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Mod-DH for Colemak

  • Started by stevep99
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Ah, so looks like you've ended up with the same layout as me except our D and V keys are the other way around! I hadn't really considered the DGB option, it's an interesting variation if keeping XCV together is critical. Now I've got used to it though, I do really like having my D where it now is, and the trade-off of splitting the V from XC is worth it for me.

Glad you like the H too!  It is worthwhile it in the end, isn't it?  Those HEs really roll off comfortably.

I had another crack at the xkb install script. Thanks for the tips, it installs much better now, no errors. I'm not very familiar with setxkbmap so I had been using the GUI. But using the scripts, I find that setxkb.sh -m 'pc105awide-sl' does indeed work for setting the wide/angle mods!

But, I can't get the -s "5w gb ks" work to work, the script just prints out the usage guidance. Mind you, for clarity I think I prefer the longhand version anyway.
I'm guessing something like "no(cmk_ed_gb)" would be the right argument for setxkb.sh -l ?

I still get the problem that DH changes don't work with UK keyboard selected. No idea why would that be. If it works for you maybe it's something I have messed up with my Ubuntu install. I almost never use it so it might not be that big a deal.

Last edited by stevep99 (01-Jan-2015 15:52:28)

Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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Ubuntu and GNOME used to have GUI-selectable keyboard models but that was lost a while back. XFCE still has that. For the rest of us, we're stuck with editing files or defaults, or running setxkbmap for model changes now.

Any layout that uses the 'colemak(cmk_ed_letters)' component should get the DH switches as that's where they're set now. And that includes all my Cmk[eD] variants, both the local and universal symbol ones.The exception is if a layout variant overwrites the H (I know of at least hu/rs/ro/tr and options in others) or in the case of Romanian, D (I don't have any variants overwriting other letters – well, maybe one variant touches the G but I can't remember for sure).

If you use the '-s' switch you should also use '-x', maybe that's what happened (although that didn't print the instructions for me – maybe you misspelled something?). That's silly, I've changed it now so that '-s' implies '-x'. Thanks for your feedback! Indeed, the shorthand isn't very clear but I find it brilliant for testing layouts! If I make a change in, say, the Italian layout, I can test its effect right away with a «-s '5w it us'» switch for instance.

You didn't get the setxkb(map) layout component quite right I'm afraid. The first bit is the symbols file name; in the case of UK that's 'gb' (as we've been through already). The bit inside is the variant in that file, which in this case will be 'cmk_ed_ks' for "Colemak[edition DreymaR], Keep local symbols". The 'no' is just something you'll keep running across as Norway is my locale. ;-)

We must keep a weather eye for that locale problem of yours then, as I'd like to understand what's going on. Not knowing annoys me...

By the way: Is 'stevep99' the handle you want to go by in my files?

Last edited by DreymaR (09-Jan-2015 14:40:48)

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DreymaR said:

We must keep a weather eye for that locale problem of yours then, as I'd like to understand what's going on. Not knowing annoys me...

Here's the full output if it's any help. Hopefully I got the command right this time. DVBG and HM lines were uncommented but no apparent effect...

$ dreymar-xtools/setxkb.sh -l "gb(cmk_ed_ks)" -m "pc105awide-sl"

••• DreymaR's setxkbmap script (by GadOE, 2014) •••

• Changed dir to '/usr/share/X11/xkb'
• Looking for and removing any old .xkm server files
• Running setxkbmap:

Setting verbose level to 9
locale is C
Warning! Multiple definitions of keyboard model
         Using command line, ignoring X server
Warning! Multiple definitions of keyboard layout
         Using command line, ignoring X server
Trying to load rules file ./rules/evdev...
Success.
Applied rules from evdev:
rules:      evdev
model:      pc105awide-sl
layout:     gb(cmk_ed_ks)
options:    misc:extend,lv5:caps_switch_lock,grp:shifts_toggle,compose:menu
Trying to build keymap using the following components:
keycodes:   evdev(pc105awide-sl)+aliases(qwerty)
types:      complete
compat:     complete
symbols:    pc+gb(cmk_ed_ks)+inet(evdev)+group(shifts_toggle)+compose(menu)+level5(caps_switch_lock)+extend(basic)
geometry:   pc(pc105awide-sl)

• Changed dir to '/home/steve/dreymar_x-mod'

••• setxkb.sh finished! •••
DreymaR said:

By the way: Is 'stevep99' the handle you want to go by in my files?

