As important as a good set of work boots to a construction worker is the keyboard to the programmer. I see (and hear) about so many people that work 8 – 10 hour days pecking away on a keyboard that was designed for grandma to write an email on once a month. I did the same thing until about three years ago I started suffering from wrist pain part way through the day. I realized it was because I was tweaking my wrist to get to the control and escape keys. My keyboard was also off center with my monitor because of the num pad. After a few hours of searching I ran across the “Happy Hacking Keyboard”:
It’s especially small and cute sitting in front of a 19″ CRT but don’t let that fool you. This thing is a vim and *nix users dream come true. The tilde is moved to the other side of the number row and escape is tucked in in it’s proper place place next to the one key. Caps lock is gone (honestly who uses caps lock anyway), replaced by the much more important control key. Grandma may not use control but mine is worn shiny.
After about three days of only being half productive and having my fingers trip over each other I got used to having the arrow keys layed out over ‘[‘, ‘;’, ”’, and ‘/’. I know in vim that ‘h’, ‘j’, ‘k’, and ‘l’ can be used in place of arrow keys but I had problems switching from using one set of ‘arrow’ keys in vim and another in everything else.
With my old keyboard I realized that my mouse was always touching the num pad. This is because the mouse belongs as close to home row as it can get. The redundant num pad keeps the mouse from being in it’s proper place. I went through the same 3 day adjustment not having a num pad as I did with arrow keys. Several companies make ps/2 add on num pads for laptop users if you really want one. I found that my mouse sits perfectly where my num pad used to be while keeping my keyboard in the center of my monitor.
For those of you two frugal to pay $120 for a good keyboard. PFUCA makes a lite 2 version with mushy grandma keys and a set of arrow keys below the right shift. I consider this the training wheels version. Buy one, use it for a while, then get the regular version. The regular has a perfect key snap. It’s somewhat like the old school “snappy” IBM keyboards but without the knuckle crushing instant stop at the bottom of the keystroke.
The regular version comes with a short(about 2″) cord and a ps/2 extension so you can easily tote the same keyboard between home and work. I did this for about a week before buying a second for home.
Some time after I picked up my Happy Hackings PFUCA came out with a professional series that is supposed to have a softer keystroke. I’m skeptical to try this one as I like the click of my HHK. If anybody has tried one of these let me know how you like it.
If you spend 8+ hours/day in front of a terminal or vim stop driving that ford. Get a BMW! Happy Hacking!