Sharing issues with keyboards and mice.
By Charles Bell on Feb 02, 2009
There are things in this world that are intensely personal. These are the things we don’t share with others for obvious reasons -- like a toothbrush, dental floss, solid deodorant, or underwear. While some people share things more easily (and freely) than others, I think most would agree some things shouldn’t be shared. I have always been a rabid hand washer. While not quite obsessive compulsive about it (Ok, maybe I am a notch or two below Monk), I have always ensured I had clean hands when using my computer. I don’t like dirty keyboards or mice and I’ve seen some really nasty examples. To this day I cannot use a public computer. Fortunately, most people keep their own computer input devices clean. I think keyboards and mice should be considered personal items not to be shared. My motivation for this decision is based on a recent illness. Three weeks ago I contracted viral conjunctivitis or ‘pinkeye’ while traveling on a business trip. I have been ill ever since including missing a week from work due to cloudy vision (scary) and I am just now beginning to feel normal (although my left eye still burns and itches). My doctor tells me I contracted the virus in the usual manner; by touching something an infected host has touched and touching my own eyes without washing my hands. While I won’t say that my doctor is wrong, I always wash my hands after touching anything in a public place. I carry hand sanitizer everywhere and use copious amounts of it if I touch anything. I won’t use the tray table on airplanes -- most of the time they are visibly and disgustingly dirty. My doctor thinks I contracted it on the plane. He told me planes are one of the least sanitized places and the most likely place to contract a virus or other ailment while traveling. But I think I got it from a coworker who used my laptop. He contracted the virus during the week-long meeting and I contracted on the last day of the meeting. He had used my laptop the day before I first noticed the symptoms. While it may be a coincidence (my doctor suggested as much), I cannot help but wonder. I really don’t like to share my computers or laptops (hand cleanliness issues notwithstanding) so when my coworker borrowed my laptop I was a little uneasy (Ok, I was freaked out a little). I realize most people don’t think this way so I normally try to contain myself and simply endure the event and clean the device right away. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to do so without everyone witnessing it. I didn’t want to offend my coworker or appear ‘strange’ by cleaning the laptop right away so I waited until I got back to my hotel that evening to wipe the laptop down with a warm soapy cloth. Unfortunately, I waited too late and must have contracted the virus during the day. Now that I have paid the price for sharing my laptop, it is now my strict policy to never, ever share my computer keyboard, mouse, or laptop with anyone. Those items are just too personal to share. If it makes me look a little strange or I offend anyone when I refuse to let someone use my laptop, I will simply tell them my pinkeye story. I think I’ll also buy one of those keyboard shields just in case I am forced to allow someone to use my laptop (it’s a company laptop after all). I can always soak the keyboard shield in alcohol when they’re done.