ErgoDox EZ Users

Gregory Cooper

Software Engineer
Gregory Cooper

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m Greg, a software engineer. I spend my weekdays writing code in a variety of programming languages, along with design documents and other internal communication. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my 18-month-old son, who’s recently been starting to talk and also getting excited by the colorful lights and clicky keys in the ErgoDox EZ Shine I use at home.

In the little time I have left after work and family, I also like to play the piano. When people ask, I usually just say I play “classical” music, but the style I prefer would be more appropriately called “Romantic”. This includes music as old as the 1820s (e.g., Schubert, Chopin, and late Beethoven) through the early 1900s (e.g., Scriabin, Medtner, Sibelius) and a lot in between. I’m always eager to find new music, and over the past several years I’ve stumbled on a trove of great works by relatively obscure composers (Felix Blumenfeld, Sergei Bortkiewicz, Mikolajus Ciurlionis, and Johann Rufinatscha, to name a few), which have been both challenging and fun to work on.

What hardware do you use?

I use two MacBook Pro’s (one for remote work, one for personal stuff), and in the office I have an HP Z440 Linux workstation.

I have three ErgoDox EZ keyboards that I acquired between 2017 and 2019. The first was a white Shine with Gateron Blues that I got for work, followed by a black Shine with Kailh Thick Golds for home. Earlier this year, I started alternating work days between two locations, so I purchased a white Glow with Cherry MX Browns for the second site. After several months, however, I’m back to working from a single location so I’ve taken the third keyboard home, where I’ve set up a second workspace in a quieter part of the house.

Every place I work from is a bit different from the others, and all are somewhat makeshift. In the office, I have a standard motorized adjustable-height desk with an Acer 32” display on risers. At home, my primary workspace is an old wooden desk (a family heirloom). It’s designed for working while seated, but I’ve adapted it for standing by putting a 27” Foxconn display (issued from work) on top of an old audio receiver and setting my keyboard on stacked books.

My second home workspace uses the top of an old dresser with a display elevated on books. In all three workspaces, I have a Logitech Trackman trackball, which I put between the halves of the keyboard.

Greg's keyboard and trackball setup

And what software?

I do most of my work either in Chrome or the Unix shell (Bash). I use an internal web-based IDE for most development, and Google Docs for most other document creation. Occasionally I’ll use Emacs or Intellij for code refactoring or other specialized editing tasks.

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

I started with the default ErgoDox EZ layout (ca. mid 2017) and changed a few things over time for various reasons. I use the standard printed keycaps, with a couple of them moved from where they started.

The layout I’ve adopted is here. To summarize the changes, I moved Escape, Tab, and Caps Lock to the left edge, mostly because habits from typing on standard keyboards were initially hard to break. My muscle memory also wanted backquote/tilde to be high, so I put it to the right of 5 (instead of the lower left). Mirroring that on the right half is the - key, allowing = to go to the upper right corner. I’ve also made it so I can type a “space” with either thumb. The final significant change, which I find spatially intuitive, was having forward- and back-spacing delete face each other on large keys near the middle. Other typists probably make fewer mistakes than I do, however, and may not find this change as useful. :-)

What would be your dream setup?

That’s hard to say. I’m actually pretty happy with my current setup(s).