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What's That In Your Keyboard? 276

An anonymous reader noted that The Beeb has an article on the crap you find in your keyboard. I usually wear my keyboards out fast enough that they need replacing before cleaning (which is good since nate took his keyboard vacuum with him when he moved). Besides that, I spill a mocha on my keyboard at least every 2-3 weeks. Thank god you can get keyboards for ten bucks!
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What's That in Your Keyboard?

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  • Those were great!

    I really miss the huge things they had connected to the 3124 and 3219g terminals at my college's comupter center. They had 24 'pf' keys at the top. The ultimate in programable keyboards.


  • I'm using a 1984 model m I got from ebay. LOVE IT!
  • My old beloved-but-now-deceased Amiga 3000's keyboard was full of chewed up wads of paper. This was because the little rubber bands underneath the keys that pressed down to make a contact on the circuit board would loosen with time, making the key very insensitive (i.e. you had to press hard to get it to generate a character). My solution was to pull of the keycap, chew up some paper into a wad, and place the paper wad inside the rubber band's 'loop' so that the band was forced downwards. Unfortunately, the paper wads would eventually fall out the key and into the rest of the keyboard...

    Professional, eh?

  • Keyboard condoms for everyone! Keyboard covers, of the type you can type through, are the looming norm. Safe text!

  • I washed my keyboard this summer. It was kind of grimey, so I unplugged it (the computer was still up), took off the keys, unscrewed the bottom, and carefully washed everything -- even the circuit board-like thing. I've done similar things to network cards, hard drives, even motherboards. I don't know what the big deal is with electronics and water. I would like to some day set up an old computer, and completely submerge it while it's running. I suppose that would be a bad idea for someone with hard water, but there aren't many minerals in the water where I live.

  • ESCOM, huh? The fungus was probably put there at the factory.
  • does this mean that some (more than 1?) are?

  • Theres an easy way around hitting the Windows key instead of Alt or Control while playing a DOS game - pop the Windows key off, and use the keyboard without it. I stalled a lot of networked games before figuring that out, and haven't had that problem since.

    Time wounds all heels.
  • No i don't have any witty comments or links! just my .sig

    Back in high school, we had these things on the VT100s. We called them "keyboard condoms."

  • ... and find at least a bong rip or two. -- BV
  • My current keyboard setup cost me $250; I'm not shitting you. $100 for a new Sun Type 6 UNIX country kit. $150 for the Sun-to-PS2 adapter which allows me to use the keybord and mouse with PC hardware.

    My one complaint is that it has the "softest" touch of any keyboard I've ever used. People find that odd, because when I was keyboard-shopping, it was either this or an old-style IBM clicker. But in the end, I prefered the UNIX key layout (with sane positions for Ctrl and ESC) to the tactile feedback. Sure, you can simulate this with xmodmap, but I use NT too, and I've never found a satisfactory method for swapping the keys in NT.

    I don't regret the purchase, but I wouldn't make it again. Why? Because of the lack of tactile feedback, and also because now I have a tendancy to smack Capslock when I want Ctrl when using the PCs at work. And I'm *very* paranoid about spilling. It was a really fun purchase, but I've learned that trying to keep a keyboard in perfect condition is like attempting the same with a car: it's impossible unless you never use it.

    I would never buy a "Natural" keyboard. I've heard those are excellent if you can touch-type, but this hacker can't. I'd probably snap it over my knee in frustration in less than an hour.

    An IBM clicker will definitely be my next keyboard. I can tell my fingers miss the feedback by how I have to attack the keys to get satisfactory noise.

    Keyboards are fun.

    All generalizations are false.

  • One of my room mates at university (in Britain) bought a computer off another friend of ours. That other friend paid for his habits by dealing, and he used to roll up on the back of his keyboard. When my room mate cleaned the keyboard, he found he enough hash crumbs to role a who joint - made with three king size Rizla papers too!
  • Let's see; as any semi-enclosure exposed to air on the planet earth, amounts of dust, definitely. Human/dog hair; the keyboard's like a magnet for it, and the grooves are shaped just perfectly to get it all tangled in there between keys. Naturally human skin would sneak in there; any significant amount of typing would rub off loose skin on the fingers, and again; it's all designed to let it fall inbetween and beneath the keys. Food, drinks, etc.. anything eaten over the keyboard that passes exposed through the air will deposit [at least] miniscule amounts of debris on the keys, hence this is to be expected. For purposes of comment; let's call the food, drink, dust, hair, etc. 'The hacker(s)', and let's call the keyboard 'the box'. And then make this statement: Ofcourse the hacker(s) will find a way in the box, the purpose of security is to prevent them from doing it -- hence you should patch the box and put a firewall on it. Closest i've come to theorizing a 'firewall' for the box is a plastic bag thrown over it, which tends to impede typing; however:/ -Myd
  • by Glowing Fish ( 155236 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @05:52PM (#781381) Homepage
    research conducted on behalf of AOL UK shows

    Now noways research come from AOL and not have biased or skewed results. I think that they are keeping out a very important part of the results...

    34% crushed up AOL CDs

  • I guess the Options program was discontinued by IBM sometime in the last year.

