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Thumb key proposal for Shift and AltGr on standard keyboards

  • Started by stevep99
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  • From: Oslo, Norway
  • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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I don't see how you can think that chording is exponentially problematic? As a pianist, I may play big chords of 8–10 simultaneous notes with glee and exhilaration. They aren't substantially harder than smaller chords!

I think that the awkwardness of chording is more about having to twist your hand/wrist, than about chording itself. As you well know, I've used Caps as an Extend modifier for years, hitting such combos as Caps+S+T+N (=Ctrl+Shift+Left) to select the previous word and I think it's ingenious and effortless.

cevgar said:

Also this fails to solve the whole "non-modifiable function key" problem of at least Windows and Chrome OS.

Ummm, what exactly do you mean? That MSKLC doesn't implement it unless you edit the files, and PKL struggles with some modifiers etc? Or what? I know of no special problems with the function keys (F1-F24) as such?

On a side note, I'm now testing the AltGr-Caps/Extend swap by a registry remapping since PKL alone struggles with it. It's interesting but of course my Extend memory is pretty ingrained so I struggle a bit. It's nice to have the Extend-arrows on a one-hand chord but modifier usage is different which takes some getting used to (real modifiers may be as good as the Extend ones for this mode, at least some of the time, given that the left hand is more free!) I'll hopefully give it a little longer before I come to any conclusions. :-)

Last edited by DreymaR (03-Apr-2017 09:15:13)

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About Chording: If I remember correctly average typing is somewhere around 60WPM. In school, we were required to hit 80WPM or better to graduate. An average word is considered to be five letters, plus space. So, six characters. Now I'm not musically inclined, and it has been forever since I took piano lessons, but 480 BPM sounds damn high to me. (Is that proper terminology?)

The other things I was taking into account were bits and snippets of other keyboard projects. The Hold-Space-to-Shift idea was once lambasted as being too slow to work practically; something about the thumb not releasing fast enough on regular spacing and ending up with a body of text with too few spaces and too many capital letters. Not sure why this would be a problem for Space and not for Alt-Gr though. I also considered the learning curve for standard layouts like Qwerty vs Chording keyboards like stenographers use... well, those points were pretty much my whole argument.


About "Non-Modifyable Function Keys": What I meant was the inability to modify things like Ctrl, Alt, Space, Shift, etc. through official means. I, ah... well you see, I - uh, think the Benadryl I took earlier was really starting to kick in right about then and... looking back on it now, I don't actually remember why I thought this point was relevant. So, apologies all around, but if we could all forget I brought that up?

Last edited by cevgar (03-Apr-2017 16:00:27)
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I thought average WPM was only about 40 wpm, and isn't a 'word' 5 chars including space? That would make the average typist not particularly fast, which is probably what you'd expect.

I agree that the space-as-shift thing doesn't work well, I tried it at one point. Space is hit so frequently, and worse, often just before a capital letter, which causes space-as-shift to fail.

But we are talking about something different here, as normal usage of spacebar is unaffected.

Using AltGr for shift is nice, you can easily reach all the other keys to make capitals OK, and is better still with the Wide Mod.

The final piece of the jigsaw then, is the method to get the AltGr layers (3 and 4), which after all, are usually less often needed than shift or space. But even so, the way to invoke them is quite simple once you learn the technique:

Your right thumb is over AltGr, and your left thumb is over Space. You press and hold AltGr, then press the spacebar, then release AltGr. It's kind of like doing a drumbeat but with the second beat held down. With the left thumb still holding space, you can now type Layer 3 characters to your hearts content, without your hands leaving the home position.

Layer 4 is similarly achieved, except you don't let go of AltGr.

I have since found another nice option. By making AltGr a sticky shift key, you have the option to not even hold it down to generate Layer 3. You would simply tap AltGr, then hold down space. Layer 3 magically activated. For layer 4 you'd need to hold both keys down.

The description sounds complex but the action is in fact very easy and comfortable to do.

Last edited by stevep99 (03-Apr-2017 17:50:27)

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

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I thought 40 WPM was average composition speed, while 60WPM was average typing speed. Difference being one is a creative process while the other is a mechanical process.

Looking it up, turns out I'm wrong.  Composition speed is slower but, yeah, everything else was off. Words are five characters including spaces and punctuation, average WPM is somewhere between 20 to 40ish, 50-80 for "professional typists".

I have difficulty believing these numbers. I mean... damn, that is slow.


Side note: I stumbled upon this infographic from a typing tutor site. I am surprised by the gender disparity.

Last edited by cevgar (03-Apr-2017 19:44:16)
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No, 480 BPM is not too fast for a note! A song of 120 BPM may easily have semiquavers, and one of 60 BPM may have demisemiquavers (etc), which both equate to 480 BPM. In fact, I think that piano notes may easily be faster than at least my 70 WPM typing.

Of course, most chords aren't played quite that fast, no. The typing chords I'm talking about don't have to go quite that fast I think. Shifted characters are twice as much work as unshifted, but that's the way it has to be. And AltGr characters are rare, usually well below 1% of typed keys. So you won't be speed-chording.

I agree with stevep that words are five characters including spaces/punctuation, and furthermore – so does Wikipedia!

Thanks for that infographic, Cevgar! It's really interesting. Yes, it seems strange that the average is only 41 WPM because it seems everyone I know are typing rather quickly. But I guess I just move in circles of fast typers (academics, for the most part). And among Colemak enthusiasts I'd guess the average is at least 55 WPM, since we're a keyboard-oriented bunch. But it's probably lower than what most of us feel it to be – my gut feeling is that everyone and his dog here type at 80+ WPM but I don't think that's right. I think the fastest typists are less afraid of stating their speeds, so there's a report bias.

So... when/if I reach my long-term goal of 80 WPM consistently (at 98+% accuracy), I'll be in the upper speed range of "professional typists". Interesting. :-)

Last edited by DreymaR (04-Apr-2017 09:25:06)

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