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Chairman of the Keyboard

I’m in Milan, Italy, for the latter part of this week, in order to participate in the first alumni reunion held by the business school SDA Bocconi in its 50-year history.

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As we speak, so to speak, I’m camped out in the basement office of trivioquadrivio, the “knowledge factory” founded by longtime Fast Company readers Leonardo Previ and Valeria Cantoni. We weren’t able to get my PowerBook to straddle their local network, so I’m using a borrowed PC — one with an Easy White Keyboard from Atlantis-Land.

White? For sure. Easy? Not for me.

You see, there are different keyboard layouts for select countries. This one is set up differently than what I’m used to using, and characters such as the quote mark, apostrophe, at sign, and forward slash — all critical for Web work — are located in different places than what I consider the “norm.” It’s been fascinating trying to edit the site using the international keyboard.

Not only do business people in different countries use different keyboards, when the Euro was introduced, various organizations, including Microsoft, got together to establish an international standard for how the Euro character — and, eventually, key — would be introduced.

Have you had substantial experience using various keyboard layouts? Any shortcuts or tips to offer?

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