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February 10, 2005 12:39 AM

Broken: Keyboard design

Broken1aVictor Zeiser writes:

I wonder who came up with this amazing design, putting the power button right next to the enter key. How many times have I shut my computer off by mistake with only the slip of a finger?


so broken... my computer would be off more of the time than on with that thing.

Posted by: Dragon at February 10, 2005 12:46 AM

what I want to know is what the turbo key does...

Posted by: must...push...turbo... at February 10, 2005 02:53 AM

Hey, I had the same Chicony keyboard and it always get off. So, one thing I did, I destroyed this button. Take scissors, insert it beside the button, push it below and now pull with the button being thrown out. You will have small hole there, but no more turning off.

Posted by: dusoft at February 10, 2005 04:00 AM

The "Turbo" key is an archaic toggle that once allowed computers to switch from low-speed text mode and high-speed game mode.

Back when 20Mhz was considered 'going turbo' :)

Much broken- though my keyboard is missing lotsa key, because I hates them (The windows, capslock, the ], and insert).

And I had to press ] with a pen.

Posted by: Jim King at February 10, 2005 09:01 AM

That's broken and anoying.

As for the turbo button, if watching Knight Rider has taught me anything its that Turbo makes cars jump over things. I'd guess that in this case the turbo button will make your monitor leap off the desk.

Posted by: Joshua Wood at February 10, 2005 09:02 AM

No doubt here; broken.

As Jim King mentioned, another key I hate is the Insert key. I just don't see any purpose in it.

Posted by: a cheesepuff at February 10, 2005 10:07 AM

What's so bad about ]?

What I want to know is, how has the "scroll lock" key managed to stay on the keyboard all these years when no one knows what it does?

Posted by: PlantPerson at February 10, 2005 10:08 AM

I guess that I don't pay that much attention to my key board. As I read the first post, my eyes droped to my key board, and I saw it for the first time, the power button. I don't know if I ever accidently hit that button or not, but there have been times when my computer went off.. So if I hit the sleep button, does that mean I will fall asleep? If so, how do I hit the wake button?

Posted by: Chris at February 10, 2005 10:14 AM

So who came up with this amazing design, putting the power button right next to the enter key? Probably the same person that came up with the brilliant idea of placing the Windows Close (X) button right next to the maximize button in the upper-right corner of the window! I don't know how many times I have closed a window instead of maximizing it because my click was slightly off target.

Posted by: Gary Edstrom at February 10, 2005 11:01 AM

I close windows frequently in OS X, using apple-W. Except for when I hit apple-Q by mistake, and quit the entire application. Those two things should NOT be next to each other.

Posted by: Felix at February 10, 2005 11:15 AM

I'm not saying this isn't broken, it is, but you do know you can change your keyboard's settings to ask how you want to shut the computer down, or the completely turn that key off, don't you?

Just go to My Computer> Control Panel> Keyboard>

Then simply change the setting for any of the hotkeys under the Key Settings tab.

Posted by: MinkOWar at February 10, 2005 12:21 PM

MinkOWar: Yes, having setting to disable the key helps mitigate the problem, but from a product design / user experience standpoint, it's stupid to have done it in the first place. A power button the keyboard is a USEFUL thing. It makes turning off the computer more convenient. But placing it in a spot where it can easily be pressed by accident is poor design. By placing it in such a poor spot, the user must either live with accidental power downs, or turn off the button's function losing a useful feature.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at February 10, 2005 12:38 PM

>What I want to know is, how has the "scroll lock" key managed to stay on the keyboard all these years when no one knows what it does?

If the scroll lock key went away, how would I activate my KVM?

Posted by: Chaz Larson at February 10, 2005 12:38 PM

This is great! For the first time in a very long time, everyone here seems to agree on how broken and poorly designed is the product or service in question. Yes, putting the shut off button next to the ENTER key was a dumb thing. Broken, definitely broken.

Posted by: sam at February 10, 2005 01:09 PM

This isn't broken.

(Well, okay, actually, it is - very much so. But after reading the above comment, *someone* had to say it. :D But yeah, this is very broken.)

