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I have no QWERTY and I must scream

By pmk in Technology
Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 03:34:52 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

About two weeks ago, I underwent a savage self-inflicted change that crippled my computing capabilities. Did I gouge my eyes out? Did I re-install Windows? No; I rearranged my keyboard to the Dvorak layout.

The Dvorak keyboard layout was invented in the 1920's as a sane alternative to the intentionally uncomfortable Sholes, or QWERTY, typewriter keyboard layout. And I've always wanted to try it out, having heard tales of its higher speed and greater comfort. I do not (yet) have any problems with carpal tunnel syndrome, but I'm in my mid-thirties now and starting to take health issues more seriously, especially where they concern my work environment.

I'm also a bit of a computing nonconformist. If something works better than what I've been using, I'm usually willing to give it an honest try, even (or perhaps especially) if it deviates from mainstream practice. And as an engineer, I tend to prefer logical designs over kludges. Remember, the QWERTY layout was designed to intentionally slow down the typist so that she would not jam the hammers on the early typewriter designs. It offends me that such a design has persisted solely on the strength of backwards compatibility. It is as if the Intel 8086 instruction set architecture had been intentionally designed to be weird, instead of just reflecting the implemetation technology of its time.

When I read in "Barbarians Led By Bill Gates" (which you can buy from your local independent bookseller) that the strangely influential Nathan Myhrvold uses the Dvorak keyboard layout to improve the speed at which he conveys ideas for global domination to his executives, I was reminded of my interest in trying the keyboard, despite the association.

So I did a Google search on Dvorak and found some good links. It turns out that it's really easy to rearrange the meanings of the keys from QWERTY to Dvorak on a Windows, Mac OS 9, or X system. (I ended up changing one line in /etc/X11/XF86Config and one in /etc/sysconfig/keyboard on my Red Hat Linux laptop.) It's also easy to use xmodmap on an X client in a script that switches back and forth between the two layouts.

(Why is the Dvorak layout claimed to be faster and more comfortable? It's because the keys that correspond to the most common letters of the English language sit right under the fingers on the "home", or middle, row of the keyboard. Also, all of the vowels are under the fingers of the left hand, so an alternating motion between the hands is natural.)

And so I did it on a Friday afternoon when nothing major was happening at work. After a couple of hours of using Dvorak with reference to a printed layout diagram tape to the bookshelf above my machine, I took the further step of popping off the keys and rearranging them. (This required about fifteen minutes and two large-sized paper clips, extended and bent into L shaped tools.)

The next week was crazy-making in the extreme. I had reduced myself from a very high-speed touch-typist to a miserable hunt-and-pecker. I had exposed myself to ridicule from $WALLY in the office next door. And I had to think carefully about every keystroke, for the QWERTY layout was deeply embedded in my spinal cord and would resurface in my fingertips at any moment if I were not vigilant.

I had not realized how important the skill of typing was to my daily life, at work and at home. This painful transition process gave me, perhaps, some connection and stronger sympathy with the disabled. Just when I would think that I had crossed the watershed and had retrained my unconcious fingers, I'd hit the wrong key in vi and suddenly feel alienated from my own body.

The scariest moment was when I sat down at the other workstation in my office, which I had not yet converted, and I could not type on its keyboard. In the course of becoming half-proficient with Dvorak, I had lost my QWERTY typing skills. If I had had to sit down and pound out a few thousand lines of code that day, I simply could not have done it. I was crippled, and had become committed to Dvorak while I still thought that I was experimenting with it.

It helped to find out on IRC and in diary comments that others had experienced this transition and survived it. And I was able to notice daily improvements. Most improvement came from learning two- and three-letter combinations subconciously. I had not realized the extent to which my typing ability was a set of deeply memorized macros, and it takes a lot of repetition to reprogram them. I had to essentially learn vi all over again.

Now, nearly two weeks after beginning the transition, I estimate that I am about 75% as fast with Dvorak as I was with QWERTY -- and I was really fast with QWERTY. More important, I can testify that this layout is indeed more comfortable to the fingers. I hope to be back up to full speed in another couple of weeks of continuous use, and if I'm even faster, that'll be just fine with me.


Voxel dot net
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Dvorak is...
o ... cool, and I use it too 14%
o ... interesting, and I might try it 38%
o ... a good idea, but I don't want to retrain myself 25%
o ... no big deal 13%
o ... a composer or something, right? 7%

Votes: 117
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o Dvorak keyboard layout
o Google search
o Also by pmk

Display: Sort:
I have no QWERTY and I must scream | 78 comments (78 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Good article! (3.00 / 4) (#1)
by spaceghoti on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 01:39:40 PM EST

I'm glad they're starting to support new keyboard formats. After twenty years of QWERTY it'd be a struggle to learn Dvorak, but if support for it increases I might actually try it.

However, the generations that have come and gone typing with QWERTY will always be at a disadvantage. What educators need to do is start off the next generation with Dvorak keyboards so they don't have to retrain. They'll probably end up leaving us in the dust.

"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

One more step. (2.50 / 2) (#2)
by unstable on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 01:40:11 PM EST

Windows is switched over, Linux console is done, and X is functioning under dvorak.

The last step is to start moving keys around.

I used it for about 5 min today useing a printed out keymap and I can already see some benefits in the design.

Switching over is easy to do and I sugest anyone that does alot of typeing try it out (even if its just in notepad or an Xterm) who knows the few weeks it may take learning it may save alot of pain later in life (My mother had real bad carpel tunnel and required surgery in both wrists)

I think the best part is going to be when I let someone else use my laptop :)

Reverend Unstable
all praise the almighty Bob
and be filled with slack

Fallacies about QWERTY/DVORAK... (4.77 / 18) (#3)
by Speare on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 01:48:12 PM EST

I'm not trying to sell you on either layout, but there's lots of misinformation out there on the QWERTY/DVORAK issue.

One, QWERTY was not designed to slow you down. It was designed to alternate between areas of the striker array, so that it wouldn't jam. A well-oiled qwerty Underwood would allow typing speeds to exceed 100wpm. Of course, electronic keyboards have no striker swing time, so they can allow higher speeds, but that doesn't prove the qwerty was designed to slow you down.

Two, it's an urban legend, unproven, whether the QWERTY layout intentionally put all the letters of the word 'typewriter' on the top row. The theory is that this was for untrained salesmen showing off the new device. This may just be a coincidence, same as the word 'stewardesses' can be typed using just the left hand.

