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Keyboard Layouts for the 21st Century?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the leaving-qwerty-behind dept.

Hardware 1044

jules asks: "Trying to do some programming on an iBook the other day brought to my attention the fact that despite the constant improvements to the design of computer hardware and software, the keyboards we use are still a throwback to the early 1980s. I mean - my Mac doesn't have room for page up/down or home/end keys, but it devotes a whole key to a sort of double-S shape that I will never press. And my PC keyboards all waste plastic on a backwards-apostrophe key and a scroll-lock (+ LED!), while functions that you use all the time, such as switching between windows, cut/copy/paste, back/forwards, undo/redo etc, all have to double-up with other keys.. Have any organizations actually tried to re-invent the keyboard recently? (..not counting the manufacturers who stick a few 'multimedia' keys along the top for consumer PCs). Would this be doomed to failure because of the tens of thousands of legacy apps that expect things to be the way they are? What sort of keys would you include in your fantasy keyboard layout?" It's not just the keys on your keyboard that are important, it's also how you arrange them. What kind of keyboard arrangements might we see in the future?

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1044 comments

This first post brought to you buy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311328)

My super fast dvorak skills

Suck it qwerty (queer-ty) lovers.

Re:This first post brought to you buy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311339)

Well, I have to admit: YOU REALLY DID IT!

where do i buy? (3, Funny)

yup2000 (182755) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311352)

yes, but where do you buy these things?
i tried to rearrange my qwerty keyboard, and ended up finding that the keys on row x are only meant for row x, and won't work on row x+1...!

i did manage to break my space bar too :)

so, my question is: if i have a keyboard that doesn't lend itsself to mod'ing, where can i find one of those fancy keyboards?

Re:where do i buy? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311405)

An IBM Model M [3m3718.com] keyboard's keys all fit nicely on each other's slots.

I rearanged the keys on one and am learning Dvorak in my spare time.

Re:This first post brought to you buy (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311388)

I can relate to you man. My posts only get modded funny when I post them anonymously, too. 3 of them today, and my karma is still at neutral because I don't have the balls...

"Backwards Apostrophe"? (5, Funny)

worst_name_ever (633374) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311336)

And my PC keyboards all waste plastic on a backwards-apostrophe key

Must not be a *nix user if he has no use for the tilde key!

Re:"Backwards Apostrophe"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311347)

He means the single back quote, not tilde.

Re:"Backwards Apostrophe"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311372)

~ = ` + shift.

Now go away or I will replace you with a very small shell script.

Re:"Backwards Apostrophe"? (0, Offtopic)

TephX (54484) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311425)

And the tilde is typed... guess how... shift-backquote!

Re:"Backwards Apostrophe"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311350)

Hes taking about ' instead of ` not ~

Re:"Backwards Apostrophe"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311354)

Or a gammer.. ;)

Re:"Backwards Apostrophe"? (4, Funny)

sawilson (317999) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311413)

And all my PC keyboards waste plastic on these little windows looking keys next to alt that seem to do nothing in linux.

Maybe in the US... (1)

holygoat (564732) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311436)

... here in the UK, ~ is above #, which is next to the Return key.

` is shared with , and is therefore pretty much useless. I use all the keys on the keyboard except that one. So the original poster is correct - and I use terminals all the time.

Re:"Backwards Apostrophe"? (5, Funny)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311475)

Must not be a *nix user if he has no use for the tilde key!

Ha! Show's what you know! When I drop to DOS on my Windows machine and do a "dir" all I see is:

Progam~1 [Directory]
Documu~1 [Directory]
ILoveY~1 [Directory]
Slamme~1 [Directory]

See? We're just advanced as you "Unix" users!

Re:"Backwards Apostrophe"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311478)

Tilde's are very useful for those folks trying to print characters like ñ, while backwards-apostrophe is useful for è.

Right now I'm having trouble getting the compose (or Multi-key) working with Xfree86 to print these kinds of characters for my Spanish vocabulary program. I've got the Compose key working fine for the and chars, but for some reason it don't wanna display é. Hmmm...

I'm sure programmers would just _love_ (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311338)

keyboards with no ` key.

Holy Crap.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311340)

I've never posted anything to Slashdot before.

Re:Holy Crap.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311357)

Welcome aboard, you cocksucking moron!

keyboards... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311341)

that explode when someone types 'first post'

Double S? (1)

hoytt (469787) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311343)

If you mean the key next to the spacebar, that the command key. Which is Apple's key for short cuts. Command + Q = Quit, etc.
Or do you mean this () key? Iive used it to make paragraphs in my texts in the past.

backtick (2, Funny)

aePrime (469226) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311344)

And my PC keyboards all waste plastic on a backwards-apostrophe key

And he's a programmer? I believe it's called a backtick. I take it he's never written Perl, or LaTeX, or ... .

really (1)

RyLaN (608672) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311346)

theres the wonderful 17-inch powerbooks, with 4 inches on either side of EMPTY SPACE.. before I saw some pictures i was hoping that they might have a real keyboard..

Re:really (2, Insightful)

cheesekeeper (649923) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311419)

I was also very sad to see they hadn't even stuck a numeric keypad on there, considering all the room. I think it makes sense, though, when you consider that Apple's designers would have had to put the main typing area severely to the left side of the screen. This would be an ergonomic violation for typing, but would also require moving the trackpad to the left side (even worse ergonomically, IMO.) Granted, Apple could have stuck at least some extra keys on there (maybe page up/down and a forward del), but that would a) contradict their minimalist philosphy and b) differ from their other computers. Consistency is big on Macs. But how about this: a 1/4" battery-operated bluethooth numeric keypad in aluminum?

My Vision (2, Interesting)

Dictateur (638553) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311348)

I think what I would like to see is a keyboard wich changes contextually. Something like a screen with different kind of keys in differents applications. Of course there would still be some always there keys.

The three finger M$ keyboard (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311349)

ctrl alt and delete. Sorry, it had to be done.

Re:The three finger M$ keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311381)

I also thought it was a one-finger keyboard...

Re:The three finger M$ keyboard (1)

KDan (90353) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311447)

Fair enough, though... if you're trying to make an improved Windows keyboard, you gotta have a Ctrl-Alt-Del button...

Daniel

Hopefully, (1)

sawilson (317999) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311353)

One key,

that turns the microphone I use for voice pattern recognition, login, and entering commands in a
simple, easy to use voice command structure. Maybe
some sort of bastard child of the keyboard built
for one hand specifically for the types of games
that benefit from a bunch of extra programmable
keys.

Re:Hopefully, (2, Informative)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311439)

I'm fairly sure that Saitek make a one handed keyboard for FPS's (and... other... activities that require one handed control ;))

future keyboards (1)

crossconnects (140996) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311359)

will be nonexistent. comnputers will operate by voice control and touchscreen technology.

Re:future keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311414)

I hope not, I type faster than I talk sometimes, and voice recognition isn't perfect (tell me you've never had a soar throat/lost your voice...) and touch screens get dirty so frequently it's a pain in the ass. And how are you supposed to play quake with touch screen and voice recognition? That's just stupid!

Re:future keyboards (2, Interesting)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311459)

Naw. Future computers will operate by direct brain link. You'll swollow a pill and a lil computer and wireless connection will be intergrated with your wetware and allow you to mentally commuicate with any electronic devices around you just by thinking. Sounds farfetched but I'd be willing to bet the little money I have that we'll start seeing direct brain computing before voice recognition reaches a human to human level or nears anything close to the speed of typing. We are the Borg. You will be assimilated.

Hard to say... (1)

WallsRSolid (591098) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311365)

Of course, we will always have to balance between supporting legacy apps and the increased productivity of innovation. If you want to see changes put into effect, though, put your money where your mouth is when you next see a keyboard layout that really cries out to you. Then post a review to slashdot.. ;-) Geeks have a lot of buying power collectively.

----
That which does not kill me makes me stronger;
That which does kill me I'll deal with when I respawn.

The keyboard itself is obsolete (1)

HelbaSluice (634789) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311368)

Throwback to the 80's!? Rows of buttons and blinking lights just seem so 40's!!

Seems to me like the most promising development for command-oriented input like the kind that the poster mentioned are the recent batch of gesture-based devices like this one [thinkgeek.com].

Re:The keyboard itself is obsolete (2, Insightful)

Steveftoth (78419) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311449)

I don't think so, it's the fastest way to enter text that doesn't involve a lot of makeing noise.

