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On Using X w/o the Rodent 404

Posted by Cliff
from the i-don't-believe-in-coincidences dept.
Jacobian asks "I'm really sick of my hands acking from typing and using my mouse all day. I would like recommendations on a cool ergonomic keyboard, and a way that I can realistically say goodbye to my mouse once and for all in X. Every WM that I've used extensively has been very unfriendly if you don't use a mouse. Some (fvwm) you can avoid using the mouse most of the time, but eventually there is some focusing problems that make you reach for the rodent once again. Is there a WM in which I would never have to use my mouse?" I've never thought about it before, but having a keyboard friendly WM couldn't hurt. How do the different WMs rate on the various functions that can be accessed from both the mouse and the keyboard? (More)

Which actions cause the most long-term damage to your wrists: Repetitive keyboard use? Or repetitive mouse use? Would a keyboard friendly WM really help those suffering from wrist pain?

On a more personal note, I've found this submission to be rather ironic considering that for the past week, I've had to wear a splint on my wrist, due to an old injury (and not carpal tunnel, thank god!) commited in my reckless youth. So it's interesting that this one came along when it did.

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On Using X w/o the Rodent

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I started having wrist pains from lots of mouse use, and switching to a Logitech Marble helped a LOT.. The marble is very ergonomic, but does require cleaning the ball every so often. I am now considering a keyboard with a built-in touchpad, but none I have found have a physical third button so I have held off.
  • by whig (6869) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:11PM (#1477346) Homepage Journal
    Not to start a GNOME/KDE flamewar, but KDE is quite reasonable for most things without using a mouse. Alt-F2 can execute an arbitrary command, such as bring up an xterm (or kterminal) and Alt-Tab semantics work similarly to M$ Windows. You may have a little trouble negotiating with Netscape, however. Unfortunately, I think that no window manager can make all applications mouse-independent.
  • by Connor_ (86858)
    Used E almost exclusively and decided its focus menu comes up far too slow (as E tends to do) otherwise I think you could turn focus stuffs off so the focus wouldn't be a problem, and there's all sorts of binds for moving around desktops and a whole dialog for binding keys to do weird things.
  • Well, I still use my three-button mouse quite a bit, but I find that using KDE with KWM I can use a lot of keyboard shortcuts to navigate the screen, including Alt+Tab to switch among running apps.

    As for ergonomic keyboard, I love my Adessos. They're available for ADB, PS/2, and AT connectors. I find that they are comfortable, durable and I type faster using them than on any other keyboard.
  • by trance9 (10504) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:16PM (#1477349) Homepage Journal
    I use Afterstep 1.0 still because I have all the common window functions programmed onto function keys. F1=maximize, F2=fg, alt-F2=bg, F3=move, alt-F3=resize, F4=iconize, alt-F4=close, F5=refresh, alt-F5=restart, F6 and on launch applications (eg: F6 launch xterm, F7 launch xterm on server, ... F12 launch netscape).

    Between these and the existing keybindings I can do almost everything without the mouse.. except for one thing: Netscape.

    There is no way to traverse the links in netscape without a mouse. Or not that I know of anyway.

    You could probably program the above keybindings on any modern WM, I just can't be bothered to redo it, since what I have already works.
  • I have a both an IBM 600E & a desktop computer, and what I would be interested in is a keyboard designed for the desktop that has an IBM style trackpoint built in. The trackpoint doesn't require me to move my wrists at all, and although it really blows for Quake [II | 3 Arena] it would be nice to have as an *addendum*.

    I would want to have the choice of trackpoint or mouse, so when I'm reloading /. incessently I don't have to move my wrists, and when I have the urge to frag the night away I don't have to play around with cables.

    Can anyone help me out?

    i dont display scores, and my threshhold is -1. post accordingly.

  • WindowMaker allows you to switch virtual screens with ALT+1, ALT+2, ALT+3,...
    You can also change focus between windows using ALT+TAB, and the settings allow for automatically raising a window when switching to it with the keyboard.

  • by pipeb0mb (60758) <pipeb0mb.pipebomb@net> on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:19PM (#1477352) Homepage
    This is just too weird.
    I suffered a strain of an old hand injury on Thanksgiving, and, like the author, I too did the splint thing.
    I was researching around, and found that KDE has several predefined shortcuts, and even allows the user to bind the Windows© keys to certain things. Here is the link:

    http://www.kde.org/documentation/faq/kdefaq-7.ht ml

    This helped me enough to get started, but, it made me seriously thnk about the way X ignores the kb, which, with its console roots, is quite ironic.

    Good luck to you.
  • by digigasm (84016) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:19PM (#1477353)
    CTRL - ALT - Backspace

    That takes care of that.
  • by Barbarian (9467) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:19PM (#1477354)
    I know with gnome + enlightenment, you can alt+tab between windows (or any other key combination you choose). However I don't know about things like selecting menu items.

    --Not quite on topic, but related...well it's on topic since it's leading to discomfort and wrist strain in X:
    One thing I've noticed with the mouse in X is that for some mice, the multiplier is just too small. No, I don't mean acceleration. I mean the factor where it takes mouse movement * some factor to calculate each more. See, I have a Logitech Ps/2 firstmouse+, and the base speed is very slow (because to improve resolution it transmits physical movements as smaller steps).

    In Windows, with Mouseware, I have these options:
    - Speed (a slider bar sets this)
    - Acceleration (slow, medium fast) (controls speed + threshold, or threshold is fixed perhaps)

    However when I boot into LINUX, in gnome I have these options:
    - Acceleration
    - Threshold.

    See there is no way to set the base speed in gnome. I end up kludging it by setting acceration to max and threshold as low as the slider allows.

    This mouse movement problem is an X issue, not gnome. There is no way to specify a mouse movement multiplier independant of acceleration and threshold (I dug up the gnome control-center source to see the calls being made and looked those up).

    So if you look at it this way, there should be three parameters that affect mouse movement:

    accel
    threshold
    base multiplier (in X is always 1)

    and movement would go like this:

    movement threshold:
    accel * (base multiplier * movement)

    However in X it's always, base multiplier = 1 always.

    I hope I'm not the only person in the world bothered by this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:19PM (#1477355)
    I know this is not really what the question is asking, but it's somewhat related and a lot of people don't know it...

    XFree lets you hit ctrl-shift-numlock, after which the numeric keypad will move your mouse pointer. You can use + to click, ins to drag...

    Just an interesting tidbit of info. :-)

  • I have to agree that the Logitech Trackman Marble+ is an excellent replacement for the mouse. I was having wrist pains in my right wrist from the mouse, and that hasn't happened with the Marble trackball. I also have a much stronger right thumb now =]
  • ...and go to Linux without X.

    You still have Lynx, and pine, and I find I get a whole lot more done without actually playing w/ windows or settings, or Q3A, or pr0n.

    I mean, sure you can argue "What's the point?", but it is efficient enough for most work. Just change run-levels when you actually have to scratch your itch, and otherwise, you're good to go.

  • If you are experiencing pain from typing and mousing an ergonomic keyboard won't help. Not by itself. You are over-using or at least mis-using your muscles and you need to slow down.

    A better solution is to install break software like "xwrits" to remind you to take frequent breaks. Say every 10-15 minutes. You should get up out of your chair during these breaks since a lot of problems are actually caused by bad posture and sitting too long.

    Ergonomic keyboards might be part of a solution if they help you use your muscles properly--but they cannot be the ONLY thing you do, nor can they be a substitute for taking regular breaks, fixing your posture, etc.

    Also, a keyboard that works well for you might not work for someone else at all. Personally I tried lots of keyboards and wound up using a really ancient non-ergonomic keyboard because it had the best keys (they press with little effort but you can feel a bit of a click when they get far enough, so you can use minimal force).

  • should read like this (that section near end)

    movement less than threshold:
    1 * (base multiplier * movement)

    movement greater than or equal to threshold:
    accel * (base multiplier * movement)
  • I totally understand. My desk is poorly aranged making it difficult to use both mouse and keyboard at the same time. I'm pretty good with Windows keyboard commands and don't use the mouse much in Windows. This is tough with MacOS but can be done. However I've never found a WM that lets me be totally mouse free.

    What I think would be great is a program that lets you emulate the mouse with the numeric keypad. Window's has such a utility (but it doesn't really work all that great). Does such a utility exsist for X? I think many mouse-haters would find such an app very useful.

  • by kroy (35258) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:22PM (#1477361)
    I learned how to use the mouse with my right foot. It was rather frustrating, and its a bit difficult right-clicking, but the effort has paid off. I no longer need to move my hands off the keyboard when using any window manager.

  • Being relatively new to the Linux/X-window system (not a cs major), I may not be the most knowledgeable source on this subject, but I can remember writing out some macros/shortcuts for tedious shell/vi/emacs commands for over the terminal use on the one *NX box I've been allowed to play with up until now. It seems logical to me that php/perl/python would be friendly to writing macros in the X environment for this application. This could be shared like a common .login/.profile/.*rc file to configure your shell or command line emailer would would be handy on a distro cd
  • by Tim Macinta (1052) <twm@alum.mit.edu> on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:22PM (#1477363) Homepage
    Here's a trick I plicked up awhile back here on slashdot: in X you can simulate a mouse using your keypad in a very similar way that the Windows "Mousekeys" program works. The functionality is built into XFree86 and all you need to do to activate it is hit Shift-NumLock. After activating the feature, use the number keys to move around and '5' to click. '/', '*', and '-' switch the mousebutton that '5' represents. '0' is a click and hold (for dragging) and '.' releases the click and hold. The other keys may do something as well, but I'm not sure what. Also, to speed up the movement, tap '5' while you're moving the arrow with one of the other number keys.

    I was really excited when I found this feature. IMO, there are a few improvements that could be made, though (or maybe I just don't know how to do what I want):

    • Using '5' to speed things up is often inadvertanly interpretted as a click. This can get annoying.
    • The feature times out. So if you don't use it for awhile, you'll need to hit NumLock-Shift again. I'd prefer to have it permanently enabled.
    • I'd also like a way to know whether or not the feature is active without actually trying the number keys (to avoid inadvertant numbers being typed). Ideally there would be an indicator on my Gnome panel that would tell me whether it's on or off, just like there's a Mousekeys indicator on Windows to indicate whether it's on or off.
  • in my opinion (as a longtime carpel tunnel sufferer) it's the mouse that causes most of the pain. Once you get a good keyboard setup, the biggest pain is having to always reach over to move and click.
    on my *tight* budget I use a simple split keyboard with an integrated touchpad. it's not perfect (there are better setups i'd prefer), but it has helped a LOT. i wish i could have found a keyboard with the touchpad in the middle (between the split), as that would eliminate even more movement..
    oh well.
  • by Ripat (19963) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:23PM (#1477365) Homepage
    I had the same problem, but I just increased the resoulution in XF86Config. That fixed it. My mouse works really nice now.
  • Here's a link to Adesso [adessoinc.com], btw.

    Alex Bischoff
    ---

  • I have just started using the Goldtouch [goldtouch.com] keyboard and mouse and recommend them both. (I am not in any way affiliated with the company.) If you buy from them directly, the combo is $170 or so; I got them for about $100 or $120 from a local reseller.

    The keyboard is actually not that great; I like the tilting design, but actually wish it would tilt more, say, to almost ninety degrees! Also, these stupid bastards put in two MS 'Start' keys, one of which is directly to the left of F1, so you always hit F1 when you want F2, etc. But I haven't seen anything better that's actually on the market as opposed to being in development. If anyone knows of similar but better products, please let me know.

    The mouse I really like. It's three button with the buttons a little rearranged, but I got used to it really quickly. I'm sure the buttons can be reassigned in X anyway. If an ordinary mouse has left, middle, right buttons labeled 1 3 2, then the Goldtouch is 3 1 2. It's very comfortable.

    kemokid [kemokid.com]

  • One of the things I found really handy in AmigaOS was being able to control the mouse with the keyboard - you held down combinations of the Alt and left and right Amiga keys and used the cursor keys to move, or to use either mouse button. It wasn't the most pin-point control, but it was totally independent of any need for application support and saved my bacon many times (especially when I had a break in my mouse cable and had to survive a couple of days before I could buy another one).

    I'd love it if someone would add this sort of functionality to X.
  • I have an old serial logitech track ball that a friend gave me. It works fine under X. It has a very flat profile and a large button on each side.
    My window focus is set to follow the pointer.

    I have about 7 inches between the edge of my desk and my keyboard. The spae immediately in front of the spacebar is where my trackball sits. I can stretch out a thumb to move the arrow, or even just run my wrist across the ball. Makes for a very low impact environment.

    It has to be a low profile design though. my parents have a Microsoft trackball and my strategy certainly wouldn't work well with it.


    I am running TWM. I've been meaning to look into setting a mapping in my .twmrc that binds META+TAB to "f.warpring" or something. Has oanyone had any success with this sort of thing?
  • press shift-alt-numlock and you've got the keypad to use as a mouse.

    arrow keys move. pressing two keys simultaneously speeds the movement up (otherwise it's painfully slow).

    5 clicks. / changes it to left click, * to middle click, and - to right click (i think). + double clicks in whatever click mode happens to be engaged.

    it's not the easiest thing to use, but useful for when your mouse just won't work (whether because of your wrists, or cat chewed cable).
  • The thing that would probably cause my the most problems not having a mouse would be using a browser.

    I've always thought it would be nice to have a gui browser that was as easy to navigate with the keyboard as lynx but could display tables and images and all the other pretties. Netscape is a real pain in the butt to move through links and such without a mouse
  • I have an old serial logitech track ball that a friend gave me. It works fine under X. It has a very flat profile and a large button on each side. My window focus is set to follow the pointer.

    I have about 7 inches between the edge of my desk and my keyboard. The space immediately in front of the spacebar is where my trackball sits. I can stretch out a thumb to move the arrow, or even just run my wrist across the ball. Makes for a very low impact environment.

    It has to be a low profile design though. My parents have a Microsoft trackball and my strategy certainly wouldn't work well with it. It's larger than a mouse and has buttons in strange locations.


    On a different note, I am running TWM. I've been meaning to look into setting a mapping in my .twmrc that binds META+TAB to "f.warpring" or something. Has anyone had any success with this sort of thing?
  • by Robin Hood (1507) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:27PM (#1477374) Homepage
    I use Windowmaker (current version 0.61.1). The "root" menu, as well as the window-switching menu, can be accessed through keyboard shortcuts (defaults to F12 and F11 respectively). I use multiple workspaces and switch back and forth by pressing Alt-# where # is the number of the workspace I want. Using Windowmaker's "Rename workspace" feature, I label each one: "Main", "Games", "Netscape", "Programming" and then switch to whichever one is appropriate before I launch a program. It works well for me and I usually don't need the mouse. You can set focus mode to be "Click to focus" and then switch the focus among the windows on your current workspace by using Alt-Tab, a key combo that's probably been drilled into your fingers by constant Windows use. The fact that Alt-Tab stays on the current workspace is very nice, as is the fact that the window list (F11) shows all the windows as well as which workspace they're on, so you can use that menu to switch workspaces or just remind you of which Alt-# key you want to press.

    Checking out the keyboard-configuration program under WindowMaker, here are the things you can do with the keyboard:

    • Open applications menu
    • Open window list menu
    • Open window commands menu
    • Hide active application
    • Miniaturize active window
    • Close active window
    • Maximize active window
    • Maximize active window vertically
    • Raise active window
    • Lower active window
    • Raise/lower window under mouse pointer
    • Shade active window
    • Move/Resize active window
    • Select active window
    • Focus next window
    • Focus previous window
    • Switch to next workspace
    • Switch to previous workspace
    • Switch to next ten workspaces
    • Switch to previous ten workspaces
    • Switch to workspace 1
    • Switch to workspace 2
      .
      .
      .
    • Switch to workspace 10
    • Shortcut for window 1
    • Shortcut for window 2
      .
      .
      .
    • Shortcut for window 10
    • Raise Clip
    • Lower Clip
    • Raise/Lower Clip

    As you can see, there's quite a lot of keyboard control built-in. Try it out!
    -----
    The real meaning of the GNU GPL:

  • I have had really good experiences with that MS Natural ripoff keyboard. It has a little Touchpad below the space bar that is great for the times when I really have to use the mouse. It allows me to keep my fingers on the keyboard, and not have to play the ol' switching game all the time.
    On the hand it also allow you to use your existing mouse for stuff like games (e.g. Quake 3). Anyway just my little post.

