Adjusting to a TextBlade

Probably will need to remember to bring this back up about the time GR begins, but I’ve been thinking about this lately so I’ll start it now. Of course, different users will have different issues so hopefully we’ll get observations from others too.

For me, my most recent keyboard was the Apple wireless. So the keys were horizontal all the way across. I think all my other keyboards were as well. So this was an immediate issue for me, especially for my pinkies. I’d tend to fall short. This was always strange to me because even with the TB angle, the keys are an easier reach. Nevertheless, it was a problem for me.

I tried putting something between the top of the key blades to reduce the angle and that did help, but I didn’t like having to take that extra step. Finally I figured out that my main problem was I had always held my elbows right against my side. If I moved my elbows outward so my arms came in at about a 45 degree angle to the space blade, I did much better. Since I type on my lap, I found I could just put my elbows on the low armrest of my chair and I’d be about perfect.

Short version, if you find yourself missing pinky keys a lot, try moving your elbows outward from your body more.

A big issue for many was hitting Enter when they wanted the apostrophe. In most cases I think all of us feel it is best to not change boundaries at first. Give yourself time to do the adjusting and then use boundaries to help with keys that just keep giving you a problem. But you might want to make an exception for the apostrophe/Enter boundary simply because of all the places where hitting Enter by mistake sends a message!

You could, of course, type messages in a text editor or word processor and then copy/paste on a message board, but if you aren’t going to practice that way and you find that Enter key causing problems, just go ahead and change the apostrophe/Enter boundary (move slider closer to the apostrophe to emphasize it over “Enter”. Later, as you adjust, you can always move it back.

Or do what some others do and remove Enter from the main layer so you have to hit Enter on the Green layer (pressing spacebar and Enter key). That way you can’t accidentally hit it when trying for the apostrophe.

In my case, I had a similar problem with P/Backspace so I went ahead and changed that one to emphasize the P key. All the rest I waited awhile to see how well I adjusted to the defaults.

Unless you are already really good on a regular keyboard at touch typing numbers and symbols, I simply wouldn’t focus on practicing with numbers and those symbols at first. After all, if you aren’t good at them, you are probably having to look down at them anyway. So continue to treat those as special cases while you focus on letters and basic punctuation - which, for most people, will constitute most of what you do in real life. Which is why I like:

A common word 60 second test that will list all the words you missed at end AND how you typed them. Now, if you don’t already type letters and basic punctuation fairly well, probably lots of typing tutors may be good or better than this so you develop touch typing from scratch. But if you already are decent, this is good, because:

You may well find certain specific words or letters you miss. I’d take the words listed at the end of a test and enter them into some kind of text editor and then, below a paragraph of these random words, type them over and over so I was really focusing on those I had problems with. As I do more tests at the site, I add more words to my practice list. In short order I would start noticing which letters gave me trouble so I would create practice material that included them a lot, even if they didn’t appear on my online test.

Other times specific words gave me trouble because of the order of the characters. A good example was “like”. This was because, on my dvorak layout, my left index finger would reach over to the right for the qwerty “G” key and then immediately have to come back and down for the K (that’s V on qwerty). I just kept misjudging it, so I practiced such words a lot.

Eventually I had either adjusted well (only took me 10 days to get to my speed on a regular keyboard) or I had a short list of prime candidates for boundary changes. By this time, it was fine to start changing them, though I wouldn’t do them all at once. Usually just one and see how it worked out, then add another.

Over time, sometimes I put a boundary back to default if I saw the situation reversing, but that is a gradual process.

A small, but important, step is something I teach beginning band students. Every time they pick up your flute, clarinet, sax, whatever, they should put ALL their fingers down on the right keys and only after that, lift up the ones you don’t need for the first note. This way, every single time they pick up their instrument, they are also practicing the right position of the fingers. Well, same for the TextBlade. Best, whenever you are about ready to start typing again (any time you stop for 5 or more seconds), put those fingers on the home keys (there are little “wells” you can feel - or just look). Better to be too careful than start off sloppy.

If you are one of those who needed to adjust their elbows, this is also the time to make sure you have already made that adjustment.

It all may sound complicated. But you will probably adjust whether you do any of these things or not. But I think these may well speed up the process.

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Very nicely described process for the transition! I also like the band strategy you mention. Of course, I played trombone, so it wouldn’t apply to me!

I’m wondering if you have a good description or process for determine what to put on the various layers and how to go about that process?

Nothing applies to trombones! :slight_smile:

Boy, that’s a tough one as much of it is going to be personal. And over time I’ve made changes to my changes!

For example, I use the “emoji” setup - where the right “hot corner” activates the emoji layer. But I don’t use it for emojis. I mostly use it for certain special things I often want easy access to when not in normal typing position - something I can just reach out and do with one hand.

Some examples are an “undo” (for when playing a game to undo a move but the game is played just with the mouse). I also have commands for copy the screen or window to the clipboard or the desktop (that’s 4 options).

