3.1120 workstation design: keyboards (54)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Thu, 1 Mar 90 20:46:57 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 1120. Thursday, 1 Mar 1990.

Date: Mon, 26 Feb 90 17:08:00 EST
From: James McFarlane <G050@CPC865.EAST-ANGLIA.AC.UK>
Subject: Workstations

Top priority for me in devising a workable Humanist workstation would be
the provision of a sensible Humanist keyboard. The existing standard
full-size keyboards are - within my limited experience, admittedly -
quite ludicrous when seen from the viewpoint of the lettrist ser. The
numeric keypad uses up more than 10 percent of the available keyboard in
giving me useless duplication, either (a) an extra set of number keys
when my purposes are perfectly adequately met by the number keys along
the top row, or (b) with `Num Lock' off, a second and wholly superfluous
set of cursor keys and others - such as PgUp and PgDn, etc - which are
already there on the keyboard. Moreover, one doesn't have to look very
far elsewhere on the keyboard to find other instances of conspicuous
duplication (like the mathematical operators) which I have to assume are
of positive help to the mathematician or statistician but which I could
happily do without. Instead of this (to me as a humanist) wasteful
provision, what I would dearly like is some kind of `alphabetic pad',
preferably programmable, to give me a wider range of common
international alphabetic characters - those with accents and other
diacritics and the like. If the then available keys were all fully
shiftable (with Alt, Shift and Control), I would have another forty-four
characters available on a one-stroke basis - a marvellous extra for
anyone who regularly (or even occasionally) writes in or quotes from a
foreign language. But - you may ask - why don't I simply re-configure
the keyboard within my regular word-processing package to make the
numeric keyboard do just what I have suggested? I can only report what
happens in WordPerfect (ver.5.0); and I wait eagerly to hear from
colleagues whether other packages do differently. If I re-configure the
_figures_ of the numeric keypad, I also lose the standard figures along
the top row and am left entirely numberless; if I re-configure the
cursor (etc) keys on the numeric keypad, I lose all the other standard
cursor (etc) keys as well. Both ways I lose out. I find myself driven
to another and rather messy solution: instead of re- configuring a range
of individual _keys_ within the one keyboard setup, I have configured
two separate _keyboards_ and written a short macro to toggle between
them. Taken individually and separately, both of these keyboards are
deficient; together they make reasonable sense, given my requirements.
But I resent the inelegance of it all, and I yearn for the simplicity of
an `alphabetic pad'. May I enquire whether others have found a more
acceptable way of dealing with this?

James McFarlane. Univ East Anglia UK