    Nathan

  • I have an Adesso MCK-108P [adessoinc.com], which is a nice split keyboard with a trackpoint in the middle. Having the pointer on the keyboard is great -- you don't have to reach much at all for the mouse. They also make models with built-in trackpoints or no pointer if you really prefer. I'd definitely check them out -- they make good keyboards, and don't charge too much.

    As far as window managers go, when I last used fvwm2 a while ago, I was able to bind keystrokes to do actual mouse movements. This might help with those focusing problems you mention -- while I certainly wouldn't want to use a keyboard-controlled pointer for a lot, simple things like switching focus shouldn't be too bad.

    Unfortunately, you'll probably never be able to entirely say goodbye to the mouse. But, with a decent keyboard and pointer combo, you can make it a bit less painful. My hands started hurting a lot less when I switched to the Adesso.

  • [TAB] should do ya fine there, although it's really not very 'quick' if you're stuck on a page like altavista or any portal with 200 links before it gets to the real stuff.
  • I had the same problem and after I've tried many different WMs, I settled for Window Maker. You can define key bindings for any function that it can peform (from switching desktops and windows to menus).

    I've been using it for almost a year now, and I had no reason to switch to a different WM based on functionality.

    The problem I couldn't solve however was the fact that each GUI app has its own command bindings (if any at all). Gnome and KDE are trying to create a certain standard, but they're not there yet.

    Most likely the easiest way is to run Linux console-only or Linux+X with a lot of *terms open...


  • by Chilli (5230) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:33PM (#1477380) Homepage
    Hating the rodent myself (for everything except surfing the Web with Netscape, which could also be made more keyboard friendly), I have tried various window managers - none being really satisfying:

    • twm is hopeless, dumped it long ago.
    • fvwm2 is quite good to use without a mouse. The reason: you can make it switch to a specific window with on key stroke based on the WM_TITLE and WM_CLASS of that window.
    • WindowMaker can largely be operated with the keyboard, but to switch to a specific window, you have to get the window menu (usually F11) and then select the window based on the first letter of the window title (using arrow keys is far too slow).
    • I am currently trying E, and having to use ALT-TAB is annoying.
    What I really miss most in all window manager (that I tried) - except fvwm2 - is selecting specific windows with one keystroke (or an ALT-whatever combination).

    I am currently pondering whether it would be worth the effort adding this feature to E - but E 0.16 still has serious memory leaks, so I don't know whether I won't have to switch again anyway.

    This is seriously troubling me and if there were a cool looking (theme-aware) WM that can be easily used with the keyboard only, I would immediately switch.

    Chilli

  • Actually, it might be easier than you think.
    If you use the XInput extensions to XFree86, you can probably set up both the keyboard-touchpad and the mouse as core pointers. I've got a Wacom art tablet, and it works simultaneously with my Logitech Marble Mouse (if I use both hands, but that's another story).
    Check out http://www.delix.de/Linux/Support/Info/wacom.html [delix.de] ; I found it when I first started working with the tablet & X. It'll take a bit of hacking to get it to work right with two mice, but I'm sure it can be done. The man page for XInput (if you can find it; it may be a part of XFree86(1)) will undoubtedly also help.
  • by trance9 (10504) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:35PM (#1477383) Homepage Journal
    One more thing.... beware of wrist splints! They give you short term relief by taking the load off the muscles that are bothering you, but they are long term doom.

    The danger is that your muscles will atrophy in the splint. Then when you remove it you will re-injure almost immediately--you will probably think you're just not recovered yet, but in fact it is the weakening of your own muscles because of the splint that is causing your trouble!

    You have to learn to type properly using all of the muscles in your shoulders arms, forarms, wrists, and fingers, balancing the load so that nothing is overworked. You cannot solve the problem with gimmicks like splints--you actually have to solve the problem with the way you type, and with how much you type.

    Instead of using a wrist splint type without one. Type as much as you can WITHOUT symptoms, taking frequent breaks. Try to find out how much you can do before you experience symptons and do just under that much typing. Make sure you keep typing every day--don't lose your endurance. On the other hand, it's a mistake to do exercises to "strengthen" your hand--typing all day long is enough exercise.

    If you're having trouble you really should see a doctor who knows something about typing injuries. Many doctors will tell you to use splints--these are the ones who know nothing about typing injuries, go and see someone else--ask to see a specialist.
  • I think that the whole UI should be taken down and rebuilt from scratch. There is technology that would allow you eyes to lead the mouse around, how many times have you wished that you would need any hand and eye, why not just eye. Think about it, never have to touch a nother mouse, just put on some glasses and go w/ it. Just a thought.
  • www.kinesis-ergo.com [kinesis-ergo.com]

    they're not cheap, but they're certainly the best I've found so far. and they look absolutely superly cool :) (been used in a few movies, for their sci-fi-ness).

    although to be honest I haven't got one yet, it should be arriving in about 12 hours though :) I'll probably do a wee review of it once I've got it so maybe check base.yi.org [yi.org] tomorrow..

    el bobo
  • IBM makes a Trackpoint Keyboard [ibm.com]. They also have a miniture 87 key version. Both only come in black (I think?). I imagine you could use the trackpoint ps/2 connector along with a regular serial mouse (or use a ps/2-to-serial adapter with the trackpoint or your old ps/2 mouse) and use both.
  • I find I can do just about anything in either KDE or XFCE without using a mouse. I'm referring to the desktop environment only: many applications still need a mouse. Also, though one can position windows with arrow keys, I find the mouse more convenient for that.
  • I strongly disagree. The combination of the Kinesis keyboard and a good keyboard drawer have enabled me to go from near crippling tendonitis in both wrists to pain free. But the keyboard drawer was essential to get the correct posture.

    The logitech thumb operated trackball makes a good mouse replacement (once you adapt to it, even drawing with it is possible). But with a good keyboard drawer that provides an elevated mouse pad next to the keyboard, I've found mousing can be quite painless.
  • I was drooling at the "DvortyBoard" and I was wondering if anyone had tried it.

    It'd be nice to be able to look on the keyboard when I need it, and the keyboard doesn't have an altogether horrible layout (Windows keys and weird space button can be overlooked for a Dvorak keyboard). The site also mentions a Dvorak tutoring program, which is surprising because I wasn't aware that there was such a program.

    Anyone care to shed some light on the keyboard, the software, and whether or not it's worth $50?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    CDE is designed to be usable with only a keyboard if need be. It works quite well. Motif apps in general work very well with just a keyboard. I use the keyboard to navigate quite often, and I find the CDE handles this superbly.

    Also, the X FAQ has a section on using X without a mouse. It's on ftp.x.org somewhere. I believe there are mouse key type things.
  • by Rilke (12096) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @08:41PM (#1477391)
    kde is a very good choice if you're trying to eliminate the mouse. There's keyboard access to just about everything in all the apps, and the wm pretty much allows everything from keystrokes as well.

    But gnome will as well, as will most of the WM's. It's just that the wm's don't come configured that way usually. Learn a bit about xmodmap, spend some time configuring the tools you use, set up your default session the way you want, and you can pretty much forget about the mouse in X.

    PS. The real key to all this is the whole 'alt key opens the menu' idea. Does anyone know who first did that in a bitmap display? Is it possible that it's actually an MS "innovation"?? (ISTR one of the early DOS char-mode GUIs did this, Geo-something???)
  • i know exactly what you are talking about. i believe that XF86Config has an option to select mouse resolution. if your mouse is capable of higher resolutions, this is where you can adjust it. made a big difference for me. hope that helps.
  • Are there any projects out there that use eye control, rather than mouse? Do we all remember that special about Stephen Hawking on PBS a while back? He uses a system that allows him to use his eyes to look at certain spots on the screen. Through a hierarchical type of software system, he can look at a certain category of words, which will lead him to a list of sub-categories, on and on, until he reaches the word he wants to "say." He stairs or blinks at it (I forget which) and it gets spoken (or written, if he's writing a paper or something). The way his machine "sees" his eye movement, IIRC, is by two sensors attached on the sides of his monitor. I've read of other physically impaired people using similar systems.

