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Input Devices

Blank Keyboard 994

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the then-switch-to-dvorak dept.
Raynach writes "A friend of mine recently sent me a link for Das Keyboard, the keyboard for UberGeeks. This keyboard is unique in that it has no inscriptions on the keys, which the maker touts will make you type 100% faster in a few weeks since it will keep you from looking at the keyboard. This keyboard also features individually weighted keyswitches, "The keys are divided into groups and their feedback springs are weighted differently; from 35 grams to 80 grams, which correspond to the strength of the finger that touches the keys." But is this "UberGeek" keyboard really worth the high price tag?"
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Blank Keyboard

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  • by yagu (721525) <yayagu@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:36AM (#12634069) Journal

    I like the looks of this keyboard. But, for those looking and drawing any conclusions (I've been burned by this before), read the specs! The web site clearly represents pictorially the keyboard as wireless (I consider this deceptive -- even the "click to zoom" pictures fail to show a cable!). It is not wireless! This may not concern some, but for my uses these days I consider only wireless keyboards... not a commentary on what technology and keyboards should be, just my personal preference.

    So, look before you buy.

    On a related note, if you're looking for an excuse to improve your typing speed this keyboard may give you that (albeit a bit pricey). I finally was shamed into learning touch-typing when a frustrated on-looker (a friend) wrested my keyboard from my hands to finish typing something he was dictating. That incident prompted me to spend the next week refusing to look at the keyboard to type instead learning the keys by touch. Everyone around me went crazy for a week since my immediate result was essentially less than 10 words/minute with about zero percent accuracy. Within only one week I was typing 30 words/minute with about 80 percent accuracy. Today I easily go 60 wpm... that one incident/response dramatically changed my life professionally and personally.

    benefits from learning the keyboard:

    • dramatic increase in productivity
    • better relationships (really!)... ever get snippy with someone because they couldn't "get it out" of their fingers while trying to type? (no jokes please).
    • expansion of your task universe... you'll take on things you'd never have considered before. I once converted a paper "tutorial" system for my company to an on-line ISPF set of tutorial. The main task included writing lots of code -- that was easy and I quickly dispatched that..., but had I not been able to touch type I wouldn't have been able to consider the task, there were ten's of pages to type, I wouldn't have tried to do it in my "pre-touch" days. (BTW, I got a nice company bonus for that little effort (did it on my own time)).
    • better communications... you'll be able to sit down and spin off almost at the speed of stream of consciousness letters, memos, "what if's", etc.
    • better karma... it's just much more satisfying and less stressful in general to create without having to establish a relationship with the keyboard.
  • Blank Keyboard (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:36AM (#12634071)
    What is more interesting is a rearranged keyboard. It is also free - just pop up the letters and rearrange them in some random order. I prefer alphabetical order myself. This screws up hunt-and-peck typists and doesn't look wrong at first.
  • Model M (Score:3, Interesting)

    by screwballicus (313964) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:39AM (#12634148)
    Or if you use a Model M or Model M clone, just pop off your key caps and type on the underlying bases, for a unique typing experience.

    But really, you might as well just arrange your keys in whatever configuration you like, if you've got a Model M.
  • by turbofisk (602472) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:44AM (#12634224)
    I'm never going back to an old-style keyboard... Using Logitechs Ultraflat keyboard... I type faster, with less strain, and am more comfortable while doing it. Did I mention it costs 30 bucks and is the same type of keyboard you find on laptops?
  • Re:Calculator key? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BungoMan85 (681447) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:44AM (#12634229) Homepage
    Couldn't agree more. I got the MS wireless desktop elite keyboard and mouse ($99.99 at Fry's). It is by far the best keyboard I've ever used. What makes it so is mostly the extra buttons up top. I use the calculator one at least 10 times a day. And the volume control/play control/mute button for WMP (I use it, shut up, it works for me) up top is probably going to wear out soon I use it so much. Not to mention the customizable quicklaunch buttons. I got mine set to open the command prompt, Ultra Edit, the registry editor, notepad, and MSVC++. And it has buttons to open a slew of other things too. And lest we forget the browser forward/backward buttons with a scroll wheel beneath them? And that's just the keyboard, the mouse is even cooler.
  • Re:One Word Answer (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:47AM (#12634286)
    I have a keyboard from KeyTronic that was like $25 and has the pressure sensitive key thing. It actually does make a difference, although I didn't notice it until I switched back to a regular keyboard. Basically my speed on the pressure sensitive keyboard went up because it felt more like touching the keys than pressing key/buttons. But thie keyboard was the same price as a regular one, not an $80 rip off.

