May 12, 2008
Let's say, just as a hypothetical, you're sitting at your computer, casually chatting with a fellow programmer. You begin to describe some bit of code, then bring it up on your display to illustrate. You want to highlight some particular part of the code. Perhaps you move the cursor invitingly over the area to bring it to their attention, or gesture towards it with your hand.
What happens next?
When I said there were two types of programmers, here's what I really meant:
- Programmers who touch displays with their greasy, disgusting, bacteria-addled fingers.
- Programmers who don't.
I am incredibly anal about people not touching my displays. I'm not even going to apologize. If you touch my display, I'll kill you. Displays are for viewing, not touching. Put down your damn sticky bun and go touch your own filthy display. Here's my mental image of everyone who has ever touched my screen:
You know that's you. You know it. You do. And you just can't resist touching my display, can you?
Every time it happens, I replay it in slow motion, desperately trying to insert some part of my body between the toucher and my monitor. But I rarely succeed.
Not everyone considers displays inviolate and untouchable as I do. They should. But keyboards are another matter. They're designed to be touched. And boy, are they ever disgusting. They're literally dirtier than a toilet.
Out of 33 keyboards swabbed, four were regarded as a potential health hazard and one harboured five times more germs than one of the office's toilet seats.
Microbiologist Dr Peter Wilson said a keyboard was often "a reflection of what is in your nose and in your gut".
During the Which? tests in January this year, a microbiologist deemed one of the office's keyboards to be so dirty he ordered it to be removed, quarantined and cleaned.
It had 150 times the recommended limit for bacteria - five times as filthy as a lavatory seat tested at the same time, the research found.
After reading that, I'm not sure I want to touch my own keyboard any more, much less someone else's.
So then, how do we clean our screens and keyboards that are so casually defiled by our coworkers, family, and friends? This is apparently not a big concern for some. I am continually amazed by the horrifying state of many programmer's computer workstation keyboards and monitors. I'm not talking about dust, but utter and total neglect resulting in devices I'm afraid to touch. Given the data, maybe that's a good thing.
Cleaning screens is fairly straightforward.
Most manufacturers recommend basic soap and water -- no harsh detergents -- along with a soft cloth. I've used the Monster ScreenClean kit for a while with good results.
You don't have to buy a kit, of course, but I definitely recommend some kind of microfiber cloth like the one bundled here. Microfiber is a generic name for any synthetic fiber that's finer than silk, and the stuff is amazing. It works well on all kinds of displays: televisions, computer monitors, laptops -- I even use the kit to clean my glasses.
Cleaning keyboards is a much more challenging task.
Despite what you may have been told, compressed air dusters aren't just for sneaking up behind your unsuspecting coworkers and friends and spraying them in the neck and ears. I mean, yes, that's the ideal use, but it's also quite good at cleaning up computer equipment. Including keyboards. You can remove most of the dust and a substantial amount of the unmentionable gunk that builds up under the keys with a generous application of compressed air.
Compressed air is a reasonable first line of defense. But it does nothing to actually clean the keyboard. Sure, you could methodically disassemble your keyboard, or if you're hard core enough, even disassemble your laptop's keyboard, and painstakingly clean every part of it. But is all that work really worth it to clean a lousy keyboard? Short of buying a new keyboard every few years, is there a better way?
Maybe. Have you considered putting your keyboard in the dishwasher? It's not as crazy as it sounds; based on the volume of reader feedback to an old BoingBoing post on the topic, I'd say it works. It certainly seemed to work for Austin Matzko.
But lately the years of dirt build-up [on his 10 year old keyboard] have been really disgusting, so I decided to try something I read about a long time ago: cleaning the keyboard in the dishwasher.
Everything washed up beautifully and dried out by the next morning; check out the before and after pics. Total time disassembling and reassembling the keyboard was probably five minutes, which is a lot less than you'd spend trying to clean the thing with Q-tips. If that's too much work for you, just stick the whole thing in there, but give it several days to dry out.
Note that Austin removed the circuitry from the keyboard first, while some people stick the whole keyboard in the dishwasher as-is. There is a followup NPR article that toes the keyboard manufacturer party line and advises against doing this, so obviously, try at your own risk. Personally, I can't wait to give it a shot. I'll buy a new keyboard first, just in case something goes horribly wrong -- and because I need a second keyboard to use while the first one dries for a week.
