After staying up till 5am this morning trying to get myself a bit caught up on news and various bits of hackery, my hands were killing me this morning. I normally use a funky ergonomic contour keyboard from Kinesis. It’s a complete lifesaver. I can’t live without it apparently. I tried last night, and have proven that statement to be absolutely true. I need that keyboard in order to work for long stretches without causing problems. I stopped using the keyboard when I made the switch because I didn’t know how to use it with the Mac (Powerbook, running OS X). Odd that one should have issues like “how to use a keyboard”, but unfortunately it is true. Lots of operations on a Mac require use of the apple/funky-squigly-four-leaf-clover-dealie key. Apparently called the “command” key in Mac parlance, but labeled only with pictograms. Lets call it the branding key, cause I think that’s what it really is. And it’s more descriptive than the “command” key, which I would expect to be labeled with something like, oh.. “Cmd”. When I say “branding key” to people who have no idea what I’m talking about, they spot the apple key pretty quick. When I say “command key” they just can the keyboard over and over, eventually asking “You mean the control key?”
The branding key is pretty essential. Switching applications and windows, cut, paste. All necessary stuff for keeping you from reaching for the mouse, which destroys a lot the benefit of the good keyboard. But today it was too painful, I had to use the Kinesis, and I had to figure out how to create a branding key on a (GASP!) standard US keyboard. Russ pointed me to DoubleCommand, which lets you remap keys under OS X. Perfect. All I had to do was install that, set the flag that says “Option key acts as command key”, and I was all set. Now I can hold down Alt on the Kinesis and it has the same effect as the branding key on the built in keyboard. The shooting pains have all but stopped, and I think I should be able to feel my fingertips again by the end of the day. Happy dance!