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computer keyboards

A typical computer keyboard

I finally couldn't take it anymore. The computer in my office was fine but I felt like the keyboard and mouse were just a little out of date. I was using a Compaq two-button mouse that I (because of my lack of personal relationships and propensity for relishing in computer past) am able to identify as the 1993-94 model that shipped with the early Presario. I don't need the fanciest computer around! I don't need a GeForce graphics card, I don't need a 32-bit sound cart, but I need a scroll wheel! I'd been suffering through it for far too long so I finally decided to do something about it today.

I knew of a loft, the floor above my office, where "things" were kept. That seemed to me to be the best place to start looking. What I found kept me busy for a good twenty minutes as I replaced the ancient and unacceptable peripherals of my rather shabby PC. Armed with a new monitor, mouse and keyboard I felt that I could perform at about 150% the proficiency of my previous state. Now I am able to scroll down on webpages without poking my middle finger at a non-existent scroll wheel. Now I can view my monitor at something other than 640x480 resolution. Now I can type without running the risk of giving myself and those around me long term hearing damage.

It's almost like getting a whole new computer! It looks new, it feels new. As far as I'm concerned I'm using the most up to date computer on the market.

As a matter of fact I've been thinking about making similar upgrades to my home computer recently. I really want a nice soft touch keyboard (not unlike the one I am currently using at work). So I went to to look and see what deals I could find. There were some pretty nice keyboards and some pretty inexpensive keyboards but what I'm looking for is a simple keyboard. It seems that every keyboard one can get at Best Buy or CompUSA is insanely overloaded with useless features.

Firstly it seems that all the nice soft touch keyboards are wireless. Now I'm a huge fan of advancement of technology and I love the idea that computer technology is constantly improving but this advancement can just go straight to hell. What could be more useless than a keyboard that's going to go onto my desk in exactly the same spot as my old keyboard with the exception that I have to put fresh batteries in it every couple of months? That's more than useless, that's just annoying.

Secondly I would like to have just a keyboard. I don't need play, stop, pause and rewind buttons. I don't need a button that automatically opens Internet Explorer. I don't need a button to open my email program. And I don't need a volume knob for my freaking computer speakers. The control on the speakers will work just fine! I don't need a little cute button with a magnifying glass that will open a search engine window. I don't need a button to open Windows Calculator. I don't need zoom in and zoom out buttons. I don't need a button called "X'fer" particularly because I haven't the slightest clue what that could possibly mean.

Here's what I do want:

  • A keyboard that is compact and feels good.
  • 26 letter keys (preferably one of each).
  • A number pad and arrow keys.
  • Delete, Home and End keys.

I don't need "Insert". The only thing that the insert key does is accidentally get pressed every so often and then drive me insane for the next five minutes as I try to figure out what the hell is going wrong with my computer. I don't even need a tilde. Who uses the tilde? It would be one thing if you could place it over a letter the way it's supposed to be used, but you can only use it by itself. That seems to me to be kind of useless apart from naming weird directories in Windows. The same goes with the circumflex ^ above the 6 key. I also don't need these {}, This | or this `. That last one appears to be an accent grave. This has the same problem as ^ and ~ and adds the extra aggravation of reminding you how incomplete the keyboard is for not having an accent aigu.

Clearly we are all aware that "Scroll Lock" is horribly useless. I've been using computers since I was about seven and up until yesterday I had never been able to figure out what scroll lock even did! Yesterday I accidentally hit it at work and it frustrated me for about half an hour as I tried to figure out why I couldn't switch cells in Microsoft Excel. Now that I know what Scroll Lock does I am even more annoyed because I realize that it does a horrible, terrible thing. A horrible, terrible, useless thing. Maybe a more appropriate name for this little button would be "Sad Lock".

As the years go on keyboards keep increasing and increasing in size. Pretty soon we're all going to be sitting in a giant wrap-around booth like Max Rebo in Jabba the Hutt's house band, swivelling around and accidentally programming our VCRs or feeding our dogs when all we want to do is send out a hilarious joke email that's been going around the office about the President of France being gay.

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