Tag Archives: keyboard

It’s Not the End for Keyboards

Would a company that makes keyboards and mice recommend an article titled The End For Keyboards and Mice?  Yes. Man Hugging Keyboard

BBC Future wrote about the changing ways we interact with computers.  Strangely, The End For Keyboards and Mice doesn’t predict the end of these important tools.

“The mouse and keyboard won’t go away completely as they are an extremely fast and efficient way of interacting with computers,” says David Kurlander, formerly of Microsoft’s User Interface and Graphics Research Group.

Posted in autumn, the article highlights the changing ways people interact with technology.  It shares theories on where this change is going.  One scenario imagines taking existing technology that measures stress levels and using it to assign workloads…or sending your spouse’s call straight to voicemail!

We love technology; that’s a given since Technologies is part of our name.  It’s wonderful seeing how devices evolve.  Yet the fastest way to get what’s on your mind onto the screen is still your keyboard and mouse.

 

Read the BBC Future article here:  http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121023-the-end-for-keyboard-and-mice

Chin up, look for ergonomic technologies

Are you reading this on a computer, smartphone, or tablet?  If it is a computer, is it a desktop, laptop, or netbook?

Studies consistently show that chronic back and shoulder pain is on the increase.  The culprit is likely the increased use of technology.  Specifically, it is the increasingly mobile technology that is causing the problem.  Poor posture pulls your body out of its correct alignment.  Even five, ten years ago, posture was better and related chronic pain was less common.  This is because as America tranwsitions to more mobile solutions like laptops, netbooks, and tablets, we crane our necks further and further.  Desktops, while not perfect, at least put the screen closer to eye-level, reducing neck strain.

This is not to say that one shouldn’t use these technologies;  the trick is to use the with awareness.  Pay attention to your posture.  Make a point of getting up and walking around every hour or so.  Physical activities and stretching can also help.

If all else fails, try a more ergonomically correct office arrangement – a better chair, better keyboard, a mouse that fits better, or maybe a monitor stand/riser to bring the screen up to eye level.

Where the tablet falls flat

Today I stumbled across an interesting
article
about iPads, which I rather agreed with. These are fun little toys,
and work great for casual surfing on the go. You can even check your email, if
you use a compatible account.

There are downsides aplenty, of course. The most discussed
short-fallings are things like lack of Flash support, or sheer adaptability.
Flash is necessary to many web applications like video. iPads come with iOS and
are strictly regulated, as far as things like compatibility with third-party
applications, programs, and software. To make an iPad (or even iPhone) do many
of the things Android tablets do, users must “jailbreak
them.

Leaving all the software short-comings aside, the obvious failing
of an iPad — or any tablet, for that matter — is the lack of physical
controls.

Like many users, I have been impressed with the predictive text
software on an iPad. This makes it significantly easier to use. However,
sometimes an otherwise innocuous typo, caused by the smoothness of the screen
and less-than-Olympic level accuracy, is auto-corrected into something
completely ridiculous. Oft-times, it is also difficult to navigate on a tablet
due to some combination of the webpage or app you are looking at and the way
the gestures are intended to work.

Although I am easily classified into the “digital
generation” and grew up with technology, I also have to put myself in the
“old-fashioned” camp that longs for a tactile keyboard for anything
other than “casual” surfing.

 

Most Wanted: ReaderBoard, Alias: BoomerBoard


Chester Creek is best known for its Children’s mice and its large-key keyboards.

Our VisionBoard and VisionBoard 2 feature huge, bold, easy-to-read lettering on a key a full inch across.  This keyboard is perfect for individuals who suffer from vision and/or motor impairment.  You can see below how easy to read the legend is.  Notice also that the keys are sufficiently large and spaced that even user with arthritis or impairments that cause shaking can use.  We now offer our VisionBoards in a wireless model, to make them even more portable, adaptable, and usable for you.  For users who have an especially difficult time hitting the correct key or hitting only one key at a time, we also offer the KeyGuard, making every key stroke a bullseye.

