Control-b n

My keyboard layout of choice for English is Dvorak. At work, I use this keyboard.

For certain tasks I’ve been involved in of late, I use emacs and often switch back and forth between buffers using control-x b. The x and b keys in dvorak are the physical b and n keys. These two keys are on separate halves of the keyboard, separated by the hump in the middle that contains the zoom thingy. This necessitates using both hands to execute the command.

Last night, I decided to do some work at home on my laptop (which does not have an ergonomic/split keyboard). When I went to switch buffers, I noticed that the b and n keys were right next to each other! It was strange.

Tip-top lapnets on your desknote

As far as I can tell, the term desktop computer originated as a way to designate a computational device that could fit on a desk, as opposed to the larger variety that, my elders tell me, took up entire warehouses and required something like an entire army Santa’s elves to operate. Now, though, the more common distinction is with laptop computer.

Now, a laptop is also called a notebook computer, and while I’m not sure exactly what the differences in usage are, there are some cases where you would use one term and not the other. For one, there is a variety of computer called the subnotebook — not the sublaptop. If I had to guess, I’d say that laptop is on a par with notebook computer, but that just plain notebook requires a (little, to be sure) context to be used normally.

Okay, great. So we have {desk/lap}top and then notebook. Then Intel comes along and starts calling the ultraportable, intenet-oriented laptops like the Asus Eee netbooks, presumably to both indicate the functionality and minimal (ahem) differences with full-fledged notebooks. So, what do you call a non-portable, on-the-top-of-the-desk computer with processing capability approximating that of a netbook? Perhaps it will have a word like, say, desk in it? No: they’re nettops. I guess the salience of notebook/desktop is enough to trump the laptop/desktop distinction, and so -top has, at least here, come to mean “desktop.”