The Keyboard Where Posts about the Bridge Project — and Everything I Write — Originate

SnoopyThe impending April 8, 2014, deadline was far away when I bought a refurbished laptop in December 2008. One month later I was happily typing on the keyboard (replaced once) I’ve come to love using an operating system that Microsoft no longer supports.

“Why don’t you buy one with Windows 7?” the salesman asked when I called the outlet’s online store. “It’s the newest operating system, and support for Windows XP will be ending soon.”

“Soon” was more than five years away. I refused to yield.

Dad bought a Gateway with Windows XP and 128 MB of RAM back in 2002. He followed the stock market and kept in touch with friends and family using email. The machine worked well even after it was dropped and had to be kept open or the screen would go dark.

I was less concerned with the keyboard — he bought an external one that we used until we realized it occupied too much desk space — than I was with connectivity and speed.

We used to plug it into the telephone jack to hear the familiar sound that meant it was connecting to the internet. Incoming calls meant interrupted internet access. After much research I found the refurbished machine (released spring 2006) I’m using now. What sold me were its keyboard and 15” screen; after reading reviews online I saw it “in person” at a computer show.

Microsoft’s deadline reminded me of the Y2K frenzy, when the Millennium bug was feared to turn technology on its ear with problems. Images of the Road Runner traveling at breakneck speed and then screeching to a halt come to mind. This isn’t how it happened.

My research took me to computer technology websites, users groups and online discussions. I asked teachers, friends and salespeople about keyboards and resolution and screens and operating systems, and while the solution was clear, finding it proved challenging — until recently.

Some magazine articles — in response to similar questions from readers — named models whose keyboards were somewhat traditional, yet none were comfortable for me. I couldn’t tell from a picture how my fingers would feel on the keys or whether a cupped design was easier to type on than a rectangular one.

I needed an older model laptop with a matte screen that had a traditional keyboard.

That was my dilemma: manufacturers were sacrificing comfort for style, typing ease for design, and I was hard-pressed to find a laptop with a keyboard for my 65-words-or-more-per-minute fingers and hands.

The majority of laptop reviews talked about island-style keyboards.

I went looking for the same model I have — with Windows 7 — figuring that was the answer. Surely there must be older model laptops like mine out there.

There were. I bought and returned three laptops while the machine I sought remained elusive . . . until I found it online. Someone had returned this model (released spring 2010) to the store, and because it was marked “Open Box” the salesperson permitted me to see and feel the keyboard.

I wonder who the manufacturers consulted with before changing the keyboards. Where did they conduct focus groups and test markets? Thankfully, I’ve found the cover (keyboard) for my pot (typing comfort).

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

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