The Devil’s Keyboard

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jul 17, 2008

Filed under: Rants 86 comments

The other night my beloved wireless keyboard died, mid-sentence. Bricked. I have a cache of cheapo sub-$10 keyboards I picked up at some point in preparation for something like this. I pulled one out, plugged it in, and then recoiled in horror.



This device couldn’t be more twisted if it was hewn from human bone and powered by the souls of the damned. It has the shut down and hibernate buttons right there, right in the middle of the action above the inverted T. Since I’ve been using a keyboard with one of the double-tall delete keys, I think the odds of me hitting that shutdown button when trying to delete are probably about 1 in 2.

That shutdown button, once tapped, really does irrevocably close down the whole show. So, let’s look at the various ways I can shut down the machine: If I hit the power button on the front of the computer, nothing happens, because I have to hold that button in for ten seconds if I really want to stop computing in a hurry. If I use the “shut down” feature in Windows I get a confirmation dialog. But if I hit this obvious key right in a heavy-traffic area of the keyboard the whole thing shuts down without hesitation.

The other two round buttons are probably just as deadly to productivity. One is the hibernate button, which is annoying to hit by accident and if pressed while playing a fullscreen game will most likely result in a crash. I don’t know what magic button #3 will do, but my money is on “ignite user”, which would be the only way you could top the other two for user-unfriendliness.

I want to talk to the engineer responsible for this insidious work. I want to ask him if he’s ever actually used a computer before. And if so, why does he hate his fellow human beings so much?

But even if I were to pry those buttons off (which I’m not sure is possible – they don’t pop off the way the normal keys do) this is still an awful keyboard. Note how it has both windows buttons, but it also has… a turbo button? Didn’t those go out of style in 1993 or 1994? What is it doing on a Windows keyboard? In place of a full-sized shift key?

It seems petty to bring this up now, but I’m also not crazy about the half-size backspace. The function keys should have a gap between them and the main area of the keyboard, and they should be a different shape. (I like the shorter, rectangular function keys.)

This keyboard is just unusable to me. So once again I’m obliged to return to the battle-worn HP keyboard. The rest of the old HP computer is in shambles. The mouse died shortly after getting it. The CD drive was DOA. The DVD drive never worked right but finally failed for good this year. The branded install of Windows has always been a little wonky. But the HP keyboard – the keyboard I’m using now, on my new computer – is a juggernaut. It’s been spilled on, dropped, and endured countless fist-slams on the right side. It’s seen so much use that the 8 and 2 on the numpad are worn nearly bare. It rattles when I move it, full of dust and debris. Yet it works as flawlessly now as it does the day I unpacked it.

I’m used to cheap keyboards being cheaply made, but the one I have pictured above goes beyond simple cost-cutting. It’s a device specifically engineered to deliver a miserable and difficult experience. As a work of evil, it’s sort of admirable. As a keyboard, it makes a decent melee weapon.

Now if I could just find the guy who made it.


From The Archives:

86 thoughts on “The Devil’s Keyboard

  1. Septyn says:

    Several ways that keyboard could be worse:
    1) Extra backslash key next to the Z, resulting in a smaller left shift
    2) No insert key
    3) F-Lock — who the hell thought that crap up?

    Or you could go all out and hotwire a Space Cadet keyboard for modern PC use. I can’t see how it would be worse.

  2. Jeremiah says:

    I’d just love to have seen the thought process that led to this masterpiece.

    “Hmm. What other buttons can we cram on this keyboard? Let’s add a Turbo Button!”

    “A turbo button? What will it even do?”

    “I don’t know, but it sounds awesome! Hey, what about all this space above the keypad, we should put something there. Oh, we could put some buttons to power off and hibernate! That would be handy!”

    “Um, you don’t think someone would hit those accidentally?”

    “Pssh, of course not! Noone really types anymore, they just hunt-and-peck.”

    “But.. what about people playing ga..”

    “Shut it! We’re making this keyboard! (I wonder if calling it eXtreme will help sales)”

  3. djm says:

    lol omg so true..I can just see myself doing it:

    clickety clickety poof

    last thing you hear are those last harddisk sounds of a windows dying on you.

  4. Nick says:

    You know, for gamers that never use the arrow keys, that kind of setup isn’t much of a deal. But I was raised on Wolfenstein and Doom, so I play nearly all games with arrows (WOW is maybe the ONE exception). I have a very particular way I like my keys, and any variation screws me up.

    If you got cash to spare, the Logitech G15 is a fantastic keyboard. backlit, LCD screen used by a lot of games and programs, disableable windows key, extra set of macro keys on the far LEFT side, standard key layout (no double tall enter key), and even acts as a USB hub.

