Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

On Making Friends With A Different Keyboard

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I’m an addict — a creature of habit — and I don’t like change.  Little things are bad enough, but when it comes to something that’s such a big part of my life as the keyboard on my computer, I have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the midst of the new experience.  So I’m writing this to get used to a different one.

I took a good look at those “netbooks” one time, and it only took a few seconds of typing on that 90% full-sized workspace to convince me that it wasn’t going to be a go.  For a man my size I don’t have especially big hands, but given the problems I had, I find it difficult to understand how anyone but a child or a small woman could possibly navigate around one of those things.  I stopped hunting-and-pecking more than 50 years ago, and I’m too old to relearn the process.  Having to do it on my Droid is bad enough — that’s why I love the voice recognition feature.  I’m willing to put up with the downside: improper punctuation and capitalization, and the occasional unrecognizable word that has to be entered from scratch, in order not to have to put up with either the onscreen or physical keyboard.

I learned to type on a 1938 model Remington Noiseless typewriter.  You know.  The kind where you had to push the keys down and actually make those things fly forward to strike the ribbon and imprint the letters onto the paper.  No spell checker, no copy/paste/delete.  No instant corrections.  What you got was pretty much what got sent out.  If you needed a copy, you used carbon paper — nasty, flimsy sheets with black stuff on one side that went between two sheets and transferred the key-strikes onto the second sheet for a (none-too-satisfactory) copy of the original.

At that, it beat writing by hand, especially the way I wrote back then.  When I got to college I discovered that many times I couldn’t read my own handwritten notes, so I finally taught myself to write neatly.  Took a lot of work, but it was worth the trouble.  So did learning to type, but my god!  When I think of the millions of words I’ve put on paper and screens since those days when I was made to sit and practice typing the way other kids practiced the piano, I thank my lucky stars that I was made to learn it.  I’ve since become mushy in the same sort of way about the people who forced me to learn good English, spelling, grammar and punctuation.  I know those skills have pretty-much fallen into disrepute with the younger crowd, and that’s not OK.  As you move up the ladder of life, kiddies, folks will judge you more and more on your ability to communicate according to the rules.  That’s what separates the men and women of business from the adolescents.

Well, so much for that.  I got a blog entry out of this, when all I intended to do was type “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” a few times.  You just never know.

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Author: Bill

Birder, cat-lover, pilot, poet. Former lounge lizard, pauper, pagan, lifeguard, chauffeur,cop and martial artist, turned pacifist addiction writer. Tries to be a good husband, father and brother, and makes a decent friend. Likes to take pictures. Stumbling down the Middle Path, one day at a time.

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