Three, the DVORAK layout won't save you from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Two things affect it: the constriction of the carpal tunnel itself, through flexion of the wrists to unnatural angles, and the force applied to carpal tendons by your typing strength. Keep your wrists straight and off the work surface (not resting on those dumb wrist rests!), type at a natural sustainable rate, and take 30-second breaks now and then to exercise your eye muscles and rest your hand tendons. Few jobs require you to type every moment of the day.

Four, the DVORAK layout has no conclusive evidence of speed advantage. There are fast typists on either layout: whichever layout works for you is the one that's best for you. If you touch type less than 60wpm, you probably shouldn't look for a new layout to improve your accuracy.

If you're looking to improve your typing speed, this is the training technique that works for almost any mental-physical activity: find a way to exercise the skill without thinking about it. Your medulla oblongata is easier trained when the cerebrum doesn't get involved. Learn to catch by socializing with Dad, not by watching the ball. Learn to type by typing in MUDs or chat-rooms; the need for speed to do or say something in a timely fashion will force your hands to train themselves, in a way that conscious effort never will.

[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]

Exactly right... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
by Jin Wicked on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 02:22:48 PM EST

Learn to type by typing in MUDs or chat-rooms; the need for speed to do or say something in a timely fashion will force your hands to train themselves, in a way that conscious effort never will.

That's exactly what I did...there is nothing in the world more frustrating than taking five minutes to answer a simple question, and have them send three more messages in the meantime asking if you're there or not. It forces you to learn very quickly.

This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.

[ Parent ]
learning to type in muds... :) (5.00 / 5) (#40)
by eudas on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 01:26:23 AM EST

The huge ogre jumps up and attacks you!
The huge ogre TOTALLY DEMOLISHES you with his deadly hit!!
You miss the huge ogre with your wimpy hit.

<80H 15M 30V> wield swodr
You don't seem to have a swodr.

<45H 15M 30V>
The huge ogre TOTALLY DEMOLISHES you with his deadly hit!!
You miss the huge ogre with your wimpy hit.

<10H 15M 30V> fklee
You can't do that now, you're fighting!

<10H 15M 30V>
The huge ogre TOTALLY DEMOLISHES you with his deadly hit!!
You have been killed. Sorry...
"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]
Urban myth (4.16 / 6) (#4)
by arnald on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 01:50:27 PM EST

Nice article, but the story about the QWERTY keyboard being designed to slow typists down is an urban myth - it's untrue, explained here.

It was actually so designed to put the typebars of the most commonly typed successive letter pairs a safe distance apart.

For more details, go here.

I've been hearing this myth for YEARS now and it annoys me more every time! :-)

Not necessarily. (3.00 / 5) (#19)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 03:41:52 PM EST

Dissenting Opinions shows why the debunking of the Dvorak case may not be all it's cracked up to be.

I'm certain that I'm ready to buy the Dvorak hype either. Neither side of the debate has proved their side of the argument to my satisfaction.

[ Parent ]

QWERTY myth (4.80 / 5) (#5)
by Osama Bin Laden on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 01:53:26 PM EST

The idea that QWERTY was designed to be slow is mostly urban legend.

Slashdot has run a few stories on this over the years:

Good luck with the Dvorak though. If you don't become faster with it, do you plan to switch back to QWERTY?


maybe, maybe not (4.66 / 3) (#18)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 03:40:25 PM EST

Dissenting Opinions shows why the debunking of the Dvorak case may not be all it's cracked up to be.

[ Parent ]
What part of the point did you miss? (2.33 / 3) (#25)
by Mendax Veritas on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 05:03:49 PM EST

Someone points out that QWERTY was not designed to be slow. You reply with a link to an article that says nothing whatsoever about whether QWERTY was designed to be slow. Did you just miss the point?

[ Parent ]
Who missed the point? (none / 0) (#52)
by mcherm on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 10:14:36 AM EST

"shows why the debunking of the Dvorak case may not be all it's cracked up to be."

does not equal

"QWERTY was TOO designed to slow you down."

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]
How embarassing (2.50 / 2) (#6)
by scorbett on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 01:56:01 PM EST

After reading this article, I decided to give Dvorak a shot, so I followed the link, found the layout, and switched my keyboard over. It took ten minutes to type the sentence "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" four times. Still, I like having all the vowels under the left hand, I think I could get used to this (given enough time).

The only thing I'm not crazy about is all the flashbacks to early grade school, trying to hunt and peck my way around. I've been typing for so many years I'd forgotten what it was like to be new to the keyboard.

Very positive experience using Dvorak (5.00 / 2) (#7)
by Jin Wicked on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 02:16:34 PM EST

I can't agree or disagree with you that it's been proven or disproven that Dvorak is a better/more efficient typing method (because I don't know, and frankly don't care about the research), but I can personally say I have been very pleased with it since I made the switch. In my opinion, it's well worth the effort, and I've had some very positive results.

I wasn't willing to change typing styles initially, but the boyfriend made several efforts to get me to change (No girlfriend of mine is using a second-rate keyboard!), and he finally suceeded. He taped a small colour-coded diagram to the base of my monitor, and I just took it from there. I didn't change the keys on my keyboard (You weenie!), am I'm glad I didn't. Even my fastest typing on QWERTY involved occasionally glancing at the keyboard, and it was never the proper way to type. It was just my own system that had evolved up from hours and hours of using the computer.

Since none of my keys are right, looking at the keyboard is pointless. After about two weeks, I threw out the diagram. My typing speed has not only increased dramatically, but it is much more accurate than it used to be, and I can write without ever taking my eyes away from the monitor for a second.

I also had alot of problems with my wrists being sore and knuckles aching. I never thought it was directly due to my typing (I have problems with my knees as well), but suprisingly since I have started using Dvorak the problems have disappeared. If there's no practical use for the QWERTY layout anymore (no moving typewriter parts), I don't really see any reason not to switch. It can't hurt, and it certainly might help. If it doesn't, you can always go back.

As for the hardware...does anyone know where I can get a solid black keyboard with no labels on the buttons at all? I want to make it harder for strangers to type on my computer than it already is. :)

This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.

Black keyboard (none / 0) (#20)
by scorbett on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 03:49:17 PM EST

As for the hardware...does anyone know where I can get a solid black keyboard with no labels on the buttons at all? I want to make it harder for strangers to type on my computer than it already is. :)

Have you considered spray paint? :-)

[ Parent ]

Another suggestion (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by Kellnerin on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 04:50:35 PM EST

There's probably some kind of cleaner/solvent that will melt the letters off your keys nicely.