    An alternative that I’ve been wanting to try out is the Zboard…

  5. Kilmor says:

    Its not too late, you could always go with a:

  6. pdwalker says:

    Look for the old ibm/lexmark keyboards. They’re indestructable.

  7. mockware says:

    Actually my favorite feature is the programmable macro. You are busily typing away and next thing you know the ‘t’ key starts kicking out ‘i’. Now you start digging through manuals trying to find out how to get this %$#@ thing back to normal. After that fails, you pull up a text file with a ‘t’ in it so you can copy/paste them as you search the internet to find a solution.

  8. NobleBear says:

    A turbo button on a game controller? Helpful.

    A turbo button on a car(especially if it lets me do those sweet ass jumps like in Knight Rider)? Hell yeah.

    A turbo button on a keyboard? Lame and baffling.

    I want a button that’ll pour me some more Mountain Dew or serve me Jell-O shots; THAT would be practical AND awesome.

  9. Shishberg says:

    I had a keyboard with shutdown/hibernate keys at my first job… Their presence was bad enough, but the thing that brought me to screaming point was that, after I accidentally hit them for the dozenth time and went looking for a way to disable them, it turned out that the version of Windows I was using (2000-ish?) let you change what those keys do from a bunch of choices (shut down, sleep, log out, etc.), but not turn them off. That, to me, is a perfect storm of stupid design. It’s like being forced to choose how you’ll be executed.

    The pried-out keys made a nice conversation piece, anyway.

  10. Neil says:

    Holy crap, a turbo key.
    Thats such a blast from the past that I had to go to wikipedia to find out what the hell they actually do. Last time I asked myself that question, wikipedia didn’t exist.

  11. James says:

    That last paragraph is an instant classic. Nice work.

  12. Nathon says:

    I actually had a keyboard with that very layout and used it all through college. The extra buttons above the arrow keys never bothered me; I never enabled them. Does Windows have a way to let you disable function keys? At least it has a full sized Enter key. I keep hitting \ when I mean to hit Enter on this one, which can really baffle the terminals.

  13. Factoid says:

    I suggest a flathead screwdriver and judicious use of the “pry” feat, but you’re right they don’t look like they would come out easily.

    Knock those SOBs out…they are clearly the work of satan. I’ve thrown away keyboards for lesser offenses.

    Personally for me the half-sized backspace key would also be sufficient reason to discard it.

  14. JB says:

    My laptop is an IBM/Lenovo T60. It has the best keyboard aorund when it comes to feel. But they’ve made one very irritating mistake, and that is putting the Fn key where the Ctrl key is supposed to be.

    Using Linux, and activiely Ctrl+Fx to change virtual desktop, it is very anyoing that the key at the bottom left is a different key than the expected Ctrl key.

    Not only that, accidentally pressing Fn+Fx has some consequences that is not exactly welcome when they happen at random.

    I would very much like to speak to whoever thought they could just replace a standard key in a way like that. Very bad.

  15. pffh says:

    Erm… what the hell does a turbo button on a keyboard?

  16. Neil says:

    Ironically, slow down your processor.
    Its sort of like the overdrive button on some cars, the standard position is “on”, so the first time you hit it, it disengages.

  17. Strangeite says:

    I see that there have already been two recommendations for the Model M. It is the greatest keyboard ever produced which is why they are still going for $40.00 on eBay. $40.00 is pretty good for a 25 year old keyboard.

    I keep a few in my basement in preparation for a Post-apocalyptic world. Canned goods, bottled water and the ‘ol Model M.

  18. folo4 says:

    presumably, hold the button down while holding another button, say, “a” key and it will KEEP ON SENDING As to the computer.

    works well for button mashing games, useless for everything you do on a computer.

  19. I worked with someone who didn’t want to press a particular key on their keyboard (I want to say it was number lock, but I can’t recall at the moment). Either way, they cut a small plastic box with one open end and taped it over the key so it was impossible to inadvertently press.

    My favorite things are foreign keyboards. If you’ve ever had to use an internet cafe in Europe, you know the frustration of 1) trying to find the @ and 2) the fact that the whole world does not use qwerty. Frustrating, especially when you are paying by the second!

  20. Katy says:

    Ah, the small plastic box over a key trick — I remember helping my father build one of those to go over the reset button on our Atari 800.

  21. Dave says:

    As long as you don’t mind turning off your computer through the UI, you can set those buttons to do nothing (except the Sunny-D button, I think you’ll need a high-level disenchant for that one).

    In XP: Control Panel/(Switch to Category View)/Power Options/Advanced.