If that's too radical an approach, you can fall back on using the old reliable soap-and-water damp rag to scrub your keyboard clean. There's even a neat Mac utility program, Keyboard Cleaner, which will lock out your keyboard while you're thoroughly wiping it down.
I'm no germophobe, but I like using clean keyboards and displays, and I'd prefer to see other people using clean equipment too. But remember -- just because I can clean my display doesn't mean you should be touching it, Poky McSmudgypants.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
I still use old Model M keyboards (plus one recent Unicomp one). I avoid all the problems with dirt on them by using (and keeping a stock) of keyboard covers. They are cheap, can be washed in an abusive manner that would trash regular keyboards (but probably NOT Model M ones :-) ), and when they're worn out can be replaced in a matter of seconds. Problem solved!
If you are a Model M-enlightened programmer, check them out at http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/prkeco.html
WRT monitors, I'm just as anal as Jeff. Whenever someone puts a finger on my monitor, I stop whatever I was doing (usually explaining something to said person), take out the microfiber cloth and clean the smudge while looking at him/her with an annoyed look.
Here's one that will really get you guys... At a previous job, my boss wouldn't just point to stuff with his pen on his laptop (or anyone else's for that matter). He would actually, fold open the computer like a book, and then DRAW ON THE LCD WITH HIS PEN!. Not only did I get ink on my screen, but in a few cases, I actually had the indentions left in my screen.
On one occasion, he actually caused the LCD matrix to break he pressed so hard...
But that was during the dotcom boom and our company was raking in the money... Those were the days! New computers every year, golf Fridays, and something called a "bonus" that I haven't seen since!
Sometimes, when I water my plants, I use this big glass that I usually drink beer in. I fill it with tap water and then take a sip, then proceed to give it to my plants, taking a sip from time to time.
Just as drinking the same water as my plants reminds me that I'm alive, touching my screen reminds me that I am not simply a brain floating in a fish tank.
Rob Janssen is right that we should point instead of touching if the person asks politely. The problem is that most people I know who hate their screen being touched and who are verbose about it will immediatly become aggravated if your finger gets less than 6 inches away from the screen and proceed to instantly kill you if it's less than 3 inches (or at least have thougts of doing so).
What should a poor human with hands do then, talk in screen coordinates? Sorry, I must be a real bad developer because I can't.
Sure, burst your keyboard with compressed air so you and all your coworkers can breathe in all those fine germs!
Sure, burst your keyboard with compressed air so you and all your coworkers can breathe in all those fine germs!
Ick happens, people. Take a chill and ease up.
Even with my own screen I *always* use the back of my finger and just touch the display with lightly with my fingernail. It has nothing to do with germs (3 kids and houseful of pets will cure you of the whole "germ" thing) and *everything* to do with smudges. They drive me bug$h1t - doesn't matter if they're on my glasses or screen or window. However, if somebody touches my screen with their grubby, greasy little digits I'm certainly not going to go balllistic. It's a smudge - it wipes off.
As for the keyboard - as long as the keys are clean, who GAS? I mean really. Grungy stuff underneath the keys isn't the prettiest thing, but it's not like it's going to ooze up out of the keyboard and grab you (well...not most of the time anyway - there are always exceptions).
If you're *that* concerend about germs and ick it's time to encase yourself in a plastic bubble, immersed in a giant vat of hand sanitizer, in a clean room with sub-micron filtration, far beneath the surface of the planet, surrounded by disinfecting UV lamps...
Reminds me of a sign I saw years ago in a public john, "Please don't throw toothpicks in the toilet. The crabs have learned how to pole vault."
"There's even a neat Mac utility program, Keyboard Cleaner, which will lock out your keyboard while you're thoroughly wiping it down."
Or - in this era of USB - you could just unplug your keyboard. :)
I have said the same thing many times about there being two types of people, those that touch displays and those that don't.
I came to this conclusion after noticing the same group of people touching my monitor when talking about things and then noticing that group of people had a layer of finger grime all over their own monitors.
Which lead to the corollary: There are two types of people, those with spotless monitors, and those with so many fingerprints on their monitors that they wouldn't even notice one more.
For me it's not that it's disgusting or germy but that when my monitor is completely spotless except for a few fingerprints, they keep drawing my eye to them. After years of failing in every attempt to just ignore them, I now just sigh, go grab a damp paper towel, and clean the stupid fingerprints off before I attempt to get back to work.
