|May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)|
|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
|News||Windows Keyboard and Mouse Utilities||Recommended Links||Lua||Basics of Preventing RSI for programmers||Mouse elbow|
|Expect||AutoHotkey||ArsClip||Clipboard managers||Windows Macrorecoders|
|Logitech G510s Gaming Keyboard||Logitech G110||Sidewinder Pro||Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000||Microsoft IntelliType||Dell SK8135 Keyboard|
|Microsoft Windows shortcuts||Keyboard keys remapping||Logitech Wireless Performance Mouse MX||MouseKeys||Microsoft IntelliPoint||High End Programmable Multi-button Mouse|
|OFM||Orthodox Editors||VIM -- VI-style Editor with folding capabilities||Eastern Orthodox Editors (XEDIT/KEDIT/THE, etc)||Less is More:rich functionality behind Spartan interface of OFM|
|Ctags code browsing framework||Foot pedals||Editor-related Humor||Sysadmin Horror Stories||Humor||Etc|
Computer keyboards are not unlike mattresses or cars. You can't know how good or bad yours is until you try a better one. But on the first try any other keyboard looks deficient because it is not like the current. Power of habit here is a very strong force and it takes from a couple of days to a week to appreciate the new keyboard. That means that when you try one in the store it's not necessary an objective test.
Relationship between a user and their main keyboard is unique and forming slowly. Many factors influence it and there can be no single keyboard that is ideal for everyone. That also means that no matter how many reviews you read, ultimately, the only way to find out if a keyboard works for you is to try it out for a week or two. Make sure you keep packaging and all receipts. If it really bad, just return it. Stores like Staples are probably the best for such an experiment. Amazon is also pretty lenient with returns. You just need to pay back shipping.
One important consideration in selection of the keyboard is that many IT professional, such as webmasters and Unix administrators usually type all day long. Which make them as close to gamers as one can get ;-). That sometimes lead to developing professional illnesses. Especially for older folks as tendons lose elasticity with age. Typically this is a carpal tunnel syndrome, but it can be shoulder bursitis or tendonitis or tennis elbow as well. If you struggle with RSI -- you do need automation and you need to put some efforts to learning some shortcuts that automate repetitive activities.
As RSI is pretty debilitating disease, from this point of view using high quality advanced keyboard and mice is not a whim, but a necessity, especially as the person became older.
Aging sysadmins, are naturally more prone to development of RSI. And for them money spend on a better keyboard (and mouse) are money well spend. If your company is scroogy it makes sense to buy it yourself and bring it to work. After all you spend more then 8 hours a day using this thing.
Money spend on a better keyboard are money well spend. If your company is scroogy it makes sense to buy it yourself and bring it to work: you spend more then 8 hours a day using this thing.
Dictation software is a more radical solution, but it is far from being perfect replacement for the keyboard. Still latest versions of Dragon Naturally Speaking with some effort and using good microphone, desktop or laptop with 3GHz i5 or i7 CPU and 1.8GHz memory in a quite room can get close to keyboard productivity in typing plain text. If you need commands you are stuck.
In order to automate something first you need to gain some understanding of this activity. Unfortunately here sysadmins are usually delusional and without analysis of data try to automate things that are more fancy then necessary ;-). Write logs from Teraterm or other Unix terminal emulator or Windows keystroke recorder for a week and analyze them each evening. This way you can see what are you actually doing, where you can improve you current practice and what need to be automated.
Jumping to automation without at least, say, a week long day-by-day analysis of your keyboard activity is not an optimal way to detect most frequently used key combinations. Your personal judgment here is suspect. You need to proceed slowly, discarding those findings that proved to be of limited use. It is important to use actual logs of you activity (easy if you use Teraterm for connecting to Unix boxes). Collection of those logs should be considered as important activity as any other sysadmin job automation task.
In any case proceed with the task of automating your activity slowly and base your decisions on actual usage data not your "mental guesses" about your frequent tasks and patterns of keyboard usage. Automate only those things that stand out and cry for automation. Ignore everything rest. Remember that premature optimization is the source of all evil...
Remember that premature optimization
Write logs from Teraterm or other Unix terminal emulator or Windows keystroke recorder for a week and analyze them each evening. People usually don't remember more then seven keyboard macros unless they are trained, so try to limit yourself only to those few, that provide high return on investment
The next mandatory step is to create a map of your shortcuts, print it and attach to keyboard iether on the hand wrist or at far edge (you need to use cardboard for the latter. In no way you will ever learn your top seven or so shortcuts without "cheatsheet". You probably will get to your old habit in a week or so.
|The next mandatory step is to create a map of your shortcuts, print it and attach to keyboard iether on the hand wrist or at far edge (you need to use cardboard for the latter. In no way you will ever learn your top seven or so shortcuts without "cheatsheet".|
For most people it takes a very long time to learn to use shortcuts instead of "old way" and without the map they eventually return to the "old ways". That should not discourage you. It is normal that you fail the first time. Also, as I mentioned above, understanding what you really need comes very slowly too and requires some analysis of your activities. Be persistent and your persistence will eventually pay out.
Logitech Gaming Software (LGS) provides the capability of printing such a cheatsheet out of the box. Format might be not ideal but this is a good first step as then provide HTML file that you can edit. For details see, for example, Logitech Gaming Software (LGS)
|You need to create a map of your shortcuts, print it and attach to keyboard Iether on the hand wrist or at far edge of keyboard (you need to use cardboard for the latter. Few people are able to learn consistently use designed macros and shortcuts without the "cheatsheet". Typically you get to your old habit in a week or so.|
Again, creation of map of you shortcuts and storing it in several convenient to look places is of paramount importance. Is you way to need and don't appreciate cardboard protruding from the back of the keyboard (that's probably the most efficient way to position the "cheatsheet", then there are mouse pads that contain a sheet of clear plastic detached from the base and into which you can put such a map. See for example Custom Photo Insert Picture Mousepad You can use them for putting the map (in this case you need a separate wrist rest.)
One of the most highly cited papers in psychology is the paper by the Princeton cognitive psychologist George A. Miller "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information" (Psychological Review, 1956). It is often interpreted to argue that the number of objects an average human can hold in working memory is 7 ± 2. This is frequently referred to as Miller's Law.( Wikipedia)
One typical mistake novices in creating keyboard macros commit is inability to stop after then create first seven macros and dedicate time of policing them. Then continue creating new and new macros and as result stop using any of them :-)
Please understand that return on investment after seven macros per application (most macro keyboard allow separate set for each registered application) drops dramatically and after 12 is close to zero. That does not mean that keyboards with 24 macrokeys are useless. Those macro keys are usually organized in the rows and allow you to "move" enter key, del key and some other important keys to the left. If you are using mouse with your right hand it is very inconvenient to have such keys also on the right. Moving them to the left instantly make your keyboard more comfortable as you do not need to lift the right hand from the mouse each time you want to press them. Some model of mice like Logitech Wireless Performance Mouse MX has an assignable button on the bottom of the thumb rest, in a very convenient location. That allows you to replicate Enter key.
