How Kinesis Advantage keyboard changed my life

Seven years ago, on Aug 12th 2009, I bought my first ergonomic keyboard: the Kinesis Advantage. This one:

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I still have the invoice: it says 384$ delivery from Seattle included. On the top of it, the fee for the Italian customs: another 69.20$.

A total amount of 453.20 $.

I admit that before hitting the purchase button I was really torn. Such an amount seemed tremendously expensive. I asked myself several times if purchasing it wasn’t a just a compulsive and/or childish decision. Unfortunately I had no way to test or to see it. None I knew had (and has) such a hardware. So I spent hours reading blogs and opinions about that lovely shaped keyboard.

Two reasons pushed me to go ahead: pain and the urge to type better. Now I have an additional reason for buying keyboards but you need to get at the end of this article to understand it. Please, be patient.

I’m involved in IT since 1995. In 2001 I completely abandoned my desktop in favor of my laptop. At that time it seemed like a very good decision: everything in one computer that could be carried everywhere. Amazing, right?

Not even a bit.

I have broad shoulders and I’m quite tall (1.80 m — 5.90 ft). Working on a 14 inches Thinkpad is a great experience (lovely hardware) but doing that for at least 8 hours a day was just a criminal act against my joints, backbone and neck. The keyboard is too narrow, the monitor is too close to the keyboard and I ended up spending my day folded like a contortionist in a box. Even a laptop stand and external keyboard and mouse didn’t make it much better.

In the end my RSI became so serious that I had hard time lifting a pack of water (9 Kg — 19.8 lbs).

The urge of getting better in typing was even a stronger motivation than pain. I have bigger hands than the average man: strong ones but heavy and not very flexible. I stumbled upon keys and I spent way too much of my time deleting and retyping text. Constantly looking at the keyboard for my next key and then at the monitor, made me understand how a yo-yo must feel. It was horrendous.

Switching focus and mistyping breaks the flow of thoughts and getting to the bottom of the day was twice as hard as it is right now.

More than that, a grown up man in his thirties, an IT expert, making his own living out of computers with such a bad relationship with his working tools and such a low proficiency! It was absolutely unacceptable and a real shame for me.

I wanted to be good or, at least, better. I had to fix those issues.

Finally I hit the damn purchase button. One of the best choices of my life.

I’m not worried anymore about the spent money. Only now I see that 453.20$ split by 7 makes 65$ per year, 17¢ per day. I spend much more in coffee. And the keyboard is still perfectly working after more than 40,000,000 keystrokes.

Wait, I know what you are thinking:

Here we go, now he’s going to lecture me about how his keyboard has fixed everything. He’s found his Holy Grail and feels the need to teach me something.

Nope! Nothing like that. I’m here to share a passion.

Yes, long story short, it was hard to adjust to those curves at the beginning and, yes, now everything is fine: no more pain and I’m now a quite good typist (not as much as I would like though).

There are plenty of articles and reviews about Kinesis’s hardware and there is no need for another one.
Instead, I’m going to talk about the passion that I’ve developed because of my Kinesis.

Since when I purchased my Kinesis I became more and more interested in keyboards and ergonomics. The more I learn the more I like them. It often happens, right? Because knowledge enables the recognition of beauty.
I never thought there was so much to learn about a keyboard: such a common but unknown device! And I’m still so ignorant!

Look at this: this is how my working desk has changed over the time:

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Ergonomics is very important: working in a comfortable way pays back so much, not only in terms of health but also in terms of speed and productivity.

Keyboards are part of the ergonomics but they are also much more.

Keyboards are an addictive kind of hobby, very intriguing and complete because it involves so many sides.

  • They are our interface to the machine. They talk to the operating system therefore, at some point, you feel obliged to deepen your knowledge about how it works. See my recent post about XKB. Software challenge.
  • There are many different hardware solutions to study, buy and test. You can even challenge yourself creating or assembling your own keyboard and this requires some manual and electric/electronic skills.
  • There are people designing and 3D printing their own cases, key-caps or appendix. CAD, CNC, lasers and many new technologies are involved in the process.
  • Even just using the keyboard in a proper way is challenging. Touch typing requires physical and mental efforts: you need to be, at the same time, focused and relaxed. Zen here.

Keyboards can be like Lego for grown up but they are also a working tool therefore a serious matter.

Look around, there is a whole world out there! Check Deskthority and Geekhack. There are people doing unbelievable things. There is a guy making this:

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Hbar’s project

Another one making this :

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Attheicearcade’s project

Look at that! How cool is it? Mind blowing!

There are plenty other projects, Ergodox in first place but if building hardware is not your cup of tea, then go on this website and challenge your touch typing skills. Differently from many other touch typing training tools it learns from your mistakes and adjusts the training courses for a more efficient and faster learning.
Get to 60 wpm (words per minute) with 97% accuracy. Constantly. Seems easy? Try!
If you use the pomodoro technique you might like to train your touch typing skills to fulfill those 5 minute breaks. It’s nice, easy and useful.

Or just go and look around out of curiosity and see how many “weird” solutions have been invented in the attempt to improve the typing experience of people. Start from Kinesis’s accessories page.

Now, let me be clear: why am I writing this? All I’m saying is that life is better with passions. Much better. I’ve many and looking for more.
I’m trying to show that keyboards can be an intense, rewarding passion. If you are looking for a new passion, give them a try!

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