Think about it, if you want to enter text what's the next logical step? Gesture based systems? Not really, it won't let you easily enter mass amounts of random text.

Voice rec? Even if it were perfect, it would require massive changes to places like where I work. As any any cubical farm other voices are distracting from what I'm doing.

Besides the fact that Voice Rec would really suck for entering code.

The keyboard is the most accurate, quickest device that we have for entering text into a computer. Until something comes along that is better, we will continue to use it.

104-button mouse (4, Funny)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311482)

I would be glad to dump my "obsolete" keyboard if I could replace it with a 104-button mouse. :)

Only one true keyboard (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311375)

And that is the Happy Hacking Keyboard [yahoo.com] designed explicitly for RMS. If you aren't using it you aren't hacking.

Key? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311376)

What 'double-s shape' is this? Can you provide some sort of picture?

Re:Key? (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311468)

My guess is he means Apple's 'command' key. Though I'd like to know what he is doing if he never uses it. It's used for the keyboard shortcuts: copy, paste, quit, switch programs...

Xmodmap (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311378)

I xmodmap useless keys to more linux friendly functions. E.G. the `windows' key is mapped to next workspace.

YESS!!! GIMME SLACK! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311379)

Oh damn. I've been draeming about this for a few months now.

I want a keyb that has pry-out keys which each contain a resistor/whatever to mark what they are.
Then I can remap my keyb without confusing my coworkers (well, some of them) and I don't have to wonder which mapping is in effect. Also I want to be able to "break" teh numpad off and move it to the left side and back, or even leave it totally seperate.

And I want a pony.

Alternatively, an LCD touchscreen wouldn't be half bad.

Hey IBM, if you make either of these things can you please give me a big fat check? Or at least a demo unit? You b'stards seem to make things I think of whether I keep the idea to myself or not... and god knows that simply thinking of an idea on your own proves that you own it. ;-)

okay i luv you buh bye
~the alternating coward

Sys Req (3, Interesting)

ejaw5 (570071) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311383)

Anybody care to explain the purpose (if any) for the Sys Req button (shared by Print Screen). My impression of it is that it may have had some use way back in the day before my time, but can't think of any purpose today.

Re:Sys Req (5, Informative)

sebmol (217013) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311412)

IIRC, the SysRq key was introduced with the 286 protected mode. It was thought that this key would provide access to operating system functions in that mode while a regular app is running.

It never served any real purpose.

Re:Sys Req (5, Informative)

Octothorp (6389) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311473)

It never served any real purpose.

..on a lot of machines. However, you can now use it for it's intended purpose under Linux see the file sysrq.txt in the Documentation directory of the kernel source.

You can do useful things like sync your disk before you have to power cycle the machine. Or, kill all processes on the current VT.

--

Re:Sys Req (1)

sebmol (217013) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311479)

Of course, all that is only true for the Microsoft plattform. Linux has been using it for a while to the exact purpose it was originally intended (keyboard access to critical OS functions). Windows never did that.

Re:Sys Req (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311427)

In linux, if you enable it, you can use it to do such wonderful things as an emergency sync alt-sysrq-s or emergency boot alt-sysrq-b or kill all apps on the current terminal, etc. pretty useful if an app completly locks up.

Re:Sys Req (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311440)

It's used to support the "Magic SysReq key" feature of the Linux kernel. See kernel docs (or google) for more info.

Re:Sys Req (4, Informative)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311455)

The 'Sys Req' key, or 'System Request', is meant as a sort of direct conduit to lower level funtions.

For example, on Linux kernels with system debugging enabled, you can use it to force the machine to sync disks, reboot, dump debugging info out the serial port, etc. On a Sun box, you use the equivalent key to drop into the BIOS (which includes a CLI and lisp).

