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Author Topic: How would you improve a standard PC keyboard?  (Read 15516 times)
tranglos
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« on: November 08, 2009, 07:39:28 PM »

Not Dvorak, not anything completely new or outlandish, but a regular 102+ keys PC keyboard. How would you improve it?

Here's what I'd love to see:

1. An Enter key on the left.

There are already two enter keys on a standard PC keyboard, both on the right side, extremely impractical to press with the left hand. If you hold the mouse with your right hand, you have to drop the mouse before you can hit Enter.

This has been bothering me for a long time. Do the single "long" click in Windows Explorer or Total Commander to rename a file, then right-click to paste a new name (or cut/delete a part of the string with the mouse), but you cannot complete the rename operation with the mouse. Or, it's becoming common to have a search box somewhere near the top right corner, both in desktop apps and websites. Often the search box cannot be (easily) accessed with the keyboard, so you need the mouse to click it. Then you can paste your search string, but often still need to press Enter, because sometimes there is no button to click to initiate the search.

An Enter key accessible with the left hand would make such operations much smoother.

2. A dedicated key for navigating controls in a window.

Using Tab for jumping from edit box to edit box may have seemed like a good idea at the time people were accustomed to typewriters, but often the metaphor breaks with no obvious workaround. The Tab key has two distinct uses: one is to navigate fields, the other to enter the tab character. This works as long as you have only simple one-line controls in a window, or if a window contains only one multi-line edit control. Anything beyond that, and users are left to wonder how to navigate via the keyboard to neighboring areas. Take Word 2003 with a task pane open: you should be able to jump between the editor and the task pane using Tab, but you can't. (Even though you can still use Tab to navigate within the task pane itself).

Or take a split-screen text editor with two edit panes side by side - how do you jump between them? It's surprising that no common standard has evolved for navigation in such cases. Tab won't do. Each vendor comes up with their custom binding, so much so you can never be sure what will work. (Similarly, there seems to be no solid standard for switching between MDI windows. F6 or Ctrl+F6 are common, but this type of binding should be set in stone as much as directional arrows are.)

Microsoft has pretty much succeeded in extending the PC keyboard with two additional keys; I'm sure they could add one more :) A dedicated Nav key whose sole function would be to jump from one enabled control to another, regardless of what the controls are. Alt+Nav would cycle through MDI windows, while Ctrl+Nav could be used to cycle between tabs in tabbed applications. (There seems to be no fixed standard for that, either: try Ctrl+Tab, Ctrl+PageDown or even Alt+Left/Right).

This is what I would manufacture if I were a bit more entrepreneurial and a bit less of a slacker :)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2009, 07:42:15 PM by tranglos » Logged

AndyM
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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2009, 07:57:02 PM »

Quote
If you hold the mouse with your right hand, you have to drop the mouse before you can hit Enter.

Not if you have <Enter> assigned to <LeftButtonDown><WheelDown>

(and <Escape> assigned to <LeftButtonDown><WheelUp>; <Copy> assigned to <LeftButtonDown><RightClick>; <Paste> assigned to <LeftButtonDown><DoubleRightClick>, and a few others...)
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mwb1100
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2009, 08:51:04 PM »

1. An Enter key on the left.

A good idea!

I'd get rid of the damn CapsLock key.  It might be worth little test to get a key mapping utility to make it behave instead like an Enter key and see how that would work out. I may just do that.

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Ehtyar
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2009, 10:57:58 PM »

+1 for both of your suggestions tranglos.

I'm also very into a block of programmable keys similar to the numpad but with no functionality other than what you assign them, and a small LCD display just for convenience functions (like when using fullscreen apps etc). Something similar to the relatively well known Logitech G15 that's not ugly would be nice.

Also, why the *frack* have peripheral manufacturers still not made a mouse with a wheel that supports side scrolling *as-well-as* non-retarded right-click?

Ehtyar.
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4wd
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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2009, 11:19:51 PM »

I'm also very into a block of programmable keys similar to the numpad but with no functionality other than what you assign them, and a small LCD display just for convenience functions (like when using fullscreen apps etc). Something similar to the relatively well known Logitech G15 that's not ugly would be nice.

Well, you could save up your pennies and get the Optimus Maximus.  Has it seen the light of day yet?  Apparently shipping....crap, now I want one.

Quote
Also, why the *frack* have peripheral manufacturers still not made a mouse with a wheel that supports side scrolling *as-well-as* non-retarded right-click?

Not sure what you mean but Logitech, (for one), make mice where the scroll wheel also does sideways scrolling by tilting it left or right, also A4Tech made mice with 2 scroll wheels for vertical and horizontal.

