Red Green Repeat Adventures of a Spec Driven Junkie

Things I Love: Happy Hacking Pro Keyboard

I was cleaning out some stuff from my bookshelf and my wife saw my keyboard, the Happy Hacking Pro 2

Happy Hacking Pro 2 Keyboard

Why don’t you throw this out?

I can’t, I love that keyboard. It’s over $300!

What?? This is $300?? This doesn’t look like anything special to me! This even uses a wire.

Yeah, I have used this keyboard for a long time for work. This one is 10 years old!

Ten years old, isn’t there a better one?

Yeah, the company has a newer one that uses Bluetooth. My last boss bought it for me at work. It’s almost the same as this one but wireless.

Happy Hacking Pro BlueTooth

What makes this keyboard so special that it’s almost six times more than the average keyboard?? Does this keyboard allow you to type six times faster??


What does it do better?

It’s definitely smaller than average.

Yeah, it’s like half the width of the average keyboard. Is that worth six times more than average?

A little. A smaller keyboard makes it easy to pack into my bag with my laptop for hackathons. I can type on the laptop keyboard since the key layout is similar, but if I am typing over an hour, I prefer to have my Happy Hacking Pro.

Is there anything else that’s special?

The Happy Hacking Pro has fewer keys.

Huh? Something that costs more than average but has fewer keys than average?! Would one expect the more expensive thing to have MORE of everything, not fewer?

True, that is the normal expectation, but in this case, fewer keys is a feature. I don’t want keys that I don’t use because of the editor setup (emacs or vim) have better replacment keys, like arrow keys, Windows(tm) keys.

Also, there’s no “Caps Lock” key… that is one of the least used keys on the average keyboard in the most useful positions on the keyboard: just left of the “a” key!

This keyboard has the “Control” key in place of Caps Lock. Now I use that key a lot! No need to reconfigure the operating system for Control is really nice.

That seems nuts… what else makes this special?

The key press feeling on the Happy Hacking Pro is fantastic.

Why does that matter??

The key press feeling does matter when I’m typing on this keyboard for eight hours a day.

I type at 100 words per minute. With the average word length of five, that means there’s 500 key presses a minute. In one hour of continuous typing, that’s 300,000 presses.

If every single one of those presses felt “yucky”, I notice, because I’m doing it at least 300,000 an hour.

Of course, I’m not typing the whole day, but even three hours of typing over eight hours would be about 1,000,000 key presses in a day.

When you’re doing something one million times a day, wouldn’t you want to have the best experience, even if the cost is six times the average??

Does this keyboard make you six times better than a programmer using an average keyboard?

I would like to believe so, but honestly, programming is not about pressing keys, it’s about software construction and architecting. Every line of code I write is not ‘enhanced’ by the keyboard.

The computer doesn’t care what keyboard entered the code, it’s the same code whether using an average keyboard, the Happy Hacking Pro keyboard, or even the Optimus Maximus Keyboard, which was more expensive than the Happy Hacking keyboard.

Optimus Maximus Keyboard

So the result of using this keyboard is no different than any other keyboard. You just like typing on this better?

Yeah, my fingers are the main input method in creating software. If my fingers become sore, I have a harder time creating software. I have to protect and take care of my profession’s most valuable tools.

I initially thought the Microsoft Natural Elite keyboard was best since it is in a split format.

Microsoft Natural Elite

My hands did feel a bit better but when I tried my coworker’s Happy Hacking Lite keyboard, my hands felt better.

Happy Hacking Lite

When I got the Happy Hacking Pro 2, my hands felt good but my fingers felt great. The keys kind of gave energy back to my fingers since I did not have to press so hard or deep and they dance on the keys.

So for six times the average price you get to do work on something that protects your hands, letting you code over a longer period.

Yes. My dad taught me: use the best possible tools for the job. While this keyboard won’t make me a great programmer, it will let me have the best feeling programming.

The Happy Hacking Pro 2 keyboard has lasted me full time work over a decade. It’s an absolute joy to use and I love typing on it. At home, I have the Happy Hacking Pro 2, which has lasted over ten years of continuous full time use.

Since the keyboard has lasted over ten years, I can say the average cost of using the keyboard every year is less than $30/year, which is below the cost of an average keyboard.

So, it has worked out that I got to use a keyboard I love every day for less than the cost of the average keyboard.

This kind of sounds like ideas from Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up where you only keep things you love.

Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Yes, exactly. I didn’t know Marie Kondo’s concept at the time, but this is why I can’t just let this keyboard go. It’s been with me over a large part of my career, side projects, hackathons, etc.

Not only has it lasted so long, but I haven’t found anything better since.

In summary: Life is short, have tools you love using.

Exactly. For me, the keyboard I love has been the Happy Hacking Pro 2.

Happy Hacking Pro 2 Keyboard

In Summary

If you are a software developer, look into having the tools you love to use. A better keyboard has changed my life and has made working in my profession a little bit better with each key press.