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Re: C-f, C-b, C-n and C-p or right, left, down, up?

From: Daniel B.
Subject: Re: C-f, C-b, C-n and C-p or right, left, down, up?
Date: Fri, 03 Oct 2003 06:31:09 -0400

David Kastrup wrote:
> ...
> I have to hold down control with the pinky, and reach b and f with
> two fingers that are in quite different bends and directions.  Three
> fingers being bent out of their rest position and in need of pressing
> coordinated make for RSI.

So don't take a rest position and key-to-finger assignments that come
from generic typing and use them when doing a lot of control-character
commands on a computer.

(For typing a sequence of control-character-based commands, shift your 
left hand left one key (for left pinky over control key).  That reduces
leftward/backward reaching with the pinky, trading it for easier 
rightward/forward reaching with the index finger, for control-R/-F/-V.  
For left-index-finger keys that are now harder to reach, use your right 

Control-F becomes left pinky down on control key, left index finger 
mildly reaching right to F.  Control-B becomes same left pinky situation 
with the right index finger on B.)

(Yes, I can touch-type, and use the standard rest/home position and finger 
for typing most text.)

> > Have you experienced the control key in its correct location (not
> > where IBM-PC-style keyboards put control keys)?  That will make a
> > big difference.
> I will still need to use my pinky for it.

True, but what's your point?  (What about still needing to use your 
pinky means that it won't make a big difference?)

Having to move your left hand left one key is a lot easer than moving 
your left pinky even further left and down _two_ rows.  It's also
probably easier than moving your right pinky way right and down.

> > Typing Control-A is supposed to be as easy as putting your left little
> > (leftmost) finger to the left of the A key and putting your left ring
> > (second leftmost) finger on the A key.
> We are not talking Ctrl-A, ...

Since when?

We're talking about Emacs control-character sequences you might not have
experienced correctly (with the control key available to the left of the 

Besides, control-A is also a good example because it shows how standard 
hand and finger positions from regular typing don't necessarily apply.

> and besides, little and ring finger share
> the same sheath for their sinews.  Since you have to move them
> independently, (CTRL down A down A up CTRL up), you have to let them
> work against each other.

I doubt that (working against either other).  You're not pressing down 
with one finger and pulling up with the other.  You're pressing one and
just not pressing the other.  (Besides, where are the "pressing" sinews 
relative to the "pulling" sinews?)

My sequence is:
1. start pressing left pinky for Control-down
2. press left ring finger for A-down
3. release left right finger for A-up
4. releast left pinky for Control-up

Actually, Control-A is more a single ballistic motion:  Move both fingers
down together, with the left pinky somewhat ahead of the ring finger, and
then release.  

> > > Contrast that to vi, where the keyboard bindings for movement are
> > > simply _the_ thing to use.
> >
> > What you mean by _the_ thing to use?
> No vi user with a modicum of experience will use cursor keys instead
> of hjkl-Navigation.

Note that the same has surely been said of Emacs.

> > Modern version of vi accept arrow keys as well as traditional vi
> > movement keys, don't they?
> Right.  For the same of beginners, mostly.  Experienced vi users will
> use hjkl, whereas most experiences Emacs users will escape to using
> cursor keys when available.

I strongly doubt that last clause.  If it actually is true, it's probably
because they didn't try control-character sequences with the control key 
in the right place.

> > And what contrast is there?  Emacs takes main-keyboard keystrokes as
> > well as arrow keys, and so does vi now.
> vi movement commands on the main keyboard are single-key, not
> control-combinations.  

Yes, but remember that many control characters take only a single key-
stroke to enter:  When doing several control-character commands (movement 
_and_ other things) in a row, one tends to press and hold the control key, 
type _several_ other keys, and release the control key.  True, that's a 
little more than a single, isolated H/J/K/L, but it's not a control-down 
and control-up for each control character.  And comparing all the things
one can do with a single control character vs. just four cursor movements 
leaves things out.  (No, I don't want this to degenerate into an 
Emacs-vs.-vi argument.)

> And they are all located on different fingers
> of a single hand in rest position (shifted to the left by 1 key in
> contrast to the 10-finger typist rest position, the only slight
> awkwardness).

Left one key for vi's basic 4-way movement commands, left one key for
Emacs control-character commands--that still doesn't sound like much

Daniel Barclay

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