I’m Andrew, from Adelaide, Australia, and I’m mostly typing this because of insomnia, but it’s really interesting reading your approaches! I’m an audio typist for an ophthalmology clinic and a neuroscience student, but had previously studied maths (sadly, my computer science education from this was pretty minimal) and music. I started learning piano at 5 and clarinet at 14, and I think learning to play them without straining has translated into me avoiding the RSI problems so many have typing.
Mind you, I did get cramps from my mouse when I was competitive in minesweeper (I had a very very slow internet connection when I saw playing this enough to be competitive). I did get to the top 50 in the world and 2nd in Australia, but the cramps and jitteriness did lead me to more ergonomic mice way before more ergonomic keyboards. Thankfully, Logitech mice have been perfect for me, and my internet connection got fast enough that I stopped bothering with cramp-inducing minesweeper.
So it’s handy to have avoided keyboard cramps or injury, but I’d never been happy with the way keyboards are laid out, just never made the effort to look for alternatives. I got a Logitech Wave keyboard (k350) (not a truly split keyboard but with decent ergonomics nonetheless) about 5 years ago when I started doing audio typing, and typing on a normal keyboard did give me a little strain, and at around the same time got interested in alternative layouts. I got busy enough with work and uni that I kept on putting off actually learning (or designing) another layout, and it was only when I started to automate some tasks through autohotkey (for example, shift-backarrow, ctrl-x, right arrow, ctrl-v to swap letters around a cursor that I started really thinking about how far keyboard ergonomics should have improved, and imagined the benefits of having more buttons accessible to the thumb and all that jazz, and started looking at increasingly better ergonomic split keyboards, which in turn finally gave me the kick up the ass to commit to learning a new layout when I had my ideal keyboard (especially after being assured that ambikeyboardedness is possible).
So at various points through 2017 I looked at as many ergonomic split keyboards as I could, and was really close to being sold on the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard, then the Kinesis Freestyle, then the Ergodox, but there was always something about it which left me uncomfortable. Only in early 2018 did I find Keyboardio (don’t really know how I missed it for so long) and instantly saw that Jesse and Kaia had gotten just about everything I could think of right in my eyes! Most importantly, the thumb keys were perfect and the palm keys were a stroke of genius, one of those things I never knew I wanted! The wood finish and pretty pretty lights were also a nice bonus, but I’d have been sold without them.
Before long, I’d bought it and a set of clear keycaps and knew I’d be in for a painfully long wait. Being curious about the switches, I found a youtube review of a Matias board by someone who is an expert in mechanical switches and keyboard history and who just has a hilarious style and a strangely hypnotic voice. I highly recommend his videos, but the point is that it confirmed to me what a great choice Matias switches were and kindled an interest in historical keyboards, layers, layouts and what have you, which all contributed towards my thoughts about how I’d make my keyboardio work for me.
Getting the news that my keyboard is almost on its way spurred me to action, co-inciding in my flurry of posts here recently. I’ve finally designed what should remain my final layout (at least as far as the letters are concerned) - I’m naming it either “the whole hog” since I went “the whole hog” in designing my own layout from scratch and “hog” is spelled out on the top row of the right hand, or “Nero Fist” for the letters you can reach with the right and left hands respectively on the home row in the wasd (or rather esdf) formation. NERO FIST wins, I think!
It’s been a pleasure to see that the amazing product by Jesse and Kaia is backed up by a helpful community of contributors of many levels, and I hope some of my contributions can give others some interesting ideas