The bold part would be the “how to fix this problem” version of this post.
Maybe this is a stupid problem, or a result of plugging in a keyboard the first time I booted up a new machine, but I was having some major problems with the key mapping on my trusty Microsoft Wireless Natural Multimedia Keyboard. The biggest problem was that my ~ (tilde) key didn’t work. This sounds like a stupid problem, right? Wrong.
That ~/` key does two important things. Toggle between open application windows (generally) and specify my home directory in the command-line (and when I set up a new machine I live in Terminal for about two days). I was so bothered by this that I actually switched to the Apple Keyboard and Mighty Mouse to see how that was. In a word, it was “bad”. My wrists began to hurt immediately and my typing/mousing speed was terrible. Anyway, this is a all backstory…
After 10’ish searches on Google with no success I ultimately stumbled across the “Keyboard Viewer” in the International Preference Pane. I watched what ~/`was doing, and it was pushing cmd+space (which is obviously not a character). Then I opened Microsoft Keyboard’s Preference Pane and pressed the ~/` key. It popped up the Hot Key dialog and asked what this key should do. After trying a few options I realized that “Handled by Mac OS” was the right answer. Now I have a tilde again and all is right with the world… or at least a LOT better!