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|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
|News||Programmable Keyboards||Recommended Links||Microsoft IntelliType||High End Programmable Multi-button mice||G-keyboards LUA Scripting||Windows Macrorecoders and Keystroke Log Utilities|
|Basics of Preventing RSI for programmers and sysadmins||Expect||AutoHotkey||ArsClip||Clipboard managers||Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000||Foot pedals|
|Logitech G110||Logitech G19s Gaming Keyboard||OFM||Humor||Etc|
Note: As of June 2012 X6 is discontinued; only X4 survived. As of June 2013 both are discontinued, although X4 can still be bough for around $45 on Amazon. If the price shoot higher Logitech G510s Gaming Keyboard and Logitech G110 are reasonable alternatives. They allow using LUA scripting.
An important consideration in selection of the keyboard is that webmasters, programmers and Unix administrators usually type all day long. Often for 10 hours straight, and few make breaks. In essence they behave like gamers. That sometimes lead to developing professional illnesses connected with this activity. Typically this is a carpal tunnel syndrome. From this point of view using high quality programmable keyboard and mice is not a whim but a necessity, especially as the person became older. While high quality low cost keyboards also exist (see for example Dell SK-8135 USB Enhanced Multimedia Keyboard ) programming them is more difficult (AutoHotkey + ArsClip is probably the best alternative) and they do not allow creating macros on the fly using built-in macro recorder.
Ounce of prevention is always worth pound of cure. Cutting number of keystrokes even by just 5% represents an advantage well worth approximately $40 investment. But programming is immensely flexible and please note that many time-saving shortcuts and abbreviations can be implemented using programs like ArsClip. True they have a serious limitation -- you need to use mostly Right-Windows (or Left-Windows) based shortcuts -- you cannot assign complex key combinations like Ctrl-C to a single key. But there is always a way to improve your productivity even if programming keyboard is not available.
Microsoft used to ships two types of SideWinder Keyboard: X6 and X4. Both are now discontinued .
X6 has detachable keypad that can be attached to the keyboard either of left side or on right side using magnets. For "normal" right-handed people it allowed to use numeric keypad at the left as a set of programmable keys which was very convenient as you can hit the keys with the left hand (assuming that you use the mouse with the right hand).
Having Enter and Del key of the left side is also extremely convenient. You can buy a separate USB numeric pad to imitate this but you can't use Intellitype with it. See for example Connectland CL-USB-NUMSPC USB Numeric keypad with 19 keys + Space Bar . You can also buy a gamepad, for example, Logitech G13 gamepad which are programmable. this was you can imitate X6 functionality in slightly more clumsy ways. And it will cost more.
If you use a lot of macros you can assign one button (for example calculator button) to be on the fly, custom macro button dedicated for a macro you create during your current work. if it proves to be useful in other tasks you can later assign it permanent shortcut, if nor simply discard.
That capability is present only in X6 and disappeared in X4 (actually Microsoft plays dirty tricks with its Intellitype driver severely restricting its capability for every keyboard other the Sidewinder X6. )
X4 is later model (released March 2010) despite the lower model number. It has correct positioning of Esc key and as such is better for administrators, but is a step back in almost all other categories:
In comparison with X6, Sidewinder X4 keyboard is one step forward but seven steps back:
Advanced features on both keyboards do not work without special Windows drivers (require IntelliType Pro 7.1 or later) so they are OS dependent for their macro programming functionality. As such they cannot be used with Linux if macro programming is the feature that is desired.
Keyboard has three settings for key assignments called Banks which are numbered 1,2 and 3. This bank setting is persistent between reboots. In banks 2 and 3 numeric pad can be converted into a set of 17 ( S13-S30) macro keys.
Personally I assign three banks to my three major modes of work:
The current mode is identified with the light at the top of the keyboard next to bank switch button. Also the keyboard backlighting provides a visual cue which banks you are using -- more specifically in which mode the Key Pad is in. It changes from red (Num Pad) to amber (Macro Pad).