    Couldn't X be the same way? If the position where your eye was looking was interpreted as the mouse cursor, and blinks==clicks and double blinks==double clicks, you could do everything you do with a mouse (except the little scrolly-wheel thingy-something I've grown to require. :)I imagine this would cause a great deal of eye strain though...

  • The other keys may do something as well, but I'm not sure what.

    The '+' key double-clicks. I don't think the Enter key is used at all (perhaps making it the accelerator instead of '5' would be a good idea).

  • I just switched to the new MS Explorer mouse (the one without mechanical parts). I'm not sure if it will help other people, but for some reason I don't get a sore right wrist as much or as often. I'm not claiming that it's Bill's new toy, but maybe the shape of it or the smoothness helps. I gurantee there will be some propaganda at microsoft.com/mouse that says its super ergonomic.
  • Quickly tap '5' while the pointer is in motion and it will speed up quite a bit.
  • My biggest problem was the edge of the table. I'd rest my wrist on it and it was cause circulation and nerve damage.

    I switched to a keyboard and mousepad that kept me from doing that and the pain and numbness has been gone for about three years and counting.

    Might work for you -- not that you won't have enough suggestions by time this is all over. ;-)
  • perhaps making it the accelerator instead of '5' would be a good
    idea


    OK, so I learn something new every day... it can be used as an accelerator (thanks to the poster in a later thread for pointing this out). Apparently hitting any key while the pointer is in motion will speed up the motion. Shift looks like a pretty good choice for this to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've been reading the responses to this thread and to throw in my two cents on why I prefer Window Maker's wm to anyone else is futile since I seem to be in the majority.

    However, a common lament is that netscape doesn't allow you to tab. This is very true and very annoying. But for those who don't keep track of Mozilla's development, Mozilla does allow you to tab through the links, making keyboard naviagation much easier.

    Just another AC who will probably not be moderated so no one will see this.

  • Problems with your fingers aching from typing usually mean that you are not typing correctly. What I mean is that you do not have the correct posture and angles. Generally people who type using the proper posture, height, and so forth do usually don't get CTS. Perhaps you should find a typing instructor and have them coach you about this. You may also just need to take more breaks when you are typing.

    Another option is to get a Dvorak keyboard and see if that works better for you. A Dvorak keyboard is supposed to be much more efficient than the standard QWERTY keyboard. What I mean is that the space your fingers have to move to type most words is much less, reducing the strain on your hands. It's also supposed to be faster. Downside is learning a new layout. Here is an URL with some info on the Dvorak layout. [ccsi.com]

    As for not using a mouse that gets tricky in a GUI environment. I've never tried it, and it is pricey, but footmouse.com [footmouse.com] has a foot operated mouse. If your goal is to reduce wear and tear on your hands, maybe it is worth looking into.

    You could also check out the portion of the typing injury FAQ [tifaq.com] that deals with alternative input devices. Perhaps you could substitute something for the mouse or keyboard that is more to your liking.

    Hope this was helpful.

  • by DataGrok (81077) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @09:17PM (#1477423) Homepage

    It seems every X11 window managers' design heavily incorporates the mouse as a necessary tool for window management. I even get this impression from reading snippets of POSIX specs. Here's a (very botched) paraphrase, or at least, the impression I got when learning about POSIX window manager recommendations:

    "The window manager should not intercept any key bindings... they should all be passed to the application and the mouse should be used for windowing."

    Anyway, I have, since I first booted linux and fired up X, always thought this was STUPID. The one thing that I see Windows having over Mac OS or linux window managers was the common, global key-mapping that comes from a tidbit of smart thinking at one point in the design (or stealing somebody elses' idea) and then the subsequent forcing of all the applications that run within your operating environment to adopt "similar" keybindings and look-and-feels.

    I took key bindings for granted in Windows. Say, in the middle of anything else, I suddenly had the urge for some Slashdot in a maximized explorer window.

    Ctrl-Esc R iexplore [enter] [F4] www.slashdot.org [enter] Alt-[SPACE] x Done. Or maybe size it a bit and move it some. Alt-[SPACE] S (arrow keys) [Enter]. And the cordless mouse is still stuck somewhere in the couch cushions with dead batteries.

    Before I figured out that there were window managers that supported something other than focus-follows-mouse, I almost developed tennis elbow, slapping that rat around to keep my focus where i wanted it, and the windows raised where I wanted them. very frustrating.

    I moved to BlackBox, because it was nice and speedy. But I still had no pop-up root menu on the keyboard. (I kept telling myself I'd learn C++ and contribute a patch)

    later I moved to Windowmaker [windowmaker.org], and found out why people swear by that. Its neat, theme-able [themes.org], and nicely configurable. But something about it still irked me. Maybe I preferred the simplicity of BB.

    three days ago, i slapped Sawmill [http] on my machine and I think I've found a new love. It's all configurable in the same way emacs and scwm are, very modular, and it looks all pretty, very theme-able [themes.org] too. Not too bad in terms of speed, either. It's not blackbox (I loved BB's responsiveness) but it works well, and you can BIND stuff. With a wussy GUI configuration editor, even! If you want. wow.

    So now i have a nice pretty desktop, that plays nice with gnome (even though I don't use gnome much), yet is not quite as hungry as Enlightenment or KDE, and supports lispy customizations (I don't know it well enough to code yet, but i can see the ability of the program to expand). I've got alt-space mapped to the window controls, ctrl-esc mapped to a popup app list, and f12 mapped to the root menu. So now i can, once again, sit on the couch across the room with the cordless 'board and have nearly-full control over my work environment. All I have to do is figure out how to configure it to be able to size the windows with the keys. That and implement selection, copy, and paste using shift and arrow keys. :-P

    Maybe the whole system is flawed and maybe Berlin [benham.net] will work more to my liking. Man, i wish i already knew how to code. Then i'd just go FIX all this stuff, instead of bitching about it, eh? ;) (Helping berlin or any other OSS project to completion would be hella cool too.)

    Good luck, jacobian, in your search for the "right" configuration.

  • by kevina (14659)
    The IceWM [uni-lj.si] seams to do a very good job of not having to use the mouse. In particular it uses almost all of the MS Windows shortcuts for window manipulation. For some reason people don't seam to like icewm. Could it be because it just to simple? Or could it be becuase it is too much like MS Windows?
  • I did the same thing with my trackball back when I played Descent. I couldn't keep on top of the 20-some keys anduse the mouse with my hand at the same time. With practice it's not that hard. Clicking can be tricky...

    I also took apart my keyboard, added wire to some important keys, then connected them to an array of switches on the floor for use with my feet. People thought my plexiglass/tenis ball/radio shack switch gizmo was wierd, but it worked well!!!

  • by Millennium (2451) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @09:40PM (#1477439) Homepage
    You can't completely get rid of the mouse in X, no matter how hard you try. You can use keys for most functions, but some things will always bite you and force you to use the mouse.

    Therefore, I wouldn't focus of getting rid of the mouse, but replacing it with something else. Some people have mentioned using the keypad; this works but I wouldn't recommend it (a keyboard isn't anywhere near as responsive, nor can it be; it wasn't designed to control a mouse pointer).

    I would personally recommend a trackball. They use less disk space and the motion seems more natural to me. I use a Kensington Turbo Mouse (that's "Expert Mouse" to those of you in the PC world), and it works great in MacOS and LinuxPPC both (though I have yet to figure out how to make the fourth button do anything on the Linux side; I'd like to map it to a double-click if that's at all possible).

    Touchpads also work. Tracksticks work well once you get used to them, but good luck finding one on anything that isn't a laptop. Then there's that funky brainwave headband (I don't know if it supports Linux yet though).

    If all else fails, you could go totally wacko, plug a MIDI keyboard into your machine, and write a driver to control the mouse pointer by playing it. It'd be almost impossible to use, but you've got to admit that once you had it working it'd be seriously cool. Of course, it'd be hard enough to use that it defeats the whole point of the mouse in the first place. But who's counting?

    As for ergonomic keyboards, try some out before you take the plunge. Like trackballs, you either love them or you despise them. Best not to get stuck with a keyboard you like even less than your current one.
  • by ryan360 (123742) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @09:43PM (#1477440) Homepage
    I think this glorifies the direction that Slashdot user posts are going: FUD. I don't think a comment such as this is an acceptable reply to an opinion that MS-Windows is more keyboard-friendly than X-Windows. Many of the people here have a mentality to the effect of "Linux will solve world hunger! Anything Microsoft is 100% crap!" It's not that clear cut.