    This explains some things. The keyboard topic comes up on Slashdot about twice a year, and around March someone posted a link to IBM's web store where you could still purchase the clickers, directly from IBM. When I went to buy a new keyboard in July, they were gone. By the time I found them elsewhere, I had already fallen for my current Sun rig.

    You really wonder, since so many people love the damned things, that most keyboard makers sell nothing like them. I supposed because all Them Thar Complercated Mechanical Parts And Stuff can't be assembled by twelve-year-old sweatshop workers as easily as a circuitboard and three interlocking pieces of plastic. Oh well, it's their loss, considering how much people are willing to pay for new ones!

    All generalizations are false.

  • by banda ( 206438 )

    A long time ago, I developed a PC-based medication dispensing system for use in drug addiction treatment clincs. The medication dispensed was a syrupy suspension of methadone, necessarily thickened with sweeteners because of the extreme unpalatability of methadone hydrochlorate.

    The clinic administrators from a large hospital system in NYC called me one day and asked me what to do about keyboard bugs. Thinking they were having some kind of system problem, I asked them to further describe the nature of their question. I was horrified to hear that they meant actual bugs in the keyboards.

    It seems that in the normal course of dispensing medication, droplets of methadose were making their way into the nurses' keyboards. Roaches were feasting on the stuff, and had taken up more or less permanent residence in the keyboards. Apperently, the narcotics were enough to make the roaches really lethargic, so they didn't seem to mind being hammered by keystrokes. They just kind of came and went as they pleased, but more often they stayed. After a while, when a keyboard reached its maximum occupancy, the keys became inoperable.

    Rather than purchase new keyboards and vinyl key covers, the hospital elected to gather all the keyboards, put them in a closet, set off a bug bomb, and empty the keyboards.

    I am SO glad I am not their support technician.

  • Yeah, I lost an MS Natural to a Snapple spill last month. Poof. DOA.

    HOWEVER, the MS Natural clone (PC Concepts "Wave" keyboard) that I've had on my other computer for twice as long, survived a similar spill and keeps on ticking.

    -- Fester
  • by John_Booty ( 149925 ) <johnbooty AT bootyproject DOT org> on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @02:49PM (#781385) Homepage

    never ceased to amuse me how a user could, with total poker face, tell me they hadn't been drinking any coffee near the keyboard, they had been sitting there all day and it just stopped. Then I'd hold up the keyboard and watch something like heavily creamed coffee drip out.

    LOL, don't you love users?

    I build data-driven websites, and I've learned that I need to build at least some sort of audit-trail capability into the sites because users are *always* fucking up and entering the wrong data and then blaming us. Nothing better than *nailing* a user during a meeting in front of their superior...

    Client: There's a bug with the content system. Several of the items I entered have disappeared. Why does this happen? I thought you tested this stuff!?!?!?
    Me: Hmmm. Actually, nothing gets deleted, it only gets marked as "inactive" and is no longer displayed... let me see... [I tap out a few SQL queries]... hmmm, looks like they're still here, and it looks like you deleted them all yourself at 5:43PM yesterday from IP address we could have your IT people tell us what computer corresponds to that IP address, maybe someone else was using your account?
    Client:Oh. Uh, um. OK.... I don't know what happened... err....[shifts nervously in seat]
    Client's Boss:Ah. I see... good job John! [glares at incompetant underling while making angry-looking note in red ink in his elegant leather executive DayTimer]

    Doesn't happen that often, but boy, is it worth it. It's just that there's so many bugs that occur in the development process, clients know they stand a good chance of succeeding if they blame their mistakes on your "buggy code". :-)

  • Not really much of a story, but at least it's true. I know, because I was the tech.

    Customer: Arghh.. sorry I can't type that, my keys keep sticking.

    Tech: Sometimes if you turn your keyboard upside down and shake it, that helps.

    Customer: (sound of shaking in the background) Eeewww! There's all this nasty white flaky stuff.

    Tech: Yeah, a lot of times dandruff gets in there and makes it harder to type.

    Customer: I do NOT have dandruff.

    Tech: (thinking to himself) Wow, I can't believe I just had this conversation. I feel like I'm in a shampoo commercial.

  • by RollingThunder ( 88952 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @02:53PM (#781387)

    Unfortunately, gods help me, I used to work in a "character" building dating back to 1912. The place was split office/residential - really LOW INCOME residential.

    One of the charming residents, while not being a crack dealer (they'd all been chased out by that point) had absolutely zero grasp of cleanliness. The guys apartment was completely and utterly infested with cockroaches... crawling on the walls, filling the fridge, you name it.

    And this lovely heritage building? Nothing but wood, which is just a migration highway for the roaches. We'd have to deal with the buggers on a daily basis, crushing any we saw, and spraying wherever we could. That was bad enough.

    But I cannot POSSIBLY relate the disgust when I found out that one had laid an egg sac in my keyboard. I found out because suddenly, little baby roaches started boiling out between the keys.

    I am -so- glad I'm not there anymore, and in a nice, antiseptic, concrete-and-steel office tower.

  • Hold it so the keys are facing you and shake it. The dirt will fall to the bottom of the keyboard (read: by the Ctrl/Alt keys and the Spacebar). From there, you should be able to shake the it out without it getting stuck in too many of the keys.