  22. Woerlan says:

    Worst keyboard I ever used:

    1) Windows start menu activation key where the left-side CTRL key is supposed to be. I use Word a lot. You can imagine my frustration since I like using shortcuts.

    2) Short, fat spacebar. I like being able to hit the bar unerringly no matter where my hands are on the keyboard.

    3) Worst of all: Shutdown key RIGHT ABOVE THE TAB KEY. And it’s SHAPED LIKE ALL THE OTHER KEYS. After my fourth accidental shutdown in one day, I threw the keyboard out and stole myself a normal one from another cubicle.

  23. Martin says:

    You should be able to disable power on/off via keyboard in the BIOS.

  24. Jamez says:

    To everyone who mentioned the Model “M”: THANK YOU! I’ve been using these keyboards ever since the original PC came out, and while I’ve known what I liked about it, I never knew the name. I’m on my third (Yes, in almost 25 years), and the first only had to be replaced because it had the ancient PC connector. They’re impossible to find at a CompUSA or anything like that.
    The only drawback is that I drove my roommate in college crazy because the thing is so loud. I guess that’s what he gets for trying to sleep while I’m writing a paper at 2am…

  25. Luke Maciak says:

    I currently use Microsoft Natural Keyboard Elite and it is very nice once you get used to the fact that the arrows form a instead of a T and the block above them is a 3×2 vertical rectangle instead of the standard horizontal 3×2 setup. I love how it has this built in curvature which offers you a nice firm and stable palm rest that rises above the keys.

    If you never used a natural keyboard before don’t worry – neither did I. I bought this one on a whim and didn’t know how it will work out. It took me 2-3 minutes to get over the weirdness, and within an hour I was back to typing at my usual speed.

    My biggest problem was that I kept missing home and end buttons and arrow keys because of their odd configuration. That took me several days to get used to.

    Now I’m a big fan of natural layout.

    I also hate the additional buttons. Why the hell would I ever need a shutdown or hibernate button on my keyboard? I never really shut my desktop down and I reboot it only when Windows update or Anti-Virus tells me to or when it crashes.

    I never, ever was in such a hurry to shut down or hibernate my machine that I would need a dedicated key on the keyboard for it. Geez!

    On linux half of them usually doesn’t work, and you usually need special hacks to use them because they act in peculiar special ways. And again, there is no reason for me to ever shut down my Linux box this way.

  26. Tom says:

    “Ignite user” is a great line. I’m going to have to work that into my sigs.

    I spend a big chunk of my professional life in failure mode analysis, trying to understand whether many of our engineers are innately evil or simply brain-dead.

  27. Jeff says:

    Your keyboard crapped out, Shamus?
    My keyboard’s fine, but my motherboard isn’t.
    My video card’s fine too, but it’s the last of the AGP cards (Radeon 9600 XT AIW) so no new motherboard will support it.
    So hey, it could be worse, heh.

    I’m shelling out 4 grand for a HP Blackbird. It’ll be shiny.

  28. GamerCow says:

    unscrew the back of the keyboard and cut out the connectors for those devilspawn. Or, just take the same screwdriver, and a hammer, and pound away.

  29. Drew says:

    I’m just glad the ridiculous half-spacebar/half-backspace concept got killed. I tried typing on one of those once, and kept erasing the last letter of every word. That’s infuriating.

  30. Locri says:

    I’m of the opinion that every keyboard designing engineer should be required to have a cat and/or several children in the house. I think this would swiftly solve any and all idiotic designs like this.

  31. asterismW says:

    Ah, yes, there’s nothing quite like trying to take a typing test on a keyboard with a tiny little backspace key. I can’t imagine how much lower my wpm score was because I kept hitting \ when trying to backspace. I seriously considered asking if I could retake the test when they got a decent keyboard.

    Also: Are Model M’s really going for $40 on eBay? I think we have a bunch of those at work that were slated for the dump…

  32. Tsk, tsk, Shamus…

    Why do you automatically assume that the person who designed your keyboard was a “he”?

    It could have been a she.

    Ok, most likely it wasn’t. Because if a woman designed a keyboard, not only would the keys be in just the right places, but it would also brew you a nice cup of tea.

  33. Mari says:

    It’s funny that you should bring this up today. I was just talking to a friend yesterday about keyboards. I have to buy a new one soon. The last 18 years of my life I’ve used two keyboards. Old IBM keyboards with the AT connection (I have adapters). They’re virtually indestructible, as someone said above. The only weakness I’ve found in nearly two decades is that they get drunk fairly easily and don’t really recover from the hangover (hence TWO keyboards).

