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Review: Ergo Interfaces Evolution Keyboard

Hemos posted more than 12 years ago | from the makes-your-wrists-feel-better dept.

Hardware 190

I've been using the deskmount Evolution keyboard from Ergo Interfaces on my main work machine for a couple of months now. I've been doing so both because of some chronic wrist pain, and to try actually using the split-keyboard approach to things. What follows are my own personal tribulations and truimphs using said technology.

The keyboard itself, as seen in this older photo, is split and angled, with the touch pad in the upper-left corner of the right-hand section. As you can see from the image, it's a full size keyboard -- complete with numkey area, real function keys, and all that.

The primary difference between the version I tested and this older one is that rather then being mounted on arms of the user's chair, a la the older Evolution, the new keyboard sits on the desk.

There's a whole steel/metal mounting system that you have to install on the underside of your desk. Luckily enough, I use the TJ series desk from Herman Miller, which came with the appropriate mounting system already installed. Otherwise, it'd be a remove-everything-from-desk, flip-over (because the mounting system is heavy) and careful-work ordeal. You need to hold the mount perfectly still while you drill in the eight screws that hold it in place.

However, since I already had a keyboard/mouse mounting tray installed, the tray for the new keyboard fit right in place -- no fuss, no muss. I suspect that it's a standard size, so if you have an average-looking mounting system in place, you may be able to just use that.

Again, the only big difference between this and the other Evolution keyboard is that it's made for the desktop, rather than chair mount. Doesn't sound like much, does it? Believe me, it is. One my big complaints with the chairmounted Evolution was that you couldn't roll your chair over to another part of the room, because of the length of the cables hooked to the computer. And moving the arms of your chair loosened the screws holding the keyboard in place. Over the six months or so of Rob using it, the screws slowly stripped till they could barely hold the keyboard up. The desk mount with this version makes a big difference in this department -- far less hassle.

My other big complaint about the keyboard, though, hasn't gone away: the mouse sucks. It's a small touchpad surface, and the mouse buttons are horribly non-responsive. It's also a two-button mouse, so you have to chord for the 3rd button, and having non-responsive buttons means that cutting and paste becomes a difficult process, under any *nix. And because the pad is so small, you really have to turn up the sensitivity to be able to move around at 1024 x 768. There was software included with it, but for Win9X only, so that didn't really help out much.

So, the mouse is frustrating. The desk-mount fix is good, but I'm switching back to a more regular setup, until the mouse situation gets better. But if you have do wrist problems, or want to take an ergonomic approach before they appear, this keyboard is well suited for that. And if you are running mostly Windows, then the mouse issues become less of any issue -- no need for the 3rd mouse button, and the software on the disks will mean better support.

You can find more information out from:
ErgoInterfaces
Evolution Keyboard

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190 comments

Um, hello, Kinesis? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#255952)

You might note that these keyboards are made by Kinesis [kinesis-ergo.com] , and can be purchased from them online. I use a Kinesis contoured keyboard, which is great. There is a lot more information on kinesis' site than on the site mentioned in the story.. go there, fool

Re:xmodmap is your friend (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#255953)

I tried this. When I tried this I ended up with a control key that I'd need to hit twice to use/unuse. Kind of awkward to describe, but most keys (abcde) are "on" when you hit them, and "off" when you release. the caps lock key is on when you hit it, and off when you hit it a second time. How'd you get around this?

Re:Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#255958)

I can think of a few...
win + e: Runs Windows Explorer, great when you need to access the file system fast.
win + r: Does what you can do keeping my hands near the home row.
win + d: Minimizes/Restores all visible windows. Good for clearing screen clutter.
win + f: Opens the Find dialog. Hell, that's just convenient.
win + m: Minimizes all visible windows. (I never use this one.)
win + break: System Properties sheet. Good for a quick peek at system resources, manipulating hardware, etc.
All I need now is something like win + c for a command prompt or something... =)
I sometimes use the context menu key as well, usually to make new folders in explorer:
context, w, f.
While not useful for everyone, they make life that little bit easier. When I was in the middle of cleaning my MSNatural (say what you want about their software, but their hardware kicks ass.) I was using my good 'ol IBM klunker. The lack of those keys tooks seconds off my life!
Seriously though, they do have their uses, and I'd rather have them than not.
Beyond that, can't we capture the key codes and map them to something in *NIX? Maybe make it another meta key?

Always right-handed mice (2)

Malc (1751) | more than 12 years ago | (#255962)

Why is it everybody assumes that mice are only used right-handed? Although designed right-handed, my MSFT IntelliMouse (not the one with the thumb button) works quite well with the left hand, but this keyboard doesn't even offer the option of using with the other hand. I'm actually right-handed, but use the mouse with the left hand living the other free to type or write. This keyboard would just annoying me as I would be constantly moving my hand from the mouse to the navigation keys (which I generally find are much faster and accurate).

BEWARE arm rests! (2)

SomeRandom (2314) | more than 12 years ago | (#255963)

WARNING: using arm rests while typing can cause severe injury! I actually would rest my arms on them while typing and this led to tendonitis at both of my elbows. This is a very common injury and incredibly easy to avoid. If you have arm rests, just be sure to lower them to a point that they will not even brush your elbows/arms while typing.

A good source of more info would be It's not carpal tunnel syndrome [amazon.com] or the typing injury faq [tifaq.com] .

I bought a Kinesis Ergo.... (4)

Malor (3658) | more than 12 years ago | (#255965)

Based on recommendations from a prior Slashdot article, I bought a Kinesis Ergo. At the time they were in Fry's for about $200 (the cheapest model). Fry's doesn't seem to have them anymore; you may have to order them from Kinesis.

The Ergo is shaped like a Microsoft Ergo keyboard in reverse; instead of a RAISED section for each hand, it has two SUNKEN sections, a bit like you took an ice cream scoop to a regular keyboard. Each key is at a slightly different angle and height. This makes it very difficult to type on at first. It took me probably about a week and a half before I was back up to acceptable speed with it, and probably most of a month before I was back to 100%. But, I kept improving -- the design of the keyboard makes it easy to feel mistakes. At this point, I make fewer typos, type faster, and experience much less wrist discomfort. It is a thoroughly superior solution. And I have no problem at all switching between standard 'flatties' and the Ergo. I don't even notice it.

I bought mine two years ago. At the time they still all used the older, large keyboard plug. I don't know whether or not they have been updated.... if not, you will need an adapter cable to use it with any machine that is less than 3 years old.

Yes, $200 is a lot to spend on a keyboard, but it's a lot less than it costs to fix your wrists. And these seem very well built.

Ergonomic solution? No such thing. (4)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 12 years ago | (#255966)

Of course, if people were a little more aware of ergonomics, maybe we could prevent the injuries in the first place.

Well, it's actually not as simple as that. What's "ergonomics"? There's a ton of definitions, but basically, it's the science that studies how people work. How does being aware of that science prevent injury?