One keyboard (Microsoft Sidewinder X6) allows to move numeric pad to the right and use it as macro keys -- this is a great idea but this keyboard has been discontinued by Microsoft)
May be not for all people, but for most of us, there is something in brain wiring that prevents usage of too many shortcuts effectively. So excessive zeal here does not pay well. Even learning seven shortcut requires tremendous, consistent efforts.
That also means that only careful selection of "targets to shoot" pays reasonably well. Having a folder of macros that you last time used two months ago is not a great achievement... But this is the most typical result of "macro-creation" activities: . Again, this is the typical result, not an exception. You are warned :-)
|Please understand that return on investment after seven macros drops dramatically and after 12 is close to zero. Please don't forget to create a map of your custom shortcuts, print it and put into special mousepad or in other convenient location so that it is always available when you are working.|
Don't became infatuated with keyboard macros. Excessive zeal is very harmful and can doom your effort. You need to balance them with mouse, ArsClip (or other clip manager) macros, aliases, macros in Teraterm (or other emulator that you are using):
If you use a lot of macros you can assign one button (for example calculator button) to be on the fly, custom macro button dedicated for a macro you create during your current work. if it proves to be useful in other tasks you can later assign it permanent shortcut, if nor simply discard.
For example when I use Sidewinder X6 I dedicated calculator button to such macros. It really helps to automate some unique for the current session things as you do not need to think to which button you need to assign this macro :-)
Similarly on Logitech G510 G18 can be used this way.
In this case as soon as you notice that you are doing the same thing again and again you create a macro and try to use it. It is not always successful, but in many cases it really helps. For example, closing avalanche of useless helpdesk tickets :-)
If you are fighting RSI an ounce of prevention is always worth pound of cure. Structuring your session with obligatory breaks enforced by countdown timer (which is available in Logitech G510s Gaming Keyboard ) or software are also very effective and should be used in conjunction with installing and learning to use the programming keyboard.
Remember that cutting number of keystrokes and mouse clicks even by just 5-10% represents a distinct advantage for RSI sufferers, which well worth additional approximately $150 investment. Let's say, $60-$100 for a keyboard, plus $40-$60 for a mouse with additional buttons like Microsoft Sidewinder X5 Mouse or Logitech Performance MX mouse (which I prefer) ; buttons can be assigned to cut, paste, Enter and Escape, while wheel click can be assigned to copy ).
Professional PC keyboards with good tactile feel and macro programming capabilities typically they are marketed as "gaming keyboards". Among those that I personally used, can recommend the following:
the keyboard has built-in display on which countdown timer is available. which is extremly
important for making regular breaks. the second timer can be user for recording total amount on
time you spend on the keyboard. It might help to prevent "binge" working sessions.
R.I.P Microsoft Sidewinder X6 and X4.
X4 has correct position of Esc key, but as for macro capabilities is one step back -- numeric keypad keys can't be used for assignment of macros or predefined macros. I saw it recently for $47 with free shipping at Amazon. Here are some highlights:
Please note that XP keyboard used to have 10 keys on the left (two columns of five keys each).
Generally six is enough for most people but two rows (like in Logitech G110) are more
convenient as symmetrical actions can be assigned to adjacent keys. That's why many people including
me find this arrangement less convenient than XP style two column arrangement. With the help
of special switch they can function as S7-S12. In X6 (but not in X4) additional 17 programmable
keys can be used on the numeric pad (S13-S30).and numeric pad itself can be attached to the
left side of keyboard making this key extensions of six macro keys that are provided (few people
use numeric keypad keys in any case; I don't). is impossible for X4. The removable keypad makes
a huge difference in tight quarters where you want your right-handed mouse to be close to the
center of the typing area.
There are also several things that you probably should not do with programmable keyboards. Some of them I already mentioned above:
But for applications that do not have built-in macro-facilities programmable keyboard can serve as poor man macrolanguage with one tremendous advantage -- it is uniform across all applications, the way VBA is uniform in all components of Microsoft Office. That's where programming keyboard while far from being panacea comes into play and make perfect sense for system administrators.
While programmable keyboard allows you to do more, there also a lot of things that you can do with your regular keyboard (and on laptop you can't change it, although it is always more productive to work on laptop with attached full size keyboard).
While you can do a lot with Autohotkey, with programmable keyboard you do the same more reliably. My problem with the Autohotkey is that it sometimes changes the behavior of keyboard when keys get new meaning as if for example Ctrl key stuck. Fixing that often require rebooting of the machine. Also programmable keyboard driver give you access to special keys present of the keyboard, keys that often do not produce valid keycodes and are accessible only via manufacturer driver. Also ability to assign arbitrary sequences of keystrokes to a any key on the fly (using macro recording button) provide additional valuable opportunities for automation of your typical sequences of keystrokes.
The simplest (and not very good) example would be to assign Ctrl-C (copy), Ctrl-X (cut), Ctrl-V (paste) to S1, S2 and S3 on Sidewinder X6/X4 keyboard. Those key sequences are used many times a day and using single keystroke instead of sequence lessen the load on your hands and actually make you more productive. But there is a better way: if you have a mouse with two additional buttons you assign those three keystrokes to middle (copy) and button-1 and button-2 (typically left and right buttons on leftt upper side of the mouse) for paste and cut. See Fighting RSI by using programmable mouse
Actually all examples above are too simplistic. The most productive macros are macros that are specific to your activity and you can find them only by analyzing logs. Drivers like Microsoft IntelliType allow you to set the programmable keys to run a macro (that is stored as XML file that you can edit), to launch an application, to start a web page, to open a file, to execute a keystroke, or one of several preprogrammed actions (such as find text within a document, print, paste, etc.). Often used application do not have a shortcut for the actions you use often. This is a very simple and reliable way to create one yourself. Macro interface for, say, Microsoft IntelliType -- probably the most popular and reliable (and reliability is the key here ;-) driver for programming keyboards is very simple. The macro wizard gives you an ability to click mouse keys, to set time delays between key presses, and to hold a key down for a given number of milliseconds. More complex macrorecoders like AutoHotkey are much more powerful, but less reliable.
The efforts for analyzing your activity are so important that I would like to repeat some points. You can use video recording along with keylogger or terminal logging capability (present in Teraterm and many other terminal emulators). Just 30 min video recording can uncover some important areas that can be automated in your typical activity. That provides a possibility to get some insights into which sequences of keystrokes are repeatable on daily basis. You will be surprised to find them as your educated guess is usually wrong. But even simple (and usually wrong) introspection is better then nothing. It allows you to detect some patterns and preprogram them to macro keys.
Another important point worth repeating again and again is that excessive zeal in creation way to many macros backfire. Again minimalist approach is the most useful. I think return on investment above seven macros per application is almost non-existent.
Here are some considerations for sysadmins.
Gradually you can develop your own stenographic notation for each major task in hand by combining aliases, shell functions and keyboard macros. Most programmable keyboard drivers (and definitely Microsoft and Logitech drivers) have the ability to switch to a different sets of macros for each registered application.
That means that Teraterm and Putty can have different set of macros from Frontpage and Excel.