I also cut people off before they touch the monitor. As soon as they start pointing, I interrupt them and say, "Please don't touch the monitor." They usually get annoyed and say they weren't going to touch the monitor. They're usually lying. Regardless, once I say that then they're make a point not to touch it, saving me a cleaning trip.
By the way, I've found if you just use warm water, a paper towel, and gentle pressure, it cleans just fine without scratching.
I'm not alone, aha! I go positively ballistic if I catch anyone touching my screen(s). I came in to work this morning to discover that my boss had polished the desks, and had used the waxy/dusty rag to wipe my screen. ARGH! Did I want it smearing with crap? No! Did it even need "cleaning"? NO!
Over in the UK we have an IT qualification called the A+ (also known as IT Essentials) and one of the questions is about the best way to clean your keyboard. The correct answer is to put it in the dishwasher, so it doesn't surprise me to read that people are actually doing it...
I do that with my mouse too (the disassemble and dishwasher thing). Works fine. I'm still using my first MS IntelliEye Explorer (not wireless).
As for keyboards, I just recently threw away my old IBM 102 key DIN plug keyboard for a curious reason.
You see, those old keyboards didn't have rubber pieces to push the keyboards back up, like they do now, they had rubber foam. You know, that stuff chair and sofa seats are often made from.
The fascinating thing ? After almost 20 years of compressing and depressing the foam, the little bubbles it's made of burst one by one, so often used keys would eventually become so weak that their decompression force wasn't enough to push up the keys anymore.
For a few years, I moved the badly used foam pieces to lesser used keys (like the upper F* row, or the print key), but eventually, too many were so broken down that the keyboard just didn't work anymore.
I almost cried when I had to throw that old buddy away. It had codes to Zak McKracken written on the side with permanent markers, and it had kinks in the top row I carved in there when I played my first online games of Doom via KALI and thought I was really bad ass for marking frags on my keyboard (I was not). The cord had three almost broken places where one cat and two different gold hamsters gnawed on it. The plug was patched up with Smurf covered band aids because I opened it to solder in a new pin after one broke off.
Man, nostalgia can be cruel :(
As for cleaning keyboards, Jerry Pournelle at Byte used to always say that he'd take his keyboards into the shower with him and give them a good scrubbing.
As long as you allow several days for thorough drying, that would probably work fine for most keyboards. Obviously it's only practical if you have an extra.
i just vacuum with the brush attachment (dyson root 6 - good suction!) about once a week and give it a good wipe down once a month or so.
For those of us that have really trashed out our laptop keypads, I've found them very easy to replace and not very expensive either. The last one I did cost about $30.00 and took less than 5 minutes.
My husband sent me this post as we've come to blows over me touching
his monitor and he just looks at me in disgust when I show him something on my monitor and point it out with my fingers all over it.
OK. Show of hands. How many people are picturing BlackMax as looking just like the kid in the picture at the top of the article?
I remember a guy who would freak if someone pointed their finger at his monitor within a foot of the surface. It was just plain annoying. When he was gone from his cube, people would go in and smudge up his monitor with fingerprints, just out of spite.
Oh yes I know all about the filthy keyboards. A previous developer who I took over for left an ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING keyboard covered in yellow stains from his excessive sweating. I tried everything to clean it up to no avail but I eventually just ended up buying a new keyboard. I'm real particular about folks touching my keyboard nowadays.
We once had a contractor leave, and I found the keyboard he left behind too disgusting to stay in the same cubicle with. He wasn't exactly the cleanest guy in the world. One of those overweight guys who has trouble keeping his shirt tucked in. He used to eat at his keyboard too.
Some coworkers and I took apart the keyboard and hand cleaned it. There was an *amazing* amount of crumbs and crud in there. Probably an entire sandwich worth. But of course some of the keys refused to work after we dried it and put it back together. We eventually had to report it broken and get a new one for that machine.
Unless it is designed to be cleaned that way, I really wouldn't count on a "cleaned" keyboard being usable again. Sure, go ahead and try if you want. Just make sure to buy the replacement first, so that if (when) it doesn't work, you are just out a backup, not your primary keyboard.
The worst is LOLing so hard and so suddenly that you don't have time to prepare and end up spraying spittle all over your own monitor. Then you have no one to blame but yourself. :(
I also believe they must be too blind to see the fingerprints blurring my beautiful wall paper.
