Welcome to the world of RICK, TRICK & SICK
Keywords:ergonomic computer keyboard layout, rapid information conversion keyboard, remapper, data processing, word processing, touch-typing, programming, languages, office machines, calculator, typewriter, laptop, notebook, Qwerty, Dvorak, Maltron, handicapped, dev-labs, D-System, Go Keys, Datahand, Fingerworks Touchstream
Summary of abridged RICK version
Go direct to updated TRICK system
CONTENTS:What’s all this, then? - in search of coherence
What’s wrong with SICK? - evolution of the standard computer keyboard
Alternatives - Dvorak, Maltron, Shelton and others
What's needed? - speed, accessibility, compatibility, flexibility, portability
RICK overviewObjectives and research - the RICK Graduation principle
System description and operation
1. Basic character sets - Default, Complementary - simple beginnings, Thrift keys
2. Combination character sets - Numeric, Caps, Numeric/caps - home positions, split position
3. Multifunctional sets - Text control, Dual numeric
4. Specialised set families - Single-handed sets, Right-handed, Left-handed
1. Input modes - Flick, Swipe (chord), Quasi-Trick, Locator - priority order, "simultaneous"
2. Principal output modes - Normal, Phone, Web (internet), Run - expectations, "Smoothly" (example),
CONTROL KEYS - Inversion, tap, hold, reversion - table of control functions
COSMETICS - Keyface labelling, LCD labelling, operating tips
INSTALLATION - requirements, installing an abridged version of RICK, possible snags with hardware
TRICK Summary Overview
What's all this, then?First take a good, hard look at the keyboard in front of you. (Ever noticed it before?!) If you think it looks crazy, this item may be for you.
But if you think it looks fine, well... some of us were born with tangled synapses, and others never to question the authority that told us to work with these antiquated tools. You are excused! Close down this page, grab your old bike and pedal away: you'll never rue the day you missed out on a Mercedes, will you? - Good luck and Goodbye!
If you're a middle-aged professional word processing expert, happy or not, you may feel you're stuck with what you've got, anyway. True, if you want to change to another keyboard arrangement you'll have to learn to touch-type all over again. It may not be worth it. You are also pardoned - Happy typing and have a nice day!
If you're just plain sceptical - join the party! Nobody could be more sceptical than the author of this webpage. But nobody could be more enthusiastic about changing people's bad habits either - not just typing habits, all kinds of bad habits, from fishing to genuflecting to bombing the hell out of people that present dimly perceived threats. I guess almost all of us yearn for a more coherent world. In RICK I've tried to create a little world that's as coherent as I can make it - a world that will serve the larger world outside itself, and perhaps help in some small way to make that world more coherent too. So give us a go, you folks, and make a start with something concrete, but crumbling, like ye olde typewriter keyboard. It might never change but, save our shabby souls, is nothing else going to change on this crazy planet either?
* the case for replacing your existing keyboard layout with an entirely different layout
* a full description of the alternative layout
* how to install an abridged version of the alternative layout
# Installing the alternative layout need not interfere with the operation of your current layout
The advocated keyboard layout is called RICK (Rapid Information Conversion Keyboard).
If you're sitting at a desktop PC, the keyboard you're using (an extended version of "Qwerty") is almost certainly very SICK (Slow Injurious Cumbersome Keyboard).
Also briefly described in this document is TRICK (Thrifty Rapid Information Conversion Keyboard) - a compact, ergonomically optimised version of RICK that may be of interest to the bold and the perfectionist. TRICK needs new hardware (as yet unavailable) plus dedication, and does not offer an immediate, universal solution like RICK.
What's wrong with SICK?(Or: a potted history of the evolution of the standard computer keyboard)
Doubtless you've heard the sad tale of Qwerty. When the mechanical typewriter was invented (in the 1860's by Christopher Sholes and others), it was found difficult to use because the levers kept jamming, due to the typist trying to type too fast. To remedy this defect, the keys were re-arranged so that common letters that frequently occur in succession were allocated to widely spaced keys (like -ing, for example) or to keys that use the same finger (like -ed), making it harder for the typist to type quickly. The resultant Qwerty arrangement (again due to Sholes, 1873), has been an embarrassment to society ever since.
With the growing use of computers using VDUs, cursor functions became a necessity. At first some of these were assigned, somewhat unhappily, to the numeric keypad, perhaps partly to further justify its existence, but it was soon found more convenient to include a new zone allocated specifically to cursor keys.
With the advent of icons and windows-style programs, the mouse became an essential accessory. This gadget enabled complicated cursor movements to be performed more easily, displacing some of the functionality of the cursor pad. Still, the latter remains a standard feature of the modern keyboard. Even though the average user needs to employ cursor movements constantly, whether using mouse or cursor keys these operations entail the inconvenience of moving your hand away from the main keypad zone.
In addition, most of the software developed for computers needed extra "function" keys, which at first generally occupied a zone on the left of the keyboard, but soon came to form a line along the top.
So the keyboard has expanded from the original typewriter console containing about 50 keys (including the control keys) to the present standard PC keyboard containing about 105 keys, most of which are badly located. Besides taking up unnecessary room on your desk and adding to the cost of your hardware, this mass of keys is too spread out to manage efficiently.
The next major development in popular computers suddenly brought this mayhem under the spotlight. This was the portable laptop, which put the focus back onto miniaturisation and reduction of the number of keys. Designers had to face the problem of how to incorporate most of the functions of the standard keyboard into a compact area containing about three quarters as many keys, while maintaining familiarity and user friendliness. Compromises were made, the numeric keypad was eliminated and there was an initial lack of standardisation. Now most laptops (or "notebooks") look much the same: you could say they are the degenerate offspring of their ungainly parents!
Meanwhile the repercussions of SICK in the workplace were being felt. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) became the disease of a decade and a half of secretaries, managed chiefly by long periods off work (for sufferers) or short breaks throughout the day (as a preventive measure). This slowed down the output of keyboard operators still more.
Ergonomics became a buzzword. Typists' chairs took on new dimensions and keyboards adopted curvaceous profiles, designed to put your arms at correct angles and reduce stress on fingers. But SICK persisted through it all.
It's true that other factors have subsequently combined to more than offset the reduction in output attributable to time lost through stress management. The first and most important of these was the substitution of paper by electronic, viewable, editable files as the primary medium. For many tasks, increasingly sophisticated programs and faster computing speeds enabled keyboard operators to achieve results in a fraction of the time it would have taken a few years previously. This technological explosion was necessarily accompanied by a corresponding upsurge in operator expertise, not only in software operation but in managing the much greater complexity of material that these programs were capable of facilitating. The psychological ground, at least, has shifted to draw attention away from the woes of typing on inefficient keyboards.
