I got a little frustrated with the Moonlander and tried briefly to switch back to a Magic Keyboard, then quickly realized there was to be no easy going back. I de-tented for a few days, to take away a variable, then found a profile that more closely matches the Planck, which I am using for my iPad. That helped a little. Then I added non-blank keycaps for the basic whitespace and modifier keys (e.g. opt, cmd, tab, esc, backspace) and that helped even more. Then I added keycaps for my number row that included symbols, and that helped yet more.

At this point, I have a pretty simple configuration that is not doing much special, but my shoulders feel better using it, and I have enough of a baseline with this mostly familiar configuration that I’ve added tenting back and am pushing the two halves further apart.

Another super helpful thing that friend Chris Barker pointed me to is keybr.com, an online typing trainer that’s pretty good! It walks through a series of typing exercises that emphasize each letter in turn, using some real and some not-real words that include more common letter sequences. It’s a vast improvement over typing tutors that simply ask you to type jjj kkk lll ;;; fff ddd sss aaa jfj dkd sls a;a over and over or make you dictate passages from novels. It also looks for your weak letters and emphasizes them in the exercises which is great for an ortholinear keyboard where some of the letters out at the ends of the rows are not where you’ve learned to find them over the years.

I seem to have made my way back to about 70 wpm, from a previous high, once upon a time, of about 90 wpm. I really like being able to hold my hands shoulder-width apart, and I’m hunching over the keyboard less.

Ergodox has added a cool heatmap feature to the Oryx online trainer. While I don’t think I’m interested in doing a ton of modifications, I can see using return, tab, and backspace from the thumb keys more, then beginning to train myself to use the hyper and meh keys.

It was bothering me enough that I wanted to get rid of it, but over a month in, and with a few false starts and detours, it feels pretty good. When I think about what my fingers are doing, I’m plainly not crossing over the way I used to – at one point when I tried to use an old keyboard I caught myself simultaneously reaching left to hit the r key with my right hand, and reaching to the right to hit the u key with my left. I can still sometimes feel my fingers feint toward leaving the correct half of the keyboard, and I am still training my pinkies a little, but overall it feels like I’m roaming less.

I wish I had adopted a more standard layout sooner, avoided tenting for a while, and pushed the two halves together for my first few weeks. Moving to ortholinear spacing and making all the other changes was just too much at once, so I had a hard time committing and badly extended the initial reorientation.

I guess my other observation from the past while is that the Planck is a fine prose keyboard, but it’s annoying to not have a number row. I might be less annoyed if someone came out with keycaps that included front-printed numbers and symbols. Yes, I think a Preonic might be in my future as an iPad and travel axe, meaning it will have taken me about 18 years to return, pretty much, to the Happy Hacking keyboard I remember with some fondness.