    I periodically try out some other, newer keyboard but keep coming back to my IBM. It’s comfortable to me. The keys have a long travel compared to modern keyboards. They also make a nice “click” sound as I type. I never accidentally insert letters into words with it. But finally some of the keys are starting to stick and cleaning doesn’t help.

    I’m really dreading keyboard shopping, though. I like a kind of keyboard that somebody, somewhere decided nobody wants anymore: the kind that is pretty close in feel to an old manual typewriter. All the new keyboards I check out in stores have much shorter travel, are much less tactile in general, and at best make a sort of “pfft” sound as I type. Plus they have wonky layouts with weird new keys like the Devil’s Keyboard. I don’t want a macro key to shut down my computer or turn up the volume or open some windows program that I probably hate and avoid using.

    I found a Saitek one online that’s rated poorly and the customer reviews say it’s because the keys are clicky and hard. Here’s hoping that I’ve found The One.

  34. asterismW says:


    I love, love, LOVE my Saitek Eclipse II keyboard. It has a “normal” layout, the keys have a nice tactile response, and the thing is solid; it’s got weight to it, and doesn’t feel like some el cheapo blue light special. Plus it’s got pretty pretty lights…

  35. Strangeite says:


    They actually still make brand new Model M keyboards. The IBM factory was located here in my town of Lexington, then spun-off to LexMark and later they sold the design to Unicomp, which is also located here in Lexington.

    Here is their website.

    You get the quality of the old school keyboard, but with new fangled innovations like USB.

    (I promise I am not affiliated with IBM, LexMark or Unicomp, other than that I live in Lexington.)

  36. Chargone says:

    heh, I’ve got a fairly old keyboard. not sure what model it is, but it’s a Packard Bell and has a pair of windows keys between control and alt on both sides, though on the right there’s also an insert/menu/thing key. given that you’re lucky if i use the right shift, let alone the right alt or control, this doesn’t worry me. Very occasionally i’ll catch the left windows button when going for the control or alt, but that’s it.

    it’s got a nice large enter key [backwards L shape, two rows tall and three keys wide at the bottom] and the \ key is below that and to the left of the [slightly, but not much] shortened right shift. also, to get the extra/over sized keys, they’ve extended the main tray to the right slightly. Every non-character key is a decent size as a result. F keys are the same size and shape, but have a large gap between them and the number keys.. oh, and there’s an Fn key above the number pad, to the left of the logo, aligned with the F keys. so far as i know it doesn’t do anything, but I’ve never tried it to find out :D

    now that i look, the gaps between the tops of each key are almost half as wide as the key tops themselves.

    it’s nice and solid, seems neigh indestructible [then again, i don’t exactly abuse it except for possibly hitting the space and enter keys too hard].

    it’s always getting dust and other crud in it. occasional vacuum cleaning keeps it happy. it’s a bit noisy, but the keys are all quite distinct from each other, the layout is lacking in weird oddities, and it makes a distinct click every time you press a key. no click? no press. i have a friend who regularly works with computers and other electronic stuff, often really modern stuff. almost every single time he has reason to use my comp, he says something about not being able to believe how NICE the keyboard is :D

    the keyboard is probably the one bit of computer technology one can categorically and accurately state has got Worse, though your mileage may vary with regards to how much and in what way.

  37. kamagurka says:

    Kilmor seems to be right. I’ve been reading up on those Model Ms, and if you want a keyboard that will double as body armor (for the next thirty years, to boot), this seems the way to go.
    I’m scouring ebay for one right now.

  38. Zack says:

    I am personally a big fan of the molten puddle of keys approach to ergonomics. I had tendon problems for many years and found that once I replaced both my home and my work laptops with Kinesis keyboards my problems just went away after a month. A truly ergonomic keyboard is just a wonder to use. They run $250-300 but that is about the same price as one week of physical therapy for damaged tendons, so 2 keyboards for $340 total that have lasted me 7 years each have been a god send. (They were cheaper back then)

    I was slow for a few weeks while I got used to space and delete having moved, but the thumb keys are awesome once you get used to them and my typing speed has easily doubled.

    My only complaints 1) the F1-F12 keys are half sized so I had to remap those functions to control keys for WoW. 2) My model had shift key “Stick” occasionally, but I think that was fixed years ago I just never had to replace my keyboards despite a couple coffee baths. If I have to double tap shift once a month that is fine with me. It is worth it to be able to work without pain and to be able to play video games in my free time.

  39. Zack says:

    It is worth noting that on the kinesis keyboards the arrow keys are broken up in an awkward fashion and =/+ and ~/` are in very different places than most people are used to. If you use arrow keys and +=`~ a lot it might be hard to switch.

  40. kamagurka says:

    Zack: The image you linked is a 404.

