atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#3106: Well, that keyboard is fixed.

It has only been five and a half years since I spit Mountain Dew all over my Microsoft Natural keyboard. It's sat in my closet all that time, waiting for cleaning; I had spilled pop in it once before and fixed it by taking it apart and cleaning it, which is why I hadn't just thrown it out.

Tuesday afternoon, when I went to find that laserdisk of Beauty and the Beast, I found it sitting in the closet and left it out, intending to fix it. So last night, while I was watching anime, I decided--WTF--I'd go ahead and do it.

The keyboard is held together with screws, so it's really easy to take apart. There's a single circuit board inside, held in place with more screws; and once you get that out, there are three metal plates which must be removed. Get those out and you can then take out the three layers of plastic film that make up the switching part of the keyboard.

Whenever you press a key, it presses the top layer of plastic into contact with the bottom layer. It's not much movement but it's enough, and the electronics on the circuit board can then read which key you pressed and send it to the CPU. These three layers aren't even bonded together, so you can peel them apart and wash the dried Mountain Dew off of them, as I did, with warm soapy water. After I wiped off the excess water I hung them from the swag lamp with clothespins to let them dry.

Next came the silicone rubber cups that sit between the key and the membrane. In the Natural keyboard there are three pieces of this material, and I washed them in warm soapy water and hung them up to dry.

Last came the case and keys. The three sections of keyboard are removable. I cut myself getting the first one out, but the other two came out more easily; and then I removed all the keys, washed the plate they went into, and then individually cleaned each key with a premoistened glass wipe before reinserting them.

By the time that was done, the other parts were dry, so I reassembled it--and not only is it perfectly clean, with no keyboard cruft at all; mirabile visu it works perfectly again.

...I also can't type for shit on the thing since I haven't used a Natural keyboard since 2006. *sigh*

Not to mention the fact that it doesn't have multimedia buttons on it. I've gotten used to having them on this keyboard, so when I want to dub anime to DVD I can sit right here and hit "record" on the DVD-R and then "play" on the keyboard.

So I don't know what the point was, exactly, except that it always feels good to take something that doesn't work and make it work perfectly again....

The other thing I found in my closet, though, was the original keyboard for the P3. That thing has hardly been used at all; when I got the P3 (in 2001) I plugged the MS Natural keyboard into it because I was still working at R-C when I bought it and had been using the MS Natural keyboard since 1998.

I'm not even sure why it's in here, to be honest. It should be downstairs with the rest of the "still useful" computer stuff.

What I ought to do is clean up the basement, get a cheap Ethernet switch, and set up a small network down there. Then I could have LAN parties with the old games: Doom and Quake and Diablo and Carmageddon.... I bet Mom's old computer would run those old standards tolerably well, and of course the Celeron and the P3 would be up to it. I'd just need to find enough ISA ethernet cards to hook 'em all together and I'd be in business.

Heck, I could hook the old Compaq laptop into the network, too. It's not exactly fast but it would work well enough on some of the simpler games.

* * *

The media is being very, very quiet about this. They're carefully not asking the administration what it intends to do with this bill that furthers the Keystone Pipeline project that they've been trying to kill off.

As Ross notes:
Meanwhile, “greens” are so upset that the White House is even entertaining discussion about the pipeline that they might not support Obama’s re-election, a threat that will be in effect right up to the point where they vote for Obama again next year anyway:...
Is there really any doubt about which way the greens will vote? I mean, unless Nader runs again--and if he values his kneecaps, he won't, if you know what I mean.

And I think you do.

* * *

When I was playing my zanzithophone the other night, it was basically a repeat of the story at the end of this post. Only I know how to play my zanzithophone, so the sound coming from the instrument was actually music rather than random plonking.

The cat, however, disagreed. It stopped being cute after about ten minutes or so, and so I ended up locking her in the bathroom until I was finished playing.

There are a few problems:

1) My play style is a bit mechanical. Note on, duration X, note off--I'm not really good about volume control.

2) The keys go clack when I get to a part with fast note changes, because my fingers are moving fast. There really needs to be some kind of buffer between the keys and the body of the instrument; a thin layer of felt would do.

3) The sound of the thing. I never noticed this before, but considering the age of the instrument it's not surprising that the synthesis of the instrument sound is not very good. These days they can pack about two hundred really good instrument samples on a single IC, but when this thing was designed in the 1980s they were still building circuits to generate noises that sounded like instruments, because the technology to use samples was expensive and primitive.

#1--I can play more naturally; I just don't. It might be style and it might just be that I lack experience.

#2--felt is not particularly expensive, and I bet I could figure out a way to secure the felt in place without glue or tape.

#3--I can hook this thing to any synthesizer that has a MIDI input and use it as an input device. The drum set at church is a MIDI synth; I could play the drums with my e-sax if I wanted to. (I want to try this. First I need to get a MIDI cable.)

The really nice thing about this instrument is that it's fingered like a recorder only simpler. A recorder will go a quarter-tone sharp or flat if you leave the wrong holes uncovered, and it's really finicky to get the right note out; you can't just uncover holes sequentially. The digital horn, on the other hand, doesn't care. Lift the bottom three fingers and you've got F, where on a recorder you might have an F that's a quarter tone sharp, or more (but never all the way to an actual F sharp, of course.)

If the thing actually had a nice-sounding "recorder" or "flute" patch--instead of a synth-flute noise which is obviously electronic--it would be perfect.

...unfortunately, to get a modern instrument which has really good patches, guess how much money it costs?

The commonly-used term is "wind controller" and they're not cheap.

Oh well. My DH-100, now that it works again, will do. If only I can find a way to keep the cat from objecting....

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