But then again, I think there's more potential for amusement if you leave the letters on. That way, you'll have people poking at the keys they're convinced are right (it says so right on the key!) instead of wondering "am I crazy, or is "A" not where I remember it to be?"
Somebody go tell Kellnerin it's time for her to change her sig. -johnny
[ Parent ]

Even more amusing (none / 0) (#26)
by scorbett on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 05:16:41 PM EST

After you use the solvent to remove the original letters, take a very fine tipped pen and draw on random klingon-ish symbols. Now you're really screwing with their heads.

[ Parent ]
Keyboard arrangement (none / 0) (#51)
by mcelrath on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 10:07:50 AM EST

But then again, I think there's more potential for amusement if you leave the letters on. That way, you'll have people poking at the keys they're convinced are right (it says so right on the key!) instead of wondering "am I crazy, or is "A" not where I remember it to be?"
A while back I had too much time on my hands and decided to rearrange the keys on my keyboard to something random. (I was, conincidentially, playing with Dvorak but have since discontinued) Since the keys in different rows on my keyboard have different bevels, I couldn't move keys to different rows, so I just rearranged them to spell things. And guess what...there's not much you can spell. Right now my top row says WY TORQUE PI and the second row is JK FLASH DG and the third row is nonsense, because it has no vowels. But you know what? Nobody ever "reads" their keyboard! Silly me. The only people who ever knew about my goofy keyboard are the ones I pointed it out to. Even the touch-typists that borrowed my computer, and subsequently complained loudly that all the keys were in the wrong place never noticed that it said anything.

Of course, I had to leave all the punctuation and number in place, otherwise I'd be really screwed.

1^2=1; (-1)^2=1; 1^2=(-1)^2; 1=-1; 2=0; 1=0.
[ Parent ]

Keyboard Letters (none / 0) (#67)
by ansible on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 02:36:34 PM EST

Well, mabye on a really cheap keyboard, you can easily remove the letters.

On many keyboards the letters are plastic that is molded into the keycaps. That way they never wear off.

I'll probably stick with QWERTY because I am a system administrator, but I do like the idea of painting my keyboard black...

[ Parent ]

Thanks ALOT (4.00 / 2) (#37)
by Jin Wicked on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 10:51:34 PM EST

Now my keyboard is solid black with no letters, but my arms are splattered black up to the elbows and I'm getting so loopy from the lingering paint fumes that I think I need those letters back...

I guess I should've let it dry longer before I put it back together and tried to use it! :)

This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.

[ Parent ]
worked fine for me (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by daemonchild on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 04:18:22 AM EST

I spraypainted my keyboard black about a year and a half ago so I would be forced to learn how to touch type the number keys properly.

It worked fine, except that the paint started to wear off a bit on the frequently used keys (commonly typed letters, FPS navigation).

I later embellished it with stencils and stuff ... random shapes of different colors, etc. Fun stuff.

meh ... M E H
[ Parent ]
uh-oh (none / 0) (#64)
by axxeman on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 05:18:05 AM EST

You know, I was thinking about getting this Dvorak thing happening, but you have a good point.

Somehow I don't wonna have to go through each game and completely have to reconfig (assuming the game IS reconfigable) the default WASD before being able to play it.

Of course could just be switching back and forth, but plz... alt+tab out of counterstrike into irc and having to CHANGE THE KEYBOARD TYPE EVERY TIME????

Being or not being married isn't going to stop bestiality or incest. --- FlightTest
[ Parent ]

Easy solution... (none / 0) (#69)
by mikael_j on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 12:10:04 PM EST

At least in w2k you can use alt+shift to change between different keymaps (just run the dvorak keymap as standard and change to qwerty when playing...)

/Mikael Jacobson
We give a bad name to the internet in general. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
May I suggest temperature-sensitive polish (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by Karmakaze on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 09:06:55 AM EST

They now make temperature sensitive nail polish, marketed as "Mood Polish"... It actually makes a really neat changing gradient (on fingernails) depending on ambient and body temperature.

I think it would be very amusing to see the much-used keys change color... to "set the keyboard on fire" when typing a lightning speed...

[ Parent ]

Tried it with a Maltron (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by lucas on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 02:27:21 PM EST

I tried to do it with a Maltron... but I just couldn't. Yeah, it is a nice keyboard and it has a nice layout... It looks cool and it is comfortable. It is frustrating to figure out the new layout and then switch back to QWERTY when you have to.

If you're not in a rush, you use the same keyboard all day, and you have patience, it is ideal. I've got patience, but I'm in a rush all the time and I use 4 - 5 different keyboards a day.

In related news, Maltron KB for sale... drop me a line. :-)

Any bad experiences? (4.25 / 4) (#10)
by KnightStalker on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 02:40:12 PM EST

Has anyone learned Dvorak and regretted it? Or does anyone know someone who has? I've been meaning to learn. After spending the last ten minutes typing "uh huh uuuu hhhh" in a DSK layout, typing this in QWERTY is painful. But DSK definitely looks like an improvement. Here's a link to the tutorial I'm using.

Dvorak: The road never taken (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 03:23:08 PM EST

My guess is that the worst type of experience one is going to find is people like me that toyed with the idea of going Dvorak and decided not because of the lack of any good evidence that it actually offers anything better.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that people that set out to learn Dvorak, are intentionally setting out to learn to type better. Think about the implications of this. This leads to the best anti-learning-Dvorak argument I found.

Dvorak isn't really superior, but the typing training people undergo to learn Dvorak is. In other words, people that set out to learn Dvorak intentionally set out to type well. OTOH, people that pick up QWERTY typically set out simply to type. Take two QWERTY touch typists. Teach one Dvorak. Give one the same amount and intensity of training on QWERTY as it takes for the other typist to pick up Dvorak. My best guess is that the two will end up typing at about the same rate.

Given that it is not all that uncommon for high speed typists to exceed 100wpm on QWERTY, I don't really see any reason to start all over from scratch and learn Dvorak. Chances are that my poor habits are much more detrimental to my typing speed than my keyboard lay out.

[ Parent ]

QWERTY was actually designed to INCREASE speed (2.50 / 2) (#24)
by pin0cchio on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 05:00:14 PM EST

Take two QWERTY touch typists. Teach one Dvorak. Give one the same amount and intensity of training on QWERTY as it takes for the other typist to pick up Dvorak. My best guess is that the two will end up typing at about the same rate.

