Thursday, October 07, 2004

New Toys (and other miscellaneous musings)

I discovered this morning, quite to my dismay, that my keyboard was nearing the end of its natural lifespan. I had spilled some juice on it last night, which I quickly mopped up and, near as I could tell during the cleanup, none had actually dropped between the keys.

Apparently I was wrong, as the space bar had taken to offering a bit of a delay in its return to natural, neutral position.

Which, on the whole, probably wouldn't be anything to lose sleep over -- a nuisance, certainly, but surviveable. If I wasn't planning on writing 50,000 words next month. might have an impact.

So I went out today and spent money I couldn't really afford to on a new MS Multimedia Keyboard.

Options were limited, to be honest. Limted to exactly one, in fact, because I refuse to do any more damage to my arms and wrists by using a non-ergnomic keyboard. And wouldn't you know it, between the Microsofts and the Logitechs and the miscellaneous no-name brands available to me, they had exactly one ergonomic keyboard to choose from. The one above. Which now sits on my desk. Which I now type. Which, in some sense, I am testing out for the first time with this post.

Not a bad keyboard, but why are they so goddamn expensive? I mean, if I want to get a cheap piece of shit keyboard for $20.00, sure, that's an option, but what if I want to avoid any great crippling disorders later in life? What if I want to avoid shoving my arms in the face of a doctor decades from now, pleading with him to make the pain go away? Shouldn't there be some kind of discount for ergonomic designs, instead of treating them like they're some kind of trendy, lifestyle choice.

That's the second piece of hardware that's died for me recently, after putting in five years of work, so I guess I can't complain too much. My previous keyboard was one of the first (if not *the* first) of Microsoft's ergonomic designs, and after using it I simply can't type for any length of time on an old-style keyboard without actually, actively feeling the damage I'm doing to my wrist. Thankfully I've been able to arrange for ergonomic keyboards in the last two jobs I've held, otherwise I'd probably have lost my mind. Or at least the feeling in my fingers.

My mouse caved a few months back too, forcing me to invest in another new toy that couldn't really be afforded. The mouse was an even greater issue, though. My keyboard I could have struggled with -- one key was just a little sticky. The mouse was dead. Nonfunctional. Toast. I remember the night it died, I'd had a few drinks, and I found myself banging it as hard as I could against the desk, hoping I could jiggle some component back to where it belonged and get just a few hours more use out of it. No go.

That's what the mouse looks like. Pretty cool actually. It's cordless too, which is even better, though I dread to think about the deadly amount of radiowaves and other miscellaneous beams bouncing around my office. I'm probably nursing a tumour the size of a basketball right now.

In other news, Stick Figure Drama is now officially in a second publication, so my path towards massive syndication has begun. May take awhile, but the things that are most worth doing are often like that.

I'm a few weeks behind on Stick Figure Drama here too, of course, which I really must catch up on in the next day or two, and finally get around to creating those links directly to each of the 19 (holy crap -- 19!) strips that have run so far. I'm also toying with putting together a collection of strips for Xmas, but I don't know if I still have time to get that done. Maybe if I got off my ass and did some work on it for a change...

I'm off to see Harry Manx at the Gibraltar Room on Friday night -- a blues musician, who's incorporated a 19-string indian instrument into his performances. Should be interesting, and the streaming music available at his web site has me convinced that it'll be a good show, to be sure. Not sure exactly when it happened, but I fell in love with the blues a number of years ago, and could, in fact, listen to it almost exclusively. Not that it'd be good for my mood, I imagine. C'est la vie.

Final rankings for the keyboard, at least as of this early date, is definitely good. The keys aren't springy, and click nicely -- one of the things I like. When I type, I like it to sound like I'm typing. As for functionality, it's got the media keys, which is nice for playing and pausing music, adjusting volume, etc. -- even quick buttons for Internet access and E-mail. On the downside, it's got the annoying as fuck Function lock button, that allows you to access your function keys in the way they're designed. And if Function lock isn't pressed, all of a sudden you're opening and closing and getting help files and getting all sorts of other crap that you don't want. Gonna have to try to set Function lock as defaulting to ON.

It's also got the rearranged Home / Delete / End / Page Up / Page Down keys, which is a strike against it, but at least the arrow keys are still designed the way they should -- I'm currently using a keyboard at work with fucked up arrow keys, and it's about enough to drive me to drink. If I wasn't already a filthy drunk to begin with.

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