This is a very helpful feature, that make programmable keyboard tremendously more useful. You need to register in keyboard driver particular application and in case of Microsoft Intellitype a folder for this application macros will be created.
I registered in keyboard driver approximately a dozen of applications I used the most heavily (each application can have up to three maps, althouth this is rarely needed)
As keys assignment are individualized between maps you can develop each independently. It take some time and adjustments but rewards are real.
It's important to keep the notation very simple (7-12 entries for a task are OK, double of that can became problematic to remember even with a cheat sheet in a mouse pad, or attached directly over display using plastic cutting board you can find in any store). Excessive zeal in creating too many shortcuts probably hurts the results as you just stop using them at all. Excessive zeal in creating too many shortcuts probably hurts the results as you just stop using them at all.
One thing that all Unix administrators should do is on any PC keyboard to reprogram CapsLock to act as Ctrl, like in classic Sun keyboards. That makes Screen command prefix Ctrl-A really logical for PC as it always was for Sun keyboard users. This is actually a standard Windows registry capability exposed by various programs such as RandyRants SharpKeys.
There is another important problem with PC keyboards is that Esc key is in a wrong position for such a frequently used key (especially by heavy vi users). There are two solutions to this problem:
You can emulate most features of programmable keyboard using AutoHotkey with a regular keyboard, but it's just less convenient and reliable then hardware (driver) implementation. At the same time AutoHotkey is definitely more powerful and flexible then either Microsoft Intellitype or Logitech keyboard/mouse driver. One problem is using AutoHotKey is that few combination of other drivers and utilities with it is stable. In general Microsoft Intellipoint is not compatible with almost any other similar driver including, surprisingly, Microsoft Intellipoint (I think they overlap quite a bit and their existence as two separate packages is just the case when right hand in Microsoft does not know what left hand is doing). I strongly recommend replace Intellitype with XMouseButtonControl if you use Microsoft mouse. AutoHotkey is almost as bad as Intellipoint, if not worse. It is better to use it iether alone or with minimal additional programs if you need to use it at all. Here are some more or less stable combinations.
Here are some unstable combinations that I experienced
Microsoft Sidewinder X6 used to be the cheapest of high quality programmable keyboards. This was my first programmable keyboard. It used to have a unique feature: detachable numeric pad that can be attached to the left side of keyboard to emulate "look and feel" of PC XT classic keyboard. This might also be convenient for lefties. The six programmable keys on the left side of the board (you can use all 12 settings if you press the little button under the column - or set them for another application or user) are very handy for administrators who have many repeatable key combinations like ". ~/.profile". Those with carpal tunnel syndrome would appreciate such help.
You can find a keyboard with a non-standard and somewhat more convenient location of keys on the market but the problem here is that if you get used to some "special" keyboard layout, you should create for yourself an environment where you do not need to alternate between this keyboard and the more "conventional" or standard keyboards. Sometimes that can be solved if you buy a second one for work. But often it is impossible. For example for Unix administrators there are many situation when only the standard keyboard is available.
For sysadmins programmable keyboard with special keys is not a "nice" addition, but an essential health preserving feature. Unfortunately few administrators and programmers try to learn to use them in a better way, as a conscious, dedicated effort (only gamers use them all the time and transfer of this type of skills between them is more common. They also typically transfer them to other areas which might be one of the few positive things about hardcore gamers ;-).
But even basic things like creating a set of typical "phrases" that you use daily can save 10% or more of keystrokes. The key here is not to rely on intuition but study your activity using logs (Teraterm logs are a good start).
The idea that any repetitive sequence of keystrokes can be replicated with a single keystroke is a very powerful productivity enhancing feature. If you feel pain in your hands as a result of your daily activity (even if it is temporary and disappears the next morning) you definitely consider implementing this solutions.
April 17, 2010 | Amazon
From a non-gamer perspective Microsoft fixed one important problem that plagued X6 (wrong position of Esc key), but screwed almost everything else. Again this review is from the point of view of a power user, not a gamer. Such users are attracted to gamer keyboards like X4 and X6 mainly due to their macro functionality.
I would list those shortcomings that I found so far in comparison with Microsoft X6 keyboard, an older cousin of X4:
-- They removed Intellitype GUI invocation button. That makes creation and debugging of macros less convenient.
-- Repeat button still cannot repeat macros. There is no way to change pause between repetitions. In other words it is useless outside games.
-- Looks like numeric pad no longer can be used as the bank of macro buttons. Keys are not visible in Intellitype menu and there is no "enable macro pad" check button for each banks of keys in Intellitype if X4 is selected.
-- There is no way to create macros that use the keyboard ability to decode simultaneous pressing of multiple keys ("accords"). This is a huge shortcoming as the number of "special" keys in X4 is minimal. I bought the keyboard expecting this functionality.
-- Button on the palmrest, which extends S1-S6 to S7-S12 (Macro Toggle key) was removed in X4. They would be better off adding physical second column of keys like in original XT keyboard (and some Logitech keyboards like G110).
-- They now provide legs to tilt the keyboard up (X6 has no legs), but still do not provide an additional USB port for the mouse which is sad for this price range.
-- I would say that in addition to being non-detachable like in X6, palmrest is unusable in X4. One way to fix this is to glue gel pad to it, but this fix has obvious shortcomings.
-- using dial for volume control as in X6 is more convenient then two buttons provided in X4 instead.
I decided that I will simply swap Esc and F1 on my X6 keyboard and continue to use it. As a result I returned the X4 keyboard to Amazon.
Learn The OS's Keyboard Config Settings
Learn the OS's ways to config the keyboard. On Windows, it's the keyboard icon under Window's Control Panel. On Mac, it's the Keyboard icon under System Preference. They allow you to tweak global keyboard hotkey settings, to various degrees.
If you have a Microsoft keyboard, I recommend the bundled IntelliType software. (comes in for both Windows and Mac versions) It lets you remap or disable keys or define macros to some extent.
Get A Keyboard Macro Tool
Use macros and other key-remapping or app launching software. On the Mac, I recommend Quicksilver. On Windows, I recommend AutoHotkey. Both are free. (See: AutoHotkey Basics)
Note that there are also very good commercial ones. I've used QuicKeys on the Mac from 1991 to 2002. QuicKeys is now sold by http://startly.com/ (for Mac and Win). On the Mac, there's also Keyboard Maestro from http://www.keyboardmaestro.com/main/ I've used.
g1-g6 correspond to ctrl-1 through ctrl-6. This is for switching tabs in Firefox. Now you have single buttons to switch b/t the first 6 tabs of Firefox without using the mouse.Chris Hogben on July 5th, 2009:
g9 is a shortcut for save (ctr-s)
g12 is a shortcut for refresh (refresh the page in Firefox ctr-r)
g13 is a shortcut for copy (ctr-c)
g14 is a shortcut for cut (ctr-x)
g15 is a shortcut for paste (ctr-v)
g16 is a shortcut for undo (ctr-z)
g17 is a shortcut for select all (ctr-a)
g18 is a shortcut for alt-tab (to switch between applications)
Every time you can cut 2 keystrokes down to one, you're making progress
If it's automation you need (and if you struggle with RSI - you need automation) then look at a dead cheap zboard keyboard, but not to type on! Almost all of the keys are programmable. Place it on your left (if right handed) and use the software provided to program the keys to type your common words or phrases. It'll get your left arm moving a bit more - might help.