Keyboards not just for typing (5, Interesting)

A_Duck_Named_Ping (612873) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311384)

Realize that the PC revolution was fueled by worprocessing and spreadsheet software, which both lend themselves to keyboard/keypad input devices. At some point -- aren't we living in the future yet? -- the input devices must make an evolutionary leap. If you look in the video editing and medical imaging field, the input devices reflect the nature of how the work is done (dials, sliders, toggle buttons). A fictional example of one possibility is the type of 3d input device used in Minority Report. We still are mostly creatures of the keyboard (damn blogs!), but at some point, the next killer app may bring about the emergence of a better input device. Oh yeah, and voice recognition might not suck so much someday ;-) -duck

Stupid iBook Fn Key (2, Interesting)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311385)

I borrow an ibook from work every now and then and it's frustrating to have the fn (function) key be the bottom left most key where on my Sun and PC keyboard it's Control. I've made many a Vim error due to it, good thing there's undo.:w

In theory... (1)

ScriptGuru (574838) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311390)

You should be able to set up your own keyboard map and touch type (or draw on your keyboard). It isn't the most elegant method, but you can really optimise your keyboard usage. I personally like the current setup (on standard PCs, don't get me started with mac keyboards), everything is right where it needs to be for speedy use. I wouldn't dream of using anything else, especially since I touch typed this comment.

For those Apple users... (1)

BlackGriffen (521856) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311392)

cmd-` is a common shortcut in apps to cycle windows (standard behavior in Cocoa, I think).

As for keyboards of the future, there won't be any. People will simply "plug in" using a more direct neural interface ;).

BG

New Microsoft Keyboards (2, Insightful)

Berylium (588468) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311393)

The new MS Office Keyboard from Micrsoft not only includes multimedia and office launching buttons above the function keys but also buttons to the left of the standard buttons dedicated to cut, copy, past, backwards, and forwards. Aside from Undo/redo that accounts for the extra functions you wanted. It even includes an extra large scroll wheel.

Matias Half-Keyboard Principle ? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311395)

As a software developer, my keystroke volume is not really huge, and I end up using the mouse very frequently.
Therefore for many months I have been on the mailing list, waiting for the "coming soon" X2 version of the half-keyboard.
http://halfkeyboard.com/products/hkbx2info.html

The core principle - I WANT to be able to do the alphabet, the underscore etc, and the cut/copy/paste with my left hand only. This would produce so much "consumer surplus", that I think folks might then switch. ANY new keyboard design should incorporate this general principle, even though the details might not be a-la-Matias.

Re:Matias Half-Keyboard Principle ? (2, Interesting)

Malc (1751) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311476)

Will that work with the right hand only, instead?

sorry (1)

enos (627034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311397)

There's only one company that universally changed the keyboard for virtually all PCs: Microsoft.
Sorry to say it, but only a monopoly could do that. If logitech made keyboards with extra keys, and bioses/oses didn't support the extra keys, it'll die quick. Plus, my special keys are better then your special keys, so in the end we get nothing. Sun is the other example, but they also have a monopoly (on Sun boxes).

Cording (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311399)

I don't see wh we can't have the cording keyboards that Englebart introduced with his mouse in 1968.

Re:Cording (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311446)

Tell me when will you be mine... tell me quando quando quando....

We don't need new keyboards... we need a Win32 vi! (2, Insightful)

path_man (610677) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311401)

I mean come on! Changing the keyboards now would be like changing all the highways in america from the width they are now to half as wide to accomidate smaller, faster (albeit narrower) cars!

But in all seriousness, everything I need to do in programming and even quite a lot of word processing (I was using vi for corporate memos until about 1999 when I was forced to use a Word compatible program) I can do without my fingers leaving their home positions on the keyboards. We don't need better keyboards -- or better mice for that matter. What we really need are better applications that either dynamically adapt to the condition at the time, or take better advantage of the hardware that we've got.

All keyboards should have VCR/TV functions... (3, Funny)

$$$$$exyGal (638164) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311408)

We need:
  • Fast-forward
  • Rewind
  • Pause
  • Play
  • Stop
  • Record
  • etc...

And most of all, all keyboards need an analog volume changer. With IBooks, you can change the volume using some function keys... but there needs a little spinny thing to change the audio (like what is in most refrigerator's to change the temp).

And lastly, I can't seem to find that double-S thing on my IBook?

--sex [slashdot.org]

TeX (4, Insightful)

Zach Garner (74342) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311409)

all waste plastic on a backwards-apostrophe key

But how will we use TeX without it??!

---

As far as things go, I'm sure the average user has more use for a multimedia-specifc keys or internet-specific keys (quick access to their CD/MP3 player, or Internet Explorer) than do programmers.

