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rac
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 8:52 pm    Post subject: Keyboards Reply with quote

I really loved the keyboard on the original IBM PC. It was so much more satisfying and well-built than any computer keyboard I had ever used - Apple, Kaypro, Osborne, TRS-80, &c. The group that built the Selectronic typewriters at IBM made those first keyboards, I think, and the quality really showed. Nice even key action, strong tactile feedback, good key angles and size.

I bought one of the first Macintoshes in 1984, and that keyboard was a horrible nightmare. I got a Compaq luggable in 1985, and it had the first membrane keyboard I had ever used. There was no distinct key mechanism, I don't think. So it was extremely jumpy and sensitive. You could really fly on it, but lots of fatfinger syndrome and phantom keypresses happened. The feedback wasn't near as good as on the IBM keyboards either.

Every stock PC keyboard I have seen since the days of the 286 has been dreadful. And most of the aftermarket ones I despise just as much. It feels like I'm typing in quicksand.

And about two years ago, my wrists started to hurt. Uh-oh, I thought, goodbye livelihood. I have friends who can type less than an hour a day. So I got serious about ergonomics, and part of that was to find a new keyboard. I read a bunch of Usenet posts, and became intrigued with the Kinesys contoured keyboard. But after a bunch of hunting to actually find one I could play with, I was a bit disappointed. It was interesting, but just didn't click with me.

Then I found some Usenet posts by some people who were simply thrilled with their keyboards made by some company called Northgate Computer Systems. This OmniKey line was supposedly a cult favorite with lovers of the old school IBM keyboards. Hey, I thought, that's me. So I found a place that sells old recycled and scrap merchandise, and searched through a giant mountain of old keyboards, found and bought four of them (for about US $1-$5 each), cleaned them up and gave some to my co-workers.

Does anybody else have any favorite keyboards? I know the Happy Hacking Keyboard is favored by lots of Linux users. I absolutely have to have the control key to the left of the 'A': I would like to have a discussion with the moron that decided that Caps Lock is more important than Control. I use Control thousands of times a day, Caps Lock once a week if that.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 9:04 pm    Post subject: modern keyboards Reply with quote

I know it isn't old-school, but my new favorite toy (ok, so maybe it's just one of my new favs) is the Logitech Cordless Optical Freedom combo. It has an RF-enabled keyboard and optical mouse that are, quite frankly, awesome. I even convinced my boss to dish out the $85 for himself. Now he loves it and will be getting one for home.

The keyboard has so many extra buttons on it, but the best part is that they do not get in the way of normal typing. They are very useful for things such as volume control (built-in rotating dial), scrolling (it has a mouse scroll wheel to the left of Tab), and a recessed sleep button. The mouse rocks as well. It is optical and has a thumb button, which I originally thought was useless until I started using it as a back button. Now it'd be difficult to go back. Tough break for lefties, though. I don't think there's a version for them.

Oh yeah, and don't believe the $99 price tag. Even Best Buy (of all places) has it cheaper.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keyboards are obviously a highly subjective thing. While lots of people truly love the "clicky-ness" of the old-school IBMs, I hate it. Give me a squishy keyboard any day of the week -- I can type at least 30% faster on one of those.

My current favorite is the black keyboards that come with new Dell computers. Plain vanilla keyboard -- nothing special or fancy about them other than the tactile feedback is absolutely perfect, IMO. No idea what the retail equivalent of this board is, but I've been hoarding them as I come across them. So far, I have 5, which should be plenty to last me for a while. (I bought a couple on eBay for ~$7 each in case anyone likes these boards as well)

I absolutely hate the MS Natural keyboard, probably because I type on so many different boards in a typical day that I can never get used to the ergo feel of that board.

Another related question is what people think about mice. I happen to love the original MS intellimouse shape, but only if it's an optical one -- I will never, ever use a ball-type mouse again. Oh, and it has to have a wheel. I can't surf the web or read email without one.

Don't get me started on trackballs -- I hate those more than I hate the MS ergo keyboards. :) (again, this is all entirely subjective, so don't get your panties all bunched up if you love ergo keyboards or trackballs...)

--kurt
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

klieber wrote:
While lots of people truly love the "clicky-ness" of the old-school IBMs, I hate it. [...]Don't get me started on trackballs -- I hate those more than I hate the MS ergo keyboards.

:lol:
If we lived together, we certainly wouldn't fight over input devices. Kensington TurboBall. Only complaint I have is that the rollers are hard to clean and wear out easily. I do like the Apple ADB mice c. mid-1990s, when they were heavy and boxy, and made in Malaysia. The lighter oval ones and the iMac era hockey puck ones I am less thrilled with.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 9:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Keyboards Reply with quote

rac wrote:
I absolutely have to have the control key to the left of the 'A': I would like to have a discussion with the moron that decided that Caps Lock is more important than Control. I use Control thousands of times a day, Caps Lock once a week if that.