    Now, I'll praise Linux as much as any John Q. Torvalds (I wouldn't trust my websites on an NT machine any day), but I also use a Windows 98 machine at work and have one machine installed with it at home. Ironically, one of the large reasons I use Windows 98 is because of it's kerboard-friendly design. The keyboard shortcuts are almost universal in every application.

    There, I said it; I use MS-Windows. Does that make me a bad person? Perhaps. Does that make my opinions wrong? Of course not. Am I entitled to my opinions? Yes, of course. Next time someone feels like using a reply like "You're a dork", take a step back and listen to these words. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. It is not our job to judge whether those opinions are valid or not. When it comes to operating systems, it is up to you to make your own decision. Or better yet, don't make a decision. Accept each OS for it's own merits and strengths.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @09:44PM (#1477441)
    Fvwm2 can come damn close to being totally mouse-less. I have all of my favorite apps hooked to CTL-ALT hotkeys. I find it much easier on the wrists than straining for F. It also supports assigning hotkeys to moving the mouse cursor around (Man, I love it. Is there anything this WM won't do? :)

    The only problem is that clicking the mouse buttons can't be done with the keyboard: most X programs ignore such "synthetic" mouse events. I have also set up CTL-tabbing to be pretty close to the M$ style (which is unfortunately the best way of switching between windows I have used). And to top it all off, FVWM2 is far easier on the system resources than KDE, WindowMaker and the perpetual-alpha Enlightenment.

    Please excuse any incoherence, see time stamp.
  • by Zico (14255) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @10:04PM (#1477450)

    I don't find that it's easier to move around on a normal surface than a regular mouse, but it is really nice to be able to use it without problems on non-standard surfaces, like my leg or the arm of my recliner, especially when I'm using it with my laptop.

    I've gotta give Microsoft props for providing a great environment for those of us who use the web a lot for both work and play. To wit:

    • Internet Explorer. I liked IE 4 all right, at least compared with Netscape 4, but IE 5/5.5 really shines.
    • The wheel mouse. I actually had one of these fairly early on, but didn't find anything special about it and went back to my old mouse. On a friend's advice, I decided to give it one more shot and made a point to spend a week using it. Now, not having to reach for the arrow keys, or drag the mouse over to the scroll bar just to scroll up or down the page, I'm not sure why I wasn't impressed when I first tried it. These days, it's such an annoyance whenever I'm stuck using a computer without a wheel mouse.
    • The IntelliMouse Explorer's thumb buttons, particularly the back button. Not that this couldn't have been or wasn't done before, but it's a really nice addition to the ball-less mouse, nearly as useful for surfing as the wheel. Whereas the wheel mouse ended reaching for the arrow keys on the keyboard or moving the mouse to the scroll bar, the thumb keys have removed the rest of the wasted movements: reaching for the keyboard to hit backspace/ALT-left-arrow, or moving the mouse to the back button. Now, except for when I need to type in a URL, I barely have to move the position of my hands or the mouse at all -- just move the scroll wheel and the forward/back buttons -- which I would think is good for people with sore wrists. Of course, it makes me feel like an even bigger slacker, but laziness is a virtue, right? ;-)

    Cheers,
    ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

  • The ION-ETM system adds the IONTM Eye Control Software to the basic software for head control, and allows full control of a computer with your eyes. Two tiny cameras in the headset observe both your eye and the beacon on your monitor, allowing the computer and the IONTM Eye Control Software to determine where you are looking on the screen. As with ION-HTM, the ION-ETM system also senses
    intentional blinking, and uses that for clicking and dragging.
  • I'm using Opera (MS Windows) which you have to pay for (very affordable). It's my understanding that the Opera folks are making an Opera for Linux. Opera doesn't work for everything, and sometimes you have to go back to Netscape. But it's got all sorts of hot keys, and navigating the links is very easy. When you tab the links with Netscape, it's vry hard to see what is "highlighted". That's not the case with Opera. See, http://www.opera.com
  • by TheDullBlade (28998) on Tuesday December 07, 1999 @10:16PM (#1477458)
    it's a mistake to do exercises to "strengthen" your hand--typing all day long is enough exercise

    This is as wrong as the idea that doing lots of jogging will build up strong legs (BTW, if you want strong legs, do squats or leg press). Typing is what got you into this mess, it won't get you out.

    If you want to strengthen some part of your body, you need brief, intense, and infrequent exercise. Constant light (like typing or jogging) use tells your body to conserve energy by paring down to bare essentials. That's why many geeks have scrawny wrists and finger problems and most long-time joggers have scrawny legs and knee problems.

    To strengthen the fingers I strongly recommend this exercise: lay a sheet of newspaper (just one, as you get stronger you'll want to stack up two or three pages) flat on a table in front of you, grab it with the fingertips of one hand and crumple it into a ball without using your other hand or squashing it against anything (including the table). Repeat with fresh sheets until you try and fail to finish crumpling the last sheet. If you feel pain in your joints, stop and try again tomorrow. Do this every day for a week or two, then every second day or so indefinitely.

    Another good exercise is wetting a towel and wringing it dry over and over, or squeezing a soft foam ball. Remember, exhaust as rapidly as possible then rest as long as it takes to recover.

    Oddly, strength increases spill over between near muscle groups, so if you work out your arms you'll help strengthen your fingers too (you don't have to get fancy, just grabbing a sack of potatos and curling and pressing it overhead ten or twenty times with each arm will make a huge difference if you aren't getting much exercise). And of course, if you work out your back and legs you'll get stronger all over; deadlifts in particular can transform your entire body, and have a dramatic effect on your grip.

    If at all possible, avoid all typing until your fingers are strong and healthy again: remember, it is like jogging after you've had problems with your knees. Switch to the hunt-and-peck method if you must use computers, and do odd things like hitting the keys with your thumbs if your fingers get at all tired or sore. Rest frequently.

    The basic principle of strength increase is anabolic stress (which should be intense for maximum positive effect and brief for minimum negative effect) followed by adequate rest. Your body heals, grows, and strengthens only when you rest. If you overload your body when it should be resting, you cause cumulative damage, not strength gain. This is why no sustained strength training program should be done more than once every second day.
  • First and formost: I am not a window-manager/desktop zealot. I use the GNOME panel, "dfm" as my file manager, and Sawmill as my window manager. I use what suits me.

    To be honest, I just switched to Sawmill because my machine is slow, and version 0.17 had the features I desperately wanted.

    If you're willing to do a bit of work, Sawmill may be your answer. All of the configuration is done via the lisp scripting languange. That means pretty much anything the window manager is capable of can be assigned to a key-stroke. Thank you Microsoft! :) Those Three extra worthless keys they put on keyboards have come in handy. Pretty much every CTRL, ALT, and SHIFT combination has been taken by one program or another. Almost nobody touches the Win or WinMenu key. I use both my mouse and my keyboard, so I havn't use this key-binding feature to the fullest, but I only keep the GNOME side of things around because of its prettiness, and the task list. I launch all my programs through keybindings.

    If you are interested in Sawmill, go to http://www.dcs.warwick.ac.uk/~john/sw/sawmill/inde x.html

    As a warning, Sawmill is under very heavy development. I've never seen so fast a release cycle(I got 0.17 a week before 0.18 came out. To be honest, if 0.18 hadn't come out[with the ability to assign windows arbitrary properties], I would have switched back to Enlightenment). Good luck!

    Oh, yeah. To answer the question about ergonomic keyboards, there is a keyboard I've seen that completely imobilizes your wrist. Actually, I sort of put it in an executive's desk. the keyboard itself is parallel to the floor, but there are two large hollows, hemispherical, with keys embedded on the curved surface. To install it in the desk, I took out a portion of the desktop, and dropped the keyboard in. Now the exec's arms and wrists rest more-or-less flat on the surface of his desk, and his fingers to all the moving. I don't know where he got that keyboard, though...

    Dave
  • I'd like to jump on the wagon of saying how great Sawmill is for keybindings. As well as mouse-bindings (I've set mine up so that right-clicking on ANY of the window borders brings up the wm menu, and middle-clicking on any border moves the window. All annoyances of inacessable title borders are gone.).