Especially because QWERTY was actually designed to increase speed by alternating letters between hands (yes, I know, `lollipop') and between fingers. This had the additional effect of reducing jams.

[ Parent ]
RE: QWERTY Speed (2.00 / 1) (#47)
by gowlin on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 08:45:30 AM EST

QWERTY has a LOT more one hand words like lollipop than dvorak does. dvorak was properly designed to alternate typing between hands.

[ Parent ]
What speed? Machine or Human? (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 04:07:07 PM EST

I'll gladly concede that the QWERTY layout was designed to increase speed. So was the Dvorak layout. But there is a key (!) difference. QWERTY was designed to improve the speed of the underlying mechanism. Dvorak was designed to improve the speed of the typist. This is a very large difference in design philosophy.

The $64k question is: does this difference in design philosophy lead to any real difference in implementation? An answer, so far, has not really been provided. Properly trained typists type pretty darned fast in either QWERTY or Dvorak. The difference in speed (if any) only applies to typists that type above a certain ridiculously fast rate.

I'd be more prone to believe that there may be some benefit in the Dvorak layout to people with certain types of injuries. The evidence that Dvorak may help with RSI is intriguing (although inconclusive unless there are studies I am not aware of). There is also good evidence to show that the Dvorak layout may be better for single handed typists.

The bottom line for me is that if I'm ever inclined to improve my typing speed, I'll train on QWERTY because it is what I know and my speed and accuracy will be improved more by acquiring good habits in less time than relearning to type.

Oh, and I'm a frequent (but not exclusive) user of vi. I don't want to even think of my trying to rewire my neuro-macros for vi keystroke sequences.

[ Parent ]

Have you ever noticed... (2.50 / 2) (#11)
by AgentGray on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 02:50:14 PM EST

...what it is you do when you type? I don't type properly. I'm more of a four-six finger typist. However, I do type pretty fast. (Proper typing would probably be faster).

I have noticed that when I do type that my eyes wander somewhere between the keyboard and the screen. It's kind of like wigging out when you stare at a 3D stereogram.

Good article. I feel motivated to learn how to type properly and efficiently.

re: have you ever noticed.... (none / 0) (#58)
by donutz on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 04:24:32 PM EST

Yeah, I notice that I've resorted to only Shift-ing with my left pinky; almost never with my right pinky finger. I'm not sure where that habit snuck in since I first took a typing course my freshman year of high school, but it's there. Now I've got to try to retrain my right pinky to do its job....
Real news sucks. Ours is made up.
[ Parent ]
Typing is not hard. (2.00 / 1) (#12)
by AgentGray on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 02:56:42 PM EST

I should have mentioned this in my other comment but oh well.

Learning to type is not really that hard. I was going to http://www.easytype.com and learning at the time. It's free and actually somewhat entertaining.

Put it in a diary (1.25 / 4) (#13)
by hardburn on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 03:08:59 PM EST

Hmmm, some prose about what you've been doing over the last few weeks. Could it be better in a diary? I think so. Hey, I'd like to look into Dvorak too, but put it in a diary, please.


while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

Editorial (1.00 / 2) (#17)
by retinaburn on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 03:39:32 PM EST

This comment should be an Editorial comment not topical. Live and learn.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

[ Parent ]
No Editorial option (2.75 / 4) (#22)
by pin0cchio on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 04:48:22 PM EST

This comment should be an Editorial comment not topical.

You're lucky to be able to criticize hardburn. A few minutes later and the Editorial option would NOT be available. The option to post an Editorial comment disappears the moment the article is Posted.

[ Parent ]
Huh (none / 0) (#48)
by retinaburn on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 08:47:30 AM EST

I was just suggesting that next time a comment such as his was made it should be in editorial, because it was an editorial comment. If I could have made an editorial reply to his I would have. He posted the comment BEFORE the article was posted so it could have been an editorial. He made a mistake and I just notified him NICELY.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

[ Parent ]
Sorry (none / 0) (#56)
by hardburn on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 02:49:29 PM EST

Mis-clicked and didn't notice. Sorry.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
I tried it... (2.50 / 2) (#15)
by MicroBerto on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 03:28:19 PM EST

I actually got pretty quick with dvorak. I'm also very very fast with qwerty. However, my brain couldn't handle switching between the computers at school and mine at home. So I had to call it quits, I had too much programming to do and the errors on qwerty were killing me.

I do wish dvorak was the standard though. Oh well.

- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip

Novel, but flawed. (2.00 / 1) (#16)
by zephiros on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 03:35:32 PM EST

C and V are on the right hand side of the keyboard. This wasn't a big deal, until I tried the familiar mark-with-mouse, copy, click-with-mouse, paste task. The Dvorak layout turns this into a sprawling, vulcan death grip-like combination for the left hand (especially on my ergonomic keyboard, which is not really designed for one-hand typing).

It would be nice to see a completely new keyboard layout, based on modern use cases. You'd think someone would have tackled this task by now.
Kuro5hin is full of mostly freaks and hostile lunatics - KTB

Dvorak not to blame. (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by static on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 05:18:39 PM EST

It took me years to learn Ctrl+V as paste because I was so used to Shift+Insert. I dunno who thought up Ctrl+V, but the location of it - next to X and C - would have had something to do with it.

Notice that Shift+Insert hasn't moved on a Dvorak keyboard? Well, unfortunately, MS have taken the attitude that Shift+Insert was a mistake and are trying to make people change to Ctrl+V. And all these non-MS programs are following them! Duh!


[ Parent ]

Usability Should Drive Design (none / 0) (#33)
by zephiros on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 06:59:35 PM EST

Yes, it would be nice if every software company would simply change the cut/copy/paste keys in their software. However, as this is unlikely to happen any time in the near future, keyboard design must follow application standards. I would hardly expect Dr. Dvorak to have anticipated the future significance of the X, C, and V keys back in the 40's. I'm not disparaging the original design, I'm identifying an impediment to adoption today.
Kuro5hin is full of mostly freaks and hostile lunatics - KTB
[ Parent ]
shift+insert still works (none / 0) (#41)
by Delirium on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 03:29:18 AM EST

Well, Shift+Insert does still work in windows. By default it has the same behavior as ctrl+v does (though I suppose a program could conceivably support one and not the other, all the ones I've tested do).