  41. Nick says:

    @ Mari:

    Before the G15, I used the saitek (found here, for a bit. It’s ok, but the paint wore off the keys pretty fast. I’ve never had a problem with wearing down keys, so I was surprised to see the arrow key corrode away. Otherwise, not bad. The keys are a bit stiff.

  42. Derek K says:

    I think all the worst keyboards have the power buttons, and don’t put them in appropriate places.

    Mine was next to the escape key. So every time I reached for escape, I had about a 50% change to shut down the computer.

    I eventually just sliced it open with a knife, because I quickly bought a new kb, but that one was the backup every time something went wrong, and it drove me NUTS.

    It also has the half size back space, and a short spacebar. They *also* made the right shift key half sized, and put a second backslash key there. Because people use backslash so much, they need two different choices….

  43. Yamael says:

    All of these problems are well and good, but there’s nothing like moving to France and finding that computers there don’t use the QWERTY standard for keyboard layout, but rather AZERTY, which basically means the A and Z buttons are switched with Q and W, and the M is to the right of the L instead of being on the lower row of letters. Not to mention that the numbers are swapped with their “shift” characters, meaning you have to press “Shift+1” to write a 1.

    It won’t turn your computer off on a bad press, but when you are typing and make a mistake every two words it is hell, specially when it’s computer code you are writing in the middle of an exam. I’ve ended up switching the layout in Windows to one I’m familiar with and now I have to type without looking at the keyboard to avoid making mistakes :P.

  44. Maroon says:

    I really don’t see how anyone can stand any other keyboard than a run-of-the-mill model M. The keyboards at my university are borderline, but at least those have keys instead of bubble wrap. You can’t use them to break a bear’s skull like you can with a model M, though.

    Other nifty things about my (decade old) computer: the power button actually turns the power on and off. You have no idea how grateful I am about that.

  45. bkw says:

    I bought a couple of 25 year old model Ms from because buckling keys or bust.

    I actually use the windows key a lot, so I have my capslock key re-mapped to Windows on every computer in the house.

    Or you can be a real man and get a Das Keyboard Ultimate.

  46. Mark says:

    This is the greatest keyboard ever made: the IBM Model M. 105 keys… more than enough to kill anything that moves. Now I’ll show you why they I’M SORRY I CAN’T FINISH THIS JOKE

    But I do like having the kind of keyboard where the left half of the spacebar is an auxiliary backspace key. I have a bad habit and always use my right thumb for space, so not having to use my pinky to back up is very convenient.

  47. Zack says:

    Kamagurka: Hrm wasn’t able to edit my earlier link after navigating away. In IE the x in the text reference is being entity encoded and the href is being ignored by your browser. (BAD IE! Obey standards! *smacks browser*)

    Here is a link to the general page from which you can see the keyboards and click on the picture yourself.

  48. Nazgul says:

    Mmmmmm…. Model M. “Clacky” and not the later soft touch type.

    I used to keep one around as a backup, I wonder if I still have it. No annoying “Windows” key either. But on my desktop pc I really like the wireless keyboard for daily use.

  49. Ian says:

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned that old design where they put the sleep/hibernate/shut down buttons where print screen, scroll lock, and pause/break normally go and shifted the proper keys down a few spaces. For someone used to pressing Windows+Break (or, in this case, Windows+Shut Down) to go into system properties, that was nothing short of infuriating.

    The IBM Model M is a wonderful keyboard. I’ve been looking into getting a Customizer 104 from for a while (I’ve become a bit of a Windows key whore…they’re exceedingly convenient after you get used to them).

  50. bkw says:

    I use keytweak ( ) to remap capslock to the windows key.

  51. Dev Null says:

    But heres the interesting question: Even when they put them out of the way like sensible people, has anyone in the history of time ever actually regularly _used_ any of those extra keys on purpose?

    My keyboard isn’t bad, and has all the extras except the Windows key (disabled in the OS about 0.2 seconds after the machine came out of the box) as tiny thin things way up the top, so until now I’ve never really noticed that I have:

    A mute button.
    Volume controls.
    A pause/play button.
    A “home” key.
    Something labelled iconically which is either mail or a timeclock.
    A calculator button.
    Something else labelled iconically that appears to be about loading a revolver with music.

    The only real reason I can imagine for any of them – or that stupid Windows key – is to keep keyboard designers employed. Am I wrong? Does anyone actually use these things?

  52. Kbrook says:

    I’m looking at my keyboard now (not the devil’s board, thank the gods, else I’d already be in a padded room) and it has a set of buttons for music (play/pause, etc), volume up/down and mute, something that looks like a shortcut, a shopping cart (?), and email icon, a question mark and one I assume opens the web browser. I only use the volume and music control keys. Why, why, WHY do designers have to make things so damned complicated?

