Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ultimate Hacking Keyboard Now Has a Trackball

Wow, I'd been holding off on pledging for an Ultimate Hacking Keyboard, which I first posted about last month, because if I'm gonna get a backup steno machine to carry in my work bag, I was thinking it should be the Stenosaurus. But now that the UHK is gonna be both a split keyboard and have a trackball, I'm sorely tempted. Honestly, the only thing holding me back is the staggered key layout, which looks like it might be somewhat uncomfortable, compared to the Stenosaurus's evenly aligned rows. Plus the Stenosaurus will have lighter key actuation. On the other hand, the UHK is likely to be more lightweight overall and easier to fit in my bag. Man, this is a tough one. Anyway, I thought y'all should know about it!


Unknown said...

I have to say that the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard looks very nice. I really like the trackball and especially the extra keys for thumbs which with regular keyboards are not used to their full potential as they only press the spacebar.

The only thing is that after I have started to use a steno machine, I find my regular keyboard based steno (Sidewinder) really hard to use. Not only because the pressing of the keys requires more force, but also the fact that keyboards are not really designed so that multiple keys are being pressed simultaneous. I mean, even though a keyboard would be a N-rollover keyboard, it is somehow very difficult to press two keys with one finger like in the stroke TKPWHRAOEUD.

With a lever based steno machine you "feel" that the keys are actually supposed to be pressed simultaneous down.

Achim63 said...

I agree with Ilkka – the keyboard looks nice, but doesn't seem to be of much use for steno.
B.t.w.: here's a little present from Berlin to Finland: "ly" ;-) (I know how it goes - in German we don't have this distinction between adjective and adverb as well - think different!).

Mirabai, I bet you'll get that keyboard anyways, plus the Stenosaur of course. We're all input device fetishists here, aren't we?

Greetings, Achim.

Unknown said...


...I thought to mention Ergodox (I am waiting for my kit, to arrive via,, or They seem to be a nice fit, too? Also, Truly Ergonomic Keyboard (I type on that one right now, it apparently is supported by Plover),

Hope you find one of the above worth mentioning/ commenting on

Best Regards,

Mirabai Knight said...

Oh, yes, I've mentioned both the Ergodox and the Keyboardio on this blog before, but the thing that appeals to me particularly about the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard is its portability. It's much smaller and more lightweight than either of those two.

Unknown said... you, thanks! Well I'm hoping that Ergodox, when folded both halves together, will be portable enough to transport nicely (I must figure out how to make a foam mold, that will go between two halves, keys facing inwards) - because I won't have two 'doxes, and want to use it both at home and at work. But you probably meant small footprint when in use...

Thanks for all your efforts that you put into steno - I've only heard about it, but for obvious reasons, it was only something exotic - now I can dip my fingers in it without spending a fortune :)

Anonymous said...


The whole idea seems very interesting and promising.

I was wondering if you guys have considered the possibility of using touch-tablets or tablet-like peripherals (such as wacom tablets, which are like "big trackpads on which you can write" rather than came to be known as tablets) as alternatives to those gaming keyboards or specialized hardware.

I'm not sure, but I think that some of them may have the sort of "resolution"/sensitivity to capture this sort of "gesture"/touch in a virtual keyboard, that could then communicate with a different computer through bluetooth (I don't think it's something usually done, but some linux developers have toyed with using tablets mimicking wacom cintiqs on a computer), or maybe be just a "standalone" thing, if the tablet screen is big enough to have the virtual steno-keyboard and whatever other software with which it's interacting.

I think it's an interesting idea overall, as it would perhaps make experimenting with it even more easy/likely, as probably there's a bigger market for tablets than for gaming keyboards. But it raises a whole lot of different issues to solve on the software level as well, some may be considerably complicated, like, getting what would be sort of a "mouse" input to be piped into something that transforms it into a "keyboard" input in effect, which raises issues with the focus of windows and such things. Probably nothing terribly insurmountable, but problems nevertheless.

An easier thing before that perhaps would be to develop something that kind of "emulates" the hardware that accepts multiple keypresses at once by "figuring out" what is the intended combination from what is really a somewhat messy sequence of smaller combinations, or even a pure sequence. But that in turn would not only require a somewhat different technique of "typing", but also may not even be feasible in the logical aspects, I can't really tell.

Mirabai Knight said...

Without consistent haptic feedback, using a touchscreen for steno is all but impossible. Your fingers slip around all over the place, and the accuracy is abysmal.

More information in my iStenoPad review.

Deikensentsu said...

It would be really interesting to get your thoughts on the Atreus keyboard. I think it probably needs an extra thumb key on each side to be a bit more steno like, but it might have enough keys overall to do steno as well as regular typing via layers.

Mirabai Knight said...

The Atreus looks like it could work for steno theories that only used the left asterisk, but for Plover theory, which uses the right asterisk, it wouldn't quite work.

Unknown said...

So close though! I could see adding two keys in the center for asterisk and having a very nice steno keyboard.

Unknown said...

It'd be great if their keyboard supports plover naturally without any software installation or whatsoever. Or is your awesome work already being integrated into theirs?

Mirabai Knight said...

You'll still have to run Plover on your computer; the UHK just supports NKRO, which means it's compatible with Plover.