Surface Book AZERTY to QWERTY

So I just picked up a Surface Book and paid a good price as it has an AZERTY keyboard rather than a UK QWERTY.  I decided I could live with it if needs be but when it arrived I set about seeing what options I had

The first thing I did was set the language options to UK – that way I can type as if I am on a UK keyboard even if the keys themselves are in the wrong place!




So now my on screen keyboard is correct and reflects the positioning of the typed keys (if not their positioning on the keyboard itself!)


I then looked online to see if there were options for replacement keys – I found several companies on EBAY that sold sets of QWERTY stickers that could be stuck on top of the existing keys.  But I didn’t like that option as the backlighting would be impacted and it would probably end up looking a little tacky.

I also found this company who could supply individual keys albeit at a bit of a premium price:

I noticed that there was also a video on their site outlining how to attach the new keys which gave me some confidence that I might be able to remove some of the existing keys:

And so I decided to attempt a basic rejigging of the keys such that they reflect, as far as is possible, a QWERTY layout instead of the AZERTY layout that the keyboard came with.  I found a plastic tool that I already had in my toolkit which proved good at getting under the keys in order to remove them (see pic).

I settled on this – I don’t think I will be purchasing any keys as the guts of what I wanted was already there, just in the wrong order.  (Though it is nice to know that if I wanted to finish the job I can do so for a small premium!)


keyboard azerty


Job (almost) done!

NB If you are trying something like this the trick is to prise off the keys from the top of the key itself (at least, that is the approach I took)

What is behind my interest in VR?

So it’s no secret that I have been following VR since the earliest prototype devices of the 80s (and if you count stereoscopic imagery- then it dates back to my first viewmaster which I had for Christmas way back when I was 8!).  I have tried most of the current crop of VR and AR headsets from the PSVR all the way up to the HoloLens.  In a previous post I outlined my build PC for the Oculus Rift DK2 – I still have that machine – though with graphics card updated to an RX480 and a PIMAX 4k Headset (the subject of a future post?). 

Before the Internet I would travel around photographic auctions and shows looking for old bits of stereoscopic kit – it was always exciting to unearth and research a new piece that I was unfamiliar with and I picked up some of my favourite pieces in this way..  In the early days of the internet I made contact with a few collectors in the US and when I heard reports that the Nintendo Virtual Boy was being ‘sold off’ in Walmart I reached out to a couple of them and bagged a couple for my collection (one to play with and one to keep MIB!)  I also managed to get most of the game cartridges!

Nintendo-Virtual-Boy-Red-Black-ConsoleVirtual Boy 2WOTW

(I always thought the VB looked a bit like a Triffid Death Machine from “War of the Worlds”)

My favourite devices are probably the oldest – I have a half dozen or so of these dotted around my house – just because I think they look great!  (There was a time when you could pick these up quote cheaply) The classic ‘Taxiphote’ is probably my favourite, though there are many variations of the basic model some of which I am still discovering …


Sometimes it’s the unexpected gems that I was able to ‘bag’ that give me the most pleasure.  I used to routinely submit  “blind” low bids to photographic auctions and one time noticed that one lot had ‘a collection of stereoscopic glass slides’ as very much a secondary item included with a lot of two Kodak projectors.  I won the lot with my low bid and was astonished when I went to collect and found the most incredible collection of stereoscopic glass slides taken by a Frenchman on his travels across Europe at the turn of the 20th century.  I still haven’t managed to successfully catalogue the whole collection but it remains one of my most prized items!

A Typical stereoscopic image from my collection (the actual resolution is very impressive given these images age!)


Not content with viewers I also have quite a collection of stereoscopic cameras – again, my favourites are probably the oldest ones in my collection (in my opinion  ‘design classics’)

NB people ask me about the first camera top left – yes, it is a stereoscopic camera but also came with an interchangeable lens for 2d use!

Most of the cameras on the second row fold up inside themselves – the ultimate gadgets of their day!

The 3D craze in the fifties produced a treasure trove of cameras and no self respecting gadget lover would be without a Realist or Kodak, (A small selection of 50’s cameras are shown on the bottom right of the picture).


And just recently I have spent some time setting up a dedicated (albeit limited by my dwindling finances) VR area in my ‘man cave’ – perhaps the subject of another future blog post?