We’re all typists, really.
Chances are, if you spend the majority of your work day hanging out on a laptop, then you’re probably typing a whole lot. Text is increasingly favored over verbal communication, and for many of us, it’s the medium in which our craft manifests. The ubiquity of text-based communication has made honing our typing skills more relevant than ever.
I basically grew up in front of a computer, but for some reason I never took the time to actually learn how to type. I mean, I could type just fine, but I didn’t know how to touch type (typing without using the sense of sight to find the keys). I got by with my own approach towards typing up until a few years ago when I wanted to learn a text editor called vim. Let’s just say the editor is pretty much impossible to use unless you actually know what your fingers are doing on the keyboard.
The funny thing is, learning how to type properly didn’t take much time at all, just a little conscious effort, and the payoff was ridiculous. Because we all spend so much time typing, any increase in skills pays off every day, and can be seen in every sentence we type.
Once you start putting a little effort into typing, you’ll naturally start thinking more about the keyboard you type on. There isn’t anything wrong with your laptop’s keyboard per se, but there are so many other options out there! All kinds of layouts, key caps, and switches (the little springs in each key) that can make each sentence you type dramatically more enjoyable. Not to mention the ergonomic benefits of using a keyboard designed with the human hand in mind.
Now that we know why keyboards are awesome, let’s take a look at one that I find particularly interesting. It’s call the Atreus and was designed by Phil Hagelberg. The keyboard is designed to accommodate the position of our resting hands and arranges its keys into columns, instead of rows. This reduces the need to wiggle our fingers horizontally, and generally feels great to type on.
You’ll also notice that the keyboard only has 42 keys. It’s able achieve this by introducing the concept of layers. By default, the keys represent what one would see in the three main rows of a regular keyboard. There’s a special key called ‘fn’ that when depressed changes all the other keys’ meanings, similar to how ‘shift’ works. This is how you access numbers and symbols. I know it sounds crazy, but once you get used to it, it’s amazing. All the characters end up sitting directly under your fingers!
Phil offers this keyboard pre-assembled or in component form. I chose to buy the components and put them together myself. Take a look at this step-by-step video and watch a keyboard come together: