New Keyboard Day

Created: Mon Nov 02 2020 11:59:00 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time) Tags: tech,hacking,keyboard,computing,home_office

It’s new keyboard day in the schwartz household. I’ve been a mechanical keyboard user for the last 2.5 years, pretty much since I stopped cosplaying as a software dev and actually became one. At my last job I somehow wound up with a friend’s Code keyboard when he left.

Tweaking the Setup

I use this phrase a lot, because I do it a lot. One vertical monitor and a laptop; two horizontal monitors, laptop closed; one vertical, one horizontal and laptop screen. The only part of my workstation that is non-negotiable is the Kensington Expert Trackball. Everything else is fair game. There is no ideal arrangement, the act of fiddling is its own reward. I never did this before I was a professional werb derv. In fact, I learned to code on a sub-$200 Chromebook with no external peripherals.

My Old Keyboard

For the last year, I’ve been using an Asceny One 60% keyboard with Gateron Blue switches. There are only two things I don’t like about it:

I’ve tried remapping keys, but without QMK support, it’s a challenge, especially on macos. Maybe if I was a Real Programmer™, but I’m just a werb derv, and I couldn’t do it. Too bad really, because the lighting (which is programmable) is amazing. I may return to this keyboard after my journey into ortholinear-land.

My New Keyboard

When trying to find a larger, small keyboard (70-75%) you inevitably find that most of the options require soldering. That sent me down this keyboard rabbit-hole, the culmination of which was the purchase of the following monstrosity:

This is the ID75 (aka Idobo). Gateron Green switches, frankenkeys for now until I decide on a working layout. Remapping is a cinch with QMK Configurator and QMK Toolbox. A big part of my decision to buy it was the lack of soldering invovled in the assembly.

So here I am after half a day of working on the damn thing, and I can’t decide if I see the potential and love it or if I’m unnecessarily complicating my life for no reason. Sure, I love endlessly tweaking my setup, but my typing just went from 80wpm to like 20wpm.

I think the real power in this keyboard lies in frequently tweaking the mapping. I keep overshooting the backspace key, but I can remap it to go in the place I expect it to, instead of forcing my body to retrain.

I think I may separate out the letters into two halves with the arrow/fn keys in the middle. There’s a lot more keys than I’m used to, and I’d like to program in some macros for when I’m writing code. I wonder if I can hit a key and have it input const x = () => {};. I know I can do it with Hammerspoon but having it built into the keyboard would mean the behavior would exist when I work on a Raspberry Pi or my laptop-repurposed-as-a-server. There is absolutely a chance I will use the ID75 for a few months and decide to go back to a regular staggered keyboard.