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    New keyboard, new ideas!

    • Started by azuvix
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    Hello everyone! For fun, I thought I would get my hands on a keyboard kit from kbdfans and cater it to how I work and use Colemak. I'm liking the results so far, and some of you might as well. :)

    All programming is done in QMK, and there is RGB lighting, though I rarely use it. It's mostly because my daughter likes it (she's 3). If a particular key is blank in the pictures, it either does exactly what it does in a lower layer, or I haven't thought to put anything there yet.

    Consider all this a work in progress for now.

    Base layout:
    URtxzUB.png

    Second layer:
    st7fISX.png

    Extend layer:
    wWrtZYS.png

    Numpad/Unicode layer (highly experimental!):
    Qq0EPap.png


    And a response to questions in advance:

    Meta?

    "Alt", but in Emacs-speak.

    Hyper?

    It pushes lots of other modifiers at the same time. It would be ridiculous to type them all at once with multiple keys, so no sane program uses such a combo. This means it's unlikely to clobber any other custom keybindings.

    Wait, aren't you an American? What's with the pseudo-ISO layout?

    Make no mistake, I come from ANSI-land. I wanted the wide mod and actually like the ISO enter. But I also like the greater symmetry of ANSI, hence the key colors in a couple of areas. This is, however, an ISO layout at heart.

    What's with the second layer?

    I'm using this for when I want to get down and write and the substance of what I'm writing doesn't contain a lot of numbers or use all of the function keys. My daily writing tasks vary widely, but there are certain things that I do that are number heavy, and far more that are not.

    What do the macros do?

    Lots of things! The Unicode layer, for example, contains a couple which let me do the Unicode prefix keys both in Emacs and everywhere else. Others are for Emacs, web browsing, and other tasks.

    Isn't that more work for a Compose key?

    A bit, but I need that right Meta (Alt) in Emacs quite a lot, and only need the Compose key occasionally. Getting both in this way works well enough.

    Any dual-role keys or special mods?

    Yep! All the modifiers are "sticky", and a lot of keys are overloaded with the Extend layer and other layers. The Extend key itself is ESC when tapped, for some Emacs things I do. The "Z" key can also be held for an additional Meta. The spacebar doubles as "Control" when held for a couple of seconds.

    What are DF#, RMS, DMR, etc.?

    The "DF" keys change the default base layer (starting from 0). RMS, DMR, and DMP are all for dynamic macros that I can use to record repetitive keystrokes for later playback. Very useful in my experience.

    Do you really need 24 function keys?

    Yes.

    Why not Mod-DH?

    No compelling reason, I just don't have much time to practice it yet. That's likely to change in the future.

    It did. I love it. :)

    Some reason your Extend layer doesn't look like DreymaR's?

    I'm not him. :P Seriously, I think that the spirit of the Extend layer is that you can do as you like/need with it. I'm working on a Slackware system, am a heavy Emacs user, and my window manager is StumpWM. My workflow probably looks very different from a lot of other people's. I don't adjust the volume from the keyboard, change the brightness, or use the mouse very much.

    That Unicode/keypad layer is really weird!

    No arguments there! But I like to tinker and see what is possible.

    Aren't some of the keys and functions kind of redundant?

    That's by design. Being able to hit certain combinations more than one way accommodates more situations I encounter while typing.

    Switches?

    All Kaihua switches, including Hako Clears (alphanumerics), Hako Violets (modifiers), Hako Trues (arrow keys), and BOX Jades (Enter and RMS).


    Thanks for reading!

    Last edited by azuvix (15-Jun-2018 13:51:12)
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    Edit: I realized that the second layer has Home, PgUp, etc. shown here, but really the keys there are what you see on the Extend layer without having to hit Extend first. Also, the "DF" keys you see on the Unicode layer toggle back to one of the base layers, rather than setting them as default. I rearranged the layer order a bit also. Getting this all laid out was so tedious, though, I think I'll just leave the images as-is with corrections.

