texture, the size, and the transparency helps a little, but whatever you do you’re still left with a pointing stick that looks like it was designed by a blind person. Perhaps it was, I don’t like to judge. The gold texture (as pictured above) is the easiest on the eye, but how many of us can pull off that level of bling?
A mixed bag then, to say the least. PointerStick won’t win any awards for style, but it does a job and does it surprisingly well. Future versions will likely improve the product, or at least we can but hope.
If the orientation switching can first be fixed then new features could be added to turn PointerStick from a nice attempt at solving a problem to a must-use product. Still, we shouldn’t complain when the program is both free and small in size.
If you have tried PointerStick then what would you like to see added/removed/changed in future releases? Have you ever found the need for a program such as PointerStick? How have you formerly got around the problem of no one being able to see what you were directing them to thanks to the size of the cursor?