“The most overlooked advantage of owning a computer is that if they foul up there’s no law against whacking them around a bit.”
– Eric Porterfield
I just spent an unreasonably long time fixing my keyboard. About two weeks ago, the spacebar key started doing something weird. I was in the middle of doing a Logical Tips newsletter, so I just swapped it out for my “backup” keyboard.
At this point, many people would say, “hey, it’s just a keyboard, why didn’t you just throw it away?” The problem is that I’m sort of a keyboard nut. Most keyboards that come with computers today are, well, junk. (Okay, think of a stronger scatological term and you’ll approach what I really think about them.) I contend that the reason for the increase in carpal tunnel problems is not just due to the advent of the mouse, but also because of the increase in cheapie keyboards. I believe I’ve never had problems with my hands after all these years because I use a pen tablet instead of a mouse and have spent the big bucks for a “clicky” keyboard.
Back in the olden days of computing, keyboards were LOUD because they were mechanical. Each key clicked as you typed, giving you what keyboard aficionados call “tactile feedback.” New keyboards have a “mushy” squishy feel and don’t click. Apparently, this squishiness is because the keys are positioned on a plastic “membrane” that covers the entire keyboard. Older keyboards used a mechanical switch for each key. Now you can only get keyboards with mechanical switches if you spend quite a bit of money on them.
Because I spend so much time at my keyboard, I have spent money to get keyboards that aren’t the typical shoddy ones you get with a computer these days. For a few years, I had an old Keytronic that wasn’t bad but I spent even more money on an Avant Stellar keyboard.
More years ago than I like to think about, I had a Northgate OmniKey Ultra keyboard. A lot of people, including me, think those keyboards were some of the best keyboards ever made. When I read that the folks at Creative Vision Technologies had taken the original Omnikey design and resurrected it as the Avant Stellar, I had to have one. And I absolutely love it. It behaves and sounds just like my old OmniKey. No other keyboard I’ve ever used since the Northgate even comes close.
So bearing in mind this unreasonable attachment to my Avant Stellar keyboard, not having it available for a week was a huge bummer. However, the problem was easily solved. Because it’s actually made out of metal, you can unscrew the top and really get down into it. Plus, with a keyboard that uses mechanical switches, you can pull the keycaps off and put them back on.
After I took off the cover, and started pulling a few caps, as I suspected, the problem wasn’t really with the keyboard, but with hair.
Yes hair. The keyboard had so much dog hair wrapped around some of the keys it looked like small animals were multiplying in there. So armed with a pair of tweezers, a can of compressed air and a lot of patience, I have removed much dog hair and the keyboard works great again.
Of course, my four dogs who were the real cause of the problem, slept through the whole thing.