Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Wanting a Mac, Having a PC

by Harry B. Miller III, A.C.E.

I hear editors complain they just don’t like working on a PC, that it isn’t as ‘easy’ or as ‘good’ as a Mac. I’ve always thought this was nonsense. After years of hearing this complaint, what I really think is the problem is the keyboard.

And I’ll refine the complaint even further. Most editors get tripped up by the fact that the Apple key (⌘) doesn’t exist on a PC. The keystroke combination of most consequence on a computer is the ⌘ + something-else. It is how we cut, copy, paste, save, and quit. But on the PC running Windows, the same events are triggered by the Control Key. That the Control key is in a completely different spot from the Apple key creates a nightmare for people who are comfortable with their work flow and don’t want to think about changing that keystroke.

I’ve found two solutions for those who have to work on Windows PC’s and hate the keyboard arrangement.

The first is KeyTweak. This utility allows you to remap any keys on your keyboard. I have not tried this in a work situation, but Keytweak would allow you to change the Alt key (located where the ⌘ key should be) and remap it with the Control key. While at it, you could remap the Windows key to something useful.

The other solution is the line of Avant keyboards. I purchased the Avant Stellar keyboard for use on a PC Adrenaline. It not only has two sets of function keys, but every key can be remapped. Avant also has ergonomic keyboards, and programmable keypads for added functionality.


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