[ Parent ]
I hate these evil Microsoft conventions (none / 0) (#43)
by blackwizard on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 04:22:54 AM EST

That reminds me -- I absolutely *DESPISE* the fact that Microsoft has made Control-C the pseudo-standard for the "copy" command. This is totally rediculous. I *hate* it when I've been working on an MS machine for awhile, then move to virtually any UNIX system, and kill important things I was doing when I use "control-c". Not to mention "control-alt-delete" -- argh -- now I find myself rebooting my linux boxen when I really mean to "lock workstation". Argh!! (I know, I'm a dork... you don't have to remind me)

[ Parent ]
Macintosh actually (none / 0) (#46)
by RiotNrrd on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 08:04:40 AM EST

I believe that the C X V convention originated on Mac keyboards (correct me if I'm wrong). It's not CTRL there, but Command - that weird propeller-type thingy to the right of the spacebar. And on a Mac you can use all sorts of funky modifiers with the basic cut 'n paste, so I would file this under "Stuff that Microsoft copied badly from Apple", if only I could find some more space in that area...

-- There is a rational explanation for everything. Unfortunately there is also an irrational one.
[ Parent ]
to make things slightly better... (none / 0) (#65)
by 31: on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 07:47:07 AM EST

well, i sorta like the ctr-c, just cause i tend to (when at a unix computer), select something with the mouse (to copy), then select what i want to paste over, and middle click... oops. and it makes sense everytime, until nothing happens.

but for the reboot, you might wanna take this line out of /etc/inittab (well, that's where redhat puts it, hopefully it's easily findable on other linuxes)

ca::ctrlaltdel:/sbin/shutdown -t3 -r now

that's gotten me a few times... switchbox on the wrong thing, and the technical director knocks on the door... "so, um, why'd server x just go down?" my lame answer, "i was trying to log into this one..."

[ Parent ]
I'm glad you reminded me of that (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by blackwizard on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 06:04:38 PM EST

Thanks for reminding me of that. I remember seeing that on a RedHat system awhile ago, and I forgot to check if that was in the /etc/inittab of my slackware system. In any case, I took a little bit of time last night to write a script that displays a warning message the first time you press control-alt-delete, and if you press it again within a specified number of seconds, it actually reboots your system.

$ cat /sbin/ctrlaltdel
# /sbin/ctrlaltdel
# Control-alt-delete interception script
# Written by Mike Pontillo [2001.03.23]

# Time to wait before assuming user really did not want to shut down

# Paths to various system utilities

# File to create to indicate control-alt-del has been pressed at least once

# Command to run upon confirmation
SHUTDOWN_COMMAND="/sbin/shutdown -t 5 -rf"

# Messages that display on the console
ABORT_MSG="[[[ Self-destruct sequence cancelled. ]]]"

INTERCEPT_MSG1="[[[ Control-Alt-Delete intercepted: self-destruct sequence activated ]]]"
INTERCEPT_MSG2="[[[ Press again within $TIME second`if [ $TIME -gt 1 ]; then echo s; fi` to confirm ]]]"

CONFIRM_MSG1="[[[ -----> Self-Destruct sequence confirmed <----- ]]]"

if [ -e "$FLAG" ]; then


# Wait in a separate process, so init does not block the second control-alt-del

/sbin/ctrlaltdel-wait &

# EOF (/sbin/ctrlaltdel)

$ cat /sbin/ctrlaltdel-wait
# /sbin/ctrlaltdel-wait
# Control-alt-delete interception script -- delay process
# Written by Mike Pontillo [2001.03.23]

if [ -e $FLAG ]; then
$RM -f $FLAG

# EOF (/sbin/ctrlaltdel-wait)

Of course, I modified that line of the inittab to read:


[ Parent ]
whoops (none / 0) (#75)
by blackwizard on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 05:50:41 PM EST

There is a slight error in this script; which I didn't catch because of the way I tested it (I never actually rebooted my boc) -- if anyone wants to use this script, you must add the word "now" to the end of the SHUTDOWN_COMMAND. I was testing with "+30" instead of "now" and instead of taking out the "+30" I removed it. My bad!

[ Parent ]
I sympathize (3.33 / 3) (#21)
by Kellnerin on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 04:29:12 PM EST

I once did something similar, but not as drastic. Even in the old QWERTY style keyboard there are differences in layout between languages. One summer I had an internship in France and had to use a French keyboard (the better to type the funky accents, m'dear ...). I started to adjust and then one day was playing with the system settings and discovered I could click a menu setting and have my old US keyboard again. I'd taken enough French courses to be proficient at typing avec accents without having to stretch my pinky to where the backslash should be to do an e-accent-aigu or some such nonsense. (And for some strange reason the A and Q are switched in France ... why?) It seemed like a good idea to switch back. Problem was, my brain was stuck halfway between the two and my fingers couldn't figure out where to be (and no, being confused by looking at the keyboard wasn't the issue).

I'll have to second the endorsements of MUDs as the way to become a fast typist. That, and taking dictation, but may you never be so unfortunate as to have to do so ... Dvorak definitely gets points for nonconformity and the confuse the heck out of anyone who tries to touch my computer factor, but I use too many keyboards (one of which is a typewriter) in the course of a day and I think my brain would implode.

The saddest part may be that I had the hardest time typing QWERTY correctly, because my right hand kept wanting to put a "U" in there somewhere.
Somebody go tell Kellnerin it's time for her to change her sig. -johnny

VI? (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by static on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 05:20:24 PM EST

How much stranger is vi in the new layout? Is it murder with hjkl in the wrong spot?


vi + Dvorak = just fine (none / 0) (#34)
by mbrubeck on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 07:30:23 PM EST

My keyboard is Dvorak and I do all my editing in vim. It works fine for me, though it probably helps that I already typed Dvorak when I learned vi. If I was used to vi keybindings under qwerty it might have been hard to switch.

Anyway, it's convenient that H is still to the left of L, and K isn't above J or anything. The colon is no longer on home row, which may slow me down a bit. On the other hand, / and N are a bit easier to hit on Dvorak, and so is the period key.

[ Parent ]

Comfort / RMI... (2.40 / 5) (#29)
by SvnLyrBrto on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 05:29:08 PM EST

A quick bit of advice from one who learned the hard way...

