Landing on the Moon

3 minute read.

The words you are read­ing have been typed at half my usu­al speed from a new key­board, de­liv­ered around twelve hours ago.

I start­ed mak­ing some changes to the de­fault con­fig­u­ra­tion pret­ty much im­me­di­ate­ly and I want to de­scribe the rea­son­ing be­hind these changes:

As a Ger­man, the first thing you will want to do is switch to a con­fig­u­ra­tion that sup­ports Ger­man keys. Es­pe­cial­ly the sym­bol keys need swap­ping out. While you could in­stead just change lay­outs on your sys­tem, I do pre­fer just sim­ply hav­ing ev­ery­thing work as ex­pect­ed plug-and-play af­ter maybe a more cum­ber­some ini­tal con­fig­u­ra­tion.

Fur­ther­more, num­ber keys do not count as numpad keys. Es­pe­cial­ly, if you use Blender, you will want to cor­rect these on the de­fault con­fig­u­ra­tion.

A week later

Now typ­ing at rought­ly 90% of my usu­al typ­ing speed (50-60 WPM in­stead of ~70 WPM).

Cod­ing is still some­what frus­trat­ing, but var­i­ous typ­ing web­sites helped me get my speed back up to some­thing bare­able for com­mu­ni­ca­tion, email, blog­ging, …

I think one of the things po­ten­tial­ly lead­ing to var­i­ous carpal tun­nel is­sues I have had in the past was that I wasn’t us­ing 5 fin­gers for typ­ing! While I learned the usu­al 10-fin­ger typ­ing tech­nique as a kid, I found it too cum­ber­some and de­vel­oped my own tech­nique which is most­ly based on the in­dex and mid­dle fin­gers.

This tech­nique had the ad­van­tage of be­ing con­text-aware. Hence de­pend­ing on which key I pressed pre­vi­ous­ly, a dif­fer­ent fin­ger or even hand might be press­ing the next key, if it were more con­ve­nient­ly reached by it.

Dis­ad­van­tage was a _very_ fre­quent ro­ta­tion of the an­kle to reach e.g. Q, Y/Z etc with mid­dle or in­dex fin­gers. That to­geth­er with the counter ro­ta­tion for Ger­man sym­bol keys (most­lyy Shift with a num­ber) rep­re­sent­ed heavy strain on the wrist ten­dons.

Through try­ing to find ex­cer­cis­es to speed up my typ­ing I found that peo­ple typ­ing at 170+ WPM all use all fin­gers. Hence I start­ed forc­ing my­self to do the same. Kind of felt like re­learn­ing typ­ing all over, but I’m con­fi­dent that I will even­tu­al­ly out-type my old self.

I still strug­gle with var­i­ous sys­tem short­cuts, though, the mus­cle mem­o­ry there is hard­er to re­di­rect.

Overall impression

The Moon­lan­der feels very high qual­i­ty. Go­ing back to my old key­board feels _very_ strange. This is prob­a­bly alone through now be­ing ful­ly me­chan­i­cal while the pre­vi­ous was a mecha-mem­brane hy­brid.

The re­con­fig­u­ra­tion is pret­ty fun and while there’s still a lot of po­ten­tial, the idea of ef­fort­less­ly be­ing able to type all sym­bols need­ed for pro­gram­ming amazes me.

Thumb Pads

One of the is­sues I found was that you have de­ci­sion to make be­tween reach­ing the thumb keys con­ve­nient­ly and tent­ing the key­board:

If you have small­er hands, it is rec­om­mend­ed to tent the thumb-pad up­wards, but that makes the key­board very un­sta­ble if you tent it in any way. The high­er you tent the far­ther away the thumb keys are.

Ini­tial­ly I had want­ed to tent it all the way for best blood flow throught the wrist (sim­i­lar to why you’d want to have a ver­ti­cal mouse), but that meant that one of the four keys for each thumb was not with­in reach and one was on­ly reach­able with quite some ef­fort. Now I set­tled for a com­pro­mise: Slight tent­ing that al­lows me to reach all of the keys, but one of them on­ly with great ef­fort.