I don't really mind. I probably should have picked a better username, but at the time little did I know I would be hanging around these forums so much :)

Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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Please try a fresh download and install with '-o' again. Seems the last update didn't take or something...
[edit: Don't try to update Dropbox files through a symbolic link – that may fail!]

The output looks good. The right folder was used and the layout was activated it seems.

Last edited by DreymaR (03-Jan-2015 19:58:38)

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Update: ~55 WPM with 98% accuracy today. I'll say. The B took some getting used to; I think that's because it's the rarest of the moved letters. It's not uncommon to note the letters that are worse off, and indeed the B got what it deserved with this mod.

But now (uh-oh!) I'm thinking again! Since I've now established that the DBG loop is less disruptive yet works very well for me – might there be a milder cure for the right-hand side too? I'm not liking the M in the middle, as it keeps getting itself in bigram trouble such as 'mi' 'mo' 'me' which aren't so lovely now. It's inherited the old pains of the H of course.

What about leaving the M in place then, and swapping HK instead?! That moves one less key from its QWERTY position and improves the H position similarly to the D position in the DBG loop without compromising the M! The K will be well put in that ever-less-popular middle trench I feel. I want to try that a little. I'll get back to you on it. ;-)

I'm actually half tempted to try and leave the N in place! But it's so very common that even its now-somewhat-redeemed old QWERTY position probably won't cut it. It's a fascinating thought of course if it could be left in place after all, but I think it really needs to go to a smack dab bona fide home position nevertheless!

Last edited by DreymaR (03-Jan-2015 01:31:51)

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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DreymaR said:

Please try a fresh download again. Seems the last update didn't take or something...

Tried again with the latest version and woohoo - it all worked!  I'll update the Mod-DH download page to mention it.

Thanks for your assistance with that - with support for so many languages, keyboard geometries and layout variations, your big bag of tricks is quite a feat indeed!

Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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Yeah, I am not entirely happy with the M either, but at least it's so much better than the H in that position. I did consider a similar option, the H>M>K loop, which might be a better on standard staggered keyboards, although of course that still moves the M whereas your proposal keeps it in place.  If you find the (standard) B,K positions comfortable though, I can see the logic (and symmetry) of applying the D and H to those positions. I suppose for me it came down in the end to if I was going to move the D and H at all, I wanted them in the best available positions. There's a nice elegant simplicity about "the 10 most common keys in the 10 easiest positions."

I'm not convinced about the N though - Although its Qwerty position is not terrible, as the second most common consonant it should be on the home row in a "fully optimized" layout I think!

Last edited by stevep99 (03-Jan-2015 13:10:58)

Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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Glad it worked, woohoo! And thanks for the linkage. It's nice to work together on these projects! These crazy, brilliant projects...

I saw you mention that Angle mod for ANSI keyboards with brackets to the left (aka the A-Wing or A-Frame mod!). Do you or anyone you know use that? I haven't implemented it (yet) but it looks like a good enough idea. I have a feeling that's what I'd want to use if I were forced to use an ANSI board.

   Cmk-ANSI-AFrame_60d-Tinted.png

Right now I feel that the VM and BK positions are not that different after all. When thinking too much about these things it's easy to end up with a biased perception though. I'll give it some time; right now I'm in the Arcadia of confusion again after moving M back and K up. Lovely.

     Cmk-dbg-hk-eD-wide_Xm.png

One thing that's a little cute is how the K remains in its old non-Wide QWERTY position this way, like the V does with your DVBG loop!

