Friday, June 1, 2018

Lighten Up!

I'm kind of hard on keyboards.

I mean, I don't use them to beat up intruders, zombies, or politicians, nor do I pound senselessly on them in anger. I just use them. A lot. And sometimes I get up before everybody in order to write in peace. Which brings me to the problem of sitting down in the semi-dark of early morning, looking at the computer screen while attempting to write.

Despite years of keyboarding, my hands cannot find the damn home keys without me peering myopically at the damn keyboard. Actually, it's easy when there's light, but in the dark? Nope. Interesting things appear on the screen when I can't see the 'board. Then there's a lot of fumbling and farting around until I finally get settled. Then, of course, I suddenly feel the need for a sip of coffee and there goes the neighborhood again.

I was using a small laptop USB light with some success. Unfortunately it's on a gooseneck which isn't quite strong enough to hold it in position, so it begins to droop and I get to adjust it frequently. Not impossible, just annoying.

Then the keyboard that came with  my computer finally gave up. After years of writing stories, a couple of the keys, important keys, began to fail. It was annoying to not be able to type using the shift key, the space bar, and the letter H.

Enter the ergonomic keyboard that was given to us. You know the kind: it curves and has a bump at the space bar.

Yeah, that was fun.

I tried it, I really did, but it didn't help. It took so much effort to press the keys, that my hands ached more after using the keyboard that was supposed to alleviate such discomfort. Plus, I had to relearn the keyboard. It was still the standard QWERTY style, but the shape was just different enough that I couldn't just watch the words appear on the screen, because those weren't words. I'd have to watch my hands and hope things were going the way I wanted.


Then I started reading reviews of mechanical keyboards. 80 million keystroke lifetime (damn, that's a lot, even for me) and they are easier to press. And then there's the amazing clicking sound... I just had to find one to try it.

But they aren't all the same. Some have Cherry switches, others have green ones, and they are different. Of course they are. Why make it simple, when complicating things with options that make people like me whimper is way more fun. Ordering an expensive keyboard and discovering it wasn't for me, isn't high on my list of fun things to do, so I just waited until I could try one out myself.

Luckily, my "local" office supply store had some. I fell in love. The ease of keyboarding, coupled with the delicious click of the keys created a wholly satisfying typing experience that I've not had since my old IBM keyboard back before computer mice were a thing. I loathed the tiny "enter" and backspace keys on it, but the sound and feel were delicious. I missed that.

So, there I was, shopping for keyboards. The guy helping me said his store does price-matching, so I got the same deal I would have if I'd made the purchase online, plus I didn't have to pay tax on it. I figure I saved somewhere in the neighborhood of $50, and I'm ok with that. Ok, I was kind of not stoked about the cost in general, but I had to try. If I was going to keep writing, I was going to have to do something. The less my hands ache from typing, the more I can do and since writing is one thing that makes me truly happy, it's worth it.

Plus, this beast feels super sturdy. Nice and heavy, so it's not going to go skittering all over the keyboard drawer, or creeping away from me until I find myself hunched over like Quasimodo for hours on end.

I was worried that my old computer wouldn't understand what this fancy-schmancy keyboard was trying to say, but after a few restarts and words of fury, I was able to get everything hooked up and working.

At the beginning of this post, I was whinging about the difficulty of typing in the dark. My new keyboard lights up. It LIGHTS UP! In RAINBOW colors.

Actually, I can make it do all kinds of things, like ripple (oh, that was cool until I realized it was making me dizzy), activate (which kept the keyboard dark until I was pressing a key, not exactly helpful for writing in the dark) and about five other lovely tricks that threatened to give me seizures. I've settled on the one that just changes the color, slipping gracefully through the 16 million colors of the rainbow in a gentle flow of joy.

I can find the home keys. Even in the dark!

No more droopy light, no more desk lamp that wakes the dog, who then insists I stop everything and do his bidding, despite being an hour earlier than he ever gets up, and no more groping for the right keys, hitting keystroke combinations that erase vast quantities of work.

And the sound... Not too loud, just nice clicking. FYI, my keyboard has green switches. I'm still not sure what that means, but I like it.

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