I think what you're getting at is that more people need to go out and buy "ergonomic furniture," but really there is no such thing in the sense that you imply. That is, no one chair is going to be perfect for everybody to prevent injury. The real key to ergonomic furniture is to find furniture that will let you adjust its positioning in as many ways as possible. That's about it.

Yes folks, what I'm saying is that you can buy a Herman Miller chair and still end up with RSI. Awareness of ergonomics is not so much the issue. Awareness of the potential for injury is. Far and away the #1 factor in preventing RSI, and even in reversing some level of RSI, is not new furniture -- it's change in work habits.

And, in the event you feel like reading about some folks who probably aren't much older than you (and may be younger) who have indeed already developed what may be permanent injuries, read on. [sfgate.com]
--

Re:Opposing viewpoint (2)

Bishop (4500) | more than 12 years ago | (#255968)

The studies you are refering to are really economic studies. These studies do not refute the ERGOnomics of the Dvorak layout which is superior to qwerty keyboards. That is not a hard claim to make. The keypress frequency numbers speak for themselves.

I have used a dvorak keyboard. My typeing speed never increased but I can type for longer on a Dvorak keybord before my hands and wrists get tired. You should try one.

Re:what about those of us who... (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 12 years ago | (#255969)

Check this [wired.com] out... But I don't think it's available sealed against liquid "spills"..

Your Working Boy,
- Otis (GAIM: OtisWild)

I had one bolted to an Aeron... (4)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 12 years ago | (#255970)

... and while I found myself typing as fast or faster than I did with a normal kybd, I ended up chucking it for a few reasons.
  • The trackpad is HORRIBLE !!! This keyboard, more than any, really needs a touchpoint. The whole point is to NOT extend your wrists, and moving to the trackpad always had me looking down at it and throwing off my typing. I ended up just buying a M$ mouse and not connecting the trackpad.
  • The keyboard itself is pretty tough, but the fastener to the armrests was lame (part bad fastener design, part flimsy armrest), and one of the "keypads" fell off after about 3 weeks. The hole it was bolted into had stripped and I needed to buy a nut/bolt combo to refasten it. Oh, also the palmrests were pretty shoddily glued on, and they fell off after about 3 weeks of constant use.
  • Its mounting location means you often cannot push your chair under your desk. In a space-constrained office, this is murder.
  • Obviously, you have to type everything into your computer or get out of your chair and let someone else hunt-and-peck. Not necessarily a bad thing (nor insurmountable once USB was solidified) but quite inconvenient at times.
  • It has some complex internal macro capability, which ended up freaking out on me at one point, and I could not get the kybd to reset satisfactorily. I was using it under Linux only at that point, and they didn't have linux support for the macros.
  • It wasn't available in USB at that point, and now that I'm a USB nerd (Linux/Mac component sharing) I find that to be sadly limiting. I bet a USB kybd/mouse would work on one of the new USB Sun workstations, though I would still want my Type 5..


It's a really cool kybd, but there are some pretty big caveats IMHO and I would definitely not recommend it except in very particular circumstances..

HTH, HAND... (omigod, Tube Tunes strikes again.. The Punky Brewster theme just popped up in iTunes... :ppp)

Your Working Boy,
- Otis (GAIM: OtisWild)

Re:xmodmap is your friend (2)

Optic (6803) | more than 12 years ago | (#255972)

On Windows NT, try this:

ctrl2cap from SysInternals [sysinternals.com]

I install this on every NT machine I have to use. It's wonderful! Works great. Patches things at the kernel level so you never have to worry about that pesky control key being in the wrong place, or capslock wrecking your code.

mmmm. It's an amazing piece of 'ware. :)

xmodmap is your friend (2)

tuffy (10202) | more than 12 years ago | (#255981)

If you're an X11 user, look up some of the functions of xmodmap. This will enable you to bind the ever-annoying "Caps Lock" into another "Control" key. I have my own laptop keyboard altered this way and it should work on any keyboard that doesn't implement the "Caps Lock" in pure hardware.

Re:xmodmap is your friend (3)

tuffy (10202) | more than 12 years ago | (#255982)

Here's what I've placed in my .xsession/.xinitrc (yanked from the xmodmap man page):

xmodmap -e "remove Lock = Caps_Lock"
xmodmap -e "remove Control = Control_L"
xmodmap -e "keysym Control_L = Caps_Lock"
xmodmap -e "keysym Caps_Lock = Control_L"
xmodmap -e "add Lock = Caps_Lock"
xmodmap -e "add Control = Control_L"

And this is working for me right now. (GNOME/KDE users might need to place these in a different file) If that doesn't work, try adding:

XkbOptions "ctrl:nocaps"

to the keyboard segment of your XF86Config file. And if that doesn't work, you might have an oddball hardware-caps-lock type keyboard (which some Powerbooks use, and probably others) that might not be bind-able. In that case, try another keyboard, perhaps.

Happy Hacking to the rescue (4)

tuffy (10202) | more than 12 years ago | (#255983)

These guys [pfuca.com] make non-Windows keyboards with pride. And the best IBM ThinkPad lines ship without Windows keys to this day. So yes, fortunately for all of us, somebody still produces MS-free keyboards :)

Tried 'em, can't deal with 'em (3)

Zico (14255) | more than 12 years ago | (#255988)

It's not claustrophobia, but that's the way they make me feel having to keep my hands and arms in the same position all the time. I've got to switch up at times and put my feet up with the keyboard in my lap, or other things which vary it up every now and then. I do use the big one-piece split keyboards, like the Microsoft Natural keyboards, because the finger positioning is so comfortable, but when they're stuck in one place, it drives me nuts.


Cheers,

Re:Happy Hackers and other "Evolutions". (3)

Teferi (16171) | more than 12 years ago | (#255989)

My room contains boxen with the following keyboard layouts:
Sun Type 5c
Old IBM XT/AT (F-keys on side, good ctrl key, etc)
NeXT non-ADB
Standard 101-key with big backspace and little \
Standard 101-key with little backspace and big enter
Old Mac (pre-PPC) PowerBook
Oddball PC laptop
Apple Extended II
And you think -you- have problems? :P

It's all in the wrists... (4)

Pope (17780) | more than 12 years ago | (#255990)

(with apologies to Jack Burton)

One of the biggest problems I've seen are people who type while resting the heels of their hands ON the damn wrist wrest things! That's the exact opposite of what you're supposed to do!
While I miss my recently-departed Apple Ergonomic Keyboard, the two biggest things I've done to help prevent this sort of thing from happening are:
a) get a Tensor bandage for my right wrist for mousing, and
b) type correctly! Your hands should not be resting on anything while you type, but in a neutral position with the fingers bending down.

You can spend a fortune on fancy keyboards and desks, but learning how to type properly is cheaper and more effective in the long run.
Hell, take a typing class.

Pope

Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!

Ergonomic? For who? (4)

MsWillow (17812) | more than 12 years ago | (#255991)

While the angled, split keyboard may be "ergonomic", that only works if you're a fully-functional typist. I never really did learn the "proper" way to type, and for me that turned out to be a good thing, too.

