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Ergonomics and modifiers?

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In my day to day work I have to use a fair amount of modifier keys. This in combination with one sided use of all the modifiers led to the first signs of what some call an Emacs Pinky.

That's why I'm on a quest to save my (left) pink now.

Here's what I've done so far:

* Mapped Capslock to Ctrl.
* Switched from german to "us altgr intl" layout on my 60% ISO board. This makes it easier to type commonly (to me) used symbols like { and }. On the other hand it makes it a bit harder to type stuff like german umlauts.
* I'm trying to split the work the left pinky has to do with the right pinky. Shift is a good example.
Unfortunately this seemingly is not enough to save my left pinky.

So I went out to build my own split ergo keyboard featuring thumb keys. I thought putting the modifiers on thumb keys could save that poor pinky.
Turns out, while planning the build and the layout to be, putting all modifiers on thumb keys is not a good idea either. Because you know, sometimes, maybe often even, I have to press multiple modifiers at once.
Please note: I count keys to switch layers as modifiers as well.

I guess that's one of the reasons my custom ergo split project is stuck in limbo for so long now.

Just two hours ago I decided to give dual role on the home row a go. I already played with space as a dual role key und I did not like it because it often got in my way while typing.
So this time I put Ctrl on F and J and just for the sake of doing it a numpad layer on A.

I've been using those dual role keys now at work and they seem to work very well. I don't miss letters while typing and the modifiers are identified correctly when I want to use them.

So I think dual role keys on the alphas in combination with some thumb keys (on a split keyboard) might be a really good way to save the pinkies.

What are your thought? How do you save your pinkies? Any other tricks worth sharing?

Also I'm wondering while dual shot keys on the alphas are not more common? Searching did not yield many (useful) results.

Dual shot keys postpone sending of key press event untill another key is pressed or until the dual shot key is released. This is a significant problem if you use your keyboard also for gaming or when you accidentally have pressed two keys at once while typing quickly. Example: lets say you type "yes" as "+y+e-y-e+s-s"(*) ... if y key is a dual shot key then you get garbage. If it is a simple key then this will be interpreted by programs without problem as expected. I do not know how other typist but this accidental press of two ordinary keys at once happens sometimes to me. It is never a problem if you do not use dual shot keys.

(*) +x means key x is pressed, -x means it is released

I have all modifiers on thumb cluster and I often press two modifiers at once. E.g. I use Win-Shift-<Number> often to control i3 window manager. Look at this post to see how I press two modifiers at once on my thumb cluster:

The other option is "merge-able" macros. I use them to press chords like Shift-F1 as FnShift-A or chords like Ctrl-Shift-F1 as FnShift-Ctrl-A. FnShift is a palm button.

Good luck with your pinkie off-loading.

The problem with dual shot keys you describe is actually what I experienced when I put Ctrl on Space. That's why I thought dual shot keys were no solution to my problem. This test was done with a really old version of TMK though. My recent test with modifiers on the home row was done using the latest version of QMK with IGNORE_MOD_TAP_INTERRUPT (the QMK documentation states: "makes it possible to do rolling combos (zx) with keys that convert to other keys on hold") set and have not experienced any of those problems when typing very fast. Time will tell how reliable this solution is though.

Thanks for the link to your solution for pressing multiple modifiers at once with the thumbs. Though I only had time to skim your post for now and I have to defer reading it thouroughly I can't see myself using this solution. At first sight it looks like this would just cause problems for the other fingers and/or unreliable key hitting.

Also I forgot to mention I played with one shot modifiers as well. So when putting all modifiers on thumb keys I would be able to press them in succession instead of simultaneous. I feel this is slowing me down considerably though, so I think this is not a good solution to me as well.

OK, so the firmware postpones a dual shot key effect even more (until a key in a chord is released). Non-gamers would not really mind. Gamers would mind even the shorter postponement I mentioned before. Makes sense.

You want one-shot modifiers, on the thumb cluster. One-shot means it remains active until *after* the next press, even if you release it. You can also chain modifiers this way, because one-shot modifiers do not cancel each other (talking about QMK and Kaleidoscope here, other firmware may implement them differently). This means if you want to type `Ctrl+Shift+Alt+F`, you type `Ctrl, Shift, Alt, F` instead. No chording, no weird finger gymnastics, and you only need one set of modifiers, saving a few keys on your layout. (Ok, you may want Right Alt)

I've been using oneshots this way for almost two years now, my pinkies love it, because they don't need to hold anything at all. My thumbs love it, because they can drum on the thumb cluster from time to time - and they don't need to hold anything either! My keymap loves it too, because I could put more useful stuff on my base layer, after removing all the Right modifiers.

Seriously, try one shot modifiers. They help, and are incredibly easy to get used to.

(You can also hold them, and they act like a normal modifier then. You can even double-tap them to have them lock until a third tap, so you can TYPE IN ALL CAPS WITHOUT CAPSLOCK OR HOLDING SHIFT! Awesome!)


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