I like keyboards. I like them a lot. I've been using them day in and day out for over twenty years, both as the primary instrument with which I make things and also a significant part of how I interact with human beings. Over those decades, I have perhaps become a tad fussy about the kind of keyboards I will use and the ways in which I will use them.

Other programmers and keyboard geeks like to try out all sorts of different things: split keyboards, Kinesis Advantages, Maltrons, chord boards and what not. I'm partial to the classics myself.

Growing up in Australia, one becomes used to the US keyboard layout. It is distinguished from the UK keyboard layout by having a wide Left Shift key that is immediately adjacent to the 'Z'. The Enter key is wide and flat, only appearing on one row of the keyboard. Immediately above the Enter key lies the backslash. In the UK, there is a rogue key between Left Shift and 'Z', and the Enter key hooks around like a knight in chess. Heaven only knows where the backslash lives. I can't help but detest using a computer when I have to use a British keyboard. These days, if I want to buy a keyboard with a US layout, I have to go to Australia or America, or get someone to bring one over for me.

Well, actually, that's not quite true. If I wanted an Apple keyboard with a decent layout for decent people, I could get one easily – such is the magic of Apple. And I really do love their keyboards. They feel robust, yet light. My fingers can dance on the keys without a great deal of effort (more on that later) and everything is just where I need it.

Sadly (and this is going to get geeky fast), I can't find it in me to use the newer ones. They have a feature built into their hardware such that if you only briefly press Caps Lock it won't get sent to the computer, so as to prevent accidentally switching into all caps and getting confused. I have Caps Lock rebound to Control, which I use all the time in various key combinations in my editing environment, for things like copy, paste and so forth. When I use Control where it normally is, I quickly get hand pain. I want to be typing fast, I need to be able to very quickly press, say, Ctrl+C. On recent Apple keyboards, I can't do this, which is a pity because in almost every other way they are lovely keyboards.

In addition to needing a US layout, and caring very much about how quickly the computer understands Caps Lock, I also need keyboards that are relatively quiet. Unfortunately, I bang on the keys very hard almost all of the time. Well, I say 'unfortunately' but actually I find it immense fun, even though it is apparently bad for my hands or my keyboards or something. The only actual misfortune I've ever noticed is the ugly looks from coworkers when I'm using a loud keyboard (such as the DAS). There's no point making this a point of contention, so quiet keyboards are a must.

But there must also be something else. A good keyboard a responsiveness and dynamism that makes the feeling of typing and editing a simple yet genuine pleasure that becomes the background rhythm to a job well done.

This post is part of the Alphabet Supremacy, a collaboration with Bice Dibley. Next week’s word is "underrated".