Posted by: Ciaran at February 10, 2005 01:29 PM

No, this is not broken. As others have posted in here, if users are so stupid that they cannot control their little fingers during the completely controllable act of typing, then that is their loss. They deserve to lose all their data. Only programmers with extreme manual dexterity should be allowed to operate computers. Only programmers and designers should be allowed to use e-commerce Web sites, elevators, remote controls, and any of a growing list of things that are too difficult to be designed with the user in mind.

Tee hee.

Posted by: Mac at February 10, 2005 01:44 PM

Carlos Gomez:

I never said it wasn't broken, I said that it can be disabled, read my post again.

Posted by: MinkOWar at February 10, 2005 02:42 PM

If you want to see a good example of what the scroll lock key does...

load up microsoft excel.

hit scroll lock. then try and move between the cells using the arrow keys.

not saying I do this, but I've had to figure out why :)

Posted by: Rob at February 10, 2005 03:12 PM

I've got another use for the scroll lock button. It's used in Yahoo's LaunchCast radio (recently renamed to Y! Music) to enable right clicking in whatever frame you send the keypress to. This is a partially secret thing, but it is documented in the comments. If you look at the source of any of the frames, you will find:

switch( event.keyCode ) {

case 145: // scroll lock

allowRightClick = true;

Other than that, I can't think of any other uses for the scroll lock button.

Posted by: ssssmemyself at February 10, 2005 05:28 PM

Heh - broken indeed.

My tale of woe:

For 8 years I programmed Visual Basic (where, while debugging, Control-Break is used to interrupt code execution and take you to the currently executing line of code). On an _old_ 84 (or was it 104) key keyboard.

Then along come new machines at my new office, with the new keyboards' Break keys moved down and the new Power key where Break used to be. Aarrghh! I must have accidentally shut down my computer, mid-debug, at least 10 times in the next 2 days, trying to hit Ctrl-Break.

So, like another poster here, I borrowed a screwdriver, prised off the Power and Sleep keys, dropped them in my drawer, and had a slightly better experience :)

Frustrating, I call it! Like having to relearn bits and pieces when you switch from Windows 98 to 2000, and from 2000 to XP and then to 2003... sighh... anyway, I guess Longhorn will force everybody to relearn the whole darn user interface :)


Posted by: Edgar D'Souza at February 10, 2005 09:18 PM

> The "Turbo" key is an archaic toggle that

> once allowed computers to switch from low-

> speed text mode and high-speed game mode.

> Back when 20Mhz was considered 'going

> turbo' :)

I don't believe you. Only newer type of computers (ATX) can have "Power" buttons on the keyboard, but ATX computers do not have that turbo switch...

So what does that key do?

Posted by: must...push...turbo... at February 11, 2005 01:10 AM

The VT100 lives on!

I suppose all of you kids are too young to remember this classic terminal. Well, it had a "log me out RIGHT NOW" key - conveniently located next to backspace.

The designer of this keyboard clearly pays homage to the great design of the VT100.

Posted by: Arnt Gulbrandsen at February 11, 2005 04:38 AM

Hey, "must...push...turbo"

OLD computers DID have a turbo button (not nessecarliy on the keyboard, my old old old 16 mhz computer, with windows 3.11, had a turbo to boost it up to 33mhz, located beside the reset and power buttons on the tower) This was common, go look at any dinosaur, and it'll probably have one.

New computers don't have turbo because over-clocking a 3.6ghz proscessor to 7.2Ghz would result in spontaneuos combustion without some liquid nitrogen cooling :)

Posted by: MinkOWar at February 11, 2005 11:48 AM

In all of this keyboard discussion, I'm surprised that no has mentioned that the whole QWERTY layout of the keyboard is broken. It is theorized that it was intentionally designed to slow dexterous typers because the manual action of the original typewriters could not keep up. Unfortunately due to the ubiquity of the QWERTY keyboard today, the more efficiently designed layout of the Dvorak keyboard has not taken hold.

Posted by: Harris at February 11, 2005 04:29 PM

The Turbo button on my keyboard is used to change the key repeat rate. The function keys are marked with different speed settings, so, for instance, Turbo+F1 changes the key repeat rate to extremely slow, while Turbo+F7 changes it to the fastest possible rate.

Posted by: codeman38 at February 11, 2005 05:02 PM

(And no, before anyone asks, I don't understand why the button's called 'turbo' when it allows you to slow down your key repeat rate as well...)