After I came down with multiple sclerosis, my whole right side stopped working, and now I'm typing everything left-handed only. It's hard enough using a "normal" keyboard, but anything like this, especially with the mouse-equivalent touchpad on the right side, would be very hard for me to use, carpal tunnel or not.

I rather suspect the unit would be equally annoying to anybody who is left-handed, too. *sigh* Until the designers start to realise that we're not all 6' tall, fully able-bodied right-handed people, we'll keep seeing these gadgets touted as "easy-to-use", when for quite a few people, they really are a step backwards on that front.

Re:Happy Hackers and other "Evolutions". (1)

Waltzing Matilda (21248) | more than 12 years ago | (#255994)

I went the other way: got more HHKB's for other computers.

I don't see how you all can use the command line with CTRL being all the way down there on "regular" keyboards.

Re:As for the mouse... (2)

austad (22163) | more than 12 years ago | (#255995)

The Logitech trackman Marble FX was my favorite pointing device until the the Microsoft Optical trackball came out. It has more buttons, it's black, I have less wrist pain, and it's only $32 at buy.com. It has better response than the Logitech one too, you can actually use it for Quake.

Ever since I switched to the Microsoft one, my wrists have been pain free. Previously, after a day of work, it felt like someone smashed my wrist with a hammer.

Re:You may not need a new keyboard... (2)

dmorin (25609) | more than 12 years ago | (#255997)

The problem with switching to dvorak is that you probably don't only use one machine, do you? I regularly have to sit at other people's machines. I'd hate for my qwerty typing to devolve into nothingness. Likewise, when people sit at my machine they're already confused (I have a Happy Hacking keyboard) which sometimes causes trouble (such as when the sysadmins need to sit at my terminal).

My solution to wrist problems has been to get up and walk away every 15 minutes or so. I don't code at 10hrs at a stretch like I used to.

Great keyboard - you gotta try one! (4)

SeanAhern (25764) | more than 12 years ago | (#255998)

I've had one of these keyboards, the chair-mounted one, for about two years now on five different computers. I love this thing. In fact, I'm typing this comment using one.

I had some pretty bad numbness in my left arm, culminating in shooting pain from my elbow all the way up to my shoulder. After going through an evaluation of my workspace by an engineer, I did some research on the net and decided I needed a better keyboard.

This keyboard, while not perfect, has been the primary reason that I have not had any numbness or pain in my arm for about two years now, I believe.

Yes, the mouse is kind of annoying. But I don't find that it has the lack of sensitivity that the original poster mentioned. The lack of a middle mouse button is very annoying. On a Linux box it's not so bad, since I can chord. But on an SGI it's just a royal pain. Luckily I can use a combination of tools to map a middle mouse button to the "Windows" key. Heck, with the right window manager, I even move the mouse around using VI keys plus a modifier!

I haven't experienced the problem that the original poster did about the range of the chair. My experience has been that the cable is pretty darn long. I haven't had it constrain my chair at all when wheeling around my office. The two portions of the keyboard swing down next to the arms of the chair, and hitting the Scroll Lock key four times makes accidental hits of the keyboard not get sent to the computer.

Hooked up to a KVM switch so I can run 2 or 3 computers makes this thing a blast to use.

As for cost...a couple hundred dollars is chump change compared to the cost of physical therapy. If your employer is serious about ergonomics, he shouldn't even blink about getting you something like this. The seriousness of repetitive stress injuries and the shortage of computer scientists means that he should jump at the chance to keep you happy and healthy.

-Sean

Hey, if you're going to put it in the closet... (1)

Brento (26177) | more than 12 years ago | (#255999)

Let me know. I'll buy it off you. As a CTS sufferer, I'm always looking for alternatives, and the mouse thing wouldn't bother me so much. (Plus I use Windows for most of my type-intensive stuff, I'm sad to say.)

Re:What I did so I could type again (long) (2)

paul r (32049) | more than 12 years ago | (#256003)

A few years ago my hands also started to hurt. It was about that time that this article [slashdot.org] (I believe that's the one) came out here. After reading a bunch about all the keyboards and looking into them I also picked up a kinesis ergo. It was the best money I've ever spent on my computer and close to some of the best money I've ever spent. I would glady pay again in an instant.

I love it. I also started to use xwrits. I find that I don't need it anymore but if things start to hurt it comes back in a hurry. If you're hurting I'd recommend a kinesis without reservation.

I actually got a qwerty/dvorak but haven't switched to dvorak. Unix seems to be just too optimized for qwerty. If I really started to hurt again I'm sure that I might try though.

Re:You will, and you'll be glad to do it (1)

miracle69 (34841) | more than 12 years ago | (#256005)

And if you were to investigate the options, you'd stop using a QWERTY keyboard immediately, because the RSI is caused by non-home-row stretching.

I'm actually surprised that a lawyer hasn't won a large class-action using OSHA laws - since the DVORAK [mit.edu] keyboard has been proven to be a safer keyboard to use over the long term.

Re:As for the mouse... (1)

Tower (37395) | more than 12 years ago | (#256007)

I use a Logitech Trackman Marble (pre-scroll-wheel annoyance [iwon.com] ), and I've found it to be far more comfortable than the Marble FX over long usage... better for twitch games than a mouse, too, though I haven't had time for those in a year or two. In general, I agree that a trackball saves a lot of wear and tear on an arm/wrist.
--

It's called KINESIS (5)

lushmore (41101) | more than 12 years ago | (#256008)

This keyboard is made by Kinesis Corporation [kinesis-ergo.com] , maker of other excellent ergonomic products like the Maxim [kinesis-ergo.com] keyboard I'm using right now. I've coveted the Evolution [kinesis-ergo.com] for some time now, but as the reviewer says, the trackpad sucks, and because the keyboard is so wide, your mouse is far enough away to become an ergo issue in itself. My Maxim doesn't have a pesky numeric keypad, so my trackball can snug in close where I don't have to reach to far for it.

Due Credit (3)

tjackson (50499) | more than 12 years ago | (#256011)

ErgoInterfaces didn't make that keyboard. Kinesis [kinesis-ergo.com] did. Give them the credit. Kinesis Made it, ErgoInterfaces is just distributing it. Kinesis is the King of countour keyboards. You shouldn't be surprised that they made this one.

Re:Laptops? Portables? (1)

vectro (54263) | more than 12 years ago | (#256013)

Well, you couldn't really put an ergonomic keyboard in a laptop, since they take up so much space.

I'm skeptical that you could do a folding ergonomic keyboard, but I suppose it's theoretically possible. Wouldn't save you much space though.

Slow news day, perhaps? (3)

n8willis (54297) | more than 12 years ago | (#256014)

For some reason, reading this article reminded me of the NewsRadio episode where Dave berates Bill for putting off work on his "Real Deal with Bill McNeil" commentaries until the last minute, whereupon he always ends up complaining about the inadequacies of various objects in the booth....

Bill: Well, I for one thought last week's piece, "Microphones, Why Do They Have To Be So Close To Your Head?" helped a lot of people!

