Some Key Words on Keyboards

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I’m willing to bet you don’t give your computer’s keyboard much thought (beyond the occasional cleaning of all those muffin crumbs). Typing is so second nature to most people, they probably don’t stop to think, “Why are keyboards arranged this way?”

That’s a good question, especially as we move farther away from physical keyboards.

The History of QWERTY

There are a lot of myths surrounding the development of the QWERTY keyboard. The most common story goes like this: Christopher Latham Sholes, a printer and newspaper man in Milwaukee, WI, wanted to make his business more efficient, so he developed an early version of the typewriter in 1868. This 28-key version arranged everything alphabetically, because, why wouldn’t you? It was thought to be easiest and most familiar way to arrange the keys, resulting in the least amount of hunting and pecking.

The most common theory explains that Sholes moved away from this arrangement because of mechanical failings. If typed on too quickly, the mechanisms would get jammed. The QWERTY keyboard was supposedly designed to separate common sequences of letters to slow typists down, and reduce the number of malfunctions.

By 1878, Sholes was issued a U.S. Patent with the first documented appearance of the QWERTY layout, entered into a business arrangement with gun-maker Remington the same year, and by 1890, sold more than 100,000 QWERTY-based typewriters across the country.

There’s another theory that basically boils down to the monetization of the proprietary system: Along with selling typewriters, the company also sold training courses, creating brand loyalty and QWERTY-trained typists.

Other keyboard arrangements have been developed since (the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, for example), but the prevalence of QWERTY since its inception 140 years ago has remained beyond its mechanical necessity.

Keyboards Today

Through the advent of personal computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and more, the QWERTY keyboard remains. Even though we interact with it differently (texting with one hand, say, or typing with your thumbs) the familiar pattern is still there.

Even so, the next wave of college graduates set to join the workforce were raised with touch devices, and as those new workers replace those who are retiring, the reliance on physical keyboards may see a shift.

So is QWERTY going to die out? Probably not (right away).

In a recent report on consumer trends, the sales of tablets are trending down, but the market for 2-in-1 laptops (tablets with detachable keyboards) is expected to grow at 21.2%, suggesting the desire for a typing device is still strong.

Still, that mechanical keyboard might eventually become obsolete. The technology developing around touchscreen keyboards (and maybe even VR keyboards) is getting better all the time, with the use of next-generation haptics to simulate the experience of typing on a physical, push-button keyboard. Other developments in technologies such as AI and voice recognition may also lessen the need for physical keyboards.

Any maybe, as this article suggests, for technology to truly take the next big leap, we need to rethink the way we interact with computers – through a keyboard, mouse, or touch screen – all together.

via GIPHY

Either way, if you’re still able to drop it, we’ll still try to fix it. 🙂

How to Do Your Own Computer Repairs

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We know folks would rather not see us, and that’s okay. You only come to a computer repair shop when something is super broken. We get that. That’s why we try to make sure when you do have to come to us, you get absolutely the best service possible. If we can, we’ll get your repairs covered by the warranty so they are free to you. If it’s not covered, we’re very upfront with our pricing and do our best to get things running smoothly for you again.

What if we could go a step further and help you not see us at all? Here’s a quick tutorial on how to be your own IT guy so you won’t have to see us again so soon. But know you will be missed. 🙂

Tip #1 – Turn it off, and turn it back on!

This really is the Holy Grail of IT fixes. It’s amazing how many things this cures. Like blowing on the cartridge or jiggling the handle, it’s an amazing panacea for a variety of technical glitches. Chances are, if you have a computer problem (not related to obvious physical damage, of course), every tech you’ll talk to is going to ask if you’ve turned it off and turned it back on yet.

Tip #2 – Update Everything!

If things are kind of working, but not really, or your system is slow, glitchy, or just doing weird things, it may be a software issue. The first step is to make sure everything is up to date. Go through and make sure everything is as updated as possible.

Tip #3 – GOOGLE it!

IT guys are good at fixing things, but there’s pretty much no way to know everything about every machine. So chances are, when you call a support line or chat with your IT guys at work, unless it’s something right down the middle of the plate, they’re Googling it. Why do you think doctors leave the examination room before giving you a diagnosis? Everyone looks up stuff, and you should, too. Problem is, many folks are kind of terrible at Googling a fix for their problem. So try this: Think of the question you would ask the IT guy, and type that question, exactly as you would say it, directly into Google. If it’s fixable, there’s a good chance your first result will show you the way.

If all else fails, bring it to us. Mechanics fix your car. Plumbers fix your pipes. This is what we do. We’ll make sure to get as much covered by your warranty as possible, so it’s free to you. And if it’s not covered, we’ll give you sound advice and straight forward pricing. Because we know you don’t want to come to us, but we’ll do everything we can to make you glad you did.