About Dr Keyboard

The Dr Keyboard column appeared every week in The Times newspaper from January 1996 to August 2000. This site contains all the still-relevant questions and answers which have been printed. You can search through the contents, including the ‘Bites’ short Q&As introduced in 1999.

There’s a very brief ‘Start here’ guide to web browsing for Absolute Beginners, together with the collected columns of the same name.

This site also hosts the Timesavers columns from The Times, which are also written by Dr Keyboard author Chris Ward-Johnson.

And you can visit me at home, Chateau Keyboard - a daily diary of computing and other subjects which have caught his interest.

Who pays for this site? I, Dr Keyboard, do, personally out of my own pocket. What you will find are links to a few companies with whom I've struck affiliate deals - you buy something from them via a link on this web site and I get a (usually very small) percentage of what you pay.

I haven't chosen these affiliate deals at random; rather, I've looked for companies which will offer you something that you actually need. Like Amazon Books, the biggest bookstore on the Internet. You can search around there from the links on this site, or visit my list of recommended books.

And there's the domain registration deal with NetBenefit. This is the largest-scale affiliation I've done, and offers a tremendous deal to Dr Keyboard readers. Domain name registration has been difficult and expensive until now, and usually that was only the start of your problems - then you had to work out what to do with it, where to host your website, how to collect your e-mail and so on. The NetBenefit deal sorts this out easily by providing free e-mail and website forwarding, so you carry on doing everything as you do now and they automatically send everything on to you.

Dr Keyboard is written by Chris Ward-Johnson who undertakes a great deal of consultancy work via his Most Excellent! company for a number of clients.

This is a Most Excellent! web site.

All rights are reserved. No portion(s) may be reproduced without the author’s express permission. Notes from your mother are not good enough, you will have to swim in your underwear if you forget your costume. Res Ispo Loquitur. Yadda yadda yadda.

Chris Ward-Johnson and Most Excellent! 1996-2000. And beyond.

Dr Keyboard is a weekly questions-and-answers column covering all aspects of computers and computing.

The column appeared every week in The Times January 1996 to August 2000. In those four and a half years, author Chris Ward-Johnson answered tens of thousands of questions from readers both in print and online on the Dr Keyboard website. The columns - more than a quarter of a million words in total - have covered every kind of computer and software accurately, consistently and always with a touch of humour.

Dr Keyboard was the first such column to appear in a national newspaper in Europe and has been much-copied since - now all the UK nationals carry such a column. It quickly became the most-read column of its type, with more than a million readers seeing it in Interface, The Times's technology supplement, every Monday.

Some statistics
* Dr Keyboard was read in Interface by around 1,000,000 million people per week.
* Surveys by The Times's market research department consistently showed it to be the second most popular section of Interface after the news pages - particularly impressive since the column never had a 'fixed' page, so readers would always have to search through the supplement for it.
* Around 3,000 questions have been answered in print. Upwards of 175,000 have been answered online, via e-mail or by direct response.
* The Dr Keyboard websites attract thousands of visitors a day.
* The Dr Keyboard mailing list has subscribers from all over the world and is sent to subscribers at the (UK) Ministry of Defence, 19 universities, two (British) Members of Parliament, 27 major corporations, (Dupont, Ford and Marks & Spencer, for example), six (British) government departments (e.g. the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food), seven professional bodies (e.g. the British Medical Association and the Institute of Public Relations), ship brokers, schoolteachers, international banks (Credit Lyonnais, for example), the British Library and the British Museum, the Deans of two cathedrals, rocket scientists (at Rockwell), barristers, journalists on several newspapers and at broadcasting organisations such as the BBC.
* The Dr Keyboard websites have the largest privately owned online database of questions and answers in the world
* The Dr Keyboard column has been quoted by technology companies including Apple, IBM and Microsoft (e.g. in its Microsoft Developer Network publications).

The Columns
The main part of the written Dr Keyboard column is the Questions and Answers section. Around a thousand words, about half a dozen questions are answered in detail weekly.
There's a second Q&A section called 'Quick Bites', where four short questions are answered in one or two lines. This is usually 150-200 words long.
Both sections answer questions sent in by real readers - no questions are made up at all and all answers are provided by a real human being.
The third part of the written column is Absolute Beginners. Around 300-350 words long, this deals with a topic of current interest from the Dr Keyboard postbag in the simplest language possible. It's aimed, as its title suggests, at those who are completely new to computing and is designed to allow them to do something new and interesting with their machines.

The Dr Keyboard websites
First, there's a giant, searchable database of all still-relevant questions and answers going back to early 1996 - there are now several thousand entries.
Secondly, there's a message board where questioners can post their problem and seek answers both from Dr Keyboard and fellow users. The board is constantly monitored by Dr Keyboard and three skilled associates. Any answers posted by other users are checked for relevancy and accuracy and, where necessary, edited. This process also ensures that nothing irrelevant or inappropriate is posted.
Finally there's Dr Keyboard's diary, Chateau Keyboard. This contains a daily essay on current computing topics mixed with stories of life in the South of France where Chris Ward-Johnson, Dr Keyboard himself, lives.
The 'front page' of the website can be found at http://www.drkeyboard.com. The Q&A database is at http://www.drkeyboard.com/answers, and the message board at http://www.drkeyboard.com/chat. Chateau Keyboard is at http://www.chateaukeyboard.com.
Access to all the sections of the Dr Keyboard website is completely free. There is a short registration process for the message board which simply establishes that the user has a valid e-mail address. This is designed to weed out time wasters, and has been extremely successful with many hundreds of registered users and thousands of visitors every week.
The website is updated every week with new questions and answers from the column. The Chateau Keyboard website is updated daily.

The emphasis throughout all the various parts of Dr Keyboard has been on producing answers which can be understood by the questioner and by all levels of computer users. Too many 'help desks' produce indecipherable techno-babble which only the most hardened geeks have a chance of understanding. Dr Keyboard is written by a human being, for human beings.