Re: Iconoclasm (was: Chunking intelligence functions)

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Thu May 10 2001 - 20:31:25 MDT

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky patiently responded,
> I don't know that A/V inputs surpass keyboard inputs. I've never used
> one. I do know that the "feel" of typing and speech is different -
> coding, in particular, might require keyboarding, unless the language was
> specially designed to be codeable via speech recognition.

Right, and speech recognition for input devices helps to move keyboards
toward obsolescence for some people, while for people who can't speak (well
enough), Raymond Kurzweil has designed systems with input devices to bypass
that difficulty, as we know. Perhaps it's all a matter of individual need and
personal preference. The dvorak keyboards I've seen (and handled) left me
cold. I like the split keys arrangement, and the half keyboard looks mighty
interesting, though I haven't tried one. Anyone else?

Matias Half Keyboard
Much research has gone into designing effective one-handed keyboards, but most
require adaptations; for example, the user may have to learn chord typing.
However, the $99 Matias Half Keyboard makes use of the touch-typing skills you
may already have, delivering all the functionality of a full-sized board in
half the space.

The left hand knows what the right's doing
The Half Keyboard is half of a traditional QWERTY keyboard, on which your left
hand also fulfills the functions of your right. Why buy half a keyboard? PDA
devotees, CAD users, gamers, or anyone who regularly uses a stylus, a graphic
tablet, or a joystick might appreciate the efficiency of using just one hand
for keying, while your free hand uses your input device of choice.

With the Half Keyboard, the left-hand keys become the missing right-hand keys
by using the spacebar as a toggle key. For example, typing to means reaching
for T key as usual, then holding down the spacebar and hitting W, which
becomes an o as long as the spacebar is depressed. Matias offers a
downloadable (45K) demo of the system at its Web site.

The Half Keyboard has other special keys and combinations. A unique corner key
switches the keyboard between number pad, navigation (cursor and Page
Up/Down), or function-key mode, while special characters (such as @) are typed
by hitting Shift twice. Standard left-hand letters are printed in big white
type on the keys, right-hand letters in smaller white type, numbers in yellow,
and navigation keys in blue. It sounds crowded, but the colors help you keep
it straight.

The learning curve
Whether the Half Keyboard works for you depends on your existing typing skills
(or lack thereof) and maybe your general level of dexterity. Matias believes
that touch typists can achieve 18 words per minute (wpm) within five minutes
(and have clocked speeds up to 64wpm). Normally, we touch-type at 100wpm;
we're not sure we ever reached 18wpm during our time testing the keyboard, but
we'd estimate, at the rate we were going, that it'd take us a work day to get
up to that speed. It might have been easier if Matias included a nub on the F
key, like the tiny bumps on the F and J of most keyboards, which tell you by
touch that your fingers are on home row. Those who aren't touch typists might
actually have an easier time adjusting to the Half Keyboard because they're
not married to a specific layout. In any case, Matias's 30-day money-back
guarantee on the device means you can find out whether it works for you before
committing to it permanently.

The Half Keyboard also comes with a one-year warranty. The unit is available
for PC and Mac users, as well as for various PDAs. Tech support is available
toll-free, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, and also via e-mail at the company Web site,
which offers a short list of FAQs, downloadable drivers, and manuals.

Your better half
While the Half Keyboard's unique design makes it potentially more efficient
for users who switch frequently between keying and using an input device,
learning to use its multifunction keys could be a challenge for some typists.
If the efficiency of the device intrigues you, just remember there may be a
learning curve at the beginning.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 10:00:04 MDT