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    batting 100 and ETNA : the ultra QWERTY

    • Started by sorenk
    • 6 Replies:
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    • Registered: 07-Jan-2007
    • Posts: 47

    batting 100 and ETNA : the ultra QWERTY

    Colemak inspired me. A typist at typera.tk mentioned the layout. I  came, I saw, I redesigned.

    Colemak impressed me with computer optimization, an excellent home row, low travel distance and low same finger rate (frequency with which the same finger is used to hit two different keys consecutively). But the balance on the right index finger seemed uncomfortably high to me. So I designed THEO (which I'm using now), with a lower travel distance and comparable same-finger rate (I use Jon A. Maxwell's comparison applet as modified by Michael Capewell for scoring my designs).

    Instead of using a computer program to find the best combination of keys, used the combinations that I saw an other evolved layouts (Colemak, XFU, Capewell, ARENSITO, Klausler and others). XFU gave me the combination UEW for the core of my left middle finger cluster. And allowed me to place all my vowels on the home row and keep a good weight on the index fingers ( Klausler and Dvorak placed IU instead of EU on the index finger resulting in a light weight for index finger...of course i left my left middle finger a bit wanting with only KO and less-than-comma ). The result, THEO has a remarkably low travel distance (lower than Colemak and even Klausler for standard English though Colemak rocks for Italian). And THEO has served me well the past two months being as comfortable as I hoped. Even if the 'Y' is in a bad spot.

    theo:
    b p d l v   ; w k q j **
    s n t h r   u e o a i y
    c f g m z   - ' , . x

    **: THEO uses comma as a dead key for '?', '¿', '!', '¡' and alt-gr for parenthesis, brackets and slashes so that the half dozen keys north east of the left pinky can be avoided (an innovation I owe to Andrei Stanescu, the designer of DDvorak @ http://www.siteuri.ro/dvorak/ddvorak.php )

    But with the aid of Aditya Bhargava's KIWI (a customizable GUI keyboard evolver for windows, based on Capewells algorithms @ http://stoptheqtip.ca/kiwi.php ), I decided I could do better. And I thing I have. I crossed the 100 mark for the average number of consecutive keys pressed before using the same finger to type to different letters consecutively (there's not much to be done about hitting the same key twice short of moving j and z off the main board and replacing them with an extra t and e). For reference Colemak has a same finger rate of 1.8 to 2.0 or an average of 55 to 50 keys typed between a same finger jump. QWERTY averages about 20 at best.

    The KIWI EO board bats as high as 118 keys between same-finger-ing with a rate of 8.42 for Bhargava's 10MB English text sample (9.25 an my own 6MB sample which includes some Chaucer, Shakespheare and modern present tense prose).

    KIWI EO:
    v l d p b    j , o u m
    s r t n f    ; a e i c -
    x w k h z    q . ' y g

    But the next board I intend to test goes in the opposite direction of my initial path (hey, it only took a month to learn Theo at 40 wpm, from qwerty at 60...that's with thirty-one keys remaped...but I left the comma and period in place ☺.)

    And keeping the vowels together helped. I'm not a proponent of hand alternation (for or against) but I do very much like having an orderly map, with all the vowels and punctuation together. I also like to keep x and v near by (a point I neglected with Theo).

    The new THEA heavily weights both index fingers. And I'm amused to seek a maniacal exaggeration of the very same quality that turned me away from Colemak.

    To boot, the same finger rate isn't that great either (slightly higher than Colemak but well below QWERTY while holding well with German and Italian).

    ...

    Chuck the new THEA. Enter ETNA with 9 of the 11 most frequently written English letters on the index and middle fingers (s and i were pushed off to the ring fingers). The name of the Italian mountain suits it because it's same finger rate for Dante's Inferno (small sample yes, but enough to give a gist of how it should handle the language)is almost as good as it's rate for English (1.8 vs 1.5/1.6). Colemak is about 2.9 for Inferno. And even that's good for English optimized layout.

    For German, ETNA is about 3.5. That's about even with Colmak and much better than QWERTY (I'll have to run it against QWERTZ).

    I call ETNA the ultra-QWERTY because it shares the finger balance. I don't know if that's good. But I aim to find out.

    That's why I'm writing this now. I think it will take me at least a week or two before I know ETNA well enough to type again.

    ETNA for a type-bar-corrected key board:
    - b u f g   j h o y w
    , s e t d   r n a i c ; ***
    . z ' p k   m l q x v
    
    and for regular (type-bar-defective) keyboard (with row shift)
    -   b   u   f   g   j   h   o   y   w
     ,   s   e   t   d   r   n   a   i   c   ;
       z   '   p   k   .   m   l   q   x   v

    *** The comma and the semicolon are in good positions to be used as dead keys (they're both suited for use as dead keys because in English a space always follows a comma or semicolon before another letter).

    Much thanks to Shai Coleman whose layout inspired my quest.

    Off to re-wire ruthlessly confuse) my motor-reflexes, I'll write again when I can.

    "Things will get better despite our efforts to improve them" - Will Rogers
    "...even the dog doesn't think I'm a monster." - Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny (1954)

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    • From: Viken, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
    • Posts: 5,235

    Apparently, you have spent your midnight oil with great abandon Soren.  :)

    Ultra-QWERTY is a very odd name or call-name for your layout if they have little else than finger balance in common (QWERTY has a finger balance? - hehe). People will be very confused by that.