I don't know why people seem to think you need to buy a keyboard that has the control keys in the right place, you can remap them so easily. X even has options for keyboards that can swap caps/control or better yet, make them both control keys. It's as simple as adding Option "XkbOptions" "ctrl:nocaps" to your config file under the keyboard input device section.

As for my favorite keyboard, I haven't really found one that I absolutely love. At the moment I'm using an old Gateway keyboard for the sole reason that it was the only keyboard lying around my house that had enough room to add 10 LEDs that light up in a circle when my hard drive gets accessed. The fell of it isn't the best, but it's bearable and I already finished the mod so I'm sticking with it for a while. I am also starting to despise all the various "extra" buttons on the top much less now that it is in linux, since I can make them do anything rather than the worthless functions the windows software made them do. (it has keys that were for voicemail, TV and radio in windows, none of which I ever ran)
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Keyboards Reply with quote

wickidpisa wrote:
I don't know why people seem to think you need to buy a keyboard that has the control keys in the right place, you can remap them so easily.

Sometimes the caps lock key is sticky, so that it stays depressed once you press it. Moving the spring-lock mechanism around can be hard.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Keyboards Reply with quote

rac wrote:
Moving the spring-lock mechanism around can be hard.

Well, if you're not willing to do a little work for your favorite keyboard, then you must not be a true fan. ;)

On a somewhat-unrelated note, one thing I always liked about the old-school IBM keyboards was their durability. Not only could they be used to bludgeon someone to death, but when you were done, you could run the keyboard through the dishwasher to get all the blood and matted hair off and it was ready to go again!

(note to the humor impaired: that's a joke, though you really can run them through the dishwasher to clean the gunk out.)

--kurt
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rac
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Keyboards Reply with quote

klieber wrote:
you really can run them through the dishwasher to clean the gunk out.

I tried this once, but the dishwasher fell over. So I just attached some wheels off an old Tonka truck to it and drove it through the car wash.

For anybody who didn't see why klieber's bludgeoning joke was funny, the old IBM PC keyboards were large, made of metal, and really heavy. Like "drop it on your foot and break toe bones" heavy.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I have to put myself into the less 'clicky-ness' group. I considered that I might like them at one time, but my last memory of using them wasn't pleasant. I agree with klieber in that I can type much faster on less clicky ones.

Since I've not replaced it, I'll have to say I like my current 'MS Natural' keyboard. Probably one of the earlier ones as there are no special feaures other than a couple of 'windows' keys. I detested these things when I had to type on someone's and I still had a 'normal' keyboard. After using the natural ones, I don't have any trouble switching to normal keyboard. Also, I've not noticed any fatigue with the keyboard (when I'm not being lazy about how I type). I would like to replace it, but it is an unnecessary expense as this one works.

As for mice, I liked the MS 'soap' bar type mouse alot. Primarily the 'heavy' one. As well, the Intellimouse was good, but I only liked the 'heavy' versions of them as well. I'm currently using a Logitech 2 button optical wheel mouse. I wish it were heavier. I hate mice. Back in '94 I used a mouse alot for my job (I made 'slides' in CorelDraw). After a while, I literally couldn't use my right hand because my wrist hurt too much. For about a week, I struggled with using my left hand. I still have problems with my right wrist, but not like then. I have yet to find a mouse that I really like when it comes to RSI. I use to not think much of the wheel, but I've become use to it. I would see no reason to buy one without it. I'd like to try a trackball, but I'm not conviced they would help from an RSI standpoint.

wickidpisa wrote:
I don't know why people seem to think you need to buy a keyboard that has the control keys in the right place, you can remap them so easily.
If I have to remap a keyboard, as far as I'm concerned, it wasn't made properly. I want the key that has 'ctrl' printed on it to be the 'ctrl' key. I've yet to see a kbd that would accomodate moving the physical key. Yes they can be removed. That isn't the same.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a 1 yr ol\d belkin vanilla kb. I like it. I have some newer CompUSA boards that i don't like as much.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kanuslupus wrote:
I want the key that has 'ctrl' printed on it to be the 'ctrl' key.

