Article 24: Keyboards

 Keyboards are the tactile mechanism that connects your fingers to your computer.  Maybe you don’t ever think about it, maybe you think about it constantly. If you haven’t cleaned your keyboard since you have owned it, then I weep for you. But fear not, brave reader. The Modern Nerd is back to give you some tips about buying, owning, and caring for your keyboards. Let’s take a closer look.

Standard vs. Mechanical

The standard keyboard has a rubber elastic underneath the keys, lasts a reasonable amount of time, and are very cheap. This describes most keyboards that are out there right now. They have their uses, but they are cheap.

Those who purchased one of the earlier generations of keyboards will remember the ‘click’ of the keys and that amazing tactile feel that made it quite similar to typing on a typewriter. (For the record, yes, I am old enough to remember typewriters, but never depended on them.)

These wonderful creations are known in the PC world these days as mechanical keyboards. The difference between the keyboards is the mechanical style switch underneath each key. Each individual key has its own actuator. The mechanical style of keyboard provides a tactile feedback to your typing, so you don’t have to press the keys all the way to the bottom of the keyboard. Your typing after about 2 weeks of use will get much faster, without you even noticing. The mechanical switches are also much more durable than the standard setup. Each key is good for somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-10 million presses, depending on your manufacturer.

Bells and Whistles

This is the part I really like. How much more can you do with your keyboard than the standard QWERTY layout? One compound word is at the top of the list. Backlighting. A backlit keyboard means that you can work or play in any light. For those of us who are nightowls, we can embrace the darkroom and still see our keyboards with perfect clarity. Some cool gaming keyboards have LED backlighting that can be changed to any color in the spectrum. Many laptops are now offering this option as well, as a nod to the businessman on the road who may not get to choose the lighting on his plane or his bus, but now they can choose the lighting of their keys.

For the desktop model keyboards, the USB connection provides the opportunity to add additional USB ports, audio connectors, volume controls, music player controls, and all kinds of goodies. Gaming peripherals are not just for gamers, they can be for anyone who wants more cool stuff for their computers.

You’ve never cleaned your keyboard?

Anyone who works in the IT business knows that touching someone else’s keyboard can be a health hazard if they are not cleaned properly. Not only does it increase the life of your computer to keep it clean, it will increase your life. Bacteria will grow like a petri dish if not kept in check.

A can of pressurized air will do a great job of removing crumbs and other debris. If you want something that will do a great job of removing dirt without the need to remove the keys, check out the electronics cleaning putty available at some computer outlet stores, or on the internet at

Thinkgeek is a great toy store for computer guys, but the cleaning putty is affordable, and leaves no residues on your tech gear. Phones, keyboards, and everything in between can benefit from a putty that will reach between the cracks and bring out the dirt cleanly.


Thanks for reading as usual everyone. Follow us on facebook to get all of our updates, especially right here at the Modern Nerd. Updated every week with tricks and tips for making the most of your tech in an interconnected world. 

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