"my" kinesis

cwinters has been awesome enough to lend me his extra Kinesis Ergo Contour keyboard. Since I’ve got someone visiting this week, I’ve stuck to the simple split-key keyboard, so that I can continue to work as normal. The plan is to really start using it next week. Today, though, the guest left work for a few hours, feeling under the weather, so I hooked up the Kinesis and got to work. Sort of.

It’s really weird. In some ways, it feels normal and natural. I can type many sentences without thinking about it. In others, I am completely mystified. So far, here are some big problems: the escape key is ridiculously-placed. It’s a soft rubber key up on the corner, and I need to move my whole hand to hit it. Control and alt are also hard to use as modifiers more than now and then. There is no easy-to-hit Windows key, which I use extensively as a bucky key. A few keys are positioned such that I need to be more strict about “proper” keyboarding, like p and c. It’s hard to his them with the wrong finger, as I’m used to doing.

I’ve played with remapping some keys to solve the first few problems. Clearly, the keyboard was not designed for unix programmers. I turned caps lock into control and delete into escape. This was good until I realized that I needed delete for alt-ctrl-delete on Windows. I may need to do some planning. I just don’t know how I feel about remapping the keyboard before I’m used to using it normally.

The Windows key is being a problem, though. The manual suggests that keypad+f12 (or something like that) gives me a Windows key, but I can’t seem to confirm that I can use it as a modifier, which is a big deal. I need to connect this to a machine with xev, since I can’t find a good scancode dumper for Win32. (Pointers welcome.)

Still, I’m hopeful. It felt better in a few ways, and if I can get to a good speed, I might be converted, especially if Mac usability is good.

Hints from the contour-using public are welcome.

Written on October 29, 2004