back to article Customers give Dell the finger over keyboard screw-up

Dell has left customers shaking their fists this week after shipping an unspecified number of its Vostro 1310 and 1510 laptops in Europe with the wrong keyboard layout. The embarrassing cock-up forces the Z key, which should sit beneath the A and S keys, along the row in Vostro laptops affected by the problem. Subsequent keys in …

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Joke

@Nexox Enigma

"things don't close when I hit Fn-C, and by the time I figure out that I haven't hit Ctrl, I'm generally pissed."

How quickly do you drink a pint?

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Paris Hilton

What a good laugh

What ever happened to the faster and more natural sensible logical Dvorak keyboard layout, for Qwerty was deliberately designed to slow down typing speed , so this Dell variant is obviously a newer scam for the same reason !

@ac was right a good typist will automatically adjust to the keyboard layout , because many laptops and notebooks made have had variations of keyboard layouts from makers and models up and down the range !

As a certain young lady would say "Nice storm in a teacup !" and with apologies to Nelson "Ha! Ha!" !

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Anonymous Coward

Keyboard layouts...

"could be a keyboard like those designed by the morons at IBM"

They actually made pretty good keyboards. The place of the fn key was choosen by toshiba years earlier and since ibm hired a japanese designer for the thinkpads, he put the fn key where it's used to be on other japanese laptops. The same goes for the placement of the escape key. This was the only way to fold a full qwerty keyboard into the space given without moving keys too far from their original locations. I have both a predecessor toshiba, an old ibm ps laptop and a thinkpad. The keyboard layout is the same on all modells, except the toshiba came with a trackball instead of a trackpoint.

"All fo this reminds me of the @#$%^&* VT-220 keyboard that had an extra ('<>') key between the 'Z' key and th shift key."

Actually, that's the place of the long i key in Hungary and on an english layout, it's where you can find the backspace and the pipe, both used for shell programming.

All dell did was placing one key on the wrong side of the row and shifting everything because of this. They should be able to fix it, by moving the keys and patching up the keyboard controller's program at any dell service station. (if the laptops can survive long enough without catching fire or getting throwed out because of other quality issues)

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Paris Hilton

Re: Varying Keyboard Layouts

My keyboard has the enter key on the left, and all the letters are upside down.

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Anonymous Coward

What's an "Impacted" customer?

Definition(s) of "Impacted"

adj.

Wedged together at the broken ends. Used of a fractured bone.

Placed in the alveolus in a manner prohibiting eruption into a normal position. Used of a tooth.

Wedged or packed in, so as to fill or block an organ or a passage: impacted feces.

What's wrong with the correct "Affected"?

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Jeeez

I thought I was a geek but bitching about keyboard layouts....

Stuff touch typing, use 'hunt and peck' like I do, every KB is acessible then.

Life,a,get... rearrange into a well known phrase or saying.

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Alien

Same as the Blackberry Curve

This "same g0d d@mn feature" on the Blackberry Curve also frustrates me to no end. I Think these designers went to the same school but never typed their own college papers.

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Coat

Revising American keyboards

What I want to know is, why is it so friggin' difficult to type a Spanish n with a ~ sign above it or vowels with accents above them? I am an English-speaking US resident, and even though I don't use it terribly often there are times when I want to insert a Spanish word into an English sentence and find it difficult to do so. Given the growing Hispanic population in the US and the growing phenomenon of Spanish or Spanglish words making their way into American vernacular, there is increasing demand for those symbols.

There are certainly plenty of other symbols that can be eliminated. Honestly, how many people still use the ^ | ` { } symbols on a regular-enough basis for them to deserve valuable piece of permanent real estate on the standard keyboard?

Perhaps American laptops should just come with a "European" key, which when pressed in conjunction with another key produces the European equivalent. so, shift-n produces "N" and euro-n produces "n~"; shift-4 produces "$" and euro-4 produces the Euro currency symbol, euro-e produces an e with an accent, etc. Not perfect, and doesn't help with obscurer European languages like Norwegian, but saves a lot of time when typing French or English words.

