February 6th, 2009

krazy koati

In case of accidents he always took his mom

I don't know if you've asked why your computer keyboard makes almost no effort to crawl away. My guess is you probably haven't loud enough for others to hear, but if you have at all then the question is answered: why not? An article I read somewhere, that was clearly not just the company's press release with the contact information trimmed off, reports a company has made a keyboard able to move just enough to mess up your typing in the middle of a good sentence. There must be a reason for this, although they'll probably fall back on ``ergonomics'', which is the science of making commonplace things weird and frustrating.

Right now it can move side to side, up to an inch and a half either way, every hour or 20,000 keystrokes or 30,000 miles, whichever does not come. The keys are also curved in a little wave, which should let it induce seasickness in those paying attention. If it doesn't they'll have to add rising and falling, and maybe rotating too. If that still doesn't work then they'll have to put rub-off scent patches with some nauseating odor.

Also different keys have different sizes, foiling that trick of prying up the keys and putting them down in other ways. Maybe it's an attack on the Dvorak keyboard people, who are even now gathering outside the company's office. They bear signs insisting on their superior typing speeds and offering rewards to the first person to successfully form a pun based on the ``QWERTY'' keyboard layout.

If this succeeds, and I can't imagine why a keyboard that rambles across the desk, nudging aside incomprehensible but needed notes (``20.5 SOFA #'') and bullying empty cans of soda, wouldn't succeed, then we could get all kinds of moving computer stuff. Image a computer monitor that looks demurely away when it feels you should be embarrassed by whatever's on-screen. You could set it up beside a couple of mirrors so it can't help facing itself, so the monitor will go wild in a fit of view dodging until it finally flops over, blushing hot pink. Maybe that's getting mean.

It's easy to think of a mouse that burrows, but the obviously practical thing will be the external hard drive which crawls up and down the walls in response to how much it's actually used. This way the files most frequently called on will gain in loading speed from the hydraulic pressure of falling from altitude. The files you never use can be tucked safely away in whatever folder it is you always open first, waiting there, expecting some kind of resolution or orderly handling that will never come, watching you, accusingly.

The great future this promises is if the computer components all get the ability to move, not just little bits but to wander all over. We could soon have to launch entire hunting expeditions to find wandering hardware, with records of their thrilling experiences:

June 4. Day six. Morale high despite withering sarcastic commentary. The guides saw footprints from the documents scanner in the carpet but the trail is cold. On the morning we set out blocks of cheese cubes as bait. One guide pointed out that no computer mouse eats cheese, as they are fonder of celery and pitter bitter [ a youthful error for `peanut butter' that has been accepted by the family despite all efforts by the instigator to suppress it ]; but the mouse is not the target. I hoped to catch myself, later in the day, when I've forgot what they were set out for. It worked and thus I am here. No pictures to follow as the camera escaped captivity overnight, taking with it two guides and Polly.

Naturally the records must be written on un-enhanced pads of paper, but they could be scanned into some electronic form if the hunt is ever successful and the computers put in a secure pen. There'd also be an exciting new career of zoo-like caretakers to the hardware, feeding and cleaning and training the computers to not snarl or bite visitors. This would be a great improvement on the current situation, whatever that is.

Trivia: The impact point of the Apollo 14 Lunar Module ascent stage was 36 nautical miles west of the Apollo 14 landing site, 62 nautical miles from the Apollo 12 landing site, and seven nautical miles away from the target point. Source: Apollo By The Numbers: A Statistical reference, Richard W Orloff. NASA SP-2000-4029.

Currently Reading: The Age Of Gold: The California Gold Rush And The New American Dream, H W Brands.