  53. evilmrhenry says:

    That keyboard looks familiar…. My solution? Take a screwdriver, disassemble the keyboard, remove the rubber domes, then reassemble. (Don’t lose any of the pieces!)

    My current keyboard actually has a turbo button. If I hit Turbo+F11, the keyboard locks and unlocks. It’s also supposed to change the key repeat rate if used with F1-F7, but that doesn’t appear to work in Linux.

  54. DrunkenDonut says:

    I feel compelled to write, as there is an equally devilish keyboard here at work. No extra power/sleep keys, but it has something worse. It’s a crappy ergonomic keyboard with extra buttons on the bottom row, and a smaller space bar to make them fit. It also sports a diamond pattern cursor keys instead of the classic inverted t.

    Here’s the layout of the bottom row: Ctrl, Win, Alt, **CLOSE APPLICATION**, Zoom (or something), Space Bar, Maximize, Minimize, Alt, Win, Menu, Ctrl.

    The way things are spaced out, it’s Very likely you’ll hit the “close application” button instead of the space bar.

  55. Susie says:

    @Nathon (11)

    *looks down at her keyboard* it all makes sense now, thanks!

    I have totally disabled my capslock key, not sure that it would be more useful as a windows key, I have two of those already as it is.

    I’m using a Mitsumi keyboard right now, it’s minimalistic, but far from ideal. About 10 of the keys have completely lost their letters, and it has a couple annoying key placements (small backspace, large enter, etc). I would place it somewhat mid-range. It’s not the devil’s but it’s not wonderful either. All of my other boards are Terrible. One has a split space bar, another has a split shift key, another is a mac board ..

    That said, would get a Das Keyboard if I wanted to spend the cash for one … well, two. my husband would steal the first one.

  56. Takkelmaggot says:

    I had (and perhaps still retain, somewhere in a closet) a keyboard with that very same layout- but worse. The Power/Sleep/Hibernate keys were directly below Del/End/Page Down but were fully-formed keys. I can’t count the number of documents and the amount of game progress lost to me reaching up to tap “DEL” and shutting the computer down instead. Eventually I disabled them through Power Options.
    Those keys wouldn’t pop off. You might at least masking-tape a piece of cardboard over those recessed buttons, or something.

  57. Namfoodle says:

    The shut-down button would come in handy if you were doing something naughty and didn’t want to get caught when someone walked into the room.

    “What are you up to?”
    “Oh, nothhing. Woops, hit the shut-down!”

    Reminds me of a game my friend had on his old IBM PC back in the 80’s. While you playing the game, there was a single buttom command that would hide the game and bring up a generic spreadsheet complete with sales numbers and charts. The funny thing is, I don’t even remember what the game was about, only that you could escape from it with one keystroke.

    As I look down at my work keyboard here, I see a whole row of buttons above the function keys that I’ve never used. The pictures next include a lowercase italic “i”, a house, a maginfying glass, a chart on an easel, and an open envelope. There’s a group of people standing, but there’s also a group of people siting around a table. And there’s a guy reading a newspaper. I can figure out a purpose for some of these, but I don’t know why I need what looks like two different “meeting” buttons.

    Not that I’ve ever pressed them. I usually have my keyboard tray pushed in too far to even see them.

  58. Oleyo says:

    I would give you 1d6 for that keyboard, but a -4 to attack for lack of proficiency…wait a minute, no you get a 1 for keyboard specialization.

    And you could use the cord like a grapnel if you were hankering to bust out some grapple checks. No? Ok, fine just roll a standard attack.

  59. Kbrook says:

    Reminds me of a game my friend had on his old IBM PC back in the 80's. While you playing the game, there was a single buttom command that would hide the game and bring up a generic spreadsheet complete with sales numbers and charts. The funny thing is, I don't even remember what the game was about, only that you could escape from it with one keystroke.

    I know Leisure Suit Larry had a ‘boss key’ that brought up some kind of chart. This is what comes of a youth mis spent ‘mongst the Sierra games. Taught me to type like a fiend, though!

  60. Chris Arndt says:

    Can’t you disable the program that governs the keyboard’s extra buttons?

    On my computers (Windows PCs) with keyboards that have extra buttons on the top of those things were activated by a separate driver and control program application than the stuff that was just the keyboard. I disabled it to just coax out a little bit more performance, and as a result lost the “Internet” button and the “Volume Up” button as well as the other stuff I really did not use anyway.

    Give that a try. Or perhaps my old school pre-2001 solution is useless now.