    On another note, perhaps the main buyers of this keyboard will end up being schools for teaching typing.
  • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:53AM (#12634379) Homepage Journal
    I'm just thankful that I learned typing the right way--in a high school class under a martinet of a teacher on IBM selectric typewriters where I was not allowed to look at the keyboard. Now I type 100 wpm without having to think about where to put my fingers.

    Every so often I marvel at the adaptivity of the human nervous system, the way that I can just think a word and it appears on the screen without my having to pay attention to where my individual fingers go. It's the next best thing to mental telepathy.
  • Re:Calculator key? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @10:55AM (#12634409) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I would never buy a keyboard that has an "email key", that's what keybindings are for. I would question the build and design quality of a keyboard that relies on extra keys to get me to hand over the cash.

    I never like the dumb (and utterly uselss) "email" buttons, but I am a fan of the Sun Keyboard [nifty.com] designs. The "cut", "Copy", "paste", "stop" and other keys on the left can be very handy. It's too bad that Unix software is moving away from using such wonderful keys. :-(

    The only thing that tends to throw users new to Unix keyboards is the location of the Control key. On Unix keyboards, the Control and Caps Lock are swapped. I actually find it a bit more comfortable, but many people are used to the PC keyboard design.
  • Re:a tip (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JWW (79176) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @11:03AM (#12634532)
    Yes, but do the click like the old IBM keyboards, now THAT would be worth the extra money.
  • Re:Calculator key? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @11:12AM (#12634636) Homepage Journal
    The Sun keyboards are PS/2 (old) and USB (new), but are a bit odd. The PS/2 mouse is actually chained through the PS/2 keyboard, resulting in only on PS/2 port on Sun Machines. This method means that you never need to tug on your mouse cord, because it never gets caught on anything. There's always plenty of slack, and the wire is facing the direction of the mouse. Supporting this sort of design on a PC can be a bit problematic, though. Fortunately, methods do exist [optix.org] for attaching a Sun keyboard to a PC. Does that answer your question?
  • Re:a tip (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pogle (71293) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @11:21AM (#12634761) Homepage
    Yes!! I had an old Gateway keyboard from my first PC that I used up until it finally and truly died 2 years ago. That thing could wake the dead (or at least my roommate) when I started coding. And I miss it. It was a good tactile response to my keypresses, and the audible portion is ingrained in my mind as what a keyboard should sound like.

    Also, after over a decade, none of the key labels had worn off. My laptop is suffering after barely a year. They don't make them like they used to. I doubt this 'extra sensitive' keyboard will be any better, especially since my typing isn't 100% adherent to the traditional touch typing methods; that would render those differed key weights completely useless for me.
  • by aliens (90441) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @11:45AM (#12635100) Homepage Journal
    I am typing this on a http://datahand.com/ [datahand.com] if you're not melded with your keyboard you are not worthy!

    And yes it really helps with finger stress/fatigue, whatever you want to call it.

    I just have to deal with being refered to as Edward Keyboardhands, or Keyboardstein by the co-workers.

    Still a lil slower than traditional but it's worth not killing my hands.

    (I bought mine on ebay but have talked to datahand reps a number of times, they're all very helpful)
  • Re:Obligatory (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aslate (675607) <planetexpress@NosPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @11:58AM (#12635238) Homepage
    The annoying thing is that the Keyboard image [daskeyboard.com] doesn't line up with the key map [daskeyboard.com] that they provide.
  • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @12:14PM (#12635397) Homepage
    Just like the ones in all the action cartoons of the 1980s, particularly GI Joe, where NONE OF THE KEYS ARE LABELLED!

    I always wondered about that. Action cartoons have these huge control panels in the various friendly and enemy bases, with football-field sized consoles with millions of buttons and keys, NONE OF WHICH ARE LABELLED.

    I guess people who use those systems must have amazing memory, eh?