I probably have that quote all wrong, though....

Nate

Re:You may not need a new keyboard... (3)

theaphila (56090) | more than 12 years ago | (#256015)

i found that my qwerty typing did not seriously suffer after learning dvorak. there's about 1 min. of lots of backspacing when i first try to switch over, then i'm fine. I have a mouse binding on my background to switch maps for admins, and nt even has a button on the taskbar.

Good Wrist Rests (2)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 12 years ago | (#256016)

For anyone looking for GOOD wrist rests check out the 3M ones. Not the cheap ones you see in stores though. I have to order these and now have them at work and home, and have gotten many others to order them after using them.

I know buy.com sells them. The part number for the keyboard rest is WR510 and the mouse is WR511. These are the gel type rests, but not the cheap feeling/looking ones you normally see. I've used the set at home for several years now, and only need to replace it because I busted the cover with a pen. :)

I started getting dull wrist pains before using these and now I don't. Another good change I made was going to a good trackball. Yeah, they take a week or two to really get used to, but my wrists feel MUCH better now and I'm just as accurate and fast on the trackball as a mouse. I went with a good optical Logitech with the thumb roller.

Microsoft Natural (3)

0xA (71424) | more than 12 years ago | (#256017)

I started having some issues with wrist pain about a year ago. I did some reading on the different types of wrist problems you can get and came to the conclusion that my problems were mostly realated to muscle fatigue in the wrists.

I went out and bought a Microsoft Natural Elite (USB without the extra idiot buttons) and started using it at work 100% of the time. My problem actually became worse for a couple weeks, I had to take more breaks in order to shake out my wrists and relax. After I got used to it though, wow. Not only do I rarely get sore from typing but my speed and acuracy has increased quite a bit as well.

Anyone having trouble with this type of thing should really give one of the MS keyboards a try first. They're not for everyone but compared to the other stuff on the market they are really cheap.

One thing you might want to keep in mind, once you get used to one of these keyboards you will absolutely hate anything else. I can't type on a standard keyboard at all anymore, it just doesn't feel right. I had to buy one for home and I also bought an extra one a little while ago because the the ones without the idiot buttons are getting harder to find.

Why "Funny"? (1)

LynchMan (76200) | more than 12 years ago | (#256018)

Why did this get modded as "Funny"... I am being completely serious... Oh well, It is worth checking out IMHO. Yes, learning a new layout can be a real pain, but after a few weeks I was really glad that I switched. I am not saying it is a solution, but it is an option...

You may not need a new keyboard... (5)

LynchMan (76200) | more than 12 years ago | (#256019)

When I started to get the mentioned wrist/hand pains, instead of buying a funky keyboard, I just switched layouts. DVORAK as worked wonders for me, typing is no longer painful and is actually easier....

But then, the learning curve is greater than just buying a new keyboard. Hm.

Re:wow (2)

Wind_Walker (83965) | more than 12 years ago | (#256023)

Look, this might not be news, but I think that if Hemos has a high enough interest in this sort of thing, then Hemos should be able to post whatever the fsck he wants.

I, personally, found the article interesting, and having recently bought a (used) MS Natural Keyboard (only $10!) and seeing the benefit of proper ergonomics, I have to say I wish I had bought it sooner. Unfortunately, my workplace still uses the old style, and it's hurting my wrists as I speak...

------
That's just the way it is

Laptops? Portables? (3)

jackal! (88105) | more than 12 years ago | (#256028)

Anyone know any manufacturers making laptops with ergo keyboards?

What about folding/portable/travel ergo keyboards?

J

Re:Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (2)

biglig2 (89374) | more than 12 years ago | (#256030)

http://www.keyboardco.com/ do refurbished original IBM PC's - the ones with the satisfying klunkiness that a really nice keyboard has.

Re:soutions and a better idea... (3)

Sc00ter (99550) | more than 12 years ago | (#256031)

What about security? I know the range is short but those logictech's use radio frequencies. No need for the key copy program, just pluck the keystrokes from the air!
--

Re:You will, and you'll be glad to do it (3)

NearlyHeadless (110901) | more than 12 years ago | (#256032)

And if you were to investigate the options, you'd stop using a QWERTY keyboard immediately, because the RSI is caused by non-home-row stretching. I'm actually surprised that a lawyer hasn't won a large class-action using OSHA laws - since the DVORAK keyboard has been proven to be a safer keyboard to use over the long term.
Is there any good evidence for either of these statements?

Re:Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (1)

malfunct (120790) | more than 12 years ago | (#256036)

The windows keys are terribly useful under windows (which I'm assuming you don't use) so I like having them. They save a ton of time over switching to the mouse and going through the menus. I use window-r all the time.

Re:wow (1)

malfunct (120790) | more than 12 years ago | (#256037)

The only problem with the original MS Natural Keyboard is that the keys went mushy really fast, other than that its by far the best version MS sold.

I recommend highly against the Natural Elite because they tried to make it smaller and so use a non-standard layout of the arrow keys and edit keys that always slows me down.

I must say that the newest MS Natural Pro with the media keys is cool. Almost the same size and shape as the original MS Natural keyboard, the keys are fairly "clicky", and it has media keys which if I ever remember to use them speed things up alot. Not to mention that it is a USB hub (and USB keyboard if you lack a PS/2 keyboard port).

Re:Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (1)

malfunct (120790) | more than 12 years ago | (#256038)

You have to do basically 2 presses to do ctrl-esc r. You do ctrl-esc and the windows menu pops up, then you hit r.

The other way is you hold down window key and press r which is much easier. Now I wouldn't at all mind putting the windows key somewhere else on the keyboard (maybe between the arrow keys and the edit keys, or above the edit keys by pause or something), but I do want the key. I think my most used shortcut keys on windows are win-r, win-m and win-e and when I go to a computer without that key I am much slower.

<whine>Go ahead and move the key but please don't take it away from me.</whine>

Re:As for the mouse... (2)

TheShrike (123025) | more than 12 years ago | (#256039)

Not necessarily. I started working with computers in 1981. In 1992, I tried a trackball out at home, and quickly developed RSI, and I've had it ever since. Reason being that moving the ball, for me anyway, involves more finger actuation than the mouse, since positioning the mouse can use arm motions in addition to finger motion. Using arm motion to move a trackball means your hands are then in a different position relative to the trackball, which could make using the buttons awkward.

Wanton advertising (3)

Isldeur (125133) | more than 12 years ago | (#256041)



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The "Wampom Band-dangle super-chute fruit dispenser" is one of today's most modern and efficient fruit cutters. I often wonder how I could have lived without it!!! I bought one for each of my friends! Buy your's today by calling 1-900-212-WAMP or by ordering with the toll-free service(*2) listed below. This offer is not availabile in stores!!! Act now!

Prices may vary see actual store photo for details this has been a paid advertisement and actors involved may(*3) have been awarded monetary compensation.

