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Moron design July 15, 2008

Posted by faelix in moron-ocity.
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More on moron design. The dumb mouse came as a bundle with a dumb keyboard. Well, not exactly. Just the connection was dumb – it’s bluetooth. Rather pointless, and after two instances of the key communication getting stuck (resulting in non stop communication of a single letter being sent) I determined I had to find a wired keyboard, or a standard wireless keyboard. Figured I’d pop out to the Dick Smith, or Office Works during my lunch hour and just pick up a standard keyboard. No “ergonomic” waves, no weird “smart” or internet keys, no weirdness – just a plain ol’ keyboard.

Ooooooh boy, was I mistaken!

Last time I bought a keyboard was in 2004. I bought myself a Logitech standard wired combo mouse and keyboard. Never had a problem with them. Went looking for one of them. Dick Smith first. Look at all those shiny boxes on the shelves… with pictures of the keyboards in them… with the keys of Ins, Del, Home, End, PgUp, and Pg Down in the new Microsoft vertical layout .

As opposed to the original, and -normal- layout

All of the keyboards at DS had the vertical layout. I did not want the vertical layout. So I moved on to Office Works, figuring they’d have a wider range on offer.

At OW, I noted that all of the logitech keyboards had the vertical layout. :( So I looked at the microsoft keyboards. I spotted one with the horizontal layout, but I still needed to feel the response of the keys, so I asked an OW guy if I could try it out. “The keyboards cannot be removed from their boxes.” “bye bye”, I replied. Not much good if I cannot feel what the key response is like. I spend a lot of time typing and I need it to not suck.

So, on to the last option – Harvey Norman. I see the same microsoft keyboard and the guy there is more than happy to let me see what the key response is like. He opens up the box, and puts it on a desk for me to play with. It seems ok, but then I notice the F keys. They do not have the F numbers as the primary labelling – they’re secondary labelling. The keyboard needs to have F Lock pressed before it will allow the F keys to function as F keys. I ask the guy if he knows whether the software will allow the F lock to be set to be on as default. The booklet doesn’t say. He connects it up to a computer and we see that the F keys do not work without pressing F Lock first (as if I didn’t know that already, but the guy didn’t know). I spot a logitech keyboard on another display computer – it’s EXACTLY what I want! Sell me that one! I say to the sales girl – the guy has been hijacked by another customer. The girl packs up the old keyboard and tries to find the one I’ve spotted. No go, sorry. The only keyboard that comes close to my requirements is this one:

I ask the girl if I can try it out – while it is flat, it still has a wave to the keys – I have to make sure I can type on it. While I can touch type, I use the wrong fingers.

It has only taken 1.5 hours for me to find a keyboard that is tolerable. Luckily, the mouse is also a standard size. VERY lucky.

So, back to the design – why did they change the design of those keys? I have seen this changed layout for the past 4-5 years, but the reason only occurred to me – Microsoft and morons. Microsoft because they require a user to type Ctrl+Alt+Del to log on (as obvious as going to the start menu to shutdown); Morons because they can’t find the Del key. Think about it – there’s NO other reason to make that delete key bigger. No typical user really uses the delete key – it works counter intuitively for the average person – they use the backspace key. Everyone knows where that one is. So, the only reason they would be looking for it, would be to log on. And what OS requires users to log on using that key combination? Windows. So, I blame Microsoft as enablers of dumb design.

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Comments»

1. Dobbie - August 11, 2008

I’m sure there is a long list of designs specifically meant to annoy us rather than be useful. Some designers get so precious about their design they forget the reasons why they are designing something. A good example are architects who specify in their contracts that window blinds can only be fully opened, half opened or fully closed and not in between because it makes their building look bad. Forget about people who work there every day they are not important.


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