    -- Sig (120 chars) --
    Your friendly neighborhood mIRC scripter.
  • by Megahurts ( 215296 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:11PM (#781389)
    I have fairly straight hair, but when I open my keyboard for cleaning, most of it in there is somewhat curly...

  • heh that was the only sim game i ever liked...

  • by kootch ( 81702 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:12PM (#781391) Homepage
    reminds me of the movie gattica when they're trying to solve the murder mystery and since they have genetic information on all of the employees and all of the people in the world (I guess) they're able to figure out who should be there and who shouldn't be there due to stuff like hair, dead skin, finger nails clippings, etc. in the keyboard.

    makes you think how much you shed while being huddled above your keyboard staring too intently on the monitor on your desk...
  • I got a couple of older terms w/those kinds of keyboards. I loved the damn
    things; they're ancient, but they refuse to wear out. Too bad there's the
    little matter of them being block devices, else I'd have them both connected
    up (Linux doesn't support these...they're the ones with the three-wire coax
    connectors. Damn.)

  • You can tell smoking geeks by their keyboard gunk. Which usually winds up being 60% ash.
    A Japanese friend of the family once gave my father an old pachinko machine, complete with a stupendous number of pachinko balls. This machine had actually been in use in a pachinko parlor, and had been retired apparently because both the electronics and the mechanical apparatus were shot.

    My father, being the engineer type, was compelled to restore this device to serviceability. However, the thing which the Japanese do in pachinko parlors besides playing pachinko is -- you guessed it -- smoking. The machine was clogged with tar and ash, and most of the balls (which are inscribed steel balls, somewhat smaller than marbles) resembled small spheres of dirt. Thus, most of the restoration of the machine involved taking it apart, scrubbing the tar off, and putting it back together.

    The other trouble with pachinko machines is that the balls get everywhere if there are young children in the house ....

  • ... and find at least a bong rip or two. -- BV

    I usually just scrape the resin off the keys...

    Mmmmm... resi-licious
  • give them a lifetime expiration. that, or a 'killswitch' a la 'deus ex'.

  • I actually had to throw out my last keyboard. I weighed the gook, a mighty ounce. The thing that disturbed me the most:

    Am I not getting enough calcium, or is something/someone clipping their nails directly over my keyboard? Egads! Tis college life, me supposes.
  • No guesses required as to why he's your ex-, I'm thinking...
  • Great, now I know exactly what kind of crud I have in the keyboard. Could be worse, I suppose... I haven't spilt any Ramen(tm) on the keyboard lately.

    Oh, and btw, depending on what you spill/drop on the keyboard, shaking it out won't help. While you might get rid of some exfoliated skin and food crumbs, there's still the large chance of having human or pet hair in there. Removing the keys isn't always easy, and I wouldn't suggest it to anyone who is not prepared to buy a new keyboard. In short, unless the crud is a major problem, don't worry about it. Frankly, I find the 'cleaning hints' at the end of the article to be largely irresponsible.

  • by Christopher Biggs ( 98469 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:13PM (#781399) Homepage

    A science broadcaster on the Australian radio station Triple J is running a study where he asks listeners to donate their belly-button lint. []

  • I've heard of somone running the non electronic stuff through a dishwasher but I'd be wary... He said to put the keys in a mesh plastic bag (like you might take to the beach or use to keep beer cold in a river) and just let it rip... I am using my original keyboard here but I have picked up two others at a swap meet (5$) and a thrift store ($10)... Sweet. People must think they are too heavy to be useful! :) They have obviously never thought of the self-defense potential!

  • Surely they found some boogers in there somewhere
  • You obviously have little experience with both beer and sex, let me help you out. Try shaking a beer in it's can and watch foam all out. Now imagine the same stuff in your belly! "Help, I'm having gass pains" Now go listen to the Dead Kenedy's "Too Drunk to Fuck" The two really should not be mixed as beer comercials suggest.

    I'm not sure the same things hold true for jerking off, but I imagine it would not be much fun without vigor.

  • "L realized L swltched a couple of keys when L put them back. Guess my typlng skllis were better than thlers."

    Several years ago, my aunt's family gave me a blank keyboard. There's no marking on any of the keys. I love it! I plugged it right in and have been using it ever since. It looks so aesthetically clean.

    Of course, since my aunt's family gave it to me and it is harder to use than a regular keyboard, it is my auntie-ergonomic keyboard.

  • I usually try and snag the pubes with a pen cap before they fall completely through the cracks. Other hairs, I'm not so careful about... but in the event of my untimely death, I don't want my next of kin to pick up my keyboard and discover a tumbleweed of pubic terror.

    Who actually ejaculates on their keyboard, though? That's just sick. I hear stories about people who whack off at the office and have to clean their keyboards, and I don't believe it. If you don't have the foresight to pick up a box of Kleenex from the company store, can't you at least aim at something easier to clean? Like the wall? Show some restraint, gentlemen. If you have to cum on a keyboard, show up at work early and use your neighbor's PC. Or your boss's! Won't that be a nice surprise for him when he arrives? Walks in, sits at desk. Procedes to login. "Hey, what the... that looks sort of like... OH, FUCK!!" Even better than th keyboard, just do it right on his desk. He'll be freaked out for days, and it will make for interesting watercooler chat. "So, did you hear someone blew their load on the boss's desk?" Do it on a morning when you know the boss will be in late, so people get to walk by and see it for a few hours.

