I learned to type way back in the day at Evans High School. The typing class was a one-semester elective, and I have no clue why I took it. If it was to meet girls, it must have been an unqualified disaster. I remember being one of only a few guys in a 30-person class, but I can’t remember a single date with any of the girls from that class.
I’d like to believe that because my memory is fading, it’s no longer possible to keep track of all the girls that have come and gone. However, I’m reasonably certain my memory hasn’t deteriorated to the point of delusion. And besides, saying something that stupid would keep my wife laughing at me for weeks.
As it turns out, that typing class taught me a valuable skill. I believe that I am one of the very few computer professionals that actually know how to type. You would think that everyone in the computer business would be functionally literate with a keyboard. You would be wrong.
Now some are better than others. Most folks have progressed past the classic two-finger hunt ‘n’ peck. Some even use an occasional pinky finger from time to time. For the most part, however, we should all be very thankful for the development of a graphical user interface.
BTW — Here’s a side observation. In my experience, the worst typists are the younger, entry-level folks. At first, I found this odd since this is the generation that grew up with computers! Then as my kids got into elementary school, I began to figure it out. While the schools are very insisting that kids need to learn how to use a computer at a very young age, they seem to skip over the whole human-machine interface part.
Here’s a question: If the kids don’t learn to type, how can they possibly learn to use a computer!?! As ubiquitous as computers are in our life, why isn’t typing introduced in elementary school? A strong argument can be made that typing is a more valuable skill for this generation than writing cursive. Think about it.
So why all this ranting about typing? Because I can no longer continue to propel the myth that tablets will one day completely replace the desktop.
Yes, I understand why everyone wants tablets to work for everything. Tablets are cool! They are thin and light, and they are very convenient to use. Tablets bring out the visionary and futurist in all of us. They make you feel like you are using a tricorder from Star Trek. All the boring people use desktops. All the cool people use tablets. And all the really cool people use iPads!
One small problem exists. Every Internet site doesn’t have it’s own Metro icon. Excel worksheets don’t respond well to voice recognition. To actually use the computer, you need a keyboard, and you have to type!
Many of you might suggest using the on-screen keyboard on the tablet to type. Let’s be clear about this. On-screen keyboards stink. Serious data input requires the tactile feel of a button being pressed. Remember the old IBM keyboards with the “click.” Perfection.
Now please don’t think that I am opposed to tablets. That’s not true. Tablets are not entirely useless. Many applications do just fine without a keyboard. If that’s the way you swing, go with it! As time goes on, more and more applications will be written with tablets in mind. Maybe someone will figure out how to bridge the data input gap without using a keyboard.
In the meantime, if you are looking for a solid, future-proof device, a convertible laptop or keyboard attachments would be a great addition to your personal IT department.
Until next time, I’m off the grid @gregory_a_baker.