Keyboards (Receiving)

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Keyboard Flow Overview

Here is an overview of what boxes to put various types of keyboards in and what areas or programs use which keyboards.

Type Box Where It Ends Up
Dirty or Yellowed Keyboards (Non-Clicky, Non-Ergonomic Pop-Outs, and Non-Macs Autorecycle
USB Keyboards Box (Non-Mac) Tested USB Keyboards Box Store (primary)
PS2s-plain, dark Tested plain, dark PS2s Keyboards Box or storage in warehouse if box is full. If storage in warehouse is full, first cull the plain, white PS2s. Then if necessary, cull the black ones. Adoption (primary)-Receiving folk stock these in the classroom. Store-(secondary)-Storefolk pull from receiving boxes or from storage when needed.
PS2s-plain, light Tested plain, light PS2s Keyboards Box or storage in warehouse if box is full. If storage in warehouse is full, cull. Adoption (primary)-Receiving folk stock these in the classroom.
PS2 Keyboards with lots of random extra buttons ("Fancy PS2s") Fancy Keyboards Box or back in Hardware Grants Storage if the box in receiving is full NOT to adoption. The extra buttons tend to do funny things when pressed in an Ubuntu environment and are therefore anti-functional. Can go to the store, but the store does not especially like them.
PS2 Keyboards, ergonomic Ergonomic PS2 Keyboards box Store
Mac Keyboards with "eject buttons" Mac Keyboards Box MacBuild.
Mac Keyboards without "eject buttons" Autorecycle
"Clicky" Keyboards (working or not) Online Sales Box Online Sales
Ergonomic Pop-Out Keyboards Online Sales Box Online Sales
AT Keyboards (non-"Clicky" and non-Ergonomic Pop out) Autorecycle
SUN Keyboards Special Requests Box Server Build (Vagrant)

Laurel on Keyboards (Adoption)

From an e-mail conversation in 10/2010

Elizabeth WT: This is what I know so far about what the adoption program likes/dislikes. Please let me know if this is correct and if anything should be added.

1. Adoption likes clean, plain black or white PS2 keyboards. 2. Lots of extra buttons tend to do strange things in Ubuntu so adoption does not like keyboards with these. 3. Receiving folk stock the shelf in the classroom on Wednesdays and Fridays to prepare for Thursday and Saturday adoption classes.

And one question: is it okay to send adoption keyboards of other colors, like gray keyboards?

Laurel: This list looks good, and yes: it's okay to send other-color keyboards!

Tony on Keyboards (Store)

From an e-mail conversation in 09/2010

Elizabeth WT: "Tony, can you remind me if there are any types of PS2 keyboards with extra buttons that the store likes?"

Tony: "Can't think of extra buttons so much. mainly we're looking for clean, preferably black/grey."

"All the special buttons along the top don't really make them more desirable. Simple, clean, functional are the key ingredients, I think."

"We like ergo and clicky regardless of color, tho."

Richard on Keyboards (System Eval)

System Eval likes keyboards that have little lights in the right hand corner, so that if there is a problem with the keyboard and computer communicating, volunteers can tell whether their keyboard is working or whether the problem lies with the computer.

Testing Keyboards

For a printable version of this document with pictures, follow this link: Keyboard Testing.

The purpose of this document is to assist you, the keyboard tester, in deciding whether to recycle or to reuse a keyboard.

Free Geek receives hundreds and hundreds of keyboards from donors. Some have hardly been touched, others need a little TLC, and the rest have clearly been used over and over again so we are going to recycle them! We receive so many keyboards that we can afford to be picky these days. Don't feel bad about cutting the cord on a yucky keyboard – it will be broken into smaller pieces in the warehouse and recycled appropriately from there.

Here are the ultimate destinations of the keyboards you deem fine enough to reuse: a) on the desks of volunteers who have worked for 24 hours and are taking their brand-new (to them) computer home, b) in the hands of customers who buy them from the thrift store, and c) with non-profits who receive them from us via hardware grants.

Put yourself in the shoes of these recipients, and do your best out to only give out what you'd like to receive. Thank you for helping Free Geek and the community today!

Part One: To Recycle or Not To Recycle?

Recycling a keyboard is easy! Use the questions below to determine whether we should test it or not. When the directions tell you to, simply cut the cord off of the keyboard with a pair of clippers, put the cut cord into the large shopping cart (we call it the Danger Cart), and put the cut keyboard into the small shopping cart (the Keyboard Graveyard). When the small shopping cart is full of keyboards, ask a staff member where they go!

