I've been going to meetings for quite a while. I have probably won something from our various vendors, on average of, maybe, once every 13-14 months. Some things I've been impressed with, and some not. Microsoft, despite their somewhat deserved reputation, are nonetheless one of the most generous vendors DACS has seen. When they've been in town, I've won a backpack, Microsoft Money (I'll stick with my Quicken, though!), and at our most recent meeting, I was fortunate to have been the recipient of a Microsoft Multimedia Keyboard.
I would like to tell you I had no trouble in the installation of the keyboard, but I cannot. First, you have to install the software before plugging in the keyboard. I tried to install the included Intellitype Pro software, but I kept getting an error. I tried the install several times, to no success. After searching Microsoft's Knowledgebase with the error message, and trying a myriad of other search criteria, after about an hour and a half, I finally found the answer. The installer file on the CD was conflicting with the one in the machine. I had to delete the installer file, in MS-DOS mode, and try the install again. SUCCESS!! I could shut down, and switch keyboards!
When the computer booted, the software setup asked for the type of keyboard, at which time the setup ran and ended. You are greeted by a "Getting Started" dialog, which went systematically, through what the keyboard can do, and how to change it to your own liking. The keyboard has dedicated buttons (along the top) for: My Documents, My Pictures, and My Music. You can change the directories they point to, which I certainly did. There are buttons for controlling your MP3/multimedia player, such as Mute, Play/Pause, Stop, Volume Up, Volume Down, Next Track, Previous Track, and Media (which is where you point to your player, such as my choice, Winamp). There's also buttons for Mail (your email program), Web/Home (connect to the Web or home page), and Messenger (Instant Messenger, if you use one). Even the Function keys pull double duty. They can act as normal F1-F12 function keys, or you can toggle the F-Lock key and they become: Help, Undo, Redo, New, Open, Close, Reply (to email), Forward (email), Send (email), Spell, Save (File), Print, corresponding to the function keys F1-F12. Along to the right of these, there are three other buttons: Calculator, Log Off, and--pretty self-explanatory. Otherwise, the keyboard is a normal keyboard. I have to say that at first I was not sure if I would be using the keyboard's extra functions. I have come to appreciate the one button access to my A/V folders, my music player, and Web and e-mail. When I first saw this functionality come out on some of the commercially available systems on the market, I thought all this one-button stuff was a waste of time, and for lazy people. I must admit that I'm hooked, and I've changed my mind. This is one heck of a keyboard. I've seen it selling for $20-25 in some places, and this is one piece of hardware you'd get the bang for your buck, and then some! Thanks to Alan Chitlick, and Microsoft's Mindshare Program.
|Brian Lund is an old hand at computers, having been bit by the bug back in High School, in BOCES (technical school) class. He was supposed to look at Small Engine Repair, but never found the classroom.|