Going that bit further and using a macro program (I use macro express) and program it to trigger the macros.
You'll just need to raid the stationary cupboard for some small stickers to place on the keys…
My best keyboard in a long, long time,
December 30, 2008
A. Dent (Minas Anor, GD) - Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
To state that I am impressed with this keyboard would be almost an understatement. I've been using a Microsoft Digital Media Pro Keyboard for the past couple of years and I was very happy with it and, I thought I was going to give this one to one of my gaming little sons but... it looks like I'm keeping it for myself and I'm ordering a second one for him.
I am going to state what impressed me or disappointed me as a light gamer but a relatvely heavy keyboard user. Everything else, it's probably available in the official product description or in other reviews.
+ Quality build:
Unlike what another review states, this is a well-built, well designed keyboard. The plastic does not feel 'cheap'. On the contrary. In addition, the keyboard is so heavy, it 'sticks' to the desk and it would hardly moved when accidentally bumped.
+ Switchable and REMOVABLE numeric keypad:
Taking off the keypad is as easy as pulling it. It's kept attached to the main body via a couple of strong magnets so it's easy to remove but, once it's attached it will stick to the body.
+ Excellent for typing:
Bing a touch typist I hereby testify that this is a GREAT keyboard. It's not as quiet as the one I am now abandoning (see above) but a little more click does not bother me.
+ A large number of easy-to-program macro keys:
There are 12 (2 * 6) dedicated macro keys on the left side plus 18 keys on the numeric keypad which COULD be assigned to single-key macros, adding up to 30. Multiply that by the 3 easy to switch 'profiles' and there's a total of 90 single-key macros.
A rough 'draft' of a macro can be done by simply performing the task while in 'record' mode. Then, the IntelliType Pro utility allows for refinements and adjustments. I was able to build a rather complex macro within minutes of trying one for the very first time.
+ Macros aren't for gaming only
The macro that I just built is not for game-playing. It's for business use and it's saving me lots of dumb keystrokes and therefore a lot of time.
+ Not as many unneeded keys
It's probably just me but I never use those dedicated keys that would start 'mail', take you to the 'pictures' folder or maybe open a browser. This does have the 'calculator' button and the speaker volume and the play/stop/skip keys but all others are missing. I feel that this is a pretty good compromise.
= Backlighting is cool but, why not blue or green?
I do appreciate the fact that the macro-assignable keys have a yellow backlight vs the the red for everything else but I wish that other color choices were available.
- The numeric keypad feels like it's about to break
As I mentioned already, it's held onto the main body with magnets. I am not used to my new keyboard yet so, every time I am moving it around, it feels like the right section is about to break.
- It can't be raised
The only serious issue is its lacking those little legs that would allow me to raise the keyboard a little. I thought I was going to miss it more but, it seems, I'm getting used to it already. However, not everyone may feel that way.
Overall, this is an easy 5-star. I am NOT a Microsoft fan but this Microsoft keyboard is a keeper.By Leo L. Schwab
For Want of a Key, the Keyboard Was Lost,
March 25, 2009
My God, this is a programmable keyboard, you can reprogram Esc key for F1 key and problem resolved.
Every relationship between a user and their keyboard is unique. Many factors shape the relationship -- the size and shape of the user's hands, the user's sense of tactile aesthetics, what the keyboard is used for, for how long, etc. The point being, there can be no single keyboard that is ideal for everyone. Issues that may be not matter to most people may be glaring flaws for others. No matter how many reviews you read, ultimately, the only way to find out if a keyboard will work for you is to try it out.
After having tried it out, my executive summary of the Microsoft Sidewinder X6 is: This clearly was not designed by a 'vi' user.
I'm a software engineer, and use my keyboard for programming and command entry. My Saitek keyboard was starting to behave strangely, and needed replacing. Although the Sidewinder X6 is billed as a "gaming" keyboard, I've found such keyboards in general to be of overall higher quality than "regular" keyboards and excellent for general use. The macro programming and "gaming" features were not of primary interest to me. I'm very particular about a keyboard's tactile qualities. If I can get those qualities out of a so-called gaming keyboard, then so be it. (And I'm also a sucker for decorative lighting.)
In many respects, the Sidewinder X6 is a very fine product. Key feel is firm and decisive, with no mushiness. They keys are stiffer than is common and require more downforce, which is exactly how I prefer it. Despite the "hard bottom" of the keypress action, the keyboard is fairly quiet and won't disturb your cube neighbors. Backlighting is as intense or subdued as you wish. And the volume control knob is a welcome and superior departure from the '+' and '-' volume keys that so plague keyboards today.
Some minor issues with manufacturing were apparent. The keycaps were not as smooth and well-finished as the keyboard's price tag would suggest, and I found myself scraping small bits of plastic flashing off the surface of some keys to smooth them down.
But, for me, the X6's greatest handicap is a consequence of the text editor I've been using since 1982 -- 'vi'.
'vi' ("vee-eye") is a text editor from the UNIX world which, by its design, requires frequent use of the Escape key, and this is where, in my use case, the X6 inexplicably and perhaps fatally fails -- the Escape key is in the wrong place.
ESC is normally placed above the tilde ('~') key. However, from the photographs, you can see that Microsoft added a column of macro keys on the left side of the keyboard, and placed the ESC key above this new column. They then stretched the row of function keys out such that F1 is above the tilde key. The result is I've been hitting F1 nearly every time I actually wanted to hit ESC.
Microsoft's choice to do this is bewildering. Perhaps, in a gaming context, access to function keys is considered more important than putting ESC in the standard location. But other "gaming" keyboards have not made this choice. The Saitek PC Gaming Keyboard, which my X6 was intended to replace, puts ESC in the standard location. Even the Razer Tarantula, which also has an extra column of programmable keys on the left, still places ESC above tilde.
This isn't the first time I've dealt with a misplaced Escape key. My ThinkPad also has F1 above tilde, and placed ESC all by itself above F1 (sort of like hydrogen on the Periodic Table). I've managed to adapt to the ThinkPad. I don't yet know if I'll adapt to the X6.
In all other respects, the Sidewinder X6 could be a winner for me. I like the key feel, the cutesey lighting is nice, and the knobs are a welcome addition. But if I can't adapt to the Escape key's non-standard location then, for me, the X6 will be a failure. And that would be a damned shame.
I was plenty excited when I saw Microsoft was releasing a new non-mangled ergonomic keyboard - the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.
Now that I own one, I'm not excited any more.
This keyboard is the natural heir to the obsolete but much loved Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro:
The MS Natural Pro was discontinued in early 2001. After that, there were hardly any ergonomic split keyboards with standard PgUp/PgDn clusters. There were a handful of rare and obscure exceptions, but in general, they just weren't being made any more. This was a dark time for ergo keyboard enthusiasts who happened to be programmers.
