Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Keyboard 101

I spilled coffee on my keyboard yesterday morning. I would like to blame it all on DH, but he insists I take my share of the blame. I grabbed some paper towels and started cleaning up. I could see coffee down between the keys (on the lower left side, from Caps Lock to F and down to Ctrl, Start, and Alt). I used the edge of the paper towel to absorb the fluid until the towel wasn't picking up any more fluid. I felt very clever. Then DH recommended I tip the keyboard on its side. When I did, so much coffee FLOWED out of my keyboard! I was astonished. I had to get more paper towels. I suddenly didn't feel so clever.

When no more coffee was dripping out I threw away the paper towels and tried to get back to what I was doing (entering our movie collection into Excel. Yes, we are geeks. DH's entire immediate family is composed of geeks, which they are proud of, and I fit right in, much to the chagrin of my liberal arts family (j/k) (In other words, his family received B.S. degrees while my family received B.A. degrees. Not liberal as in the political spectrum) By having our movie collection in Excel, we can easily organize it by length, leading actor, director, or any other element, and choose our evening entertainment quickly and easily. DH was helping me, and he stacked too many DVD's too high, they fell, and bumped my coffee mug over. Which is why I blamed him. But he insisted that I gave the OK to stack them there and therefore the accident was my fault.)

So, we're entering information into Excel, I tried to copy something from one cell into another and my window minimized. Very strange. DH recommended I save before we lose all our work. I tried, and my window minimized. Very strange. Now, if you're not familiar with keyboard shortcuts, let me give you the missing piece to this puzzle. The shortcut for copy is Ctrl+C or Ctrl+X (Cut) and the shortcut for Save is Ctrl+S. Have you solved the mystery? The Ctrl key was not cooperating. Every time I pushed it, my window minimized. DH recommended (he's very good at giving recommendations, isn't he?) that I unplug the keyboard and let it dry. I reminded him that he has taken apart his keyboards before, couldn't he please do the same for mine?

He did:

Have you ever seen a naked keyboard before? I didn't know you could pop the keys off like that until I was dating DH. (He had taken his apart and washed the keys in the bathroom sink. Then he left the keys in a pile on the floor. If you didn't remember they were there, you were certainly reminded when you stepped on them in bare feet. Ouch!)

The picture may not be big enough for you to see well, but the keyboard is FILTHY. There's all manner of cat hair and grit, the coffee has mostly dried and turned into a gicky brown substance, and, yes, that is a paper clip on the right (between where Shift and Enter normally are).

This morning DS "helped" me clean it. All he wanted to do was play with the keys that were still attached. (We never let him play on the computer. Computers are expensive, delicate machines! Of course, we had no problem letting him play on everyone else's computer while we were on vacation. "Of course we'll fix anything he messes up! No worries!" Now he expects to play on mine. Oops.) It took me several wet q-tips, pressurized air, and a dust buster, but I finally got the coffee cleaned up and the worst of the cat hair out. Then it was time to put it together.

DH went to work this morning and took his laptop, which means I had no other keyboard to look at. My computer requires a password to log in, so I couldn't use it to help me. Do you know where all the keys go on a keyboard, without help? Not easy. I got most of it, but the parts I didn't know, I really didn't know. And I didn't want to put things in the wrong spot. As much fun as that would be as a practical joke, I didn't feel like playing it on myself. (No matter what the little plastic key says on it, it will be whatever it's SUPPOSED to be when you push it. So you could make the top row read AZERTY, but it will type QWERTY (unless you go into the software and switch it, which you can, btw)) I finally had to call DH and ask him to read the keyboard to me. The bottom row is what totally stumped me. ZXCVBNM?? Who ever came up with that crazy combination??

Actually, I've heard different theories on why our keyboards are organized the way they are. One is that it's organzied to best facilitate fast typing. Letters that we use alot are placed in easy reach, while less frequently used letters are harder to reach. This would explain why we use QWERTY, and France (for example) uses AZERTY. Other explanation I heard more recently is that it was organized in such a way as to prevent typewriter keys from hitting each other while typing and we're still using the same configuration. I suppose I could jump on Wikipedia (the source of all my knowledge) and find out, but I don't feel like it.

Suffice to say that my keyboard is working perfectly again. It's cleaner inside than it was (I didn't say spotless), the keys are all back in their proper places, and no unexpected actions occur when I push the keys.

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