When my old iMac had to be fixed, because I had extended Apple Care Warrantee, Apple simply replaced the whole unit. Because I was living in the US at the time, however, the keyboard was localised to the American layout, as opposed to the British one I had learned to type on since I was 11.
The difference? Well – this might sound like the smallest nit picking thing in the history of small nit picking things, but the Return (Enter) key isn’t the odd shape I’m used to, and the 3 key has a hash (#) on it, instead of the Pounds Sterling (£) symbol.
Confusion further sets in when, like me, you have the Operating System language set to British English, because then the keys you want, like quotation marks (“) and asperand (@) are swapped over, but still printed on the keys where you want them to be.
Well, after a while, I just got used to it – and for the sake of not wanting to unpack lots of boxes which it was easier upon my return to the UK to just throw in the attic, I stuck with the American format keyboard – until now.
Fast forward to this morning. I’m going through a load of boxes in an attempt to throw out old memories and make room for a new book stand and bed in my room. I’ve had the bed for a while but it was crow-barred in and it all needed sorting out. Hey, what’s this? Ah ha! My ‘old’ British English keyboard! I’ll plug it in!
Oh oh! I can’t write anything! The keys are in the way? What’s that all about? It turns out that even the slightest of changes to the way keys are laid out can massively affect the usability of a keyboard. I have had to ditch the British format and switch back to the US type, just to get this written inside 2 or 3 days.
See for yourself the ridiculously minor changes which make all the difference, in the pic below. I’ve included my old Perspex Apple keyboard to compare the changes in the size of the ‘Return’ key. I should, in the interest of clarity, point out that it remains as clean as the day it was new, despite my being an ex-smoker, because – thanks to a brilliant piece of advice from Leo Laporte, I washed it in the dishwasher and, he’s right, they do come up a treat – and YES it still works.