I can tell that my PowerBook is going to need to be replaced before too much longer–it’s starting to shed pieces. A month or two ago, I lost my hard drive. This week’s victim is my keyboard–the left Command/Apple key broke off. It’s been having problems for weeks–one of the clips that holds it in place broke a month or so ago–but I’d hoped that it’d last a while longer. No luck–the second set of clips broke off this afternoon, leaving the key free to wander around my desktop. Since this is probably my second most commonly used key (after the space bar), it’s really hard to use the laptop without it.

I did a bunch of poking around online, and found replacement keyboards for as little as $79, but overnight shipping on one of those runs it back up over $100, and I’m trying to save money for a new Treo. So I looked around a while longer and discovered that pbparts.com sells replacement keycaps for $5. They still want over $8 for shipping, but I’m a lot happier paying $13 then I am paying $100.

While I was checking out, I noticed something interesting–the part that I was buying was labeled “command key,” not “left command key.” A quick check of the keyboard showed that the left and right command keys are, in fact, identical. So, after a brief hunt for tools, I popped the right command key off of the keyboard and swapped it with the broken left command key, and I’m back in business. There’s an ugly spot on my keyboard with no key, but that’ll go away in a couple days when the new key arrives. Until then, I have a perfectly functional keyboard with a working left command key.

Surprisingly enough, they also carry the screen release latch that died a couple months after I bought this thing. Apple was willing to replace it under warranty, but I wasn’t willing to part with my laptop for 2 weeks. I’ve mostly learned to live with the broken latch, but I’ll probably replace it sooner or later.