Friday, May 22, 2015

All keyboards are not the same

(American, French and Swiss keyboards in descending order)

My mother never gave me a choice about learning to type. "Do it or be grounded," she said the summer between my sophomore and junior years. "If you can type you'll never go hungry."

Thus before I could do summer fun things, I practiced ghjf, ghjf and jfhg for hours along with the other combination of letters, until I was a good typist. She was right. More than once typing has provided me a salary and it was easy to go from typing to word processing.

Like most people who grew up in the US, I thought keyboards the world over were the same.


I moved to Toulouse. The keyboard I used there was a French one. Where did the W go? It is where the Z should be and vice versa. I also had my own DEC Rainbow PC with an American keyboard. On any day, I was switching between the two.

Then I went to work in Switzerland. Easy, I thought.  I already know the French keyboard.


Granted there were minor differences. For example on the French you need to use the Caps to get the numbers, but not on the Swiss. Some punctuation is reversed.

I had a Swiss keyboard at work. I'd bought a French Mac to save several hundred francs for my Geneva apartment and I used the DEC rainbow at my gentleman friend's home on weekends.  It meant in one day I could be writing on any three keyboards never mind the compatibility problems.

Where was that M again????

Finally, I ended up with Swiss keyboards at all three places, saving me the hour or so of adjustment when I switched from one to another. I was a happy typist, although I no longer had a ready-made excuse for typos.

Remy, our computer guru at work, came smiling into my office. He had hearing problems, was good looking and always walked with a spring in his step. "I've wonderful news," he said. "I can get you an American keyboard."

I didn't want to hurt his feelings so, I thanked him nicely and explained, I'd just co-ordinated all three of my computers, bought him a coffee and sent him on his way.

Now Rick is facing the change from American to French with some trepidation. I really want him to know it isn't that hard--not as hard as babying his geriatric laptop.

My laptop also could use replacement. At the moment the a, s, d, e, c, n keys are worn away. I'll probably buy it in Switzerland, not because it has a Swiss keyboard, but because I trust Marino, my computer guy there, to totally co-ordinate the old with the new.

Of course, the NSA will probably still be able to see me through the webcam. I wonder what keyboards they use.

1 comment:

Maria said...

American and Spanish keyboards are practically the same. The Spanish just adds the ñ next to the l. I suppose I was lucky.