Posted by: codeman38 at February 11, 2005 05:03 PM

What I don't understand is: why would anybody even BUY such a dumbly designed keyboard? Isn't that what's broken? The buyer?

Posted by: Tim Patterson at February 11, 2005 05:36 PM

Who buys just a keyboard?

Posted by: Dell Adams at February 11, 2005 06:27 PM

I got a keyboard with Power/Sleep/Wake AND Turbo buttons.

Turns out that Turbo has to be held down in order to use the Power/Sleep/Wake buttons.

(no more accidental turn-offs!)

Posted by: lka1988 at February 11, 2005 09:50 PM

I don't think that's exactly why QWERTY was designed that way. It was more to reduce the incidence of two close-together hammers (or whatever you call the actual things that strike the paper) being hit and jamming.

Thus, the keys are not randomly placed (as a 'slow em down' theory would tend to imply) but placed where the chances of having to use two consecutive keys is minimized (for English). So, we have a straight consonant run of dfghjkl across the middle row, as these are unlikely to be used in sequence (though gh is fairly common, I suppose, and of course repeated consonants dd, ff, gg and ll are quite common, but that's not a problem-- only one hammer is being used).

So, it's not quite the case of slowing down the typewriter (the early word for typist), more that as long as the hammers you're using are far apart, they move away from each other quicker on the way down (and come together more slowly on the way up), i.e. there's a smaller volume of space in which they can collide.

This is all, of course, dependent on there being a relationship to the horizontal position of a key and the horizontal position of its hammer, which in a mechanical machine is of course the natural way to do it.

Posted by: Simon Trew at February 12, 2005 02:19 PM

Why doesn't Scroll Lock do the same thing in Word as in Excel?

P.S. What's a KVM?

Posted by: fuzzy at February 13, 2005 05:00 AM

Yeah, sleep buttons on keyboards are broken. It's too easy to put your machine asleep by accident.

As for buying just a keyboard--what if yours wears out?

As for a KVM--that stands for Keyboard, Video, Mouse. He left off the word "switch", but it's clear to techies anyway. A KVM switch allows you to have two or more computers connected to a single set of controls & screen. This machine is hooked up to one--I've got an XP box and a 98SE box.

Some of them use the keyboard to control them. A double tap on the scroll lock and I'm on the other machine. There's even a 4-port version with keyboard controls out now.

Posted by: Loren Pechtel at February 13, 2005 12:05 PM

>> so broken... my computer would be off more of the time than on with that thing.

Unlikely. Most PCs like that require you to press the 'Turbo' button and the 'shutdown' button at the same time. Fairly unlikely to occur by accident.

Posted by: Matthew at February 13, 2005 07:04 PM

The TURBO button on old computers was added because as processor speeds increased (e.g. from 8MHz to 33MHz!) some games which were written to run per processor cycle (rather than per second) ran too fast for people's reaction times. It theory, what was needed was a "slow mode" button for the games. This is a marketing no-no, of course, so manufacturers implemented it as a turbo button which everyone left switched on all the time ... unless they wanted to play the old games.

Posted by: Andy at February 14, 2005 04:10 AM

I'm one of the few that buy their own keyboard. For me, a broad-shouldered, large-wristed person, a straight keyboard makes my wrists go to sleep after an extended bout of fast typing. I got one of the protype MS Natural Keyboards and became a true believer. Those straight keyboards with the little keys all squished in together that make me bend my wrists into odd positions are broken broken broken! Of course, it helps that I have a MS contact so I can afford the new keyboards...

Posted by: Laurie at February 14, 2005 11:19 PM


Maybe this keyboard was made for perfectionists who think that computers must be off at ALL times to save energy.

(yeah, but what would need a computer for if you ALWAYS keep it off?!?) :-)

Posted by: Vartan Christopher Simonian at February 27, 2005 03:04 PM

I have a Logitech keyboard that requires you to push a Function lock key to access the function keys (it has weird forward and back buttons in the default position). And it is only active from within Windows. So the other day I needed to start in Safe mode, which is accessed by hitting F8, which, of course is not available until after Windows boots up. Easy convenient work-around - unplug keyboard and plug in another one so I can hit F8 while booting. Not too hard, but does require sitting under the desk to reach the plug.