What many of our consumers don’t realize is that our VisionBoard has a younger brother, the ReaderBoard.   The Reader is the perfect solution for individuals who work in low light or suffer from slight to moderate vision  impairment.  The ReaderBoard has the same layout and key size as a standard keyboard, making a switch absolutely seamless.  What sets it apart from standard keyboards (apart from that stylish design, of course) is that the ReaderBoard features a legend 250% the size of a standard keyboard.  I’d like you to take a moment now to look at the keyboard you’re using now.  See the letters, numbers, and commands?  How much of the key do they take up?  I’m guessing about one quarter – maybe they’re in the top left corner of the key, like my laptop.  The ReaderBoard’s labels fill the entire key with bold white lettering, so you can read it whether you’re working late in low light, getting a jump start before the sun is shining in the window, or even when you just don’t feel like grabbing your reading glasses.

That’s the beauty of the ReaderBoard.  For many individuals, standard keyboards can be hard to read.  This doesn’t mean those users need or want to transition to a large-key keyboard.  Chester Creek has created a middle ground.  With thousands of Boomers reaching the “mature-but-not-old-yet” stage, the ReaderBoard, or the BoomerBoard as we like to call it, is the perfect solution.  There’s no reason you need to wear reading glasses just to use a computer or transition to a large-key keyboard just because the tiny letter on a standard board strain your eyes in certain light.  As always, you can rely on Chester Creek to be working on bringing you exactly what you need for every stage of your life  From toddling to school to work and to retirement, we’re there for you.

(Don’t forget to check out our Wireless Mice to match the Vision Boards and our super-comfortable ReaderMouse to match the ReaderBoard.)

Spanish Keyboard

I honestly cannot say enough how cool I think this idea is. Spanish Keyboards. For homeschool or public school or just those learning Spanish. Maybe as a companion to Rosetta Stone, which you see in so many school and homeschool catalogs. These  keyboards are almost just like standard keyboards, but include the special characters for Spanish. They are also colored by character set to help those who may be less familiar with the keyboard. This way, students can learn to communicate in Spanish over their whole day, not just in school.  Plus, so many more advanced students have this challenge:  writing an assignment or essay in Spanish.  Hard enough already, right?  Then add in the need to have it nicely typed, either for teacher preference or because of poor handwriting.  Now you’ve added in the hassle of copy-pasting  special characters in, interrupting the flow of learning and typing.  With a Spanish keyboard, that goes away!  That easy.  And there is no software, these keyboards are plug and play!  That means you can plug the Spanish keyboard in when you want it, and plug its English counterpart back in when you’re ready.  Isn’t that cool?!  Check out our other products at www.chestercreek.com or call us for more info at 218-722-1837!

The Pro

The last couple days here at work, I have been using a LessonBoard Pro.   This is one of our newest products.  The keys are all colored by which digit one should be using to press them.  I’ll admit, although I type reasonably quickly, I do not type well. And there is a difference.  When I type, I use my ring fingers almost not at all.  And my pinkies, I use only for the “stretch” keys, if you will.   So with my thumbs, index, and middle fingers, I type at a moderate pace – about 70 words per minute. I know that sounds pretty fast.  But sitting here at my desk for the last few days, I have been trying to type more correctly.  While the adjustments I am making (paired with the lack of labels) is slowing me down a bit, I can feel how much smoother the typing goes.

This is going to be a learning process.  I only wish I had learned things right in school.  We had typing class, of course, but the software has no idea which fingers you use where.  Since I didn’t particularly care either, at that time being a rather average typist for a third grader, I learned some bad habits that I bump up against a million times a day.  They tangle me up, slow me down, and get my letters switched around – ask anyone I email on a regular basis.

So now, I am relearning to type.  And its not as hard as one might think.  But I am so glad I’m not using those typing diagrams from elementary school this time around.  I can actually see where I’m going.  It’s sort of like turning the lights on.  And that said, the lack of labels isn’t really so bad for me.  But then, I’ve been using a keyboard hours a day for the last decade.  Pausing to look for the letters is probably responsible for a food third of my normal typos.  Once I get my fingers going the right places, I’ll be flying.

