sunday, 5 april 2015

since getting the Poker 2 mechanical keyboard, it has been weeks of exploration – reviewing the merits of various keyboard layouts, and examining and unlearning the left hand impositions learned from classical touch typing.

The possibilities of designing a more ergonomic keyboard layout are made practical with a programmable keyboard which can be easily configured and simply plugged into any computer I happen to be working on. Without, I would have stuck with the accessible and effective Colemak layout.

Discovering the Colemak mod-DH was revelatory. That led to creating an ANSI Colemak Curl mod version which focused on further balancing and correcting left and right hand motions, while facilitating home row reach of keys with reduced index and pinkie finger reaches.

It is unusual in design, with the relocation of the left Shift key, not to mention the right shift of the whole (modified) Colemak layout altogether – I don’t expect adoption of this scheme. But it has been such an ergonomically natural transition, with significantly reduced travel for the fingers, that it is impossible for me to go back to layouts I had expected would be difficult to lose.

The left hand curl was a surprisingly simple unlearning of the subtle (but cumulatively stressful) wrist twist that is required to type bottom row characters. And the right shift of the overall keyboard layout, while seemingly drastic, maintains the important Colemak fingering relationships.

I think I have finally fine tuned the placement of the left hand equal, hyphen (minus), slash and backslash symbols column cluster, both aesthetically and ergonomically, to this left hand right hand layout..

`~ = 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 [ ] Tab - Q W F P B J L U Y ; ‘ Del Esc / A R S T G M N E I O Enter \ Shift X C D V Z K H , . Shift Ctrl Win Alt Space Backspace Fn Pn Ctrl

The new backslash position doesn’t look out of place as much as I had expected, being almost in the mirror position of its former placement on the right. The symmetry and symbol keys look “correct” (for a *nix and Vim user) and are easily reached.

This is the current keyboard layout that works enormously well for me. I say “current” because for weeks I was certain each layout change would be the last! The Poker 2 keyboard. Cherry MX Reds. Colemak. Curl mod tweaks. A geekhackers’ nirvana..

»»  2015-02-09

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