Revisiting my position assessment graphic with updated colorings:

    Cmk-Dbg-Hk-ISO_90d-pos.png
    Legend: Greens – home/good; turquoise – medium; blue – fair; indigo – acceptable; purple – awkward
    (If you wish, green/turqouise-blue/purples may correspond to the 1/2/3 range in the Norman and your scoring systems)

By the way: I found a typing site (PowerTyping.com) that's good for practicing layout changes. Not only has it got funny and interesting stories to type, but if you mistype a letter it'll wait for the right one without backspacing. That's handy for this purpose!

Last edited by DreymaR (04-Jan-2015 18:16:17)

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Haha, Patorjk doesn't give a damn:
http://patorjk.com/keyboard-layout-anal … d/cfW1RwJd

:-)

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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Oh, one thing: On your "how easy to learn?" page you state this:

colemakmods.github.io/mod-dh/learn.html said:

Consider if you were to move the E key on your keyboard. Because E is so common, it would be extremely disruptive and would take a long time to be able to type efficiently again with it in a new location. On the other hand, if you were to move say, J, the impact would be minimal since it's so rarely typed.

We've discussed this before, but now that I'm learning something new again I really feel like commenting again:

• Sure, common keys cause more disruption there and then.
• However, this passes a lot more quickly since you learn faster by encountering the problem more often.
• (In the case of switching to a better layout, this may possibly be further helped by moving the frequent key to a better position?)
• Once the newly learnt keys start to settle in, typing flow starts to be re-established. At this point, even the more rare hiccups from rare letters will break this flow.
• Thus, I now type H and D very fluently and effortlessly but still struggle with B (and K or M) which by now cause the most disruption in total.

So I'm not contesting that moving the E has more immediate impact, but your claim that it also has a larger long-term impact is quite contrary to my observations. Just saying.

Last edited by DreymaR (05-Jan-2015 10:20:29)

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Glad your persevering with this experment, will be good to get your thoughts once the changes have bedded in.

DreymaR said:

I saw you mention that Angle mod for ANSI keyboards with brackets to the left (aka the A-Wing or A-Frame mod!). Do you or anyone you know use that? I haven't implemented it (yet) but it looks like a good enough idea. I have a feeling that's what I'd want to use if I were forced to use an ANSI board.

   https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/145 … Tinted.png

It wasn't something I thought about much - I really only put there as an example in case people felt unhappy about moving the Z. I haven't even created a mapping file for it, and no-one is using it to my knowledge.

If was using an ANSI board I'd probably use something similar too, but I'd probably make the [ key something else - e.g. the "extend" key.

Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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DreymaR said:

• Sure, common keys cause more disruption there and then.
• However, this passes a lot more quickly since you learn faster by encountering the problem more often.
• (In the case of switching to a better layout, this may possibly be further helped by moving the frequent key to a better position?)
• Once the newly learnt keys start to settle in, typing flow starts to be re-established. At this point, even the more rare hiccups from rare letters will break this flow.
• Thus, I now type H and D very fluently and effortlessly but still struggle with B (and K or M) which by now cause the most disruption in total.

So I'm not contesting that moving the E has more immediate impact, but your claim that it also has a larger long-term impact is quite contrary to my observations. Just saying.

I suppose what I'm saying is I think the overall impact is greater - even if you end up learning the E in a relatively short time (e.g. by intensive training), the relearning process would still more painful than, say, the J would be.  So even if you took let's say, a week, to relearn new positions for both E and J, the process you would have gone through with the E would have been more onerous and frustrating in my view. Of course, I'm not saying the model I used on those pages is extremely accurate - as you say, it probably does overestimate the difficulty of moving common keys - but I wanted to get some kind of "overall difficutly" index for comparison purposes, and I still think it serves as a useful measure, even if somewhat imperfect.

Additional: From my experience with these applying these changes, I think the changes are easier to learn when the key *moves to a easier position*. I wonder if that's actually the bigger factor than how common the key is?  For example I found the H change was easier than the M - I kept wanting to do the easier motion for both letters.