    Oops, did I just say that out loud?

    All generalizations are false.

  • Sodomites have smote themselves and their keyboards have sticky keys. So they are rendered technologically impotent.

    Thanks for pointing out the joke for me. I just thought he had a janitor's hair in there.

  • Of all the keyboards I've gone through, the most popular items in mine were my own hair.

    I have since solved that since I shaved my head. Balding problem and keyboard problem solved in one fell swoop.

    Seriously though, has anyone ever removed a spacebar from a keyboard sucessfully and put it back on? That's one key I seem to have the most trouble with on keyboard maintenence.
  • You're bog standard office keyboard costs about £5. You're bog standad seceratry earns over £5 an hour. If said secratary took all the keys off the keyboard, without breaking them, cleaned the keyboard, then replaced they keys IN THE RIGHT ORDER, it would take about 4 days! How many general computer users know they layout of a keyboard? How many stil hunt arround for the 'v' key. The letters arent the worse bits though, all the symbols to the right of p/l/m are going to cause problems to the casual user too. The space bars realy bad to clip on in my keyboard, as it has a metal thing underneath to go under hooks. All that said and done, it's a lot cheaper to just buy a £5 keyboard.
  • When it comes to silky smooth keyboarding, I've developed a great fondness for Sun keyboards. So, when it came time to build a system, I picked up one of pfuca's "Happy Hacking" keyboards and couldn't be happier. Not only do the keys have that "Sun smoothness", but they also have all the keys (such as control) in the right places! Simply amazing. Not only that, but the keyboard has just 60(!) keys on it by using chording to put the arrow keys to the immediate left of "return" and the F keys doubled up with the number keys. It seems a bit awkward at first, but it works so much better keeping my hands in a single spot and not flying all over the keyboard. Plus, the thing is so tiny I can fit both the keyboard and a mousepad on my keyboard shelf with plenty of room to spare!

    So yes, I do understand the importance of a good keyboard. Your keyboard, mouse, monitor and chair are going to be the most used pieces of equipment on your computer, will likely last over several computers and will make a huge difference in your comfort and productivity. Anyone who skimps on them deserves exactly what they get.

  • thank you... i'm going to go buy some pesticide now and spray for roaches...

  • The "study" was comissioned by AOL, and involved two random keyboards sent in to the lab.

    The whole reason they did the study is 'cause you can use AOL to order pizza from Domino's. They're selling people on the idea that the "WonderBread" of pizza is a cleaner workspace snack than other things.

    You notice there's no "Pizza sauce" on the list...

    I saw this nearly a week ago on The Register [], and now it's on the BBC [] too.

  • I believe that most cockroaches are female and pregnant, so when you stamp on them you are simply scattering the eggs...
  • Yes, the 3M mouse thingy is great. But at the point where you _need_ that pad you should just go for an optical mouse instead. Logitech now makes them too, in case you have something against MS hardware.
  • Did you find the Crud Puppy in there?

    With all due credit to UF [].
  • Tobacco... ri-i-i-ight...
  • Heh ... I was creeped out by this selfsame fact. I think I have an explanation:

  • Here is a list of the coolest old keyboards you can find (not necessarily the best)

    Hewlett Packard keyboards (make sure it's PS/2 or AT!!!); they have a distinct key shape and have that "server terminal" look!

    Old IBM Keyboards from the original PS/2 systems: These have removable key caps, so you can mess around with the letters to confuse hunt-and-peckers!! Also, these keyboards make an annoying click, about 75% as loud as flipping a circuit breaker (believe me, that's loud); imagine the incessant clattering of an entire keyboarding class using these (I had to experience this firsthand!)

    Commodore Amiga keyboards: Though useless without the Amiga itself, this rare find is still fun to look at.

    Apple Macintosh II: The keys on this have flanges around them which can help keep dust out. Too bad it's ADB.

    Acer Keyboards from 1991: from my dad's Acer 386SX with DOS 3.3 (he used it until 1999, when I finally built him a Pentium 166!); this one clicks as well, but about half as loud as the IBM geezers.

    My favorite keyboard is the Mouse Systems 107+ (now the CompUSA ergonomic keyboard); it's split á la the Microsoft Natural, but with the 6 on the right hand side (where it should be; ask any typing class instructor). It performs excellently in DOOM and Quake1; you can transfer from strafing to turning with ease, since you can hold more keys down at once. It also has a built-in handrest; it's perfect when you lie the keyboard on your lap. This is one durable keyboard; I'm a VERY heavy typist (sometimes my friends say to me "Hey! Stop beating on that keyboard!), so durability matters.

    There you have it: great moments in keyboards.

