Computer Crap

Late last week I ran across an article [Link] on “How to Choose the Best Mechanical Keyboard (and Why You’d Want To)” and this prompted me to consider the matter.

What, is a non-mechanical keyboard? The inference is that the mechanical is somehow different and that only leaves non-mechanical. I am at a loss for this. Since every keyboard I have ever seen/used has been a machine for converting finger taps/presses into ASCII characters or some action. To the author mechanical evidently means individual keys but this again is a distinction that is elusive. I am forced to the hypothesis that the author is a ferd.

But the meat of the cognition was once I got past the journalism of the article and settled into considering that nature of things. The question emerged over the weekend of ‘why are keyboards so terrible?’ By this I do not mean the QWERTY layout but the machine quality of the device.

It may be argued that the personal computer began in the early ’80’s with the IBM PC. One may argue variously for earlier computers but I find those arguments to lack inertia. At that time the IBM PC cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a kilobuck to a kilobuck and a half. It was well made and highly dependable. And the keyboard was wonderful.

At the same time, automobiles, especially those made in Amerika, were junk. They lost half their value when driven off the lot, and often had to be replaced within three years. One was pressured to pay them off before they had to be discarded. On the other hand the IBM PC is still good today, those who have not been discarded as obsolete, and the same goes for the keyboards which command great prices in the marketplace.

Nowadays, automobiles last at least a decade. My morning motorcar, a Honda CRV, has seen more than fifteen years. Additionally, prices have decreased, at least in constant year dollars. So automobiles, and to a great extent appliances, have vastly improved in both durability and cost.

On the other hand, the quality of computers – PCs – has steadily declined. I long ago began to purchase refurbed workstations to try to recapture the durability of the original while obtaining price reduction. PCs are cheaper now, but they are not as durable, mostly due to poor design.

But compared to the keyboards, PCs are adamantine. The keyboard that has come with every PC I have bought in the last ten years was a flimsy feces. Especially the ones from HP who used to build the best calculator keyboards – and calculators – on Tellus and now has runny stercus. I refuse to use these pieces of plastic poo. I use one of my Northgates from back in the days when tower cases were built out of steel. IT is well I do because FD SCP does use those keyboards and I need a lot since they seldom last more than six months.

Similarly, laptops are now flimsy cracker boxes compared to what we had in the ’80’s and ’90’s. And it is now impossible to find a major brand laptop with a decent keyboard.

Why is this? Why have automobiles and appliances gotten better and computers, especially keyboards, have become trash?

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