PKB part 6, shifting along

Continues from Part 5

I had been reading assorted keyboard-enthusiast websites like GeekHack, DeskThority, etc. and seen comments about how useless the Caps Lock key was. So I thought I would do something more useful with that key, and turn it into a Delete key instead. I kept the Caps Lock function as a shift action on that key. And to balance things, I did the same on the right hand side, so now you have a Caps Lock facility on both sides.

I thought it would be useful to have the plus and minus keys more accessible, so added them on the inside. Getting a bit crowded there now.

Programmer's KeyBoard v 1.75

Programmer’s KeyBoard v 1.75

Yes, that centre column above the Enter keys is way too busy. While working and analyzing my own key usage, I noticed that I use the / much more than the +. Programmers, especially in HTML etc, use -, _ and / a lot more than people who type English text. So I had to make a plan. I also decided that Workman-P had put the I where it did for good reasons and I should leave I where it should be … So I swapped it back, and put the ; where it had been… which should reduce the likelihood of hitting the wrong : or ;.

Continue reading

PKB part 5, tweak some more

Continues from Part 4

When ordering the keycaps I had to make a few colour changes. Also changed the Esc logo from an airplane to the international symbol sign, and asked the FontAwesome people to add it to their collection

Programmer's KeyBoard v1.64

Programmer’s KeyBoard v1.64

Decided the Yin Yang symbol was a bit too clichéd and Eastern, so switched it for something more interesting. I had seen the symbol in FontAwesome but had no idea what it was, but my interest was piqued. But the Internet always delivers, and a few days later I stumbled across some Star Wars symbols and there is was… a quick visit to Wikipedia and it’s fate was sealed. The Rebel Alliance lives. I also noticed that recent Microsoft keyboard designs have started playing down that key, and the Menu key, so I decided to combine them into one. I was looking for an extra key, because the period and comma were buried in the numpad, and while useful there when dealing with numbers, it was a bit inconvenient the rest of the time for such frequently used characters. I added some extra ones.

Continue reading

PKB part 4, Ordered the keycaps

Continues from Part 3

So after a laborious and rather nerve-wracking process, I have finalised the colours and ordered the keycaps. I reduced the number of colours and combined functional groups in the process. Was also limited by which caps in which sizes and colours were available. Was not able to get matching ‘indicator’ (the typing ‘home’ keys) for the Alpha chars. But I never used them anyway, I’m not a classically trained touch typist 🙂 . Cost was almost US$ 200. Ouch. Next up is the switches, once I find someone trustworthy to sell them to me.

For the record, here’s the design now.

Programmer's Key Board v1.63 by Ian Douglas

Programmer’s Key Board v1.63 by Ian Douglas

Continues in Part 5

PKB part 2

Continues from Part 1

Just when you think you’re done, you’re not. The backtick/tilde key had been bothering me. I don’t use the backtick much, but I know shell programmers do, and apparently also people who work in Emacs. I do however use the tilde key a lot: when exporting from spreadsheets to .csv, I use the tilde as a separator, as it’s much easier to split something like this

“Smith, John”~26~”1 Nice Road, Cool Area, Big Town, 1234″~ “2010-02-03” by splitting on the ~ than trying to do it with this:

“Smith, John”,26,”1 Nice Road, Cool Area, Big Town, 1234″, “2010-02-03”

Also, while going over advantages and disadvantages of the layout, the lack of symmetry bothered me, as well as the backslash/pipe key looking rather lonely. I also realised that my problem with the period and the comma being next to each other was now mirrored with the semi-colon and colon next to each other. I might hit the wrong one.

Continue reading

The evolution of the Programmer’s KeyBoard design

My ageing Microsoft Natural Keyboard (original design) was not happy after I spilt some water on it. It insisted on typing unexpected letters, so I swapped it out for the 4000 version, which I don’t particularly like.

I then commenced a search for a replacement keyboard, and looked at every model available on-line. I learnt two things: all the current designs suck, and I really should switch to a mechanical keyboard. My thumbs have been hurting for years, and I found posts on-line blaming the space-bar on MS Naturals for causing that.

So given that there was nothing suitable available, I decided to make my own, having stumbled across people who do that as a hobby etc. Much Googling later, I discovered Keyboard Layout Editor and set to work on my own layout, the Programmer’s KeyBoard, aka PKB.

Continue reading

Selective transformation

Lifted from the IOL forums, no idea where it originated.


This one is for the students of the University of Cape Town who want the Rhodes statue removed.

If this statue is offensive to you because it reminds you of colonialists, why do you wear the clothing of the colonialists, speak the language of the colonialists, utilise the technology and medication of the colonialists, and pay good money to be educated like the colonialists? If a mere stone statue is offensive to you, shouldn’t you wipe out every other vestige and symbol of colonialism as well?

Shouldn’t the males amongst you turn up at ‘varsity dressed in animal skins and feathers, and a beshu to cover your backsides? And the female students short grass skirts or beaded cotton strings, with their breasts swinging free? It would spice up the lectures a bit hey? C’mon guys, don’t be such cowards. If you want to protest against colonialism, do it properly.
Throw your smart-phones away and speak your own languages, be it Zulu, Xhosa or

Continue reading

Putin’ on the Obama

So Russian Prez Putin went missing for 11 days and has now reappeared. But now US Prez Obama appears to have needed some time alone too… which lead to this on AlJazeera on 17 March:

Mind you, some Russian bloggers are now asking: where is US President Barack Obama who has not been seen since March 8?

Where’s Obama?

Obama surfaced at a dinner on Sunday night, so I guess he is okay for now … apart from this snippet on 15 March from Vetarans Today,  which gets fed lots of bits of info that other people don’t:

It is not unreasonable to assume that a conspiracy to murder President Obama is currently underway.

Weasel words.. 🙂

I guess time will tell.

The first colonist

I found this in a comment on IOL, apparently it appeared somewhere on Facebook originally.

After president Jacob Zuma’s downright idiotic statement two weeks ago that all the problems in South Africa started with the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652,

I have been noticing quite a number of Jan van Riebeeck profile pictures, cartoons and T-shirts going about. As could be expected – I would personally consider doing anything civilised to annoy Jacob Zuma as well.

But I think one should have one last word about this and then we can focus on the future again, instead of doing the ANC thing of dwelling in the past for ever. They have started with blaming apartheid for everything until they realised that some of us actually remember the years of apartheid and might not be as foolish as the majority of KFC-eating, my-vote-for-a-free-yellow-tee-shirt, snorting and dumping rubbish in the streets-voters are. So now he tried to blame a section of history which nobody can remember first hand. Stuuuuupid! Europeans actually had the skill to write and record journals, and if the president bothered to read one or two from time to time, he might not make such a fool of himself. But I understand he said once that he is not one for reading much. That is very obvious, I fear.

The president passed standard 3 at school, I understand. Which explains his lack of knowledge, because the old standard 5 history text book was the one which taught us that Jan van Riebeeck was sent to the Cape Continue reading