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[personal|tech] Etaoin shrdlu - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
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Jay Lake
Date: 2013-01-18 05:08
Subject: [personal|tech] Etaoin shrdlu
Security: Public
Tags:apple, funny, language, personal, photos, tech
Here's a photo of my MacBook Air keyboard after 13 months of use:

Keyboard Damage

You'll note the leftmost keys in etaoin shrdlu are almost destroyed. This is the longest I've had a keyboard last in years.

I'm a two-fingered typist, with some thumb assist. I do about 65 words per minute (corrected) when I'm in full flow. Clearly I strike harder with my left index finger than with my right. Also, I use my left index finger point down, so the nail almost always hits the keyboard, while I use my right index finger pad down, so the nail almost never hits the keyboard. I strike more keys with my right as well, as my left finger travel usually stops at either RFV or TGB.

What does this mean? Other than a trip to the Apple Store for a replacement keyboard, heck if I know. At least the MacBook Air has a sturdier keyboard that my old white MacBook, which needed replacement two or three times a year. But then, I type somewhere between one and two millions words per year on my keyboards, depending on how sick I am and how much I write, which would seem to be near the high end of the design duty cycle, based on how quickly I kill them.

Do you kill keyboards? How often?




Photo © 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.

Creative Commons License

This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Post A Comment | 24 Comments | | Link






wyld_dandelyon: Allegedly Sleepy
User: wyld_dandelyon
Date: 2013-01-18 13:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Allegedly Sleepy
As a touch typer, I don't need to see the letters, and it can take months for me to even notice that I've obliterated the lettering on a key.

If the keys still work, you could try covering the tops with clear nail polish to protect the printed letters.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-01-18 13:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've actually chipped away most of the E and A keys, so I'm nearly striking the mechanism beneath. They're close to the point of mechanical failure. I think this is because I'm striking with the nail, not the pad, of my left index finger.
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nojay
User: nojay
Date: 2013-01-18 14:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was doing some IT work in a hospital and found the keycaps on the keyboards used by the office secretaries, dictation typists etc. were unreadable as they used copious amounts of hand sanitiser to prevent cross-infection on the wards and the gunk dissolved the printing on the plastic over a few months of intensive use.
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wyld_dandelyon: Creative Dragon
User: wyld_dandelyon
Date: 2013-01-19 01:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Creative Dragon
It helps to add the protective layer before you start using it.

However, I'm sure typing that fast with two fingers adds unusual stress to the process.
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Rafe: clank
User: etcet
Date: 2013-01-18 13:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:clank
Mine seldom suffer mechanical failure - they usually succumb to spilled coffee (because my usual sugar/cream is just the right blend to short stuff out as well as make it sticky).

I'm an almost-conventional four-fingered typist (my pinkies are pretty much out of the loop, and I shift pretty much exclusively with my left hand and space predominantly with my right). This is my... year? year-and-a-half? -old MS Natural 4000 at the office (I have the same one at home). Lots of ball of the finger and side of the thumb action.

Interestingly, the keyboard on my Asus netbook shows almost no wear and tear after two years - just a bit of shininess where the right thumb strikes the space bar and a bit less on the frequently-struck letters.
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barbarienne
User: barbarienne
Date: 2013-01-18 17:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, yes, shininess on the space bar! I've worn the matte coating off more than one space bar, for sure.
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nojay
User: nojay
Date: 2013-01-18 13:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Desktop keyboards tend to last longer than laptop or notebook keyboards. I've been typing on this Olivetti keyboard for more than ten years now, got it out of a skip where they were dumping old 286 computers in the mid 1990s after it had been in service for at least five years. Its longevity may be due to the fact it was made by a company that also made typewriters in the past -- my stash of just-in-case spare keyboards include a couple of classic IBM Model M "Indefatigable" keyboards complete with 5-pin DIN to PS/2 adapters.
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inamac: writing
User: inamac
Date: 2013-01-18 13:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:writing
The letters on my Toshiba keyboard are offset to the top left corner of the key so last much longer (a simple design feature at no extra cost). Although the N and M keys are now virtually indistinguishable.
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desperance: luke
User: desperance
Date: 2013-01-18 20:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:luke
Oh, is that why they put the letters up there? (My Microsoft ergonomic keyboard is the same, and I think most or all of my keyboards for the last X years have been. I guess when I first saw it I assumed it was a design feature for its own sake, 'cos it looked kinda cool, and then I just took it for granted thereafter.)
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2013-01-18 14:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't kill keyboards, but I'm a touch typist (learned on a portable far too many years ago) and I'm picky about keyboard feel. Last time I was clocked I came in at around 90 wpm...and that was when I was working as a clerical temp.

I suspect I'm faster now.
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Autopope
User: autopope
Date: 2013-01-18 15:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The Apple Store won't be able to replace your keyboard on the spot -- unlike the old iBooks of yore (with the modular slot-in keyboard) the Airbook keyboard replacement requires gutting the machine.

If I were you, I'd make two time machine backups to separate hard drives before taking the laptop in, and expect to come home with a new machine and perform a restore-from-backup, while Apple return your old machine to the factory for a full refurb and sell it on. Straightforward, but time-consuming.