  61. edcalaban says:

    I have a laptop with volume and media controls on the front where they would impact with the body if the laptop ever actually sat in someone’s lap. The touchpad is skewed to the left side, which means about every twenty or thirty words I managed to move my mouse OR right click something since it’s almost exactly where my hand rests.

    At least I have a decent bluetooth keyboard and mouse to make up for everything…

  62. Mr. Son says:

    On the volume buttons: My keyboard has them, and I use them all the time. On the other hand, my keyboard has a button I rarely use, and only to turn off one of its “features”. My keyboard is a “gaming” keyboard. They gave it a backlight. Which defaults to on every time I restart the computer. So much hate.

    And I have a nice pretty gap where my capslock key used to be. I kept hitting it when I went for the tab key. I hit it more often than I actually hit the key I wanted! So I pried it out.

    Keyboards are not something that need to have gimmicks and “exciting new changes!!!!1eleventy” to keep people buying them, and the designers need this beaten into their heads. With a Model M.

  63. Mari says:

    @Strangeite – heh, not that it would bother me if you DID work for IBM. Where do you think I got the first two? Seems like half my family on one side works for Big Blue. Sometimes it’s handy. I got to beta OS2 Warp nearly a year before it hit shelves and I had free tech support for it ;-)

    Good to know I can still get the M. That makes life much happier. Now I’m conflicted, though. I was looking at the Saitek that Nick linked. It sounds from reviews like it FEELS like an M-style but it has nifty blue backlighting that would match my nifty blue light alien eyes case. To color coordinate or to go with the reliable choice? It’s a brain buster.

  64. Heph says:

    You got it all wrong. It’s QWERTY that’s the devil, and azerty that’s the way it should be. Really. But not French azerty, Belgian azerty – we have the . and , flipped around. Heh. And Germany has Qwertz, in case you didn’t know.

    Really, the whole world should just use DVORAK, which is the only *logical* lay-out for a keyboard.

    And yes, I’ve used the keyboard to turn off my pc – the button on the front only works when I press it for 10 seconds, and the switch off menu in WOndows won’t appear – it turns my UI grey, but the pc stays on. It’s somewhat broken softwarewise :-P

  65. Hal says:

    I’m not crazy enough to read 65 comments (so I don’t know why I think anyone will read this), especially since I’m pretty certain we’ve already had the keyboard discussion on this blog.

    Still, I would like to point out that my favorite keyboard of all time came with my Pentium MMX Compaq. The space bar was split into two; the left half was a traditional space bar, while the right half was a backspace key. It was the best setup for that I have ever had the pleasure to use, and I have never found another like it.

  66. Roxysteve says:

    Why is everyone obsessing about the key layout on their keyboard when the real issue is why we are still using the damned things in this day and age?

    Bloody “scientists”! D*cking about renaming Pluto an non-planet and worrying about Lake Huron being more of a bulge, instead of doing *real* science like figuring out how to make computers do what you want without having to grope the things.

    Pah! Useless bastards!

  67. LintMan says:

    Logitech G15: I thought it was OK, but for my gaming type, I never really used all those extra macro keys. I had one game which used the LCD, which was kinda neat, but there isn’t enough general support to make it must-have. But for a WoW’er, I bet there’s plenty of support. Keyboard feel was just so-so, and when my son knocked my drink all over it and ruined it, I didn’t replace it with a new one.

    Saitek Eclipse II: I have this now, good feel, good for gaming. Has 3-color choice of LED lighting, but doesn’t remember your selection and always defaults to blue.

    Somebody linked the blank-key Das Keyboard, but they also have one with the letters on it. With mechanical switches, USB hub and “n-key rollover”, this might be my next keyboard.

  68. Cuthalion says:

    (The model number for my keyboard is KB-6323. A picture of a nearly identical-looking model.)

    I just had to comment to say that I’m using a hideously old (May 1996) IBM keyboard. No Windows button, three-key-sized Shift keys, full-size backspace, the works. No special buttons. It’s about as low tech as you can get. But I love it. Every other keyboard annoys me, especially “ergonomic” or laptop keyboards. Mine’s got nice, big keys with space between them, so I hardly ever make mistakes involving pressing two keys at once or the wrong key one over.

    Keyboards… they don’t make ’em like they used to.

  69. Leon says:

    You know, that last button looks a lot like the icon Baldur’s Gate 2 used for the “disintegrate” spell…

  70. Andrew says:

    I had a Logitech keyboard that would crash on occasion. The solution communicated from technical support was to remove the batteries and bang on the keys for a while to discharge the capacitors in order to completely power-cycle it. Then, re-install the batteries and re-synch.

