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    I had briefly falled down a similar rabbit hole a while back with one of those Planck ortho-linear keyboards, but I returned to a regular keyboard layout for the following reasons:

    • I occasionally play video games, and need the odd key here and there
    • I have a hybrid work environment, sometimes from home, sometimes from the office, so I would need to either always carry my keyboard around, or have two.
    • This also makes it impossible (or at least confusing) to use the built-in laptop keyboard.

    But if it works for the OP, I’m all for it. Ergonomics are super important in this line of work.

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      I have the Planck EZ and more or less the same problems, but about 4 months in:

      -I have made custom layouts for games -I sometimes work away from my home office and at those times I do carry the Plack EZ along with all the wiring -In extremis I can always fall back to the computer’s builtin keyboard and it’s not all that jarring (for me, anyway).

      Also 4 months in I have observed that I am using the keyboard wrong and/or the columnar layout is not helping me much. My fingers travel a lot anyway. I think I must be using it “wrong”

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        Yeah, it’s not insurmountable, but I think I underplayed how much I play video games, and it’s not feasible to program a new layer every time you find a new game with slightly different keybindings, I find.

        As much as I like the whole QMK open firmware project (and it’s related projects), it’s not exactly a rapid process to change things around.

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          True. I don’t play a whole lot on the computer, I’m more of a console person (and will often prefer a controller even on computer). When I do play on the computer, games tend to have similar bindings by “genre”, more or less. If I wanted to play more using my Planck, I probably would have layers by genres.

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        i have been alternating between a staggered-qwerty (laptop keyboard) and ortho-colemak (the ferricy), and i am comfortable with both now! i have been able to consistently hit ~90 WPM on both layouts, it takes me a few minutes of typing to “switch” my brain over from one to the other.

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          Nice overview. I’ve been rocking 42 keys for nearly a decade now and I’d never go back, but I really only have one layer I use regularly.

          One thing I’m curious about that the article didn’t mention: how long did it take you to get proficiency in this layout? (For me it took about 3 weeks to get fast on the Ergodox, and once I had that proficiency, bringing it down to 42 keys on the Atreus only took 2 weeks, but from what I hear about other people switching to the Atreus, 3-4 weeks is common.)

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            glad you liked it. big fan of the unibody-split design of the atreus.

            the descent to 34 was gradual. i started out with a Lotus58, plucked out a few keys until i got to 48, 36 and finally 34. All in all, it took me around 3 months to go from a 60% to a 35%. That being said, I am not as fast as I was on staggered-qwerty yet. I am currently hovering at about 90 WPM on the ferricy, whereas I could hit upwards of 130 on qwerty. going from 36 to 34 was particularly tricky, every key is load-bearing at that point.

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          I’ve been using non-standard layouts for 15+ years, and a mix of ortholinear and normal staggered keyboards for 5+ years. I can switch layouts mid-sentence and go between staggered and ortho layouts in a breeze as well (the only awkward part is to have two keebs on the same table), the entire typing should be in your muscle memory and not in your head. It can be done, without issue.

          And keyboards like these have nearly nothing to do with ergonomics. Keyboards are awkward and stupid to use for humans. :)

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            And keyboards like these have nearly nothing to do with ergonomics. Keyboards are awkward and stupid to use for humans. :)

            Do you think any writing/typing implement is ergonomic?

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              The closest are probably Maltron, Kinesis Advantage, Dactyl and friends. And while I love using dvorak I don’t have any delusions that my layout of choice would improve ergonomics in any way (beyond placebo, which is powerful in itself).

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            I switched to ortholinear about 4-ish months ago. I swap back to a standard TKL board for gaming, though that’s partially because I have a tented split keyboard. At first I had a little trouble switching back and forth between ortholinear and staggered, but after the first maybe 2 weeks I don’t have much trouble switching back and forth.

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              Ergonomics are super important in this line of work.

              Agreed. And it’s great that there are so many keyboard options because it seems everyone needs something different. I love the Planck, despite its flaws. After trying a few different styles I settled on the Planck because I have small hands and the less distance my fingers have to travel the better.

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              I don’t understand the urge to minimalism, but that’s fine. This is a really cool project and a nice explainer.

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                I really like the layout diagrams!

                Did you generate them from the QMK config or create them by hand?

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                  glad you like them! the diagrams are created by hand, i have a “base” keyboard image, and i use that as a template for each layer. the 1-bit pixel art is created in my own pixel art tool: https://peppe.rs/posts/SDL2_devlog.

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                    very cool, thanks for replying

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                  Am I missing something, or do none of your layers include a semicolon?

                  Even on days where my programming is python-only, I’m bound to use one or two in prose. When my programming is not python-only, I frequently need at least one per line. How do you avoid them?

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                    The semicolon is on the top right of the base layer.

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                      Bah. I just did not read that as a semicolon on the diagram. Thanks.

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                    I’ve always resisted the urge of switching to a different layout than QWERTY in fear of not being able to use someone else’s keyboard. Given that I use my own setup most of the time, this fear is not really justified. But it’s kinda like buying insurance, for that one time when you really need it.

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                      I am in front of a lot of different systems throughout a given week, so switching away from QWERTY is a non-starter for me. The best I can go is a Microsoft Natural 3000 keyboard for my main systems. Been using those or the original Microsoft Natural since the 1990’s.


                      This is a really cool project, thank you for posting it! However:

                      escape is too crucial to put on a non-base layer, but at the same time, not as important to deserve a place on the base layer.

                      Not important! Heresy! (JK) I was obligated to say that as a decades-long vi/vim/neovim user. Very nice project, though, seriously.

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                        You won’t forget QWERTY if you switch to a new layout, don’t worry. Worst case is that you have to look down on the keycaps when typing…

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                          Yes, this is my experience as well, combined with the annoyance that the keys are all in non-sensical positions.

                          If I have to help a colleague who is on qwerty and it takes me too much time to type something out, I will ask them to type it out.

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                          I learned a new alpha layout at the same time as I was getting used to a small ergo keyboard (30 keys in my case). I continued using my regular row stagger keyboard during the day at work, but would practice on my new layout and keyboard at night. After a few weeks, I felt good enough to start using my new keyboard for work. It has been over a year since and I still use QWERTY on my laptops built in keyboard and my alt-layout on my ergo keyboard. Having the layouts tied to different physical key layouts has made it really easy to keep them straight in my head.

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                          I would be super excited to see someone play live coding music with this kind of keyboard together with Glicol language:

                          https://glicol.org/

                          I design this language under a standard keyboard. Not sure if the experience will be completely different.

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                            I just started soldering one yesterday. I use a very similar layout on my Corne (it has an extra pinky column on each side and extra thumb button, both of which don’t feel great to use.)

                            I love it, but it is quite the rabbit hole to go down and not for everyone.

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                              i started out with a lotus58. having more keys is a little more forgiving, it serves as a backup until you dial in your layout. good luck!