(2003 to 2005)

Who moved the End key?

Wed Dec 17 00:01:00 UTC+1100 2003


I posted something mentioning my new keyboard recently, but I've noticed that keyboards are a bit of a hot topic today on a few blogs that I read.

My new keyboard is a $40 cheapo clone I picked up at the markets on the same day that I started this blog. It kicks arse and I love it (well, I'm slowly falling in love with parts of it). It has all the functionality that new keyboards are sporting, but not the price tag. The keys have exactly the correct 'click' to 'squish' ratio when I press them, and I've a host of 'special' buttons that I can program to do various things. For example, I now have a Google button on my keyboard. ;)

Some of the features are pretty average, and I don't use them, others are just plain stupid, I don't use those either. I basically agree with the feature appraisal at envynews. Anyway, might as well get on with the reason for this post...

It seems that there is an attempt at redefining how the Home/End/PageUp/PageDown/Delete keys are placed. This has been causing me headaches with my new keyboard, to the point that I almost decided to give up. Only today have I finally committed to learning the new key configuration, as I can see that other keyboards are also starting to use this configuration. You know, I kind of think that it makes sense, the problem is habit.

What is the fastest way to get the cursor to the beginning of the next line of text, when you are editing a document in any text editor? The answer is End then Right Arrow. This gets you exactly where you want to be. You can't necessarily press Home then Down Arrow, because many editors only move you to the start of the text on a line when you press home, requiring Home, Home, Down sometimes, and Home, Down other times. Sometimes continually pressing Home will toggle between the start of line and start of text, so Home, Home, Down won't work every time, if the cursor is already at the start of the text.

I have spent a lot of time at my keyboard. I can type pretty fast, especially source-code which I find I can type faster than English, probably because I type more of it, and because the punctuation and vocabulary differs. So basically I have some instinctive, now seemingly hard coded habits on my keyboard. One is End, Right.

The problem is that traditionally the End key is directly above the Up Arrow. So with a quick tap, tap using the my middle and ring fingers on my right hand I can be at the next line. I can then use my left hand to get to CTRL and SHIFT and I can edit away at a billion miles per hour. But now, someone has decided that it's better to put the Delete key immediately above the Up key. The number of times that I've accidentally deleted a character and then moved to the next one over the past week or two has been out of control. Now I'm conscious of it, but I have to catch myself before I press the key, and think, and then type. It's slowing me down, and I don't like it.

I have had trouble committing to this new layout. I have my old keyboard sitting on the floor beside me, and I have to say it is very tempting to just plug it back in. But if this is the new standard, then I'm willing to keep applying myself, in an attempt to fully embrace this new keyboard. Until I found out today that other keyboards were doing this, I had not fully committed - but now I will.

Keyboard, prepare to be owned!


Copyright © 2003-2005 John Elliot