    Guess I'm more tired than I thought!

    Last edited by azuvix (14-Jun-2018 04:53:38)
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    azuvix said:

    Some reason your Extend layer doesn't look like DreymaR's?

    I'm not him. :P

    Lol!

    Well, I guess I'll still have to regurgitate my old admonition: If you don't have home row modifiers with Extend you're missing out BIG TIME. ;-)

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

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    Well, the thing is, the modifiers that are used most often are in good positions already and there is more than one way to get to them. Having those function keys on the left hand lets me use Emacs' eshell, check my email, and record and stop macros in a flash. That's pretty darn convenient.

    However, the layout isn't set in stone, so I may give home-row modifiers a try in the future. Being inflexible isn't my way. ;)

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    azuvix said:

    Well, the thing is, the modifiers that are used most often are in good positions already and there is more than one way to get to them. Having those function keys on the left hand lets me use Emacs' eshell, check my email, and record and stop macros in a flash. That's pretty darn convenient.

    However, the layout isn't set in stone, so I may give home-row modifiers a try in the future. Being inflexible isn't my way. ;)

    I just use spacemacs, and then I mostly just need esc :D eeeeevil me :p

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    I've been trying out different "modal" solutions for the same reason lately. Still not sure that I like the way it changes things, but the basic idea is good. :P

    Last edited by azuvix (14-Jun-2018 14:06:51)
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    azuvix said:

    I've been trying out different "modal" solutions for the same reason lately. Still not sure that I like the way it changes things, but the basic idea is good. :P

    I've been a vim user since ~2007, so I'm just a tad bit biased in how I like to work, and working with vim shortcuts just are so much more comfortable to me than what I feel is the modifier soup of emacs, but if you're used to it it probably makes sense as well.

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    I believe the best answer lies somewhere in between. I'm a fan of many of the aspects of Vim but I also like the power of Extend. To select or move to previous word or the beginning/end of line/document I now almost exclusively use Extend since it works everywhere. But of course there's so much more Vim can do!

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

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    DreymaR said:

    I believe the best answer lies somewhere in between. I'm a fan of many of the aspects of Vim but I also like the power of Extend. To select or move to previous word or the beginning/end of line/document I now almost exclusively use Extend since it works everywhere. But of course there's so much more Vim can do!

    There isn't really anything stopping you from using extend in vim, but I tend to not really use word movements much for other things than commands, mostly I'm using searching.

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    I've been a vim user since ~2007, so I'm just a tad bit biased in how I like to work, and working with vim shortcuts just are so much more comfortable to me than what I feel is the modifier soup of emacs, but if you're used to it it probably makes sense as well.

    You hit the nail on the head. After enough time you do develop a sense of why many of the decisions about modifiers were made the way they were. It doesn't mean you have to like them all, and using the almost limitless configurability to make it the way you want was intended from the very beginning. I think it was Erik Naggum who said that Emacs comes with lousy defaults as a "built-in competency test" to see what you'll do to make it usable. I wouldn't go that far, but it's still pretty amusing for longtime users. ;)

    But the long and short of it all is this: Everyone's workflow is bound to look a little different once they've had enough time to develop preferences.

    As for the Emacs and Vim eternal war, I don't pick a side based on anything other than experience. True, Emacs is far more than a simple editor and may be criticized on that basis. Yes, its learning curve looks more like an infinite spiral than a hill. And yes, I do spend a huge amount of time in it for all kinds of uses that no one initially would think to do (I'd be posting this in Emacs if the Javascript and CSS support were better!). But it is also indispensable and thoroughly enjoyable to those who have extensive experience using it. Knowing what I can do and how much more I can still learn to do in it, I think it's a fair statement that it is the "editor of a lifetime" for me. No one has to feel the same way for that to be the case.