    I read you as trying to make a layout that works well with English, German and Italian. If so, you should certainly consider Spanish since that's a much more common language than either German or Italian - if you're doing this for anyone else than yourself. From some of your design choices it looks more like a project for yourself only, but it's hard to tell.

    I never thought of the comma dead key thing. Could be annoying if writing comma-delimited code without whitespace, but in most cases I suppose you can have whitespace in lists too so it shouldn't be a big issue. If one gets used to it, it could be an interesting tool. For the most part though, the punctuation you put there is so rarely used that it won't really matter I think.

    For my own part, I value the Colemak's relative QWERTY and hotkey compatibility and good test performance over most of your criteria. But it's nice to see you're having fun with this.

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
    *** Check out my Big Bag of Keyboard Tricks for Win/Linux/TMK... ***

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    • From: NYC
    • Registered: 02-Feb-2007
    • Posts: 104

    That's a very interesting layout, but unfortunately I will not be trying out your layout since I'm very satisfied with Colemak and I can no longer afford to relearn 31 new key positions as opposed to the 14 or so keys that I relearned when learning Colemak. The main problem I see with your layout is that you changed most of the keys from their original QWERTY position so that makes it harder to learn it. That's why I switched cold turkey to Colemak, because it had so many similar position for 1/2 the keys, yet the results via the Compare program showed great results with many improvements to both, Dvorak and QWERTY. To me, it seems your layout is more similar to Dvorak than it is to QWERTY or Colemak, since it has all the vowels together and most keys are in different positions. In any case, good luck with your layout :).

    Last edited by AGK (14-Mar-2007 17:48:05)
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    • Registered: 07-Jan-2007
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    Thanks for the warm wishes, I appreciate your comments.  The Spanish was an especially good suggestion. I was surprised how much it varied from the Italian. I'll have to try typing some passages from Zorro once I learn ETNA.

    I'm don't blame you guyz for sticking with Colemak it's a solid layout. It's very practical for typing. But for me, layouts have become a hobby/obsession.

    And I found at trick that should work very especially well since only 14 keys are remapped (even better of they're all is sequence).

    If your keyboard has QWERTY letters then type a key that you know is not in the qwerty position. Then look down at your board and press the corresponding QWERTY key and repeat till you come back to the first key you typed. If all 14 keys aren't included in the ring then repeat process with one of the missing keys.

    If you memorize the ring you create this way you can use them to type on a QWERTY layout without confusing your motor reflexes.

    For my board (I'm still on THEO making final tweaks to ETNA) I get:

    y ; i k o q b z c g r l a s n - ★★
    // x f h u w p j e d t v m ' y

    The double Unicode black star (probably won't show in the forum) and double slash are there because I remapped the upper right pinky cluster to Unicode symbols and placed the brackets and such on alt gr. So I have a broken ring, Colemak to QWERTY should be a smother transition for te most part.

    The way to use the ring is to look at a phrase and transpose each letter to the next in the sequence as you type.
    So for me, "type this" becomes "v;jd vukn"
    And if I switch to QWERTY and type "v;jd vukn" I get "type this"

    It becomes easier with practice, and I'd think having only 14 keys should help.

    I think I'm done with the tweaking. I moved the 'w' so that there's even less weight on the right pinky. Unfortunatly Control-V is quite a stretch now. So it goes.

    . f u d g j h o y k
    , s e t c l n a i p
    @ b ' w v m r q x z

    Ciao e mahalo,

    "Things will get better despite our efforts to improve them" - Will Rogers
    "...even the dog doesn't think I'm a monster." - Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny (1954)

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    I just killed two birds with one stone by setting my right windows key to a second right control key. I hit the right windows key frequently by accident because my layout relies on altgr which is adjacent to it and I can't think of a single occasion when I intentionally used RWIN. This gives me a control key that I can easily access with my thumb. It doesn't cause any trouble if I hit it along with altgr. And it's close enough to my V for an easy one handed reach (I have my mouse on the left side of my board).

    All that's left is relearning 31 key positions ☺.

    Last edited by sorenk (17-Mar-2007 11:41:18)

    "Things will get better despite our efforts to improve them" - Will Rogers
    "...even the dog doesn't think I'm a monster." - Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny (1954)

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    • From: Saguenay Lac St-Jean
    • Registered: 29-Dec-2006
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    Some competition for Colemak i see :P . I see so many layouts here. What's your final one ?

    Now get a domain name, throw in a mediawiki and a punbb forum. It has proven to be pretty efficient ^^

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    I worked out the Colemak translation ring:

    f t g d s r p ; o y j n k e f

    When in QWERTY type 'f' to get 't', 'g' for 'd' and so on...

    I changed layouts a couple hours on to relearning because I missed having all the vowels on one side. And zi realized that zi don't mind using the same finger twice if the keys are adjacent and the fingers strong (index and middle). So far zi love having the most frequent keys on my strongest fingers. I also moved the zxcv cluster back together. zand rotated LShift, LAlt and QWERTY 'B'. This corrects for the type bar offset and provides a shift key that I can hold with my thumb regardless of which hand is typing.

    "Things will get better despite our efforts to improve them" - Will Rogers
    "...even the dog doesn't think I'm a monster." - Humphrey Bogart in The Caine Mutiny (1954)

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