commit ef3f68f57f0e15166853ef2c4a6e337e20a4127a
parent e4f43dd0dd8ee55a8bc52fd42332f8b7484ed0ff
Author: Oscar Benedito <>
Date:   Sun, 18 Oct 2020 23:07:43 +0200

New entry: Improving ergonomics: the Atreus keyboard

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1 file changed, 104 insertions(+), 0 deletions(-)

diff --git a/content/blog/ b/content/blog/ @@ -0,0 +1,104 @@ +<!-- 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 +properties: + +- **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 + easily. +- **High distance between hands**: for a better posture when writing on my + computer. + +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 +try. + +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 +faster. + +[^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 + much. + +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]: <> "i3" +[dwm]: <> "dwm" +[nv]: <> "Neovim" +[ek]: <> "Ergonomic keyboard — Wikipedia" +[ak]: <> "Atreus keyboard" +[ak62]: <> "Atreus62 keyboard — Profet Keyboards" +[kbio]: <> "Keyboardio" +[vm]: <> "Vimium — GitHub"