To make things worse (as it always happens in this country…) they all seem to have standardized on a 101 key keyboard. Sounds like a lot of keys to hit, doesn’t it? Actually, it is short of one to keep me happy, especially when I mark up as I type. But now, before I let you know which is this magic missing key, I have to provide you with a little digression.
If you don’t know how to touchtype (or perform anything near it) and have never marked up HTML by hand, you might not understand all of what is coming. Don’t worry – it’s pretty futile stuff, though it might hopefully be funny for those who have shared similar experiences.
Have any of you touchtypers out there ever experienced the joy of finding yourself in a country which uses a keyboard layout different from yours? It’s absolutely maddening. It is back to square one, or worse. You just can’t type. Chances are that you will quickly figure out how to install your native keyboard – that is, providing you didn’t already know how to do it.
With a year spent in India, regular trips to the UK, and enough excursions into “raw DOS” (understand: with the factory default keyboard settings) on broken or misbehaving computers, I have gained a fair knowledge of the English (US and British) keyboard. The mapping isn’t that different from the French (swiss) one (which is, while I’m at it, radically different from the standard French AZERTY keyboard, which requires a “shift” key to access the numerals), although most of the punctuation keys are scattered about in wierd places.
The main problem with these English keyboards is that they don’t give access to all the pretty accented characters one uses in French. And having to type ´ and à all the time simply makes me want to scream (especially on a keyboard where I fumble a bit when it comes to “non-letters”). All this to say that if I need to type in French (other than chat and email, which can survive without the accents), the first thing I do when I sit at my “workplace” is install my beloved French (swiss) keyboard.
And now, as you have had the patience to follow me through this geek-talk, I will tell you which key disappears in the void when you install a 102 key French (swiss) keyboard on a machine which depends on 101 little plastic caps for your input. I warn you, however, that non-geeks may not fully appreciate the revelation. So be it.
The missing key is the one which enables to type “<” and “>”. (Note for non-geeks: these two characters are indispensable for writing any HTML tag – locate the “view source” command in your browser to see it with your own eyes.)
With this information in hand, you can imagine how much I miss my Cyberia, and how much I hope that I will find an adequate workplace in Rishikesh. All the more as my typing has trouble keeping up with my writing, which in turn has trouble keeping up with my life and thoughts. None of which really matters as my site is still unavailable.