| By Woody Leonhard |
You might think that my favorite PC timesaver would be a souped-up computer, a super-secret utility, or a settings tweak that makes Windows run at warp speed.
Nope. The tool that speeds my workday like no other is my ancient, indestructible Northgate keyboard — and while these babies have been out of production for years, I know how you can get your hands on a close approximation.
The saga of the perfect keyboard
In my column on May 8, I described how to reassign the keys on your keyboard. Many people use this trick to disable the obnoxious Caps Lock key. Some take the next step and reposition their Ctrl key back to the left of the A key, where the Ctrl-key gods intended it to be.
That column also mentioned my ancient Northgate OmniKey keyboard. I was thrilled to hear that many of you also swear by this antique beast. And therein lies a $200 tale.
Way back in the annals of computer prehistory (also known as the mid-1980s), Windows was just a gleam in some Xerox engineer’s eye and keyboards ruled the roost. There weren’t many mice outside user-interface labs, so there wasn’t any way to click File, Save to save a file, for example.
Instead, you saved a file by pressing a bizarre sequence of keys, such as Esc+T (for “Transfer,” of course) and then S (as in “Save”). If you were really clever and could remember such things, you pressed the Ctrl+F12 key combination to perform the same operation with one fewer keystroke.