Keyboarding Under the Covers

It’s still very cold down here in Melbourne, so I have figured out a way to put my keyboard under the bed covers. Now I can type and keep my hands warm at the same time!

A keyboard adapted for using under the blankets

A keyboard adapted for using under the blankets

That’s a Kinesis Advantage keyboard, by the way. It’s the most ergonomically friendly keyboard I’ve ever found and suits me perfectly. The space, enter, delete, backspace, and a few other keys moved to where they are thumb operated instead of their usual positions so it can take a bit of getting used to but I found it very much worth the effort of learning the new positions.

I have my desktop computer set up to use in bed, so I am snug under the blankets and keyboarding in bed is possible. A similar setup would work while using a laptop computer in bed if you used an external keyboard with the laptop.

This is how I did it: I positioned myself in bed with the keyboard in my preferred position on my lap, and the blankets on top and noted which keys were pressed down by the bed covers. For my Kinesis keyboard it was the top keys in the “thumb” blocks in the middle, as these are positioned higher than the other keys. For a flat keyboard it’s usually the keys at the top corners, such as the escape and F12 keys. At this point just figure out which keys are at risk.

Now take your keyboard out from under the covers and find a solution. As you can see in the photo above, I have attached some blue bits of wood to the keyboard. I actually just got somebody to saw a kid’s wooden block in half, because I had one. It’s attached to the keyboard with the double-sided sticky foam that you buy to attach a poster to the wall. The double-sided foam was also an “I have this lying around” solution, I intended to replace it with glue after testing but it turned out to be sufficiently sticky to keep the blocks where I needed them so I’ve never bothered.

When I tried this with another more “regular” style keyboard I found the escape and F12 keys were often pressed down by the covers. To keep the blankets off those corner keys I got some small bits of fairly stiff cardboard and bent them vertically to make a right angle. Then I glued the cardboard to the top corners of the keyboard. It’s just about 1/4″ higher than the corner keys, and it needs to be fairly firm cardboard and strong glue to work because the bed covers tend to catch. I rounded the top corners to make it a bit less likely to be messed up by the bedclothes.

When attaching things to the keyboard, always try attaching the prop with something temporary first, in case it doesn’t work. Adhesive tape or temporary glue or something similar should be fine, and you get to make sure it does the trick before you use the permanent glue.

Small Apple Keyboard

Small Apple Keyboard

I also tried using one of the new small format Apple bluetooth keyboards under the covers. To my surprise, it worked perfectly with no cardboard or blocks needed – the low profile keys aren’t nearly so prone to being squished by bedclothes. Score one for Apple! (If you’re not a Mac user, remember that this keyboard works fine with Windows too)

How do you keep your hands warm in winter when you’re computing?

Apple wireless keyboard photo edited and used with thanks from Brian Solis at Flickr.

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6 responses to “Keyboarding Under the Covers”

  1. Kati

    Thermoskin gloves keeps hands warm and reduce pain in them if you have arthritis or anything like that they are less restrictive than splints.

  2. Carly

    Since I only use three of my fingers to type I still have to glance down at the keyboard fairly often to make sure I’m judging distance correctly, so undercover typing would not work very well for me. I just keep my computer room really warm, LOL, so much so that my boyfriend can’t stand to be in there! If I’m really cold and the heat isn’t helping, then I cover up and switch to Dragon NatSpeak. ;)

  3. Tammy

    I tutor disabled students at my school, and I’m always looking out for ways I can improve their quality of life. You would be surprised on how many families have given up trying to make their disabled kids more comfortable. Maybe they just get burned out dealing with it their whole lives, I’m not sure, but as long as I can, I help where I can. Thanks for sharing your idea.

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