Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   typos on my keyboard
Friday, December 3 2004
In the course of getting computer peripherals for my normal business, I've gotten a number that bore no brand name and were almost too inexpensive to be believed, and these invariably come from China. Whenever I get such a device, I always get a little enjoyment from reading the broken English on the packaging. As skilled as Chinese slave labor might be at cranking out cheap electronic devices, there doesn't appear to be much invested in technical writing departments and basic copy editing. Here's some copy from the packaging of a compact illuminated keyboard I recently received (all typos are original):

Power requirement
+5V DC
Natural serve etectric current 120mA
Environmenis information
Operating temperature:0o C-55o C
Relative temperature:20%-95% (no dew state)
deposit temperature:-25o C- oC
Mechanism information
All journeys:3.0±0.4mm
Operating life:>20.000.000

Now I can almost understand things like "etectric" and "Environmenis" - but confusing numerals for Latin characters is inexcusable. And what exactly is "deposit temperature"? From context it seems to mean "storage temperature." But then, why is the range from negative twenty five degrees celsius to an unspecified degree celsius? What units is the number "20.000.000" in? Finally, even assuming that a 5 might have been intended as an "S," what is a L251jourflay? With glaring typos like these, I had to double check the keyboard itself to see if there were any typos on it. There weren't, unless you include "PrtSc" and "SysRq." I noticed that the FCC label attached to the back was written in flawless English.

You might think that a lack of commercial branding and technical writing prowess by a Chinese manufacturer would reflect an underlying absence of any consideration of human factors, particularly ergonomics. But the keyboard isn't badly designed as keyboards go. I am, however, having to familiarize myself with its unusual arrangement. Being a non-touch-typist prone to risky finger tricks, I make heavy use of the backspace button to immediately correct errors, sometimes ones I know I've made without even seeing them. But on this new keyboard, the backspace button is exactly the same size as the letter keys and the extra space it would normally occupy on most keyboards is taken by the "home" key relocated from the cursor pad. The result is that oftentimes I'll go to hit the backspace button and accidentally hit home. Now home is a key I would never willingly strike on any keyboard. Indeed, before this keyboard, I couldn't even tell you what it did. What it does is to position the cursor at the beginning of the line where I'm typing. So when I hit it instead of the backspace button, the error I'm trying to correct remains and the correction goes at the beginning of the line. Immediately this was such a problem that I had to actually pry the home button off the keyboard. [REDACTED]

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next