    As far as devices go, the mouse was a great, revolutionary technology of it's time. All props to Douglas Englebart [slashdot.org], however, I think it's time has passed. It seems that industry has said "ooh! people will buy a mouse" and just gotten stuck in a rut. Roller-wheels, third buttons, and pretty colours are NOT a revolution. I hate to leave the home row, and just wish there was an ergonomic setup that would mean I didn't have to (after last weeks article that taught me how to switch CapsLock and Escape keys, I'm one step closer).

    The ideas that I've thought of are: a keyboard split in two, and you roll each around (think of a keyboard and mouse getting married and having two kids), a pressure sensitive wrist pad that translated subtle movements in both wrists into mouse movements, or eyball tracking. I believe I played with an eyeball tracker at the Ontario Science Center when I was a kid, so I don't think it's new technology. But I remember it having real trouble initializing -- figuring out where my eyes were. If this is still the problem, how about really distinct coloured contact lenses ala Marilyn Manson. I'd wear 'em if it would mean more time with my precious home row. Or maybe the other way around -- contact lenses with sensors in them that would work similarly to Nintendo's Duck Hunt. You all remember Duck Hunt don't you? (contact lenses might be overkill here, glasses would probably work, but then you'd have to move your whole head. Carpal Tunnel Neck)

    As far as surfing around your (multiple) desktop(s) with solely your keyboard, I've found that the following scheme works well:

    Ctrl-Alt - - - - Window Manager and X
    (focus, shifting desktops, shutting down X)

    Alt - - - - Application User Interface
    (File, Edit -type menus, menu item shortcuts)

    Ctrl - - - - Application
    (Ctrl-x sends mail in pine, Ctrl-Left moves forward a whole word in word processors)

    Shift - - - - Modifies above commands
    (usually reverses the direction)

    With Alt-Tab being the exception to the rule here. I'm still not comfortable with it switching window focus because it doesn't fit in the pattern. But Ctrl-Alt-Tab is a lotus position for my fingers. Hmm... perhaps Ctrl-Alt-Space...

    And this doesn't really leave any room for desktop commands, ie, how to open the Gnome Panel's menu. Maybe Ctrl-Alt fits, but I'm not convinced.

    I think there should be some sort of standard, so that when a user downloads some new window manager, it's defaults shouldn't interfere with his/her customary behaviour. Does a standard already exist? Anybody? I think ultimately, it should all be user customizable, though. (again, mad props to Sawmill).

    Okay, perhaps I should start my 1500 word essay due at 8:30am now.

    - sjbrown [geeky.net]
    - works at
  • Change Runlevels?!?!

    What's wrong with "startx"?
    --
  • Your chair *MUST* have an arm rest. This was the one most important thing that gave me a mouse arm.

    Get a smaller keyboard so the distance travelled between the keyboard and the mouse is shorter. I use a MS Natural Elite keyboard.

    Try to avoid using the mouse when you don't have to. Use keyboard shortcuts instead of menus.

    Be very restrictive by using the correct typing on your keyboard. E.g. always use the right Ctrl key when doing a C-x c in Emacs and not the left one.

    And the last one, use the mouse with the left hand. I had to resort to this last year. But haven't had any problems after I corrected my typing, avoided using the mouse too much and got a correct chair.

    Not that anyone will read this. *sob*
  • Have you experienced the horrors of the Johnson Keyboard [boswa.com]? The idea is that you never have to leave the home row. Unfortunately, due to a really lame implementation using xmodmap, you type the space with your little finger, which rapidly becomes painful. If it ever gets done right (like with an X patch, or something like that) it might be worth taking a look at.
  • This might be a stupid question, but it's related to the X \ rodent problem. I'd really like to be able to cut & paste between virtual consoles without using the mouse. I mean, once you use the mouse, it is cool to cut via left-click and paste via middle-click, much better then command-c / command-v (or ctrl-c/ctrl-v), but how to cut and paste without moving your hands from the keyboard?

    The best thing would be to have something like the keypad option in X, but, obviously, the keypad is not intuitive - it should be "hjkl", of course!

    Regards,

    January

  • been thinking about this too, I use Windows and Linux so I'm using both Explorer.exe and X. Explorer has a decent keyboard interface which I've used when I couldn't get my hands on a serial mouse cuz the system had no PS/2 port. Most WMs I've used with X on the other hand don't have a good keyboard interface. X's mouse interface isn't all too snazzy either, the cursor (in most WMs I've used) had a real odd movement. I think added keybaord functionality would be good not only for those of us with sore wrists from using mice all the time but also very useful for non-PC systems like WebTV and the like. Linux is a powerful and small kernal that could be ported to net appliances but X would have some difficulty because it has problems with keyboard interface which many net appliances are limited to.
  • I agree totally. The only time I use the mouse is in Netscape and Gimp. And really, I those case you're probably better off with the mouse anyway.

    I too use Fvwm2, and I've configured it so that I have keyboard shortcuts for moving and rezising windows, much faster with the keys. I also have multiple desktops, so that anyone of them never gets too clutterd with windows (no problem with focus). Further, I tend to choose programs that work keyboard-wise, like Emacs and such, I dont like to be forced to use the mouse to select in menus.

    My setup is further explained on my homepage :-)

    // Simon

  • Only two letters per key? Ha!

    Almost all the PCs in Japan come with a JIS keyboard --- QWERTY keys have two or three symbols, number keys have three or four, and punctuation keys have four. (For example, the minus key has minus [-], equals [=], a pound sign (pounds sterling, not lbs), and the hiragana "ho".) Not to mention the dreaded Henkan/Muhenkan keys on either side of the spacebar, reducing its width down to about an inch and a half. On the bottom row of the keyboard I'm using now, there's no less than eleven keys - Ctrl, Windows key, Alt, Muhenkan, Space, Henkan, Hiragana/Katakana key, Alt, Windows key, Menu key, Ctrl.

    Of course, at home I use only standard AT keyboards with the Ctrl and CapsLock in the proper positions.
  • by Tom Christiansen (54829) <tchrist@perl.com> on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @01:43AM (#1477522) Homepage
    • twm is hopeless, dumped it long ago.
    • fvwm2 is quite good to use without a mouse. The reason: you can make it switch to a specific window with on key stroke based on the WM_TITLE and WM_CLASS of that window
    You can do that with twm and tvtwm, too.
    "F9" = : all : f.warpto "Console"
    "F10" = : all : f.warpto "Netscape"
    Also, you can establish window rings.
    WindowRing { "eterm" "terminal" "Terminal" "Eterm" "xterm" }
    "F5" = : all : f.warpring "prev"
    "F6" = : all : f.warpring "next"
    You can also have different icon managers for different classes of program. You'd be surprised at how much you can do. You should read through the tvtwm manpage sometime, carefully.
  • would have to disagree. At least in the 0.15 releases and later, you can bind EVERYTHING to keys. I have a majority of my window management setup on the keyboard.
    How do you in E access what twm does with its warpto and warpring functionality?
  • However, a common lament is that netscape doesn't allow you to tab. This is very true and very annoying. But for those who don't keep track of Mozilla's development, Mozilla does allow you to tab through the links, making keyboard naviagation much easier.
    One of supreme annoyances with lynx is the way Cartesian movement commands do NOT get reflected on your screen. For example, if you have a two links (A and B) on one line, and one more (C) on the next, and you're sitting on the leftmost link, A, consider what happens when you say "move down". You don't move down. You move right. And the "move left" key doesn't move you left. It's a back button. And you can't fix this by rebinding keys, such as to use the regular rogue motions instead of painful arrows.

    This is a fundamental flaw, because the designers destroyed the connection between screen motion and motion commands. They should have a follow link and a pop link stack command which are separate from the Cartesian motions. Left should move you in a negative direction along the X axis. Right should move you in a positive direction along the X axis. Up should move you in a negative direction along the Y axis. Down should move you in a positive direction along the Y axis. Anything else is madness because it's completely counterintuitive given the normal notion up up/down/left/right.

  • What he seems to be commenting on, was the use of a dollar in "MS". And I agree with him (these things are becoming old, and don't help for anything), although I wouldn't say it that way.
  • by Tom Christiansen (54829) <tchrist@perl.com> on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:12AM (#1477537) Homepage
    Several problems with this idea.

