Amar Sagoo

7 May 2008

The science of keyboard design

The Handbook of Human–Computer Interaction, edited by Martin Helander, Thomas Landauer and Prasad Prabhu, is a book published in 1997 that attempts to summarise research relevant to the design of interactive software and hardware. Its 62 chapters fill 1500 pages and provide advice on a multitude of topics, covering analysis, design and evaluation of interactive systems, as well as the psychological and ergonomic underpinnings of human–computer interaction. One of those chapters is titled Keys and Keyboards and was written by James Lewis, Kathleen Potosnak and Regis Magyar. It considers virtually every imaginable factor involved in designing keyboards, and, by drawing from experimental studies, provides recommendations for each of them. Ever since I read this chapter a couple of years ago, I've been meaning to summarise some of their conclusions and to consider them in the context of modern keyboard design. The recent string of keyboard-related links on Daring Fireball (e.g. here, here, here, here, here and here) moved me to finally sit down and do it, so here it is.

5 May 2008

Hyphens, dashes, et cetera

I have a thing about correct punctuation, and although I'm aware that most people would find me over-zealous in this regard, I would bring to my defence that it's not just a pointless obsession or a purely aesthetic matter. A bit of poor punctuation will in the best case distract those from the text who notice it and affect their impression of the author, and in the worst case actually give the reader trouble understanding a sentence. Having said that, what I'm going to write about today is more on the aesthetic side, but could nevertheless help you make a good impression on a reader who notices these things.