Author: Oscar Benedito <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 2020 23:07:43 +0200
New entry: Improving ergonomics: the Atreus keyboard
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+<!-- title: Improving ergonomics: the Atreus keyboard -->
+<!-- slug: atreus -->
+<!-- categories: Miscellany -->
+<!-- date: 2020-10-18T21:05:00Z -->
+Back in March, at the start of the lockdown, I had a lot of free time. I also
+had a lot of ideas for personal projects and functionalities for my server, so I
+started coding a lot. I realized that since I was spending a lot of time on my
+computer, without any time constraints, I could use the opportunity to try
+things I was always "too busy" to try. Things that I knew would make me more
+efficient on my computer, but had a steep learning curve. For example, I started
+using [i3][i3], which I eventually changed for [dwm][dwm], and I started using
+[neovim][nv] as my main editor (I had some experience with vim, but never used
+it for day-to-day tasks). I now use dwm exclusively and vim nearly exclusively.
+Both programs disregard the mouse completely (or nearly[^me]), and most other
+programs I tried or got more comfortable with during the lockdown also used text
+as the main input method. With all these changes towards a more keyboard-centric
+system, I couldn't help but think: can I improve my keyboard experience? I
+already touch-type, so that area didn't have a lot of room for improvement. I
+could get a mechanical keyboard, but back then, I had only used membrane
+keyboards and I felt perfectly comfortable, I didn't think there was a lot of
+room for improvement there either, and I could not justify the economic cost of
+such a change. That sounded just about everything I could improve on, so I guess
+I already had a pretty optimal experience.
+[^me]: In my case, I deactivate the mouse completely in neovim, as the only
+ thing I use the mouse for is to select text to easily paste it with the middle
+ button on another application, but I like the cursor staying where it is when
+ I do it. For dwm, you can selects tags with the mouse, but I rarely do that.
+*Wait a minute...*
+Why are the keyboards arranged the way they are? Is it the optimal position?
+Apparently, not even close! If you look around, you will see that there are a
+lot of different kinds of keyboards with the keys arranged in very different
+ways. Keyboards designed to be more comfortable than regular ones are normally
+referred to as [ergonomic keyboards][ek]. I did some research and I tried to
+understand—although it was hard to evaluate without trying them—why they are
+considered more comfortable. Each keyboard had it's own pros and cons, and after
+looking at many, I decided that my perfect keyboard would have the following
+- **Arranged in columns**: it makes no sense for keyboards' rows to be
+ staggered. Indeed, the reason for that design is that typewriters had to be
+ staggered so that the levers could all fit under the keys. With computers,
+ this isn't an issue anymore, and columns are more comfortable.
+- **Make use of thumbs**: my right thumb's job on a normal keyboard is to press
+ one big space bar and my left thumb doesn't even have a job! I would rather
+ have a small space bar and fit a couple more keys for each thumb.
+- **Minimize the movements of my fingers**: ideally, no finger would have to
+ press any key that's not adjacent to it's "resting" key (diagonally adjacent
+ is fine).
+- **Easy to type modifier keys**: as I use the keyboard instead of the mouse as
+ much as I can, I use modifier keys often. I would like them to be reached
+- **High distance between hands**: for a better posture when writing on my
+In short, I wanted to maximize the comfort of typing while minimizing the
+movements my hands had to make. Additionally, I didn't want to spend a lot of
+money (I didn't know if I was going to like moving to a different keyboard) and
+also would rather not have to build the keyboard myself, although it looked like
+that was the only option.
+After all the research, only one keyboard seemed to fulfill all my needs: the
+[Atreus keyboard][ak]. The Atreus seemed great, I would have liked it more if it
+had an extra column on each side (like the [Atreus62][ak62]), but it wasn't a
+big deal. The reviews on the Atreus were all great, so I decided to give it a
+Luckily for me, back then [Keyboardio][kbio] had just launched a Kickstarter
+campaign for that precise keyboard. It had a good price for an ergonomic
+keyboard and I didn't have to build it on my own. The only problem was that I'd
+have to wait until the end of August to receive it, but time wasn't an issue for
+me, so I bought it. Fast forward five months to two weeks ago, the keyboard
+finally arrived! *(There were some delays, although the people at Keyboardio
+always kept us informed, great experience overall.)*
+I have been able to use the new keyboard for some time now and it looks good so
+far[^nt]. It took some time to get used to the columns instead of staggered
+rows, but I am doing a lot better now. It also took some time to get used to the
+layers (I had to re-learn where every character is!), but after I changed the
+layout to make it as intuitive as possible, the learning process has been a lot
+[^nt]: I don't want to use it for day-to-day tasks yet, as I am still a bit slow
+ and feel more comfortable with a regular keyboard, so I haven't used it that
+Although I am liking the keyboard so far, I don't want to evaluate it
+extensively while still getting used to it and I think I shouldn't reach any
+conclusions until I feel more comfortable with it. I will probably write about
+my experience with the Atreus in the future.
+[i3]: <https://i3wm.org> "i3"
+[dwm]: <https://dwm.suckless.org> "dwm"
+[nv]: <https://neovim.io> "Neovim"
+[ek]: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergonomic_keyboard> "Ergonomic keyboard — Wikipedia"
+[ak]: <https://atreus.technomancy.us> "Atreus keyboard"
+[ak62]: <https://shop.profetkeyboards.com/product/atreus62-keyboard> "Atreus62 keyboard — Profet Keyboards"
+[kbio]: <https://keyboard.io> "Keyboardio"
+[vm]: <https://github.com/philc/vimium> "Vimium — GitHub"