When is the last time you saw your mother, et al, use the curley bracket "{". What about the pipe "|". Or the carat "^".

I know I could not live without them, but most people could easily give them up.

Have any of you programmers actually used Dvorak or Maltron keyboards. I have. I can still type on either one, but programming on one sucks! The curly bracket is one of my most used keys and it's totally not in the right place for *me*. Anything optimized for writing english text is going to be horrible for any other symbol system.

Maybe we will get custom keyboards for different sections of the population before too long.

The reason plus, Fujitsu 4725 is AWESOME (4, Informative)

sudog (101964) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311410)

The reason that keyboards haven't changed much is because they don't need it. If something is (almost) as good as it's going to get, why jerk around and try to make it better?

So what do I think is the best keyboard I've used and wouldn't bother trying to improve it? I've used everything from a VIC-20, TRS-80 keyboard, to those old IBM electronic typewriters, to a Fujitsu 4725 PS/2.

The Fujitsu cost me $70(CDN) and I swear it's the best keyboard I could've purchased. Not because it's the good ol' QWERTY layout with a nice big backslash right below the backspace (where it DAMN WELL belongs,) and not because it's the same layout that everyone's been using for decades (and is most comfortable with and thus fastest with,) and not because it's so indestructible it'd probably work well as a bludgeoning weapon in case I were ever attacked in my room:

No, not for all that. What makes this keyboard better than any other I've so far used is that this Fujitsu has *perfect* key action. It's clicky--but soft enough that it just *begs* you to type as fast as you can. It can take all the pounding you can dish out, and the tactile and soft audible feedback make it a real pleasure to work with.

Thank you Fujitsu, for making REAL keyboards!

Definitely a worth-while thought. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311411)

I haven't looked into it since I have heard why the keys are in the order that they are, but I have heard before that in the beginning of typewriters keyboards were in alphabetical order and the keys would jam, so they did this to slow people down. If this is true would going back to an alphabetical order help us improve in speed.

Seperate keys? (4, Insightful)

Senator_B (605588) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311415)

Personally, I feel that allocating seperate/special keys for specific commands will simply make keyboards clunkier and more obtrusive. ctrl + c and crtl + v works fine for me, i don't have to move my hands very far to perform these tasks. Unless keyboard's undergo some sort of radical changes, which is unlikely due to the fact that everyone has been trained on qwerty style keyboards, additional keys will be tacked on in places that are not convieniently reached by the hands. Two and three key combo's improve efficiency, not hinder it.

About that strange "double-S shape" sign (2, Informative)

poulbailey (231304) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311417)

> I mean - my Mac doesn't have room for page up/down or home/end keys,
> but it devotes a whole key to a sort of double-S shape that I will never press.

That would be the paragraph sign [symbols.com]. It's used in law.

Multilingual keyboards. (2, Interesting)

I'm a racist. (631537) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311418)

I'm American, and only fluent in English, but I travel a bit, and end up using foreign keyboards for months at a time. I'm rather irritated by how these are all set up. For example, why make two keys (one for the character and one for its accented form), when a combination would be much more space efficient (and nicely compatible for a few different languages)? For a lot of the non-alphanumeric characters, foreign keyboards require the use of the 'Alt Gr' key.

With the migration to larger character sets/encodings (UTF8, UTF16, various Unicode schemes), keyboards should be better designed to access all the characters.

I happen to be using a French keyboard as I type this, and it's not even properly set up, so the mappings from keys into the character set is a big mess, and I need to do some trial and error to find the right keys.

Anyone ever try one of those "chord boards" where you only have 5 or so keys, on each of two hand held devices, and you type by pressing the keys in the right combinations? Those seem nice for mobile devices (I hate typing on laptops and cell phones).

Holographic Keyboard (1)

GeorgeK (642310) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311420)

I'd love to see a holographic keyboard, where we can just move our fingers in the air, and the motions would be scanned in by a motion detector or something.

Although, we'd probably have voice recognition (or mind-reading!) before that ever came to fruition....

I'd like a large red button, (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311424)

that makes things go bang.