I assume you're covered by AppleCare, in which case it shouldn't cost anything (but time). If not, I suspect you'll have to pay rather more than you expect -- their "refurb" back at the factory may consist of salvaging the lid/display, SSD, and upper body and trashing the rest of the motherboard/keyboard/RAM as not economical to repair.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-01-18 15:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, definitely on board with AppleCare, and I routinely do double Time Machine backups. :D

Yeah, time. Be nice if it happened when I was in surgery, but that might require more logistics than I can manage right now...
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barbarienne
User: barbarienne
Date: 2013-01-18 17:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have worn letters off keyboards before, but it takes a lot longer.

Then again, when I measure my writing output in Lake Units, it always starts with a decimal point before we can add real numbers. You touch your keys a lot more than I touch mine. (Yes, that sounds dirty. You're welcome. ;-)

I mostly kill keyboards by banging on them until the little springs get messed up or electrical connections under a particular key break. I used a manual typewriter for many years, and I'm still hitting a little too hard for the newer low-profile Macintosh keyboards.

I am astounded that you are a two-finger typist, even after so many zillion words. I was never taught touch-typing, but I naturally evolved a kind of six-finger style (not so much with the pinkies) and I don't need to look at the keyboard anymore.
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barbarienne
User: barbarienne
Date: 2013-01-18 17:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Um, I don't mean that last paragraph to sound snotty. I am genuine fascinated that you have been doing this for a long time and retain the two-finger habit. It's always interesting to me to discover that other people work differently.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-01-18 17:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
No worries. I didn't take it snotty.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-01-18 17:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, I don't need to look at it. I'm a two-fingered touch typist, basically.
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barbarienne
User: barbarienne
Date: 2013-01-18 21:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Okay, that's even wilder!

Even my made-up six-finger thing gives me positioning feedback on the F and J keys once in a while. You've got some serious proprioception working to be able to two-finger type without looking down.
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Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2013-01-18 18:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I too am surprised that you're not a touch typist, Jay, especially given your level of productivity. May I ask why? And whether you've ever either tried to learn to touch-type, or at least considered it?

My handwriting is atrocious, and I learned to touch-type when I was 12 or 13 so I could stay up late and write stories with my eyes closed, and without my hand cramping. It also helped with schoolwork to be able to turn in typed papers instead of illegible ones.

I've never "killed" a keyboard, but I've had a few wear out; they generally last me 5-10 years. I vastly prefer the ergonomic keyboards that have a separation in the middle and slant up and back on either side; the straight-across flat ones (like for laptops) now give me wrist issues.

I clock in at probably about 90-110 wpm. Many years ago, when I was doing secretarial work, I was timed at 108 wpm.
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User: mmegaera
Date: 2013-01-18 18:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Wow. I've never met anyone who wore a keyboard out before (as opposed to killing it by, say, pouring something on it).

I'm a touch typist (took typing in high school decades ago back when you took shorthand, too), about 90 wpm last I checked, and the letters on my desktop keyboard (seven years old) are still as clear as the day I bought it (if a lot dirtier), and on my two-year-old netbook (where I do all my fiction writing) still has nice clear letters, too.
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desperance: luke
User: desperance
Date: 2013-01-18 20:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:luke
My cat destroyed a keyboard one time, by tipping a glass of wine all over it. I don't think I ever have. Taught myself to touch-type forty years ago, and I've been a nine-fingered typist ever since (my left thumb is useless to me; the system I learned makes the right thumb do all the space-work). I think I'm also light-fingered; most keyboards last me four or five years before I upgrade, and though I've worn keys down I've never broken one. (I did have a half-formed theory once that people who learned to type in order to program were heavier-handed than people who learned to type in order to write fiction, but it died for lack of evidence.)

I am kinda fussy about the feel of a keyboard; also I'm more and more keen on ergonomics. I really, really want a Maltron 3-D board, but they're way expensive.
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Msconduct
User: msconduct
Date: 2013-01-18 21:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Despite all-day use, I don't kill keyboards, which is a relief as I have an fancy $800 Kinesis keyboard (which is worth every cent as it is not only a joy to type on but helps keep my OOS at bay).
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-01-19 00:04 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Rapidamente! Si!
Since you have high end technology, why not use voice recognition?

Mostly because I don't talk the way I write. I swear, I have two language centers in my brain. One runs my mouth, the other runs my typing fingers. My syntax and diction and stylistic choices are *very* different in written narrative than in spoken word narrative.

I have actually considered using dictation or speech rec to take down stories in what would be a rather different voice for me.
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smoking catnip and chasing my tail: EVIL
User: jettcat
Date: 2013-01-19 02:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:EVIL
I have yet to kill a keyboard.
*knocks on something resembling wood*
I do use keyboard skins from KB Covers
http://www.kbcovers.com/servlet/Categories?category=MacBook+Air+11-inch%3AUS+Keyboard

I started with black skins with white letters when I was a hunt and peck typist, but self taught myself touch typing and have converted to the clear skin covers now. It prevents stray crumbs and errant splashes of coffee from keyboard woe. When you type thru the skin and threaten the letter images, you swap out for a new one. They are reasonably priced and last a year to two years for me, but your mileage may vary.
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Lethran: Angel
User: gwyd
Date: 2013-01-19 07:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Angel
I go through the first four or five letters in about three months. Rather than replace a kyboard or the laptop that often, I purchased small key sized labels from an office supply store. I write the letters on them in permanent ink, afix them, then cover with clear tape to help extend the life of the label. It's cheaper, ultimatelyless hassle than going to the store and they can last up to six months, thus double the time factory keyboard lettering last.
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