Chording Keyboards vs Dvorak or Querty
aran at meme.hokudai.ac.jp
Thu Feb 24 05:50:58 UTC 2000
> BTW, does anyone know of any others?
> Uh, we talked at one point of just using a regular keyboard and
> intercepting it at a very low level where we could catch each key go
> down or up. Pick five keys, say Space-J-I-O-; (semicolon key) that fit
> nicely to ones hand and do an Englebart-like chord keyboard. I don't
> think it's impossible to do a chord keyboard on a regular keyboard.
When I was working for IBM in Winchester around 1990 (Hi Dave), my
manager bought me a personal note-taking palmtop made by Microwriter, a
British company that had been experimenting with chord keyboards for
some time. It was a pretty useful gadget, with a serial connection for
uploading notes to a PC etc [DNS might remember that Dave Roberts also
had one]. Although I only used it for a couple of years, it has left me
with a fairly bizarre habit: at the beginning I figured I could improve
my typing speed by practicing the finger combinations even when I wasn't
using it, by picking words from conversations and quietly tapping them
out on a nearby desk, or against my thigh. Sadly, I still find myself
doing this. I wonder whether people who notice this think I'm a
frustrated musician of some sort.
In the end I gave up using it because of frustration at the inherent
limitation of having no rollover; every character is a separate
down...up of some combination of fingers, which one can repeat (say)
four or five times a second, but this is painfully slow when compared to
the ability to hit sequences such as "ing" or "ion" as pretty much a
single stroke on a QWERTY.
With regard to mapping the patterns to a standard keyboard: the
Microwriter had short-travel keys which struck an uneasy compromise
between giving reasonable tactile feedback and not being too noisy; by
contrast, when I used ObjectWorks to map the chording combinations onto
a section of the numeric keypad on a Sun workstation (with the intention
of simultaneously using the mouse in my left hand), the relatively long
key travel and the force required for pressing up to five keys at once
made the process extremely clunky. It just wasn't any fun.
Aran Lunzer aran at bigfoot.com
Meme Media Laboratory lab: +81 11 706 7262 / fax 7808
Sapporo 060-8628, JAPAN http://ca.meme.hokudai.ac.jp/people/aran/
More information about the Squeak-dev