Key Changes Across OS (2, Insightful)

DarkZero (516460) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311431)

The poster, in my opinion, makes painfully stupid arguments. His argument basically comes down to, "I'm not using it, so NO ONE is using it; It's useless to me, so get rid of it." Maybe he has no use for a tilde key, but a lot of us do. And maybe he has no use for a Scroll Lock and wants something else, but some of us certainly have uses for it and don't mind having Undo set to Ctrl + Something.

However, this gave me an idea. Some of us need a tilde key, some of us don't. Some of us need scroll lock, some of us don't. So why not just use the same keys that are already set up in a near-perfect fashion for other things? Personally, I've never had any use for the Numpad (it's faster for me to use the numbers above the letters), so I have Internet Explorer, AIM, Winamp, etc. set as Windows hotkeys on Numpad 1, 2, 3, etc. But what about Scroll Lock? Do Linux, Windows, or any specific programs for them let you set something permanently on or off by having Scroll Lock set on or off? And what about setting keys like the tilde key to other things within the OS besides hotkeys, such as resetting it to Ctrl + C for Copy, Ctrl + V for Paste, or setting it to whatever combination of keys Undo or other specific commands is set to in programs like Photoshop? I haven't used Windows XP or Linux yet, so I'm not really sure if either of them has this capability built-in.

F-Lock (1)

nukem1999 (142700) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311434)

Lately, MS has started (and Logitech is following) changing the F keys. Apparently, now, all the F keys have some sort of new default meaning to them (for example, new document, open, copy/paste, etc etc (I'm sure you can find a full list somewhere)). You want to use the standard F keys? There's an F-Lock button to use, similar to numlock. Probably shift will allow you to access the standard F functions, but I haven't tried one.

I personally don't like the idea, but they seem to be holding on to the ball with both hands and running.

Abnoxious for programmers (1)

deadsaijinx* (637410) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311437)

I, as many of you probably, find the layout annoying for programming. I hate having to hold the shift key to enter \/ and so forth, should be placed more conveniently on keyboards, also, more programable shortcut buttons should be placed on keyboards.

One additional button (2, Funny)

NeoMoose (626691) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311441)

Not necessarily a standard key, but if one of those keyboards with one-touch Internet buttons would add a "Pornography" button it would save me some effort.

For all those beta GLX drivers ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311444)

... we need a key for CTRL-ALT-Backspace!

New layout should think about the average user (2, Interesting)

eyefish (324893) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311451)

I think the original poster is right about we needing keys for the most frequently done operations. My take is that we need extra keys that do the following:

- Copy
- Cut
- Paste
- Undo
- Help

Optional keys:
- Volume up
- Volume down
- Mute/Unmute
- Play
- Stop
- Record
- Fast forward
- Fast rewind
- Next (chapter/song/video)
- Previous (chapter/song/video)

I also wonder how many people actually use the ALT, CTRL, SHIFT and similar keys on THE RIGHT SIDE of the keyboards (for as long I can remember I have NEVER pressed any of those keys on the right side, I only used their sister keys on the left side of the space bar).

Microsoft Office Keyboard & clones. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311453)

The Microsoft Office keyboard has app-fwd and app-back keys, as well as dedicated cut, copy, and paste. Plus, it shows the most common uses of the F-keys, instead of 'F3', it says 'Open'. Plus, it has a scroll wheel, for those who want to scroll a few lines at a time without using the mouse. Plus, things like having an extra backspace (as well as open and close parenthesis) above the number pad. You can click here [microsoft.com] for Microsoft's page on it.

There are a few companies that make clones of this keyboard now, complete with scroll wheel. I don't know the names of any of the clones, all of the ones I have seen are by very generic companies.

Keyboard Rant (1)

josh crawley (537561) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311454)

---Trying to do some programming on an iBook the other day brought to my attention the fact that despite the constant improvements to the design of computer hardware and software, the keyboards we use are still a throwback to the early 1980s.

Yep. All the way back to my Piss 2 I'm typing on now. More coffee spills on it and it still ticks. Cant say there's a better keyboard.

---I mean - my Mac doesn't have room for page up/down or home/end keys, but it devotes a whole key to a sort of double-S shape that I will never press.

