shift-mod layout

wednesday, 13 may 2015

favouring my index finger over the middle finger, I have now been toying with the bottom row of my Colemak Shift-DH layout, swapping the C and V keys of that layout. The original Qwerty ZXCV cluster which Colemak considered sacrosanct is now completely gone – with little impact to this *nix user – but the keys still conveniently remain in the left hand bottom row. Hence, the simple Shift-mod layout reference, as the number of deviations from the original Colemak design probably now preclude continuing to call it a Colemak variation, though its pedigree is still visible.

All of this came about as a result of the Colemak Shift-DH curl modification which made me more conscious of fingering. Curling the fingers was a significant mechanical improvement over the (ingrained but slight) left wrist twist required of the standard Colemak (and classical Qwerty touch typing) layout.

Keyboard layout analysis typically weights bottom row middle finger curl slightly higher (better) than index finger reach – and, when I type with “proper” hand positioning, this seems to bear out the preference. However, with the Cherry profile keycaps and MX Red keyswitches, lately I have been floating my hands flatter than usual which allows pressing the keys without bottoming out – which is tricky with these light linear key switches – something I have been experimenting with. This reverses the above finger ratings (for me). So YMMV.

The flatter hand position favours the greater strength of the index finger on the bottom row over curling the middle finger – arguably a good reason not to do this! Swapping the more frequent C with V improves (for me) the left hand finger movement.

bottom row

programming of the Poker 2..

action setting
Fn + right Ctrl  
right Shift \
Pn  
Z right Shift
Pn  
c v
Pn  
v d
Pn  
b c
Pn  
n z
Pn  
m k
Pn  
, h
Pn  
. ,
Pn  
/ .
Pn  
Fn + right Ctrl  
Fn + right Shift  

shift-mod layout

with Fn + right Shift enabled..

`~ = 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 [ ] Esc - Q W F P B J L U Y ; ' Del Tab / A R S T G M N E I O Enter \ Shift X V D C Z K H , . Shift Ctrl Win Alt Space Backspace Fn Pn Ctrl

Stronger middle finger typists would probably not benefit from this. But, so far, it feels like a worthwhile improvement with the flatter hand positioning and C’s higher frequency of usage in the English language.

At the end of the day, ergonomics is about what works mechanically for the individual. Time will tell whether I stick with this or whether, as I continue to acclimate to the left hand curl, the middle finger strengthens enough to make this CV swap redundant!

epilogue

in the end, the Colemak Shift-DH layout won out. While the CV swap was easy enough to adapt to, the (Shift-mod) letter frequency and (Shift-DH) bigram combinations cancelled each other out, so the C and V have been restored to their former positions.. to be more Colemak like. Finger rolls beat out marginal finger strength advantages in this case.

»»  amphetype

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