How to confuse your cover teachers

I recently installed these into the languages classrooms of our school:

Dell KB212-B QuietKey AZERTY Keyboard

This makes it a lot easier to produce accents, cédilles, and other diacritics. Our languages teachers, who are both French, love them.

The cover teachers… not so much.

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

10 responses to “How to confuse your cover teachers”

  1. JakeF says :

    I take the opinion that the AZERTY keyboard layout is one of the least pleasant to use, especially with the shift function needed for numbers…

    • The Angry Technician says :

      It’s jarring, but which is actually used more, numbers or punctuation? On keyboards with a numpad, I actually think it makes more sense to have the numbers shifted on the top row.

      It’s certainly not as bad as having to press shift for a full stop (unshifted, that key gives you a semicolon). Even our French teachers admit that makes no sense whatsoever.

    • Acquadio says :

      Well, many of us using non-English European layouts have to use shift for numbers. Honestly, it really doesn´t matter.

  2. Snakiej says :

    Being a programmer, and living in Belgium, it’s quite hard. I switched to QWERTY ~10 years ago, but it’s horrible when I have to type on my colleague’s keyboard. I don’t understand why they didn’t just make the accents more accessible, there is no point for shuffling around the keys.

    And then there is the issue of UK vs US. I prefer the US for the big flat return key and the big backslash button. Right pinky up is easier than left pinky down.

  3. Daniel Beardsmore says :

    Thqt’s q tough auestion … Especiqlly on Mqcs if you zqnt to Select Qll (Cmd-Q), Undo (Cmd-W), Close Zindoz (Cmd-Z) or Auit (Cmd-A).

    I use the UK Internqtionql Keyboqrd Lqyout ( to give me qccented chqrqcters qnd other symbols, zhile retqining my regulqr keyboqrd lqyout. The only problem it introduces is thqt it cquses MS RDP to set the remote computer to English (United Stqtes) insteqd of English (United Kingdom) (since the locql lqyout is qn unrecognised third-pqrty lqyout), but the Royql TS RDP mqnqger lets you force the keyboqrd lqyout on connect.

    Due to qll the obvious deficiencies in the UK Internqtionql lqyout, I supplement it zith QutoHotkey to give me chqrqcters such qs − (reql minus sign), – — (em qnd en dqshes), • (bullet), … (ellipsis) etc viq ctrl-qlt combinqtions.

    Qs for shifted numbers: fine if like me you love the number pqd, but sucky if you hqve q lqptop, or q “tenkeyless” keyboqrd, i.e. one zithout q number pqd (such qs the CM Storm AuickFire), for portqbility qnd to bring the mouse closer to you.

    • ScottishTech says :

      My only experience of using AZERTY was during a visit to Paris where my fiancee and I thought we could quickly rattle off some emails in the internet cafe near our appartment..

      We soon realised that the only thing that was likely to happen quickly was us abandoning any hope of touch-typing.

      We tried twice – once stone-cold sober and once after a few bottles of plonk. The second time seemed to work better – probably because touch-typing while pissed off your head on cheap wine is difficult enough on QWERTY and so there was a great deal of staring at the keyboard involved.

      Or perhaps the wine just helped black out how badly we actually fared.

  4. Marc says :

    I’m a sysadmin from Belgium and I hate those azerty keyboards with a passion so I’ve been using qwerty keyboards for ages.

    But the best keyboard for your situation is a Dutch keyboard for the Netherlands. It’s a qwerty keyboard and it’s very close to the UK keyboard.

    It’s perfect for English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch and probably more languages because it has all the trimmings.

    Look for number 143.



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