    With mouseless movement via keyboard mouse emulation you don't have fine-grained pointer control. It's extremely awkward to move around. It's like using arrow keys instead of a mouse to play a fast-action game like xbill.

    A more fundamental flaw that cannot be fixed through physical reconfiguration is that non-drawing programs that make overly heavy mouse use usually misdesiged. Sure, if you have a bitmap, you want a high precision pointer device. But for most other things, you don't. Nonetheless, somebody got this insanely fucked up idea that if it's got a mouse interface, it's easy to use for a novice. This just isn't true at all. And even if it were so, optimizing for a novice instead of a long-time user is nutty. You're only a novice once, and then for a very short time. You have to spend the rest of your life as a non-novice suffering with the design decisions made for people who don't know what they're doing. It doesn't have to be this way, because you could design a program to help both sorts. But nobody does. They forget that the experienced user is more important than the novice, because his annoyance will be compounded across the time interval. If you have to design for only one, choose the real user, not the novice. If you can design for both, better yet.

    The proper solution is for a program to be designed to allow the user to describe what he wants to do using a richer command set. There's a reason it's called a "point-and-drool" interface: it's been expert-proofed. Witness Motif text widgets.

    You can't retrofit a keyboard-simulated mouse on an overly mousey program and ever manage Extreme Keyboarding [perl.com]. This takes careful design in the program so that you hit the right abstraction levels, not mere pointer emulation. We don't see much of that these days.

  • Of course you'd mention this after I switched to the Happy Hacker Keyboard [pfuca.com] (w/o NumLock key). =)
    Christopher A. Bohn
  • It's been reported that the foot-mouse idea doesn't really work. Perhaps it just takes more getting used to. Maybe one should take organ lessons first, or something. :-)

    But even for simple clicking, there are problems. Apparently the neural pathways between toe and brain take longer to traverse than to the hand and back. There could be a simple issue of time-delay effects here. Another matter is the granularity of control. Your brain has a whole lot of grey matter devoted to hand use, and much much less for the foot. You just aren't going to be as nimble.

  • Is that Trackman Marble on the ADB? I have been trying to figure out how to get the Trackman Marble onto my ADB PowerMac! Please help!
  • Ah, I was about to comment about Afterstep 1.0, but it looks like someone else did! :^) I long for the days of Afterstep 1.0 when I could do all window manipulation with a keyboard. Window Maker seems to have lost the ability to do these things (i.e. resizing/easily moving windows with keyboard), or am I mistaken?

    Anyway, have you tried "links" (not lynx), a textmode browser that is much better than lynx? I like links so much that I'm having a hard time convincing myself to use anything else. It supports tables (well!), frames, background downloading, and you can maneuver around the page before it completely finishes downloading. It should put an end to having to use that pesky mouse.

    You can grab it here:
    http://artax.karlin.mff.cuni.cz/~mi kulas/links/ [mff.cuni.cz] (ignore the extra space.. it still works when clicked on.. also, I suggest grabbing links-current.tar.gz)

    -- Does Rain Man use the Autistic License for his software?
  • Yes, I've seen big black IBM desktop keyboard with the red trackpoint in the middle. Good idea.
  • You can't get rogue motions in lynx. That's because it does have X/Y commands you can map to. It doesn't really care about the screen, but it pretends it does. That's the bug.

    Certainly an rn-style or rogue-style web browser would be a lot easier for Unix users. It really feels more like a CP/M program than a Unix program to me. At least SIGINT wouldn't murder your entire context no questions asked. Somebody doesn't know that SIGINT should interrupt a program, not murder it. Imagine if netscape or emacs or vi just completely dies if you hit your intr char. Eek!

    It really doesn't seem that you would have to do too much to lynx to make it usable, but I suspect that this is an illusion. You'd probably have to do a lot of low-level changes to allow screen navigation to make any amount of sense.

    Another terrible lynx bug is the search. It doesn't handle regex matches, which is a cardinal sin. And it doesn't have a "find next" keystroke, like "n" in less. And if you give a null search string, it doesn't understand to repeat the previous one. You have to type it in again and again. Very un-Unixy. Plus it often seems to do the wrong thing.

    I'm surprised that vim (the new emacs :-) doesn't yet have a web-browsing mode. That would solve a lot of these design errors all at once.

  • Not useful. I use the sliding focus all the time. I like a small window that I'm editing in, and a big window almost entirely covering the small one that contains the specs I'm writing from. What 0x40012080 maps to is far more important then the line I'm on. I however can type without looking at my keyboard, or what I'm typing. The eye therefore is wrong for me because I don't always wnat to look at the window that I want tohave focus.

    (right now I'm looking at a window with a financial chart, not at this line. I'm sure there are one or two typos, but nothing major despite my lack of attention.)

  • First of all, many people will try out a program and if they cannot make sense of it in the first few minutes, they'll chuck it.
    You don't know how much I truly wish that that were so. :-( Look at the people expecting to learn how to use C++, Perl, or Java just by "guessing" or clicking. Scary as all get-out.

    Programming languages, operating systems, shells, editors, debuggers, window managers, mailreaders, newsreaders, webreaders, etc are heavy-use items that should be designed in such a way as to allow their users to develop *skill* at their use. Sometimes I think "skill" is a word the PC word-police will come and take me away for during the night.

  • There's more to hydration than you realize. Dr. F. Batmanghelidj was at one time held prisoner in Iran. He was about to be executed, but they kept him around because he was usefull for treating other prisoners. A prisoner came up to him with severe abdominal pain from a peptic ulcer. Lacking traditional "medicines", Dr. B. perscribed two glasses of water. The pain disappeared in eight minutes.

    From WaterCure.com [watercure.com]:
    AMAZING SECRETS FOR HEALTH AND WELLNESS
    Cure # 1: Water prevents and cures heartburn.
    Cure # 2: Water prevents and cures arthritis.
    Cure # 3: Water prevents and cures back pain.
    Cure # 4: Water prevents and cures angina.
    Cure # 5: Water prevents and cures migraines.
    Cure #6: Water prevents and cures colitis.
    Cure # 7: Water and salt prevents and cure asthma.
    Cure # 8: Water prevents and cures high blood pressure.
    Cure # 9: Water prevents and cures early-adult-onset diabetes.
    Cure # 10: Water lowers blood cholesterol.
    Cure # 11: Water Cures Depression, Loss of Libido, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy.

    For explanations of how water can be used to treat all these conditions you'll have to buy one of his books, Your Body's Many Cries For Water, availible from Amazon [amazon.com], Barnes and Noble [barnesandnoble.com] or from watercure.com. [watercure.com] The recommended amount of water is 1/2 your weight in ounces every day. I way 180 pounds, so I should be drinking 90 ounces of water a day.
  • And it doesn't have a "find next" keystroke, like "n" in less. And if you give a null search string, it doesn't understand to repeat the previous one. You have to type it in again and again. Very un-Unixy. Plus it often seems to do the wrong thing.

    n works fine for me as "find next" in Lynx.

    As someone else pointed out, w3m seems closer to what you want. It seems too much like the crappy TN3270-style "use the cursor keys and tab to move around the screen to fill in forms" to me, but I'll probably get used to it eventually. Plus I do like the way forms are handled in w3m (modally). I dunno about the regex-searching, though.

    You might also like Emacs w3-mode, since it has similar controls to w3m (maybe w3m is supposed to be a w3-mode clone, hence the name... I've never made heads or tails of the Japanenglish man page).
  • It's been reported that the foot-mouse idea doesn't really work. Perhaps it just takes more getting used to. Maybe one should take organ lessons first, or something. :-)

    More accurately, a foot-mouse is probably as tricky as playing organ for most people. :-)

    Seriously, one of the few common interfaces that uses the feet is the automobile. And there, what you do with your feet is not generate "events" in the sense of moving, clicking, selecting, etc. but maintain a state, either strongly decelerating (braking) or controlling acceleration. Note that even trying to add a clutch pedal in there is probably pushing it (heh, heh).

    But even for simple clicking, there are problems. Apparently the neural pathways between toe and brain take longer to traverse than to the hand and back. There could be a simple issue of time-delay effects here.

