How I'm trying to use my time waiting for my TextBlade

Dear all,
like you, I am sat here waiting for my TextBlade to arrive and like the majority, I am still excited by what it appears to offer.
As with many others, I am disappointed that I am not typing this on my TextBlade but instead on the very flat keyboard on my Surface Pro that is not great, but it does the job.

However, inspired by a number of other posts on this forum, mostly the Colemak and Karabiner ones, I am trying to use my time wisely in a way that will hopefully help me prepare for the eventual arrival of the TextBlade.

I am tempted to learn Colemak, even after 30 years of touch typing on QWERTY as I believe that my typing speed, that is not too bad, could be improved. From that mission I discovered Tarmak which provides a gradual learning curve to learning Colemak. I made a start on this and my brain pretty soon melted through my ears when the ‘E’

key moved to my right middle finger… I kept trying for a while but I think that it might take a while to get used to and there’s always more work that needs to be done, so maybe I should stick to QWERTY for a bit longer…

In the end, what fascinated me the most about the Tarmak approach though was not actually learning Colemak, but the program that it suggests you use to learn it and the ‘extensions’ that have been written to map other keyboards to it. The program is called PKL (Portable Keyboard Layout) which is in itself based on Auto Hot Key and there is a great discussion around it here:

The CAPS key becomes a ‘shift’ key and opens up a whole range of extra keys and actions, much like the TextBlade. These include such great things as cursor keys under the right hand on the home row! Page up, page down, home, and end etc all also nicely placed. This is almost exactly the same map as we will get with the 2 fingered edit option on the TextBlade. It also gives really nice functionality such as BACKSPACE = CAPS + ; at the same time; RETURN = CAPS + SPACE that can actually feel more comfortable typing.

The function keys move down to the number row and many other improvements. Oh, and it all comes with an on-screen display of the keys and what the new keys are when you hold down CAPS!

In addition, the software adds lots of other mapping options to other shifts. I am currently in the process of mapping the TextBlade green keys to the Alt Gr key as this is in approximately the right place to holding the SPACE BAR down on the TextBlade and is actually a key that I, personally, do not normally need.

I have decided then, that in the short-term, I’m not going to learn Colemak but use these ‘extensions’ with a normal QWERTY keyboard and learn the WayTools map first. I may then start to learn Colemak at that time - possibly on my real TextBlade…?

(I haven’t shared my modified map here as I have taken one of the maps that comes with the Tarmak bundle and modified that. I’m not sure of the open sourceness of those maps. I’m happy to help out with anyone that is interested in doing the same and will also try and find out if I can share my versions of the INI files, I should be able to but would like to check first!)

Is this the TextBlade that I am looking for? Nope! Is it the foldable solution that I really crave? Nope! Is it a good use of my time while I wait for my TextBlade that I have to believe will still come, oneday? I believe so.

Hopefully, a few other folks might read this and have a look at the software and find that it helps them too while they are waiting, even if they are not interested in learning Colemak or any other layout other than the new WayTools one.

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