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Your keyboard is under attack - Rob Felt

If you're reading this online, take a quick glance down at your faithful keyboard. If you're reading this in print, close your eyes and imagine what it looks like. (If you can read with your eyes closed send me an e-mail.) OK, got it?

dO YOU SEE A KEY THERE THAT GOES UNUSED? aNY KEY AT ALL? mAYBE THE CAPS LOCK KEY?

In Internet chat rooms, typing in all caps is considered shouting, and should be reserved only for moments of extreme emotion. This being said, the use of all caps is considered obnoxious under any circumstance by many.

Most passwords, online and otherwise, are case sensitive. Having the Caps Lock key inadvertently turned on will result in a failure to authorize a password that you are entering correctly.

Thanks to advancements in computer technology, the Caps Lock key has become an arcane burden to touch-typists. Along with its cousin, the Scroll Lock key, it is now taking heavy fire from digerati revisionists who propose its exclusion from future versions of the keyboard.

Some of these techno-revolutionists have turned guerilla, and Web sites have been created to trumpet their cause. Various methods of warfare have been proposed and battle plans have been drafted.

The most primitive and visceral solution uses brute force. Some computer users have taken it upon themselves to perform industrial redesign with nothing more than a flat head screwdriver. Using the simple machine to pry under the offending key, they mutilate their hardware by sending our old friend Caps Lock flying through the air and into the trash.

More sophisticated solutions involve downloading software hacks to alter the keyboard's mapping by disabling its function or reassigning it a more useful task. This can also be done with more complicated registry functions, but anyone with access to a search engine can find a freeware solution, and within five minutes they will never accidentally scream in a chat room again.

While most of the tech world moves fast, keyboard advancements are impossible to push through.

The layout we use today, known as QWERTY for the first six letters on the top row, was developed in the late 1800s and sold to Remington, which put it into use in its typewriters. The layout separated commonly used keys to slow the typist down, which would keep the machine from sticking if two keys were pressed in rapid succession.

In 1936 the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard was patented, and offered a more comfortable layout of the keys that could lead to quicker typing and less finger strain. It was too late. The world had already accepted the QWERTY layout and no one was willing to relearn. Some argue that overall speed is the same, but studies have shown the Dvorak layout to be more ergonomic.

The next time you sit down to type an e-mail, consider just how much thought and debate has gone into creating what's in front of you, AND DON'T SHOUT!!!

Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at rfelt@henryherald.com.