  71. Elise says:

    I use the shutdown button on my keyboard, but it’s up the top and I don’t press it by mistake…

    unless I am sitting on the floor with my legs over the top of the keyboard and my arms between my legs to type, AND I am wearing ugg boots. Then my right boot might accidentally switch off my computer… but that’s only happened once or twice :P

  72. Mephane says:

    This keyboard is a real WTF. I’ve had one with similar keys above the last four function keys, and yet managed to hit them sometimes on accident, shutting everything down.

    As far as i know, however, you can deactivate those keys by turning off the “HID Input Service”, which is responsible for handling any kind of specials keys that extend normal input. You should try if that helps to turn the keys dead…

  73. Jabor says:

    I’ve used the same keyboard ever since I first got my own computer – it feels good, keys don’t stick, it has full-size keys, F1-F12 are well above the rest of the keyboard, Esc is right out on it’s own, no stupid “Fn” keys anywhere, really the only gripe about it is it has both windows keys. It’s probable been through a lot less than you guys have put yours through, but the left Ctrl and Shift keys have moderately deep depressions in them from being left too close to a desk lamp, and everything still functions correctly despite having never been cleaned in 6-odd years.

  74. Visi says:

    I love my keyboard, it was £5 for 5 off ebay. Took a while to get used to, the extra backspace next to the space bar was annoying for the first 10 minutes, but I haven’t hit it again since.

    Plus, since it has nothing on it, nobody else can use my comp! (X, C, V, ALT and HORSE have all since worn off)

    If you want one I have spares, but you have to pay the postage. :p

  75. Derek K says:

    “Reminds me of a game my friend had on his old IBM PC back in the 80's. While you playing the game, there was a single buttom command that would hide the game and bring up a generic spreadsheet complete with sales numbers and charts.”

    That was actually surprisingly common back in those days. They were called the “boss key” Leisure Suit Larry is the most common one, but I had a lot of games with such an option. I think after a while, it just became a running joke. I know Cartalk (on NPR) has one, and there’s a whole website that puts web pages into a word doc format….

    And then Think Geek has this:

    The “StealthSwitch” – it’s a foot pedal under your desk that completely hides apps you’ve selected. ;)

    Oh, and the best keyboards ever are found here:
    and here:

  76. Takkelmaggot says:

    Kbrook: My feelings exactly. I don’t want a keyboard that requires a driver installation and an external power supply.

  77. Chaz says:

    For me a keyboard is a keyboard is a keyboard. Except that the weary old wireless Dell I use has a killer feature that is very hard to find elsewhere – a rotary volume knob. So much more intuitive than trying to find the volume up/down buttons, and much faster to use when you find the volume is set to “blaringly loud”.

  78. K says:

    The Idea for games would be to not use the arrow keys. You know, like WASD or even ESDF. That also is slightly better for hotkeys (as in “neighbooring key vs other side of the board”) or anything else. Also, your left hand is already in tiping position, instead of at the arrow keys.

    But I disgress, arrow-key-gamers are like theists. Even proving that their ideas are inferior does not make them budge. Try something new from time to time, will you?

    Still, that keyboard is horrible :)

  79. Kevin says:

    I thought this was normal in Windows boxes.

  80. ArchU says:

    Where’s the engine on your keyboard, Shamus? The wheels??? Can’t use a turbo button without those features. I hope you can still return it.

    Seems to be that you’re very picky about keyboards, besides. (There is nothing wrong with the function keys!)

  81. Robel says:

    If you have winblows you can disable the power, hibernate and standby buttons. It`s somewhere in the power control options or power saving or something, can`t remember it and I can`t check it now because I`m at work and I have a kubuntu system here. Anyway, I remember playing a mmo (Lineage 2 if you know it) and hit the power button by mistake while fighting a huge lizardman. I logged back in to see my character lying on the ground lifeless with strange pee and scales all over his body.

  82. You know, that last button looks a lot like the icon Baldur's Gate 2 used for the “disintegrate” spell…

  83. Violetta says:

    Not to sound like Pollyanna, but my ghetto/redneck upbringing has taught me to approach demonic artifacts like that as puzzles. “Okay, I have five bottles of fabric paint, the superglue we got when the house was falling apart, and leftover string from my preschool art project. How can I make this object usable?” Some people are horrified at the way I ooze glittery borders around the bases of computer keys I don’t want to accidentally press, and other such improvements, but the I’ll-never-get-a-chance-to-replace-it mentality compels me to personalize my possessions as much as necessary to keep them usable until the day they are completely bricked.

    That said, I’m with you in wondering what the puzzle designers were thinking. Maybe they just like to toy with mortals?

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *