nice things, and the no can hassing of them

I thought you might be interested in what happens to computing machinery around me. It's part of a field that I emit. Or perhaps a secretion. But I think it's a field. A failfield. I have been using this particular keyboard for just under eight years:

Yes, those keys used to say "N" and "M" on them. Wearing the paint off your keycaps? That's for amateurs. Not only do I wear the paint off, I inadvertently carve scars into the plastic. But it's the left "Alt" key that deserves special notice:

It is nearly worn through. That's just how meta I am, man.

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56 Responses:

  1. Apparently you type with steak knives and brillo pads?

  2. ivorjawa says:

    Now I'm curious to see what your init.el looks like.

  3. spc476 says:

    Good Lord! If anyone can destroy an IBM Model M keyboard it looks like it could very well be you (along those lines, if you do ever do consider an IBM Model M keyboard, the keycaps are replacable, but I do realize that keyboards can be a religious issue).

    • jwz says:

      Flat rectangular keyboards are dead to me.

    • ekesobriquet says:

      They truly can be--I have a large supply of MS Natural Keyboard Pros. The original kind.

      • editer says:

        I've been nursing my MS Natural along since 1996. I cringe at the thought of replacing it. It's the only MS product I've ever liked (as opposed to "tolerated").

        • phoenixredux says:

          Yes, but you don't get eight years out of a MS Natural. Well, maybe YOU do. I don't. I've used a series of them for doing Closed Captioning, and at best, I think I've managed to get three years out of one. One day, they just die. I've long been envious of JWZ's fancy keyboard setup, but I can't justify spending $600 for a keyboard, if I could even find that keyboard. No wonder the ALT is worn down to a nub.

        • ekesobriquet says:

          I was fortunate enough to grab a bunch at like $20/piece. I think they were salvages from the first dot-com fallout but most were new. I should hang out outside Yahoo all this year and wait to loot their corpse.

        • cryllius says:

          If you haven't tried out the MS "Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000" you should. I had a thing for the original Natural Pro as well, and once mine died I tolerated a couple of the other ones in the meantime, but the current-model 4000 truly follows it its footsteps. The build quality is solid, the layout is pretty much the same as the original Pro (the standard 101 keys are all in the same - right - spots, finally), and all of the annoyances I personally had with the other models are gone. It's definitely the best one they've made since the original.

    • gytterberg says:

      They're not as invulnerable as people like to spaz on about. I've destroyed two - one with spillage (I think - the membrane inside looked all scorched and was damp), the other just kind of got crazy and sent the wrong letters or too many of the right letters.

      • wisn says:

        They aren't waterproof, despite claims. There's a plastic subhousing between the keycaps and the keyboard circuitry with upturned ridges that fit within the caps when they're depressed. It keeps splashes of liquid off the circuit board.

        A full-on dousing is going to get water into the electronics and you are never going to get that shit out. The plastic subhousing is now allied with the enemy because you can't get air between it and the damp circuit board. You can disassemble the keyboard if you try and have the right tools and the time to pop off each freaking keycap. Meanwhile everybody with old-school Apple Extended II or Dell QuietKey boards are laughing at you because when those get wet, you just hang them by a cord to let the water run out and air dry for a couple days.

        • gytterberg says:

          Also the membranes themselves are exactly as flimsy as any other keyboard's. When I destroyed the first one I totally disassembled it and tried to put it back together for novelty value. The membrane was just fried.

          I have a PCKeyboards one now and meh. The action doesn't feel as nice as my old one, and the 8 key types double most of the time. Pretty lame.

    • rane500 says: favorite keyboard, period. Nothing is more satisfying than the metallic "clack" of an XT keyboard. As far as I'm concerned typing at 75+ wpm should send pets and small children running with their hands over their ears. Nothing else is nearly as satisfying.

  4. i_e_d says:

    *sends a care package of a angle grinder with a carbide disc to help you trim those nails*

  5. perligata says:

    You have goblin nails. I am not surprised by the scratches.

  6. matt_od says:

    what do your fingers look like?

  7. cfs_calif says:

    Are you a xenomorph? Do come out at night mostly... mostly?

  8. elevatordown says:

    Fun Fact: JWZ has talons.

  9. dennisw says:

    What is that thing at the lower left of the second picture?

  10. I do the same thing. My 'A' and 'S' are worn off and starting to groove, and around 40% of the 'N' and 70% of the 'M' remain. And that's a keyboard I've had for around four years.

    Must be too much calcium, or something.

  11. chuck_lw says:

    >But it's the left "Alt" key that deserves special notice:

    >It is nearly worn through. That's just how meta I am, man.

    At first glance, I thought it was melted.

    But that'd take a whole other typing talent. And possibly supernatural powers.

  12. violentbloom says:

    I think you have some acidic sweat or something in addition to your demon claws... you didn't even mention the neck of your leather jacket dissolving.

  13. edouardp says:

    You could try swapping between using emacs and vi every three years. It would probably double the lifetime of your keyboard - your HJKL keys look pretty fresh still.

    Or ... maybe not.

  14. bugpowered says:

    How about cutting your nails periodically?

  15. luserspaz says:

    You should work on retracting your claws before you type. I realize the idiot content of the internet makes this difficult.

  16. hatter says:

    My goblin nail/talons don't actually come in contact with the keys, hence the lack of grooves on my keys. Looks like your pinkie just slides right off that alt key but it's damn impressive to have such evidence.

    I don't think it's a failfield that half-kills a keyboard in 8 years though, that's likely way over the design spec.

    the hatter

  17. sazzoid says:

    This happens to me too!!! i thought i was the only freak that melted and killed keys... i particularly feel sorry for mr A key... followed by S....
    one keyboard was so bad if you couldn't touch type.. don't bother using my keyboard!

  18. scorpionis says:

    I'm a pretty fierce keyboard hammerer on a daily basis but I don't think I've ever worn down a key like that, though I have occasionally faded a letter or two.

  19. equiraptor says:

    The D key on my MacBook has a little dent in it. It's no where near the size of the gashes on your M and N, but the MacBook is also less than a year old.

    My hands dissolve the things I touch regularly, from the silver on my flute to the "leatherette" on my steering wheel.

    • pikuorguk says:

      My Macbook's keyboard has now acquired a nice shiny look to all the buttons, and that's from a 6 month old keyboard unit (the palm rest on the old one cracked, stupid cheap plastic - "I dunno what's wrong with them" said the 'Genius' in the Apple Store!).

      My Model M is quite old and I'm only just managing to wear the spacebar down.

      A lot of the keyboards where I work are knackered, but that's because I work in a school and children cannot be trusted with anything nice.

      • lionsphil says:

        Yeah, but the Apple keyboards are truly hideous things. I have an OEM PC keyboard that I'm still using after a decade that's perfectly fine---not even worn keycaps---and yet my MacBook Pro has a lovely dent eroded into the space bar and surrounding case after just a year.

      • vitriolize says:

        I tried to scan your QR code. It didn't work.

        • pikuorguk says:

          ah, I bet LJ have mangled it too much. It seems to work OK on my T-Mobile G1 though.

          Can't remember what's in it, I think it's my website URL :)

  20. ultranurd says:

    Extra-acidic sweat genegraft?

  21. bahumat says:

    Looks like some of my past space bars, heh. Cracked countless of them, and my present work on is worn smooth to a polished, mirror shine by millions of strokes of my thumb.

  22. 5beroptic says:

    That usually happens to my keyboards after about 2 years. Most people complain when they visit that all the letters are missing but then I remind them that if they cannot even use a keyboard without toe tapping then they don't need to touch my computer. See it as an added bonus.

    'M' and 'N' are usually the first keys to go.


  24. ch says:

    i demand pix of your super and hyper keys

  25. derrialbook says:

    with what part of your appendage(s) do you press that left alt? i am trying to visualize the usage pattern that leads to that and i'm coming up blank.

  26. thekoleslaw says:

    My work keyboard has been modified for "extra productivity."

  27. lindseykuper says:

    I'm convinced one of my colleagues hasn't actually typed anything in years, aside from control characters and left parens.

  28. inoah says:

    It's not just keyboards and other machinery. It's software too. I've been watching you lose the battle against our turing overlords (lispms -> unix -> linux) for almost 2 decades.

    Face it guys, computers suck. VMS sucks. Unix sucks. MS-DOS sucks. The whole thing, they all suck. Not only that but they're going to kill us all. --something you said on the bbdb list in the early 90s.

    • lionsphil says:

      He knows.

      If you made a Venn diagram, there would be two non-overlapping circles, one of which was labeled, "Times when I am truly happy" and the other of which was labeled, "Times when I am logged in as root, holding a cable, or have the case open."

      That particular paragraph is painfully, painfully true.

  29. ralesk says:

    I used to have a Samsung keyboard - I managed to wear a hole into its space bar in a little over a year. Right shift was also rather worn.

    Five months into using this laptop, the labels on the keys have started to come off :/