By the way, you want to see a really freaky keyboard, try taking a look at an Israeli keyboard. That keyboard is jam packed because it has to have both English and Hebrew alphabets, not to mention Hebrew is right-to-left so everything is back-asswards. Even the Start key (and Start menu) is on the right instead of the left.

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Coat

QWERTY logic

That design was NOT meant to slow down the typist. If you were to spend 60 seconds hitting keys on a manual typewriter, you'd be able to see why it was designed that way.

The QWERTY layout was designed -- very cleverly, I might add -- to keep commonly-adjacent letter pairs from occupying arm positions that were physically close to each other.

For example, if the "t" and the "h" arms (arms, not keys) were physically beside each other, you'd constantly have the "t" arm coming backward and hitting the "h" going forward. Instead, the typewriter was physically designed so that common pairings would physically approach the paper from very different angles -- thus allowing the first arm to get out of the way of the second.

And don't get me started on the origins of "upper case" and "lower case".

Mine's the coat with "grumpy old man" on the back of it.

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Coat

@Marcus Hook

"Honestly, how many people still use the ^ | ` { } symbols on a regular-enough basis for them to deserve valuable piece of permanent real estate on the standard keyboard?"

Xlearly you do bot hace friebds who type ^_^ :| :{ abd :},

This nessage writteb ob ny vrabd bew Costro,

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Paris Hilton

Eee keyboard

Surprised no-one has mentioned the Eee PC here. One of the most annoying faults about this otherwise brilliant bit of kit is the placement of the \ and | keys. These are ON the Zed key. To get a \ you need to press Fn + Z, and to get a | you need to press shift + Fn + Z. Pretty annoying when trying to do vi-style command completion and shell scripting. This is a Linux machine after all.

Bring back the ZX-80 keyboard...

Still waiting for the Eee girl as an emoticon, so Paris will have to do.

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Anonymous Coward

not many coders here today then

they'd know what the | and ^ keys are really for.

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@ Michael Friesen

There was one slight flaw in the plan with the QWERTY keyboard. That is that the word list used by the designer seems not to have included any past tenses.

As a result of which, the typebars for E and D (which are actually a very common pair, if you write anything with past tenses in it) ended up adjacent to one another.

Of course, by the time this was discovered it was already too late to change it, because of the phenomenon of "muscle memory". Try dialling your best friend's number on an antique phone with a dial, or a novelty phone with a non-standard keypad layout. If you find it extraordinarily difficult then it is most probably because you have memorised the poisitions of the keys on your own phone, not the actual number.

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Thumb Down

Just wondering...

Did Dell hand off the design & layout of the keyboard completely to a Chinese engineering team? A Chinese team not versed in the importance of standard keyboard layout?

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Anonymous Coward

@Chris Bennett

I have an Acer Laptop too, and the layout is the same as you say.

In fact, with its bigger left shift key, it is almost identical as the Vostro keyboard - except that obviously, the letters are all in the right place since they moved the |\ key to the left of the right shift key. A very good layout imho.

Re: IBM keyboards.

I always get really annoyed with the Fn key being in the bottom left corner. That's where the Ctrl key should be. To be fair, I've seen that on a lot of laptops keyboards, and I still think that Ctrl should be at the bottom left, and Fn to the right of it - not the other way around!

Considering my IBM Thinkpad at work has a Windows image and is getting a bit old now, I can't wait to have it replaced with a Lenovo Thinkpad - with an added Win key on the keyboard.

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@Marcus Hook

"Honestly, how many people still use the ^ | ` { } symbols on a regular-enough basis for them to deserve valuable piece of permanent real estate on the standard keyboard?"

well i pretty much use them on a daily basis, but i am a software developer

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It's not Dell's fault

Dell product design is now outsourced to the far east along with manufacture (badge engineering). How were Dell to know this is what would be shipped to the UK market?

