Monday, May 13, 2013

Keyboard puzzlement

R's sister had a furrowed brow as she stared at our keyboard when she paused typing. She was looking for the @ symbol, which is above 2 on Australian keyboards and somewhere else on English keyboards. I assume for them the £ symbol is above the 4 where our $ symbol is and I recall they also have the € symbol for Euro somewhere. (wrong, the dollar and euro symbols are on 4 and the three has the pound. Getting messy and complicated) Our keyboards don't have those symbols at all and you have to press and hold the alt key and on the numeric pad enter 156 for £, or alt 0128 for €.

I cannot understand how a keyboard can type a Chinese or Japanese language. It has been explained to me but like the rules and scoring of golf, and soccer's offside rule, straight in one ear and out the other.

Gattina has just bought a new keyboard because her y would no longer work. She said she could have typed in German or French as y is seldom used in those languages. I did not know that. I reckon Gattina spilt wine on her keyboard. I did the same and my j was sticky, and there is nothing worse than a sticky j. Left to heal itself, my j began functioning normally again in time, but it was amusing to watch page after page of j being automatically written, briefly.

But even more surprisingly, I learnt from Gattina that French keyboards are not QWERTY but AZERTY. The Q and the A have been swapped, as has the W and the Z and the M is next to the L. While I know enough French to see why, how very French to not conform to English standards. Quell horreur.

Let's have a look at keyboards from some other countries, ignoring special characters and incomparable alphabets.

Hehe, Germany has a QWERTZ keyboard. Yes, quite different. Zee Germans go it alone.

The Netherlands appears to be QWERTY.

I've checked a few now, and there seems to be only three basic layouts. The English  language layout, the French layout and the widely used in Europe, German. Special characters differ in many countries but in Australia our keyboard replicates that of the US.

There is one more of interest to me, an American international keyboard layout that can put in accents for letters. This keyboard can't but if I write cafe the spell checker sees the spelling as wrong. It wants me to add an accent. Funny, it used to give me the option to select cafe with an accent. Now it doesn't.

I wouldn't have a clue about Macintosh but I would guess the basics are the same.

I assumed the tale that the keys are so arranged on a keyboard because in the days of typewriters, it was to slow typists down to stop keys that strike the inked ribbon getting jammed on each other. I remember that well, so that didn't work for me. But I saw in a Tweet the other day that this may not be true. I expect Victor knows a bit about typewriters but I also expect he is pleased to not have to use one anymore.

I also heard that someone has designed a superior English language keyboard layout, but that will go the way of the superior London Tube Map. It may well be better, but we are all far too set in our ways.

12 comments:

  1. Oooh! Let's try this.....press and hold alt and...nope, that's not working.
    And you spelled keyboard wrong in your title.
    I have those little accents on my keyboard, but don't know how to get them onto the words, nor do I know which accents to use. Spanish has ~ and French uses ` but sometimes it goes the other way and I don't seem to have that one.

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    1. Corrected the spelling River. Are you using the keypad on the far right of the keyboard and not the one above the letter keys. Laptops generally don't have that, so I don't know what you do then. I've not used a keyboard with accents, so I don't know about that.

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  2. I am normally a touch typist which works well if the letters on the keyboard are where they always are. But I was using a keyboard at an internet cafe in Turkey one year and my typing came out as garbage.

    You are right. Keys move in a very shifty, unpredictable way and touch typists are stuffed.

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    1. I am too Hels. I struggle to type on the smaller laptop keyboard.

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  3. A fascinating post Andrew. I was checking out my keyboard as I was reading it and yep I have got an English one. No surprise there then.

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    1. Fun60, you are in the right place to make a comparison with what I am used to and what you are used to.

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  4. It took me ages to adjust back to an aussie keyboard. In fact my old laptop is a UK one so has the UK thing around about.

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    1. Fen, that must have taken some adjustment, using you laptop and work computers.

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  5. After years of wondering what has changed since I learned to type at school your post finally sent me to look at the keyboard of a good old olivetti lettera. Starting with 2 at the top [as lower case L = 1] we had " / @ £ _ & ' ( ) with a * tacked on the end.
    Perhaps that was once a UK and commonwealth standard?

    Stepping sideways, as it were, does anyone recall the early days of computer keyboard number pads? Jobs for key punch operators [KPOs] usually specified "top down" or "bottom up".
    I must have learned to "touch type" a number pad on a top down machine, as I still automatically head to the 7 button to enter the number 1.

    Change is the only constant - trite but worth an occasional sigh.

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    1. FC, that was my old Hanimex portable typewriter keyboard. I had so forgotten about it. What a smart case it had. I used to Dissol it often.

      I don't have a clue what you are talking about in the rest of your comment.

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  6. I did a shorthand and typing course way back..ooops may have just given another clue to my age haha! My b in law takes great pleasure in telling me shorthand hasn't been used for many years, which is a shame because I actually still remember how to write 'dear sir' and 'yours faithfully' :) the typing still works just fine, I can still hear the William Tell Overture!!

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    1. Shorthand Grace? I wouldn't have a clue about such a thing and I don't know what Pitman is. Seriously, what about the Tell Overture?

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