You really wouldn't like my keyboards. Of the alpha/punctuation keys, the only ones where what's printed on there is true are 'A' and 'M'. Since the key tops lie anyway, my old Mac hacking keyboard is pretty cool - I bought six different colors of paint pen and painted all the key tops solid in a psychedelic diagonal rainbow. I used to just carry this keyboard around with me to client sites - hooking it up to a machine was a quick easy equivalent of a "OUT OF ORDER - DO NOT TOUCH" sign, even when I got up to take a break.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rac wrote:
You really wouldn't like my keyboards. Of the alpha/punctuation keys, the only ones where what's printed on there is true are 'A' and 'M'.
Did you remap to a DVORAK or another layout?
Quote:
Since the key tops lie anyway,
For old mac kbds, or in general? I'm curious what you're getting at with 'lie'.
Quote:
I used to just carry this keyboard around with me to client sites - hooking it up to a machine was a quick easy equivalent of a "OUT OF ORDER - DO NOT TOUCH" sign, even when I got up to take a break.
:rotflmao:
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kanuslupus wrote:
Quote:
Since the key tops lie anyway,
For old mac kbds, or in general? I'm curious what you're getting at with 'lie'.

Yes, I use a Dvorak layout in software, and the only letters that match up are 'A' and 'M'. You can't really move keys around except for in their own row, because the angle and height is usually wrong. I tried it once, and you end up with a "dekoboko" keyboard. I can't think of a good way to say it in English - all of the keys are at different heights and things are sticking up and being recessed all over the place.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2002 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rac wrote:
You can't really move keys around except for in their own row, because the angle and height is usually wrong. I tried it once, and you end up with a "dekoboko" keyboard. I can't think of a good way to say it in English - all of the keys are at different heights and things are sticking up and being recessed all over the place.
That's what I was trying to get at in my response to wickidpisa.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a few questions.

rac, how long did it take you to learn Dvorak or was that the first setup you learned?

Having not had a whole lot of experience with an "old IBM keyboard" are there any other keyboards that might be similar to it that I have used?

I've used the new Dell keyboards and I do like them. I have been using a Gateway keyboard for the last several years and I have grown accustomed to it. However, I haven't really used anything else for an extended period of time.

My biggest problem with keyboards is that I can't seem to get them to the right height in relation to my body. I'm constantly moving my chair up and down to get the right position and I never seem to be able to achieve it. I'm just curious if there's an official posture. This was a link that I have googled about the topic and I have tried to adjust to fit it's descriptions. I know I should have better posture about this sort of thing.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 3:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The desk is a very important part of posture. Chair elevation can only compensate so much.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a HHKB and I like it. It is the best keyboard I've tried, but I still think it can be improved (mostly the layout of the overlaid Fn keys, and the placement/size of the Fn keys and alt keys). The new layout (most notably the position of ~) did take some getting used to, but it's definately an improvement over the standard fare, and the touch is also somewhat lighter than I'm used to, but that actually turns out to be a good thing, because it's less fatiguing.

I despise clicky keyboards. In fact, the horrible springy noise produced by some of them is so offensive to my ears that I can't work in a room where one is being used. The only worse noises in the whole world are cicadas, alarm clocks and that "phone off the hook" noise. The feeling of such a keyboard is reminiscent jarring sensation of hitting a baseball way outside the sweetspot of the bat.

I also don't like mushy spongey ones (typical of what you find in the store). I prefer membrane keyboards with crisp feedback, about 10% of membrane keyboards I've tried fit the bill. The HHKB is one, which is the first new keyboard I've gotten since back in the 386/486 days when I first got my ol' Honeywell AT keyboard (actually, I've collected 3 of them as backups in case one dies and for use on secondary computers, as they are rare now).

Split keyboards (MS natural and the like) are, to me, anti-ergonomic. The only way I can type comfortably on those is to have my elbows way out to the side, which makes my arms really tired after about half an hour and they seem to get my wrists sore if I use one regularly (which doesn't happen to me on conventional kbds!)

The most tireing part about typing is moving around my hands a lot. I avoid the mouse whenever possible (which makes me come into conflict with the lame copy/paste behavior of X), and even avoid leaving the home row for web browsing whenver possible.

It also pisses me off that there are 100 different places you have to change things in order to remap your keyboard everywhere in Linux, and they're all of varying flexibility. I've written a kernel patch that sits in the middle of the keyboard driver to let a userspace program completely mangle all yer scancodes via a /dev device, which has the effect of remapping them invisibly and everywhere. I made it have a "vi-mode" that let me use a small subset of vi keys everywhere (I hit shift-esc, and hjkl act as arrows, x, X, i, I, a, A, 0, $ work as expected) It could even be used to transparently keyboard over a network as if you were really in front of the computer... I'll probably release it publically eventually (real soon now).

