It was the Numtide Retreat 2022 when I first laid eyes on it…
After arriving late the night before, I had slept in a bit, and as I was slowly booting up for the day, coffee in hand, I wandered into the dining room where everyone was set up for the day. And there it was.
This peculiar-looking split keyboard with big ass red buttons. I was intrigued.
Mind you, this was a work retreat for a group of people who spend a lot of their days working with and writing Nix. Which is to say, there were quite a few varied and interesting mechanical keyboards sitting about.
Entropy is a bitch, and the arrow of time stubbornly refuses to change direction. As a result, I am forced to continue towards an inevitable state of decline and decrepitude.
It started a couple of years ago with tension in my right forearm. At the time, I remember thinking I had been lucky enough to avoid any sign of RSI well into my 30s. But since I’ve been writing software since I was 11, I was under no illusion that, at some point, I’d have to wrestle with it.
Back then, the fix was actually pretty simple. I swapped out my Logitech Master MX 2 for a vertical mouse: the Logitech MX Vertical. That did the trick, and honestly, I can’t remember anymore what it was like with a regular mouse.
I highly recommend making the switch.
But remember that inevitable decline I mentioned? Well, in the last few years, I got back into the gym and started lifting. Yeah, I know, you wouldn’t think to look at me, but under all that insulation is the body of a powerlifter, trust me… And with all that extra strain being placed on my skeletal structure, I’ve started to suffer from some severe CSS shoulders.
Now, I haven’t done much front-end development in the last while, but anyone who ever has will know what I’m talking about. It’s that tightness in your shoulders and your upper back you get from squinting too close to the screen trying to work out why the fuck that div is not fucking aligned!
Anyway, suffice it to say, my back now cracks more than a knuckle-cracking champion at the World Knuckle Cracking Championships. Which means I’ve been on the lookout for a split keyboard for a while so I can sit in a more relaxed and neutral position as I work.
This should be the end of the blog post. But, of course, I’m a glutton for punishment. In addition to switching to a split keyboard, I thought, screw it, why not change the layout whilst I’m at it.
You see, QWERTY was designed to slow us down. Back in the day, when typewriters were all the rage, the keys had to be distributed such that the chances of any two hammers trying to hit the page at the same time were minimized.
Never mind that each row of keys is staggered to allow space for the linkages between the keys and the hammers.
I’ve known QWERTY is sub-optimal for a while, a fact I first learned at Uni when we were introduced to the Dvorak layout. But since then, with mechanical keyboards being the tech industry’s primary fetish, a lot of different layouts have been tried and tested.
After a lot of research comprised mainly of watching YouTube videos, I’ve concluded that Colemak DHk is the one I’m gonna give a go. This means it’s going to be a couple months before I can use my shiny new Moonlander day-to-day.
For work, I’m going to stick with my old keyboard. In the evenings, I’ll get out my Moonlander and continue training with keybr.com until I reach a suitable level of proficiency.
For the curious, you can follow my progress here.
I’m getting old, and I want to feel like a keyboard warrior before we eventually switch to direct neural interfaces or society collapses, and we return to a purely agrarian society.
So I bought a fancy split keyboard that is more powerful than my first computer, and I’ve decided to change keyboard layouts to prove I’m a real haxor.