    EDIT: On an unrelated note, I'm trying out Mod-DH tonight. What's odd about it is, I'm not struggling with it at the moment. It feels really nice and the reduction in speed isn't nearly as drastic as I thought it would be. See what you people do to me? I put all the blame squarely where it belongs. :P I think this will be nowhere near as big of a hurdle as Colemak proper was if I stick with it.

    Last edited by azuvix (15-Jun-2018 13:26:38)
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    Yeah, emacs is a great OS, the only thing it needs is a good text editor, but they did implement most of vim in it so with evil it's a really great place to work, I come from a place where I prefer vim editing, but the emacs environment is just so good that it can't really be ignored, org, magit, auctex, ledger it's just such a great ecosystem, and I was basically switching over for most of my tasks to spacemacs.

    Hehe, yeah DreymaR can be really convincing, he used a bit of time on me too, but after about a month of stubbornly writing on vanilla he got me to change as well ;) It's really a level better than vanilla again. I'm really enjoying writing with it :)

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    Grats, Azuvix! And welcome to Colemak-DH! ^_^

    On a side note, I'm about to finish the next version of PKL-eD which will have modular remapping. So finally Curl/Angle/Wide will make sense without mucking about with multiple pkl.ini files.

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

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    DreymaR said:

    On a side note, I'm about to finish the next version of PKL-eD which will have modular remapping. So finally Curl/Angle/Wide will make sense without mucking about with multiple pkl.ini files.


    That's cool :) I don't really have a problem with the "old" system either, but that for sure is a bit easier for newcomers :)

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    DreymaR said:

    Grats, Azuvix! And welcome to Colemak-DH! ^_^

    On a side note, I'm about to finish the next version of PKL-eD which will have modular remapping. So finally Curl/Angle/Wide will make sense without mucking about with multiple pkl.ini files.

    Good to be on board, cap'n. ;)

    That's really exciting! The more accessible it is, the better the chances of adoption. I sense that you're the type who would use it even if you were the only person alive who did so. Even so, good things ought to be shared so everyone can enjoy the benefits. That's Humanity 101. :)

    Last edited by azuvix (15-Jun-2018 13:47:01)
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    Yeah, I feel that I've really picked up speed on the PKL_eD project. Added many big and small things I want to be in there, and I have a long list of further improvements in my README.

    I'm not sure whether I'd do all this only for myself. I want to be useful for the world.

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

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    DreymaR said:

    I'm not sure whether I'd do all this only for myself. I want to be useful for the world.

    And useful you are :) Thank you! I don't think I ever said that, but thank you for all the work that you've put into this, it really makes things so much easier for us :)

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    And a mighty thanks from me as well. :)

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    DreymaR said:

    If you don't have home row modifiers with Extend you're missing out BIG TIME. ;-)

    Seconded. Extend tag-team strikes again.

    The one exception I'd make, since you have the wide mod there, is that right-alt comes into play as a good thumb key. You could reasonably use that as shift for example, and it would be easy to use it in combination with your existing Extend.

    Last edited by stevep99 (16-Jun-2018 14:26:44)

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

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    stevep99 said:

    The one exception I'd make, since you have the wide mod there, is that right-alt comes into play as a good thumb key. You could reasonably use that as shift for example, and it would be easy to use it in combination with your existing Extend.

    I have no good rebuttal for that observation. It is a fact that the thumbs are under-utilized on most keyboards, and using the Kinesis opened my eyes to that. That's something to think about in the near future, so thank you. I'll have to see if I can successfully ween myself off of the right Meta in Emacs.

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    I recently started a tech blog and have a post dedicated to this:
    Said blog post

    The blog itself is not quite finished, but it's getting there. :)

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    Best of luck with that, Azuvix! ^_^

    Last edited by DreymaR (22-Jun-2018 15:37:19)

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

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    Thanks, DreymaR. It's not for making money or anything, just out of a desire to put my thoughts out there. I'm already having a lot of fun with it. :)

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