  • I aquired 5 of these things in a garage sale or somewhere, I don't remember, but I will never use another keyboard. Nothing else even touches them. Heavy as hell, noisy too, but they type like a dream, and I do believe you could run over them in a car and theyd keep working :P

    This one I'm using now was born 27AUG87

    And no, you cant have one :P
  • I agree! I have one on my Mac and love it. I'm scared to death of it dieing on my one day because there hard to find and when you do they got for $80 and greater.

  • Should we assume that the pun in your subject line is unintentional?

  • "realized" is spelled correctly.


  • It's not *that* hard, it just looks really confusing when you've got all the keys, plus 3 clear plastic layers and some other metal stuff. I did it and only lost the spacebar spring. I consider that a success! :) Some soap and a toothbrush really clean those keys up nicely.
  • I just wipe it off with a damp rag and it's as clean as the day I bought it. What are you people talking about?
  • Marijuana... After I'm done sorting out the seeds and stems from my sac in preporation to smoke a joint/bowl I just blow off the excess shake hoping I'll vacum it up next time. Last time I clean out my keyboard though I found where it all went though.. At times where I'm desperate for 'erb and the town is dry I've had thoughts of cleaning out my keyboard, but I'm not that much of a pothead. (close but not quite)
  • Finally, another human who understands how valuable a real keyboard is. I find the old 84 much faster and easier to use than the later versions. The Ctrl-Alt-Caps keys seem to be located to break your fingers every time you try to use them.

    Does anyone know where to get an 84-key AT keyboard these days? I purchased 6 new ones many years ago, hoping they would last the rest of my life.

    Unfortunately, I seem to be living longer than planned, and I'm down to my last one.

  • I've got an old IBM keyboard to, the only thing I dislike about them is the noise...

    Mikael Jacobson
  • Don't let white wine stay in here - it dissolves the tracks off the board. But you can paint them back with silver loaded paint.
  • I hate to be the one to say this, but, IIRC, boiled sweet is none other than (DUCKS FROM THE MODERATORS)

    Hot Grits.

  • works even better with pot. pot doesn't suffer as much from dehydration as shag (=tobacco for rolling your own cigarette, or a home-rolled cigarette) does.

    //rdj, just finished a shag.
  • Try bm101.html [] for a real IBM buckling spring keyboard.

    They are sold by the spin-off/descendant of the IBM keyboard division.

  • by tippergore ( 32520 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @04:28PM (#781471) Homepage

    My house has about (give or take) 6 cats.

    Once when I was about 17 I popped off all the
    keys to my keyboard because my enter key had ceased functioning -- and there was enough cat hair underneath to build a whole cat.

    If only lego mindstorms were around, perhaps I would have succeeded.

  • Seeing this comment about $10 keyboards makes me want to cry. These things are the worst kinds of shit imaginable. A good keyboard will last a decade or more. The really great keyboards just feel right, too, not like the $10 crapola that makes you feel like you are typing in oatmeal.

    Places where you can get good keyboards are from Cherry Switch Inc. ; they sell the only 'clicky' USB model I have seen, and from Or if you are more adventurous you can scrounge a bit. The Apple Extended (original) was really excellent, as were almost any of the old IBMs. I recently hit the mother load with these - the insurance company that we share our building with threw out over 100 the PS/2 style AT keyboard - genuine IBM click and feel. I grabbed 7 or 8 of them, and now regret not backing the car up and grabbing them all. What a waste - the new equivalents to these cost $100 each.

  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:13PM (#781478) Homepage
    I own a hardcore Fellowes keyboard, which has lasted me two years without a *single* incident.

    I cleaned my own just now, and here's what I found:

    • Dog hair
    • Crumbs from various snacks
    • Sticky syrup from when I spilled Jones into it.
    • Human hair
    • Dust
    • Lint
    • A pea (i have *no* idea)
    • A piece of nacho
    Now, if I just had the guts to look under my sofa cushions....

  • by bguilliams ( 68934 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:14PM (#781481)
    I've been collecting all the gunk that I shake out of my keyboard and constructing it into a lifesize model of Jon Katz. With swivel-arm grip. I'll submit the story, complete with pictures, when it's done.
  • What amazes me is that corn flakes were an actual, distinged segment of the keyboard-crud population. Noodles, I can understand, but... corn flakes? And where is the "dried coffee/coke stain" category?

    I really am not interested in how they, um, <crunch>determined</crunch> exactly what various dessicated bits 'o blackened crud lodged under the keys were...

  • by SwiftBob ( 141901 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:16PM (#781493)
    I dropped fruittttttttttttttttopia on ttttttttttthe lettttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttter 'ttttttttttttttttttttttttt'

    -Swift ::
  • by dgb2n ( 85206 ) <> on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:16PM (#781496)
    I can only imagine what the results would have been if it were taken at an American college campus.

    1. Dried Beer Residue (23%)
    2. Dried Coffee Residue (15%)
    3. Unidentified caffeinated particles (11%)
    4. Doritos (6%)

  • I love Slashdot to death, but this is probably the least interesting thing I've read in about six months. It's not like there was anything suprising in the article... crumbs, hairs, dead skin, etc. No kidding. What the hell else would you expect to find in there? The article also noted that you can clean your keyboard by turning it upside down and shaking it, or by vaccuuming. Yeah, no shit? That's how you clean a keyboard? No wonder mine don't work after I run them through the wash.

