Thursday, October 27, 2011

My New Keyboard

Three weeks ago, I started getting numbness and stinging in my wrists at the end of each workday. I hadn't been drinking any coffee for a month; an experiment to see if I would somehow become a more effective person without it. Life without coffee was surprisingly similar. I'm afraid that  without a steady coffee intake my circulation is exceedingly poor, however, and this started giving me RSI symptoms.

Anyhow, it's three weeks later. I've been sleeping in wrist supports, and I've bought a couple of trackballs for work and home, as well as the rather pricey keyboard pictured below. The symptoms have decreased quite a bit. Before any of this had come up, I'd read plenty of bio's that mentioned animator / programmer types not being able to work for years at a time because of RSI. So being overly cautious is how one avoids this sort of thing.

I thought I'd share the  keyboard because I think it is a a great design and I am quite pleased with it. My only complaint is that the rubber function keys stick a little. I re-mapped the 'Caps Lock' key to be 'Escape'. The two programs I use most are AutoCAD and Vim, in which you are hitting Escape constantly. Apparently, this is where Escape was on the terminal keyboards of yore, so I am using Vi as it was designed to be used. (Vi is great. How many pieces of software do you use everyday that were written the year you were born?)


Mr. Alex said...

Is that thing sturdy? One of the things I loved about the interface devices of yore is that they had real heft to the; I could have beat a man to death with the trackball I used for Lightwave on back in 93. Old IBM standard keyboards had the same thing going on ("I'd say that's a five man keyboard..." [in that you could probably kill five people with it before it would lose any keys]).

Do you have trouble using standard keyboards after working on this thing? I used to have an ergonomic board for one of my main systems, but stopped using it because it was fucking up my tech-chi on all the other devices I need to service.

Pete said...

I'd say that the build quality is decent, though the case is made of plastic and not metal. The mechanical switches are very responsive.

I had the opportunity to get a proper sys admin's keyboard last year. The previous tenant of an office we were refitting had left behind a server rack with a very cool keyboard in its drawer. The keyboard was very cool, but I thought it might be gauche to take the keyboard and not the rack. That keyboard was build like a brick, it was also quite loud.

I consider being clumsy on other keyboards to be a calculated risk. I'm only responsible for a half-dozen workstations and a server, so I'm only doing light duty techie work. I can see how you wouldn't want to acclimate to this keyboard if you had to hop between workstations a lot. Though there are important problem solving components to my job, at it's most basic level, my job is a data entry job. I'm typing enough to outweigh the drawback of being a little clumsy when I'm demonstrating or installing something on someone else's machine.

Lance Vartanian said...

That is one beautiful keyboard. However, are you not having a hard time familiarizing yourself with the keyboard's design? It would be great if you know how to go about it. I think once you are used to working with that kind of keyboard, you bring it with you, so you don't have to shift back to the conventional type whenever you're at work, etc.

Lance Vartanian