And what's with using PENS ON AN LCD MONITOR?!?!?! How'd you become a programmer with no brain cells?!?!
You need to print yourself a nice "if you touch my monitor, I will poke you in the eye" sign ( http://www.morevisual.com/poke/ ). I have one on my monitor. It gets the point across. I had a visiting developer from India, pull his hand back like it touched a hot poker when he read it, apparently he took it quite literally ( not a bad thing :) )...
Ah yes, the dishwasher. DEC's VT100 keyboard could famously be cleaned in a dishwasher - no disassembly required, or so I'm told. Of course, each key press on that thing required more force than on a manual typewriter and made a louder click than a card punch.
I guess I'm not nerd enough, I just clean my keyboard when they stop working, which is every 3 or 4 months.
I am with the majority of posters here. I cannot stand anyone touching my screen. I had once worked with a guy that used dry erase markers on his screen (CRT) to mark out line grids. After a while the grease in the pen left permanent marks on the monitor (they are glass, but still coated). I hated having to work with him at his desk because letters would be blurry and make the process difficult. It would not clean off no matter what he used.
I will usually use Lysol on my keyboard and phone (spray into the rag and wipe them with the rag) before leaving for home (every other month or so).
My boss at the time was a hardware engineer that was promoted to look after the software development team, so EVERYTHING to the man was just a tool. He would get mad if we couldn't give him a good estimate of how long it would take to write something... his reason... "If I was building a splice enclosure and told my boss I didn't know how long it would take, I'd get fired." He had no real concept of software or what it involved. We weren't building a box to hold cables... we were writing software to detect faults in the fiber...
And like I said, this was during the big money times for the Fiber Optic Cable industry... we were blowing money like no one's business. The software I worked on was a loss leader for the company... something we had to offer, but they didn't really care if we made money or not. Probably one reason the software group was laid off after the bust!
Doesn't anyone else think that it's the office cleaner's job to wipe down keyboards/mice/screens/telephones?
Having said that I regularly bring in some Mr. Muscle and give the place a wipe down, but I always feel like I shouldn't have to!
When I used to work at Future Shop (a Canadian electronics retailer owned by Best Buy) we used to push Monster screen clean all the time for monitors and TVs. I know the sales guys pushed it because the markup was high, but we techs recommended it because it was just that much better than any alternative. I still recommend it to my friends to this day.
I think there is some magic in that bottle, because I swear my TV gets less dusty after using Monster on it.
At the last job I had people used to CONSTANTLY touch other folks monitors.
I had gotten two new flatscreens and it wasn't a day later that someone 'poked' it leaving a nice fingerprint right in the center.
So I put a post it note next to them that said, "Touch the screen, lose a finger".
I really hate it when people try to touch my LCD monitors. When I say touch, I mean, they stab it with their fingers. LCDs break that way, stupid!
You all sound so childish about your monitors being touched. Its Just A Piece of Plastic! Pair programming with two 22" LCDs, the other coder is driving (controlling keyboard and mouse) and something needs to be pointed out, I'm going to point at it with my finger. OMG !! END OF THE WORLD !! FIRE!FIRE!FIRE!FIRE!!!!
Most of the time my finger wont touch the monitor. Sometimes that perfect storm of circumstances do align against me. I'll be eating a Bagel, and some of the cream cheese gets on my finger, and so I lick my finger clean, and before finishing the bagel I point at something on the screen, and accidentally touch the screen. On those very seldom occasions it leaves a small smudge. woop-dee-doo... i've got those lint-less cloths at my desk, and i just wipe the smudge off.
Sounds like the problem most of you have is with people who have Dirty Hands. Well if someones got dirty hands, then they should just be told to go wash their hands, it may seem rude the first couple times, but quickly people start remembering to wash their hands.
My monitor is spotlessly clean, and my hands are clean, doing a touch test, touching the monitor with my finger doesn't even leave a smudge.
The Keyboard-Mouse interface is horrible, and Touch screen displays are coming. What are you going to do then? crawl under your desks and hide? No of course not, dirty fingers are just going to become more taboo.
So get everyone headed in the right direction now. When someone touches your monitor and leaves a smudge don't get mad at a user using a computer in a completely natural way, get mad at them for having disgustingly dirty hands.
I hear that Prozac and Lexapro are good for those who are germa-phobic.