And for those complaining about Apple keyboards, Apple made PC's before IBM copied, and they didn't incorporate IBM's typewriter and punched card legacy baggage. Apple has already sacrificed several superior design features just to make Mac familiar for Microsoft Windows users. Just buy a Windows keyboard for your Mac if you're a terminal Microtard.

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Gates Halo

lol

Who cares?

Its a shit laptop with a shit keyboard, get over it.

Its hardly worth a story, who gives a damn if they keyboard is a qwerty one? It makes no sodding difference

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PC keyboard numberpad

The current location of the PC keyboard numberpad forces the mouse further to the right than is desirable, leading to in increased risk of RSI. Having the numberpad on the left would make computing a more comfortable experience for many millions of computer users.

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@Rotten UK keyboard

You've obviously never written a script in Unix using a pipe !!

@Herby - In the days of yore, when knights were gore, we had nice little things called "chip-pullers" which had a double function of pulling out key caps !! And there's nothing wrong with the VT220 keyboard. It's just like the VT100 keyboard, just thinner and less "clicky" !!

@Dazed and Confused - serves you right for using crappy HP keyboards. Nowt wrong with VT100s !!

@Corrine - to solve your problem, just buy a replacement keyboard from Tesco for the princely sum of £4.99 !!

@Ole Juul - Ah !! You must be in Australia !!

@Marcus Hook - Try a Chinese keyboard, mate !! They DON'T have an alphabet at all !! Then graduate to an "East Asian" keyboard that *supposedly* satisfy not just the Chinese (both traditional and simplified Chinese) but the Japanese and Korean languages and then tell me about crowded !!

@Dave Driver - Tough. So use ed or sed instead vi !! Children !! So spoilt these days !! When I were a lad.....

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What I want to know...

...is which idiot decided to remap the numeric keypad onto the alpha keys where there already are the same characters on other keys !! This looks like a typical "Chinese" keyboard that is capable of more than just ASCII, Unicode8 perhaps !! I suspect that various shift-function key combinations will produce partial Chinese characters if the "language" is set to "Chinese" in the o/s !!

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Linux

Windows key

Why to most (all?) keyboards come with 2 "windows" keys? On this system they are not even mapped (I'm too lazy to do so). If you need a shortcut ctrl esc worked fine with the old "Windows" OS's I used to use. In my experience most mere users are far happier to use the mouse (yuck) than the keyboard. Get rid of the Winders keys and there are 2 more spaces for essentials.

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Re: Revising US keyboards

There's already a modifier key you can use to do much of what you ask for in the "Euro key" in AltGr. With an US-international layout, AltGr N gives you ñ (alt AltGr E does indeed give € . They've even snuck in ÆØÅ in some random free spots.)

Of course, I'm partial to what I'm used to (no surprise there) - the standard norwegian layout. I've got a norwegian-layout mobel M here, and using that as a base:

* There's a number of dead keys you can use to build characters. I can type èéêëñ without too much trouble - as an example, é is AltGr+\ , followed by an e.

* Shift and dot, comma, hyphen gives the entirely logical colon, semicolon, underscore

* I like having ,.- on the right of M, but I guess that's a matter of taste.

There's a few downsides, though - I've got the quite useless ¤ as shift 4, with $ dowgraded to altGr 4. This makes PHP and shellscripts even less fun to type.

Ditto for {[]} - that's AltGr 7890. A fragment like " =$arr[$x][$y];} " is downright fiddly to get right.

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Anonymous Coward

bunch of retards

The word Dell should be associated with incompetence, not computers.

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Coat

more suggested keyboard layout revisions

OK, so programmers use some of the obscure symbols like | and {} on a regular basis. This discussion board is obviously geek-heavy, but overall I'd imagine only a tiny proportion of keyboard-users are programmers.

While we're discussing possible reorganizing of the keyboard ... Do people still use the F1...F12 keys? Personally I will occasionally hit F1 as a quick way to call up Help, and will use F5 on my company's laptop to turn the projector display on during presentations, but I haven't touched F2-F4 or F6-F12 in years.

