Keyboard and Typing

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by WillNN, Jun 21, 2017.

  1. WillNN macrumors member


    Feb 26, 2016
    I've just spent a lot of money on a 2017 MacBook Pro, and I'd like to beef a little.
    The website showing its features had a video on the new keyboard. They have to have a certain mass of 'features' that they can boast about....I get that. I like the snappy, click-y new keyboard, but one look: the 'caps lock' key is still there. 20 years after whatever purpose it had has passed. (Sure some people still use it, the same way some people have saddles for horses, but we don't have hitching posts on our cars). People who want all caps, should have to turn the dumb thing on.... we've all heard this discussion...

    But here's my real beef. 1. The keyboard can be changed. But if you change the keyboard, you just have to have a simple series of short lessons where people can use long established Deliberate Practice Methods to learn the changes. If you start out slow, practice, and once you're near perfect, then begin typing at your normal speed (for me about 38 words per minute).
    2. I've been typing for about 50 years, here's what I know: punctuation keys-- very easy to make mistakes. I can spend weeks typing " " for dialogue and still miss this shift-key combination about 15-20% of the time. Maybe that's 'just me,' but more likely it's indicative of a wide spread problem.
    Numbers: always a hassle. I was making math worksheets in Filemaker Pro. I set it up so I can crank these out pretty quickly. Hitting the number keys? always a hassle. I miss 1 and 9/0/- a lot. (9/0/- is at least 50% me.) I also have a small numbers keypad. It's kind of stupid that we Mouse and Trackpad with our right hand, and in extended keyboards the number pad is also on the right. (Lefties--you have an advantage here)
    I have a separate number keypad. I spent a couple months using my 'goofing off time' doing Sudoku using this numbers keypad. The mistakes never went away. I have on my To Do List to speak to my accountant/tax guy about this. I don't remember him doing any magic numbers fingers things in the past. My conclusion: entering numbers is primitive, inaccurate and slower than it should be. (Keep in my we had dial phones for about 60 years. Talk about slow. Make 6 phone calls and you'd have blisters)
    3. The lower left keys z/x/c I make a lot of mistakes here too. Maybe it's me, but these keys are always under my left hand. Is this symmetrical? To some degree. I also mix up ,/.

    Consider this. For more money than I owed for my college education in the late 1970s I've just bought Apples' hot new MacBook Pro. I have sitting in front of my old MacBook Pro a device that does calculations at rates impossible surpassing any computer on the planet 30 years ago. It is a revolutionary device. What I've noticed is that for what I use it for, it's not very different from my 2011 MacBook Pro. It's improved, it's been 6 years--I'm ok with having spent the money. Migration, reliability, portability is just astounding. Personal computing has improved, but with each new model the changes aren't as significant as they once were. In 1992 my first big Photoshop job took a month on my Mac IIci. I read 5 books waiting for things to happen. When I bought it my wife asked that I get a keyboard that 'snapped like the IBM Selectric" we had. So I got one that did that. 25 years later, I have a keyboard that has a very similar 'snap,' (significantly less travel and force needed) and yet--it is exactly the same keyboard layout. I'm making most of same mistakes. Com'on Apple, or someone, make it better. It's long overdue. Rant Over. (If you've read this far, there's something more important that you--and I -- should be doing)
  2. New_Mac_Smell macrumors 68000


    Oct 17, 2016
    I mean we've had the QWERTY keyboard for over 140 years now. It may not be perfect, and you get those weird AZERTY and other layouts. But it's a standard format, and that's what's more important than a series of random custom layouts.

    Numbers on a laptop keyboard have always been an afterthought, any serious data entry requires a separate numberpad. Which you can learn to touch-type with a little practice and they can be extremely fast.

    Lower left ZX keys will be weakest as you're using your ring finger for most words, compared to right right side where you're using your main finger, with others for punctuation. Generally ring/pinky are weakest in terms of muscle control but this should have adapted in 50 years of use. However, very few words in the English language use the letters ZX. Generally speaking, the keyboard design was developed by a whole bunch of smart people and has an extremely long history, I can't speak for other languages but for the English language it's laid out in such a way to maximise accessibility to common letters. Other languages have had to develop odd adaptations, like Chinese. You can't have a keyboard with 100,000 characters on it after all!

    In terms of development, the physical keyboard in its current form is unlikely to change. However dictating software is getting better all the time and so more sophisticated ways of inputting entry is appearing. Also caps lock I believe may be used by programmers, but again it's existence is due to the history. Early on capital letters required a lot of force to enter, so a 'lock' made it easier. Nowadays it's there mostly to fill a void, otherwise we'd have just a giant A key, and you may as well have it than not have it when its removal doesn't add anything.

    You should look at the history of modern computing too. Understanding that computing technology is driven by requirement. At this time we're in a period of refinement, and things are unlikely to change until around 2030. Computing was driven by consumerism originally in the late 70s, which lead companies to turn out all sorts of things to get a foothold. There was little standardisation and you could often only use whatever components were sold for a particular machine, often needing to replace entire boards just to add a device. Once these started filtering into more and more homes, they needed simplifying to be accessible. Once more computers were out there, it created a bigger market which drove competition. The 90s was probably the next biggest step when socketed processors and memory slots became a standard, as well as PCI, IDE etc. This meant for the first time you could buy a computer from Gateway, and a floppy drive from Dell, and they'd work together. Again this drives further competition and refinement into an increasingly standardised field (Note USB-C).

    Today, processors are so powerful, they outstrip the requirements of a large majority of users. Which is why an upgrade today feels much less of an upgrade 10 years ago did. So the focus is no longer on maximising computational power, as we wait for software requirements to fill it. The focus is on efficiency now, which is why we are getting smaller devices with longer battery life, yet still optimally fast. Whilst there will always be a requirement for fast CPUs, again it's consumer driven. And most people are using a mobile phone as their main computer than they are an actual computer, so you're seeing greater development in that field. Computers aren't becoming obsolete or anything, but there is less consumer demand year on year so the financial interest is shifting away.

    As for PCs however, going back to advances in the field. We're waiting for a few things to develop. Firstly battery technology, with the rise of EVs and such, this should trickle down alongside greater efficiency meaning significantly longer battery life, wireless charging (sustained) etc. Bus controller speeds and caching on CPUs is getting better, and there's significant developments in ever faster SSDs which should theoretically eventually replace the requirement of RAM. CPU technology itself is more or less at a standstill, we're approaching the physical limits of transistors at this stage and need a whole new process - this is where things like graphene are showing promise but again a fair few years away. Quantum computing is unlikely for a long time (Consumer), and things like biological/light/holographic computing are mostly pipe dreams.

    I did make it through your post and I do have far more important things to do - like sleep. I think that's answered all your questions even if it was a rant as you put it. There's a lot of interesting things out there but you won't see the bulk of it in a new MBP sadly, only tiny little things that all add up. So enjoy a long reply to a long post! :cool:

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