    -Z
  • I have a better idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cellocgw (617879) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `wgcollec'> on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @12:27PM (#12635605) Journal
    Given that nobody is *forcing* you to look at the KB in the first place, here's what I'd like to see:
    A keyboard that looks up what language and layout you've selected (Dvorak, Kanji, Hebrew, etc), and has teeny LCD displays in every key that automatically display the current symbol said key produces.
    Now that would be really cool!
  • by Omestes (471991) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (setsemo)> on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @12:31PM (#12635647) Homepage Journal
    Then why do they not type in english? I've noticed that the people I know who learned to type before IM clients became a big deal, when they use IM they type in full sentences, with puntuation. When people use 'em who learned after, they constantly abbreviate, and use numbers (2, 4, etc...).

    This is odd, come to think of it. Since most the people I know used IRC and various BBS chat formats. But we still type like adults. The only colloquial chat slang crap I still use it things like LOL and ROFL, since they mapped to actions on one of my old mBBS boards.

    I just gave someone my AIM name, they are of my generation, and are in college for English, so i expected them to have some skills. But then I get a random IM from them, "dud, u wanna go 2 party? :)" After a couple messages like that, I blocked them.
  • Re:a tip (Score:3, Interesting)

    by irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @12:56PM (#12635952) Journal
    The windows key is a good idea, I wish my Model-M had one. It's not like it magicly stops working in linux or something. If I had one, I'd use it purely for window manager/shell binds, like switching windows/frames/etc(I use Ion). Keep ctrl/alt for apps.

    Also, why hasn't there been any real change in keyboard layout? I know the transitioning would suck, but I can think of two minor changes that would make data entry a ton easier: Tab key on numpad, Backspace key for half of the spacebar.
  • by -kertrats- (718219) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @01:41PM (#12636501) Journal
    I can't stand wireless keyboards. I type at a decent speed (~60 WPM), and whenever I'm on a wireless keyboard the keyboard doesn't keep up with what I'm typing (in particular, the shift key-I have to make a conscious effort to slow down and hold down the Shift key long enough for it to notice so that I can capitalize a letter). I use a laptop anyways, so it doesnt really matter on my comp, but on my family's desktop it gets annoying.
  • by Urchlay (518024) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @01:51PM (#12636607)
    > when is someone gonna make a keyboard thats more grid-like so wasd lines up

    I've typed on a few keyboards like that: the original Commodore PET had the whole keyboard as a grid, and there was a "gamers' keyboard" at the local Micro Center that had just the left half laid out as a grid.

    In both cases, the grid-layout keyboards are almost impossible for humans to type on, particularly humans who already know how to type. Even if you've never typed before, I suspect you'd end up cursing at the grid layout. It looks like it would require pretty unnatural finger motions to use.

    Actually, the gamers' keyboard looks like it'd be wonderful for gaming (what it was designed for), you'd just need a second keyboard for everything else (not a problem with USB, if you have the desk space for them both).

    > other such advances like putting the numpad and home/end, etc keys in the middle so the typing is kind of ergonomical but doesn't have the numpad jetting off waaaayyy over to the right?!?!

    Agree 100% about the numpad. In fact my favorite keyboard ever is the IBM Model M Spacesaver, which doesn't have the num pad at all. I really don't miss it (I don't use it on any keyboard at all), but I've seen some serious rapid data entry by people who do use it... The best of both worlds would be to have all keyboards come in two varieties (with or without numpad), or maybe for all keyboards to have removable numpads.

    But then I think the best of all possible worlds would be a world where every desk has an IBM Model M on it, so what do I know?

    Your idea of moving the home/end/etc. keys to the middle is the best thing I've seen in this thread. They could be grouped together in a row between the existing F-keys and numbers/punctuation, so you could reach them with just a little extra finger stretch instead of having to move your whole hand several inches to the right.

  • by MythoBeast (54294) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @02:01PM (#12636716) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone happen to know what is used to put lettering on keyboards these days and, more importantly, what it would take to remove it? Turpentine? Acetone? Xylene? Preferably something that doesn't also dissolve the keys....
  • by rleibman (622895) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @02:08PM (#12636780) Homepage
    I've yet to find a perfect keyboard, I like some of the things this one has though. Here's my feature list:
    • Hardwired dvorak/us switch (I use Dvorak, but it'd be easier to share this way)
    • Black or transparent (looks good), better when used with a mac
    • Not only ergonomic, but Adjustably ergonomic [kinesis-ergo.com] This is what I use today.
    • I'll take the blank keys from this one
    • I'll also take the variable force springs
    • Wireless
    • Ability to add a separate numeric keypad for those rare times when I need to input lots of numbers
    • A row of buttons for macros
    I'd be willing to put $150.00 for these features.
  • Re:a tip (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rolo Tomasi (538414) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @02:21PM (#12636907) Homepage Journal
    There's a 'blank' version of the Happy Hacking Keyboard [fujitsu.com].

