My kingdom for a keyboard: Disruption hits home

All it takes is a slip of the wrist and a badly placed beverage to disrupt your familiar workflow

I'm typing this on an external keyboard plugged into my MacBook Air. While that may not seem earth-shattering, the ripples caused by this requirement have plagued me all week. You see, for the first time ever, I managed to spill something on my laptop.

In the 20 years I've owned a laptop of one type or another, I've never fallen victim to this somewhat common occurrence. Had I ever really contemplated that fact, I might have considered myself immune to such a thing, but as we all know, nobody's a superhero. Eventually a nice cup of SleepyTime tea will find its way onto your keyboard.

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I was lucky -- the Air is otherwise fine. I've been waiting for the keyboard replacement for a few days now and struggling with this speed bump in my workflow. It's maddening. My reflexes are far too ingrained to deal with this sort of tragedy.

IT's endless adaptability

As deep tech folk, we're used to working on vastly different computers, from Windows to Mac to Linux to Solaris what have you, with all the accompanying variation in keyboard layouts, monitors, desktops, and so forth. Predominately, these are stateless systems -- completely foreign to our main system tailored to our workflow. This actually makes it easier to switch our thinking and reflexes to suit these different environments if we've been doing it long enough. We somehow train ourselves to swap mental templates at a whim at many levels.

An example would be that I never use ps auxww when working on Solaris systems. When I switch to an SSH session into a Solaris box, my reflexes switch too. When I'm on an Ubuntu system, I never try to install anything with yum; somehow, I automatically switch to apt-get.

I even adapt my mental processes when working on otherwise similar interfaces, such as a Cisco 6509 and a Cisco ASA. They both have extremely similar CLIs, but the conventions are slightly different. I would never issue a sh run while in config mode on a 6509, because it won't work. However, it will work on an ASA, presumably due to the fact that the original PIXOS would allow such an action. Once you bump into these details enough, your brain adapts to account for them.

These kinds of reflexes allow us to move between very disparate systems at a whim, as well as function swiftly and properly to do what we have to do. It's all part of the game. It's part of what makes us good at what we do. The minutiae is just that. It doesn't interfere with reaching the goal.

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