Last edited by stevep99 (04-Jan-2015 13:58:22)

Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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I wonder if people with ANSI boards will become interested in the D-H mods at all. There haven't been very much interest for the Angle mod from that camp yet, understandably enough. Poor things. ;-)

It does seem to me that the Angle mod is a great improvement but in a way it highlights the next problem: The awkwardness of the middle and upper-middle positions. The wrists got straightened but the natural curl of the hand (middle fingers upwards, index fingers downwards) wasn't yet utilized well enough. The ideal home "row" follows the hands' natural shape (like the Ergodox), not a rigid straight line. That's what these D-H mods aim to do without resorting to extravagant and in my opinion flawed solutions like Norman and Workman. You can do this at the tiny cost of moving one more key than Colemak does, without changing the fingering of Colemak at all! That's impressive, really. But enough rambling.

Due to the faster learning and the improved position, I don't think the overall impact of moving a frequent key is greater. The initial impact of the frequent keys quickly passes, and then the annoying impact of the rare keys that take a long time to learn keeps lingering and disrupting the flow. Flow disruption feels a bit like stress: It lingers on for a while. We may disagree on this – but I think it's not an easy question at any rate. Regarding H vs M, I think it's a combination of the better position and the higher frequency (H is 2.5 times as common as M in English!). Having moved the M back in place feels right for me, and the hassles with K seem less – maybe one factor there is that it's been moved before from QWERTY to Colemak? The G does feel a bit simpler since it moved to its QWERTY position (unless I'm fooling myself on that one). But both B and K are annoying now as mentioned, being rare letters.

I kinda like your moving index. As you say, that's a fairly simple estimate and it does indeed seem like more of a hassle to move a key to another finger for instance. With the Cmh-Dbg-Hk mod I'm already almost up to flow (approaching 60 WPM now, with nearly 98% accuracy again unless I get confused and confounded which still happens now and then). The ease of that transition is probably helped by the fact that all keys stay on the same fingers as before.

[edit:] The index fingers curl naturally to the frequent D and H instead of stretching linearly. Hmmm... "the Curlmak mod"? :-D
In my PKL files, I'll use 'WideAngleCurl ergonomic' to describe the triple combo. WAC!!!

Last edited by DreymaR (05-Jan-2015 19:08:17)

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I like playing with your layout analyzer. My latest weights, just in:

Key effort values:
3.2 2.2 2.0 2.4 3.4 3.8 2.4 2.0 2.2 3.2
1.4 1.2 1.0 1.0 2.8 2.8 1.0 1.0 1.2 1.4
3.6 2.6 2.4 2.0 2.2 2.2 2.0 2.4 2.6 3.6

Cmk-DvbgHm  1.64
Cmk-DbgHk   1.64
Workman     1.67
Colemak     1.69
Norman      1.75
Dvorak      1.83
Minimak-8   1.86
QWERTY      2.32

No radically new insights. My love of the lower middle positions make our two mod variants very similar as expected (yours scored 0.003 better which isn't significant I guess).

Not sure, maybe the weights for Colemak(Angle) FU/VM should've been 1.8 and WY 2.0? Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle-dee-diddle... :-)

Key effort values:
3.2 2.0 1.8 2.4 3.4 3.8 2.4 1.8 2.0 3.2
1.4 1.2 1.0 1.0 2.8 2.8 1.0 1.0 1.2 1.4
3.6 2.6 2.2 1.8 2.0 2.0 1.8 2.2 2.6 3.6

Cmk-DvbgHm  1.59
Cmk-DbgHk   1.59
Workman     1.61
Colemak     1.66
Norman      1.69
Dvorak      1.80
Minimak-8   1.81
QWERTY      2.23

On a mostly unrelated note: For a matrix keyboard, I'd consider your Cmk-Dvbg-Hm variant essential. For a standard-stagger board I do prefer the less intrusive Cmk-Dbg-Hk as you probably have surmised.

