Friday, January 12, 2007

my first ebay purchase, the kinesis maxim ergonomic keyboard

"Welcome to the late nineties!", my coworker Chris jokingly exclaimed when I mentioned during lunch that I had made my first ebay purchase.

I've been checking out keyboards without number pads and finally splurged on the maxim kinesis. Other models I considered were keyovation's goldtouch, happy hacking, and some lower-priced ones: logitech model made for the playstation 2, and zippy. I picked the maxim because I found a new one available for a great price on ebay. I wanted a keyboard without a number pad so that I wouldn't have to reach as far for the mouse.

The keys on the maxim are a bit stickier than my old dell quietkey, but I soon got used to the feeling. The maxim has some neat variable split and tilt features that's supposed to reduce hand fatigue. The purchase of the maxim also gave me a great excuse to try the Dvorak keyboard layout. Since I was getting accustomed to the keyboard anyway, I decided to up the ante. As an engineer, I've always been impressed with the efficiency of the layout and plus it's another way to geek out.

Dvorak studied letter frequency and designed the layout to maximize hand alternation and minimize movement away from the home keys. The qwerty layout, on the other hand, was designed to minimize the jamming of keys back when folks still used typewriters.

Learning Dvorak takes patience and practice. The first couple of days were a mess. It took me forever to write a simple email. I finally had to switch back to qwerty to get any work done. But I've never been one to give up, so I practiced at home and by day four I was able to make the switch at work.

I've been using the new layout for two weeks now and I'm finally competent. My WPM is around 30 and I expect that to improve since there's usually a month long acclimation process. One benefit I'm already enjoying is how fresh my hands and wrists feel at the end of the day. This was my main motivation for making the switch and so far it's paying off.

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