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    Popping out keys and moving them around on cheap keyboards - discovery

    • Started by asdf hello
    • 14 Replies:
    • Reputation: 1
    • Registered: 14-Oct-2016
    • Posts: 8

    Hi,

    I just thought I'd share a discovery I expect some may be interested in.

    If you've experimented with moving keys around on keyboards you may have found that the keys with bumps on them (F and J on qwerty) fit into the keyboard differently from the other keys (upside down, or at a 90 degree angle, relative to the other keys - and sometimes the keys in different rows are a different shape). I've had three cheap keyboards with that issue. I decided to buy a HP K2000 (a cheap, standard, wired USB keyboard) a couple of days ago because it omits the right hand side windows key, which I never use, in favour of moving right-ctrl (and home/end, pgup/pgdown, del/insert, and the arrow keys) closer to the others (it uses the old arrangement that I'm used to from when I was young (I'm 35)). When I popped the J key out to stick it in its new position I discovered that it had the same alignment as all the other keys (I'm on the first step of tarmak at the moment). And keys on different rows are exactly the same shape. And HP include a type of rubber cover with the keyboard, which is relatively comfortable to leave in place, which has its own bumps in F/J (qwerty) position on them, so if you leave it there after swapping keys around you still have bumps in the familiar F/J positions (as well as in F and J's new positions... but while learning via tarmak the original bumps are quite helpful).

    This makes is very convenient to switch layouts on this HP K2000 keyboard at least (perhaps other Hewlett Packard keyboards are similar), but since they don't seem to advertise this 'key symmetry' feature I thought I'd give a shout out (I'd like a typematrix or such ergonomic keyboard, but won't be shelling out more than $30 for a keyboard in the foreseeable future :-)

    No pics because this forum doesn't seem to support them, & if I host them off-site they may disappear in months, while this thread may be relevant for years... my god...

    ..oh yea, I don't know if anyone will use this, but I'm editing /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/us (US being the default keyboard layout set during install) in Debian for a quick dirty way of setting the various layouts while progressing through tarmak. Just edit as root and restart.

    Last edited by asdf hello (14-Oct-2016 14:19:16)
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    • Registered: 14-Oct-2016
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    ok here's some pics anyway, but they'll disappear after a while (probably)

    my old keyboard with the messed up J and N keys (upside down & the wrong shape)

    image.jpg

    nice new HP K2000 (i don't actually use the rubber cover, i put a stocking over it instead (neat freak))

    image.jpg

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
    • Posts: 4,897

    Yeah, I always use links to images on this forum.

    The board modding topic by me is old, but touches on the same issue. I like the more expensive keyboards that often have replaceable caps. :-)

    *** 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: Belgium
    • Registered: 26-Feb-2008
    • Posts: 462

    Being able to swap all keys is a nice feature, but I think I'd hate that right Ctrl position, not being properly aligned with right Shift. Aren't you constantly pressing the space between right Ctrl and left arrow?

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    • Registered: 14-Oct-2016
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    Yes, there's a bit of adjustment ... but the overall layout is more compact. I found sometimes I was using pgup/down, delete and arrow keys without needing to check the keyboard, so if I stick with keyboards with this layout I should be able to do the same even more easily once I'm familiar with it. And the symmetrical keys are perfect for changing layouts (at the keyboard's price point).

    I just switched to tarmak 2. I invented a little drill out of all possible ftgj combinations to do before I google "words containing ftgj" (starting with ftg because j will move again, not as important)

    ftg ftg ftg ftg ftg ftg ftg ftg ftg ftg ftg ftg ftg etc etc etc etc till I finish a line
    fgt
    tfg
    tgf
    gtf
    gft
    ftgj
    ftjg
    etc etc
    fgtj fgjt fjtg fjgt tfgj tfjg tgjf tgjf tjgf tjfg gtfj gtjf gftj gfjt gjtf gjft jftg jfgt jtfg jtgf jgft jgtf

    Tarmak really is great, I was only on step one for a few weeks.

    By editing /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/us and adding...

        key <CAPS> {     [ BackSpace,    BackSpace    ]    };

    ...to the top section called name[Group1]= "English (US)" (copied out of the colemak section of the same file, which is very long and contains all US layouts, with the default US layout at the top) I got backspace switched... then I found a reference to backspace in the name[Group1] = "English (programmer Dvorak)" section...

        key <BKSP> { [ BackSpace,       BackSpace                                   ] };

    ...so I tried adding...

        key <BKSP> { [      ,                                          ] };

    ...along with the tarmak 2 changes to the top section, which disabled the entire keyboard after I restarted... I had to reboot into recovery mode and edit it out (somehow recovery mode remembered the layout I had entered for tarmak 1). Does anyone know what I would put in that file to disable backspace to force me to learn the new capslock position? I've physically removed the key for the moment.

