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Sunday, 11 February 2024


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Dear me. The same old false narrative about QWERTY, and especially about Dvorak. All the "good" Dvorak studies were from people trying to make money off it -- most of them Dvorak himself.

[No, I think he's just giving his own computer data, not relying on old studies. And please give a reference for the true narrative about QWERTY. IMWTK! --Mike]

Keyboards go deep. And I don't just mean the finger wells.

I wound up on a Keyboard.io Atreus. It doesn't have tenting, but keeping the pinkies from reaching plus the thumb keys have kept my hands happy.

The Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard was almost perfect. Too bad they canceled it.

You got me thinking about my wrists again -- they've hurt for quite a while -- and after reading a couple of your posts I hooked up that Kinesis Advantage2 and started trying to use it again. To no avail. I have lots of problems with it - it's too swoopy, and the key touch is way, way too light. (I have heavy fingers.) One thing I think I figured out, though -- I'm a touch typist, and the ergonomic keyboards somewhat alter the points of touch. It's not *that* hard to adapt, but I found adaptation easier, if I allow myself to sometimes look at the keyboard as I type the Quick Brown Fox line that uses all the letters. It helps readjust muscle memory.

But, the Kinesis doesn't work for me. I wound up ordering a Logitech Ergo K860 from Amazon for $129. It looks quite simple -- and since you brought up the flat problems with Keychron, which would be a problem for me as well, I wanted to mention that the Logitech is not flat. Look at the little roll-over photos to the left side of the Amazon entry. A lot of people don't like Logitech because they're a little generic, but I just want something that works. Previous experience with Logitech keyboards suggest that they're fairly robust. It's here:


I have never tried the split keyboards. I use and like the Ducky One 3 Matcha Hotswap Double Shot PBT Quack Mechanical Keyboard (Cherry MX Red). I like the click-clack, which reminds me of the old IBM and DEC keybords. I like the tactile feedback. I like how fast I can type with the thing. Given what you've posted above, I don't necessarily think this is what you are looking for. But it works for me. I have tried five or six before settling on this one. Very personal, like choosing shoes. And like shoes, the ideal solution would be to go to a big store like Olivander's in Harry Potter where you could try out a bunch and see what clicked. (See what I did there?) Of course, that's not the world in which we live. Good luck in your search.

Ahh, keyboards. This is unfortunately one purchase that you cannot do over the internet -- you really need to try and use a keyboard and see what kind of switches and keycaps you like. Otherwise, you're in for a rabbit hole of experimental discovery (I've been there).

I'd start with first select either silent linear (MX Red), clicky (MX Blue), or silent tactile (MX Brown), switches, then decide on caps (less important, you can swap them later). Then choose a layout, like full 101, TKL or 60%, and then go from there. I've never tried one of those keyboard kits where you can swap everything out and build it yourself, but I think that might be a faster way to find out what you exactly what quicker (otherwise, like me, you'll end up with like 10 keyboards).


Most typing I do is via email and is relatively short. Less often might be a comment on a discussion (such as this). Occasionally I will need to create a well composed Word or Powerpoint. For these documents, for me, speed is not a critical factor.

The vast majority of the time I am using a keyboard is with a single hand ( for me ... left hand) and my right hand is occupied by my mouse. Most of this time is using Lightroom or Photoshop.

I remember people in data prep departments would be measured in 1000's of chars per min.

But I do believe that the ergonomics of mice and keyboards are critical.... as these tools now form a large percentage of many peoples daily activity.

I would say, remote working has increased the amount of typing generally, as messages are used for communication rather than a quick word with your colleague in the next desk, office.

I would be interested in the ideal keyboard for the one handed typist (ie one hand for the keyboard and one for the mouse).

[For me also..... no batteries... no wireless keyboards... ].

Yeah, the good old hillclimbing algorithm. It sounds like it’s a good thing. I referred to it as the drowning cow algorithm based on personal experience where cows would stand on whatever slightly higher ground they had access to, get surrounded by water, and, well, you know, drown.

If you haven't purchased a keyboard yet, I highly recommend one of the Kinesis split keyboards. You can adjust the angles to your liking, making them as extreme or gentle as you would like. This would allow you to slowly adjust to using a split keyboard.

There are the Freestyle2, Pro, and Edge RGB. I have the Edge RGB. I don't really use the RGB part or the customizable programming, but I do like to have a white backlight sometimes like a laptop keyboard.

Lastly, you also get an option with the keyboards of selecting the key mechanisms, so if you like quieter keys or the clicky keys, you get to choose which.

