Improving life by improving your keyboard

Tara Calihman - May 16, 2014


Hand strain requires an ergonomic keyboard + Personal desire for mechanical keys = Expensive and limited options

Several years ago I started getting pains in my hands after spending all day at work programing. Initially it began with mouse usage and after several disappointments I ended up with the Logitech TrackMan Wheel Mouse. It’s not the most accurate mouse, but it practically eliminated the pain. Nowadays I use the Logitech Wireless Trackball M570, unfortunately it is even less precise, however it is, at least, still available.

A few years after dealing with my mouse issues I began getting new pains in both hands (it was a little worse with my left). I quickly concluded that it was from using the horribly un-ergonomic Apple keyboards. It was time for another round of research. As with most people that end up here I found the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 and painless happiness ensued.

Later in my career, to my delight and later dismay, I was introduced to the world of Mechanical Keyboards. I had known of their existence, but without any real world experience it just seemed like another of those vast Alice-type rabbit holes that us geeks love to drown ourselves in. However, I had began a new job working with other programmers who had gone down that hole and emerged with a superior typing experience. I was jealous. My soft squishy keys and lack of joyful clickity clack launched me down that same rabbit hole.

Falling, I learned about the wonders of the many types of Cherry MX, Topre and Alps switches; the gleeful differences between matrix and staggered key layouts; the different materials and styles of keycaps (yes, there are several) as well as the different keyboard sizes (tenkeyless, 60%, full, etc…) .

Full size / 100%


Tenkeyless / TKL / 80%

tenkeyless A keyboard layout without a numpad.


60 “A keyboard layout consisting of just the main cluster without the numpad, function row, arrow cluster and navigation cluster. Also refers to keyboards with a compressed layout that has about the same size.”



However, when I started looking for my precious ergonomic design things got a little gloomy. Next week, check out Part 2 in my ongoing struggle to build a better keyboard….

(For those interested, there’s a Massdrop going on right now for the Ergodox!)