Keyboards

Subject: Keyboards
From: Dan Strychalski <dski -at- CAMEONET -dot- CAMEO -dot- COM -dot- TW>
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 1997 15:01:10 +0800

Keyboards. Ah, keyboards.

If learning to touch-type on a Selectric makes one a pounder, what does
learning on a manual do? By that reasoning, I ought to be more than a
pounder.... Fact is, I've seen young folks who probably never used either
a manual or an electric do an excellent imitation of a pile driver on a
computer keyboard. No, if you like to pound, you like to pound. It's all
right, we understand. Everything will be just fine....

(Slightly) more seriously, if you can pound on a clacker, why can't you
pound on a softie? Pounders' need for clackers says something about why
they pound. It would be interesting to see if there's a correlation
between whether one likes to type and whether one is a pounder. (I hear
there are people with degrees in technical writing who can touch-type but
hate typing. Kind of like a race driver who hates driving.)

It is almost always difficult to switch keyboards, but after going from
manuals to electrics to mag-cards to electronics to Apple IIs I figured
I'd better be adaptable. Sure, objectively bad keyboards do exist, but
it's mostly (MOSTLY, I said) a matter of what you're used to.

In '85-86 a pal and I used CP/M systems with the smoothest, quietest
keyboards you can imagine -- not mushy by any means, but firm and
clickless. Shortly after switching to IBM-type micros with IBM-type
clackers he said, "These machines are great, but I sure do miss my old
keyboard." Well, here in Taiwan, you have to look _hard_ to find anything
but a clacker. Now the same guy won't look at a softie, and he gets
evasive when I mention his earlier statement.

Me, I used a softie at work and a clacker at home very happily for many
years -- but we were living in a barn of an apartment with my workroom at
one end and the bedrooms at the other. Then we moved into a much smaller
place, so I switched to a softie. In addition, my desk at work is in a
cul-de-sac, so I prefer a softie there, too, for my own sake as well as
those of others. (If I were still in the sales and marketing group's
area, though -- think "S-M" and you'll have the picture -- I would haul
out the Northgate superclacker -- and maybe some other assets I keep in
reserve -- and go to town. But I definitely prefer softies now.)

Bill McClain (AlumsHubby -at- aol -dot- com) wrote --

> I'd rather have less audible feedback and more quiet. Maybe I'm wrong, but
> it seems that they take less effort to type on, so I'm more comfortable after
> long stretches of text entry.

It bears repeating that I use the keyboard -- the useful, necessary keys,
not the wasted plastic outside the QWERTY block -- not only for text
entry but for everything -- EVERYTHING -- except drawing bitmaps (and it
would be ridiculously easy to write software that let you work on bitmaps
through the QWERTY block almost as conveniently as you can with a
pointing device).

> Unlike practically everybody who's responded, I like the soft, mushy kinds
> of keyboards...but can't figure out who makes, where to buy. And I wonder if
> anybody else prefers that style.

Yup. I've been using an Acer Accufeel for a few months now and like it a
lot. Had a Kanrich before that; the feel was OK but some of the keys
started making loud popping sounds after about a month so I chucked it.
The Accufeel's right Shift key had a tendency to stick, so I put a small,
firm piece of foam rubber under it and it has worked perfectly ever
since. I like the Accufeel almost as much as I like the keyboard on my
Toshiba laptop. I've heard good things about Toshiba desktop systems'
keyboards, too.

Carolyn Haley (dcma -at- ct1 -dot- nai -dot- net) wrote --

> I equate contemporary PC keyboards with Chiclet gum pieces.

"Chiclet keyboard" is a jargon term used extensively in the industry for
a certain cheap kind of keyboard rarely seen nowadays except, I *think*,
on point-of-sale terminals -- the kind with a continuous membrane top,
bumps (and sometimes not even those) for keys, and no action to speak of.

Several people seem to be sold on IBM PS/2 keyboards. Never saw one and
don't want to. IBM moved Ctrl out of the home row in 1986. A pox on 'em.

Dan Strychalski
dski -at- cameonet -dot- cameo -dot- com -dot- tw

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