Monday, April 06, 2009


The big disadvantage that my new Eee has over the QuickPad Pro it's replacing is the keyboard size being just a bit too small for full typing. If they made an Eee whose keyboard "slid out" to full size, I'd be all over that, but not yet. However, I have a possible solution.

The Matias HalfKeyboard which I've had lying around for a while might be just the thing. If you're not familiar with them, the idea is simple. It's the left half your keyboard, but if you hold down the space key while you type, it's the right half of your keyboard. Sounds crazy hard to get used to, and it's not easy, but it's easier than it might seem. The reason is, if you're used to touch-typing a P with your pinky, you're still doing it with your pinky, just the other one. Muscle memory is surprisingly transferable from one hand to the other. Matias claims that after a few hours of practice on it you can gain about 2/3 of your regular typing speed, with some people topping 60wpm on it, all using one hand (leaving the other free for the mouse).

I find the idea of retraining oneself for these kinds of alternative human interface devices fascinating, but actually doing it is trickier. It's not just that I don't have lots of time to spare, though I don't. When I first got the HalfKeyboard (for a fraction of retail price, mind you) I played with it for several hours and got to probably 30-40wpm on it, but then I really didn't have any situation to keep using it, and skills like that atrophy quickly. But with the Eee, I might actually get to use it regularly enough to be worth using it.

Of course, advocates of the FrogPad speak glowingly of the advantages of its design. I'd love to get both and compare, but would I ever have time to train myself up on both just to find out which works better for me? It's amazing to think, though, that a person has the ability to retrain to such things, let alone several of them.

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