You want a Half Keyboard (2)

yerricde (125198) | more than 12 years ago | (#256042)

After I came down with multiple sclerosis, my whole right side stopped working, and now I'm typing everything left-handed only.

You might want to look at the Half Keyboard [halfkeyboard.com] , where the space bar doubles as a shift key to access the keys that would normally be on the other side.

Re:wow (1)

JohnA (131062) | more than 12 years ago | (#256044)

I cannot stress this enough... BYOK. Ever since I've started using an Ergo kbd several years ago, I made sure that any serious programming I did was on one. I have 4 or so ergo kbds at home, and I keep one in my suitcase at all times. As a programmer, my two greatest assets are my hands. Take care of them. :-)

Re:You will, and you'll be glad to do it (2)

carlos_benj (140796) | more than 12 years ago | (#256045)

Of course, if people were a little more aware of ergonomics, maybe we could prevent the injuries in the first place.

Although spreading the keyboard helps, most folks could improve the situation by not cocking their wrists back. In the old days, when typing was taught on manual typewriters, there was something called proper 'technique' which involved arching the wrists. Same technique that pianists learn and concert pianists practice as many hours as many of us keyboard. They have the added advantage of a keyboard that is spread out so that they aren't stuck with their index fingers one inch apart all day.

Ergo is about all I use (4)

HerrGlock (141750) | more than 12 years ago | (#256046)

Takes a couple days/weeks to really get used to it, but once you do it's difficult to go back to the 'standard' keyboard. I would like one in the chair that is IR run instead of wire run, that would eliminate all of the stopppage due to cable running out at other side of room stuff.

Now I'm going to have to try the Cpt Kirk chair with keyboard installed.

DanH
Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]

FORGET KEYBOARDS! (2)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 12 years ago | (#256048)

It's not the keyboard shape of style that is the problem, it is the fit!

The main problem is the positioning of the keyboard, mouse, display, and chair. I became afflicted with tendinitis while use the MS Natural keyboard.

Taking breaks and icing will help more than a $300 keyboard.

BTW - I use Northgate and Avant Stellar keyboards.

Re:Slow news day, perhaps? (1)

electric_penguin (166747) | more than 12 years ago | (#256050)

I agree... slow news day. On the topic of Newsradio though... (Beth enters with her hands bandaged) Mr. James: What happened to your hands? Beth: I think I have carpel tunnel syndrome. Mr. James: Don't you get that from typing alot. Beth: Yeah. Mr. James: How'd you get it. Beth: Beats me.

Re:You will, and you'll be glad to do it (1)

smack_attack (171144) | more than 12 years ago | (#256051)

Actually, I got a cramp in my hand a couple weeks ago, it was aching pretty badly and for a little while I thought I may have gotten CTS. Personally, I don't think a better keyboard is going to solve the problem, I think we need to focus on getting RID of the keyboard. Voice operated software is kind of an in-between, but I think the best idea would be to hook electrodes up to your head (might look goofy in version 1.0) and translate brain patterns to output (mouse as well as keyboard). I think there was a /. story not too long ago about being able to interpret brain waves as actions (remote control for TV, etc), so why couldn't they make a KB/mouse with this same concept?

---

Re:soutions and a better idea... (2)

dannywyatt (175432) | more than 12 years ago | (#256053)

This is exactly what Bluetooth is for: standardized radio communication between small devices with the encryption built in to the standard. Wires that tie you to an unhealthy position should be removed.

Typing Injury FAQ (4)

pemerson (179241) | more than 12 years ago | (#256056)

There is a wonderful FAQ at www.tifaq.com [tifaq.com] which has a lot of info about alternative keyboards [tifaq.com] and such. There are lots to choose from, including chording keyboards (a la Infogrip's BAT [infogrip.com] ) and split keyboards etc. One thing to keep in mid is that the keyboard alone is not a solution. You need to practice good overall ergonomics, and this includes a good desk and chair, as well as taking breaks and repositioning yourself.

Re:Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (1)

Yunzil (181064) | more than 12 years ago | (#256057)

The windows keys are terribly useful under windows (which I'm assuming you don't use)

I use Windows all the time, and I can't remember ever using the Windows key or the other one that looks like a menu.

I use window-r all the time.

What's wrong with ctrl-esc-r? I'd trade the Windows keys in a second for the alt keys in the right place and a wider spacebar.

Re:You will, and you'll be glad to do it (1)

mizhi (186984) | more than 12 years ago | (#256058)

It's not being in shape or not. I'm by most standards in shape (6 miles every other day at a medium fast pace, recumbant bike and weight training on the offdays). Yet, my wrists still bothered me at the beginning of the year. When I got an ergo keyboard, the pain stopped.

Kinesis is worth the price (2)

mizhi (186984) | more than 12 years ago | (#256059)

I started using a kinesis [kinesis-ergo.com] contoured keyboard [kinesis-ergo.com] about 4 months ago. it was a little difficult to get used to the layout, and yes, it is kinda pricey. However, since I do so much typing, my wrists were starting to really bother me on the standard keyboard. Especially when I was writing non-stop for a couple of hours or so. This keyboard allows me to type incessantly for long durations of time, usually when I have to go to the bathroom. :-)

Re:Logitech wireless desktop (1)

metafoobar (195077) | more than 12 years ago | (#256064)

I just got the Logitech TrackMan (wireless) and it is VERY comfortable. BTW, anyone else have a problem with their (split) keyboards (the natural keyboards which come with Dell systems) where they keep generating backtick characters once in a while in Linux. I am afraid that one day I'll inadvertantly execute something I didn't mean to by having backquotes where they weren't intended. This quote thing happens every minute or so.

The most important thing for me is... (2)

JMan1 (200342) | more than 12 years ago | (#256065)

keeping the keyboard low enough, so that when I sit up straight and let my arms hang down loosely, my elbows are still at >= 90 degree angle. I use the microsoft ergo keyboard (30$ or so), which I am quite happy with.

See page in my .sig for lots of other things I did to conquer my repetitive strain injuries.

Re:You may not need a new keyboard... (2)

Placido (209939) | more than 12 years ago | (#256067)

Whoa! I've never heard of a DVORAK keyboard. I've only ever used QWERTY (that was easy to type ;-) keyboard. So for others who don't kno what a DVORAK keyboard is like...

The Dvorak keyboard was named for its inventor, Dr. August Dvorak.

DVORAK [dvorakint.org]


Pinky: "What are we going to do tomorrow night Brain?"

Re:You may not need a new keyboard... (1)

madro (221107) | more than 12 years ago | (#256071)

When I was in 9th grade, I had an Apple IIc that had a hardware toggle switch to go between dvorak / qwerty (then I had to pry off and reapply all the caps. The typing program I had (Typing Tutor IV?) let me learn in either style.

At the time, it took me a little over a week before I was typing faster in Dvorak, but then I (not knowing anything about ergo at the time) decided to switch back a few months later since it seemed like nobody else had dvorak layouts. It did not take long to regain qwerty typing speed (less than a week).

