WARNING: This blog contains random thoughts on technology, software engineering, and general all-round nerdery. Read at your own risk. Nerd is contagious.

Friday, March 10, 2006

New Keyboard

The funny thing about instant messaging is that your conversational timing still matters. I was never good at typing until I first got on the internet back in 1997 (hey! I was in Bangladesh! Third world, anyone??) only because I had friends on ICQ. I just did the ol' "lets-not-lo^h^hok-at-teh-kaybo^h^hrd trick", and eventually, it worked.

My favorite keyboard has always been the Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro, which is now discontinued. Many people think that to use an ergonomic "split" keyboard, you have to be trained in the Black Art of Touch Typing (aka Mavis Beaconus). Nonsense I say! I definitely am not a traditional typer by any means. Ok so I don't employ the 2-finger claw-hand like my wife Ashley does, but I'd say I get my fingers on the right key at the right moment.

One fine day, which from now on is known as "The CounterStrike Incident," I totally lost it when I got pwn3d by some n00b who got lucky with his AWP. Consequence? Broken spacebar. But I couldn't replace my keyboard! I mean it sort of worked, but you had to press really hard. That's ok right?

Eventually I came to terms with my loss and went to the usual places, Worst Buy et. al., but Microsoft had done away with natural keyboards and replaced them with everything wireless! Don't get me wrong, I've always loved Microsoft hardware, and it's a shame that they went out of the gaming hardware market, but I couldn't understand the wireless fandom.

There's something about battery-powered input devices that just don't feel right. (Stop right there sicko, I'm talking about keyboards and mice.) To a normal person, they are probably fine. But I couldn't help but feel that there is a lag. It's very subtle but it makes your computer feel less responsive. It's probably all mental, I know, but trust me on this one.

Recently, Microsoft has gone back to its old ways and have once again started releasing ergonomic keyboards. In particular, they have released the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. It's definitely the sucessor to the (late) Natural Keyboard Pro, and I had to have it! Now tracking down that mouthful of a keyboard was no easy task. All the Best Buys near my area were out of stock. CompUSA, forget it. Circuit city? Back order. I guess I wasn't the only nerd looking. Finally, today I got lucky.

The keyboard is very sturdy and doesn't feel cheap at all. The keys all depress easily and are really really quiet. The split design is a little different than a normal ergonomic keyboard, but I like it. Unlike other ergonomic keyboards, this one actually angles down at the front, so the keys are actually at a downward slope away from you. I thought this would be weird, but it actually works! Best of all, MS went back to the ol' 3x2 layout for the Insert/Home/PgUp keys. They've also moved the 'Sleep' button so it's not at the top right corner (right next to the num pad), making it harder to accidentally hit it.

Wow, this is a long post about a keyboard. I'd say if you're looking to get a new keyboard, give this one a shot. Even if you've never used an ergonomic keyboard before, you'll be surprised at how quickly you'll get used to it.


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