Two additions to your survey:
1. SHRDLU the Linotype/Intertype keyboard layout
2. Court stenographers chording keyboards, which I understand to be like mechanical shorthand, requiring interpretation to transcribe to plain text.

Any of the exotic arrangements have the disadvantage of leaving non-touch typers lost confronted with differing layouts.

Industry requires uniform layouts across devices, environments and technology.

Apple even uses a virtual keyboard on the VisionPro. I can hardly imagine typing loose in space.

Yeah, the good old hillclimbing algorithm, it sounds like it’s a good thing. I referred to it as the drowning cow algorithm based on personal experience where cows would stand on whatever slightly higher ground, they had access to, get surrounded by water, and, well, you know, drown.

type "qwerty" into wikipedia: pretty complete article. compare and contrast to video. totallt off topic Phillip K Dick could apparently type 120 characters per minute on an IBM Selectric 🤣

Keyboards. Oh! Keyboards!

They can be an obsession for those who write for a living. But even writers don’t know how much of an obsession it can be: to whit, the 1,400 page in two-volume history of keyboards that Marcin Wichary has just released (sold out, I’m afraid). A tour de force of writing and design. (I have a copy.)

I, myself, have a fancy keyboard that reminds me of the Epics keyboard that I used as a typesetter 40 years ago. Much better than these chiclet thingies that are ubiquitous and I’m using software that makes me think I’m still using the system. Green on black, big letters, no visual trash around it. Just words.

Mike, you’ve received all sorts of good advice, but I’d like to suggest something else: you need to spend time learning how to relax your fingers. You haven’t done it for decades so it’ll be hard to accomplish but the keyboards won’t be so important when you do relax them.


[And how do you do that? I am indeed very twitchy. I have the finger yips.... --Mike]

And how do you do that? I am indeed very twitchy. I have the finger yips.... --Mike

Easier to show in person but I'll give it a try…

First, you should realize that you've spent decades training your arms and fingers to be tense while you're typing. It's going to take a while to change that.

Start by standing up next to your desk with your arms relaxed at your side. Shake your hands gently (don't hold the hand at 90° to your arm – twist it in line with the arm). Do this for a while, maybe 30 seconds. As you get more relaxed you should be able to feel the shaking in your forearms, your upper arms, your shoulders, and eventually all the way down to your feet. Don't be vigorous be gentle. You see, your fingers don't have the yips, your fingers, hands, arms, and shoulders have the yips.

If you’ve done this right, your hands and arms should feel warm and relaxed. Now, when you sit down at the keyboard, remember that relaxed feeling so that you can tell when you start to tense. For example, “Oops! My shoulders have started to lift up!” As soon as you feel tension, stop. Gently shake your hands again (you don't have to stand up). Then, try again.

OK, stand up and do your 30-second shake again. Look down at your hands. Do you see they're gently curved? If you're relaxed, that curve should be like when you gently rest your hand on a basketball. That's the way your hand should look when you’re at the keyboard. If you've typed for a few minutes and your hands look like eagle claws you’ve tensed up again. Ever watched a video of Vladimir Horowitz play some big romantic piece? Notice that his hands are gently curved and yet he's making this huge sound. That's true relaxation.

When you strike a key (hm, that sounds rather tense and aggressive doesn’t it?), don't do that. Rest your finger on the key and it should feel like the weight of your finger is on its underside. Let the finger sink down to make the stroke.

You should, if at all possible, try these things apart from your work. If you are under deadline there is always going to be some tension involved which will encourage you to fall back into your old, bad habits. Separate practice from performance. Did you know that Andrés Segovia was still practicing diatonic scales every day in his 90s?

Good Luck!


I'm a terrible typist and a lot of it comes down to poor manual dexterity and bad learned skills before I got to a mediocre word processing class in high school. The class focused half on typing but more on using a word processing program that was obsolete in the mid to late 80s when I took the class. Unfortunately it couldn't fully undo years of hunting and pecking.

My main typing issue is poor aim at the keys so I frequently hit two at once when using those chiclete style keyboards. I went through a lot of keyboards and I have found I am most comfortable with a split keyboard where the halves can be angled so my wrists can stay straight (like the microsoft ones you mentioned earlier). But many of those have very mushy keys making it very easy to have a graze of the nearby keys. I've been using a first generation Ultimate Hacking Keyboard (https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com) with very stiff mechanical keys. It's loud but I work alone. It's also a small format, which is my only gripe. But it increased my word count (and I need all the help I can get), and more importantly reduced my frustration. The stiff keys combined with the wide gaps between keys is what has made it easier to avoid hitting the neighboring keys.

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