For that matter, I find PrntScrn quite useful but haven't touched Scroll Lock, Pause/Break, Home, or End in years. Do people still use those?

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re: Windows key

Who needs the 'right click' key either, since Apple is the only company to ship single-button mice in recent memory?

Sun still makes keyboards with the left control and caps lock keys reversed, and escape to the left of `. It's nice, though it tends to lead to shouting from inexperienced users.

For another awkward layout, the Russian keyboard puts , and . on the shift-6 and -7 keys.

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RKP
Happy

@ Marcus Hook

It's not just programmers who use those keys but kids on chat programs.

As for your European/Spanish needs have you discovered the ALT key and the keypad? eg: é ù ì á ½ ¼ Ñ ñ all of these can be found there...

That is hold down ALT and type in 164 to get: ñ explore away hehehe

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Bronze badge

Do people still use the F1...F12 keys?

They had no value in that position after people switched to on-screen menus.

They were switched from the LEFT (where they were on the original IBM PC) to the top to match standard IBM keyboards, where they were used as programmed function keys, exactly the same way an on-screen menu works. They continued in that use until we switched to on-screen menus.

The problem is that those function keys along the top are easier to see, but much more difficult to get to (don't ask me why). They are great when you are looking down to see the menu (they were always labelled when in use), but much harder to find when not looking. (That's why the number keys are duplicated to the right).

If they were switched back to the side, they would find immediate use in games again. But the thing is, switching them back to the left would make the keyboard narrower and longer, and it's already long enough and thin enough.

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Go

the Shift key is not the problem

I don't think the Shift key on that Vostro is too big. As other people have pointed out, the problem is that the \ key is located between the Z and the Shift key, which shifts everything else to the right.

On my Keytronic (U.S. style) keyboard, the Backspace key is the same size as a letter key, and the \ key is to the left of it (that is, between the Backspace key and the = key). The makers of the Vostro could put it there if they reduced the size of the Backspace key.

Generally speaking, a large Enter key (like the one on the Vostro) should be accompanied by a small Backspace key, or vice-versa. If the Enter key is smaller (that is, if its height is equal to the height of one row), then the \ key can be placed directly above the Enter key, to the right of the ] key. It is pretty dumb to make a keyboard (compact or not) that has a large Enter key as well as a large Backspace key.

In summary, the Shift key is not too big. The problem is that either the Backspace key or the Enter should be smaller, and the \ key should be relocated. We need better analysis, please.

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dv
Coat

RE: Big Al

Yes, I can see your pain, being in the middle of Prague and all... but I have disposed of this problem by using a "czech QWERTY" layout instead. So when switching to czech (being a programmer, I don't type accented symbols very much at all), I don't have to re-train my brain to the goddamn awful QWERTZ layout.

QWERTZ btw comes unto us from the beloved country of Germany, among other fantastic things like latex use in movies and big beautiful blonde women eating bratwursts. Meh. Mine's the zellow one with y's and z's all mixed up.

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Flame

Command completion

@Ishkandar

Yes I know how to use ed and sed thanks. Perhaps you would like to explain how that helps me with command completion in ksh or bash? It's not like there's a "set -o ed" mode.

In the same post you commented about writing Unix scripts - perhaps you think it is a good thing that you need three fingers to type a "|" character?

It helps if you are actually smart before you try to be a smartarse!

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Linux

@ Marcus Hook (et al.)

"Do people still use the F1...F12 keys?" -- those are extremely useful for those of us who use Photoshop a lot -- using them, you can build your own keyboard shortcuts for all those often-used functions Adobe didn't think it necessary to provide keyboard shortcuts for.

Re the old IBM keyboards: my personal favourite of all time was the Keytronic model 4. Not cheap at all, but sturdy and never-miss tactile feedback. Unfortunately, mine had a caffeine allergy and Keytronic stopped making them a decade ago...

