I realised a while ago that since I spend so much of my life interacting with a computer, I should really invest significant effort into improving, even marginally, the ergonomics and bandwidth of the IO channel between my brain and the computer I am interacting with. This realisation and the ensuing quest for a better option led me to adopt the Ergodox EZ keyboard. This has been the most significant improvement to my day-to-day interactions with computers since learning Vim. It did take several months to adjust and a significant amount of effort went into designing the optimal layout to suit my needs, but the results have been incredible.
- I never need to look at the keyboard
- My WPM rate is sufficient that I can type almost as fast as I can think
- The palms of my hands never move (zero wrist flexion)
My keyboard layout can be found here https://github.com/Ganon-M/ergodox-vim-ubuntu
If any of you out there are heavy Vim users and want to take your ergonomic experience to the next level, I suggest taking a look at the above layout.
If you're trying to record verbatim what someone is saying, you could easily have to type much, much faster than that.
Stenographers are often required to type at least a hundred WPM faster than you type, and some people speak even faster than that. The demands are even higher when more than one person is talking at the same time and you're trying to record them both.
There are some tricks one could use to speed up plain old QWERTY, however. In particular, you could use macros. That's essentially what stenographers use on their special steno keyboards. A single chord will translate in to a full sentence. Likewise, you could trigger a macro on a QWERTY keyboard with a single chord and that can boost your WPM significantly, if you use a lot of them.
The vast majority of people are typing up some sort of copy or code, both of which are limited by thinking speed if you're anywhere above 80wpm or so.
Even writing a relatively casual e-mail I find myself limited by thought speed rather than typing. I can type a sustained 120-150wpm but frankly it's mostly a party trick, I don't think it makes me any more productive than someone typing 60-80wpm.
Edit: I stand by this. Auctioneers do provide a good counter example but much of what they say is just repeated phrases.
Here's an example of a professional stenographer dealing with 300+ wpm days (search "300wpm" in this page): https://jadeluxe.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/year-in-career-201...
Yes they do. 230 wpm is close to the upper limit for natural speech, but bursts of speech at that rate are quite common if the speaker is in a heightened emotional state or they are trying to convey a lot of information quickly.
Research into subtitling (closed captioning) by the BBC and OFCOM found that live programmes normally have bursts of speech at over 200 wpm. The BBC article below includes a sample clip of a presenter reading a news report at 230 wpm; while it sounds rushed and the presenter occasionally stumbles over a word, it does not sound completely unnatural.
Average speaker is 150, an auctioneer is 250-400, the fastest person. The fastest talkers male and female can recite over 500,600 words per minute.
People can certainly and some people while exited/upset may.
Someone speaking a language like Chinese, where most of the words are single syllables, could probably speak a lot faster than someone speaking, say, German, where the words are often super long.
That's just my mostly uneducated guess, though. It'd be interesting to see some real-world comparisons of this.
I realise 500/600 looks like 5/6, but 500,600 reads to me as 500600. Maybe | is a good unambiguous character to use for "or".
As Y_Y already indicated:
> I realise 500/600 looks like 5/6 ….
If we're going to fuss about typography, these things:
> 500-600 wpm; 35-75 Kph; 2-3 grams.
are hyphens, and you want an en-dash: 500–600 wpm instead of 500-600 wpm.
Most alternative keyboard layouts reduce hand motion by putting the most used letters on the home row.
(This is especially important in programming, where I sometimes lose track of where I was in my mind while I type.)
In particular I'm always amazed that, in my experience, the vast majority of the professional software programmers I encounter never bothered to learn how to touchtype proficiently. I personally use the dvorak layout but I can understand staying on QWERTY for convenience but not knowing how to touchtype is very hard for me to rationalize.
Regarding the Ergodox I have a question, do you really find that "matrix" key layout (or "ortholinear" as they call it on their website) is really an improvement? It never made a lot of sense to me and when I tried a similar keyboard a few years back (admittedly for a short amount of time) I really didn't like it. The website says:
> When you extend your finger, it doesn't go sideways, does it? So why are the keys on your keyboard not directly on top of each other?
But... They do go sideways when I have a keyboard in front of me, my hands are not perfectly straight and parallel on the keyboard lest my wrist or shoulders end up in a weird position. Now of course in this case with a split keyboard you can move and orient them any way you like but I always wondered if there was actual science behind that choice or if it's just "non-linear layout == old mechanical typewriter leftover == bad".