    Also, check this [dansdata.com] review for another unusual keyboard.

    I can't believe nobody has posted the above info yet. Slashdot has really gone downhill as of late.

  • Learn DVORAK (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DunderXIII (866418) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @02:41PM (#12637121)
    Learn DVORAK and keep your current keyboard. You'll never want to look at the keys anymore because they will confuse you. Result? You'll be typing without looking which is, according to the article, going to give you 100% faster typing (...) AND you'll be less prone to typing injuries AND it will cost you a whopping 0$! What a bundle! (just let the new layout sink-in for a few months)
  • by blakestah (91866) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @02:47PM (#12637181) Homepage
    This keyboard uses mechanical keyswitchs instead of those cloddy membrane keyswitches in the Das Keyboard. In addition, it is a split keyboard with bigger keys for your pinky fingers, and the columns of keys are fanned out from your fingers instead of in parrallel rows.

    Totally rocks. Mine is about 7 years old, nearly toast, but I can't find a decent other mechanical keyswitch keyboard to replace it with.

    Mac compatible.

    http://www.sforh.com/keyboards/smartboard.html [sforh.com]
  • Re:a tip (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tassach (137772) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @03:26PM (#12637580)
    Almost, but not quite. QWERTY was designed to minimize jamming in manual typewriters. That much is true. It wasn't really designed to slow people down so much as it was designed so that letters which are frequently adjacent in words are widely spaced on the keyboard, and so that both hands are used roughly equally.

    Since mechanical typewriters are museum pieces now, the first justification of QWERTY is now irrelevant. Whether DVORAK does a better job of using both hands equally, and putting the most frequently used keys in the home position is a matter for debate (if not holy wars).

    I've tried DVORAK and wasn't impressed enough with it to bother switching from QWERTY. What I want is a keyboard that lets me write code without having to hit the shift key. Imagine being able to type something like this without hitting the shift key once:

    for (i = 1; i < n; i++){ x[i] += ((x[i] > y[i]) ? i | *z : i ^ *z); y[i+1] = x[i]; }
    With a QUERTY keyboard, I had to hit the shift key 14 seperate times to type that (silly) line of code. I don't think DVORAK is going to be much better. My pinkies ache after a long hacking run.
  • Re:a tip (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Guildencrantz (234779) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @03:51PM (#12637851)
    Actually I LOVE the way that Vi/Vim perform with the Dvorak layout. Quitting (:q) is a lovely roll of the left three fingers of the left hand("shift+z x" on a Qwerty keyboard). Then again if you use jkhl for cursor positioning you might want to think about remapping.

    Actually it's those "jkhl" situations when shortcuts are related less to the function than the layout on a keyboard that caused the most problems. When I was first learning Dvorak (five years-ago) remembering cut and paste sucked since I'd memorized where the key was and my mind remembered that I was using a new layout but frequently was running a little too quickly to remember the fact it was X and V I was supposed to be hitting (I printed several things unintentionally).
  • Re:a tip (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Parity (12797) on Wednesday May 25, 2005 @04:17PM (#12638127)
    You mean frequently adjacent letters like in 'tion' and 'er' and 'ing', very common endings?

    Lessee, tion is left-right-right-right... er is left-left, ing is left-left-right... hmmm.

    No.

    Of the unsubstantiated qwerty origin stories, the only one I believe is that having all the letters in the word 'TYPEWRITER' be in the top row. To make sales demos easier. That's the kind of design constraint we all know...

    Dvorak is no faster for coding than qwerty. It's really not -faster- for typing generally. It is, however, designed to use the home row for the most frequently hit keys, and for the 'reach' keys, to have the easiest reaches be for common letters. The rarer the letter (or symbol) the harder the
    reach. It was designed for typing English words,
    though, not C code. It has no real advantages in typing code itself (it does have advantages in typing comments... and variable names that look like dissertations...) Anyway. I use dvorak to reduce my carpal tunnel risks, not for speed.

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