AlternativesFirst it should be said that anyone can design and install alternative keyboard layouts, just by downloading keyboard re-mapping software from the internet. There is also software for installing specific layouts. There is even a program that will design a keyboard especially for you, just by inspecting your typing habits. So, on the face of it, you can easily come up with the best possible keyboard for your particular needs. It has often been suggested that this capability solves the problem of keyboard layout.
There are several drawbacks to this idea. Firstly, the lack of standardisation would mean that you wouldn't be able to use any keyboard except your own and no-one else would be able to use yours. Secondly, although you may think you have particular needs (like programming or data entry or writing html scripts), the chances are that in practice your needs are going to vary from day to day, so it's difficult to pin-point what those needs really are. Thirdly, even if you do believe you have special needs, it will be no easy task for you to design a keyboard that actually fulfills them in the best posible way. Fourthly, if you rely on a clever program to study your typing habits and configure your keyboard on that basis, the chances are that it will come up with a solution that merely perpetuates your bad typing habits and doesn't suit your psychology at all. Fifthly, any commercial software you use is most unlikely to treat your keyboard layout with much sympathy, leading to endless frustration.
You might say "Why worry? In a couple of years' time keyboards will be obsolete - you'll be able to tell your computer what to type". I'd suggest this belief is entirely misguided, reflecting an unduly blinkered view of what keyboards can do, not to mention the psychology of the people that use them. (Imagine trying to write a C++ program by issuing vocal instructions!)
No, the only answer is a standardised keyboard - one that will satisfy all important needs to the fullest extent, and which in the long run will achieve recognition by software manufacturers.
Several tested alternative keyboard arrangements are, or have been, available. Although these were designed after a good deal of research, none of those I'm aware of is oriented towards present market requirements.
The earliest and best known of these alternatives is the Dvorak (or American Simplified Keyboard), developed in the 1930's for electric typewriters, which had been in regular use since the mid 1920's. While Dvorak undoubtedly represented a distinct improvement on Sholes' Qwerty, it was invented long before the advent of the PC, when virtually the only users were trained typists and the only tasks were typing text and numeric data. For the modern user, however, it retains many of the disadvantages of SICK. Nevertheless Dvorak has achieved a considerable following in the USA, and in the 1970's it was trialed in Australia by a couple of government departments and also in New Guinea.
To convert to Dvorak you don't even have to go on the net; if you're running Windows the installation program is probably on your hard-drive. Just go to My computer > Control panel > Keyboard > Language > Properties > United States-Dvorak.
Other patented layouts similar to Dvorak include US Patent no. 3847263 and UK Patent no. 2041295. The latter specifies different key arrangements for different languages.
Another well-tried layout, involving a re-shaped keyboard, is the British-designed Maltron, developed in 1977 by Malt and Hobday. Again, this was invented for straight typing and it certainly has a unique, though psychologically unfriendly, arrangement of keys. Compared to Qwerty and Dvorak, a much higher proportion of the work load is born by the thumbs. I doubt that all of the principles incorporated in the Maltron design remain valid and it possesses few features that would appeal to most present-day users.
One of the better designs to appear in the last 30 years was filed for patenting by Einbinder in 1973. This layout, with its curved shape and groups of thumb-keys, looked like a fore-runner of Maltron, but took into account that one day people might want to press down groups of keys, rather than always tapping them one at a time. As far as I know the keyboard was never marketed.
Perhaps the most original design of all - and one which apparently got considerable use - was the syllabic keyboard invented by Shelton (filed for patenting in the US in 1971). This was specifically designed for legal use, as a replacement for shorthand, and enabled syllables and many common words to be produced in one hit. Its principal feature was a row of vowel keys to be actuated by the thumbs.
There are also other stenotype keyboards, a common form having a limited number of consonants arranged in two identical, mirror-image groups under the left and right hands. However, the output of such keyboards is quite restricted and requires considerable interpretation.
Taking a completely different direction, one of the more curious "keypad" designs to reach the market place (in 1982) is the diminutive Microwriter (Australian Patent no. B-44446/79), which is operated by one hand and has only five keys. This allows 24 combinations of simultaneous key-strokes, and additional characters are obtained by pressing and releasing a key while holding down another. This could be useful in a roving situation where your other hand is occupied with other tasks, but it looks a bit tricky to learn and of course output is limited and comparatively slow. A more recent, very different style of microwriter, the CyKey Plus ®, has nine keys and is thus more versatile. Other recent developments include keyboards such as the Datahand ® (Datahand Systems Inc), which has "keys" (five for each hand) that are operated by side-to-side and backwards and forwards movements of the fingers; and the Fingerworks Touchstream ®, which relies on multiple touch operations and finger movements or "gestures" to create a wide variety of functions that would otherwise require a mouse and a number of control keys (see remarks below for limitations of touch-screen style keyboards). Clearly all devices that have a greatly reduced number of keys are ergonomically inefficient, as they require a larger number of finger movements (often quite difficult movements) to produce a word. The Touchstream system is an exciting innovation - headed in the right direction, I suspect - but in its present form it lacks a positive feel, leading to a high percentage of "typos", and the various finger "gestures" required are reportedly hard to learn and confusing. However, touch-screen technology is ever on the improve, as demonstrated especially by the Apple iPhone®, so surely a solution for all keyboards is on its way.
What's needed?Many of the earlier attempts to dump Qwerty were directed primarily at increasing typing speeds when typing ordinary documents in the English language. With the advent of modern technology, however, many of the tactics adopted by these pioneers have become redundant. If speedy document typing were the only consideration, one would choose a key arrangement involving an optimum number of keys (probably about 35-40 including control keys), in which multiple simultaneous key strokes are not only possible, but often obligatory. Thus common combinations of characters (and, with the help of control keys, as many common words as you could cope with) could be produced in one hit. Rare characters, on the other hand, would only be obtainable by pressing two or more keys at once.
Another consideration in attaining high typing speeds is the sensitivity of the keys themselves. In theory, the lighter the pressure you need to apply, the faster you will be able to type. This apparently implies a "keyboard" with a touch-sensitive surface. In practice, however, extreme sensitivity leads to operator error and uncertainty: the operator needs a keypad with a positive feel about it, giving a response that provides feedback to which the body can relate.
A keyboard exemplifying these strategies is TRICK, briefly described at the end of this article. TRICK claims not only to provide a means of attaining consistently high typing speeds in English and related languages, but to minimise stress and facilitate most current and foreseeable types of keyboard activity. It accomplishes this through its compact, ergonomic design and by expanding on the operational features offered by RICK .