By 2004, people had started to mock my ugly-but-comfortable 1999-era Natural Pro. I had reluctantly switched to the Digital Media Pro after some flirtations with the Logitech Elite. But neither of these were ergonomic, and both had a very cheap feeling. They just didn't feel right to my hands and fingers.
I'm happy to report that the Natural Ergonomic 4000 is a truly worthy successor to the Natural Pro. My fingers feel at home again! Here are the highlights:
- It's mostly black.* And black is way cooler than beige-y white.
- You can't tell from the pictures, but the palm rests are actually padded with some kind of leatherette or naugahyde. I know it sounds odd, but it's way more comfortable than any plastic palmrest I've ever used.
- This keyboard feels truly solid, like the old Natural Pro. So many wired keyboards are stuck in that disposable, plastic-y $19.99 low-end ghetto nowadays.
- The multimedia buttons at the top of the keyboard are radically simplified. Only the essentials (favorites, home/search/mail, volume, calc) are present. And they're more logically organized into three distinct areas. I love the favorites; that was the only good thing about the Digital Media Pro keyboard I was previously using.
- The otherwise wasted "dead" space in the middle of keyboard is put to use with the zoom slider, LED indicators, and back/forward buttons. I particularly like the LEDs being front and center so I can more easily see when caps/f/num lock is accidentally set.
All is not perfect, however. I do have a few quibbles:
- The Enter key got a little smaller. Many of the other keys got larger (tab, tilde), but Enter somehow got smaller.
- The keyboard has no USB ports. I can't really fault Microsoft here because USB ports are extremely rare on any keyboard these days. But they should bring it back, dammit, because it's so convenient to plug in your mouse or a memory card right on your keyboard!
- They dropped the sleep button, which is traditionally in the upper right of every Microsoft keyboard. Instead you get an extra row of numpad keys (equal, parens, backspace). I've never seen that arrangement, but I rarely use the numpad anyway.
- I'm not sure how useful the "dead zone" buttons (back/forward, zoom) will be. It's a bit of a reach. I never used the zoom/scroll functions located on the left side of my two previous keyboards. But I used to accidentally hit them when my fingers slipped. The odds of me accidentally hitting the dead zone buttons is nil. So this is a net gain even if I never click those buttons once.
The keyboard comes with a pre-installed reverse slope tilt attachment, which supposedly offers a better neutral typing position. I may experiment with this later, but I removed it for now.
My keyboard quest is over. The Natural Ergonomic 4000 retains all the great qualities of the Natural Pro and significantly improves on it. I guess this means I can finally retire my stockpile of Natural Pros.
Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000
Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, January 2006
Published by: Microsoft
Requires: Windows 2000, XP Professional, XP Home Edition, Windows Media Center Edition or Tablet PC Edition, Pentium 233 MHz or higher processor, 128MB RAM, 60MB free hard disk space, available USB
MSRP: US$59.99 (dealers sell for less)
The Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 is a small but interesting step forward for Microsoft. While you may be familiar with Microsoft's Natural Keyboard Elite Pro which has been around for almost seven years, the Natural Ergonomic 4000 adds a curved keywell to the split, tented design. In addition, the standard IBM 104 Enhanced Key layout is augmented by 22 multimedia and application keys for control of various programs including Word, Excel, Outlook, Media Player, Internet Explorer and basic audio. Most of the multimedia and application keys are programmable.
The keyboard is supplied with an installation CD which updates the keyboard Control Panel applet, providing control and customization for 30 different keys-all 22 additional keys, plus the Caps Lock, Left Windows and Application keys. The front edge of the keyboard is covered with a very nice, heavy gauge, matte, textured vinyl palm/wrist rest which works well for a good range of hand sizes. A series of indicator (LED) lights are positioned vertically between the halves of the palm/wrist rest.
Key contact bounce for the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 is good at 10 milliseconds. The average maximum key operating force (KOF) is a moderate 55.5 grams making the touch very familiar, and similar to other good quality membrane-based keyboards. By comparison, the Kinesis Maxim keyboard with its smooth operating high quality mechanical key switches has a KOF of 51.7 grams. The Goldtouch KOF is rated at 54 grams, and the Unotron KOF is 65 grams. Efficient keying requires that keys function with minimum adequate force and with sufficient displacement to provide muscular feedback to the user. Key forces for current high production (read: good quality) keyboards are in the range of 40-125 grams with key displacements of 3 to 5 mm. The more proficient the user, the lighter the touch can be. If too little force is required, extra keys may be struck accidentally, and if too much force or displacement is required, some keys may fail to be actuated because the user did not press hard enough. Also, excessive force induces finger fatigue. Optimum force/displacement characteristics of a key require a steadily increasing force as the key is depressed until contact is made. Immediately beyond that point, the force is sharply changed so that users can easily "feel" when the key has been pressed sufficiently. Heavier touches are generally reserved for less experienced or occasional typists.
The Microsoft standard typing and key control ergonomics are typical of IBM 104-key enhanced layouts. This keyboard is busy though, with a total of 126 key, laser etched letters, numbers and symbols, with two labels on each of the 'F' keys-one on top, one on the front surface facing the typist. Laser etching is standard size except for the small markings on the front of the 'F' keys. Curiously, the secondary navigation and e-mail commands etched onto the top of the 'F' keys are more visible, not a good idea in a split, tented ergonomic keyboard because it makes the traditional 'F' key labels more difficult to identify.
Whether or not that balance of visibility suits you depends entirely on your primary uses for the computer. If you're keyboard oriented in the first place, getting used to taking advantage of all the built in application shortcuts seems very easy to do. There is a 'F' key lock that can be activated to set the keys to their standard use. Release the 'F' lock to activate the application commands. The order of the application keys on the upper row doesn't accurately follow the standard Windows application button positions-the Close and Print keys are in the wrong locations. The keyboard also sports five fully programmable keys (labeled 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) with no provision for adding text labels.
My personal whines about the 104 Enhanced Key layout are not answered here because Microsoft adheres to the standard layout to prevent typing confusion. I have 'issues' with the 104 Enhanced Key layout. Why, for instance, is the Caps Lock key placed directly above the left Shift key? Most people don't use the Caps Lock more than once a day, but the left Ctrl key (which is generally used dozens of times per day) is positioned below and to the left, away from the main key area (just try to do Ctrl+F6 with one hand-it's impossible). -- that can be reprogrammed using Sharpkey -- NNB
The old XT/AT keyboard layout positioned the 'F' keys on the left end of the keyboard, in my opinion a much smarter and more productive location. Call me cranky, but I've always liked the old 84-key AT layout better. As well, the Esc key is off in space above the main QWERTY and numeric keys, and left of the 'F' keys. The rarely used tilde/back quote key is handier-put the Esc key there instead, or integrate it with the numeric keypad where it can be more intuitively used to clear calculator functions. The keyboard has a useful extra row of calculator function keys above the numeric keypad, so replacing its Num Lock with a duplicate Esc key would make this keyboard better for the spreadsheet, math/student, programmer and calculator crowd.