I guess I'm just saying that the learning curve was not that great, and nowadays the stakes are higher than just 'faster typing speed.' (Of course, this was back when I was young and mentally flexible ... now that I'm old and decrepit maybe I should try it out and see just how ingrained my muscle memories are ...)

Re:Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (1)

blamario (227479) | more than 12 years ago | (#256075)

In fact I do use Windows quite a lot, but I still don't see the point of having windows keys in place of Alt keys, which actually serve a useful purpose. For start-menu navigation you can always use Ctrl-Esc and mouse. And I have all the applications I use often on the desktop or the toolbar. Even if I wished for an application quick-access key, I would want it somewhere with the other function keys.

What's amazing to me isn't Microsoft's decision, it was just a part of the Win95 marketing. But why does the whole keyboard industry follow and show their Win95 ads for free?

Re:Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (1)

blamario (227479) | more than 12 years ago | (#256076)

Great, now I can use the Tux keyboard and curse Penguin Computing instead of Microsoft. Maybe I wasn't clear enough: I don't want anybody's ads on my keyboard. I use it to work.

Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (4)

blamario (227479) | more than 12 years ago | (#256077)

Why, o why, must every keyboard have those annoying three keys I never use, and in the worst possible place too? I tend to use Alt keys a lot because I use Brief-compatible editors. My keyboard at home is (at least) 15 years old IBM, weighing about 4 kg. But whenever I'm forced to work on some other place and on a newer keyboard I lose half of my time struggling with those damn Microsoft-devised productivity killers.

Does anybody produce MS-free keyboards any longer?

Re:You will, and you'll be glad to do it (1)

tmark (230091) | more than 12 years ago | (#256078)

I used to surf at least once a day for at least 2 hours, lift weights every other day and bike back and forth to school. I was in great shape. I still got RSI...who would have guessed MUDding 16 hours a day could be so hard on your body.

What I did so I could type again (long) (5)

helixblue (231601) | more than 12 years ago | (#256080)

In June of last year, I ran into a scary situation. After a long programming binge, I found myself unable to type for more then 20 minutes without having pain for the rest of the day. I had switched to a Natural Keyboard in 98 which let me off the hook for a while, but..

The pain around my knuckles and center of the top part of my hand got bad enough that I had to have an intern read/write e-mails for me at work. And rather then being a senior systems admin, I did staff training for various technical topics. Yippy. I took two weeks off of typing, and did a lot of research. This is what I ended up doing:

1) Kinesis Contour Keyboard [kinesis-ergo.com] . I was highly skeptical of this keyboard, being $250... but my hand pains were enough that I would try anything. I got it for home, the one with dual-dvorak/qwerty caps. I now swear by this keyboard so much that I would rather give up my Athlon and go back to a 486/33 if it was the only way to keep this keyboard. I then had work buy me one. It's hard to learn a new keyboard if it changes depending on where you are :) The primary advantage of this keyboard is no matter what keys you hit, your hands never move. Things that don't move, don't get stressed. I've also got some good photos [profile.sh] of it's inards and some closeups.

2) Dvorak Keyboard Layout [mwbrooks.com] . I took the dive when I bought my Kinesis and immediately began learning Dvorak. Having my keyboard labeled with dual-dvorak/qwerty keys helped me a lot. Un-learning 12 years of QWERTY was by no means easy, but worth it. It was very rough to learn (took about 3 weeks to get back to normal speed), but because your fingers don't have to move as much for english words, my fingers are under a lot less stress. Doesn't help much with perl though, but Ruby [ruby-lang.org] 's nicer syntax means my hands contort less anyways. Oh, you don't lose your qwerty skills. Whenever I type on a normal keyboard, my hand things qwerty. It associated Dvorak with the Kinesis keyboard.

3) Contour Systems Perfit Mouse [contourdesign.com] . This was almost as important as the keyboard. It amazed me what a difference this made. These mice are custom to your hands. I got two 3-button mice for 7-inch hands, one lefty and one righty. I use the left handed mouse at home (my natural hand), and the right handed at work. It took some training on my right hand, but the balance makes it much less hurtful. I still get pains going to Microsoft mice or trackballs. I can't stress how excellently designed these are for your hands. Rather then pushing the end of your finger to click, you apply a very light pressure in the middle of your fingers. Less movement is less stress is less pain.

4) xwrits [lcdf.org] . This is software to remind you to take keyboard breaks. You can install it straight from /usr/ports/deskutils/xwrits in FreeBSD. This is the .xsession command line I use:

xwrits typetime=50 +finger=japanese +clock +mouse +beep +breakclock +multiply +top &

I'm going to have to set it so that locks me out of my workstation soon. I often will type "killall xwrits". Anyways, that's what I ended up doing for my situation. I can now type again quite happily, though I still get pains on normal qwerty keyboards like the one I'm on ATM at a friends house. Hand damage really sucks, I miss being able to use laptops without pain. Now I have to drag this Kinesis around.

IF YOU FEEL PAIN - STOP - TAKE BREAKS - FIX YOUR SITUATION! SEE A DOCTOR!. I cannot stress this enough. Not fixing this earlier has cost me.

Did it occurr to you? (1)

Apreche (239272) | more than 12 years ago | (#256081)

Did it occurr to you to buy a seperate mouse? Most PCs have 2 PS/2 ports. Unless this is a fudged up keyboard it should only take up one of those ports. So you can easily call up logitech and order a sweet ass optical ergonomic mouse, which works excellent in any *nix system. I mean if you're willing to pay 300$ for a keyboard you can buy a seperate mouse if the mouse on the keyboard stinks. Besides, you can't play Tribes 2 with a touchpad!

Re:Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (1)

litheum (242650) | more than 12 years ago | (#256082)

And when you click on the graphic in the middle of their homepage, up pops a pic of a keyboard, windows keys and all.

dvorak (2)

litheum (242650) | more than 12 years ago | (#256083)

Since i started using Dvorak (a few weeks ago) i have noticed a significant increase in comfort and a reduction in motion. I've been doing quite a bit of programming, too and it's really nice for that. (Good semi-colon placement!) Just something to think about if you feel that you're not getting all possible performance from your keyboard, or from your wrists and fingers for that matter.

you CAN go a bit more extreme than that (4)

Kraft (253059) | more than 12 years ago | (#256084)

I happen to suffer from serious wrist pain [tifaq.com] and being an input freak I decided to take it all the way. Yes, I'm convinced that the Evolution keyboard is better than an old clickety-clack keyboard, but if you want to see some real damage reduction, you have to go extreme.

I decided to go for a Datahand [datahand.com] , and at around 1500 bux I think it's the most expensive keyboard out there. I'm very happy about it, but I only type at max. 95% of my old typing speed. A little bit frustrating, but worth it. If I use a regular keyboard for more than 20 mins, it's hell. I have also tried the Kinesis Essential [kinesis-ergo.com] keyboard, which is much cheaper, but a very good ergonomic keyboard.

For a while I used a Foot switch [kinesis-ergo.com] , also from Kinesis, but this was a real waste of money. You have to always have your feet in the same place to use it, and it's waaaay too small - I kept hitting two buttons at the same time.