And I say that about my windows key, Caps lock, scroll lock, num lock, SysRq, and that windows menulike key. Why do I need a numlock? Just make it on default. As long as we have arrows, no big deal. Second I'm not using winderz, so why do I need the windows keys? The original keyboards didnt have a caps lock, and I love those. And WTF does SysRq do? (I know, the 1984 keybaords dont have windows keys, but newer ones do-got mine in junk pile)

---And my PC keyboards all waste plastic on a backwards-apostrophe key and a scroll-lock (+ LED!),

Too true, yet keyboards these days are TOO light. Most jump around when I type.

---while functions that you use all the time, such as switching between windows, cut/copy/paste, back/forwards, undo/redo etc, all have to double-up with other keys..

That's because they're caught by userspace or kernel space (in case of ctrl-alt-del). And about cut/pasting, only Windows does that right. Linux BLOWS at that. Some apps like it, some hate it and some ignore. The sad thing is that X11 supports a MIME clipboard. Yet nobody interfaces to that. With that, even lowly TWM could cut/paste sound samples from audacity.

---Have any organizations actually tried to re-invent the keyboard recently? (..not counting the manufacturers who stick a few 'multimedia' keys along the top for consumer PCs).

If they have, they're dead already (the designs, not the company). Still, I HATED those split "health conscious" keyboards that chopped the board in half, and spliced them at 45 degree angles. I wish those dissappeared off the face of this earth.

---Would this be doomed to failure because of the tens of thousands of legacy apps that expect things to be the way they are?

I dont follow. Textural data is textural data. If you convert it right, no big deal. Judt dont think people wouldnt resist.

---What sort of keys would you include in your fantasy keyboard layout?

Boss key, Any key......

---It's not just the keys on your keyboard that are important, it's also how you arrange them. What kind of keyboard arrangements might we see in the future?

If anything, we'll get rid of the keyboard and go to neural interface. Keyboards suck compared to mind speed. To get to that tech is a whole another story.

Speaking of Keyboards... (0)

MikeeX (581666) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311457)

I found this kewl keyboard =) http://store.yahoo.com/pfuca-store/ Anyone used this? Looks kinda nifty!

Story troll? (3, Insightful)

Forgotten (225254) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311461)

This reads like a troll. For instance:

devotes a whole key to a sort of double-S shape that I will never press.

If you're using a Mac without using the command key, you're really not using the Mac. Unless you're running PPC Linux?

And my PC keyboards all waste plastic on a backwards-apostrophe

Ok, you're apparently not running Linux, or you're a Unix programmer who doesn't know how to use backquotes for command substitution in shell programming. Using familiar keys, try entering "man sh ".

while functions that you use all the time, such as switching between windows, cut/copy/paste, back/forwards, undo/redo etc, all have to double-up with other keys..

Yup, they double up with other keys - through the use of that command metakey you've never hit. If you have a way around this that doesn't involve doubling the size of the keyboard, please share. Try this, just for me - press the little funky "double-S" key (the technical term, btw, is "whee whee propeller!") and hold it, then press shift and hold it, then press the key with a slash and a question mark on it (phew!). Now read all about keyboard shortcuts.

There are umpteen things wrong with modern keyboards, though - you just mention none of them. In all seriousness, have you considered the possibility that you're just an idiot?

Remap 'em. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311465)

So remap your keys. I rarely need caps lock, so I mapped it to become a compose key. Now I can easily add àccènts to text. I don't use print screen, so it's mapped to "hide window and create icon in systray". Scroll lock? That's now my caps lock, because it might be useful now and then. My higher function keys do things like start gaim, adjust volume, etc. Your keys don't have to do just what they're labeled as.

LED Keyboard (1)

l33t-gu3lph1t3 (567059) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311467)

I bet those laser-style keyboard projector thingies could easily be programmed to show a different key layout. I could see a use in gaming for that, WSAD is useful, but there could be better layouts.

I see this issue coming up more and more in the years to come, as the mass health effects of computer-related careers become more commonplace.

Sigh, eventually I'm going to have to unlearn QWERTY typing, and I only just started getting good at it, after years of practice!...Sigh...

*drool* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5311470)

I want one of these guys [fingerworks.com]. Plus, either with lighted keys, or better yet, a whole "key screen" (LCD?).