1. Is it a Clicky or Egronomic-Pop Out Model?

These keyboards (working or not!) go in their respective boxes. Clicky keyboards have a little spring under each key and make a distinctive "click" when you tap a key. See example hanging from the wall. Ergonomic Pop-out Models unfold upwards to create a more ergnomonic position for typing. See example hanging from the wall. If they are clicky or ergonomic pop-out models, put them in the boxes labeled "Clicky or Ergonomic Pop-Out Models" on the top shelf.

2. Look at the end of the keyboard's cord. Does it have a serial or AT end?

Serial and DIN/AT keyboards are old and fairly rare, so we do not keep them. DIN connectors are much bigger than your average PS2 connector. If the keyboard has one of these ends, RECYCLE it. If it doesn't, go to the next step.

3. Is is a Mac Keyboard?

Look for the Apple logo:

If you find it, look in the upper right-hand corner of the keyboard. Is there an upward-pointing arrow (shown in red below)?

If it does have this arrow (called the EJECT button), we'll keep it because it's a newer keyboard. If it doesn't, it's probably an older keyboard, so RECYCLE it.

The Mac keyboards we are keeping will look like this (but may be a gray shade instead).

The Mac keyboards we are RECYCLING will look like this (and they are usually colorful).

4. Visually inspect the keyboard by bringing it close to your face. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are any keys missing?
  • Are any letters missing from the keys?
  • Is the keyboard yellowed from sunlight or discolored? This especially applies to white, gray, tan, and cream colored keyboards. Flip the keyboard over and compare the underside of the keyboard to the part that sees heavy usage.
  • Is there dirt or dust that will take you more than a minute to wipe off?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, RECYCLE it. If it seems relatively clean, then we'll go on to test it (see below).

Part Two: Testing the Keyboard

1.We test keyboards that have connectors that look like this: PS2 keyboards have round connectors. USB keyboards have rectangular ones.

2.Plug them into the appropriate place on the computer. The PS2 keyboard should fit into a beige cord coming from the back of the computer. The USB keyboard cord will fit directly into the front of the computer.

3.You will test PS2 keyboards and USB keyboards on the same computer setting (104-keyboard layout). There is a “Settings” button in the top left corner of the screen that allows you to toggle between this setting and the Apple-keyboard layout.

4.As you press each key on the keyboard, it will change colors on your screen (from red to green, or from white to black). If all of the keys are the same color once you have pressed every single key on the keyboard, congratulations! This keyboard has passed the test.

5.If some keys have not changed colors, it's time for some troubleshooting. Look closely at the keyboard's layout. Sometimes it will NOT match the layout on the screen and will have extra or missing buttons. In this case, they keyboard is probably still completely functional. This is especially true with the Windows key on the bottom right side of the keyboard, or also it happens with the cluster of keys where Insert/Home/Page Up and more are. Also, on the Apple keyboards, there is a glitch in the system where the = key does not work yet. Just FYI!

Part Three: Cleaning and Sorting the Keyboards

Your keyboard works! Now what?

1. Grab a bottle of Simple Green cleaner and an old rag. Spray the cleaner directly onto the rag – NOT the keyboard – and wipe it down. Again, inspect it closely by holding it near to your face, and get into the cracks using a paintbrush. If the keyboard takes more than a couple of minutes to clean, it's not worth our time or energy. Recycle it!

2. We have to take care of that dangling keyboard cord. We want the cords to be wrapped nicely so that we can tell which ones have been tested. Wind the cord loosely around your hand, slide it off, and then cinch it in the middle with a rubber band.

Where do the keyboards go once cleaned and rubber-banded?

USB keyboards:

  • Mac keyboards are destined for our Macintosh cleaning area. Place all of these into the bin labeled Mac Keyboards Only.
  • All other USB keyboards go to the store, regardless of what color they are or how many buttons they have. Place all USB keyboards in the bin on the top shelf labeled Tested USB Keyboards.

PS2 keyboards: PS2 keyboards are given out to volunteers who have completed the Adoption Program. We sort PS2 keyboards twice: once by checking whether they are PLAIN or have extra buttons, and then by color.

Why do we care whether they have extra buttons or not? Sometimes Adoption volunteers are brand-new to using a computer at all! These extra buttons usually don't work on the operating system we put on our computers, and so it could potentially be very confusing to a novice when they press the Email button and their computer crashes.

Put keyboards with any extra buttons into the bin labeled Fancy PS2 Keyboards with Extra Buttons on the bottom shelf.

Put ergonomic (non-pop-out) keyboards in a box for the store on the top shelf of keyboard station. These keyboards are typically gray/tan and have an unusual shape.

Place tested PLAIN black keyboards on the top shelf, and place tested PLAIN white/gray/tan keyboards in the bin on the bottom shelf.

Follow this flow chart and the accompanying instructions.