    And this is coming from me, a guy with a serious keyboard fetish. The keyboards they were shipping HP Vectras with a few years ago were divine! Dunno if they still make them. Heard IBM's top-of-the-line keyboards are sweet, too. I hate those $10 keyboards. :-)

  • hmm.. metal.. gives me an idea.. anyone know where I can get a chrome keyboard, black lettering and NO keys with silly pictures of floating windows?

    //rdj, uses a +/- 10 year old HP keyboard
  • by Ribo99 ( 71160 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:18PM (#781509) Homepage Journal
    Various particles resembling cereal grains, biscuit crumbs, bread crumbs, pastry flakes and chocolate crumbs (56%)

    We don't want all of that to go to waste! Lets market it as a new cereal, Keyboard Krunch(tm)!
    Part of this balanced breakfast.


  • Ever hook up the keyboard when it is apart? Typing on those three plastic layers without the rest of the keyboard is fun, if you remember where all the keys are. I actually almost typed a full sentence without the keys at all. It would be cool to brag that your keyboard is less than 1mm thick.
  • by xant ( 99438 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:25PM (#781543) Homepage
    I have to clean them out of my cereal box every morning. I don't know how the darn things get in there. . .
  • Most of what's in my keyboard is lint. Where the HELL does that come from? I clean a lot of it out of my mouse on a regular basis too. Pisses me off.
  • Carpet and clothes are sources of lint. There's lots of lint in every corner that my vacuum cleaner fails to reach in my appartment.

  • by cr@ckwhore ( 165454 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:26PM (#781549) Homepage
    There's a guy at the office that has the nastiest keyboard I've ever seen. Not only does it smell bad, but there is a thick layer of slimy silly-putty-like stuff covering all the keys... food residue? I had the luxury of editing some code on his machine today and it's a great way to boost productivity, ala "I need to finish to get away from this keyboard!!".


  • Those little bits of fingernail that you trim away are called "parings" not "pairings". Parings as in to "pare" or trim your nails.

    Sorry to get pedantic on you, but somebody had to.

  • Yeah, I'm nitpicking, but that's the second time in the last couple of days I've seen it misspelled. The right spelling is easy to remember, it's made up only of the first letters of the four DNA bases: Guanine, Adenine, Thymine and Cytosine. No "i", nothing to do with the various places named "Attica".

    (The sequence GATTACA doesn't code for anything in particular. GAT codes for aspartic acid and TAC codes for tyrosine, and there's a base left over.)

    No, no, no. It ain't ME babe,
    It ain't ME you're looking for.
  • I've only had this keyboard for about 4 months. Not quite long enough to build up a sufficient layer of crud. Keyboards at home are decorated with the residue of any variety of greasy chips. Dots of pasta sauce decorate the keyboard, 4mm tape, cd drive, cpu and monitor. Uh.. hair, crumbs and stuff, which makes the crud puppy look like Martha Stewart, is tucked in between the keys. Keys don't often stick and I'm usually careful enough to spill liquid (coffee, soup, romulan noodles, etc.) on my clothes than accidentally clean out the crevices of the keyboard. Who knows, someday the world may come crashing down and all we'll have for food is keyboard soup. 8^)

    Vote [] Naked 2000
  • I'm not ashamed to say it is one of those Microsoft split-keyboard contraptions. Since I've started using it the carpal tunnel and shoulder pain have gone away. I can't go back. Sorry Rob, but 10 dollar keyboards suck major ass.

    The electronics are encased in plastic, so you could probably stick it in a dishwasher to clean it(haven't tried it though). I have spilled entire glasses of water on it and it was fine when it dried(clean too!)

    Here's what I think would be really useful - a keyboard that allowed you to store keystroke macros. Like say, a macro that opened up an editor, typed in a program, ran said program, and finished up by deleting said program from the computer. Heh, heh.

  • Right about now I'm wondering if there's bellybutton lint in anyone's keyboard and how the heck it got there...

    Vote [] Naked 2000
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:39PM (#781577)
    > it's not as bad as an ex-boyfriend's that was covered in dried semen,

    Worst I had to clean up was a coffee spill in a keyboard from a cow orker with a serious dandruff problem. While doing the cleanup, I discovered something else amusing.

    In the case I experienced, I pretended not to notice, because, what the hell, HR's not my job, and the cow orker in question was getting the work done. But it may come in handy should you ever have to break out the Bag Of Dirty Tricks.

    I even hesitate to publicize this, but what the hell. No such thing as security through obscurity, right?

    "How to determine the amount of time your SO (or a problem cow orker( is spending surfing for pr0n:"

    1. Take a small jeweller's screwdriver.
    2. Run the screwdriver the length of the keyboard between two rows of keys.
    3. Lift the screwdriver and examine the hair.
    4. Depending on hairstyle, the ratio of pubes to straight hairs is directly proportional to the amount of time spent surfing for pr0n.
    In a corporate environment, that's probably probable cause for an investigation. Best to do this discreetly on your HR manager's 'puter first to see if it's gonna work.