Speed and ergonomics, however, are by no means the only attributes required in computer keyboards. About half of the inhabitants of developed countries are now keyboard users, and the number is still growing. If phones, calculators, ATMs and microwaves are included, almost everyone is already a keyboard user, but few are "experts". Not everyone has the time or inclination to learn to touch-type or familiarise themselves with occult systems. Accessibility and user friendliness are therefore paramount. Compatibility with existing keyboard hardware is essential, both to maintain familiarity and to simplify the transition from old to new by users and manufacturers.
Although typing (in English and other languages) remains the keyboard's principal trade, other common applications include data processing, accountancy and calculating, programming in various languages, internet browsing, website construction, games, use as a phone/fax and use as a control board for a wide variety of industrial systems. These are functions that could scarcely have been envisaged fifty years ago. "Typists" alone form a remarkably diverse group, ranging from technical writers, journalists and novelists to form fillers, data processors etc., and many professional typists find themselves embroiled in an ever-increasing range of keyboard-based activities. A standardised keyboard design would need to be versatile enough to support all these applications.
Another important consideration is portability and compactness. The increasing use of laptop computers and the integration of textual and audio outputs for telephonic transmission in a mobile environment call for a reduction in size of the keypad without loss of any of the capabilities found in the desktop PC. Some way must be found to reduce the number of keys and improve the overall ergonomic profile while at the same time retaining the relatively compact physical layout of the central area of the standard typewriter keyboard.
Objectives and researchThe RICK system has been developed over a period of years after much research into a broad range of issues affecting keyboard design. In this respect it differs from other competitors, such as Dvorak and Maltron, which have concentrated only on ergonomic aspects. Even so, RICK's key arrangement is claimed to be ergonomically superior to others, as it takes into account not only all major current information processing requirements but the fact that most keyboard users are untrained as such. On the other hand, it is anticipated the design will encourage non-professionals to learn to touch-type (for what person of sound mind would want to learn to touch-type on SICK?), and maybe to learn the fast Swipe-typing technique that RICK supports. It also facilitates the progression to TRICK , for those users wanting to take that path. The RICK format combines ergonomics with orderliness, user-friendliness, versatility, compactness, cosmoplitanism and marketing appeal. It also seeks to meet the needs of people able to type with only one hand. Because it employs the same basic physical layout as the main section of the standard keyboard, the conversion from SICK is straightforward.
Perhaps the most important objective of RICK is to cater equally for the needs of the novice, the expert and everybody in between. While providing the resources for professional operators to achieve competence in keyboard applications of all kinds, it is also readily accessible to the casual user. This adaptability to widely different levels of expertise is the essence of the RICK Graduation principle ("Simple beginnings, smooth journey, boundless opportunity"). The keyboard itself, however, is only a vessel for this philosophy. Clearly, for the concept to be entirely successful, the primary software run by the computer controlled by the keyboard must also uphold this principle. The main vehicle supplied by RICK for implementing the principle in terms of software is the Modes scheme. An example of what is intended is given below in Expectations, in the section on Run mode. The idea is that the user should experience a smooth progression from "simple beginnings" through stages of increasing complexity (if that is the way he or she wants to go). At each stage the system should operate efficiently and almost effortlessly.
In establishing the position of characters (other than numerals), UK and American English and some common "computer" languages (such as C++, Java and html) were used as the main research basis, while west European languages such as German and the most widely spoken Romance languages were also given consideration. Priority was accorded to the traditional, high-workload word-processing tasks of typing reports, articles, books etc, and numeric data processing. The main technical criteria invoked were relative frequencies of letters, other symbols and functions, workload distribution and type of work relative to strength and flexibility of the fingers, relative frequencies and ease of typing common sequences of letters, ability to type common groups of letters simultaneously (see Swipe mode below) and psycho-physiological dispositions such as the propensity to read from left to right and to "strum" the fingers from the small finger towards the forefinger. This information was assesed and applied within physical boundaries determined mainly by the configuration of existing keyboards and also by the need to incorporate an efficient numeric array into the overall design. Although major changes to the layout should be unnecessary when changing between common languages, in some languages the positions of the h, j, q, m, z and/or k keys could be juggled around. In many cases, however, a better solution will be to use the Thrift keys feature. For some languages it may also be necessary to install an accents feature, as the system does not include a standard method of producing accents (but see Installation).
RICK has not been trialed in any shape or form and remains open to improvement.
By using a keyboard remapper (software that can be downloaded from the internet), the RICK system can be installed on almost any currently available keyboard. However, on most, if not all, existing keyboards it will not operate entirely as intended, nor achieve its potential as a device for producing "syllables" (or several characters simultaneously). Modifications in the hard-wiring of the keyboard will be required to enable full functioning. The system described below is the idealised form of RICK.
System description and operation
A set is a collection of characters and functions that can be accessed by pressing the keys on the keyboard without changing the state of the keyboard by using one of the control keys, such as (in the Qwerty system) Shift or Caps Lock. In any given set, each key produces just one character or function, more or less. A set might conceivably comprise any combination of small letters, capital letters, numerals, punctuation signs, accents, symbols or text control functions such as backspace, cursor movements and screen scrolling.
For example, the default set on Qwerty is the collection of small letters, numbers and punctuation you can access without pressing the Shift key or Caps Lock key. If you press either of those keys you engage different sets. If you press Caps Lock and then Shift you get a different set again. Of course, there is a degree of overlap between sets (e.g. between Shift and Caps Lock sets). Much the same situation prevails with RICK.
1. Basic character setsLike SICK, RICK has two principal character sets - a Default set (containing mainly small or "lower-case" letters), and a Complementary set (containing mainly capitals or "upper-case" letters) which can be accessed temporarily using a shift key.
This is all you need to know about character sets to work with RICK the same way as you would with SICK. Although the RICK system offers an integrated method of generating text control functions such as cursor movement, scrolling and backspace, these operations can also be performed using a mouse and the original backspace and delete keys on your keyboard, as these keys are not required in the RICK format (unless you have a certain old style of keyboard). Therefore, it is possible to make a simple start with RICK and progress to more positive things as opportunity allows.
The diagrams below show which keys produce the characters in each of these two sets. The shift keys (known as Inversion keys for reasons that will soon emerge) are the ones marked with an up-arrow , and the Enter key is the one with the bent arrow . These keys along with the Tab key retain the same position as on Qwerty.
is the Default set restore key. It appears in every configuration and retains the same basic functions. Pressing by itself always resets the keyboard to the default condition so that you can make a fresh start if you get lost. Pressing together with the VS key provides instant access to an on-screen keyboard guide, displaying at least the current set and listing the functions of control keys, the output of "swipes" and other essentials. It is intended that users can choose from a selection of short guides to suit their needs.
Default set - This is the "home" set for all kinds of typing that does not involve lots of numbers or capital letters.
Complementary set (default inverse) - This set contains all the standard characters not present in the Default set.