And my mouse switches to sideways if whatever is on screen fits vertically and not horizontally.

It might be worth little test to get a key mapping utility to make it behave instead like an Enter key and see how that would work out. I may just do that.

Attached is an archive containing the required remapping for a plain US keyboard as well as an undo file.

* CAPSLock2Enter.zip (0.62 KB - downloaded 194 times.)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2009, 11:27:14 PM by 4wd » Logged

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housetier
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« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2009, 03:35:45 AM »

I'd want the number block on the left side so the mouse won't be too far away from the center of the keyboard. Better yet, completely do away with the number block like many laptops do
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cyberdiva
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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2009, 07:16:54 AM »

Better yet, completely do away with the number block like many laptops do
This would really make my life difficult, since I use the ALT+4 keyboard combinations to type a number of characters, especially those not found in English, such as ñ (ALT+0241), é (ALT+0233), ¿ ALT+0191), etc.  Without a numeric keypad on my laptop, I find typing these characters exceedingly cumbersome, since I have to go to some bother to make some of the regular keys function as numeric keys.  (As a result, I've added a third-party program, AllChars, to my laptop.)  On my desktop, which DOES have a numeric keypad, there's no problem.  I don't need a separate program for typing these characters, and I don't need to resort to the built-in and very cumbersome Character Map (useful only if you type such characters only rarely).  Moreover,  I can type these characters on just about any keyboard, since they're not dependent on a third-party program. 

All this is just a longwinded way to say that I would NOT want to get rid of the numeric keypad.
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40hz
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« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2009, 09:24:23 AM »

do away with the number block like many laptops do

Do that and you've just alienated all the people in the financial and management sectors who spend more time on their numeric keypads than they do on their QWERTY keys.

Ever try to work in Excel for more than 5 minutes without a numeric keypad? smiley

Just my 2¢ (or ALT 0162 on the keypad if you prefer tongue)

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housetier
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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2009, 09:40:46 AM »

Well with so many people on this planet, we cannot all be working with excel, can we?
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Innuendo
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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2009, 10:44:53 AM »

I'd want the number block on the left side so the mouse won't be too far away from the center of the keyboard. Better yet, completely do away with the number block like many laptops do

There are desktop keyboards out there that do away with the numeric keypad available for purchase right now. Go forth, buy one, and enjoy your version of keyboard happiness. smiley
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40hz
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« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2009, 12:44:38 PM »

Well with so many people on this planet, we cannot all be working with excel, can we?

True. But that doesn't mean they're any less effected by it just because they themselves don't use it.

Consider:

Some play Warcraft. Some play Doom. Some play Biohazard.

And then there's those who play the deadliest virtual reality game of all - Microsoft Excel!

You've got layoffs happening; troop deployments being put in motion; and serious thought being given to exactly how much in taxes you'll be asked to pay next year. Things like that don't get worked out on blackboards any more.

Just think how much of what we get to live with on a daily basis goes back to a decision someone made after running an Excel spreadsheet or two...

Microsoft Excel - FEAR IT! tongue  Grin





« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 12:46:12 PM by 40hz » Logged

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AndyM
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« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2009, 01:01:20 PM »

Quote
... a regular 102+ keys PC keyboard. How would you improve it?

Put the App/Context/RightClick (whatever you call it) back next to the Right-Control key.

I always found that key handy to bring up a context menu, now I have to assign that to a key combination (RightControl-/).
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40hz
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« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2009, 02:00:26 PM »

Not so much improve as go back to something that got changed for no good reason.

1) Reduce the size of the right SHIFT key and go back to giving us a correctly sized (as in vertically bigger) ENTER key.

2) Reduce the size of the BACKSPACE key and put the ESC key back in the 'numbers row' (top-left) where it belongs.

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mwb1100
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« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2009, 02:00:56 PM »

Well, you could save up your pennies and get the Optimus MaximusHas it seen the light of day yet?  Apparently shipping....crap, now I want one.

Very nice looking.  To say the least. 

But it looks like it'll be a number of years (to say the least) before I'll be moving on from my essentially free keyboards to one of those (and even the most expensive wireless, multimedia, fancy backlit keyboards qualify as free in comparison). $ouch$.


Attached is an archive containing the required remapping for a plain US keyboard as well as an undo file.

Thanks for that; I'll give it a try for a week or so.  I suspect I'll not like it - mainly because I'm not a great typist so I expect more errant 'enters' than I'd like. But maybe not - I don't get a bogus CapsLock all too often (but often enough that it bugs me because I pretty much never, ever want it - at least as an enter key it has a chance of being useful at times).

We'll see.


