Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The incredible disappearing Q W E R T Y

The incredible disappearing QWERTY.
What is the most important tool for me as a writer?  That is easy: a keyboard.  I mention this as I have noticed that over the years of owning various computers that the keyboard letters are fading more quickly with each new purchase as I upgrade. In essence, as I upgrade the computer, technology seems to be downgrading the durability of the lettering.  I am fairly proficient at keyboarding, but I do use certain letters as landmarks for where other keys are when I am not sitting at my desk.

You know the routine.  There are several things to get done, so I turn on the computer, run to move laundry to the dryer, come back and enter my login, but I am not sitting down, so I have to hunt and peck to locate the keys.  Only, E, R, T, I, S, D, H, L, C, and N are completely gone, and several are in the process of disappearing.  So this simple entering of a login turns into a frustrating moment of trying to visualize a keyboard my fingers know well, but my eyes do not.

Each time I sit down at my computer and note this particular annoyance, I think of a new way I can replace these keys markers:  paint (the obvious: would nail polish work?  I have a really nice opalescent.), etch them in with a hot needle (somewhat raised as the original keyboards were), replace the keys, buy replacement stickers, buy a new keyboard (really?!), etc.

Sure keyboards are a throw away item, so excess durability is useless.  But I want to be the one to decide when my keyboard is ready to go the will-a-the-wisp, and I'll make the decision based on letters showing or not showing on my screen not disappearing off my keyboard.

Maybe I just need to use my P's and Q's a lot more and my R's and E's a lot less.

Update:  I purchased replacement letters to stick on the blank keys.  Then my husband bought me a new computer a month later. So the keyboard letter wear is great on the old keyboard. My new one: well less than a year later the lovely backlit letters began to not fade, but disappear in a whole new fashion.

The keys are cut into the layer of "paint" so the light can glow the letter. But that "paint" is getting scratched off so my keyboard letters are now taking on this sort of smudged effect, rather like a ultra modernist painter swished a vaguely alphabetic impression on the board. The culprit letters are: E, S, D, T, N and M.  No surprise there. Except that I had the previous keyboard near ten years, and this one lasted a mere year.

I am still not using those P's and Q's all that much.

Any suggestions?  Should we strike, demand keyboards with raised letters, argue functionality over bells and whistles?  Maybe I'll just nail polish this time.

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