Learn to type

Typing was once a specialized skill reserved for the business, secretarial, and writing communities.    These jobs were high paying and considered high skill.  With the advent of the internet and the propagation of computers into every facet of life, this is no longer an optional ability.  Employers are demanding this skill, even for low-wage, entry-level work.

 

Learning to type does not have to be difficult.

 

Finger position and muscle memory are at the core of typing.  Traditionally, a student must first memorize all of the keys on a keyboard and how they are arranged.  Remembering exactly which fingers go on which keys is the next important piece of memorization.  In many classrooms, papers are handed out that diagram proper placement.  This leaves students repeatedly checking screen, keyboard, and chart, losing momentum, and constantly making mistakes.  The color-coded keyboards of Chester Creek present the perfect solution.  Start your children out with a colorful FunKeyBoard or LearningBoard to help them learn key locations.  For even younger kids, we offer the large-key kids’ KinderBoard.  For the budding touch-typist in your life, we offer the LessonBoard.  This keyboard naturally guides learners into correct typing habits by simple color-coding.  We have also just added the LessonBoard Pro to our lineup. Color-coded, but lacking labels, the Pro forces students to memorize location of individual keys, but continues to encourage correct finger placement, reducing the urge to “peek” later in life.  The Pro is actually my personal favorite of all of our keyboards, because it is such an interesting but obvious way to encourage kids and adults to learn more quickly and learn “better.”

 

The New Numeric Keypad

Along with other new products we’ve been working on for the new year, we are also now offering our new large-key numeric keypad.

With keys and coloring to match our white VisionBoard2, the keypad is a separate device, which plugs into any USB port for immediate use without installation.  While our VisionBoards offer the row of numeric keys across the top, they lack the typical number pad on the far right.  That is where this key pad comes in.

Moderately Magical Mondays and High Visibility Keyboards

The only fun hijinks in the office here today include adventures in boxland and a heated discussion about the inadequacy of cordless phones.  With the rolling in of the new year comes the rolling out of old files.  Box them up and put them some place, never to be seen again. Of course, this involves assembling the boxes.  Watching Tasha do so? Mildly entertaining. Watching Karen make the attempt?  Hilarious.  They come in a big flat package, perforated cardboard sheets you magically fold into a box, the way a square of paper magically becomes an oragami crane.  Magic.  If you know how.  If you don’t, hilarity.

 

High Visibility Keyboards

For some, using a keyboard can be a challenge.  Small keys and smaller letters can be a struggle to identify.  For those who need their reading glasses just to type a quick note, who squint at their keyboards and strain their eyes, we introduce the ReaderBoard.  A relatively new product from Chester Creek, the ReaderBoard is a standard sized keyboard, with the standard offset QWERTY layout.  What sets our ReaderBoard apart from most keyboards is the size of lettering.  Each letter, number, function, and punctuation mark is 250% larger than standard.  This clear, bold, white lettering on a black keyboard drastically improves readability for those who struggle with sight but are accustomed to the standard keyboard.



For other users, who do not touch type or who are willing to adapt, we also offer large-key keyboards.  These keyboards all feature 1 inch keys with large, bold print.  Visibility is improved, and large buttons are often easier for those with shakiness or motor impairment of any kind.  These large-key boards are our VisionBoards2 series, and come in black on white, white on black, and black on yellow (Think caution sign — particularly beneficial for those suffering from macular degeneration).



For the young and young at heart with vision impairment, Chester Creek also offers a line of large-key keyboards in bright colors, coded by character set.  The differentiation of character set by color can also help those with poor vision to find the keys they want more quickly.


Sickness Season

This is the season of celebration and sickness. It seems like everyone has a cold, or the flu. Here in the office, half of us are sick. A big transfer of germs happens in schools. One solution to this is the Chester Creek keyboard seal. These are thin, clear, plastic membranes that fit neatly over the keys of a keyboard. The seals are for use in home, office, or school, and can easily be washed and sanitized to prevent sharing of icky cold and flu germs.