The programmable keyboards from Kinesis, Goldtouch and Pace allow you to remap keys within the hardware itself. Microsoft only provides this level of programmability in the Mac OS X configuration utility supplied with the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000! Weird. On the other hand, despite the remappability in OS X, the keyboard is not supplied with replacement Option and Command key caps. Both situations are half-measures which detract from an otherwise well-made, good quality 'board.
Cons: This keyboard would be the perfect, all around productivity keyboard if it had professional quality mechanical key switches instead of the membrane key switches found in almost every consumer keyboard on the market. The effort put into designing and manufacturing a genuinely ergonomic layout and form factor is betrayed by the mundane and non-ergonomic key switches. For this kind of money there should be a small USB 1.1 or 2.0 hub. The key indicator (LED) lights are positioned between the palm/wrist rest halves, putting the LEDs below your field of view, necessitating a direct look in order to determine key status for Num Lock, Caps Lock, 'F' Lock and Scroll Lock. Key programming is limited mainly to additional keys only, and I'd like to see remapping controls for standard keys. Key shape should change next to the split-right now, they're elongated next to the split when they should be square (like the rest of the standard keys) in order to avoid mis-strikes until you adapt to the new layout. No Option or Command key caps for Mac OS X users. The keyboard is quiet-more like a laptop 'board than a productivity 'board, which I'm sure many people will love, but I prefer some key clatter to help key press identification and key strike accuracy.
Pros: Aside from my key switch and programmability complaints, this is a great keyboard. The additional parentheses keys above the numeric keypad are a huge help when doing calculations. The range and number of programmable additional keys is good, with application and program control extended to anything installed on your computer. The curved keywell works with the moderate split and upward tent angle to relieve most wrist and forearm stress caused by wrist pronation and rotational twisting. Additional angle/range adjustments can made using the rear feet elevations and the detachable front tilt plate. The keyboard (without the tilt plate) is quite thin compared to previous ergo 'boards from Microsoft. Typing response will satisfy most people, with key operating force right in the middle of the acceptable range. The moderate split angle is slightly smaller than the Natural Elite Pro, which should result in a shorter adjustment period for most people coming from a standard keyboard. Well designed, integrated palm/wrist rest. There's a Mac OS X configuration utility on the CD. Recommended.
Gray Data Covers Gray Data Cover Overlays - Gray Data Cover Overlays include 72 gray overlays (stickers) that fit standard keyboard alphanumeric keys. The gray overlays are opaque and completely hide whatever appears on the original key. Price: $8.95 Beige Overlays Pebble Beige Data Cover Overlays - Suitable for blocking out keys on standard beige keyboards. The overlay set includes 72 beige overlays (stickers) that fit standard keyboard alphanumeric keys. Price: $8.95
Steven G. from New York extols the pleasures of using the Versakey Keyboard. It's got 60 extra function keys across the top in addition to the usual 12 (which are on the left side), and all 60 keys are programmable via the keyboard, so no software's necessary.
"I'd rather go without pizza for a whole year than live without my MCK-142Pro," says Norman S. The Adesso MCK-142Pro has 24 programmable keys and a clickity-clack feel.
More than a dozen people wrote to say they're using old Gateway AnyKey 124-key programmable keyboards. These were copies of the MaxiPro-II, a programmable keyboard manufactured by MaxiPro with function keys on top and the side. I use one on a test PC and think it's terrific, with a comfortable feel. The downside, though, is that the Backspace key is way too small. I found about a dozen of these gems for sale on EBay; most sell for roughly $12.
Of course, if you try some of these older keyboards on a new PC, there may be complications. My old Northgate keyboard works fine with a fast 1.2-GHz PC, but to make it work I needed a $12 AT-to-PS/2 adapter. It's available at PawSense, a $20 utility (yeah, I agree, that's high) that is supposed to detect when a cat is walking across your keyboard. And no, I didn't test it--I don't have a cat.
Stay tuned for keyboard remappers, macro programs, and other keyboard odds and ends in next week's column.
Sign up to have Steve Bass's Home Office Newsletter e-mailed to you each week.
As described in the section on keystroke detection and scan code generation, keyboards don't send letters and numbers to the PC, but rather sets of scan codes. The keyboard decides what to send to the PC, and the PC decides how to interpret it. Programmable keyboards have an EEPROM (flash memory) to hold key definitions, even when power to the keyboard has been cut. They are great for users that really want control over their keyboard's layout and operation--people like me! :^) As I mentioned, I exclusively use programmable keyboards, in my case Gateway Anykey 124-key keyboards. The programming features let me overcome what I consider to be poor layout decisions in the standard 101-key "Enhanced" PC keyboard layout.
Tip: For many years Gateway included these keyboards as standard equipment on all their new PCs, but I believe they are now optional. They can in fact be used on any system, not just Gateway's PCs. Gateway officially sells them only to Gateway system buyers, but used Anykey keyboards are easy to find inexpensively at online auction sites. There are of course other manufacturers of programmable keyboards as well.
Keyboards with programming features usually include additional keys that control the programming of other keys. One important function of the programmability is the ability to "Remap" keys. You hit the "Remap" key, and then another two keys, and the original function of the first is transferred to the second. This lets you swap keys around or redefine the layout of the keyboard. For example, I use this to define the <Caps Lock> key on my keyboard to function as a <Ctrl> key. Since the change is made within the keyboard itself, the alteration is completely transparent to the system, and the keyboard can be moved to any PC and operate the same way.
Tip: One could also use this functionality to create the equivalent of a "hard-wired" Dvorak keyboard, for example, simply swapping the letter keys around to match the Dvorak pattern, with no software changes needed to the PC.
Another feature of these keyboards is the ability to define macros. These are strings of key sequences that are activated when a single key is pressed. Again, for many users they are not that important, but for others they are extremely useful. For example, you could program a single key to insert your entire email address into any program. Again, this is implemented at the keyboard level, so you can use strings of key sequences with all application, and even use special key sequences like <Alt>+<Tab> to move between applications or perform special operations.
One of my Gateway Anykey keyboards. Note the two sets of function keys--the ones on
the left-hand side are much more useful than the ones on top. :^) Although this picture shows
the <Caps Lock>, <Ctrl> and <Alt> keys in their traditional places, I have them logically
"shuffled" to suit my tastes. The group of four keys in the upper right corner are for programming.
Programmable keyboards have never been all that popular. For most typical PC users the programming features aren't needed, and so the additional cost of the programming feature isn't warranted. Worse, there are problems with programmable keyboards. Since keys can be remapped and macros defined, accidentally hitting the programming keys can cause the keyboard to change the meaning of any key on the keyboard, including fundamental ones like <Enter> or the <Space Bar>. If programming is activated and not shut off, the keyboard may "absorb" long sequences of characters into macro strings instead of sending them to the system, without the user realizing that this has happened.
This can create a great deal of confusion, and some companies have banned these keyboards from their offices entirely because the PC support people got tired of all the calls from users whose keyboards were "locked up", or questions regarding why the letter "Q" shows up when they press the "A" key. The omes cleared. It could also be used by two people sharing a keyboard (though that would be quite cumbersome if frequent switching was necessary.)
