ErgoDox EZ Users

Adam Zawisza

Financial Supervisor

Who are you, and what do you do? What do you like to do outside of work?

My name is Adam, and I work for a local government in Michigan as an accountant. What that actually means is I do a lot of things in addition to working with numbers, such as basic programming in VBA and m code as well as understanding, configuring, and testing issues with our ERP system, among other things.

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time outside of work with my wife and dog. I also enjoy biking and learning about industrial history and how things work. I very rarely watch “TV” and spend much of my watching hours on YouTube, on educational and technology channels. Pretty strange and boring, I know.

Adam Zawisza's setup
Big screens for spreadsheets and videos

What hardware do you use?

I have a Dell Latitude laptop for work and an older Thinkpad W540 that runs Linux for personal use. I’m working from home, as most of us are, because of the human malware, so they both currently connect to a 42” 4k TV that was a cheap Prime Day deal and two 1080p monitors (25” and 27”) stacked vertically on a stand. I also have a low-end Microsoft Surface Pro 4 for personal use.

Keyboard: Before working from home, I had an ErgoDox EZ at home and another at work. The first one, which I bought two years ago and kept at home, was your basic black with the standard black keys and Cherry Brown Switches. My work model was also black, but was of the backlit Glow variety with Kailh Gold switches. A few weeks ago I went to work and picked this one up, as I like the stronger activation force. To top things off, I use a second keyboard through a Hasu USB keyboard adapter as a second QMK device with a cheap keyboard from Amazon. It presses F24 on every key to enable me to have an almost unlimited number of hotkey actions via AutoHotkey (more on that later). If I need more, I just add another HASU and another keyboard.

Both my ErgoDox have the tent kits, though I can never quite get them perfectly level so the keyboard doesn’t rock. I found a desk mat to be helpful in solving this issue, plus it gives a cleaner look.

My mouse use consists of a right-handed Logitech Trackball as well as another left-handed trackball mouse. Why do I need two? It mostly dates back to a time at the end of 2019 when I had an injury on one hand and had surgery on the other one and I needed to keep switching hands. For whatever reason, I have kept this around and keep using two mice, though I prefer the Logitech for its smoother mouse movement.

Adam Zawisza's keyboard
Two halves of a keyboard, two mice

My desk at home is a used desk I got from a local office supply company. It was cheap, but much better quality than what you could find at the big box store for twice the price. If this work-at-home keeps going on for the rest of the year, I will probably look into getting an L-shaped standing desk.

And what software?

Our ERP is web based, so I use Google Chrome quite a bit. As an accountant, I use Microsoft Excel a lot, plus the included PowerQuery and VBA macros within Excel. I am slowly learning SQL Server Management Studio as I teach myself SQL to do queries for work. I am also starting to look at Power BI.

One of the primary things I have been able to do for work is combine VBA, PowerQuery, and SQL to automate parts of repetitive tasks and load data in and out of the ERP. I am sure seasoned programmers and IT professionals would be appalled, but it has worked so far for me and my needs.

Another amazing piece of software I use is AutoHotkey (AHK), using my ErgoDox EZ and my second keyboard to trigger functions in AutoHotkey. The great thing about AutoHotkey is you can have the same key do different things depending on what window or web page is active. One key on my keyboard will send CTRL+1 in Excel (Cell Properties), ALT+S if the ERP web page is open (ERP hotkey for save), and a custom mouse script in another program. It has also allowed me to pin windows with a key press to the different quadrants of my 4k to make it like having four displays in one.

Since the great staff at ErgoDox EZ added macros to the configurator, I have been able to solve a longstanding problem of CTRL getting stuck down somewhere between the keyboard and AHK-land because the key was used in both the trigger and the action. No more! F13 plus up to three more letters are sent by certain keys that AHK reads, and that triggers action based on the program. The sky’s the limit here. I have only really spent time on this in the last few weeks. There is a lot more that I can do here, given time.

Of course I use a lot of basic things like a VPN for personal use, a VPN to connect to the ERP servers, a VPN to connect to the work network, and a password manager.

What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?

My physical keyboard setup is pretty standard. At this point, all my keycaps are straight from the factory. Someday I would like some yellow/gold keys to match my alma mater, Michigan Tech, and perhaps some labels on the thumb keys someday.

As far as layouts, mine is still a work in progress (probably always will be).

Autoshift is something I found that I really love, and I wish it was an option on every keyboard. I get confused when I type on any other keyboard and my letters don’t capitalize.

My primary typing layer (Layer 0) has the standard QWERTY layout. Someday maybe I will learn an alternate keyboard layout, but it works for me for now. I am already a pretty bad typist. The keys to go to my other layers are on the far left where Caps, Tab, and `~ would be. My shift keys are in the standard location and are the Space Cadet ones with the alternate () when not pressed and held. I wish all keyboards did this, too. CTRL, Delete, ALT, and left and right arrows complete the bottom left. Up down, nothing (don’t know why I don’t assign something to this key), |, and CTRL complete the bottom. In the middle I have [{ (left) }] (right), CTRL Page Up (left) and Down (right). Enter is on both left and right. The thumb sections have space on the outside big keys (left and right); tab (left) and backspace (right) are the inner big keys. The little keys are a mix of Page Up and Down, CTRL and ALT again, Esc, Application, Win, Home and End. Some of these are on dual function keys.

Layer 1 has my numbers (num pad) on the right-hand half that I use for all my accounting-related number stuff, that also includes $%&[{}] keys that I use a lot. The left-hand half has the common function keys that I use along the top. F2 (edit current cell in Excel), F4 (absolute versus relative references in excel), F5 (refresh in most apps, plus run in VBA Editor), F7 (spell check), F9 (calculate in Excel), and F11, which combined with ALT brings up the VBA editor in the Microsoft Office Products. It also has my arrow keys in the traditional configurations. However, in my latest update, I made this a momentary toggle, and this makes arrow keys kind of useless, as I have to hold down the layer toggle key with my pinkie in order to use them. I will probably remove these and possibly add additional macros/hotkey on the left-hand half, as it is mostly unused.

Layer 3 is the hotkey layer. This is the hardest to describe, as it is a bit of a hodgepodge of things. Some keys send CTRL and Shift plus a letter that are bound to Excel macros. Some keys trigger functions in AutoHotkey that might trigger an Excel macro. And some, as I described earlier, will do different things depending on the application that I am in.

Layer 4 doesn’t have a whole lot on it, mostly it has WIN+Arrow Key and the LED controls for the Glow.

Layer 5: I have not really set up much yet.

I have my second keyboard, which is a regular keyboard, going through my Hasu QMK device. This is also still a work in progress, but contains less frequently used AHK macros.

What would be your dream setup?

I will just be general here, most of it is a dream. Someday I might be interested in consulting from home, and I might be able to justify something like this.

A dream would be a 55- to 65-inch 8k curved display (I like to dream), hooked to an AMD Threadripper Machine (24- or 32-core) with a dedicated GPU(s) to drive that 8k display. 64 to 128GB of RAM, good amount of SSD storage. Add to that a good wired home network with a good storage server.

The screen is the biggest thing for me. I like lots of screen space, but I have begun to realize when your setup is too wide or tall, it is harder on your neck. Or maybe I am getting old. Hence, I only listed one display.

Both in the office and at home, I would prefer a large sturdy standing desk in an L or U shape, cost being no object.