Note: In all diagrams, keys marked are spare; the location of spare keys (if any) may differ on different keyboards. If your keyboard lacks a key to the right of the right-hand , the right function can be assigned to the Ctrl key in the lower right corner. If your keyboard lacks the full complement of seven control keys ("modifiers") along the bottom, you may have to utilize one or two of your Function (F1, F2...) or other keys. Whatever you do, don't rush out and buy a new keyboard! Many of the control functions described in this document won't work on most existing keyboards anyway (see Installation).
The two sets together provide the standard suite of 94 characters. The complementary set can be temporarily accessed from the default set by holding down either of the Inversion keys . If an inversion key is tapped (i.e. pressed and released quickly), the next character (only) to be typed will come from the complementary set, e.g. if the next character is an alphabetical it will be capitalised (see Control keys for a full description). The set can also be locked in by pressing the Inverse set lock key (IS). Pressing this key again reverses the process. Alternatively you can hold down the Mode/set selection key (MS) and then tap the "k" key, and you can revert to the default set using IS or .
Some of the features and advantages of this configuration are immediately apparent:
1. All punctuation and the most commonly used symbols are available in the default set (i.e. without pressing the inversion key). This simplifies typing of all kinds, including hypertext and programming languages.
2. The most commonly used letters either occupy the middle row (mostly as "home" keys - see below) or, from the home position, they are accessed by the first two fingers of each hand. (These letters are s n t r l d a e i h o ). Note that the home position for the right hand is further to the right than when using SICK, bringing the hand closer to the control keys.
3. The left hand types mainly consonants and the right hand does almost everything else. This is the opposite to Dvorak and is undoubtedly psychologically correct.
4. An ergonomic numeric array, operated by the right hand, is incorporated in the main layout (in the complementary set), eliminating the need for a separate numeric keypad.
5. Not only is the configuration "ergonomic" with regard to touch-typing, but, without compromising ergonomics, it is also orderly (punctuation, symbols, numerals), making it easy to find and remember the positions of less frequently used characters.
6. Keys to the left and right of the space bar are used for changing sets and modes (see Modes and Control keys below),
7. If you're thinking of using RICK rather like SICK for starters, keep the spare key in the top right-hand corner as a backspace. (See Installation.)
Thrift keys feature
A permanent feature resident in all sets that contain alphabetical arrays is the option to use "Thrift keys". This feature allows each of the "rare" letters k, x, j, qu and z to be obtained by pressing two other keys at once, these keys being more conveniently located than the single keys allotted to those letters. The pairs of Thrift keys corresponding to each letter are as follows:
j = gv
qu = bg
z = fc
k = mw
x = cm
The pairs of Thrift keys are represented by combinations of letters ("digraphs") that rarely occur in English, regardless of the order in which the letters are typed. However, they do occasionally occur, e.g. in offcut and in names such as Amco and Lowman, and one needs to be aware of this when using Swipe mode.
The advantages of using Thrift keys are:
* the fingers don't have to move as far to type the rare letters
* the single keys normally occupied by these letters can be allotted to other symbols or functions, if required
* in Swipe mode (see below) some swipes will be easier to perform
* the Thrift keys are an essential element of TRICK; if they are used habitually it will become very easy to graduate to this system via the Quasi-Trick mode
In Swipe mode there is a priority order for Thrift keys (see below), which is the order in which they are listed above.
2. Combination character setsAn important feature of RICK is the ability to work with combination sets. These are sets that combine characters from the default and complementary sets in different ways. The characters do not change their positions on the keyboard. Text control and other functions can also be included. (Of course it is possible to program the keys to produce any combination of characters desired, but in RICK certain combinations are standardised.) One of the most important of these sets is the numeric set, which combines numerals, small letters and certain symbols. The colour scheme in the diagrams below shows which characters are derived from the default set (red on blue) and which from the complementary set (blue on yellow).
Numeric set - This is used mainly for small-letter + numeric data processing or typing, maths operations, accountancy and telecommunications (also see Dual numeric set and Right-handed family Miscellaneous set).
1. When "number crunching", the lower row of numerals becomes the "home row" (see Home Positions below).
2. The two-row numeral array is "more ergonomic" than the current standard calculator array, as well as being more orderly (with odd numbers in the upper row and even numbers in the lower row). Also, be aware that the most common numerals fall under the first two fingers. (There is a well-known rule, derived from Benford's Law, which states that the frequency of the digits 0-9 in most numeric output decreases with increasing value of the digit).
3. This set is engaged by pressing the Numeric set lock key (NS). Pressing this key again reverses the process. Alternatively you can hold down the Mode/set selection key (MS) and then tap the "n" key. Whilst the Numeric set is engaged, using the Inversion key or Inverse set lock key as described above gives access to all the characters not present in this set.
4. As with other sets, the numeric set can be used in various modes (see Modes below). This explains the choice of symbols available in this set. Note that in Run mode (where mathematical calculations are done), * is multiply, / is divide, ^ is the power function and of course . becomes the decimal point. = may have different uses in different software applications, but the strongly advocated function is assignment (see Run mode). This set does not include the % sign - a mathematical trifle that is fortunately dying out of favour (although it is now often used as the modulo operator). In Phone mode, * and # are used for their usual purposes.
Caps set - same as Default set but capitals replace small letters. Used for lengthy Caps texts, headings etc.
Caps set is engaged by pressing the Caps set lock key (CS). Alternatively you can hold down the Mode/set selection key (MS) and then tap the "c" key.
Numeric/Caps set - same as numeric set but capitals replace small letters. The most convenient locked set for doing capitalised headings etc and for many numeric tasks that do not require concurrent access to small letters (also see Dual Numeric set).
1. As an introduction to RICK, this is the best lockable set to install on existing keyboards using remapping software with limited capabilities (see Installation).
2. This set is engaged by tapping the Left Text Control key, . Alternatively you can hold down the Mode/set selection key (MS) and then tap the "n" and "c" keys together.
Home positions - The "home positions" for touch-typing are illustrated here for the Numeric set.
Split position on split ergonomic keyboards
The split style of keyboard with the two halves slightly angled to one another is recommended for desktop use. For users who have no intention of learning to touch-type I would not recommend keyboards where the two halves are located far apart. As you will need to be constantly looking at the keyboard, all the keys should be located within a narrow field of view, otherwise eye strain might develop and typing will inevitably become slower.
3. Multifunctional setsThese are sets in which some or all of the alphanumeric characters are replaced by other functions. The most important multifunctional set is the Text Control set.
Text control set - This contains a variety of cursor movements, deletes and scrolling, 12 unspecified function keys and 10 unspecified macro keys
1. Note that the most common delete and scroll functions are assigned to keys in the right home row (the 'back-space' is under the first finger).
Key to Text control functions:
2. This set can be temporarily accessed by holding down either Text Control key or locked in by tapping the right Text Control key. Alternatively you can hold down the Mode/set selection key (MS) and then tap the "t" key.