I noticed you mentioned comfort more than once. If you're switching or considering switching to the DVORAK layout for comfort / RMI / carpal tunnel reasons, you would do well, before throwing out years of typeing expierence, to switch to a Kinesis ergonomic keyboard.

I switched to their professional contour model some time ago, and it's a DRAMATIC improvement, in both my comfort AND speed.

And if you still want a DVORAK layout after all.... Well, a Kinesis will do that too.


Imagine all the people...

Kinesis == confusing (none / 0) (#39)
by Erbo on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 12:13:47 AM EST

One of the women in my office has one of those Kinesis Contoured Keyboards (the one that looks like the keys are mostly clustered in two "bowls"). I can pretty much guarantee that nobody else will ever use her machine when she's not around; that thing is confusing, way more confusing than even the so-called "Natural" keyboards...

Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

Kinesis != Confusing (none / 0) (#60)
by kod on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 05:03:11 PM EST

that thing is confusing, way more confusing than even the so-called "Natural" keyboards...

What's confusing about it? My Kinesis uses a qwerty layout, split into two halves. The only differences are small (keys are in parallel columns, rather than at weird angles,left thumb backspaces while right thumb spaces) and are logical advantages.

Anyone with the flexibility to consider switching to dvorak can certainly grok a Kinesis within a day or two.

[ Parent ]

Kinesis == Confusing *to me* (none / 0) (#63)
by Erbo on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 02:36:36 AM EST

Perhaps I should have qualified that. It's confusing to me. Even the "Natural" keyboards confuse me; I have all kinds of trouble every time I try to use one. The Kinesis looks much weirder. Still, though, Betsy can do her work with it, so she must have it figured out.

I guess I'm just a throwback. (The first keyboard I typed on was a Smith-Corona portable manual typewriter; how many other people posting here could say the same?) I'm happy with my Dell enhanced keyboard at work and my IBM RapidAccess Pro at home...and the regular ol' QWERTY layout.

Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

answer (none / 0) (#78)
by Ishtaba on Fri Mar 29, 2002 at 10:17:49 AM EST

Dear Eric; how about a manual Olympia portable, 1964? I still have it. You have discovered one of the keys to happiness, Choice. Pass it along. Ishtaba

[ Parent ]
"Left-handed" QWERTY keyboards. (none / 0) (#45)
by Niggle on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 06:58:05 AM EST

The main comfort problem I have with standard QWERTY keyboards is when I have to do a lot of switching between keyboard and mouse.

The positioning of the cursor keys and numeric pad means that the mouse is a fairly significant distance from the main section of the keyboard.

I recently had a look at "left handed" qwerty keyboards (I'm right handed BTW and have the mouse on the right). The main section of these is identical to a normal layout, but they have the cursor/number keys on the left. Didn't buy one because of the silly prices (5-10 times a normal keyboard). Just wondered if anybody had tried these and had an opinion to offer?

[ Parent ]

Kinesis (none / 0) (#61)
by scruffyMark on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 06:33:06 PM EST

I recently got myself a Kinesis KB, and the difference is amazing. My wrists hardly get sore from typing at all anymore.

It is astounding, when I find myself using a regular keyboard, how unnatural and strained the position my hands are in. I also keep hitting the spacebar when I want to erase, but that's pretty minor

It seems that these keyboards were also not designed for coding at all. The + and -, as well as all sorts of braces, are in inconvenient spots. Similarly, the lack of a proper numeric keypad can lead to mode errors. I have been thinking of getting a freestandind keypad, and sticking it down in between the two keywells.

Even so, I would never go back to a regular keyboard layout.

[ Parent ]

My thoughts on Dvorak (5.00 / 3) (#30)
by bjrubble on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 05:36:55 PM EST

I've been typing on Dvorak for over 5 years now. It took several months to get really comfortable with it, and I have to shift my brain whenever I find myself on a QWERTY keyboard. Here are a few things I've noticed:

* Dvorak may not be faster, but it's more comfortable. The explicit design decision of Dvorak was to minimize finger movement when typing English. In that it works great -- I'm sitting here typing, and I notice that my fingers rarely leave the home keys, and the keystrokes really flow into each other well.

* Dvorak wasn't designed for code. In particular, I really dislike the placement of the curly braces -- they're up where the - and + keys are in QWERTY. Not very easy to reach, and if you leave your keyboard unmarked, once you move your hands you can get lost easily. I've also noticed that different flavors of Dvorak map a lot of the punctuation keys differently.

* Dvorak definitely wasn't designed for vi. I use emacs, which works pretty well, but vi assumes QWERTY mapping for navigation and whatnot. I would recommend against Dvorak if you're a vi user.

* I'm ambivalent about it, but Dvorak is a great way to ensure nobody can operate your computer. Especially if you don't mark the keyboard. People sit down at my computer and start typing, look quizzically at the screen, backspace and type again, and usually repeat the whole process three or four times before asking me what the hell is up with my computer.

* On that note, there are 2 shell aliases I always have installed:
alias asdf='xmodmap xmap.dvorak'
alias aeou='xmodmap xmap.qwerty'

(modify map files to suit your setup)
Whichever map is installed, type the left four keys of the home row and it will switch to the other. Very convenient.

I've given up proselytizing for Dvorak. It works well, but for most people the pain of relearning and the minor annoyances of a QWERTY-centric world outweigh the benefits.

My God, I'm an idiot (none / 0) (#31)
by bjrubble on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 05:39:56 PM EST

Uhh, that alias under Dvorak should be aoeu -- you'd think that I could at least type that one right!

[ Parent ]
my experiences (4.25 / 4) (#32)
by mikpos on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 05:44:17 PM EST

It took me two attempts to learn Dvorak. Once when I was about 15 and then one again about a year later (when I was, wait for it, 16). I relate learning a new keyboard layout to learning a new language in many different ways, not least of which is learning it: especially when you're not forced to use a keyboard (person) which uses the layout (language), it's easy to lose motivation and revert back to QWERTY (English). Unfortunately the solution is not so easy with keyboards. If you want to learn French *fast*, an easy way would be to go to France or a French colony for a while. There is no Dvorkia, though; there will always be a way for you to switch back to QWERTY if you get frustrated.

I found the frustration extremely useful. The point is to use it in controlled environments, though, so that you have no rational reason to give up (I learned it over summer holidays during high school when I was no pressure to type quickly). I found that falling back on printed layouts (English-French dictionary) counter-productive; I just unded up using it as a crutch. Physically changing the keys is *far* worse than even that, because it teaches poor typing habits (I'd actually prefer a keyboard with unlabelled keys). This is finally your chance to learn proper type-touching; don't ruin it.

