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keyboard trends

Ethan Schwartz wrote:
> Tom Metro wrote:
>> Newer HP laptops reverse the logic of the Fn modifier key, such
>> that you have to press the modifier to get the traditional F1-F12
>> function.
> Those same HP's also have an option in their BIOS that lets you decide
> whether to the Fn modifier default to on or off, so it's user customizable
> if you know where to look

Ah, good to know.

Anyone know if the hardware-centric key functions (bright/dim; vol
up/down; etc.) produce some sort of standard scan codes? I've been
assuming that they are proprietary, due to the way they tend to vary by
laptop model, but seeing them on that Genius desktop USB keyboard makes
me wonder. (Though most of those keys are media keys, which I think are

> My fingers tend to catch on the 90* edge of the keys as I type.

Interesting. I didn't notice that with my brief trial of the Genius and
Apple keyboards.

Bill Horne wrote:
> Cntl-X|C|V is universal AFAIK...

I believe the Shift-Delete/Ctrl-Insert/Shift-Insert shortcuts for
cut/copy/paste were introduced to Windows back in the 2.0/3.0 era, and
considered part of IBM Common User Access (CUA)[1] standard, or at least
Microsoft's interpretation of it. (Yeah, according to Wikipedia, those
are the CUA shortcuts for cut/copy/paste.)


I think the Ctrl-X/C/V combo was the windowized version of Apple's
Option-X/C/V and adopted later on Windows. I'm pretty sure it was a
while before that combo was universally supported by all widgets on Windows.

Thus, I'm preferential to Shift-Delete/Ctrl-Insert/Shift-Insert. Not to
mention that my typing is right-hand dominated and those keys are all
easily typed with the right hand.

> "Chiclet" keys are probably the result of pressure-pad switch
> matrices instead of individual switches under each key.

The 80's version, yes. Typically a one-piece silicone membrane,
sometimes with plastic key caps.

The modern version has more typical mechanical key switches underneath.
Though how "mechanical" a typical modern keyboard switch is, is another
matter. Most use a far simpler mechanism than IBM's "buckling spring"

Jarod Wilson wrote:
> Mine is without number keys, and I haven't missed makes for
> a lot of spare room on my desk with such a tiny keyboard (which sits
> alongside an Apple Magic Trackpad, which I also really like).

I've always preferred a keyboard without a number pad, both for the
space savings and that it allows you to place the mouse closer to where
your hands are on the keyboard.

I wonder why no one has made a keyboard with a track ball in place of
the number pad. I remember seeing a few keyboards with track balls on
them back in the early 90's, but I'm pretty sure they still had number
pads. They were huge.

Dan Ritter wrote:
> The actual advantage of an island key arrangement is that
> instead of having a huge hole in your laptops's case, you have 
> a nice panel with small holes cut out of it. Stiffness goes up
> considerably.

Ah, good point. Not unlike the way a convertible car tends to have a lot
more body twist.

Myself, I haven't observed keyboard flexing issues on least
not with my Acer.

> For desktop keyboards, I'm typing on an IBM Model M right now...

Yeah, we've discussed the Model M on the list several times, and I agree
that it is probably the best built keyboard, and I liked the feel of it
best until I got used to typing on my laptop. Now when I use it, it
feels very heavy and sluggish. The long travel and stiff key action also
tended to induce some form of repetitive strain injury.

So now that I'm considering relegating my laptop's screen to secondary
screen duty, which necessitates mounting it floating above my desk, I'm
shopping for a desktop keyboard. I'm looking for something compact,
without a number pad, like the Model M I have, but with a more
laptop-style key action.

Mark J Dulcey wrote:
> Loud clicky keys might be fine for a desktop keyboard, but they're a
> terrible idea for a laptop that is likely to be used in a crowded
> room.

True. Even for a desktop it can pose problems. Trying to have a phone
conversation while typing on my Model M could be a challenge.

> I don't like the chiclet keys on my latest HP as much as I liked the 
> more conventional keyboard, but more because of the ultra-low travel. I 
> also don't really like the flatter keytops. The separation is "meh"; 
> makes little difference either way so far as I can tell.

So if you could get a Chiclet keyboard with a bit more travel and with
concave key tops, you'd be OK with it, but don't really see any
advantage to it?


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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