Life and times of a Keyboard

I have a well needed day off work (its’ been busy since returning from holiday so I’ve been in the office every day) and I’ve set myself two goals for the day. First is to catchup on my book reports and other blogging. Second is to go for a long walk.


I’ve noticed for a while that the keys on the home computer keyboard are getting a bit stiff to touch type on, today, just as I’m motivated to type lots, they’re really sticking. Especially the space bar, pushing down requires just the right amount of pressure and direction. Push a little sideways and it sticks until it’s forced. Keyboards eh, just how long has this keyboard lasted?

Well, the logo on the top says “Gateway”. It came with our 2nd office computer in 1998 when we started the business. How do I know? It has the manufacturing date stamped on the back – 24th November 1998

Yes, this keyboard has lasted a measly 10 years (almost), or put another way;

It’s lasted longer than 15″ monitor, a 17″ monitor and a 17″ TFT screen (actually, the 17″ TFT didn’t really die, it replaced a dead monitor in the office and I had the new one at home)
It’s survived use on 4 computers (I think, certainly that’s how many computers we’ve had at home)
It’s outlived every joystick I’ve ever had, and come to think of it every mouse, although when this keyboard was made we were still using mice with wheels inside them.
It’s seen every password I’ve ever created, and failed to remind me what the password was when I’ve forgotten.
It’s left me with unanswered questions, like which key has been pressed more than any other? (the half shiny surface on the space bar might be the clue, that and that the space bar is the key suffering most and making this typing hard work).

The label on the back also tells us that even 10 years ago “Improper or prolonged keyboard use may cause injury”. I wonder if 10 years is prolonged?

So if you’re question is “how long does a keyboard last?” This one is about to go to keyboard heaven after 10 years.

Eurocon – international culture at it's best…

A little break from talking and playing gives me time to post a few more photos and explanations.


We can start with what sort of Personal Protection Equipment is necessary to play a computer game. In other countries it appears players take their safety more seriously than I ever have. Here Unguis (Germany) demonstrates his safety headgear and goggles.


However, it appears rules in Ninja’s homeland (Monaco) aren’t so stringent. Here we can see his PC is looking rather naked missing it’s entire outer case. Notice how the plastic carrier bag is neatly covering the DVD player by the monitor. The hard drive resting on a purpose angled cardboard box lid. OK, serious explanations now, Ninja flew to the con from Monaco and in previous years had to pay a heavy surcharge for the weight of the PC. So, his solution is to take only the essential parts of the PC which is why there is no case. The monitor was loaned for the con by one of the local competitors. Don’t try this at home folks, I’m told last year static electric destroyed his motherboard.


Of course, if you travel by car then there’s not much of a limit to what you can take. This behemoth has a control panel just for the cooling fans. That wouldn’t even fit on my desk at home.


Whereas this beautiful set up is fellow >>>PARROT<<< "Halb", An american living in Amsterdam in the day time he travels the world as a professional film cameraman shooting commercials and movies any time any where. His Mac laptop runs bootcamp to run all the PC games, and the screen is simply a huge apple TFT. Two things to note on this photo, firstly the black edge of the screens is where he's pulling a tight high G force turn and is starting to black out. Second, behind the screen of his laptop you can see a little grey box? That's my PC from home, tiny little thing that at 2 years old can't be upgraded any more and will be on my next years wish list. Oh, thirdly, that little box on top of Halb's screen is not a webcam, it's a TrackIR sensor. More on that another time though.


I’m not the only one posting pictures around the internet. There is a forum for all the players and interested parties and already several photos have been posted there complete with humorous captions.


Being the afternoon, it appears most players have recovered from the night before and surfaced to play, chat, drink more beer… actually most people seem to have been taking it easy so far.


Final shot of the posting goes along the line of 1st ROF squadron players. First in the row is Lapwin, one of the 8 who organise the event. I’m guessing he’s the one who came up with the “Dead Parrot” logo for this years event, which all we >>>PARROTS<<< felt was quite a compliment. We just turn up and play after all, they do all the hard work. Now for a little writing. It's not been non stop playing games. In fact, I've played less than I expected, only about 4 flights so far. The rest of the time has been talking to people. It's strange to put faces to voices I've heard for years now but never met. Baubai was completely different to what I expected (imagined overweight aging German, found very fit late middle age german). It's funny how you make judgements from a voice alone. Better than all the gaming has been a short discussion with Livius (german). We were talking of how great it is that we can all be friends, 60 odd years after our countries were fighting a horrific war. I told how in my Granddads life story he wrote of coming off the boat onto the Normandy beaches and his first sight was “the headless Canadian officer”. Livius then told me of his Dad’s similar story. Driving as a passenger in a lorry they were targeted by a sniper. His driver was shot clean through the head and the bullet passed over Livius fathers head by a truly small measurement. He didn’t hear the shot, only becoming aware of the drivers death as they began to veer off the road. He also told me of his personal experience of visiting the Imperial War Museum in London as a teenager and how it differed (for the better) when he visited it 15 or so years later. I keep praying that this new age of easy communication will bring countries closer together. I still hope that all wars will end soon, and that my grandchildren (should I be blessed) get to enjoy friendship with nationals of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and every other country where British national relations are less than ideal. I hope this, yet I also hope for the safety of the British servicemen and women who have to do the difficult job required today, as Livius father and my grandfather did 65 years ago.

Coining phrases: "Messenger Lag"

I wonder if there is a term in use called “Messenger Lag” or similar, meaning; the effect of having two or more differing conversations with the same person when typing over instant messaging services.

I’ve just been talking to my Mum on Messenger, she’s staying with my sister in Australia at the moment. Whenever we talk on messenger we have at least two simultaneous conversations. While I type the reply to one question she’ll start asking the next, or reply to a question from a couple of lines before. Sometimes that gets a little confusing… like this;

sharon says:Hi Steve,
Just about to go to bed – just checking you are okay?mum x
Steve Root says:i’m ok
Steve Root says:busy busy week
sharon says:thats good. lots of orders? or just work
Steve Root says:KBB in birmingham yesterday, kinetico tomorrow
Steve Root says:just busy with work, though dave did some orders yesterday
sharon says:sounds good
Steve Root says:i’ve had one survey this morning, one new measure this afternoon, margaret is jus tfinalising a bedroom for survey next week
sharon says:was kbb worth going to?
Steve Root says:may have found a good custom size door supplier, but I need to do more on bedrooms first
sharon says:any sliding wardrobes?
Steve Root says:long way to go though
Steve Root says:not worth having, current sliding doors are better
sharon says:where
Steve Root says:where what?
sharon says:you said a long way to go though
sharon says:so i said where
Steve Root says:Birmingham is a long way
sharon says:oh
sharon says:i thought you meant the supplier