Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2020/ Bad Keyboard

Bad Keyboard

In these COVID-y times I am grateful to have a computer that is powerful enough to do video conferencing. Without it I do not know what I would do. Certainly I would not be able to teach (or "teach") this term.

But this computer has two awful keyboard problems. Firstly, it is jumpy. For some reason I do not understand, my cursor jumps all over the screen as I type. I used to think this was because I accidentally brushed the trackpad, but I do not think that is the case. I think this keyboard just has problems with whatever X-Window/Linux kernel/Xubuntu component that is driving it, and so the keyboard sends spurious events.

This is incredibly frustrating. It makes it difficult to type and more difficult to do live demos. I am continually apologising for accidentally deleting what I just typed. Long form writing is also a pain. I am reluctant to type because of this jumpiness.

The other big problem has to do with the keyboard positioning. This laptop has a keyboard with a numpad, which is a huge pain. My hands have to be shifted to the left of the screen instead of centred on the laptop. I can maybe blame the jumpiness on my own incompetence in tracking down whatever Linux problem is causing the incompatibility, but the keypad positioning is a design disaster, and pretty much any laptop with a screen big enough to program effectively suffers from this problem.

Then there is my netbook, on which I am typing now. The keyboard is awful on this computer too, but in completely different ways. They keyboard is squashy, and often keys either double type or do not come out at all. Food particles get stuck under the keys and irritate me until I pop the key caps to clean underneath. One of these days I will break a keycap, and that will be that.

The enter key is narrow and spans two rows, which in itself is okay except that it completely messes up the "\" key, which I use more than you would expect.

I guess I am spoiled rotten, because although I am grateful to have two working computers during this pandemic, they are both driving me up the wall. You would be surprised at how frustrating/distracting it is to run into these minor irritations every time you try to type a simple sentence. I suppose owning a computer where the keyboard works reliably is out of the question for me here on in. Given that I stay home now and do not go out to talks, I now wonder whether I should just get a desktop computer again. At least then I could change the keyboard if I did not like it.