IRC was where I learned Dvorak. For the first few days, the only thing I could type (without backspacing a few times to get it right) were the letters 'h' and 'a' (BTW the 'common letters' between Dvorak and QWERTY: 'a' and 'm' are actually quite annoying; don't think that they'll make things easier). It wasn't for a week or two that I was typing more than 10wpm. After that, though, it's no longer frustrating and you will not want to give up and return to QWERTY. IRC is a good environment, though: you're under no pressure, and people can't see you typing to make fun of you.

Anyway, what I was talking about frustration. I hate not being able to do things, and typing for days on end, and getting EVERY SINGLE LETTER WRONG OVER AND OVER AGAIN pissed me off to no end. The end result is that I quickly learned not to make mistakes.

Anyway, Dvorak is not faster than QWERTY. Well possibly, but not noticeable so. It is more comfortable, though. My QWERTY did not suffer speed-wise, though, mostly because I must keep my QWERTY up when using other people's machines.

So, yeah, Dvorak is cool. Learn it.

French and QWERTY (4.50 / 2) (#44)
by streetlawyer on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 04:27:17 AM EST

If you want to learn French *fast*, an easy way would be to go to France or a French colony for a while

Where you will find that the keyboards are AZERTY, and you will question your will to live very shortly after beginning to type something.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Control keys (none / 0) (#35)
by mbrubeck on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 07:46:17 PM EST

I also use Dvorak. However, my keyboard layout has some other personal touches that I think are even more useful. The most important by far is the extra control key. Anyone who's used an old VT100 terminal or a Sun workstation knows that the original, proper Unix keyboard layout has a control key to the left of the A, where caps-lock is found on PCs. This is vital for fast use of the Unix console environment, especially for GNU readline gurus, and advanced vi or emacs users.

Left handed QWERTY (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by lavaforge on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 08:27:47 PM EST

It's interesting to note that a left-handed typist will on average type 12% faster than a right handed one on a QWERTY keyboard. I like being left-handed.
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." -- Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut
It's all about training (none / 0) (#49)
by Lion on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 09:17:09 AM EST

True, left hand is used a bit more than right on a QWERTY keyboard.

It can be said that since lefties control better their strong hand, they have an advantage.

However, I'm right handed, but I'm also a guitarist, so I have no problem coordinating movements with all my left-hand fingers, and I type just as fast or faster than lefties I know.

It's anecdotal, I know, but still... :)

[ Parent ]
Left-handed/Right-brained (none / 0) (#55)
by starbreeze on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 01:04:05 PM EST

That's an interesting fact. I am left-handed, and very right-brained. I would guess that the fact that most right-brainers think more spatially than left-brainers comes into play. I don't think I could recite any of the keys on a keyboard but my fingers know the direction to go in and I never have to look down.

Also, many of my co-workers have commented on how very fast I type. Although it became a developed habit from IRC'ing too much, I never learned how to type properly, I suppose the qwerty method just feels so natural, so my typing is pretty much close to it. :P

"There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor
[ Parent ]

Vi (none / 0) (#38)
by DJBongHit on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 11:45:34 PM EST

How hard was it to relearn vi with Dvorak? That's really the only thing keeping me from trying it (I used it temporarily for awhile, got pretty good with it, but that was before I was a vi user).


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

vi and dvorak (none / 0) (#54)
by agentk on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 10:50:01 AM EST

Most apps have mneumonic keys. 'm' to Mail a new message, 'f' to post a new Followup, but I think a monster key re-mapping session would be required for vi. Namely: hjkl :)

[ Parent ]
Keyboard shortcuts ? (3.50 / 2) (#50)
by f5426 on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 09:50:49 AM EST

I have considered switching to DVORAK several times, but most shortcuts I use are designed to be operated with the left hand alone. It looks really weird on a DVORAK keyboard. For people not familiar with the layout, it would be similar to using (on qwerty)

Cmd-< to close a window
Cmd-/ to undo
Cmd-B to cut
Cmd-I to copy
Cmd-> to paste
Cmd-; To save

How dvorakians deals with that ? This is the only point that ever prevented me to go dvorak...



Modified Dvorak (none / 0) (#59)
by korc on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 04:49:16 PM EST

I've used modified Dvorak layouts which kept modifier keys (except shift) the same - it's pretty confusing at the beginning, but if that's the way you want to go...
[ Parent ]
Dvorak (none / 0) (#77)
by Ishtaba on Fri Mar 29, 2002 at 09:46:22 AM EST

I see your point; as a left hander your short cuts are not as convenient. But Command-Q (cmd-x) is right where you need it. So are the first four function keys my Keytime keyboard assigns to "undo, cut, copy, and paste." They seem to work in everything except SimpleText. Since you mentioned "Cmd," I assume you are on a Mac. There must be a way to assign shortcuts to function keys? Many years ago I watched a demonstration film (8mm I think) of a secretary typing on a manual typewriter, one QWERTY, one Dvorak. On QWERTY her fingers flew all over the keyboard. On Dvorak, they tended to rest on the home row. Please see the story I posted. Ishtaba

[ Parent ]
quitting the habit (none / 0) (#53)
by agentk on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 10:45:24 AM EST

I've tried several times to quit qwerty and use dvorak, but failed every time. I needed to type something fast, and switched back. I got a new keyboard. Then I got a new job, new workstation. It's like quitting smoking.

Common misconception about thq qwerty KB (5.00 / 3) (#62)
by 3trunk on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 12:10:47 AM EST

The qwerty keyboard was NOT designed to slow you down - it was designed such that common letter pairings in the english language did not result in adjacent hammers on typwriters moving forward at the same time and getting stuck. This is *completely* different to being designed to slow you down.

I tried it after reading this story.. (none / 0) (#68)
by Rainy on Fri Mar 23, 2001 at 09:11:27 PM EST

I did apt-get install dvorak7min in debian and what it does is basically it teaches you dvorak typing. It's rather nice. I figure it'll take 2 week or so to get up to speed now. I don't expect huge gains, I'm not even out to improve my speed (mostly you think 3-4 times as much as you type, so even a 30% gain isn't a big deal) but I do expect it to be easier and more natural. My hands used to hurt but all pain stopped after I started using right posture and right hand placement (hint - they should be hovering over the keyboard, NOT resting on the damn wristrest - it's for resting your hands when NOT typing). I don't work now so I can take a few weeks to learn this. Also, as another poster mentioned, define these 2 aliases:
alias asdf='xmodmap xmap.dvorak'
alias aoeu='xmodmap xmap.qwerty'
(you have to type both logged in as root). We'll see if I have enough patience for this..
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
QWERTY bad is an Urban Legend (none / 0) (#70)
by redelm on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 03:16:44 PM EST

The key WW2 US Navy study finding the Dvorak kbd was efficient was conducted by none other than August Dvorak himself! Talk about conflict of interest.