Since I still have some problems with my arms, I decided to go for some armrests [ergorest.nl] . These are movable and kinda cool looking together with the datahand, and although the product is good quality, I don't really feel that they that much. They give a marginal improvement at best.

Oh, the built-in mouse on the Datahand sux, so I ordered a head tracked mouse [naturalpoint.com] (after seeing it on /. [slashdot.org] ) from Eyecontrol, but it still hasn't arrived.

I personally think that the mouse is the biggest culprit when it comes to wrist problems, but I am still considering using some kinda speech recognition software. Ok, I'm a bit geeky about this, but I'm 23, and I need these hands for many more years.

-Kraft

-Kraft

Re:dvorak - informative! (1)

Vortran (253538) | more than 12 years ago | (#256085)

Of course you experience less movement with Dvorak. QWERTY was designed to foil the typists who "fig jammed" the old mechanical typewriters by typing to fast. The Dvorak was the original design.

Am I the Only non "touch-typist"? (1)

Vortran (253538) | more than 12 years ago | (#256086)

Am I the only person here who doesn't have multiple sclerosis and ALSO does not 'touch-type'?

The split keyboards only work if you "touch-type" like they teach you in typing class. I've been using a QWERTY keyboard since I was 12 (I am now 33) and I have no CTS that I know of and I don't think I could ever stand the loss in productivity that it would cost for me to re-learn to touch type, using the "correct" fingers for the correct keys and correct and position.

I often times wonder if it is my wild hand movement and ingrained inability to touch type that has kept me free of RSI all these years of programming?

Heh heh. He said "mounting." (2)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 12 years ago | (#256089)

FYI -- before flipping your desk over to install that heavy mounting hardware, take a good look at the slide rails. This heavy keyboard drawer I purchased looked like it was going to be a similar bitch to install -- until I discovered you could slide the rails completely out. Failing that, you might also try to unbolt the rails from the tray.

I'd first held that heavy assembly up, but rather than try and drill, or even mark the holes, I only marked the corners for one side. Removing that rail, I then held it up and marked the drill holes, drilled, and installed that rail.

I then slid the keyboard assembly onto that rail, and supported by the one side, I was easily able to mark the drill holes. I then removed the assembly from the side already installed (being careful not to let the weight bend the mounts on that side), removed the rail on the other side, drilled and installed the other side. The assembly finally slid onto both mounts.

Re:Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (2)

TGK (262438) | more than 12 years ago | (#256090)

Penguin computing's systems come with those lovely Tux Keys instead of Windows Keys. I've been hounding them to sell the damn things wholesale to ThinkGeek so we Windophobes can pry the damn MS Keys off for something more.... enjoyable.

This has been another useless post from....

Need more convincing? Here. (5)

Icephreak1 (267199) | more than 12 years ago | (#256096)

For those among you not easily convinced by simple Dvorak testimontials, here's a Java applet that hands out the breakdown for any sentence or paragraph pasted in,

http://www.acm.vt.edu/~jmaxwell/dvorak/keyboard.ht ml

Logitech wireless desktop (1)

wizzy403 (303479) | more than 12 years ago | (#256098)

I've been very happy with the Logitech Wireless Desktop package... It has the wireless ergo keyboard, which is very nice, split like my old 1st gen MS natural which died when I got the cord tangled up while using it on my laptop and tripped over it (hence, new keyboard is wireless) and the Logitech wireless mouseman. The only real complaint I have is that there is not a bundle that includes the wireless trackman. I would gladly have ponied up an extra $20 for that (wireless mouse seems stupid because you need to have it on a desktop-direction flat surface, can't run it up the wall if you're back away from the computer...)

Re:Ergonomics are unnecessary (3)

mbessey (304651) | more than 12 years ago | (#256100)

As long as you learn to type/use the mouse correctly, you shouldn't need them.
What a load of crap. The recent epidemic of wrist injuries isn't the fault of the people sitting at the keyboards.

I mean, really. Some 90% of all the computer keyboards out there tilt in the wrong direction! That's unequivocably the manufacturer's fault.

Employers have to share a lot of the blame, too. Why don't they buy ergonomic keyboards for everybody, instead of just for those that complain, when it's already too late? Is $200 too much to pay to ensure an employee's good health?

Yes, it makes a difference how you use the things - sit up straight, take regular breaks, stretch your muscles from time to time. But don't overlook the importance of having the right equipment.

You will, and you'll be glad to do it (5)

mbessey (304651) | more than 12 years ago | (#256101)

If you ever do get CTS or some other RSI, you'll gladly pay whatever someone asks for a device like that. Of course, if people were a little more aware of ergonomics, maybe we could prevent the injuries in the first place.

Folks, if you spend any significant amount of your workday typing, you owe iut to yourself to investigate your options.

As for the mouse... (3)

gus goose (306978) | more than 12 years ago | (#256103)

The best ergonomic upgrade which could be made is to convert from a mouse to a trackball. My two favourites are the Kingston "Expert Mouse" [kensington.com] and the Logitech Trackman Marble FX [iwon.com] (poor link really.).

Regardless, Trackballs are always in the same place, require far less movement to get accross the screen, are much more precise and accurate, and never get "lost" on the desk. Further, there is no need for a mousepad, and there is less risk of injury. Problem with some trackballs, the same as mice, is that some are right/left hand incompatible.

Happy Hackers and other "Evolutions". (4)

gus goose (306978) | more than 12 years ago | (#256104)

I am thr proud owner of a Happy Hacker keyboard. I must admit that got used to it in a hurry, and my productivity in most activities increased.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a HHKB, and moving from one machine to another introduced huge amounts of frustration. The unix commandline became a pain, vi is a nighmare with me regularly trying to hit ctrl-D to go down a page, but instead hit CAPS-LOCK then D and effectively delete to end of line. Issues like this are a serious drawback.

Bottom line is that I have retired my HHKB, and endure the less ergonomic but more standard full keyboards.

If you work in a closed system where you have only one computer, or all your computers have the same keyboard, then go for it. Otherwise, it may become too comfortable, and then yu will not be able to smoothly interface with other keyboards.

A further example is that I have a laptop with a UK Layout keyboard, and my desktop has a US Layout. I have hat fo install a US keyboard on the laptop otherwise I go mad with @ instead of ".

Re:wow (1)

tb3 (313150) | more than 12 years ago | (#256108)

As a programmer, my two greatest assets are my hands.
Naah. Too easy. I'll wait for a less obvious straight line.
-----------------

Re:Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (1)

Chakat (320875) | more than 12 years ago | (#256111)

This keyboard doesn't. [pckeyboard.com] Most people want a windows keyboard, so that's the first thing they show. You check out the links on the side, however, you see that only a couple of their keyboards are of the windows variety; most are of the 101/103 key variety

Re:Yet another keyboard with Win95 keys (2)

Chakat (320875) | more than 12 years ago | (#256112)

Does anybody produce MS-free keyboards any longer?
Ask and you shall receive. [pckeyboard.com] They're not ergonomic, but they seem to be well made descendents of the original ibm keyboards

All keyboards suck, and Windows sucks twice (1)

Thor Ablestar (321949) | more than 12 years ago | (#256113)

No, I have no RSI, CTS or other keyboard-induced sickness. I have 2 other problems: ALFA-LOCK and mouse switching, both giving terrible amounts of errors.

