TouchStream LP Re: [rescue] PC Cases

Caleb Shay caleb at
Wed Feb 25 15:51:52 CST 2004

On 2004-02-25 15:47:09 -0500 Samuel Kopel <kopel at> wrote:

> Wow that looks nice. Do you type on the surface of the keyboard or 
> over
> it?

You actually touch the surface, but it doesn't matter how much 
pressure you use.  The lightest brush of your finger registers.  It's 
fairly intelligent though.  If I put all of my fingers down at once it 
knows I'm resting and doesn't start typing gibberish.  I have a 
tendency to drag my outside fingers, so that is causing me a bit of 
slowdown right now.

  How do you use it as a mouse? The website shows the key combos for
> mousing but doesn't really explain how it works.

Using 2 adjacent fingers of your right hand (remappable for lefties).  
It doesn't matter which fingers you use, as long as they are close 
together.  Tapping with 2 fingers clicks, dragging 2 fingers moves the 
cursor, tapping with 3 adjacent fingers double-clicks, dragging 3 
adjacent fingers does click+drag.  There are various other combos like 
thumb+first 2 fingers to get a middle click.  There's no specific area 
of the keyboard that is the "mousing area", you can just do it from 
wherever your hand is currently resting.

  Please let me know how
> you like it after a few weeks.

I'll give my first impressions now, after 24 hours of use, and I'll 
probably put up a review on my website after I've been using it for a 
few weeks.

First impressions:

CapsLock is tiny and out of the way.  I will _never_ hit it by 

ENTER IS STUPIDLY PLACED.  I can't get over how difficult it is to 
press enter, even though they give you 3 different ways to do it (2 
spots on the board+1 chord), all of them are uncomfortable in some 
way. But this is really taken care of by my next point...

The customization tools ROCK.  They supply a little java app for 
configuring the keyboard.  Forget xmodmap.  This is way cooler.  Why?  
I can remap any key to any other key.  Fine, xmodmap can do that.  I 
can remap _part_ of a key to any other key!  Not for all keys, but for 
the larger keys, like shift, I can map the left and right sides of the 
key to do different things.  I can create macros (whoopdeedoo, so can 
any decent editor).  I can create chording macros, now those are cool. 
  It's not just a fancy ergo keyboard, it's also a chording keyboard!  
And, since it's a full keyboard, not something like a twiddler, I can 
even create 2-handed chords.  Oh, and since the whole surface is touch 
sensitive, macros can include motion (ex: dragging my thumb and middle 
finger together, like I'm picking something up does 'cut', reversing 
the motion does 'paste').  All the config data is stored in the 
keyboard too, not in some userland app config file, so when I move it 
between computers, my macros are all there, no reprogramming.  Macro 
modes?  Check.  You can create macros that change all of your macros 
to something else and another macro to change them all back.

Cross platform?  The config tool worked fine under Linux, OSX, and 
Windows.  Haven't tried it anywhere else, since I don't have anything 
else with a USB port.  It comes preprogrammed with an Emacs mode and 
comes with some customized touchstream.el file, so they are obviously 
UNIX friendly.  Too bad I use a real editor.  (On a side note, the 
escape key is huge, so it's vi friendly too.)

It has a "gaming mode".  It sucks.  At least for first person 
shooters.  Maybe I'm using it wrong, but I don't think so.  The 
standard WASD+mouse doesn't work since if you put down 2 fingers at 
the same time (to move at an angle) it thinks you are trying to use it 
like a mouse and stops registering your key press. Constantly dragging 
your fingers in the direction you want to go (which is what they 
recommend) doesn't work well for high-speed combat/dodging.  I'll 
probably pick up one of those gamer keypads for my left hand for 
gaming, one of those things with like 10 keys and a wrist rest.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with it so far.  Am I $340 happy with it?  I 
don't know.  Ask me again in a few weeks.



> Sam
>> On Feb 25, 2004, at 9:39 AM, Caleb Shay wrote:
>>> Caleb
>>> (who took almost 2 minutes to type this while he gets used to his 
>>> new
>>> keyboard:
> _______________________________________________
> rescue list -

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