In essence keyboard has three distinct personalities that you can fit for three mode of work, for example working with email and MS office, working with Unix and Web development. By default mode 1 has numeric pad enabled while in modes 2 and 3 numeric pad keys are set as bank of macro buttons which are initially undefined.
The "restore defaults" button in Microsoft IntelliType Pro 7.1 driver works on banks level: it restore default values for the currently active bank, but not for others.
To assign keys or change settings, start IntelliType Pro using special button or via Start/All Programs/Microsoft Keyboard/Microsoft Keyboard
The keyboard requires to use Microsoft driver to get access to all functions. Functionality on non-Windows OSes is limited to standard keyboard functions.
While programmable keyboards can provide unique functionality, they are far from being perfect. For the price they are sold, they are extremely primitive (X6 is around $60, the price of a decent Smartphone). IMHO it should be CPU and memory in to provide OS-independent functionality on such models, they probably should not rely on the driver only. Of course drive can provide unique OS-specific features like application specific key mappings (which Intellitype actually provides). In this case you key assignment and key mapping changes dynamically when you switch from one bank to another, no manual switching of banks is required.
Often programming keyboards have idiosyncratic keys layout that greatly complicate things as few programmers/system administrators can create for themselves an environment where you used only one type of keyboard. This also put severe limits on customarization keys and number of shortcuts one can use -- excessive zeal backfires.
This also limits the applicability of such keyboards: they are suitable in environments where the programmer/admin can move keyboard to different location and maintain the same type of keyboard at home and at work.
While SideWinder is one of the best programmable keyboards on the market and is reasonably priced in comparison with competition (almost 50% cheaper that its main competitor Logitech G110) it has several problems (two of them can be classified as blunders) in its construction:
Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov
[Jun 01, 2010] MS Sidewinder X6 problem on Windows 7Hey guys ! i got my keyboard working.
I went to Control Panel -> Hardware and Sound -> Devices and Printers -> Right Click Microsoft Sidewinder X6 and select 'Troubleshoot'.
Then it stated that there's no driver installed for the keyboard (thou i have installed it with Windows 7 x64 driver) and i chosen 'Fix It'. After some time i was told that driver was installed and my keyboard runs perfectly !
Thanks everyone who gave me help on this !
- Marked As Answer bykevinphuah88 Wednesday, September 23, 2009 6:32 AM
hursday, October 22, 2009 7:48 PMmpweKe
I did have the same problem, so i saw this forum and tried to fix it, and i succeded. =)
Right click on computer and go to Device Manager, locate your keyboard and update the drivers:) Its that easy, apparently.
Mar 2009 Tech Support Forum
Hi I'm new here
Ok i got my new Sidewinder X6 keyboard, but have a stupid question.
The keyboard's numpad is removable and i would like to use it instead of the w,a,s,d buttons.
All the numpad buttons is macro buttons as well, thus i want to use the (8) button instead of the w, but if i convert it and run any game the (8) doesn't let me walk forward but only act if i'm pressing (w) once.
I have tried setting the game's options to use Numpad 8 to move forward etc, but when you go in macro mode the whole numpad switch to macro keys thus i cant use them that way.
Re: Help with Microsoft Sidewinder X6 macros
I've got the Microsoft X6 sidewinder too. Unfortunately I don't even use the software for the keyboard as I find its broken and every time I try to play a game or type with it it will remember my previous typing and do that even without pressing the macro keys I think.
The numpad automatically turns to macro on the left side of the keyboard. IF you attach the numpad on the right side it'll be normal. Its kind of dumb that way.
I would think that Ryan's solution might be the best out there right now. I refuse to install the software for the keyboard as when I play Left 4 Dead 2 my character will start moving in the wrong direction and resist my movements. The keyboard itself is very nice to type on and the keys have little pressing action but aside form putting the numpad on the right if the software is installed or uninstalling the software and using it on the left, I don't know what to say.
Sorry for the rant!