    Of course, I must now add the following corollary:

    1. If you see a whole lot of your cow orkers running around the office tomorrow, frantically swapping keyboards with other cow orkers, you can further assume that whenever they're not surfin' for pr0n, they're reading Slashdot.
    2. Contact and do what comes naturally.
  • No need to worry about keys coming off on the keyboard where I used to work, they were cemented on by ... uh ... dimethylgrundge, yeah that's it...

    It's time to change keyboards when your fingers keep getting stuck to the gookum.

    Vote [] Naked 2000
  • At least for those smokers who don't smoke pre-rolled cigarettes, but who roll their own.

    A guy I know once mentioned he'd turn his keyboard upside down whenever he was out of rolling tobacco and it was too late at night to actually go buy some. He claimed there was usually enough tobacco residue in there to keep smoking until the stores opened.

  • by Mindwarp ( 15738 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:44PM (#781585) Homepage Journal
    The strangest thing I ever found in a keyboard was a dead mouse (the biological kind, not the peripheral kind). It was an old Apple IIe, one of those machines with the keyboard and motherboard all in the same box. It was used for stock control in a factory in the South East of England. The nearest we could guess was that the mouse had crawled in through one of the unused connector holes at the back of the machine.

    The worst aspect of this incident was the fact that I only found the mouse due to the smell. It appeared that it had become lodged between the keyboard PCB and the casing. This had obviously caused it some distress, as it had apparently urinated before expiring. Beats the hell out of the usual Coke stains for both odour AND durability, I can tell you!

  • Computer keyboards are accumulating up to two grams of dirt ie: food every month, research conducted on behalf of AOL UK shows.

    Hrm, # of keyboards * 2grams * 12 months = enough to feed a third world country.

  • Apparently you can put most keyboards in the dishwasher to clean them.. because the electronics are sealed off.

    Yes and no. I've heard of this being done, with the proviso that you rinse the thing off thoroughly when done (preferably with distilled water) and then similarly dry it thoroughly.

    I should have done that with the last keyboard I ruined. I spilled a Diet Coke near it (I only drink diet drinks near the keyboard -- no syrupy stuff to worry about) but didn't realize how much had gotten into the keyboard until the next day when it wouldn't work. Drained about a tablespoon of Coke out of it then, but apparently the acid had attacked the circuitry enough that it was too late to save. Might have been alright if I'd immediately run it through the dishwasher or the shower.
    No, no, no. It ain't ME babe,
    It ain't ME you're looking for.
  • I use KeyTronic keyboards both at home and at work. I can see all sorts of crap that's gotten between the keys, but thankfully they keep on working. I love the feel of the keys. I'm sure I'm the dissenting opinion here, but I hate the super-clicky PS/2-style boards. I also enjoy having a super-sized Enter key and having the backslash at the upper right corner to the left of BackSpace.

    To anyone else who has KeyTronic (turn the keyboard upside-down and look at the label on the bottom), how does open one of these to clean it? There are no screws on the keyboard anywhere. I can blast a compressed-air can between the keys, but that must miss a lot.

    Any suggestions? My keyboard at home is a circa-1995 101-key keyboard with an old-school 5-pin DIN plug. I do not want to get the 104-key variety with the infernal "Windows" keys, and I certainly don't one with the "Internet" keys or "Power" keys. There's nothing worse than playing a DOS game and accidentally hitting the Windows logo when you intended to hit Control or Alt and getting popped out of your game.

  • But British, Canadian, or otherwise, what it boils down to is:

    1. Foodstuff
    2. Peoplestuff
    3. Officestuff
    4. Otherstuff

  • I was a co-op student with IBM when the ill-starred PCjr came out. One of the great things about it was the keyboard, after they got rid of the "Chicklet"(tm) keys and put real key caps on them. The first business show I did after the PCjr was introduced, we shipped two keyboards for each PCjr on display, and a dishwasher. The booth was plumbed, and at any time, half the keyboards were connected to PCjrs on display and the other half were in the dishwasher and the dishwasher was running. Halfway through the spiel, we'd start talking about how the keyboard was water proof and "gunk" proof, disconnect the keyboard, walk (drag the prospect) over to the dishwasher, swap the keyboard with one in the dishwasher, walk (drag the prospect) back to the PCjr, hook up the keyboard, and continue the demonstration. Over four eight-hour days I must've performed two hundred "keyboard washings".
  • by empesey ( 207806 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @02:06PM (#781606) Homepage
    Spllied ketchup on mlne once. Took the keys off and cieaned lt. Lt wasn't untli a month later, when someone trled to use my keyboard, that L realized L swltched a couple of keys when L put them back. Guess my typlng skllis were better than thlers.

  • I love my Logitech wireless keyboard

    Ditto here. I have three sets of wireless desktops in my house. One for the Living room computer, one for the home office, and one for my SO's computer.

    She accidently spilled coffee with loads of cream (or something equally bad) into the keyboard - I mean, literaly filled the case with sticky liquid.

    As soon as I heard her yell, I walked in, saw the keyboard, and calmly flipped it over and popped out the batteries. Half an hour later, it was soaking in the sink, rinsed out a dozen times with clean tap water, and left alone for a day.

    After a day, I shook out a few drops of water that had puddled somewhere in the body, left it alone for 24 more hours, and put new batteries in it.

