Thinkpad Keymaps

Janina Sajka janina at
Wed Dec 4 22:51:05 EST 2002

Sorry to lose the thread linkage. This is my second try with this
message, thanks to this list's miserly message limit. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

I've decided to respond to this thread and include my answers to
questions Terry has asked me in private email.

I think it would be very helpful to have a better keymap for the IBM
Thinkpad. However, in my experience, the lack of software speech support
in Speakup is almost more of a burden in the truly portable setting. Let
me go into this a bit.

Perhaps the greatest nuisance with the Thinkpad's pop up numeric is that
you activate/deactivate it with Shift+F10. I'm not aware there's any
combination of FN keys, as there is with most portables, for getting a
numeric keypad on the qwerty right hand keys. I think this would need to
be solved somehow for a good Thinkpad keymap to happen. Anything else is
still a major compromise.

The second problem is that Speakup's screen review keys were moved from
the numeric to the non-numeric keys on the numeric keypad some time ago.
In other words, we have screen review with numlock off. There's no
equivalent for this that I know of in pop up keypads. And, why would
there be? There's just no use for a separate home, end, page up and page
down key, etc., etc., when these are already available elsewhere on the
keyboard. No, every popup I know of, including the Thinkpad's, only
supports numbers on the pop up keypad. This issue can, of course, be
handled with mappings.

Lastly, I will comment some on how I live with this annoyance, as Terry
has asked me to do.

Frankly, more often than not, my Thinkpad is a transportable more than a
portable. And, when I'm truly in portable mode, I rarely use Speakup
simply because it's too cumbersome to do so. Even were there to be a
good keymap that obviated the need for an ansillary numeric or full
keyboard, there's still the need for an attached piece of hardware in
the synthesizer. And, the true portable circumstance just isn't served
well when additional devices attached by unbillical cables are required.

So, for me, when I'm truly portable, I'm usually using either yasr or
emacspeak with flite, these days. For me, "truly portable" is having the
Thinkpad on my lap in a meeting auditorium, or on my tray table on the
train or on the plane. If it's a long flight, and my roll on suitcase is
overhead, I may pull out my 16-key numeric keypad, synthesizer, and
serial cable, but only if I don't have seat mates. That doesn't happen

Still, I do always travel with the synthesizer, and either the numeric
or a full 104 keyboard in my suitcase. Why? Well, there are two common
situations where it's quite convenient:

1.)	In my hotel room it's often more comfortable to sit in a lounge
chair with my feet up on the ottoman, than at those hotel desks that are
usually too high.

2.)	In meetings where we all sit around tables for a few days, it's
quite easy to roll my computer case into the room with me and set up my
little workstation in front of my spot. It's not at all a problem, in
circumstances like this, to have the numeric and the speech synthesizer
out on the table. And, in circumstances like this, I'm usually running
off the AC, and not the battery--as is every one else in the meeting.

I do enough traveling that my Thinkpad has become my main machine. When
it's home in its dock, and I'm in the office, I'm usually logged into it
over ssh. So, for all these reasons, I find it useful to have my
portable computer a powerful machine with large capacities for
processing and information storage, as well as for communication in all
kinds of settings. As I consider my next machine, I'm once again tilting
toward the greater processing and storage power of the T31, rather than
the much lighter X30, even though the X will run on batteries for some 8
hours. That greater batter life is tempting, and so is the smaller size
and reduced weight. It's not fun lugging all of this equipment around
day after day. But, I suspect that, for me, having more computer is
worth the hassle.

				Janina Sajka, Director
				Technology Research and Development
				Governmental Relations Group
				American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

Email: janina at		Phone: (202) 408-8175

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