Mapping keys to run commands
You can create shortcut key combinations that will launch commands, I've successfully been using XBindKeys on GNOME 3.8.4 for this very purpose.
My use has been modest but I like to create keyboard shortcuts for Nautilus to launch with certain directories opened.
You'll need to first make sure the packages
xbindkeys is installed.
Then you'll need to run the following command, one time only, to create a template
xbindkeys configuration file.
$ xbindkeys --defaults > /home/saml/.xbindkeysrc
With the file created you can open it in a text editor and add a rule like this:
"nautilus --browser /home/saml/projects/path/to/some/dir"
Mod4+shift + q
With the above change made we need to kill
xbindkeys if it's already running and then restart it.
$ killall xbindkeys
Now with this running any time I type Mod+Shift+Q Nautilus will open with the corresponding folder opened.