    Voila! Perfectly working (and cleaner than before) keyboard. Just make sure no power is flowing through your solid state device, and water is a perfectly fine cleaner (as long as it's not done often enough to make tracings rust, which usually requires water sitting on the board).


  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @01:53PM (#781618) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, well, I used to actually wash (that's right wash) keyboards people spilled coffee into. I'd tear them appart right down to the little springs which push the keys back up and wash them, then dry with a towel and blowdryer. It never ceased to amuse me how a user could, with total poker face, tell me they hadn't been drinking any coffee near the keyboard, they had been sitting there all day and it just stopped. Then I'd hold up the keyboard and watch something like heavily creamed coffee drip out. Clearly the folks who investigated that house in Amityville need to know about this...

    Vote [] Naked 2000
  • by slickwillie ( 34689 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @02:14PM (#781621)
    Let loose a bunch of nano-ants to get in there and eat all the organic matter. Maybe some genetically engineered micro-leeches.

    Naw, they might secretly send out embarassing email at night when they are supposed to be working. Either that, or they will communicate with other nano-janitors all over the world, and some Monday morning, when everyone comes in for work, we will all be eaten alive by swarms of these things.
  • Thank god you can get keyboards for ten bucks!

    Yeah, but some keyboards [] can be much more expensive to replace.... So far, I've been rather lucky.

    Actually, I'm surprised none of the Mac regulars here have brought up the Apple Extended Keyboard II, the finest typing device ever to come from the six-colored halls of Cupertino (well, the design, anyway; the keyboards themselves were made IIRC in Cork, Ireland). Its codename was "Saratoga", with good reason: it was big, brawny, and built to last. Fabulous keyfeel, and able to withstand a pounding from late-night Marathon sessions. Even better; if you lost, the durable construction and extra-long ADB cable made it easy to slam it against your desk, or (better yet) your opponent. :-]

    Today's model [] is OK, but it can't hold a candle to the original.

  • Has anyone taken any photos with an electronic microscope in a keyboard? This would be an interesting sight. :)

    I wonder how many ants I squished in my keyboards. Hmm!

  • For the Keyboard Krunch (tm) cereal, we should have our own survivor contest with slashdotters, the winner gets to be on the cereal box! :)

    Winner being the only person able to actually finish a bowl.... ;)


  • my current keyboard is new so there is really nothing in it, but my old keyboard I had for 8 years before replacing.... i cleaned it for the first time last year, i found 3 bugs, 2 of em were of the same species, they looked sort of like worms with legs ... i also found a ton of hair, alot of the hair was sticky and would peel off and look like strips of rug. i also found lots of crumbs and dust, cant wait will i clean out this keyboard in 8 years..... speaking of which, when i got this keyboard there was some white slimey goo inside, i had to get it out with a Q-Tip, i wonder what that goo was, actually no i dont.

    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday September 13, 2000 @02:27PM (#781640) Homepage Journal

    At work, I use an 84-key IBM AT keyboard. This thing was made somewhere around 1984 to 1985, and it is the King of Keyboards, but I won't go into all the things I love about it. What's important is that I am the only person who ever uses it (other people get lost when try try to work at my workstation with its 84-key keyboard and OS/2), and I have used it for a long time (since about 1988, I think).

    I cleaned it once around 1993, and then a few weeks ago (August 2000) the keyboard finally experienced its second cleaning. This involved opening the keyboard to clean it out, and also removing each key individually and lovingly scrubbing it by hand in warm soapy water. I stayed late one night to do this, and the boss popped by. He said something along the lines of "We have people who can do that for you," referring to the gofer girls who are usually bored silly and chatter all day long when I'm trying to work in peace. The thought of one of those passionless dimwits operating on my precious keyboard, made me shudder with revulsion. I said, "Does a true warrior have a peasant sharpen his sword?"

    The greasy black grime came off the keys quite nicely. "Ah, so that key is labelled F8, huh? Yeah, now that I think of it, I remember having an F8 key."

    What I found inside was:

    • Paperclips. There were about a dozen paperclips inside of it. I guess I drop these things down between the keys, sometimes.
    • Dead bugs. They were very small, and there were very many of them. A few moths and a lot of what looked like very small roaches. What a charming thought that my fingers have spent many years less than an inch away from a roach graveyard. I also found a lot of very tiny spherical things that looked like they were made out of bug material. I'm guessing these were eggs or droppings or something. Beats me; I'm no entomologist.
    • Hair. I have somewhat long hair, and some of it ends up down there. Even so, the hair content was nothing compared to what happens to my keyboards at home (where I have cats). I guess I should be grateful that I work in a cat-free environment (not counting all the strays that live behind the building). (Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I brought a cat to work. Would he be scared of all the strangers? (Perhaps even too scared to sleep?) Would he be scared of the machine-gun sound of my IBM keyboard? Would he jump up on my desk? Would he wander around and explore the whole office? Would he piss on the printers? Would he jump up onto my lap and demand to be petted? Some day I'm going to have to find out.... (How come we never have "Show and Tell" at work?))
    • Dust, lint. Unremarkable.


BLISS is ignorance.