Imagine that your keyboard has a separate capslock for every Window. Now, you begin typing a phrase and see it in capital letters, though you printed in other window with small ones. You switch to small letters and press BS, then try to print - and see that menu is called instead. Terrible? Yes. But it's so: localized Windows uses ALT/SHIFT as Alphabet lock

Mouse switching is not easier: when Xerox, Apple and MICROS~1 produced their "Desktop metaphor" they forgot that we have no separate hand to keep a mouse. So, every time I switch from mouse to keyboard I must reposition hands looking at the keyboard (Or creeping with my fingers for F-J-5 tactile mark).

Both problems aren't solved with any "ergonomic" keyboard, possibly except Datahand. But Datahand's mouse looks problematic.

I've tried to find an alternative input methodology in Internet - and failed. Everything - Datahand, BAT, Wlonk, Twiddler, Keybowl, Alphagrip, DataEgg, etc - has specific deficiencies and - moreover - the interface is so based on the standard keyboard that any modifications not directly mapping the alternative keyboards to standard ones become extremely complex. And they don't solve the ALFA LOCK problems, since they are invented in English-speaking countries.

Opposing viewpoint (4)

moronga (323123) | more than 12 years ago | (#256115)

Disclaimer: I've never use a dvorak keyboard. But there are some studies that refute the superiority of the dvorak keyboard. There's an entry about the dvorak at http://www.urbanlegends.com/misc/dvorak.html. There are links at the bottom of the page to some articles. Also, for you Straight Dope fans, Cecil has handled the topic as well: http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_248.html

Re:FORGET KEYBOARDS! (1)

koreth (409849) | more than 12 years ago | (#256118)

Taking breaks and icing will help more than a $300 keyboard.

While taking breaks is definitely a good idea no matter which keyboard you're using, if you find yourself having to ice your wrists, you're not using the right keyboard.

The Microsoft Natural Keyboard is a pretty lousy ergonomic keyboard, IMO. I find I have to stretch my fingers too much when I use it, and the space bar isn't comfortable to press. I used one for a while and if anything it made my constant wrist pain worse; I still had to ice my wrists.

Then I switched to the Kinesis Natural keyboard and after a week or so of adjustment, the wrist pain when I wasn't typing went away completely and I could type for a couple hours straight before feeling uncomfortable. I think it hasn't undone the damage of years of typing on a traditional keyboard, but it's come pretty close. I own three of them so I can bring my own keyboard to my contracting gigs. I wish my first computer had had this kind of keyboard; I probably never would have developed wrist pains to start with.

On that note, I'd urge people who aren't feeling wrist pain to switch to a better keyboard. Preventing tendonitis or CTS before it hits you is far preferable to figuring out how to get rid of it once your hands start going numb. Unfortuately I suspect this will largely fall on deaf ears; it's way too easy to keep saying, "What kind of idiot would spend $300 on something you could get for $10?" until it's too late. Consider it a form of insurance payment.

For people in busy offices, BTW, hooking a weird keyboard up to your PC has the added benefit that your coworkers will flee in terror rather than "borrowing" your PC for a few minutes while you're in a meeting.

Re:Happy Hackers and other "Evolutions". (4)

Telek (410366) | more than 12 years ago | (#256120)

You think the UK keyboard is a hassle, try the French! I had to have my natural keyboard shipped here because I couldn't stand the French layout. To use the numbers you need to use the shift key as well, A,Q,Z,W, and M are in slightly different places, you can't use the right alt-key because it's used to give special characters, but yet it looks just like a normal keyboard so it's impossible to adjust! Why can't we just all get along with a standard? (yeah I know why, but it's more fun to rant)

soutions and a better idea... (5)

Telek (410366) | more than 12 years ago | (#256121)

as a solution to the cable problem, use wireless!

and as a solution to the screw problem, use better screws!

seriously though, I've been using a normal Logitech wireless "natural" keyboard for months, and I used to have hand problems, now I don't! It's great, I have a comfy chair and a lap-desk thing, so I can move all over the place, free of cables. I attached a gel pad to the front of the keyboard (it came with a ?! stupid hard plastic wrist wrest) and it's my saviour. Heck, I even brought it to France with me. Don't need $300USD either, this setup cost me just under $100.

However, I'm still interested in getting a lazy boy setup! Hook me up with one of those, mounted dual keyboard, computer integrated into the base and a LCD screen that can be moved (via an arm of course) to anywhere in front of my view (i.e. so if I'm laying down I can move it to be in front of me), and I'd pay $$$$$$ for that!

-- Telek

Re:You may not need a new keyboard... (4)

(-)eretic (444633) | more than 12 years ago | (#256131)

Your QWERTY typing won't "devolve" if you learn a different style. You might learn to hate the extra work involved with typing QWERTY versus Dvorak, but I have found it very easy to switch between the two. I learned the Dvorak layout after 10 years of typing QWERTY. It really is easier, and makes more sense. I find that I do much less reaching and can even type some words faster, since there are something like 2,000 English words that can be typed using only the keys on the home row. QWERTY home row A S D F G H J K L ; ---- A O E U I D H T N S DVORAK home row I have had crippling RSI for several years now, so please save your hands and consider learning Dvorak -- and always take regular rest and stretch breaks!

Re:You may not need a new keyboard... (1)

junkmell (447016) | more than 12 years ago | (#256135)

I also use the dvorak layout. I started using it about a month ago. My main complaint is that in linux there are too many keymaps. (console, xmodmap, wayv keymap, emacs keymap) But that isn't a big problem once it's set up.

As an added bonus I learned to touch type very quickly. (The letters on the keyboard are different, and yes, I could rearange the keytops but other people who use windows also use qwerty)

Re:Tried 'em, can't deal with 'em (2)

nmccully (448040) | more than 12 years ago | (#256137)

I also had RSI symptoms, and was fortunate enough to see several specialists in Silicon Valley who told me that keeping your arms and wrists in the same position is DETRIMENTAL to your condition. The key to healing repetitive stress injuries (especially tendonitis) is blood flow. Holding your arms out even slightly from your body causes your shoulder muscles to contract, which restricts blood flow down your arms, impeding any healing or your RSI. Most "ergonomic" devices involve wrist rests and arm holders that cause you to type by wiggling your fingers and not moving your arms and wrists freely. This also restricts blood flow, but more seriously, it makes your tendons work even harder by making you flex your fingers more than normal. The best way to type is by having relaxed shoulders and by moving your whole arm as you go from row to row on the keyboard. Adopting a piano-playing-like rhythm and movement greatly reduces risk of RSI as well.
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