The XMacro package contains two programs (xmacrorec and xmacroplay) for recording and replaying keyboard and mouse events through the XTest extension on an X server.
JeruKey is a small and fast utility that lets you bind actions to the miscellaneous keys on your keyboard. JeruKey also allows you to transform your keyboard's LED-indicators (Num_Lock, Caps_Lock, Scroll_Lock) into monitors which flash to indicate information. JeruKey also comes with an applet that displays information about the state of the keyboard indicators.
In fact, the IBM keyboards with the tactile 'click' are indeed still produced (IBM sold off their keyboard division years ago, and they are sold under a different name).
You can buy one at PcKeyboard.Com [pckeyboard.com]. They even offer an updated model with the additional Windows 95 keys (winkey and context menu), and a pointing stick (like the ones found on IBM thinkpads).
A detailed article on the old IBM keyboards can be found here [dansdata.com]
The FK-8200 keyboard aka "EZ Pro" is a professional 126-keys keyboard with: Ergo wave design; Enlarge space bar; 3 windows 95 hot keys; 12 programmable function keys (each stores up to 20 ASCII codes); built-in patented calculator/clock; unique "SEND" key, that allows you to send the calculating result directly to the mouse pointer position; LED-indicator on key caps; and Easy-rest wrist support. This keyboard comes with a PS/2 connector (6 pins, round, size of 1/4").
There's only one answer, no need for a thread: (Score:5, Informative)
by FFFish (7567) on Thursday May 29, @09:03PM (#6073063)
PCKeyboard [pckeyboard.com], who own the rights to the venerable IBM high-tactile keyboards (aka "the wing of death").
They also have myriad options and some extremely programmable/configurable keyboards.
Focus Electronic (Score:5, Informative)
by Drakon (414580) * on Thursday May 29, @09:10PM (#6073104)
(Last Journal: Tuesday April 08, @05:32PM)
I use a keyboard from Focus Electronic [focustaipei.com] called the FK-8200 [focustaipei.com]
I sincerly regret not waiting for the FK-9200 [focustaipei.com] to become available, since it has a trackball in the center of the keyboard.
This keyboard is great.. it has a built in calculator, a clock with batteries for when the machine is off, and 12 macro keys that can be mapped to just about anything..
Re:Focus Electronic (Score:1)
by prestwich (123353) on Sunday June 01, @11:59AM (#6090355)
I've had a Focus 5001 that I picked up at a radio rally for £3 many years ago; it was my main keyboard for a long time - function keys down the left as well as accross the top, calculator in built and diagonal arrow keys!
Re:The Model M is The One True Keyboard (Score:2)
by the eric conspiracy (20178) <slash@NOSPaM.ehlarson.com> on Friday May 30, @02:21PM (#6079580)
Mapping keys is a software issue. If you can't map keys some reason, PCKeyboard sells a model M type keyboard under the name Linux 101 that comes out of the box with the control key next to the a. Re:The Model M is The One True Keyboard (Score:2)
by GiMP (10923) on Friday May 30, @09:10PM (#6082268)
The model M is the best keyboard ever.
With that said, there are a few drawbacks which are very unfortunate:
- They are only in PS/2 flavor.. no ADB, USB, etc.
- They are no longer manufacturered
- They only come in beige (or yellow, depending on age and environment).
- Corded only, no wireless.
Re:The Model M is The One True Keyboard (Score:1)
by Bawko (132065) on Friday May 30, @09:46PM (#6082393)
I have read the Model M postings with great interest, having used nothing else for over 5 years now. I used to go through keyboards like toilet paper - coffee spills, drops, and just plain cheap quality would insure it! No more - I found 3 Model M keyboards (including 2 half size models without the numeric keypad - Excellent!) in thrift stores, and I have NEVER looked back. Hail to the ruler - the undisputed champion of the keyboard gladiatorial arena! Model M! Model M! Model M!
P.S. The half size version carries IBM part number 1391472, if anyone is interested. Truly an excellent keyboard - and takes up less deskspace!
Windows is the best mouseless UI there is (Score:4, Insightful)
by farnsworth (558449) on Thursday May 29, @10:00PM (#6073364)
even under the mouse-hungry Windows GUI
Are you insane? I don't care for Windows, but it is the most advanced mouseless UI there is. You can do everything without even having a mouse plugged in at all. The same cannot be said for gnome/kde or X in general. Granted, Windows is decidedly not a CLI, like your ssh sessions, but it's still the best there is if you don't like to use a mouse.
I recall reading something about how some beta of windows 95 or NT 3.x failed a DOD acceptance test because a lot of it depended on the mouse, so Microsoft spent considerable time making it work fine in case of mouse failure.
extremetech has an article about this (Score:1)
by aditseng (644368) on Friday May 30, @02:34AM (#6074546)
ExtremeTech [extremetech.com] has a story Keyboard Craziness and Mouse Madness [extremetech.com] has a few interesting keyboards and mice beyond the ordinary.
New is also this article [extremetech.com] about a keyboard without a keyboard.
Speaking of keyboards (Score:2)
by DeadSea (69598) * on Friday May 30, @05:04AM (#6074919)
(http://ostermiller.org/ | Last Journal: Thursday October 16, @08:47PM)
Does anybody know how to get all those extra keys (volume, forward, back, search, my computer, calculator, etc) to do something useful under linux? Re:Speaking of keyboards (Score:1)
by jmertic (544942) on Friday May 30, @01:34PM (#6079109)
(http://marnoclabs.org/~john | Last Journal: Tuesday January 07, @10:21AM)
Try LinEAK [sourceforge.net] or you can use xmodmaps if you have a really wierd keyboard ( although LinEAK supports most keyboards out there and is extendible easily) Re:Speaking of keyboards (Score:2)
by damiam (409504) <mathlete@bel[ ]uth.net ['lso' in gap]> on Monday June 02, @12:26PM (#6097087)
acme [hadess.net] is native GNOME2 (although it should work with KDE) and provides an excellent gui for configuring/using those keys. PI Engineering's X-Keys (Score:3, Informative)
by Zocalo (252965) on Friday May 30, @05:15AM (#6074943)
PI Engineering [ymouse.com] make a range of rather nifty "keyboard extenders" for all those keyboard macros. I've got my eyes on an X-Keys "Stick" or two, but want the USB version which has been "coming soon" for a few months now, so should be imminent. The only drawback is that the management software utility is Windows only, although you can still program the keys directly or use a Windows PC and then transfer the keyboard to a Mac/*NIX box. Since you have Windows anyway that shouldn't be a major problem in your case though. They seem open to developing custom solutions though, so *might* be prepared to provide the info necessary to develop a *NIX version of the programming tool. In my experiences with programmable keyboards however that's only really of use to people who need to either bulk program the things or flip between application specific macro sets. Sun Type 5 USB keyboard (Score:1)
by pastie (80784) on Friday May 30, @11:12AM (#6077637)
I find these a joy to use, and although they don't have a built-in trackpad, they have a load more function keys down the left-hand side which you could program to perform whatever functions you like. These work fine under Linux, and I'm assuming they can be made to work with Windows too :)
Also, they have Super/Hyper/Meta modifier keys, so you'll have a load more keys you can use for your bindings that way too (no windows keys though, but I'm sure you could use one of the extra modifier keys as such if you so wished).
