ErgoDox EZ Users

Bill Tucker

Software Developer
Bill Tucker

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m a software developer at a small software company (~10 people) in Fort Collins, CO. We make websites for real estate agents. And the public. I ride bicycles, run a Python meetup, but I used to teach improv theatre at the local Art Lab for six years. As a parent now, it’s improv all the time.

What hardware do you use?

I have an old ThinkPad T420, and a recent System76 Galago so I can join the HDMI revolution. At work I have a custom-built Linux box, and three monitors. All the boxes run some flavor of Ubuntu (well, pop_os! with System76… It’s pretty!)

I guess this is hardware, too: I also have a standing desk and use the Topo mat from ErgoDriven.

And what software?

I use IntelliJ, but often I’m in Vim. I take notes for my future self using vimwiki. It’s been great. I’ll occasionally use Tiddlywiki.

I hear orgmode is amazing from some people, but I’m trying to limit my futzing with preferences files. The struggle is real, I tell you! Why, yes, I use xmonad, too… how did you know?

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

Setup

I have an ErgoDox EZ (batch 1b, Gateron Browns). It has a 1970’s color scheme. At home, I have an Infinity ErgoDox (Purple Zealios, 65g) that I bought with a Massdrop deal. The keys, if you can look close, are elvish (Tolkien). It’s not much of a problem, since I run a standard Dvorak setup: no one except Nathan from Hacking Society can type on my keyboards.

I came to keyboards from the world of pain. My wrists hurt, so I switched to Dvorak. That really helped.. maybe because I had to slow down and learn to type again.

I heard great things from a Python language guy about the Kinesis keyboards. I thought they would also help my wrists. They did. Super comfortable, and they had Dvorak built in, so it helped working with Windows 7. I also really like the idea of the pedal system they have, though I don’t own one… or have tried one.

The Escape key on that Kinesis is rubbery — not like the other keys. So, clearly, no Vim users on their team. This is what led me to the ErgoDox, because it has a similar hand layout.

I was scared of soldering stuff together, how long does it take? So I got an ErgoDox EZ. Funny story, I wasn’t the first one to use it. I loaned it to a friend and he used it for a week while I was gone on vacation. By the time I got back, he’d ordered one himself. I think he has two or three at this point. He can stop at any time, I’m sure.

I really wanted different keys, though, so when I saw a Massdrop.com deal, I ordered the Infinity. It … took… fooooorrreeverr… to arrive. But, I could get it with these Purple Zealio switches. I had the family abandon me for a week or two, which is the only way I’m able to summon up hardware courage. I took one saturday afternoon, I went over to a friend’s house and soldered it together. It really wasn’t four hours, like I feared.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup? Like, can I really dream? This is text, so probably only in editing…

My dream would be something like Alan Kay used to talk about ”… an exquisite blend between beauty and practicality…” I’d have sensors on my joints and I could move around to direct my computer. Programmers would be the fittest people on the planet having, to move around to program in this spacial dimension. It’d be like dancing… and not like repeated boring marching because this is my dream, and I don’t want it to be a nightmare. I could feel the topology of the code or the structure of text through a haptic feedback system. Ugly writing would feel ugly. Interesting writing (structure-wise) would feel interesting. It would not get in my way. It would help me be more human, not less. My wrists wouldn’t hurt.