    Yes, they are slower, but you'd be surprised how slow the pathways are between the motor cortex and the hand. According the Card, Moran, & Newell camp, there's probably nothing too horrible about the delay or timing you could achieve with a foot activated switch in light use (rather than trying to type with your feet); there are many machines in factories that take advantage of this.

    Another matter is the granularity of control. Your brain has a whole lot of grey matter devoted to hand use, and much much less for the foot. You just aren't going to be as nimble.

    This almost certainly plays a big role in why foot interfaces that do exist don't generally require fine control. The nimbleness issue, however, also has a lot to do with the size and shape of the effector in question. And there are individual differences: I can pick up small objects pretty easily with my feet, and so can my 4-year-old son, but my wife and daughter cannot.

    But another really big issue with the foot control of anything has to do with the fact that your feet are already doing something for you when you are just there reading slashdot. You don't just sit on your butt; your feet contribute a lot to your posture and balance while sitting. If you move your trunk a degree or three to the left or right, you can notice that muscles in your back, legs, and, yes, even feet, will change their level of "stretch". Similarly, if you move your foot, you will definitely notice that you have to compensate for that by using muscles in your other leg, too.

    But, fortunately, all of this is reflexive, so you really can sit down, chew gum and read slashdot at the same time without falling off your chair, unless you feel a sudden need to practice some organ solo...

  • Slashdot is currently performing an interview with the technical director of the National Federation for the Blind [slashdot.org]. They are the folks suing AOL for non-compliance with the ADA. If anybody would know how to use a computer without a mouse, it would be a blind person.

    Maybe some of the discussion there is relevent, and maybe some of the blind people in that discussion would like to contribute to this discussion.
    --
  • I'm not sure what to say. You're half 100% right, and you're half 100% wrong.

    What you're right about is that it's highly Good to have programs that let you get a lot of mileage out of only a simple introduction. Games like perl, vi, and nethack are follow this principle of yours. Yes, trial and error is the only way to learn. You have to play the game to develop any skill to it.

    However, that's not all there is to them, and you'll never get to get the most you can out of these games using the million-monkey approach. You need some orientation, some documentation, some background and theory of operation. And because of this, they're far more powerful.

    What you're wrong about is the expectation that no introduction is necessary. Think about the "just guess" generation. They see a function call like socketpair(Child_Side, Parent_Side, AF_UNIX, SOCK_STREAM, PF_UNSPEC) and they start typing random things trying to guess what happens when you diddle those arguments. It boggles the mind. Likewise when they're setting up networks using route and ifconfig. They just punch random things. It's damned scary. I think it's the post literate society where there's no book learning left.

    The "just guess" generation is so brain-damaged by Microsoft's permanently-dumb-user mindset that they are severely handicapped when it comes to power tools. When a child wants to play with a power tool like an F-15, you need to take him by the hand a bit until he's ready for it. Otherwise, he's a hazard to himself and others.

  • After reading a comment about this posted under your last essay (which was excellent incidently) I decided to try it. It works reasonably well, particularly after I started using a 2 button mouse instead of my usual 3 button one. I solved the granularity of control problems by actually using 2 mice. I have my normal 3 button mouse on my desk, and my old 2 button one on the floor. Since they control the same cursor, if I'm having trouble doing something with my foot I can just grab the mouse on the desk. Particularly for just changing focus the mouse on the floor is very convenient.
    In theory you have as much control with your feet as your hands - we just don't practice with them. Houdini used to tie knots in rope with his hands, then take off his shoes and untie them all with his feet! Actually the biggest problem that I have is that the weight of my leg interferes - it presses the mouse down so that it's difficult to move.
  • Another option is to get a Dvorak keyboard and see if that works better for you. A Dvorak keyboard is supposed to be much more efficient than the standard QWERTY keyboard.
    I changed to the Dvorak layout after the recent threads on slashdot. I went through a couple of days where I felt really dyslexic, but by the end of the week I was doing good. Now I can switch back and forth with hardly a thought, mainly because I still find it more natural to code or html in qwerty.
    Also, I have found that wrist pain is not an issue when I am lifting regularly. I've been too busy for a while, but even a daily set of a hundred pushups seems to do it for me.
  • Nat Lanza pointed out that Adesso make some keyboard with nice pointers, but here's my question:

    Does anyone make a keyboard that has the following two characteristics?

    1) Built-in trackpoint type erasor pointer, and

    2) clicky, mechanical keystrokes?

    If so, I would pay well for it. Up to, say, $100, which is high for a "regular" keyboard (even with a biult-in pointer) and way low for most of the *serious* ergonomic ones (As opposed to simple split arangements).

    I'll even pay a finders fee ($10 fair?) to the first person who can send me information which leads to the arrest and capture of an appropriate 'board.

    timothy


  • Ah. "n" does work. Perhaps I missed it, and just kept using "/[RETURN]", which doesn't repeat the last one. Cool.

    And I must look into this w3m thing.

    thanks,

  • AC wrote:


    Yes, I have an IBM keyboard with a Trackpoint between the G & H keys. Unfortunately it has only two buttons (below the spacebar), but there is a passthrough port on the keyboard itself for a ps2 mouse. It is a traditional mechanical (loud) IBM keyboard that came with an old 486 (long since lost) and works great. IBM sells a newer version of
    this beast but I am not sure it is mechanical (then again, it isn't the "Quietkey" model): IBM PN 92G7461 (look under IBM Options).


    Thanks for the info!

    I remember the semester I spent at Univ of Michigan there were some keyboards in the undergrad library that had such pointer devices whose only fault was being membrane-based rather than mechanical.

    Someone mentioned Adesso as making keyboards with the trackpoint, and that sounds good, but to me adesso is a mixed bag -- many of them are crap (IMHO), and some, like the one I'm clicking on right now, are supreme examples of the species.

    Tim

    p.s. Is your IBM for sale?! :)
  • by Jamie Zawinski (775) <jwz@jwz.org> on Wednesday December 08, 1999 @02:29PM (#1477724) Homepage

    What bugs me is when you have to use the keyboard to do basic window management things like ``send this window to the bottom of the stack.''

    The thing that slows people down is not using the mouse, but switching between the keyboard and the mouse. If I have to hold down control-alt-shift-cokebottle while clicking, that's the worst of both worlds.

    Personally, I like to use the keyboard only for text: entering, editing, and navigating through it. I like to use the mouse (and only the mouse, not some heinous keyboard/mouse combo) to do everything else, like moving things around and drawing pictures.

    (Gimp's menus get more irritating by the day. You just can't use that program effectively without learning keyboard shortcuts, and that's really a shame.)

    Don't believe that ``mouse == wrist damage.'' I messed up my wrists while hardly ever using a mouse, and things have gotten better since I started using the mouse more.

    I've finally collected together various things I've written here on my wrist problems and put them on their own page [jwz.org], in case anyone's interested.

  • I fetched the source for w3m and couldn't even compiled. I even tried on two completely different operating systems: Redhat and OpenBSD. Different build failures, but still no go.

    Well, I'm still looking forward to trying it. Maybe once that build process gets fixed up I'll try again.

  • I'm not quite sure, but I think I'm impressed. :-)
  • Enlightenment [enlightenment.org] lets you assign so many shortcuts to so many things that I can effectively work without a mouse most of the day.
  • Does anyone make a keyboard that has the following two characteristics?

    1) Built-in trackpoint type erasor pointer, and
    2) clicky, mechanical keystrokes?


    A small company that goes by the name of International Business Machines.

    Not seven days ago, I bought an IBM Trackpoint II Keyboard. It includes a built-in eraser pointer between the G, H, and B keys, with two buttons below the space bar (flush with the case). The keyboard itself is that oh-so-sexy IBM clicky feel -- buckling spring.

    IBM Part Number 13H6705. "Manufactured for IBM by Maxi Switch", according to the sticker on the bottom.

    Cost me $35. Reseller info:

    ReEntry - Computers, Peripherals, Electronic Equipment, etc.
    Peadbody, MA, USA 01960
    Phone: (978)532-3337
    Fax: (978)532-3338
    Web: http://www.gis.net/~axxxion [gis.net]
    Email: axxxion@gis.net [mailto]

    I'll even pay a finders fee ($10 fair?) to the first person who can send me information which leads to the arrest and capture of an appropriate 'board.

    No charge. ;-)

Nothing will dispel enthusiasm like a small admission fee. -- Kim Hubbard

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