3. Object selection, copy, move, paste, drag and drop etc operations are not specified as they are considered to be specific to operating systems or programs. There are many spare keys available in the Text Control set to facilitate operations like these, and at least 12 keys can be reached with fingers of the left hand whilst holding down the key. However, two functions are suggested in 4 and 5 below.
4. Pressing an Inversion key at the same time as selecting a cursor movement will cause the text to be "selected" (highlighted).
5. When working in tables, pressing the Tbl key (s key) at the same time as selecting a cursor movement will cause the cursor to move by cell, row or column (otherwise simple movements will be within a cell).
6. It is not implied that F1-F12 necessarily give the same functions as F1-F12 on SICK. Also, in practice, function and macro keys are similar but the nominal distinction might be convenient. Macro keys could be used to store some words or phrases you use frequently.
7. Esc and Ins are just more function keys that keep those names in order to relate to current uses of those keys.
Dual numeric set - This versatile set embodies the numeric/symbols array of the numeric set for the right hand, a mirror image numeric array for the left hand and the most common cursor, delete and scroll functions from the Text control set. Used for extended calculating and rapid processing of voluminous numeric data with one or two hands; it is especially good for summing numbers and for entering data into tables, and it provides an alternative numeric keypad for left-handed users.
1. The space and tab keys in the fourth row can be operated by the thumbs if desired.
2. Like the numeric set, this set can be used in different modes. When used in Run mode the broader features of this mode may be missing.
3. This set is engaged by pressing (MS) and NS together (or by pressing one of these keys whilst holding down the other). Alternatively you can hold down the (MS) key and then tap the "d" key.
4. Specialised set familiesThese are keyboard layouts comprising groups of sets which largely disregard the "normal" RICK format although still related to it in some way, and still using the standard keyboard design. But, depending on available technology, they may require different hardware. RICK currently specifies two closely related families of sets - the Right- and Left-handed families. These are for use by people able to type with only the left or the right hand and willing to learn the technique for rapid typing with one hand (only feasible on a fully developed, non-split RICK keyboard fitted with some method of labelling the keys differently).
Right-handed family Default set
Right-handed family Alternative set
For explanation of text control functions see Text Control set.
Right-handed family Caps set - same as the default set except letters are capitalised
1. No standard rapid method of accessing single-handed families is provided, as the keyface labels are entirely different and cannot be rapidly changed using current technology (but see Keyface labelling). Most users would probably never need to access these sets, while single-handed users would probably want to acquire keyboards with the correct labels supplied.
2. Note that not only most of the character keys but also most of the control keys change their functions once a single-handed set is engaged.
3. The home position (highlighted purple) for the right-handed family is close to the left side of the keyboard. This enables the thumb to operate the three keys to the left of (what is normally) the space bar. In the standard set-up these three keys are control keys, but in the Right-handed default set they are allotted to the letters e and u and the space character.
4. There is no complementary set as such: characters absent from the default set are divided between the Miscellaneous set and the Caps set. Consequently there is no genuine inversion key.
5. The configuration is designed for efficient use in Swipe mode (see below), allowing single-handed users to attain typing speeds approaching those of two-handed users. Swipe mode allows the user to actuate two or more keys simultaneously, yielding characters in a predetermined order. (This order is the same for all users.) However, it is assumed that casual users will use Flick mode (see below), and this is the default mode when a single-handed family is initially selected. Swipe mode can be toggled in or out by pressing the (MS) key along with the "f" key (corresponding to the Flick mode key in the TRICK system).
6. Note that , . = and / appear in both the Alternative set and the Default set. = and / are in the same positions in both sets.
7. Other punctuation marks, symbols and frequently required text control functions may be accessed temporarily from the default set by holding down the Alternative set hold bar with the thumb and then using the fingers to press the appropriate key(s). Otherwise the Alternative set can be locked in with the AS key or, more conveniently, by pressing the
8. The Caps Tap key (CT) behaves like the tap function of the inversion key in the standard set-up, i.e. it causes the next letter (only) to be capitalised. It does not affect non-alphabetic keys. Capitals can be locked in with the CS key or, more conveniently, by pressing CT and Tab together.
9. As well as supplying all the punctuation symbols, the Alternative set performs the roles of Numeric set and Text control set in the standard layout.
10. Once the Alternative set is locked in, the e key becomes an alternative Enter key (to allow easier entry of numeric data). The Alternative hold bar changes its function to Right (or Left) Default hold and the CT key becomes a Default set tap key (DT).
11. The numeric array in this family is identical to the standard numeric array. This provides conformity with the RICK system as a whole, e.g. continuity with calculator and phone keypads (in the extremely unlikely event that these should ever become standardised to this system).
12. Note that in this family the key occupies a different position. always restores the standard default set when pressed by itself (it does not yield the single-handed default).
13. The Left-handed family sets are almost mirror images of the corresponding right-handed sets. However, it's possible that a right-orientated numeric array should be provided as an option (to provide the continuity mentioned above).
"Mode" is a fuzzy concept encompassing different ways of supplying input, or using the keyboard, and different types of output. In employing this currently somewhat superfluous term, I'm assuming that computer input devices of the future will be much more integrated and sophisticated than they are now, with voice and visual inputs becoming commonplace and a variety of outputs attaining greater importance. All of these will exercise their own modes of operation, affecting at least the output mode of the keyboard.
Modes are generally a function of proprietary software: this includes software associated with calculators, telecommunications systems, games, household appliances, musical equipment, multimedia applications, security systems, machinery and a wide range of industrial systems and devices that are controlled from a keyboard - as well as plain typing!. Many currently prevalent modes (e.g. some games modes) alter both the normal input and normal output functions of the keyboard.
RICK specifies four input modes and partially specifies a small number of universally indispensable output modes - if only in relation to the method of access, and, in the case of Run mode, a few suggestions as to what is expected of the software. More than this would be unjustifiable, as it is unlikely that consideration of specialised modes would affect the design of the keyboard.
Modes are not necessarily mutually exclusive entitities, nor completely distinct from sets. A particular mode may need a particular set to operate, or a particular set may only work in a particular mode. Every keyboard task uses at least one input mode and at least one output mode. Most of the modes specified in RICK can (or should be able to) operate in any set, greatly enhancing their versatility.
The default condition of the keyboard (after turning the computer on) is Default set, Flick input mode, Normal output mode.
1. Basic input modes
Flick mode - Characters are produced by hitting the keys one after another: except for the Thrift keys, you can't (usefully!) hit more than one character key at once.
1. In the era of mechanical typewriters, you had to be sure to release each key before hitting the next - else you would end up with a type-bar jam. On a modern keyboard, you don't need to release each key before hitting the next. However, if you try to hit two character keys at once both will print, but you can't predict which will come first.