More standard stuff is also going to vary. In my case, since I use dvorak layout, the period (decimal point) is on the main layer where you would see “E” on qwerty). But that also is where the number 3 is on the green layer. So if you do numbers with decimal points like “123.123” I would have to:

Hold down space to access green layer.
Type 123
Release space to type the period
Hold down space
Type 123

Doesn’t exactly flow well. So I changed the green layer tab to be a period too. True, if I’m typing a bunch of numbers in a spreadsheet, to tab over, I still need to release the space bar, but that makes more logical sense - and I rarely am doing something like that anyway so personal preference.

I also made big changes to the numpad layer. First I took the suggestion of someone else and put back all the numbers across the top row so I’d have both the numpad and regular number setup at the same time. This meant moving the zero on the numpad and just using the regular top row position. I made a bunch of other changes - such as putting the main math operators on the green layer of the numpad in the home key positions.

I think my solution makes logical sense, but I’ll probably never really know because I almost never use the numpad! Just never learned and I tend to get bored with practicing it!

If you have any particular questions for your needs, I’ll see if I can come up with suggestions.

Here’s a shot of my layout (well, close. I’ve made a couple changes since I made this, I think).

So, as you mentioned, it will be personal choice. However, your description had me thinking some more about my own personal case.
Specifically, the idea of using the how corner and single press… I create user guide for software applications. So, I often will have my hands off the keyboard while navigating through software and then need to grab a screenshot. A quick, one-handed action will help.

Additionally, I use Word styles a lot. I created keyboard shortcuts (e.g., Ctrl+Shft+1 gives me Heading 1. To simply use a chord or a layer with a simple selection will be great.

So, when is it best to use a chord and when is it best to put something on another layer?

Thanks for any help you have…

That’s really hard to say since it depends on how you work.

Using the emoji layout and customizing it for what you want may be the easiest way to reach out with one hand to do something.

But if being hands on with the TB, it may be better to put those word style things in the function layer. I don’t know how many you have, but just using the left blade for those (chord for function layers are on the right so any you put there may be a bit more complicated) gives you quite a lot of possibilities.

As mentioned in my first post, sometimes I change the boundaries and later change them back. I just recently changed one that I’ve had set a certain way for probably over a year.

For me, it is S and L, but that’s because I used dvorak. In the textblade app, which is based on qwerty when it shows the boundaries, it would be the apostrophe and P. At home, in my normal typing position, I started noticing a bit of a trend get the P too much (I’m using the qwerty reference for now) instead of the apostrophe. But long ago the problem was the opposite to the point where I moved the boundary to emphasize getting P as much as possible. There are 5 positions - neutral and 2 steps to emphasize one character or the other in each direction.

So clearly back then my right pinky was having issues reaching far enough for P. While I was noticing more errors with that combo, it was still pretty rare that I left it alone. But from time to time I go by the Apple Store (actually, we have 3 of them separated by as little as 1.5 miles or as much as just 5 miles) and sometimes I’ll pair to a computer or iPad. I do this partly to see if problems come up with a different device, or in an area with lots of BT connections, etc. But also to make my typing more challenging.

There is a heck of a difference between sitting down and having it on a lap desk and my elbows sitting on the arms of my computer chair compared to standing at a table where all the arm and hand angles are different! When I first started doing this, my first couple 60 second typing tests would be awful before I started to settle in! Now it isn’t much of an issue, but still, if there is something which can be a tiny problem sometimes at home, it can become very obvious in the Apple store. That was the case with this specific boundary. When I’d look at my list of errors, all or at least most were getting too many P’s. Since it was an L rather than an S in dvorak, there were lots of opportunities for this to happen.

So about a week ago I moved the boundary from the extreme end to just a slight emphasis on P and, in three trips to the Apple store, I haven’t seen that problem happen again.

So, when WT (@waytools - that’s your cue for providing more info on status!) ships, don’t be surprised if, from time to time, any boundary changes that seemed perfect at some point may not seem that way later. Of course, it could just be a problem I have with fingers changing position over time, but I doubt it.

So, if I follow… You have 2 different typing positions that each require a different boundaries setting? If so, can you save those settings and easily switch between them?

No, I don’t need two typing settings for boundaries nor can you have two different settings for quick switching like you can for swirl devices or layouts.

It’s just that using a position which is not normal for me makes any needed change in boundaries more obvious. Normal position showed the problem too, but it was rare enough that I didn’t bother changing. After all, it is possible that making a change could just reverse the problem. When it was worse in the new standing position, I decided to do it anyway and it paid off. I was at the Apple store again yesterday and did at least 5 one minute tests without any of errors for this combo. It’s at least the 4th day I’ve done this with no problem. Before the change, I might avoid the error on a couple tests, but not completely. It would be just as likely that I’d get the problem more than once in a single test.

Which is why treggers recommend NOT changing boundaries in the early days of getting a TB (except the exceptions mentioned in my first post), because everyone is going to go through a period where they are changing their own position. It would be silly to constantly change boundaries as a result.