Last edited by DreymaR (06-Jan-2015 11:40:01)

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The Colemak "Curl-DH" ergo mod, reviewed by DreymaR:

Well, the Curl-DH mod is, obviously, an ergo mod. In my opinion it gives less benefit at higher cost than the Angle mod does (but I really like the Angle mod and its cost is very very low), and more benefit but at a higher cost than the Wide mod does (which again has very low cost and a decent but not a huge benefit). The cost is noticeable for several days, especially for the rare letters in my experience, and only now do I feel that I'm back at nearly full fluency (~65 WPM at 98% accuracy; usually I do ~70 WPM with realistic typing at full fluency). If I'm tired or haven't typed in a while, there's still a need to concentrate on the changes. But all in all, it feels like a very low-cost venture to move from Colemak to Colemak-DH, as no keys changed fingers.

It could be generalized to any layout optimized for a straight home row, but the Colemak version takes the opportunity to put the G back in its original position as well. This is a good move as it sorts B, D and G better according to frequencies, and in the large picture makes the left-hand mod as simple as standard Colemak. Probably simpler, since the G is more common than the now moved B.

I did it during Yuletide so I'd have time to fiddle it at low cost to work efficiency. That worked well. And yes, I'll certainly stick with it. The D, G, H and importantly the HE bigram feel so much better now, and the B and K that are worse off for it seem to be in more sensible standings now. And here I thought that Colemak could hardly feel more natural, and yet now it does somehow.

The mod promotes a relaxed hand position and I realize that many many users have been talking about something like this over the years. There just wasn't a good solution for it other than making an entirely new layout which nobody has done convincingly yet to my knowledge – for instance, newcomers seem to find it hard to beat the same-finger stat of Colemak while keeping as many QWERTY placements for the sake of peace. Also, complete layout change yet one more time... ugh. Been there, ditched Dvorak, not too happy about the thought of yet another blank sheet unless it'd hold truly great promise. The contestants until Colemak-Curl have looked less promising if anything.

I'd recommend the light mod (Dbg Hk) over Steve's heavier mod if you have a normal-stagger keyboard. It seems to be about as good (depending on how well you like the outwards vs inwards lower index finger positions) at a lower compatibility cost. I feel that the index fingers rest naturally about there, but I see Steve's point about the luxury of curling the fingers straight down too. So YMMV there. Just sit comfortably at your keyboard with your hands in a good position, and make up your mind about how those positions feel to you.

    Cmk-dvbg-hm-eD-wide_Xm.png?raw=1
    Colemak[eD] with stevep99's "Curl-DH[DvbgHm]" ergo mod

    Cmk-dbg-hk-eD-wide_Xm.png?raw=1
    Colemak[eD] with my lighter "Curl-DH[DbgHk]" ergo mod

The Angle mod is integral to this project. I recommend using an ISO keyboard no matter what (I have a Unicomp ISO keyboard with US key caps, so being a US citizen is no real excuse), but there are of course Angle mod possibilities for the ANSI board too although they're somewhat less elegant. I'd recommend the "A-Wing"/"A-Frame" in that case, pushing the brackets to the left top and middle row (and the slash to the middle bottom row) to achieve Angle goodness. But "Angle-Z" would be a good choice too.

It's nice that you can do just one side if you're curious or if one side bothers you the most. I did both at once (ironically enough, being the creator or Tarmak and all!) and that went well enough, but it's a nice possibility. I'm not sure which side gives the most benefit (in the light version) but I'm thinking that the HK switch has one less key so maybe one might want to try that first.

Some words require a spot of re-polishing after the switch, but I found that surprisingly easy. Being used to alternative fingering on the NK bigram, I just moved that trick to the new K position without trouble it seems. A few words like 'knee' are a bit interesting but then again I guess they always were (for 'knee', I slide in for the three first letters and back for the fourth, avoiding the same-finger 'ee' in the process).

I've been perusing Amphetype a lot lately, typing texts and common words. Also a site that lets you type fairy tales and stuff (http://www.powertyping.com). A fun and relaxing way of breaking in a mod like this one.

