I've been thinking a bit about the NumPad lately:
- Not all keyboards have one. I know that I keep missing it on those compact boards, although they are nice otherwise.
- Laptops often have an fn-activated conversion of the keys below 789 that map to a NumPad-like setup.
- The setup also corresponds largely to the Calculator one: 789/ 456* 123- 0,,+ (a double decimal point/comma at the bottom row).
- It also has the nice property of getting the index finger bump on the number 1 key, making it easy to use without looking.
- Myself, I'd also like to enter Hex numbers easily with a NumPad. Haven't seen any hardware hex-pads on normal keyboards.
- The CapsLock key might be used to switch to a NumPad remapping on any keyboard? In Windows, this is called SGCaps or "Swiss caps".
- If you switch a lot between entering numbers and typing text, you wouldn't have to move your hand back and forth that way.
The concept would be to map the CapsLock shift state to a NumPad like the laptop one, starting at the (unchanged) 7 8 9 keys:
7 8 9 /
4 5 6 *
1 2 3 -
0 : . +
The point stays in place, but should be mapped to the DECIMAL point instead of period here like it is on the NumPad proper. (In some countries - mine for instance - the decimal point is a comma. The Greek have another one still I believe, and there may be other variants.)
The colon is for entering time points: I've been missing that when using the NumPad for time entries in spreadsheets.
On hitting the Shift key in the CapsLock state, these keys become:
/ * - + (the usual NumPad top row, as an alternative for those who are used to that)
d e f °
a b c "
$ € ¥ %
The extra mappings there I thought would come in handy for various entries such as currency and positions. The mnemonics would be that Dollar is under d and Euro under e, the second next to the minute (') and the % sign is on the / key (on US boards).
This way, the right hand could enter hexadecimal numbers and more without moving the hand and on any board. The CapsLock would effectively become a fancy NumLock.
Ideally I'd like to map various special keys onto the remaining keys in this SGCaps mode to make the left hand similarly powerful, but that's not easily done; at least not in a Windows remapping file (.klc). Putting the standard arrow keys under FRST would be nice for instance. (For compatibility with gaming habits WARS sounds right but FRST is better since it uses stronger fingers, mirrors the Colemak Vim mapping and is anchored with a bump key.) Then W/X/P/V for Home/End/PgUp/PgDn would be in keeping with the NumPad mappings and maybe Q/A would do for Ins/Del (it'd put Del next to the left Backspace key). If remapping is done with a script like Farkas Máté's excellent PKL, that kind of thing should be feasible.
I've moved my CapsLock to the right Win key to accomodate Colemak's nifty left backspace mapping. This is optional, but to use SGCaps you'll have to have it somewhere of course. :) And it should be somewhere you can easily hit it, if you want this to be optimal.
On my own keyboard I've already used up that shift state for the greek alphabet. Too bad, this looks kinda nifty. ;)