So, anybody got some tips on a keyboard that's easy to clean? The standard designs seem intended to suck down dirt and trap it where you can't get to it. Without removing every single key top, anyway. Maybe they want you to buy a new one every 3 months.
At my college, we had these Solaris computers with 19" screens... and every one of them was covered in smudges everywhere, it was aweful. Cleaning them didn't seem to work very well either.
I gotta try the keyboard/dishwasher thing, I just don't want to have to wait a week to use it again.
Fry's has keyboards for $5. I just consider them disposable and buy in bulk.
Oh. My. God.
I bet you're sick all the time. People with germophobic cleaning fetishes are the most often ill people I know.
Also, freaking out about things like people touching your screen is the reason all the normal people are afraid of the IT department. A little tolerance goes a long way. I find that my projects become a lot easier when I can relate to the business folks as if we are both human beings.
@AC: It's called multitasking ho. Something you won't be able to do on your computer if you don't have a keyboard because it is in the dish washer.
The Keyboard-Mouse interface is horrible, and Touch screen displays
are coming. What are you going to do then? crawl under your desks and
hide? No of course not, dirty fingers are just going to become more
Most of the systems I've written software for have had touch displays because someone thought they would be a huge seller for the system. I've only seen one of those systems in which users continued using the touch screen after a week or so of use, and in that case there was no way to plug in a keyboard and mouse without opening the case.
There are things that make sense with a touch display, and software can be designed to make the most of it (with REALLY BIG BUTTONS). On the other hand, there are things that programmers do with computers, and for the most part they don't work well with touch displays. I don't even use the touch screen on my phone any more than I absolutely have to, though I do like the clock interface for setting the time on alarms in Windows Mobile (otherwise the interface is notoriously bad for a touch interface unless you use the stylus all the time).
This is why I bought the iSkin when I first got my Mac. It's nice to the touch and easy to clean--just rinse in water and soap. Of course the sound of tapping keys may be music to the ears of some people, but I've gotten used to the soft touch.
However, I would say the best practice would be to have a hand sanitizer (anti-bacterial) sitting next on your workarea, next to your monitor or something.
Don't forget about your cruddy mouse, too.
I teach IT in a school. It's best not to look between the keys.
Why do people constantly compare dirty things to toilet seats? I clean my toilet more frequently than I clean some parts of my kitchen - and I bet you're all the same.
If the gunge and dirt in our keyboards is so hazardous, how come we're not ill? Could it be we have immunities to the things living on surfaces we come into contact with daily?
How about we do what our parents kept telling us - wash your hands before eating, and don't stick them in your mouth.
Touching monitors is a crime that should be punished with amputation or something else appropriate. Cleaning shiny screens is impossible!
I am solidly the type who never touches their display and hate it when someone else touches mine. What I did realize at one point, though, was that I'd live longer if I *accepted* the other type of programmer, and, without getting bent, simply cleaned my screen after "he" left. No rise in blood pressure, no resentment, no losing the point discussed.
You know what? If no one touched my screen, I would clean it way less often, and it would actually be dirtier!!
how about hosing down the keyboard? You know, with a hose :) I tried that couple of times and it was awesome. Fun for the whole family. Not so much fun looking for blown off keys in the grass but that can be sorted out by settling on moderate water pressure. Just soap up the darn thing and then hose it off.
For cleaning laptop keyboards, I use photo lense brush. It works great. And some travel wet wipes (baby wipes will also work :))
I worked with a dude who would pointtouch so vigorously that the flat screen tilted backward every time he made a point.
Our hardware manager shocked most of the office when she put some filthy keyboards in the dishwasher, myself included. Thanks for enlightening me. She'll be happy to see this thorough article.
thanks! Just prompted me to wash everything in my cube.
Yep, I can't stand it. Plus, without fail, it's the people with the most disgusting keyboards and monitors themselves that absolutely insist on touching my screen to point at something when actual pointing from a few inches away would be more than enough.
Man, this would have made a great Seinfeld episode, along the lines of the "low talker" and the "close talker": the "screen toucher".
I have been using these Artensia products for a while and I love them. Theonly problem I have is that people always seem to steal them from my desk. They have used natural products so they clean your computer gear and protect you from chemicals...etc.