I'm going to resist the temptation to get involved in a qwerty vs. dvorak debate, but I think "dekoboko" (if I get your meaning) could probably be translated as kattywompus. Actually, that's a pretty obscure slang which I doubt anyone else will recognize. I've usually heard in reference to something like tile - you install a few, and they they look really nice and straight, but by the time you get 10 feet across the room, small variances in the tiles and your layout skills add up and things start looking crooked, cockeyed and jumbled (kattywompus). Incidentally, that's why you should install tile starting from the middle of the room, espescially if there are pieces of different sizes that go into a pattern, or if the tiles themselves vary significantly in size (such as with slate). That way, the crooked tiles end up at the edges, and the straight ones end up in the middle where they're more visible. Also, if you start at one end or corner, the croked tiles end up being twice as bad because you've gone twice as far.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh and mice too... I've actually got one of those iFeel Logitech mice. It's actually kinda cool, but it's a novelty that didn't go anywhere. It's much more than just a "rumble pack" mouse. It actually feels like some things have texture. Depending on how it's configured (and it's REALLY fricking configurable) going over the start menu (yeah, only Windoze support for the force feedback) feels like there are little speed bumps on your mousing surface between menu items. Some games have support - certain objects in Black and White have specific textures, and miracles and glowy bits have a satisfying trobbing feeling.

Also, I love optical mice but don't like the fact that they aren't as heavy typically. I think I'm going to install some serious weights in my mouse. And the scrolly wheel is damn cool, but on most mice it's not grippy enough. And even when it is, it tends to get less grippy over time as it absorbs finger oil or something. They gotta develop a rolly wheel that's really grippy and stays that way.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Went searching for a HH keyboard. I turned up this page. Why in the nine hells of samhain is this thing $139.00. 8O For a freakin keyboard! I'm thinking they look a little 'small' to me. I could do without the 'Happy Hacking' logo too.

EDIT: *runs away screaming* I just noticed there is no number pad. I can't function without a number pad ;)
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 4:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They aren't cheap, that's true. Also the $139 one supports PS/2, USB, ADB and whatever the heck Sun uses. The "Lite" version is just PS/2 or USB (whichever you prefer) and is much cheaper (ok, still not exactly cheap). The Lite 2 (the one I have) lacks the Happy Hacking logo (has arrow keys instead). Also, their small size is a feature, not a bug. All the keys have the same width, height, depth and travel as they would on a normal keyboard. You can also get separate dedicated number pads at Compusa or whatever if you want one (those also tend to comsume less space than the number pads on regular keyboards, and sometimes have programmable keys.)

But I understand if they don't float your boat. Some people^H^H^H^H^H^Hkeyboards aren't perfect. :)
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

phong wrote:
I'm going to resist the temptation to get involved in a qwerty vs. dvorak debate, but I think "dekoboko" (if I get your meaning) could probably be translated as kattywompus.

What a beautiful translation! :D
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 5:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tristam29 wrote:
rac, how long did it take you to learn Dvorak or was that the first setup you learned?

I QWERTYd for about 15 years. It took me about three weeks to get comfortable with Dvorak, and probably six weeks to get up to my old QWERTY speed. Eventually, I feel like I go about 20-30% faster than I used to, and there is much less movement. Dvorak is also well-suited to Japanese, as it's practically all consonant-vowel, and all the vowels are consolidated in the left hand home position.

Tristam29 wrote:
Having not had a whole lot of experience with an "old IBM keyboard" are there any other keyboards that might be similar to it that I have used?

If you have any old recycled equipment stores in your are, see if you can find a Northgate OmniKey and check out the feel.

phong wrote:
The feeling of [a clicky] keyboard is reminiscent jarring sensation of hitting a baseball way outside the sweetspot of the bat.
Or like having a big hairy spider climb up your arm? :D

phong wrote:
I think "dekoboko" (if I get your meaning) could probably be translated as kattywompus.

That's great, and probably a better term in general. Upon further reflection, "dekoboko" in English is probably "bumpy and uneven".
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rac wrote:
Or like having a big hairy spider climb up your arm? :D

That's not so bad - it's much more uncomfortable when they get in caught your hair though. I should see if they prefer a dvorak or qwerty layout. Incidentally, they usually don't weigh enough to type just by walking across the keyboard, they have to run, jump or try to pounce on the keys.

Quote:
That's great, and probably a better term in general. Upon further reflection, "dekoboko" in English is probably "bumpy and uneven".

My friend here who knows some Japanese tells me that "dekoboko" is used to describe a washboard road.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If anyone is interested, this link http://www.visi.com/~pmk/evolved.html points to a site of someone who has done some analysis of keyboard layouts, and came up with an alternative to QWERTY and Dvorak layouts.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2002 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are three keyboards that I really like, the cheapo matsui ones, an old curved one off a ICS 386, and my current dell which my dad got from work.
Rac does have a good point about the control and caps lock, but because I'm only young, and every keyboard I've used has the caps lock next to the "A", so it doesn't bother me.

My favourite mouse has to be the MS intellipoint explorer, its the big grey/silver optical mouse, but any MS intelli mice I like. MS might make bad Os's but their HID's are certainly great. I've also go the MS gamepad pro, and force feedback wheel, they also rock. The pedal actions on the wheel are nicely balanced, without losing responsiveness.
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