Happy new keyboard day to me!

When I initially set this site up all those years ago, I never really planned for it to become a daily “blog” type thing. That just sort of happened. Much in the same way that I never intended for it to become a daily thing, I also never really planned to stop posting, that also just sort of happened.

As I write now, I have just had a birthday (33 candles, happy birthday to me!). As I sit and think about it, I have had more changes in my life -very drastic changes- in the last year (18 months to be fair) than I had experienced in the other 31+ years leading up to it. Without going into too much boring detail, I will just say that now, for the first time I can really remember, my life doesn’t suck. I am not unhappy. I can’t think of anything that I would really want to change or improve (sure I would love to be rich, and I have always wanted to have chiseled abs, but one mustn’t be greedy). A lot of what I used to post about here was self-deprecating, and with the changes in my life over the last year or so, I am just about out of that type of material. I guess what I am getting at here is that happiness just isn’t a very rich subject to write about.

That is the deep, philosophical reason for why I haven’t been posting anything lately. Now for the shallow, material reason that I haven’t been posting anything: My keyboard sucks!

I bought a new keyboard about a year ago, I remember writing a post about the process, but I can’t seem to find it now. Anyway, I always have a problem finding a keyboard because it has to, and I mean has to have four very simple features:

1) It has to be a v-shaped keyboard. Most companies call that “ergonomic”, but I happened across a keyboard that used that term for a standard keyboard. I guess having some wrist padding on the front of it also qualifies it as such. When I do get to writing, I write a lot and I write pretty fast. A standard keyboard starts to really burn on my wrists after only thirty minutes or so of concentrated writing action, so when I do decide to write something, I need the relative comfort of the v shape or it is right out the window.

2) The left, down, and right arrow have to be lined up side by side. I always thought that this was the only configuration for them until I started trying to find a new keyboard. For some reason a lot of keyboards now have all the arrow keys lined up almost in a cross pattern; like a video game controller. I can’t use them when they are set up like that. When you spend 30 years typing on them in one configuration, it is difficult to change to another layout. So any keyboard that doesn’t meet this very simple standard is out of the question.

3) The backspace key has to be a double-sized key. I am so used to using a larger backspace key, and I use it so often to correct myself while typing that if it is a standard, letter-sized key, I will end up with sentences that look like this “Teh=he cow jumpd=ed over teh=he mon=on”. That is assuming that the key next to the backspace is the “=” key. I don’t look at the keys while I type, but I also don’t really look at the screen. When I am typing, I am putting it to paper (well, the keyboard) as fast as I am thinking it, and I know, even without looking at either, when I have made a mistake. I will correct the mistakes as I go without ever having to look down. Unless, of course, the backspace key has been secretly replaced by another key, in which case I will be throwing a whole bunch of random characters in that I will have to go back and decipher later. So, no double-sized backspace key, no keyboard for me.

4) The [insert][home][page up] keys have to be in a single row right above another row with the [delete][end][page down] keys. For unknown reasons, some keyboards have changed those rows to being only 2 keys wide but three keys high. That may save them a fraction of an inch in overall keyboard width, but it seriously fucks with me when I am trying to find the keys. I may not get a hell of a lot of use out of those keys, but they need to be where they should be, and in the right damn order, when I do need them.

It would seem like those four things would be easy enough to find in a keyboard, but in practice, it is hard as hell to find all four on the same keyboard. First off, it seems that the v-shaped keyboards are falling out of favor. It used to be that if you searched keyboards at any pc supply website, you would get at least half of the returns for v-shaped ones. Now it seems that there are usually only one or two, usually either Microsoft or a brand that you have never heard of. Never anything in the middle of the road on that one. Not a cheaper one from a company that you may have bought some other product from to be able to judge whether you would like it or not based on previous experience (unless you count Microsoft, but if I get to basing whether I will like a keyboard on how much I hate the latest version of their OS, I will never buy another MS product. I still think it has been straight downhill since windows 3.1), either Microsoft of Nakashimiashi. Nothing else.

The last time I bought a keyboard, every Microsoft keyboard that I could find was missing one of my four key features. In fact the only keyboard that I could find which actually had all four was a Belkin, which I am sure you will all recognize as the leading manufacturer of pc accessories (I put that in as sarcasm, but for all I know they really are). The keyboard looked just about like this one:

I started having problems with it almost immediately. Since the shape of the keyboard is basically like a little hill, with the t and y keys right about the top of it, one would assume that the keys were somehow set up so that the keystrokes would be slightly off from straight down. One would be wrong. So while my hands were not sitting flat, it was required that I push the keys down straight, else they would be hard to push, and also stick a lot. This was a nuisance for sure, but something that I got used to since it was my only option other than a keyboard that either wasn’t v-shaped, or one that was missing most of the other features I was looking for.

As time passed though, the problem got much, much worse. The last time I actually tried to type anything other than an instant message on it, I had to spend at least 3x as long correcting myself as I did writing it in the first place. The keys were sticking on nearly every word, and some of them didn’t get pressed hard enough (or straight enough down) to show up at all. Note that the keyboard still function just fine, you just have to hold your hands slightly raised from it while you type. If you rest your palms in their natural position, you can’t push the keys straight down. That is both maddening and painful.

After having to type something on my pc, the wife decided to gift me a new keyboard for my birthday. See, she hated it so much after just one session, and a short one at that, that she had to do something about it. She ran into the same wall when trying to find a keyboard that was suitable though. When she finally did find one that matched all of my criteria, it was actually a Microsoft one. The one that she bought me looks just like this:

The layout of the keys is right, but the shape is just a bit odd. Some of the keys really are curved a little bit, and it feels a bit odd to type on it. However, it doesn’t seem to be having the same issue the old one did when it comes to pushing down the keys. Also to note that I didn’t install whatever it was that came on the cd with the thing. I have never done that with any microsoft product that I have plugged into my machine; every problem I have with my pc is with a microsoft product. Be it windows or messenger (which I use very rarely, and which always encounters an error on close), every pc problem is microsoft related and I somehow doubt that adding more ms products to it is likely to help -like putting gasoline on a fire to put it out. For now it seems to be working just fine for me.

And who knows, maybe if the keyboard works out okay for me, I might go ahead and throw a post up here from time to time.

I make no promises.

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