And if you want flexibility with "foreign" characters, like it or not, Apple provides them on all their keyboard layouts, most placed more or less mnemonically. Like Ø being alt-shift-o, å alt-a, umlauts made by alt-u followed by base letter, and so on. And the € is alt-e.

And what is that "windows" key for? I haven't been able to find out yet because it doesn't do anything on Linux...

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You Poor Brits

.

For once Europe get's 1st crack at something new and they screw it up for you guys.

I have notice that for most launches, it is either Japan or the US with it first and Euro to follow up with a later release date.

Here is a new model lineup and for once you guys get first crack at it and BAM - they screw it up.

What a JIP

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Alert

Terminology?

"A limited number of Dell Vostro 1310 and 1510 laptops in Europe have been sent out with the wrong keyboard layout..."

As opposed to what? An *infinite* number of them?

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Anonymous Coward

Why are Vostro owners using QWERTY anyway?

Seems a bit daft in this day and age to be using QWERTY anyway. If you want to type at a decent speed, switch to Dvorak. None of this 'ooh, we need to put keys in an inconvenient location so our typewriter can keep up'. You can buy Dvorak key boards if you want, or just pull the keys off a keyboard you've got spare and re-arrange them.

As for those mentioning RSI, Dvorak helps with that as well (one of the reasons I swapped from Qwerty), no more excessive finger stretching. Ahh, I hear you say 'but it's really difficult to learn' - nope, just get on with it and you'll be able to touch type on both layouts.

Plus, if you're having trouble with the number pad on the right forcing you to stretch for your mouse, then use your mouse with your left hand. Doesn't take long to learn either. Mouse on the right at home, left at work, should keep away those RSI blues for at least twice as long...

Stu.

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Joke

Clearly, get rid of caps lock and put control back in its rightful place...

Then you can make the shift twice as tall instead of extra wide without messing with people's backslashes and letters, if you really need the extra surface area.

BTW, where the heck are my other 12 function keys? Why the heck do I have keys for launching a web browser and calculator and no reverse video button? Where's the character/line mode key?

Damn bitty box fools.

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Paris Hilton

Silly Xubt

Say no more!

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dvorak

I assume those suggesting dvorak have never looked at the list of keyboard layouts included with the OS (every OS i've looked on) or they would see that dvorak is not really too practical for anyone except yanks, as there is no option for a dvorak keyboard with standard symbols, only USA symbols! (you need to make a custom keyboard layout file for it - including on vista and the few linux distros i've checked so it's not even a case of the OS being pre-dvorak)

the correct layout for the second to bottom row of a standard UK keyboard is:

Small Shift \zxcvbnm,./ Big Shift - lower case

Small Shift |ZXCVBNM<>? Big Shift - holding shift

however many laptops to save on costs use the US base with UK keytops on giving a bigger shift key on the left, in this case they move the \| key to a different location to avoid shifting the keys along (i have 4 laptops, each has it in a different location!) - this appears to be where dell have screwed up, in not moving that key when using a US base (and the fix is of course a quick move of the keys and update the key mapping, probably a firmware update)

just don't get me started on the | key which has ¦ printed on it, whilst the ¦ key has | printed on it! (for those who don't know how to type that symbol, AltGr, as with all symbols) however linux so helpfuly decides to make both of them in to | keys

also worth noting that the euro key is on AltGR+4, some keyboards have it printed on the key but some don't - not sure if it's just me but as far as i can tell at one point pre-euro they seemed to all have it on, these days with use of the euro symbol being common it seems to be 50/50 if it has it printed or not

for typing other european languages, for french accents you can hold AltGr and type the letter, for others i have no idea... (except Alt+number of course) anyone?

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'Right Click' key

@Kanhef

"Who needs the 'right click' key either, since Apple is the only company to ship single-button mice in recent memory?"

Er. Right click on a Mac is CTRL+Click. Mac's have never had a 'right click' key - it is something which appeared on 'Windows' keyboards at the same time as the Start key.

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