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MilesAhead
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« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2009, 02:29:31 PM »

Not so much improve as go back to something that got changed for no good reason.

1) Reduce the size of the right SHIFT key and go back to giving us a correctly sized (as in vertically bigger) ENTER key.

2) Reduce the size of the BACKSPACE key and put the ESC key back in the 'numbers row' (top-left) where it belongs.



My first inclination would be, get a hot babe to do the typing.  But to go along with your thoughts, the thing I liked when they switched away from the XT style keyboard, was the separate navigation and number pads.  The thing I hated was the function keys across the top.  On XT style there were 10 function keys on the left.  If you could touch type at all, and were using an app that made heavy use of the F keys, you could reach with the little finger of your left hand and hit the F keys without moving your fingers from the standard typing position or "home row."  On these 101 key variants, every time I have to hit an F key the touch type orientation is gone.  I have to fumble around to get back to position.  It's like Bizarro Ergonomics.
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SteveJohnSteele
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« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2009, 06:40:05 PM »


Also, why the *frack* have peripheral manufacturers still not made a mouse with a wheel that supports side scrolling

Ehtyar.

What if the mouse had a tracker ball instead of a wheel?! That way would have up/down left/right and could put a button under it.
So ... button | ball | button ... [] ( ) []
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SteveJohnSteele
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« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2009, 06:51:29 PM »

I'd want the number block on the left side so the mouse won't be too far away from the center of the keyboard. Better yet, completely do away with the number block like many laptops do

or something like this (see picture) http://www.crunchgear.com...wp-content/photos/akb.jpg

[main keyboard] [touch pad]

the touch pad can be programmed ... mouse, number pad, media etc
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JavaJones
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« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2009, 09:54:07 PM »

Apple's "Mighty Mouse" has a ball for a "wheel". I really don't like it though. I like the more solid, "clicky" feel of a wheel really.

Ever since the "10 GUI" thread I've been really interested in the idea of a keyboard with a large multi-touch surface next to or as part of it. If it was also a screen (OLED or LCD), it could dynamically display keys or other info depending on the mode it's in. I'd pay $200 for a keyboard like this that worked well...

- Oshyan
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Deozaan
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« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2009, 01:06:47 AM »


Also, why the *frack* have peripheral manufacturers still not made a mouse with a wheel that supports side scrolling

Ehtyar.

What if the mouse had a tracker ball instead of a wheel?! That way would have up/down left/right and could put a button under it.
So ... button | ball | button ... [] ( ) []


That's how my Kensington SlimBlade Media Mouse is designed. And the ball makes a "clicky" sound as you move it, much like a standard scroll wheel does. You don't feel the click, but you can hear it.

EDIT: I actually have this set: http://us.kensington.com/html/13872.html
« Last Edit: November 10, 2009, 01:09:59 AM by Deozaan » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2009, 01:31:54 AM »

Not so much improve as go back to something that got changed for no good reason.

2) Reduce the size of the BACKSPACE key and put the ESC key back in the 'numbers row' (top-left) where it belongs.



Mine is like that!
« Last Edit: November 10, 2009, 01:43:04 AM by CleverCat » Logged

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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #20 on: November 10, 2009, 05:58:31 AM »

I'd get rid of the damn CapsLock key.  It might be worth little test to get a key mapping utility to make it behave instead like an Enter key and see how that would work out. I may just do that.
I was thinking electrify the CapsLock key.

And how about making Alt + Esc the left-handed Enter key.
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Aycon
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« Reply #21 on: November 10, 2009, 06:59:22 PM »

 A free, simple solution for getting rid of "the damn CAP LOCK key" go to: http://www.orionsoft.cz/v...de=/Software/AntiCapsLock
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Ehtyar
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« Reply #22 on: November 10, 2009, 07:08:48 PM »

Why not turn the left caps-lock key into an enter key? (for those who don't have a problem randomly hitting it by accident)

Ehtyar.
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Perry Mowbray
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« Reply #23 on: November 10, 2009, 09:53:34 PM »

Why not turn the left caps-lock key into an enter key? (for those who don't have a problem randomly hitting it by accident)

Love it!!  Kiss

Formatted for AutoIt with the GeSHI Syntax Highlighter [copy or print]
  1. Capslock::send {ENTER}

So easy: why didn't I think of that before?? I never use the CapsLock (well, not previously  Wink)
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4wd
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« Reply #24 on: November 10, 2009, 11:39:56 PM »

Why not turn the left caps-lock key into an enter key? (for those who don't have a problem randomly hitting it by accident)

Love it!!  Kiss
....
So easy: why didn't I think of that before?? I never use the CapsLock (well, not previously  Wink)

Or the registry version is way back up here Wink
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