Naga Miss-adventures

It all started over 20 years ago in a normal day like any other except it was the first time I had ever seen a mouse! As I reached for I committed a terrible mistake that to this day I still somewhat remember, I grabbed it with my left hand…

What did I get myself into...
What did I get myself into…

Fast forward to present day I had multiple decades of mouse usage experience with my left hand in a world more and more dominated by right handed only ergonomic mouses and being a avid MMO player that meant I was left out of being able to use any of the MMO mouses that were starting to be released, until Razer announced the Naga 2014 Left Hand edition.

So after my Steelseries  Xai broke down I decided to take the plunge and get myself a MMO mouse, little did i know this would end up giving more trouble than I’d ever expect.

So what do I mean by that? Well, hardware wise I had many bad things to say about the Naga, it works and is fairly comfortable even though far from the lean mouses I was accustomed to which made fps gaming a little bit worse (a tradeoff I was okay with). The same however could not be said for the software…

With the Xai I had been using the great X-Mouse Button Control which is simply amazing, it allowed full control of every button of the mouse with  per application profiles so you could say I was spoiled. Sadly since the Naga had a 12 button keypad it basically meant I had to leave XMBC and use their own software, Synapse and the downgrade was harshly felt.

Synapse had per application profiles but the switch took seconds to activate instead of XMBC instant switch, it also wouldn’t swap back to the previous profile after you exited the application (something that’s been fixed since then) meaning I had to hack around associating a profile to Windows explorer so it would reset from game specific profiles. And since the Naga 2014 had no onboard memory to save profiles the keypad was literally useless without having to keep Synapse running.

So while not great I begrudgingly used Synapse and with the small improvements over time it ended up being a tolerable experience, until I decided to get a second Naga…

Double the Nagas double the fun... not!
Double the Nagas double the fun… not!

Why have two Nagas you ask? Well, these days using a computer remotely through in-home streaming is getting more and more common, but I could say I kinda pioneered the idea with my setup. Living in a small home I was able to simply pull a video and usb cable to my TV thus giving birth to the dual location setup I’ve had for over half a decade. I’d clone my screen to both locations and with 2 sets of keyboard and mouse be able to control the same computer from both places.

Having had the single Naga for a while now I was starting to miss the extra keys when gaming from my TV, thus I figured I’d simply nab a second Naga expecting things to just work great, but as I’d soon find out, they would not.

Both Nagas where detected by Windows as expected, but as soon as I opened Synapse I noticed only one of them was showing up “odd…” I thought, “probably the settings are just gonna be applied on both then…” but no, Synapse would only detect the first Naga it saw and ignore the second one. This meant if I wanted to use the keypad I would have to constantly remember to unplug the Naga I’m not using. I tried reaching to Razer support but they quickly proved totally useless, from template responses to confused reps all I ended up getting from them was “Synapse only works with one Naga” and that was that.

IT support, have you tried turning it of and on again?
IT support, have you tried turning it of and on again?

Not happy with that I tried hunting down a solution that would let me “hide” a Naga without having to physically disconnect it, the idea was if Synapse could only see one Naga it would bind itself to it. It didn’t take me long to find out about devcon utility included in the Windows DDK, with it I was able to disable the Naga main mouse driver (Naga actually shows to the system as 11 devices) from the command line and that meant I could easily script it using Powershell.

Surprise surprise it worked! By disabling one one of the Naga drivers Synapse would bind itself to the active one making the keypad binds work properly on that one, at which point I was able to re-enable the other Naga so it could still work as a regular mouse if needed. It was hackish and it was a shame I had to do this every time I swapped locations but at least it worked.

I can see the code in the Matrix
I could see the code in the Matrix, kinda…

Until I decided to use the tilt wheel for extra keybinds, at first I wondered if my tilt had broken down, no matter what I set it to it just wouldn’t work, but after a bit of testing I finally figured it out, for some reason the tilt wheel settings weren’t applied to the active Naga mouse device but instead to Naga keyboard device! Problem with that is that unlike mouse device drivers it simply is not possible to disable a keyboard device driver.

So that’s where I’m at now, left with a mostly working hack of my own creation, I’m still looking to find a way to fully hide a Naga from synapse thus allowing my solution to fully work but until then my Nagas don’t have a working tilt wheel.

If there was a lesson I learned in all of this is that even though I do love all the buttons the Naga gives me and I’m thankful that Razer thought of people like me by making it,  it also puts me at the their mercy to keep things working which as I’ve found out from all this “messing around” is a huge risk, Synapse will always install the latest version and Razer will never provide any older version, thus if the latest version ever has a problem then you’ll have no choice but to live with it and potentially be left with dead hardware.

I’ll continue to use and enjoy my Nagas but when they inevitably die I’ll likely go back to a 5 button mouse that’s not dependent of  any dodgy software to work.

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