The only problem I've had with the driver is games that are running as admin need to have the macro program running as admin.
to run itype as admin do this.
push ctrl shift esc.
end process itype.exe.open explorer and goto C:\Program Files\Microsoft IntelliType Pro
right click on itype.exe and go run as admin.
also some disinformation about the keyboard
Originally Posted by mcninja
The numpad automatically turns to macro on the left side of the keyboard. IF you attach the numpad on the right side it'll be normal. Its kind of dumb that way.
this is easily configurable using the Intellitype pro software.
hit start and search for microsoft keyboard, goto key settings,
where you see the bank select, is what config you are editing there are 3 which are show on the keyboard as lights next to the 123 select button.
underneath that you should see a checkbox with enable macropad this option will change the backlight of the number pad to orange and turn it into the macro buttons.
now to give a full answer to vercogen if he EVER comes back to this necro'd thread, i necro'd it as i had the answer when searching for a solution to another problem.
once in the microsoft keyboard program click the macro key you wish to edit, say s19 for num8, click configure instead of assign macro.
click choose from a list of commands, and click next.
find Keystroke.. in the list select it and click next.
push w in the text box, click next
click ok and your done.
hope people find this useful. also to help people find the solution to the problem i was having a list of keywords.
dota w3l.exe frozenthrone.exe frozen throne pvpgn loader run as admin
bassically if the keyboard doesn't work in game for your macros follow the above instructions to run it as admin.
this is needed due to the pvpgn loader needing to run as admin to inject the dll into warcraft 3 in order to log in to pvpgn servers which use a different login security type then battle net servers.
Re: Help with Microsoft Sidewinder X6 macros
One thing to note is that the numpad on the X6 has poor rollover, meaning you may have blocked keypresses. It's actually kind of complicated; but basically, you may find that a three key combination may not work on the numberpad, for instance you may be holding 8+4 to run forward and strafe, but then you press 9 (or whatever) to reload--and you don't reload, because the key was blocked.
This can make gaming very difficult. I believe the X6 has "anti-ghosting" which means they flesh out the matrix around the WASD keys for gaming, but in order to do that you have to also reduce the matrix in the right side of the keyboard (again, it's a bit complicated, and I'd rather not go into a detailed explanation), thus making the numpad even less amenable to gaming.
I don't know about the software side of it, but I predict problems with the hardware due to the keyboard's matrix under the numpad. You could try it with the Sidewinder X4, which has NKRO (n-key rollover, any set of key combinations will pass), but I don't think its numpad is removable.
Sure, there are some keyboards that claim to be for gamers that have no such function, but it's just far too useful to leave out. It's of special important to MMO players, who often perform a long sequence of keypresses with very specific timing, and do it many times in the course of play.
Along the left edge is a row of six keys, labeled S1–S6 (and S7–S12) with a button beneath them to switch from the 1–6 bank to the 7–12 bank. Simply press the macro record button, press the S-button here that you want the macro assigned to, then press the series of keys you want that macro to perform. Press the macro record button again when you're done, and you're all set. While the rest of the keyboard's backlighting is red, these macro keys are amber.click on image for full view
In Mode 1, the number pad is always a number pad and has red backlighting. Switch to mode 2 or 3 and you get a whole different set of 12 macros on the S-keys, as well as turning the whole number pad into macro keys (and switching their backlighting to amber). When the pad is on the left or right, you'll get an extra 17 macro keys this way. So if you're the type to make a whole mess of macros for every possible situation, you have plenty of room to spread out.
The keyboard software is pretty basic, allowing you to adjust the function of most of the special keys along the top row (though curiously not the quick launch button; the one key we really want to reassign) and set up the S-keys to individual macros or to do things like launch programs. You can disable the Windows key between CTRL and ALT in the software, too. Fine-tuning your macros is a matter of choosing which keys to depress and for how many milliseconds, and separating them with wait times (also in milliseconds).
Microsoft IntelliType Common Questions
Human interface device - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Enhanced Keyboards and Windows
AutoHotkey - Free Mouse and Keyboard Macro Program with Hotkeys and AutoText
HOWTO keyboard macros macro in linux [Archive] - Ubuntu Forums
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