I was out shopping yesterday and my wife wanted to look in the local Thrift Store, well you do find the strangest things in those places so I was game for an adventure. While she perused the clothes, I was off to the rotting and aged electronics section. That was when I spotted ‘The Thing’. The package being entirely in Chinese slowed me down a bit, my Mandarin is a little rusty, but in the international language of computers I recognized the term USB. USB in my mind meant that it could be hooked up to a computer. I was in!

When we got home I was right on it. The Thing came with a CD, alas also entirely in Mandarin. My first ploy was to thumb through the instruction book, but, you guessed it, it was entirely in Chinese.

Plan B was to just plug it in and see what happened. So I attached it to my Linspire Linux system. The results were less than spectacular. A red light came on, but nothing else happened. Thumbing once more through the instructions I came across the term Windows XP. Ah, now we are cooking. I had to do a little bit of social engineering, and promise I would not wreck her computer, but I wore Jan down and she agreed to plug The Thing into her XP machine. XP recognized the thing, and it seemed to act like a touch pad mouse. The next step was to try the CD. This loaded some funky application, but at least bits were in English.

Of course my lovely wife was not at all happy with having The Thing installed, so before I could do any serious damage to her computer I removed it.

A little bit of online research led me to believe that it might work on Windows 2000, and I just happen to have an aging IBM Thinkpad, so it was off in a new direction.

The Thing bolted right up, and worked like a mouse with a real thyroid problem, the pointer was everywhere except where you tried to put it. I installed the software and low and behold it is some kind of character recognition system, you can draw letters on the pad and you see them on the screen for about 10 seconds, then they disappear.

The Thing seems to have no real purpose in life, but for $10 it was a bargain. I certainly have had my $10 bucks worth.

I did a little more research and have found a place where you can get your own Thing. Oh and if anyone actually knows what The Thing does maybe you could leave a comment.

Simon Barrett


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