Sounds like me; I can't stand fingerprints (on anything, really). My mouse, keyboard, and monitor are holy relics, as far as I'm concerned, and I'm the only one holy enough to touch them. I had a guy where I worked once get so fed up with my OCD, he literally licked my mouse. Yes, he picked it up, stuck out his tongue, and licked it. I about puked. It took nearly half a day of cleaning before I was ready to use that mouse again. I still get chills thinking about it.
The Windows equivalent to Mac's Keyboard Cleaner: unplug!
People forget about the simplest solutions. Why go through the hassle of unplugging the keyboard, if you can download some nifty software that renders your keyboard useless (what was the key combination again that re-enables my keyboard? Let me google that - oh crap!)
Filthy keyboards are the computer age way to ensure survival of the fittest!
Oh man, my belly was jiggling when I read "Poky McSmudgypants." I totally agree about a monitor being a hands-free device.
For what it's worth I've put a Microsoft Office Keyboard (http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-E17-00002-Office-Keyboard/dp/B00005NVBO) with a lot of sticky keys (some coke fell on it) in a dishwasher WITHOUT the hot drying cycle. I never cleaned the keyboard after the spill and it was sitting on myself for 3 years.
After the dishwashing rinse, I let it dry outside for 5 days. This is to ensure all the water is all dried up to prevent any short-circuits.
Result: squeaky clean keyboard. But it wasn't perfect - some grime still did exist underneath some keys. I guess if I pulled out all the keys it would have been a perfect job.
I'm fairly relaxed about my screen. I don't like to touch it but I don't really get upset about people touching my screen.
What does amaze me though is watching people touch there monitor with such force it visibly sways back and forth. Several people I've worked with use force just short of shattering the monitor and having to take a quick trip to the ER for stitches. I continually amazes me.
Yes, Air Duster, so we can kick all of that nastiness into the air instead of down in the tray of our keyboards.
I hate it when people compare dirty things to toilet seats. What touches toilet seats? Asses. And what do asses touch? Toilet seats and the inside of your underwear. That's about it.
Almost every test shows that the handle to the bathroom door is many times more infected than the toilet seat.
You want to check something for nastyness, try the doorknob to any busy restaurant door. Or a toothbrush. Or the inside of your shoes.
I used to work with a guy who ate at KFC at least 3 times a week and usually brought his chicken back to work. He would munch away and type and munch and type. You couldn't even see the plastic below the keys on his keyboard for all of the chicken batter bits down between the keys. When he left the company we threw his keyboard into the dumpster from the roof of the building just to excorsize those demons.
I have it easy. I have a tablet, so that means lots of hand grease on it - I have to touch it whenever I use the tablet part. However, this model actually has a glass screen. So it is really, really easy to clean (and it looks great when freshly cleaned). Also, pencils and pens have no effect. It's like writing on a window. I should use dry-erase markers... =P
Nice article though. I need to clean my keyboard. 6 months old, and never cleaned before. Used 14 hours a day. Really dirty. I tend to eat t here too (only place to sit down in my dorm).
"I almost cried when I had to throw that old buddy away. It had codes to Zak McKracken written on the side with permanent markers,[...]"
I'd have kept the keyboard in my "sentimental stuff" box. *I* have my
Pro-audio Spectrum 16 sound card stored away. I did a lot of cool things with it and simply refused to dump it when the time came.
Duncan said: "Doesn't anyone else think that it's the office cleaner's job to wipe down keyboards/mice/screens/telephones?".
Yes, it is. But they never do it right. We're anal people, mind you. :-D
Once, in my previous job, one of the cleaners left a nasty scratch in a 2-months-old monitor. No one wanted to assume responsibility, claming "it was already like that when we found it". We were stuck with it for a year until my boss reported that it had stopped functioning  and had to be replaced (the monitor).
 Monitors have this tendency to not work anymore if the power cord disappears...
I've only seen one of those systems in which users continued using the touch screen after a week or so of use.
You are correct that touch screens are often used where they don't belong, and as the technology gets cheaper the chance for mis-use will only increase. That doesn't mean its going to become less common, and it doesn't mean their aren't good uses for it.
Movie theater automated ticket purchasing machines are using touch screen technology in a very natural way. And the usage may be limited, but as you pointed out PDA/Cellphones are a common implementation of touch screen tech.
The multi-touch technology is only now starting to be exploited as a consumer product, and as the costs go down I think we will start to see this more and more.
