The dilemma of using a foreign computer keyboard

·4 min read
Dan Tackett
Dan Tackett

I'm a bona fide geezer. I convinced myself of that hard, cold, brutal fact once again this morning as I started to write this column.

Let me get right to the point: I have had frustrating computer problems trying to get this written. To be specific, I have just started writing. This taking place after fighting with this computer for an hour or more. To be honest, I got so rattled I forgot what topic I was going to address in this week's column.

I should be cool, calm and feeling quite peaceful right now. My newly retired wife Suzi and I are spending a few days in our camper at beautiful Lake Shelbyville. We camped here a couple of times last season and decided it was a good place to spend R&R time. Little did we know when we reserved our camping spot a few months ago, the cost of gasoline would be through the roof come camping season. I felt pretty pleased it only took a quarter tank of fuel to arrive at our destination.

Before we crawled out of bed this Monday morning, Suzi reminded me I needed to write my column today. Oh no, I silently groaned, I want to go fishing, not sitting behind a computer screen. But here I am.

The start was rocky. I have an outdated PC on my desk at home, Hands down, it's my preferred digital device, whether I'm writing a column, surfing the Internet or catching up with distant friends via social media. Unfortunately, it's not practical to pack when we go camping.

So, I'm relegated to typing this on Suzi's laptop computer, thus the rocky start. I've never felt comfortable typing on the laptop's keyboard. It feels too alien and I make a gazillion typos that I try to catch and immediately fix. Mind you, that's no guarantee this will be an error-free piece of work. I apologize in advance for that.

Today's digital devices aren't designed for old dudes, such as myself. After not coming close to embracing the idea I needed a cell phone for several years, Suzi and her daughter Jennifer did the convincing for me a few years back, so now I have a cell phone.

Typing on that tiny cell phone keyboard is nearly mission impossible for me, Stumbling one-finger at a time to write a three-word message seems to take forever. This particular model of phone I have uses this auto-correct feature that at times can drive me over the edge. Say, I want to text someone to meet for coffee. I start typing “c-o-f-f” and the auto-correct feature changes my word to “collect” or “correct.”

More: Logan County awarded additional food and shelter funds

Sometimes I catch how the auto-correct has distorted my texts and messages. Sometimes, I don't. So, if you have gotten a text in the past from me, inviting you to meet “for collect” or “correct,” be aware we've missed a good caffeine fest.

A couple of years ago, my stepdaughter Jennifer gave me a tablet for Christmas. It was a bit like my cell phone, but it has a larger screen. I enjoy the larger screen, especially playing card games like cribbage and solitaire and even a good Scrabble contest against the computer brain that's at the heart of this little digital device.

Well, returning to today's computer dilemma, Suzi was well aware of the difficulties I encountered trying to try to type proficiently on her laptop, so she purchased an outboard wireless keyboard and mouse that I only use when we are in our camper and I am relegated to using her laptop. Today, she set up her laptop and the wireless keyboard/mouse combo and told me I was ready to go. I checked out the mouse and it worked like it should. Not so lucky with the keyboard. It simply did not work.

More: Jones earns Farmers Market Manager Certification

I gave the keyboard a once over and found a battery compartment. Aha, I haven't used this for a few months and the batteries are shot, I thought. I swapped the batteries with new ones, but it still wouldn't work. Suzi didn't feel defeated as I. She quickly produced another wireless keyboard from her huge stash of miscellaneous items she takes camping.

“Let's try this one,” she said.

“Where did that one come from?” I asked. Her reply: “I don't know.”

All the while in this struggle to write one word of this column, I am sitting at our very small dining table inside the camper. With the laptop, keyboard and mouse, there is barely room for a cup of coffee.

I tried the keyboard Suzi had retrieved from her bullpen. Nothing! Zappo! Sorry, Charlie! I was relegated to using the laptop's awkward keyboard.

That's where I am now. I need to spell-check this and head into town to a fast-food joint that offers free wifi so I can email it to Jean Ann Miller.

After that, the “Gone Fishin'” sign goes up.

Dan Tackett is a retired managing editor of The Courier. He can be reached at dtackett@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Lincoln Courier: Different computer keyboard creates havoc