    Last edited by asdf hello (16-Oct-2016 09:00:00)
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    • Registered: 14-Oct-2016
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    I first tried colemak cold turkey... the slow down was so bad I dropped it after about 2 days. I then had a go with the 10-swap "partially optimised" layout on carpalx, which is a pretty nice keyboard layout-related site http://mkweb.bcgsc.ca/carpalx/?partial_optimization

    So I got a bit used to the first swaps I did - e & k (e in its colemak position) and p & ;

    But when I found colemak as a keyboard layout on my android phone, and the tarmak gradual switching method I opted for colemak because carpalx's 10-swap layout - while being even easier to learn - will probably never gain wide acceptance.

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    • Registered: 12-Sep-2016
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    To disable backspace, you can add

    key <BKSP> { [ VoidSymbol, VoidSymbol ] };

    to your symbols file.

    Alternatively, you can edit /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/pc and comment out the line

    key <BKSP> { [ BackSpace, BackSpace ] };

    by putting two slashes in front of it. This way, backspace will be disabled for all your keyboard layouts. But if you modify the symbols/pc file, you should be even more careful since it applies to all layouts.

    Create advanced keyboard layouts in various formats using my Keyboard Layout Files Creator!

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
    • Posts: 4,897

    You should very rarely have to use the physical arrow keys at all! Use Extend for them.

    There's no good reason to disable the physical backspace, I think. As you get used to better alternatives you'll just use it less. Extend backspace is my preferred option (since I found a better use for the Caps key...).

    Last edited by DreymaR (17-Oct-2016 11:32:39)

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

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    • Registered: 14-Oct-2016
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    Thanks 39aldo39. I think I'll take your advice though Dreymar, once I've finished tarmak and wrapped my mind around your extend mappings.

    I've updated my introductory exercise for tarmak switches:
    ftg fgt tfg tgf gtf gft ftgj ftjg fgtj fgjt fjtg fjgt tfgj tfjg tgjf tgjf tjgf tjfg gtfj gtjf gftj gfjt gjtf gjft jftg jfgt jtfg jtgf jgft jgtf

    It's just all combinations of ftg then ftgj (because j is moved two more times)... copy the entire line, typing underneath it, as many times as you want to wake your brain up to the new key positions.

    When you google for "words containing ftg" or "ftgj" you see search results from previous people's tarmak efforts.

    Thirteen-letter words with certain FTG

        affreightment configuration conflagration disfigurement faultordering ferromagnetic flabbergasted forgetfulness fragmentation glorification gratification

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    It could be stressful to learn Extend and Tarmak at the same time... but not necessarily. You see, the core of Extend is just ten or so keys and they're very intuitively placed:
    UNEI: Arrow cross
    LY: Home/End (if you use those; I do)
    JH(K/M with DH-mod): PgUp/PgDn
    O;: Backspace/Del
    Spc: Enter

    These are very very easy to master and then the rest is, as they say, gravy. ;-) I recommend it for Colemak, QWERTY and other users alike.

    Do check out my Extend post (link in my sig topics)

    Last edited by DreymaR (19-Oct-2016 10:31:10)

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

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    • Registered: 14-Oct-2016
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    http://www.litscape.com/word_tools/cont … imally.php
    ^word finder tool for getting lists of words for practising (if you click "Word Finder Tools" at the top a drop down menu gives various useful tools)

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    • From: Chicago
    • Registered: 27-Apr-2016
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    Good utility
    "fj"     71 words found.
    "tn"    36193 words found.
    "arstneio"    2211 words found.
    "asdfjkl"       No words found.

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    I tried to get ftg words using my dict client, but seem to have a stumbling block, that I can't do lookarounds, and have a word limit.  But this churned out quite a good list:

    cat /etc/dictionaries-common/words | grep -P -e'(?=.*f)(?=.*t)(?=.*g)'

    --
    Physicians deafen our ears with the Honorificabilitudinitatibus of their heavenly Panacaea, their sovereign Guiacum.

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    I found myself wondering if "Ars Technica" has something to do with colemak (asdf in qwerty becomes arst in colemak)

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    • Registered: 11-Jan-2017
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    The " Kaliber Gaming Keyboard " found on Amazon is an excellent choice for those on a budget (only $30.00). It simulates mechanical with plunger keys. Comes with a Key Puller and pulling the plunger keys and reinserting them is the easiest that I've seen on any keyboard.

    Just add a dab of epoxy or  Super Glue  to the  T and N keys and you'll will be Stylin.

    It really has a great feel to it actually I prefer it to the expensive Cherry MX keys and it's very accurate.

    It has one possible drawback. The letters on the keys [Regular Size] are very large so you can't use a transparent overlay, otherwise all is normal.

    Last edited by TwoLeftThumbs (23-Jan-2017 06:31:00)
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