Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's

Chiclet Keyboards and Recalcitrant Touch Pads

5 Comments

I have a new laptop. It’s very nice, but I really don’t like the keyboard. It’s one of those “chiclet” keyboards (the name is something to do with American chewing gum) that are supposed to save space and be generally wonderful. Well, I don’t like it. I was already having trouble hitting the keys on the left hand side hard enough – now it seems that I can’t hit any key hard enough. And it really is this keyboard, or this type of keyboard; I’ve been using a desktop elsewhere, and that is just fine and dandy (with the possible exception of those tricky A’s).

I’m no touch typist (my mother is; she would just hate this thing), but I’ve never been one to hammer the keys, either (my husband does that; you can hear him typing several rooms away). And it seems that this particular chiclet keyboard, at least, likes being bashed. Bloomin’ thing. I don’t want to bash it! I’m not even sure that I can. I’ve looked for settings. I’ve adjusted the touch pad (which was oversensitive, as if in compensation; it’s still not quite right). But darned if I can find anything that tells the keyboard to pay more attention.

I don’t even think that its got anything to do with my Parkinson’s. My right hand is unaffected by the Parkinson’s, but I still don’t seem to be able to hit the ‘L’ properly. I think it might be related to the angle that the keys are hit at, because it’s the ones at either side that are the most troublesome –  including the shift and CTRL keys..

I treated myself to a pen and tablet, initially to bypass the touchpad (and because I’ve used one before and found it better than a mouse, let alone a touch pad). Then I discovered that Windows 7 will recognise your handwriting on such a device. Which it does pretty darn well – albeit with a few bizarre idiosyncracies (it’s a bit like the predictive text feature on many mobile  devices – sometimes you get incongruously wrong words. So I have to be extra-vigilant when I’m proofing a piece).

And, of course, the pen and tablet makes graphics work much more fun.

This post was (mostly) written by hand on my clever tablet.

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5 thoughts on “Chiclet Keyboards and Recalcitrant Touch Pads

  1. I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking , because I am right-handed and it is my right side that is affected. I also use cool pen to do social work interviews, It is called livescribe and it records the conversation and matches it to my chicken scratches on a special dot matrix paper. The recording can jump to wherever I point the pen on the paper as I work with the interviews when I write up my reports later on. I doubt if I could continue working without voice recognition software and some kind of recording device!

    • I suppose it is good to know that there are technologies that allow computer use after conventional interfaces cease to be useful, but it is less good to hear that you require them, Jeanie, and to consider that I may do, too, one day. I am so very, very grateful that it is not my right side that is affected (thus far).

  2. I’m going to have to try Dragon NS because my right hand doesn’t keep up with my left hand when typing – the letters start appearing in the wrong order, and also they start to reppppeat. I can hit the keys hard enough, though.

    I’ve also been teaching myself to write left handed. Funny how Parky drives us to ever greater versatilities, huh?

    I like the sound of livescribe – will investigate further…

  3. Hmmm… writing as an IT guy (and inveterate keyboard-basher) there’s no reason why that KB should be particularly hard to use. I’ve used the type before and found it no worse than others (although I prefer one like this with a slight dish to the top of the keys).

    What make and model is the lappie? Any chance you could go back to a shop and try out another the same to see if it’s just your one or the model in general?

    Broadly speaking, if you bought it from a reputable supplier and are having difficulty, then you should contact them as for any other annoyingly defective thingamabob.

    • It’s an Acer Aspire that came from Argos (it was a return, but there was a guarantee). I should probably find a.n.other chiclet keyboard somewhere to tap gently at. Mind you, Tim, that word “basher” bothers me – that’s precisely what I don’t do!

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