Maybe the people at Logitech don't actually use computers...

Posted by: Kim Schlossberg at February 28, 2005 12:12 AM

I've seen even worse one.

The 3x4 block of keys above cursor keys consisted of 4 rows, with del/insert rows moved up and power keys located in place of del/end/pgdn keys. No feel difference, just signs on the keys different. I switched the PC twice in some 5 mins by instinctively reaching for DEL and pressing Poweroff. These here at least are small and you feel they are different.

I laughed off the guy who bought this keyboard :)

Posted by: sf at March 2, 2005 09:36 AM

I have seen a computer with a pentium CPU@133 MHz. It had a turbo button and when turbo was on

a little LCD screen on the case said 133. I never turned turbo off but my best gues with

turbo off it probably would underclock the CPU to 100 MHZ and the LCD screen would probably say 100.

Posted by: unknown at March 3, 2005 01:57 PM

I own this keyboard, and my biggest complaint is that the backspace key is only one unit wide, where the standard is a double wide key. My fat fingers show many of these:

I have misspll\\led ths\is senta\ence.

all my backspace strokes show as \ (whisch is not in the normal psition either.


Thanks for the info on the turbo key, I had presumed as above, that it would make my keyboard leap over oncoming traffic a la KITT.

Posted by: Tang at March 5, 2005 12:24 PM

HAHA this the same exact keyboard I am using right now ! I got it at work. Note that the keys don't work !

And also, besides that it's a very good kb

Posted by: Raphas at March 8, 2005 11:22 AM

yeah, why would you ever turn the 'turbo' button off?

Posted by: Bob at March 25, 2005 08:46 AM

my keyboared has one of those over sized enter keys like the on in the pic. it has a ful sized backspace key too. instead they shortened the left shift key and added the \ beside the shift key. my KB has 2 keys that are My Computer and Calculater.

Posted by: unknown at March 25, 2005 03:08 PM


I am collecting keyboards that are broken and otherwise useless and unrecyclable to make earrings.

If you have a broken keyboard that you are interested in donating to me I am easily reached at

Thanks! I really appreciate it!

jennifer x.

Posted by: Jennifer at April 19, 2005 06:28 PM

The last time Isaw a turbo button was on a 1983 80386. What kind of sick computer are you running?!?!

Posted by: The Reaper at May 8, 2005 07:59 PM

My stupid keyboard has the home, end, PG up and PG down keys right above the right arrow key in a column. You don't know how many times I've turned left and misfired instead of looking up during Quake II games. (Yes, I still use my keyboard as a gamepad. I also use a MAc PLus and a 486. Tee-hee-hee)

Posted by: The Reaper at June 27, 2005 06:36 PM

Dammit, our computers at school (MPCs) have the PrtScrn, ScrlLck and Brk/Pause keys moved down and replaced with Sleep, Power and Wake.

1. Why the hell would you want Wake? Any key wakes the computer.

2. This design sucks ass. I dunno why you wanna put that crap there. Move the num, caps and scrl lights to the top and put the buttons there, like my keyb. Mucho better. Or just add vol + mute keys there instead.

Posted by: Tricky at July 9, 2005 10:55 PM

Any key? Where's the any key? ;)

Posted by: Typer at August 25, 2005 09:02 PM

Some joker pulled out the arrow keys on my office keyboard, and replaced them in the wrong order.

But I didn't notice for about 6 weeks because I never look at them ;)

Posted by: katy at September 24, 2005 06:00 PM

I enjoyed reading this topic.

Just thought I'd let it be known.

I simply took my "power","sleep", and "wake up" key off my computer.

As for my turbo key.. I always thought, "hey, maybe this will maybe make my computer go faster!".. guess not

Posted by: Humored at November 21, 2005 07:29 PM

Hay Mac if you are think you are such a perfect typer i guess we will all go to your house and chuck our stupid keyboards at you. :)

does anyone know why the print scrn is there. and why do they put home, pg up, end, pg down on that calculater keyboard thing when the same buttons are right next to it.( you know when nun lock is pushed)

Posted by: edison at May 16, 2006 11:05 PM

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