2. Flick mode is the default input mode because casual users would be likely to make errors if the keyboard were set to Swipe mode. Some touch-typists may also prefer Flick mode, although Swipe mode has been designed to minimise error when touch-typing.
3. It is assumed that the word processing program being used will produce essential enhancements, such as two spaces and capitalisation following a full stop when doing straight typing.
4. As in other modes that use alphabetical arrays, the Thrift keys facility is automatically available in Flick mode,.
Swipe mode - When this mode is engaged, two or more keys can be actuated simultaneously to create "syllables", or small sequences of letters, numbers or punctuation signs, produced in one "swipe". Keys pressed together like this are usually called "chords".
Both hands can take part in a swipe, so typically a sequence created in this way comprises one or more consonants followed by one or more vowels. The order in which the characters appear is predetermined. With the single exception of the letter x, consonants appear first, then vowels and the pseudo-vowel y, and punctuation last. In general, this means that left-hand characters take priority over right-hand characters. Within the left hand, the priority order tends to be from left to right, while in the right hand it tends to be from right to left (i.e. small finger towards forefinger in both hands). One of the reasons for this arrangement is that fewer typing errors will occur (see What does "simultaneous" mean?). Some common "out-of-order" letters include p and h, which are higher up the priority scale than their positions on the keyboard suggest. The standard priority order for alphabeticals is as follows:
s n f b c d j m p t q g w h r l z v k i o e a u x y [m b]
In other words, if you press several alphabetic keys simultaneously, the letters will be output in the same order as they appear in this list. This order is particularly appropriate for the main Romance languages (Italian, Portugese, Spanish) in which the majority of words end in vowels. However,the order can be modified to suit different languages (e.g. in German h would be better placed before t).
For the meaning of see Remark no. 6 below. The little group [m b] indicates that when you swipe b and m the output order is reversed.
The main rule for punctuation is that , . ! ? precede ' and " . The order for symbols is unsettled, except that < precedes / , and maths operators precede = . Most symbols are typed individually.
The standard order can be overridden (using a software feature) to allow swipe-typing of common sequences that do not comply with the order. In English this is generally only feasible for groups that end in a space, e.g. tion , her , rt , n't (all including the terminating space!). There is also provision for changing the normal order provided the group is immediately preceded by a space, i.e. the group is a word. Examples are it , at , if , of , an , in , and , for , you , your , when , their (again, all including the terminating space). Beware of using consonants whose keys represent Thrift letters: for example, you can't have give or come. Fortunately these words are easily typed as [gi][ve ] and [co][me ].
1. Note that the operation of Swipe mode complies with the RICK Graduation principle. When you turn it on, you don't have to do anything differently to what you were doing in Flick mode; you can continue to type "normally". You can use as few or as many kinds of swipe as you like.
2. Swipe mode is engaged by pressing MS along with the "f" key (which stands for Flick mode in the TRICK system).
3. You can't include characters from two different sets in one Swipe. If the Inversion key takes part in a Swipe, the inversion takes effect on all the other keys in the Swipe.
4. If two keys representing a pair of Thrift keys are included in a swipe, the Thrift character corresponding to that pair will be produced. The priority order for Thrift characters is the same as their priority order when typed with individual keys. So, for example, if you swipe cmw the output will be ck, not kc, wx or xw. You can also type mw and k together to get kk, which may be useful in some Scandinavian languages.
5. Note that two control keys can be pressed simultaneously to produce a result regardless of whether the Swipe mode is engaged (see Control keys).
6. If Swipe mode has been selected, pressing the Default set restore key does not restore Flick mode.
7. : In the Default set the IS key has a special function in Swipe mode, provided the selected language is English, French, Spanish or Portuguese. When tapped (by the right thumb) this key yields s space. When pressed simultaneously with any other key(s), the output from this key comes last. If followed by punctuation, the punctuation is inserted between the s and the space. This feature is called trailing-s (and is used for other letters as well in TRICK). If the selected language is German, trailing-s is replaced by trailing-n . If customised noncompliant sequences like -tion-space (see above) are available, they can also be used with trailing-s, by including the IS key in the swipe instead of the space bar. If the Inverse (complementary) set needs to be locked in, press MS along with the "k" key.
What does "simultaneous" mean?
It is not possible to actuate several keys all at exactly the same time. When a group of keys is swiped, their switches will actually operate within a small interval. The size of this interval depends on a number of factors such as the experience of the operator, the inertia of the keys and the positions of the keys involved in the swipe - especially if both hands are involved. Its size may vary from about 0.02 seconds up to 0.1 seconds (research on this subject has been done by L.G. Malt, 1977). Although this is generally a much smaller time-span than that between successive keystrokes, the system must be organised to minimise any possibility of confusion, otherwise the letters may not be produced in the intended order. As far as possible, RICK is configured so that when common sequences of letters are swiped the order in which the keys are actually hit is likely to be the same as the priority order, i.e. the same order as they would have been typed if they had been deliberately typed separately. (This is partly a function of training, as it is advocated that initially the keys should be "strummed" in the correct order rather than trying to hit them exactly together.) But in addition to this safeguard it should be possible to "tune" the keyboard, i.e. to adjust the interval that counts as being "simultaneous". A blanket adjustment applying to all keys may be sufficient, or the adjustment could be scaled to take account of position, e.g. distance between keys and whether the keys are in the same or different halves of the keyboard. More fussily, it could be made possible to tweak individual keys separately. However, all this may be unnecessary; unfortunately, as far as I'm aware, the degree of sophistication required here is unknown.
Quasi-Trick mode - enables the keyboard to be used more or less like a TRICK keyboard (see below), i.e. as if a number of keys did not exist. Apart from the the "non-ergonomic" physical profile, the configuration of the finger-operated keys in each set is the same as for TRICK. However, since RICK lacks the array of thumb-operated control keys present in TRICK, many control functions are relegated to RICK's control keys at the edges of the keyboard.
Little need be said about this mode as it would only be used if TRICK itself became an established system. On the other hand, one way that TRICK might be popularised is by graduating to Quasi-Trick, which is an easy step on the RICK keyboard (via the Thrift keys feature).
Since the Default set of TRICK "nests" inside the RICK Default set, the keyboard can still be operated like RICK as regards all Default characters and all capital letters.
Significant keys in Quasi-Trick mode
The principal sets and functions of the control keys are described in the TRICK Summary Overview below. The trailing d, n, r and l functions of TRICK are absent from the Quasi-Trick mode of RICK . To engage this mode press MS (M) along with the "q" key. Note that the key restores the standard default set when pressed by itself (it does not yield the Quasi-Trick default).
Locator mode - This is a future-looking mode that has no use until the mouse disappears from the scene, as it inevitably must. The mouse will vanish because it takes your hands away from the keyboard and, along with the pad on which it sits, creates extra garbage on your desk. Therefore the functions currently performed by the mouse must somehow be engineered into the keyboard zone. My guess is that the keyboard (or part of it) will become flatter and smoother and responsive to finger movements or, possibly, to movements of small gadgets attached to the fingers. The technology incorporated in the recently released Fingerworks Touchstream ® system appears to be very promising. (The main problem with this system as it stands is over-indulgence!) More recently (2007), and much more successfully, the Apple iPhone® uses touch-screen technology which (under certain conditions) can even predict which "key" you're about to hit, making it easier for you to do so by enlarging it. Whatever the basic technology, I would expect a clear-cut distinction between "mouse-like" or "locator" operations and keyboard (typing) operations. Hence the need for a readily accessible Locator mode key (LM) to toggle between keyboard and Locator functions. This key could be held down for temporary access, or tapped to lock in the Locator mode. Tapping it again would revert to the original mode. For further information see Trick.
2. Principal output modes
Normal mode - this is a somewhat meaningles term as it covers a multitude of activities that you can do from the keyboard as soon as you turn on your computer. It's easier to understand Normal output negatively: it just means that no specific output mode, like those for which RICK provides quick access keys, has been selected. Normal mode is used predominantly for typing documents of all kinds.
Phone mode - used with pre-selected proprietary software for whatever telecommunications purposes the software facilitates.
For phone dialling this mode can be used with any set that contains a numeric array. This mode is accessed by holding down the Mode/set selection key (MS) and then tapping the "p" key; this combination would normally be encoded to initiate the specified program and engage the Numeric set, if the current set lacks a numeric array. In all numeric arrays * and # are located immediately before the numerals and are used for their normal telecommunications tasks. Some of the alphabetical keys could be allocated to specific memories, or, more usefully, all the alphabeticals could be used for typing names in order to recover phone numbers etc. from a directory.
Web mode - This provides instant access to the internet and modifies input and output devices to enable browsing etc. The functions of this mode will depend on the software employed for browsing, email and other internet activities. In the future this mode will also include a modified locator mode. Web mode is accessed by holding down the Mode/set selection key (MS) and then tapping the "w" key.
Run mode - used with pre-selected proprietary software for whatever calculating, accounting or programming purposes the software facilitates. A specified "language" will be invoked and the VDU screen, or a part of it, will represent the file in which the operations are recorded.
The primary role of this mode is as a calculator. Its broader role is to enable the user to create and run short programs and to run longer programs saved in compatible text files. In view of these roles, RICK has certain expectations as to what the associated software should achieve, so that operations in Run mode form a seamless system.
1. This mode is engaged by holding down the (MS) key then tapping the "r" key.
2. The usual functions of the symbols for calculating purposes are: + addition, - subtraction, * multiplication, / division, ^ power function, . decimal point. (However, ^ might be needed as a Boolean operator, if the scheme outlined below is adopted). The advocated use for = is assignment - that's why it has been included in the Numeric set. The "pocket calculator" job for = is done by the Enter key. Pressing the Enter key should give (at least) the result of a calculation or (in computer jargon) "the value of an expression". The assignment function of = is explained below.
The way that maths programs or calculators work is really no business of the RICK system, but once you go beyond the simple calculator (like the one that pops up in MS Windows), symbology becomes important. And the most important symbol (though by no means the most frequently used) is unquestionably the assignment sign. Purely as a diversion and as a hypothetical example, let's look at how RICK could support a simple language that would give the mundane calculator a considerable boost. Let's call this hypothetical language "Smoothly" and let's asume that there exists some software that speaks Smoothly and does the jobs described. Keep one eye on the Numeric set layout as we go along, and you'll see how easy it is. I'll try to explain things in "pocket calculator" language together with rough translations into low-level computer jargon.
1. First, straightforward arithmetical calculations are done just as you would on a calculator. For example. to find the result of 35 plus 77, type 35+77 and press the Enter key (). But you can also do longer calculations which are often quite cumbersome on a pocket calculator, but possible on a scientific calculator, e.g. 21*35+77/3-6^2, or by using the Inversion key you can include brackets, as in (6+15)/(19-3*5). The formula you've typed will stay on screen, so you can check what you've done. (The problem with most scientific calculators is that they don't keep a record of the steps in the calculation, so you have to do every calculation at least twice to check it.)
2. Now for assignment. To begin with, it might help to think of all the alphabetical keys as being little memories (although this is far from the truth). = is used mainly to put numbers in these memories, or, in computer lingo, to assign values to variables (variables being the letters that identify the memories). So if you type a=149 and press
3. To use a in a calculation you type, e.g., 23+a/6
4. To put the result of a calculation into memory a, type a= #
5. Note that the Enter key does two different things here. As already noted, when you type a=149 ( or a+= #
6. Here's another example. If you have a value stored in a and you want to know what to add to it to get another known value, say #, you could type a+x= #. (x is the unknown quantity.) Then type x
7. To clear a specific memory (say a), type a=0
8. You don't need to put each formula on a separate line, or evaluate expressions one by one. You can write several on one line separated by one or more spaces and then hit
9. You don't have to use just one letter for a variable or memory. You could call it abc or subtotal or socks or MyShare or mums_share. This is in line with most programming languages. In fact, armed with only these tools you could indeed write a simple program. The main advantage of calculating this way is that it leads naturally into programming. To do mathematical programming, at least, essentially all you need are some flow-control and logical operators, which in most computer languages are designated by words (like "if...else...") or by available standard symbols (like &). You may also need some additional maths functions, like log and sin, which you can either type or grab from a list.
In fact this is what the RICK system would envisage - that the simplest calculator would be an intrinsic part of something much bigger, offering the opportunity of a painless graduation from 2+3=? to a program for predicting the movement of stars. Smoothly would comprise a scheme in which arithmetical and algebraic calculation is nested in higher mathematical programming which in turn is nested in "general" programming This reflects the same philosophy that steered the design of RICK - the RICK Graduation principle. The RICK philosophy urges that all software designed to operate with the system should comply with the RICK principle - it should cater equally for all levels of expertise and provide for a smooth transition from lower to higher levels.
