My G5 tower crashed today, so I thought I’d reboot it from the Disk Warrior CD and clean out the demons. But first I had to get sneaky.
Holding down the mouse button so the CD tray would open on reboot, I hit the Mac’s power button. I heard the glorious startup sound, then…nothing. So I powered off again, slid the CD drive cover down with my finger, and poked a straightened paper clip in the tiny hole under the drive to open it. (It sounds ridiculous just reading this back.)
Plopping in the CD, I started up again while holding down the C key so the Mac would boot from the CD drive. And…nothing. Hmm. Had I damaged the drive by forcing it open?
I tried rebooting again while holding Command-S, thinking I’d cleanse the system with AppleJack instead. Nope.
So I powered down once more, pulled off the Mac’s side panel (brilliant bit of engineering, that), and commenced several cycles of voodoo fixes like holding down the reset button, reseating the RAM, popping out the battery, and unplugging everything but the keyboard. Still no go.
Then I remembered that my mouse had been acting strangely lately, losing touch with the Mac and then coming online again. (Thanks to the great USB Monitor, I could see its entrances and exits.) The mouse was plugged directly into the USB hub on the Mac keyboard, so maybe the keyboard had gone bad. That would explain why holding the C key hadn’t worked. I unplugged the keyboard, rebooted, and…success!
But how to type? My eyes lit on my trusty AlphaSmart Dana, a laptop computer designed by former Apple employees. (It even has a propeller icon on the Command key.) The Dana runs the Palm OS, but when you connect it to a Mac or PC via USB and launch the word processor, the Dana becomes a remote USB keyboard. I was back in bidness.
My saviour. The AlphaSmart Dana runs over 20 hours on three AA batteries, boots instantly, and even moonlights as a USB keyboard.
As a bonus, I now have the excellent Dana keyboard action, though I miss having a numeric keypad and dual Command keys.
Any keyboard recommendations? (I’d really like this, but it only works on Windows.)
UPDATE, 2007-03-05: I got the Macally Ice Key Black. I still prefer the concave keys of the Dana, but I’m getting used to the Macally quickly, and it looks great. One annoyance is that the volume and eject keys required a driver to work. At one point, they stopped responding. I deinstalled the Universal version of the driver and installed the PPC one. I’m not sure if that was the problem, but the keys are working fine now.