So while touch screen solutions are not always successful, they do have a place in society, and they are only going to become more common as time goes on.
This reminds me of my favorite April Fools Day joke I played on people at work. I used a little java program to send out emails from 'Ops Support' stating that the new flat panel monitors that people had been getting have touch-screen technology built in and that the business would like it evaluated. It was amazing how many tech-savvy people were poking there screen trying to open a document.
"When I said there were two types of programmers, here's what I really meant:
Programmers who touch displays with their greasy, disgusting, bacteria-addled fingers.
Programmers who don't. "
Too bad there is only one type of littlebrother:
Brothers who touch displays with their greasy, disgusting, bacteria-addled fingers.
Btw, anyone tried to remove the dust from a CRT-screen that's been on all day using a feather duster.
Smack! All the dust in the duster sucks onto the monitor because of the static electricity. :D
I beg to differ! The screens are for touching and pointing and I do it all the time!!
(I have noticed that my LCD screens don't show fingerprints until you turn them off. CRT monitors definitely do...)
More irritating than other people leaving their fingerprints, is one self leaving one's fingerprints.
I know I do. And It drove me nuts when I realized, so now I try pointing with the nail side of the finger, I just can't avoid touching the screen, I will not beat myself and I'm pretty fast running, so I doubt anyone can catchme to kill me XD
Hooray for huge useless images in blog posts! I thought we'd lost you...
Well, thanks a lot. On your advice Jeff I put my Vostro in the dishwasher and I think it must have shorted the battery or something. Posted from my Blackberry, of course.
I heard ATM touch screens are worse than a keyboard. Think of that next time your getting some cash.
I regulary use a dash of vodka to clean the screen and keyboard on my MacBook - works nicely and its much cheaper than specialist cleaning products like ScreenClean.
No matter how much I avoid it, eventually the display gets touched or sneezed on and I gotta wash it, with the same micro fibers cloth - half dry and half damp with WATER - NO DETERGENTS OF ANY KIND **EVER** The wrong cleaning agent can cause significant damage to LCD and plamas screens and water is almost free and works just fine if you have good clean micro fiber cloth.
As for keyboards - you can't toss them whole into the dishwasher. Most have thin sheets of plastic covered in conductive ink pressed together with only another insulating sheet of plastic between them. Dry out can take weeks (if ever) and in the mean time, significant corrosion can take place. Avoid that.
Unplug the keyboard, wipe it down on a regular basis, turn it over, knock out the hair, dead skin etc that builds up within (vacume cleaner if you got one) - but eventually, you will need to disassemble and hand wash the keys. About every 9 to 12 months is my cycle for that part.
And for gods sake people, CLEAN YOUR MICE!!! Even worse than those little mobile hovers that people push around their desks called ball mice are the track balls - nothing worse than having to fix something on someone's machine and the track ball is seized solid with gunk. What the heck is wrong with you people? CLEAN THEM OUT!!! I don't wanna touch your built up mouse gunk.
I don't even want to figure out why some people get simple grey dead skin and others end up with slimmy yellow build up instead. And as for the guy who had sticky greenish gung in his mouse - see a doctor, that just ain't right...
Even if you get the screen so dirty the image colors get bleached out through the film of oil and dirty, screen touching has nothing on poor mouse hygene...
Makes me want to carry a vat of acid around with me. (great, now I am gonna have nightmares about some of the machines I have had to work with)
And ya, the MS natural keyboards are !!great!! to type on, but there appears to be some sort of inverse relationship going on between typing experience and clean-ability.
The MS 4000s are almost impossible to disassemble and reassemble.
Following the trend, the next MS natural keyboard will need a chainsaw and dynamite to open and a phd in advanced physics to reassemble.
Oh lord - no detergents ever go near any of my LCDs.
I laughed out loud when I read this! "As you can see here (putting down stickybun to touch Atwoods screen), we have a nice circle of sticky bun for loops" Classic - Jeff!
LOL - put down your sticky bun... heh
The closer people's finger get to my screen, the closer they get to having them broken off. After 1 warning, anything goes.
for my keyboard - vacuuming once in a few months, and wiping the keys with a soft cloth damp with some soap or detergent.
for my display - a dry and clean microfiber cloth..
This devices are to be used, not worshipped.
I hate screen-pokers too. But no-one touches my screen because I work from home...so WHY THE HELL does my screen still look like a camel has french-kissed it? Its covered in marks and I don't have a clue where they come from.
