Tech update: Alphabetical keyboards and Bluetooth alternatives to mobile screen(“virtual”) keyboards
With all of this writing I do; I have never been able to touch type. Making it harder, is the completely “randomly” arranged QWERTY keyboard. That was actually put together to keep frequently used letters apart, so the key rods would not get tangled from typing them fast. Even with new technology; first all the letters on a rotating ball, then a print wheel, then dot matrix printers, finally computer screens and printers, —all replacing the old rods; they kept the same layout, because of familiarity.
But since I could not seem to get used to the layout anyway; I long wanted to try an alphabetical (“ABC…”) keyboard, figuring then maybe I could memorize where letters are, and have a better chance at touch typing.
First there were hardware keyboards for the desktop. I had been looking at the UK-based ABCKeyboard, but then it was pulled from sale in the US, and eventually folded. Yet then, a similar one appears on Amazon for only $34, and wireless, even; and I get it. E-Z Keyboard. (Typing this with it now!)
Before that, I had gotten the ABC Soft Keyboard for my G1 phone. By the time I had upgraded to the Samsung Galaxy S2 (forgoing a built-in keyboard to gain the AMOLED screen, at last!), ABCSoft had gone under, but a new app was the Dextr Kepad: http://textwithdextr.com/ (They hadn’t updated the site from when it wasnt out yet).
Switching to the new arrangements is not as easy as I thought! I didn’t realize how used to QWERTY I really was! I figured I was never able to master QWERTY, so I would have like a blank slate for alphabetical, and be able to develop a more logical system for remembering where keys are. But I see I really do remember QWERTY (this is called “muscle memory”), and look for the keys in that order, and get “lost” at times; especially for letters now off to the sides, or if I’m already on the sides, I’ll fumble finding one in the middle. (Guess I did become quicker on QWERTY, though I still was not confident enough in it to be touch-typing).
The Dextr I find is a bit easier, perhaps because of it being typed differently, with the device being held and pressed with thumbs, instead of pressed from above; plus the more square layout, and with the vowels in a straight column, and not looking like the standard QWERTY layout; (though it’s easy to miss the small keys, especially the ones further away, and the app sometimes crashes).
So for the E-Z Keyboard, I’ll have to come up with some sort of system like remembering what’s left and right. (This would have been good like when I first got a computer, and was not yet so used to QWERTY).
What’s good is that with modern wireless, I can have both ABC and QWERTY keyboards in at the same time, and switch back and forth if I need to type faster, or I want to practice (like now).
In other news, in order to offset the great inconvenience of not having a built-in mobile keyboard, I found very cheap Bluetooth keyboards on Amazon; which were made primarily for iPod, but now include Android as well. The first I tried was the Mini-Suit keyboard, for only $12! It was about the size of the phone, and made it a little bit easier. But keeping both it and the phone in an old pocket calendar wallet (so it would be somewhat like a flip keyboard phone), and taking the phone out when using it by itself, I put it down and forgot it, and it was taken.
So then I figured I’d find a bigger, flexible one (like the wired USB one I use on the Wii), and got the Menotek Flexible Bluetooth Waterproof Mini Keyboard.
To distinguish the different ABC layouts, we could use a number-of-keys-per-row format:
ezkeyboard and ABCkeyboard (defunct): 10-9-7 (A-J; K-S; T-Z) QWERTY layout with keys remapped alphabetically (some Big Keys products also).
Big Keys: 10-10-6 (A-J; K-T; U-Z)
ABC Soft Keyboard (defunct) mobile screen version of 10-9-7 layout
Dextr keypad: 4-4-6-6-6 (A-D; E-H; Z,I-M; N-S; T-Y; vowels in straight column)
My suggestion: (A-D; E-H, I-N, O-T, U-Z; vowels in jogged column, first in each line, or the first two rows can move to the left so that the vowels would be both first in each row and back in a straight line)
The REACH Special Keyboards™ http://www.ahf-net.com/specialk.htm is a virtual one that is simply 26 narrow keys in a single row, followed by:
Ctrl, Alt Shift, Spacebar, Shift, Enter
then, 0-9, right and left arrows, Back, Del
and then flat Escape, Caps Lock, Tab, Left, Right, Up and Down
I also like the UPS man’s little keypad (Delivery Information Acquisition Device: see http://www.pressroom.ups.com/mediakits/factsheet/0,2305,1036,00.html; which also is alphabetical, laid out in a perfect square; like the little numeric keypad on calculators/adding machines, and the side of most keyboards:
UPS DIAD IV 7-7-7-5 (A-G; H-N; O-U; V-Z, numbers overlaid on central keys)
New DIAD V 6-6-6-6-2 (A-F; G-L; M-R; S-X; Y, Z, numbers above)
DIAD III 4-4-4-7-7 (A-D; E-H; I-L; M-S; T-Z; wraps around numbers, upper right)
DIAD II 4-4-4-4-4-4-2 (A-D; E-H; I-L; M-P; Q-T; U-X; Y, Z numbers on right)
DIAD I 4-5-5-5-5-2 (blank key-A-D; E-I; J-N; O-S; T-X; Y,Z,BSp,Sp numbers on right)
The other big tech acquisition was the Betabrite Prism RLB (red-lime/yellowgreen-blue 26 color) sign: