Keyboard Rage

Spent a couple hours frustrating hours trying to repair a broken Enter key1 on a third party iPad keyboard tonight. The iPad in question is predominantly used by my older kids and for whatever reason they didn't let me know when the key came off the scissor mechanism. Instead they continued to use it with the key floating freely on top of the switch, until at some point it fell out and became lost. Needless to say I was irate to discover this by accident at the end of the day while looking over my son's shoulder while he played a game. My kids are hard on computers and have broken laptop keys before2 so it wasn't a surprise that they had broken the keyboard, but the fact that they hadn't let me know and compounded the situation by losing the key in question before I could attempt to fix it really set me off.

Nobody wanted to take the blame3 and so loss of computer privileges for all three until the key was found was my immediate reaction. Everybody went to bed angry, and I stayed up and started looking for the key. Luckily, I had a pretty good idea of where to find it and after about a half hour's worth of disgusting work dredging the crumbs, garbage, and debris from the crevices of the kids' favorite brown chair in our TV area4 I found the key.

I then spent the next hour and half trying to get the key clicked back in place. Even though I haven't had the usual age related issues with fine print and detail vision afflict me yet5 seeing what was going on with the key and scissor mechanism was challenging in the low light of my office. There was a lot of flashlight and phone juggling happening as I fruitlessly tried to get the key to snap into place. Eventually I started taking off a few other keys to make sure that everything was correctly in place with the the scissor mechanism I was working on, to confirm that nothing was broken, but I was still kind of stumped.

It was only after I realized that the Caps Lock key on the keyboard was identical to the Enter key that I was finally able to partially fix things. It turns out that the scissor mechanism under the Enter key was missing two tiny tabs that were supposed to click into the key and hold it in place. Bizarrely there was no evidence that they had ever been there and broken off- the scissor mechanism was smooth on both sides (and it seems highly unlikely that they would both break). The obvious solution was to cannibalize the Caps Lock key mechanism and use it for the Enter key going forward so that's what I did.

  1. It should really be labelled Return in my opinion, but whatever!

  2. No way they're ever getting a Mac with a butterfly key mechanism!

  3. Also not unusual, but an ongoing source of frustration with my kids.

  4. With a brief equally gross intermission between sides of the chair that I spent searching under the cushions of the sofa in that area.

  5. Knock on wood!