Moving from Kinesis Advantage 2 to TextBlade

I want to describe my migration from the Kinesis Advantage 2 keyboard to the TextBlade. This will include my second impression of the TextBlade after about six weeks of use.

My keyboard of choice for the last 15 plus years has been the Kinesis Advantage 2.

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The design idea behind the Kinesis was to remove or mitigate the problems inherent in a standard QWERTY keyboard. Sound familiar? The Kinesis changes the shape of the keyboard and moves a number of keys from the outside (requiring a pinky tap) to the inside (to be used by the stronger thumb). The keyboard moves the keys into two bowls and two areas for use by the thumb. The bowls are designed to position each key the same distance from one’s fingers. In practice, that means that there is no stretching for keys. When coupled with not needing the pinky for return, delete, and other oft used keys, it is a very comfortable keyboard and got rid of a developing repetitive stress injury problem. Overall, an excellent keyboard, though clearly not portable and not Bluetooth friendly. It should be noted that the Kinesis came with four distinct warnings to not start using the keyboard if you had a deadline in the next 72 hours. Two were printed in the small manual, one was a sticker on the keyboard, and one was a slip of paper designed to fall out of the manual when it was opened - they did not want the user to miss this information! When i started with the keyboard, my typing speed plummeted, and then after three days, it was back, and even faster.

Enter the TextBlade. I set up jumps on four devices and started to type. As has been said abundantly before, the key feel is outstanding. The overall build seems to be likewise excellent. So i started right away using it as a replacement for my Kinesis. I found as i started typing on it, I had a real issue with accuracy. As this continued through the day, i decided to use a typing program to relearn touch on the TextBlade. I figured i would be able to move through it quickly. When I took the placement test, it showed my speed at 3 wpm when corrected for errors. I’m usually in the 45 wpm range on the Kinesis, but haven’t tested it for years. My typing is a mix of shorter prose, quick responses to emails, coding, and spreadsheets. So I started on the training. On the first couple lessons, I learned a lot. First, the TextBlade doesn’t have a “;” key! Somehow i missed this in looking at all the pictures of the TB. I don’t recall others mentioning this. I think it is a good choice as I typically use the apostrophe key more in daily typing. And the semi-colon is nearby on the green layer. But touch typing programs spend considerable time drilling in the proper use of the semicolon key. This was the first source of my errors on the testing. With this sorted out, I quickly sorted out my second source of error. While the Kinesis keyboard does angle one’s hands relative to each other, it is only a few degrees. There is a range that is still effective, but it’s never very steep.

The TextBlade, on the other hand, has a much steeper angling - quite apparent when you look at the top two blades that contain the alphabet. So I adjusted my hand position and started the typing training again. I got to 20 wpm almost immediately, as i removed most of the errors. I continued on for about 45 min and was up to 35. I was pleased that despite a lot of typing, I felt no discomfort. I worked for about a half hour the next day and hit 50 wpm consistently. And this is including having to use the green layer for the ever present semi-colon key. My speed with number keys and characters associated with them (!.@,#, etc.) is dramatically faster than before, as is my accuracy with them. We’re, of course, hearing this part from a number of TREGgers.

I’ve not measured typing speed on glass, but I’m sure I’m nowhere near as fast there, and it’s annoying.

As I continue using the TB, I find that I still have to stop and readjust the angle of my hands, particularly if I used another keyboard in the meantime, though this is becoming less frequent. I’ve also noticed that where I need to enter just a few characters, say to put in a password, I’ve developed bad habits where to enter passwords, I do something between hunt and peck and touch typing. This is not as effective on the TB as there aren’t discrete keys that compensate for my sloppiness. I’ve addressing this by trying to get into touch typing position every time I interact with the TB. I’m also putting certain passwords into macros. I think this should be reasonably secure, but I won’t use this for high value passwords.

I haven’t measured typing speed in a while, but i can tell it’s even faster. It is quite a feeling to open up on a long passage. Finger movement when typing is minimal. The movement that is evident has given me a physical understanding for why Colemak or others would be a better choice for layout. I’m not sure I’m willing to make the switch. I still have other layers to learn and have to keep working on the hand angles. Having a single keyboard for all entry certainly makes it worth the effort to learn.

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Even for relatively unimportant passwords, I do things to minimize risk.

For example, none of my password macros are the actual password. They may be missing characters or have extra characters or I may use more than one macro for a password. Combined with the other things, if anyone got access to my macros, they’d still have a lot of work to do to figure out.

Mainly I use the macro passwords to cover the hard to remember, complicated, stuff. Suppose you have a password like, “zJames%^&123$#bltmq”

Now, other than the first part, that’s hard to remember. So in my macro I may have “James%^&123$#bltmqxyz”

Note that the first character is missing and I’ve added three characters to the end. So when entering the macro, I manually type the first “z”, then execute the macro, then delete the last three characters and press Enter. If I divide this macro into two macros - possibly with the missing or extra character approach on both, it even better, but still easier than typing all my hand and remembering it.

Of course, if someone has access to your device, that at least does look like a password - doesn’t make sense for anything else - so that would still be somewhat useful to a thief.

So I could also, in all my passwords, include a name, as I have above. As a separate macro, it doesn’t look like a password. It just looks like something a person would use when writing letters, etc. But if it is at the start or end of a password, you could make it part of a two part password that doesn’t even look like a password.

Probably those password managers are the best approach (though this would still help with the master password). But this is certainly better than using a password macro that is the exact password by itself.

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waiting - so wonderful to hear that you’re getting good relief from RSI with your TextBlade.

