For laptop keyboards, I find that I'm ok if I use a full-sized keyboard (e.g. laptops with 14-inch or larger screens) and I'm careful about my hand position. That said, I have a split keyboard for desktop use that allows me to get ideal positioning.
I've never tried foot peddles for shifting keys; that's interesting.
@harding@jon@waxwing@emil Thanks for workrave, I had no idea stuff like that existed. Honestly I don't feel I'm using my keyboard enough to really need it today, but that might change fast as I'm seriously learning programming now