About the dirty keyboards. It's quite simple. Just replace it whenever it gets too dirty. Cleaning keyboards is a lost cause anyway, because you're not likely to get rid of all the food etc. that's stuck in between the keys unless you pick the thing apart. I guess another solution would be to stop eating at your computer...
I decided to take your suggestion and clean my keyboard with the dishwasher. I'll be billing you for a new MacBook Pro, thank you very much.
I'm not going to go back and count, but it looks like the obsessive anal clean engineer personality is outnumbering the absent minded scruffy grungy engineer personality in these comments, though there is a healthy middle ground I think (hopefully).
I decided to clean my keyboard in the dishwasher last night. So far, so good. I disassembled it only because it's just a basic keyboard (not fully of volumne controls, scroll wheels, etc). It did a really good job cleaning it. Just hope it continues to work after I put it back together.
Christian sid: "This devices are to be used, not worshipped.".
You obviously haven't used a Model M keyboard. :-)
I really think it's time to go shopping for a new keyboard.
Maybe a Dvorak one, no less :O
I have that same laminate tile in my kitchen - i absolutely hate it!
I'm not sure about the validity of the reasoning here but: I used to work at a warehouse during my summer work days between winter and fall semesters and one rule at this particular shop was that if you sprayed yourself or someone else with compressed air (in this case, it was from the shop compressor) you were fired, on the spot, no questions asked. Apparently it's possible (albeit unlikely) to cause a bubble in the blood stream by forcing air through the pores of a person's skin using compressed air - which is potentially lethal.
I find that standard strength white vinegar works much better than water for cleaning laptop/LCD panel screens. Water or rubbing alcohol is better for old glass tubes.
microfiber cloths are, of course, required.
quit touching my screen.
does anyone remember someone making an air duster that was refillable via a small crank or hand pump? They made it years ago but I can't seem to find them anymore. I go through 3 cans a month and at $4 each, this adds up over time.
"Apparently it's possible (albeit unlikely) to cause a bubble in the blood stream by forcing air through the pores of a person's skin using compressed air - which is potentially lethal."
I think this is why you should avoid blowing in the vagina also. :)
Eh. If you don't exercise your immune system, you're gonna lose it.
Want a clean keyboard? No problem!
This projects a keyboard on your desk, so all you have to do is keep your desktop clean. You can also get a similar monitor.
Surely this is a fantastic opportunity for the budding entrepreneurial engineer among us!
Make a keyboard that is designed from the get-go to be able to be disassembled in less than 60 seconds...
Couldn't have said it any better.
This is SO true!
The keyboards and mice at university are always like.. uh.. "i-don't-want-to-touch-this".
Can't people just wash their hands after eating or various other situations..?
I am not alone. I feel better now hearing that not only me get "morder instincts" when somebody touches their screen.
I have one secret I never wanted to share with anone, but I desoded to do so today and let you know that.
Before I seat at the computer I wash my hands.
After some time (when you get a shower or wash your hands) body naturally gets this kind of protection-layer (say moist).
So, I was forced to wash my hands again after few hours of coding.
The solution I found was to buy some nice soft gloves and use them while working.
I don't use them always... but quite often.
Since this time my keyboard is brilliant shining, septic clean and... I feel much more better now.
The reason keyboards -- like doorknobs, restaurant menus, and rented car steering wheels, among other things -- have X times as many nasties as toilet seats is simple: pretty much everybody's bathroom is full of a huge array of germicidal sprays, washes, soaps, foams, and what-have you.
Hell, in the toilet you're probably in greater danger from all the chemical residues than you are from the bacteria.
One other kick at the can: bacteria are not all that baaa-aad. Polio, back when it existed, was a rich people's disease, because rich kids never got exposed to the low-grade background viral load that poor kids hit by running around barefoot. Athma is almost certainly caused by too much housecleaning, and washing your children's hands too much is settng them up for a lifetime of common colds.
All the keyboards I own have been through the dishwasher. No special prep is needed; place upside down to facilitate draining, full cycle with soap, shake thoroughly to get rid of excess water, dry for 24 hours.
I've put one motherboard through this process with no ill effects.
Wow. A motherboard. That's hard core, man. My hat is off to you.
You couldn't be more right. Don't touch my display, and certainly don't tap it with a pen. Thank you very much.