Vestigial organs of operating systems

On Google+, Dan Gilmor mentions that the Windows 8 machine he’s using still has tap-to-click set as default for his touchpad, and that despite years of experience, this setting stubbornly refuses to stay turned off when the machine is restarted.
Tap-to-click functionality began plaguing computer users when LCD screens were so expensive that laptop cases didn’t have room for a reduced-size keyboard, teeny touchpad and tiny buttons. To save space, touchpad drivers had the ability to translate a sharpish tap on the pad into a left-click. Back then, the smallness of the laptop meant that someone with average hands couldn’t rest the pads at the bottom of the palm on the case while in a natural typing position. Not that those hobbit-sized (movie tie-in!) keyboards could be used with anything like a natural position. Maybe this worked on an 11-inch laptop; I wouldn’t know, my first laptop had a whopping 13.3-inch screen and, having read of others’ travails with those newfangled touchpads, a joystickish thing called the Ergo Trac. (Thanks, Dad, that Fujitsu Lifebook E370 rocked!)
Time passed, and LCDs got bigger and cheaper, keyboards expanded until you could find laptops with full-sized layouts with arrow keys, home/end/etc. keys, and number pads. And, slightly larger than the first ones, touchpads with nice, big buttons (sometimes three), special zones at the edges for scrolling and other cool touchpad tricks—and tap-to-click set as default. Waiting to turn inadvertent resting of my wrist muscles into a click, to turn a gentle landing in preparation for a nice slew across the screen into a click, to turn a frog fart from three counties over into a damned click that trashed hours of work in one fell swoop. For some reason, it’s still the default (I have no quibble with it being available—I’m sure someone out there needs it and I can’t cast stones with all the idiosyncrasies I have) and for some reason it resets when you restart. Because, I guess, you’d really like it if you’d just give it a try, and once you like it there’s no reason to go back to a tap-to-click-free world, is there? Drink the damned Kool-Aid!
And, of course, to disable it you have to go to the control panel, go to Mouse, figure out what tab it’s hiding under, and finally click to disable this beast from hell intent on destroying your very soul. You know what would make a couple million dollars for someone who could write it? A switcher app that let you create shortcuts on the desktop for simple, repeated actions located deep in the bowels of Windows. Like one to change the default audio device to my USB headphones and one to switch it back to speakers. One to turn off the touchpad tap-to-click, and one to taser the person who came up with it. You know, useful things for the end user.
I’ve seen similar things done with batch scripts, but you have to either write one yourself, manage to modify one you find without mangling it or trust that the blob of executable code you downloaded from the Intertoobz won’t inadvertently turn your machine into a very expensive and maddening paperweight.? Which is just the sort of thing you’re trying to avoid by turning off tap-to-click.

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