Keys for software functions. (1)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311471)

If your looking for something Windows based (and since your not using the backtick, I'm guessing you are), try the new MS Natural keyboards - not only are they *very* comfy for a touch typer, they also have the function keys mapped to do key things, such as Undo, Redo, New file, Reply to an e-mail - and yes... they can be remapped for non-MS software, although they're not *nix supported.

And before everyone jumps in, I'm typing on one right now.

Virtually there (1)

daggins (192567) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311472)

With the ability to project or display a keyboard in any configuration is some way towards the ultimate input device. Unfortunately tapping away at a desktop or a screen does not give the haptic feedback that many of us find necessary in a keyboard. What we need is some kind of material that gives the "push-back" of a good keyboard wherever it is pressed.

Just recently bought a Mac... (2, Interesting)

maynard (3337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311477)

Had to buy a PS/2 to USB converter so I could keep using my Kinesis [kinesis-ergo.com] keyboard. Bunches of people I work with swear by the Mac pro keyboards but they drive me nuts. I absolutely love my Kinesis I made it a requirement for employment when I started at my current job. My boss thought it was weird but didn't have a problem laying out the $300 or so for the keyboard to get me onboard.

Frankly, this is a career. I fuck my fingers/wrists up and I don't have a job. And I swear, that keyboard has saved my wrists. I had all sorts of problems after years of using a normal keyboard, but after taking the time to get used to the Kinesis I found my tendonitis receeding and the pain going away. I still have to take breaks while doing long keyboarding sessions, but that keyboard saved my career. I like it so much I bought one for home. I can't recommend it enough for the serious typist.

I would liken the keyboard to keys shaped along the inside of a bra... and that always helps when I'm typing away. :)

Cheers,
--Maynard

more keys == better? (1)

Tiber (613512) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311480)

Well if you've used a SUN recently (I have one on my desk at work), you'd probably know they have a full 8-something extra buttons [eintr.net]. These include cut, copy, paste, stop, volume, and other such nonsense like that. To be honest, I don't use them, except for STOP. The new ones have USB connections on the back, so they're actually somewhat nice because they plug into anything. Having extra buttons can be fun if you like to play with your keyboard mapping.

If you want to go the other direction, the whole wearables [linuxdevices.com] scene has come up with some good ones, especially the twiddler [handykey.com].

And finally, if you're interested in other keyboards that might be questionably functional but still look cool, you can find virtual keyboards [ananova.com], a lit keyboard [thinkgeek.com], and a rollable keyboard [thinkgeek.com]. But I think in your situation, you might find the twiddler the best bet for "cool and useful item".

It's all been tried... (1)

stiller (451878) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311481)

At least all possible sorts of key layouts.

Even single handed keyboards, which -while obviously costing you more presses per character- would allow you to keep your other hand on your mouse all the time. This however, probably wouldn't be much good to a an 'all console, all the time' kind of person.

In the end, changing anything but adding a few buttons or functions to existing buttons, would scare of probably 99% of the existing pc userbase.

Requiring people to learn to type all over again is not a very good market strategy. Alternatives do exist, but they will remain sparse.

Ofcourse, having said that, a 'Fuck it' key would be nice...

This topic is based on self-centered assumptions (4, Insightful)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 11 years ago | (#5311484)

I notice the original author complains about some keys that he feels are a waste of keys, and also complains that keys he needs are either not present or need to work in conjunction with modifiers/dead keys.

It seems the whole post and the idea of redesigning a keyboard (at least in this context) means, "redesigning the keyboard the way I need it to work for me."

Maybe this hits me more than others because I'm a writer first, and a programmer second (I'm only programming while I need to, to develop the software for my company so I can make enough money to get back to writing full time). However, I find a bothersome trend with many developers to assume that "what I need is what we all need."

I don't know how it works on a Mac, but I would think under OSX, if one does not like the way a keyboard is mapped, one can simply change the key map.

I know for me, as a writer, the keyboard works fine, and I'd rather not see it changed (much), because I'd rather not have to learn a new layout.

But for me to assume that since the current keyboard works well for me, so it should not be changed, would be as absurd as the original topic, which assumes that most people need keys to switch between windows more than they need other keys.

(Yes -- I know. I'll be modded to troll immediately because I dared to say the slightest negative thing about a programmer or developer!)
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