What's more, it seems that the most popular current programming languages can't do some simple tasks that even the lowliest of RICK mathematical mums might want to do. So let's continue the story of Smoothly a little bit longer:
10. =\ is used to assign formulae or expressions, e.g. growth=\x+(2*y/(x+y))^z ( puts the formula as such into growth (as well as the component values and result, if any, which the formula might currently give). Then, if you assign new values to x, y and z and type growth
11. Smoothly also lets us put descriptions or remarks in the variables. A description is preceded by double quotes. For example, you can type: shopping = 2.85"a dozen eggs+6.40"200g Daintree coffee+1.90"1kg bananas. Then you can get the total cost of the shopping (shopping
12. With Run mode turned off, you can type the calculation (or several calculations, or any other program the software will handle) in a text file, and then press MS-r and
The immediate advantages of doing "maths" like this are obvious: you've got a clear record of what you've done, an open ended versatility, a meaningful vocabulary and a cupboard with innumerable little places to store things. The longer term advantage (for novices) is the ability to expand the process of elementary calculation to whatever horizons of intellectual wizardry your software (and your brain) will tolerate.
It would be nice to think you could adapt all this stuff to current popular programming languages like C++ or Java. Unfortunately there are snags. C++ is a compiled language and it's difficult to see how a language that's capable of generating line-by-line running programs could be adapted to it. Interpreted languages like Java would be more promising. However, it seems that at present the variables in most languages, including Java, don't support concoctions like those in items 10 and 11 - a variable only returns a value (either a number or a string) and that's that. Also you'd have to eliminate the requirement - compulsory in some languages - to "declare" variables (and constants) before you can use them. There are indeed languages in which you don't have to declare variables, but those I'm aware of (like visual basic, awk and gawk, for example) have nothing like the power of C++ and Java.
Apart from exemplifying the RICK Graduation principle, this digression was really meant to defend the existence of one character, =, in one set. The position of the character is justified on other grounds. It goes without saying that, with the greatly increased usage of "mathematical" symbols for non-mathematical puposes, the presence of the suite of symbols in the Default set should be a change for the better.
(End of diversion!)
On the whole, the ways of operating control keys in RICK are the same as operating keys in SICK. Some control keys are tapped to produce an instant response, and some are held down before hitting another key to produce a different response. In the RICK system, however, some control keys can each be tapped or held down, to achieve entirely different ends. When you tap a control key it usually works as a lock key - just like Caps lock on SICK. When you hold down a control key and then tap another key, there are usually two kinds of response. Either a new set or mode will be locked in place, or the key you tapped (and any other keys you tapped) will give a different response just so long as you keep holding down the control key - like using the Shift keys on SICK. However, the Inversion keys work slightly differently. You can use them exactly like the Shift keys on SICK, to give temporary access to all the characters not present in the current set, just as long as you keep the left or right Inversion key held down. But when you tap an Inversion key, it does not act as a lock. If you tap an Inversion key and then tap another key, this produces the same result as if you had held it down, then tapped the other key, then released the Inversion key. The space bar and single and double quotes keys don't count in this: if you tap the Inversion key and hit space and/or quotes (separately), the space and/or quotes will be typed but the inversion will take effect on the following key. So if you're working in the Default set and you tap an Inversion key followed by an alphabetical (or one or more spaces and/or quotes and an alphabetical), the alphabetical will be capitalised and the keyboard will then immediately return to the Default set. If you're working in Swipe mode and type a group of keys after tapping the Inversion key, only the first (priority order) letter in the group will be capitalised.
The Vocabulary (words and phrases) set key (VS) works rather similarly, i.e. if you tap this key the next character key tapped will produce whatever string has been programmed into it. Or you can hold it down and then tap a character key to produce a string. You can program the character key to produce the same string with both types of action, or you can make it have a different string for each type of action, thus doubling the number of words/phrases available.
[Note: some of the control keys should be wired to enable other ways of using the keys, in case of specific program requirements. For example, it might be necessary to tap or hold down a key and then press another key repeatedly to cause it to cycle through various states or modes. The RICK system itself, however, has no requirement for alternative methods of using control keys.]
Each of the most common sets and modes specified in RICK can be got by tapping one clearly identifiable key. All sets and modes can be got by holding down the Mode/set select key (MS) and then tapping a letter key (or by pressing
Operation of control keys
Tap means press and release within a short interval, without pressing any other key whilst the key is depressed. A tappable key can be tapped whilst another control key is held down (yielding a different response). Tapping is just like hitting an ordinary character key.
Hold means hold the key down whilst one or more other keys are tapped. This is just like using the Shift key on SICK.
A hold key can also be pressed simultaneously with a tappable key (e.g. a lock key or character key); this produces the same result as tapping the tappable key whilst holding down the hold key. Most control keys are holdable and tappable. In that case, if two control keys are required to produce a certain function, you can hold down either one and tap the other, or press them both together. Note again that the
Rules - Don't hit control keys if you don't know what's going to happen! If a key needs to be hit once, hit it just once, don't rattle it!
If you change to a different set or mode by pressing one or more control keys, what happens if you press the same key(s) again? The answer is: you will revert to the set or mode you were last in. The only control key that spurns this rule is the
What if you press one of the hold keys to get temporary access to a set (like holding down the Shift key in SICK)? Of course, when you release the key you will revert to your current working set. (Note the special reversion rule when you tap the Inversion key - see table.)
Table of control functions included in the RICK specification
(Enter, Tab, single-handed families and games modes are omitted from this list)
To escape from a locked set or mode, press the same key(s) again or press
Essential keyface symbols
Complementary set characters coloured purple occur in the Numeric set. All other Numeric set symbols are taken from the Default set.
Other coloured symbols are principal Text control set functions.
Lucid keyface labelling is always going to be a problem. Back in the late 1970's, when I was working on the TRICK system, one of my colleagues in agriculture, Dr A.K. Sheridan, suggested using LCD labelling, so that the labels on the keys would change every time you changed sets. If I remember rightly he applied for an Australian patent for the idea. I'm aware that many others have had the same thoughts, and presumably it is only costs that have prevented the concept being brought to life. Certainly, a feature like this would be extremely useful for RICK, where several sets are in frequent use - even more useful for the idealised version of the system with its specialised set families.
These tips apply equally in RICK and SICK.
Always utilise the features of your word-processing software. When typing lots of plain text, set the full-stop key so that it types a full-stop, two spaces and capitalises the next alphabetical.
Use Macros for frequently occurring phrases.
When faced with having to frequently type an awkward combination of characters, either put it in a macro or, instead of typing the combination, replace it with a convenient single character that is not used in your script, then get the Find/replace feature of your word-processing software to change all occurrences of the character back to the original combination. Even in RICK this problem may occur. One or two instances come to mind when writing
(THRIFTY RAPID INFORMATION CONVERSION KEYBOARD)
TRICK combines most of the features of RICK in a more compressed,
ergonomic configuration. This is intended to improve typing pace and
portability, but at the expense of poorer accessibility: TRICK is
definitely a system that requires an initial input of time and effort
to learn how to use it and acquire proficiency. However, if a would-be
TRICK artist has advanced through Thrift keys, Swipe mode and
Quasi-Trick in the RICK system, 95% of the work will have been done and
life should be a breeze.
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