At $349, the Kinesis has for many years been a godsend to users with severe RSI, and worth every penny.

When we designed TextBlade, we studied several of the best ergonomic keyboards, and set out to equal or improve upon their performance for RSI relief.

What we found was that those bowl shapes reduced the reach to other rows, which helped. With the new multitouch key technology, we were able to reduce reach even more, and really lessen the hand and finger work to eliminate stress.

TextBlade is about 100X smaller volume, and 10X smaller footprint on the desk. The hand motion is significantly less than the best ergo keyboards. At 1.5 oz, it’s also just 2% the mass of the 4 pound Kinesis.

The $99 price is an affordable new option for folks who need RSI solutions.

A lot of customers have written to us that while portability is nice, it wasn’t the must-have for them. Rather, it was the ergonomic advantages of TextBlade that they found most compelling for their personal needs.

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Re: passwords -

We’re looking at a way to make a new secure enclave inside the TextBlade, that is specifically not backed up to your private server account. We take steps to secure our servers, but not even the NSA is completely hack-proof.

With the on-board enclave, a thief would have to get physical access to your TextBlade, and also have your unlock sequence - a very similar level of security to touch or Face ID, which is quite good.

If many lobby for that on the wishlists, we can do firmware updates to add it after general release.

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TB ergonomics are an improvement over the Kinesis. But where it makes an enormous difference is in comparison to glass or my MacBook keyboards. I’ve made plywood covers for both my Macbooks so I can put the TB in place of the standard keyboard. A little clunky to transport but worth the advantages! Coupled with being able to use the same keystrokes, regardless of platform, and its a solution I didnt think was possible before.

Hadn’t thought of breaking passwords - very clever. Removing bits makes it even stronger. I hope I can remember all the combinations!!

Speaking of passwords: I understand that the TextBlade has a substantial infrastructure for logging events that could later be sent to TextBlade for diagnostics. I’d imagine this sort of log, by necessity, must include the recent sequence of key presses.

Is this logging mechanism active all the time? Or can it be turned on and off?

Also, if I send a log to WayTools, or to some place outside the TextBlade, is there a way to inspect what I am sending to make sure that it does not contain any sensitive information?

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I try to have a pattern to my combinations that I can remember.

For example, I may always have one extra character at the end for some kinds of passwords, but for others have 2. Just have to follow a pattern - like for example, social media passwords may have one, but business stuff may have two. Of course, that’s just a simple example.

You could, if you split your passwords, have a pattern for that too. A simple one would be to have them on adjacent rows. So you would use maybe “A” followed by “Z” right below it. Heck, if you weren’t super concerned about security, you could reuse such multi-macro passwords. “A” and “Z” could be one. “Z” and “A” could be another. And you could change how many extra letters are deleted (or added) based on some pattern for both combos.

Say you just use the 18 main characters on the left hand. You could have 18 partial passwords. If I did the math in my head right, if all passwords involve 2 of these, that is 131,072 combinations. That doesn’t factor in adding or deleting characters at one or more points or using the other hand too.

Granted, a professional may be able to run some routine to do all combinations, but for the casual threat, it seems better than what most people do. And more so if you combine this with something like 1Password. Might even be helpful to put macros in (you are limited in the total number of characters you can use for all keys combined) so if someone sees your stuff, they won’t only have to deal with a handful of macros - they’d see a full plate of them.

You have to turn it on - and you can turn it off too. I don’t know if it will be included in general release. @WayTools will have to tell us about that.

When you send a log, you see what you typed and you can type below that to explain what the log is about. And you can delete anything from the log you wish to before sending it.

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sw_cali - Important points, and they are indeed controlled by user since we think privacy is essential.

Here’s how it’s managed:

  1. There is a diagnostic logger called Flight Recorder.

  2. It’s off by default, and user must approve to turn it on.

  3. If on, a 2 minute buffer is enabled on your iOS host. The buffer doesn’t connect to the cloud.

  4. Unless a user requests a snapshot, typing spills off the buffer after 2 minutes and is discarded.

  5. If the user wants to save something, they can press the FR icon.

  6. The FR icon is bright orange, and visible to the user on screen whenever that local buffer is enabled.

  7. If they press the icon, the saved characters are put into a review box for the user to examine.

  8. If they don’t want to send it, there’s a trash icon which discards it.

  9. If the content is safe to send, the user can approve, and must hit send for it to send for diagnosis.

  10. Then, only the characters they approved are put in their private cloud account on our server.

So it takes 3 separate approvals by the user to share any characters.

The idea is to make logs easy when desired, but virtually impossible if not explicitly requested by the user.

This reflects our belief that it’s crucial for TextBlade to be secure and private.

Keyboard apps like Gboard and swype are not secure, and send all a user’s typing to the cloud for crawling by bots. We don’t think that’s a good thing.

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So, is it not possible to type " on a Textblade? If so, this is going to be a problem for fiction writers. If you can do it, how do you do it?

Of course you can type a quote mark on the TB. Same as any other keyboard.

A single quote mark or a double quote mark?

You can type both the same way as on any standard keyboard.

I think this statement caused this confusion

I believe what @Waiting was trying to say is that the TextBlade does not have a physical image like standard QWERTY keyboards. A standard QWERTY keyboard has the typical sequence:
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With the TextBlade, the image You can kind of see it in the image above. This would be similar to laptop users having to press a FN key in combo with another to activate volume control.

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Okay. Thanks.

thanks for clarifying my somewhat unclear statement!

" (double quote) is available by default left of the return key on a QWERTY map. Use shift ’ to get it.

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