In conclusion, it still feels like Colemak, with all the goodness I love about it. But it's a Colemak that has had a minor design flaw (straight-homerow thinking – the state of the art in 2006 but now dated in my opinion as years of insights and discussions have flowed in) corrected at the low cost of a slight rearrangement of five index-finger keys and one more key moved from its QWERTY position – but to a better position (also, the G gets back its QWERTY position at the expense of the less frequent B). In my opinion, it does what Workman and Norman and other men tried to do but it does it so very much more elegantly. Well, I'm biased as hell, no surprise. ;-)

Thanks to stevep99 for this fun and useful innovation!

~ DreymaR
P.S.: UPDATE, MAY 2017 – THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

So, after living and learning for quite some time we have unified and standardized the Curl(DH) mod! Nowadays, I'm using Curl(DvbgHmk) – which shall henceforth be known as the Curl(DH) mod. It moves one more key than my old suggestion did, and breaks up the ZXCV block, but I think it's worth these concessions. For some matrix board users, SteveP's original mod may still be desirable since the down-out positions are a bit more awkward there, but for normal staggered boards I certainly recommend this updated mod with all my heart. Just watch yourself in the start when copy/pasting. :-)

    Cmk-dvbg-hmk-eD-wide_Xm.png?raw=1
    Colemak[eD] with the new Curl-DH ergo mod

~ DreymaR
Last edited by DreymaR (25-Jun-2018 21:24:02)

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dreymar - so you've plumped for the mod that keeps zxcv together - and you call that Cmk-DbgHk?

the one that only retains zxc is Cmk-DvbgHm?

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Yup. Dbg is the D>B>G loop, and Hk obviously the H>K switch. The D and H are capitalized as they're the main beneficiaries.

Similarly for Cmk-DvbgHm.

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I've hit 70 WPM in bouts without any new impressions other than smooth nice flow, so I guess my pre-verdict is now a proper verdict. I fully endorse this mod and tip my hat to its creator. Recommended for new users if they can handle using a nonstandard mod, and for anyone who feels that the middle trench positions are problematic and uncomfortable.

Interestingly, my typing at the workplace keyboard hasn't quite caught up yet. I'm still making mistakes on my proper keyboard – especially at the start of the day – that I no longer make using my laptop. Typing is a fun thing, and ostensibly quite context dependent. :-)

Last edited by DreymaR (12-Jan-2015 11:23:05)

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ok i'm sold.. dh mods here we come..

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ok - all installed no on my home laptop

28 wpm and 80% accuracy

in the words of d-ream, things can only get better..

i feel it has the makings of an improvement already though!

need to take a look at this extend mapping stuff as well now

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  • From: Oslo, Norway
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Welcome to Curlville! Leave your sanity at the door – oh wait, you did.

In my case, the D and H fell first into place followed by G. These are the more frequent keys that benefit from the mod, as discussed before. The H in particular started feeling comfortable very quickly, helped by the improved HE bigram I'm sure.

Last edited by DreymaR (16-Jan-2015 13:03:21)

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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bph said:

in the words of d-ream, things can only get better..

Maybe that should that be dh-ream...

Welcome to the "club". Which did you go for, full fat Mod-DH (DvbgHm), or DreymaR's lighter version (DbgHk) ?

Let us know how you get on!

Last edited by stevep99 (17-Jan-2015 17:01:24)

Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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i've gone drey-lite

i'm not finding it too punishing

the b is catching me out a bit though

already back over 50wpm

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Same experience as mine then: It's the rare, demoted letters that hang you up the most in the long run. Steve, time to update your difficulty model! ;-)

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

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Okay you guys: As you'll see in my Big Bag (for xkb) topic I've now added the Curl-DH mods as layouts under English (us)!

Us locale users are still stuck with editing the xkb/symbols/colemak file, however. And if you do that and then select the other Curl mod in the GUI you'll get a funky layout obviously. ;-)

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

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