Have a look at the UrbanLegends.com entry. And at the original Reason article. /. links posted by others are also good.

Its like highschool in here. (1.00 / 2) (#71)
by mondoterrifico on Sat Mar 24, 2001 at 04:58:25 PM EST

It seems that the majority of posters to this site choose things based on some misconception that if it is popular than by definition it is wrong. This is a well known urban myth, and it is a little disheartening to see people once again tripping over the same mistakes, in blind allegiance to what is presumed to be alternative and therefore better, solution. Just my two cents
What the hell is a sig???
I have to disagree (5.00 / 1) (#73)
by fink on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 08:34:06 PM EST

As far as I can tell, the writer of this article did not, at any stage, imply that "popular == wrong". Seemed to me, to be a fairly neutral article, just saying "this is what I did, and this is why I did it, and this is what happened".

What is best for one, is not best for all. So this guy tried something new - good for him.
Some like dvorak - it is a better designed layout. Some like QWERTY - it is the more common layout. Similar, I suppose, to why people like Windows.

On that point, I think that what you're trying to say is the same as the reason some people switch to "alternative" OSes, such as Linux and the BSDs. It exists as an "excuse", I believe it is a problem, because when people don't find it "better" they complain about it more.
I just don't think it's an issue in this case.

People using and finding alternatives is the way that society progresses as a whole. That can be taken down to the individual's level - one can learn what is "best" for them by trying alternatives. Hey, if it doesn't work, they've learned something. If it does work, they've learned something - and are better off as well.

[ Parent ]

use your gamepad instead of your keyboard (4.50 / 2) (#74)
by mkc on Sun Mar 25, 2001 at 11:05:58 PM EST

If learning Dvorak isn't wild enough for you, you might look at weegie, which lets you use a two-joystick gamepad in place of your keyboard and mouse. (Warning: it's very alpha.)
-- Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a day. Give him a patent on fishing and he can enjoy watching everyone else starve every day.
Dvorak (none / 0) (#76)
by Ishtaba on Thu Mar 28, 2002 at 07:36:11 PM EST

From one who considered the grade of "C" the key to heaven, here is my 2 cents worth: It took me 20 years to make the decision to switch to Dvorak. Since I was a lousy QWERTY typist, learning Dvorak was not a challenge. I bought a color coded "place mat" form Keytime.com and learned Dvorak while I watched television. To avoid a war with my secretarial wife, I bought a dual layout keyboard in 1993. She never intends to switch, but admits the Dvorak layout is better. As for a software solution, the Dvorak layout is in Mac OS 8.6 (not sure about 8.5) and above. Below 8.6 the layout can be easily added. It is also very easy to toggle between Dvorak and QWERTY. I have no regrets. I even sent keyboards to school with my two children. Here is an example of what can be typed on the Dvorak home row (except punctuation). A Home Row Story by Jenny Guy (typed on the home row) The Tale: Edith's Sis and Son The hot sun shone on the Indiana house as Edith and Aunt Denise ate. "I detest onions" said Denise. "Onions nauseate one." "Then don't eat the hash. Taste the tuna dish instead" said Edith. Then she added, "This heat is unsuited to the season." Edith's son, Sean, hesitated to eat the hash, too. Aunt Denise dotes on Sean. He ate nineteen donuts and a honied Danish instead. A sudden noise - Santa on the house! Anon, Santa stood in the hot ashes. He had the dented antenna in his hand. "Hide!" said Sean. "Santa is in the house! He shuns those not hidden." Sean, Edith and Denise headed to the shed to hide. Sean had hidden his Nintendo in the shed, too. He used it as he sat, hidden. Denise and Edith detested Nintendo. "Hush" hissed Denise. "I hate Nintendo noise." A toad sat in its nest in the shed. The toad's tune soothed Denise and Edith. Then Santa nodded his nose and dashed South and East to a hot destination, an oasis in the sand dunes. Denise, Edith and Sean hastened into the house to see the doodads Santa had hidden. Santa had donated a dinette set, hats, suede shoes and a stone statue, tied in thin, tinted satin. "This is insane! shouted the astounded Sean. "No Nintendo add-ons! No hot sound set! I hinted to Santa.... Toss that dinette set out!" Denise steadied Sean. "The dinette set is not the issue" she said. "Don't sound so snide. Eat that sundae and shush." Sean ate his sundae. Edith noshed on sushi. Denise tasted tahini on toast. The sun set and Sean, soothed and sated, nested 'neath satin sheets. His head nodded. The siesta done, the sun tinted the stone house anon. Sun shone in the sash. Sean needed a tissue. He had the snottiest nose and sinuses. "I need a tetanus shot" he said. "No" said Edith. "Eat toast and hot tea. Then eat anise-seasoned hash, Thai tuna, oats, nuts and seeds, and not those donuts and sodas. Those assist diseases. Aunt Denise, shod in suede shoes, dashes to the Senate on a steed. Denise has a seat in the Senate. Undaunted, Denise assists Innuit Indians to attain statehood. She shuns the tainted toadies indited on handouts. Dutious Denise shines as Athena shines. She unites the hidden Indian nations, intent as she is on issues, and detests those odious, dishonest asses that assassinate due to insinuation and innuendo. One odious ass has set out to unseat Denise. He dishes out heated taunts. Honest Denise stands in steadiness on issues. The data is in, odds on Denise. She is ahead. He desists. Denise sits and has a soda. The ashen, ousted, stunned, shunned, dishonest idiot that had set out to unseat Denise does not hesitate. He hastens out. Denise's aide is honest and stout. He is saddened at that nonunion idiot's innuendoes. "Shoot" intones Denise, "That's the Senate. Eat these nuts and dates." that nonunion idiot's innuendoes. "Shoot" intones Denise, "That's the Senate. Eat these nuts and dates." THE END

I have no QWERTY and I must scream | 78 comments (78 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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