I've been using an Atreus  at work for several months now, it's a 40% angled ortho keyboard. I find my wrists and arms are at a natural angle, similar to how the would be on a standard keyboard, with the advantage of the linear finger movements of an ortho. The chording definitely requires some extra brainpower at times, especially since I still use a standard laptop keyboard on the go. I guess it's good mental exercise. I'm debating trying a 60% Atreus or one of the split keyboards next.
(It's also a fun and pretty easy project to build your own keyboard, and a point of pride harkening back to when craftsmen would build their own tools.)
Split keyboards like the Ergodox fix this by splitting and angling each hand's individual keyboard.
But... standard keyboards are already angled for your hands. The [U,J,M] column is a perfect mapping of the curl of your right index finger.
The real issue is that typing tutorials for some reason encourage left hand finger positions forming a curls that are completely orthogonal to the natural curl of your left finger / left wrist position.
QWERTY tutorials encourage [E,D,C], when you really should be using [E,D,X] or even [R,D,C].
I type (in Dvorak) using the columns [W,S,Z], [E,D,X], etc. and am completely happy with the columns of a normal keyboard.
Do people actually type like that? My hand ends up in a very awkward position if I try to hit X (in qwerty, Q in dvorak) with my ring finger while it's trivial with my middle finger. Actually it's pretty funny because in the illustration above it does look like the hands are sprouting from somebody's chest!
+ Except specially-designed ergonomic keyboards of course, but if you need one you'll know.
I meant "[E,D,X] or even [R,D,X]" of course
I can't remember a single programmer I've worked with who has had to look at their hands while typing except for special characters.
I have to concur. Many programmers don't know how to type. Possibly most. Also, whenever I bring the layout up, the most common objection is that it's impossible because they could be touching computers that aren't their own, as if every programmer would be a system administrator as well…
I have yet to be forced into Azerty or Qwerty… except when playing TellTale games. Apparently they have found the One True Layout, and it is Qwerty.
They went back to typewriter layout, and now claim that infrared keyswitches are the secret to ergonomics. Complete With Marketing Copy Capitalizing Every Word. It's so bad that I genuinely thought some fly-by-night Chinese manufacturer had stolen their domain and logo. But nope, it's still the same people.
So today I found out that I own a legacy TECK model. I have visited their site some time ago the last time I remapped the keys with the online utility, so I'm baffled they went back to the century old typewriter layout, it's somewhat like they abjured what they professed few years ago. Bah...
I suppose they expect to sell more units of this more conventional layout.
Also lots of mechanical keyboards from companies other than Truly Ergonomic work fine with Kailh switches.
So I think it's the crappy TE firmware and not the switches.
I like the layout though, so I persist with using it at work. I much prefer my Ergodox at home though.
I simply do not understand the "increased performance" claims people in these situations make. There is no way.
All keyboards have fundamentally arbitrary layouts, some are just slightly more or less arbitrary than others.
I use dvorak, on an Ergodox at home and a TECK at work. My phone keyboard is changed to dvorak .
The only times I have to use someone else's keyboard, it's only for maybe a word/login here and there, I'm not typing novels.
I'm very happy I've switched to dvorak on ortholinear keyboards.
 Dvorak is not a great layout for phones, it's good when using two thumbs, but all the switching from left to right side is bad for single-finger or single-thumb typing.
I use dvorak, and I've found it a hassle many times just switching the layout of the various PCs I'm using into dvorak. Worth it, but a hassle. At least the dvorak layout is semi-standard though.
Custom dvorak is a bridge too far...
It's fairly easy to switch your laptop's layout via software, the OS will just remap the keys.
So you don't have to carry another physical keyboard.
55cN is a little on the high side for force needed to depress a piano key ("touchweight"). But the piano is velocity sensitive, and pressing with the minimum force won't get you any sound. Playing loud notes takes substantially more force.
Can you quantify this? E.g. through https://typing-speed-test.aoeu.eu/?lang=en
I don't know how fast you think.
FWIW I find that my quicker-than-average typing is still definitely not always fast enough to keep up with what I want to write down.
My "cruising" typing speed is about 80WPM and I don't think I ever feel like I'm typing too slow, for instance while writing this comment I never felt like my mind was getting ahead of my fingers. Maybe I'm a bit slow in the head, who knows...
In the world of guitars one can spend thousands of dollars having the perfect custom guitar built. I've often wondered why software developers don't invest as much in bespoke custom keyboards for exactly the same reason you have come to realize. I definitely think there's a market for it.
I think some of the variables include key layout, key switch type, keycap shape & material, key dimensions, the material of the keyboard itself, type of connector, LED colors & placement, extras like auxiliary displays, knobs, switches, sliders, and touchpads. I could continue...
I _so_ wish I could think as fast as I can type.