Re:music notation keyboard (Score:1)
by halfgeek (657613) on Sunday June 01, @01:00AM (#6088330)
That reminds me of this crazy garbage I ran across in my search: This Creative Labs keyboard with a nice set of "extra keys". [amazon.com] Man. I cant belive no one has linked to this yet.... (Score:2)
by Cyno01 (573917) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Saturday May 31, @12:20PM (#6085170)
All hail Thinkgeek, they have some crazy keyboards [thinkgeek.com], built in gesturing [thinkgeek.com], zero force w/ gestures [thinkgeek.com], even ones with customizable sections [thinkgeek.com]. They seem a bit pricey however, and theres a bit of a learning curve for zero force and gestures, but they may be what your looking for. Gateway Anykey, if you can still find them. (Score:2)
by Gldm (600518) on Monday June 02, @02:15AM (#6093781)
These were great back when they were still being made. I'm sure they were sold under other names, but this is the only one I still remember. Everything fully programmable, including macros, 8way arrow pad with space in the center, and double set of function keys, both across the top and down the left side. Since you could assign any key to any value you wanted or a macro, you could make them do whatever you want. I used to reprogram them to dvorak before I gave up on it. Sometimes you run into these in the used parts bins for $10 at computer shows.
* You are bidding on a Gateway 2000 124 keys AnyKey PS/2 Programmable keyboard.
* Part number 2194002-00-002
* This programmable keyboard is identified by the presence of extra cursor keys pointing in diagonal directions and also extra keys such as PROGRAM MACRO, SUSPEND MACRO, REMAP, and REPEAT RATE.
* This keyboard is programmable - any of the keys can be reprogrammed as macros or can be remapped to other keys.
* This keyboard is pulled out from a working system and tested, so it is in good working condition. You are bidding on the keyboard only. There's no manual or software come with the keyboard. If you program the keyboard incorrectly, you can check out the information below.
To clear all macros and remappings: Press CTL-ALT-SUSPEND MACRO. The Program light on the keyboard will blink a few times for a few seconds and all macros and remappings are then cleared. If the Program light does not blink when pressing CTL-ALT-SUSPEND MACRO, the CTL or ALT keys may be remapped. To reset them: 1. Press REMAP once 2. Press CTL twice 3. Press ALT twice 4. Press REMAP once 5. Press CTL-ALT-SUSPEND MACRO to clear all macros.
Uncommonly Intuitive Adaptive Keyboard
The unique Adaptive Keyboard automatically changes the row of function keys depending on what application you're in. Less clutter, more function, and a streamlined keyboard that anticipates your needs.
Adaptive keyboard Deployment Guide
suggestion for a keyboard [ New ]
I've owned every G series keyboard aside the G105s so I'll breakdown the Pros and Cons of the G510s, G19s, and G710+
- G19s (What I'm currently using) Pros - Full RGB Backlighting, 12 Programmable GKeys with 3 Modes, LCD Gamepanel Display, two USB ports, On the fly macro recording, and full Media controls including a volume wheel.
Cons - Less GKeys than the G510s, some people complain about durability but I haven't had issues, and sometimes the Gamepanel buttons stick or don't respond. (This is just my opinion, I've had nothing but a positive experince with the G19s)
- G710+ Pros- Fully Mechanical, Single color Backlighting with brightness control, 6 programmable Gkeys with 3 Modes, On the fly macro recording, built-in sound pass through, and Strong build quality.
Cons - Only 6 Gkeys, Only White Backlighting compared to the full RGB of the G105s, G510s, and G19s, and some people have had issues with the Key caps breaking.
- G510s Pros - Full RGB Backlighting, 18 Programmable GKeys with 3 Modes, Monochrome Gamepanel Display, Headset and Microphone jacks, On the fly macro recording, and full Media controls including a volume wheel.
Cons - Overtime the Backlight seemed to fade for me, but that was my only con with the keyboard in the 2 years I used mine.
For your needs, I would recommend the G510s if you care about the Gkeys and Gamepanel. If you don't care about either of those features, I would recommend the G710+. The mechanical Keys feel AMAZING and the keyboard feels like a tank. I personally wasn't a fan of the lack of customization (RGB Backlighting) and Gkeys, so I swapped to the G19s. However the G710+ DOES have backlighting, you just can't choose the color. It also DOES have a Volume control wheel so it meets both your needs.
If you have any specific questions about any of the Keyboards, I can try to answer.
Softpanorama hot topic of the month
Logitech G510s Gaming Keyboard
Logitech G110 gaming keyboard
IntelliType - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
What's The Best Gaming Keyboard
EnduraPro104 - programmable 104 keys.
Programmable Computer Keyboards
FOCUS Keyboard -- FK-9200 PS (PS/2 Model)
Focus FK-9200 keyboard $34
Focus 7200 PS/2 Keyboard
Welcom to PC Century FOCUS-9200 PS-2 $35
FK-9200 is a programmable keyboard with patented built-in trackball (US Patent No. Des. 364,400), 10-digit calculator/ clock, 12 programmable function keys, key-lock function, 3 Windows keys and palm rest for added comfort. Patented Built-In Trackball The first in keyboard technology to integrate a 25 mm trackball ideally located in the center of the ergo-wave design enlarged space bar, which allows the users to manipulate the trackball and the keyboard at the same time without lifting the hands away from the keyboard. This built-in trackball is easily accessible by either thumb. Patented Built-In Calculator/Clock FK9200 comes with a dual power 10-digit calculator which works independently or as part of the keyboard. The calculator either gets its power from the system or from the battery when the computer is off. After 3 minutes of idleness, the calculator will automatically switch itself into the "CLOCK" mode. Programmable Keys The additional 12 programmable function keys simplify the input of a command or a string of characters into one single keystroke. This feature saves the users from the annoying repetitive key-in tasks by defining the most frequently used commands or words to the 12 programmable Key-Lock Function A special function to avoid the file you are editing from being destroyed by accident when you take a short leave from your working table. The computer will ignore any signal entered onto the keyboard once the keyboard is locked.When you choose FK-9200. You also get the expertise behind Focus Electronic one of the world║╕s leading manufacturers of computer products.
X-keys Foot Pedal by P.I. Engineering
Replace repetitive keystrokes or mouse clicks with the action of your foot. Enter, Tab, Shift, Ctrl, Alt, Left Click, Right Click, and Center Click easily program into the X-keys Foot Pedal. Anything you can type on the keyboard can be memorized by the X-keys including Key combinations like Copy (Ctrl+C), Paste (Ctrl+V), Save (Ctrl+S), and Next Program (Alt+Tab).
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Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds : Larry Wall : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOS : Programming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC development : Scripting Languages : Perl history : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history
The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-Month : How to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite
Most popular humor pages:
Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor
The Last but not Least
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Last modified: September 12, 2017