Tag Archives: Dvorak

Reattaching fingers…

Back in January I started teaching myself to use the Dvorak layout on my keyboards instead of the standard qwerty layout. I’ve struggled for three months, but yesterday I gave it up as a bad idea.

I could never get faster than 35 words per minute and when I wanted to type my thoughts directly, if I started to speed up, my fingers would revert to qwerty. The wiring was just too wired into place.

I got a copy of Mavis Beacon to help me transit back to reality, and today I can once again type without having to think of where to put my fingers. I feel like I’ve been a castaway for months and now have returned to civilization.

None of this is a knock on the Dvorak layout. I think it makes a lot of sense and that it is easier on the hands and fingers. But trying to rewire fifty-five years of neural qwertyness just doesn’t work, at least not for me.

My hands at this point have pretty much taken up where they left off three months ago, with an occasional reversion. I suspect I’m back to my normal 75 words per minute, or close to it, which, given that I only went back yesterday, is pretty amazing. All that newsroom typing  must be seriously engraved on my brain.

I feel free again. Wheeeeeee!

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My fingers have lost their tongues…

Lately I seem to have been on a masochistic streak, the best evidence of which was my decision to switch from standard keyboard to the Dvorak keyboard for typing.

In the past I have tried this switch a couple of times because Dvorak is a simpler typing system, considerably less stressful on the hands and fingers, and offering the potential for greater speed. However, at those times I was also out there in the world of work and everybody was stuck on QWERTY keyboards. It is extremely difficult to use both layouts simultaneously, as I quickly discovered. Now that I no longer have to worry about QWERTY world I decided to give Dvorak another try, and have done so for several weeks.

I feel as if the tongues have been cut out of my fingers. Using QWERTY I was a fast typist, 70 to 80 words a minute, and able to keep up with my thoughts. That is no longer the case. I can type now between 15 and 25 words a minute on a Dvorak layout, but it is a struggle. If I try to go faster I find my fingers reverting to the old layout, but at least I recognize the error when it happens.

Essentially, I’m trying to rewire an old brain that’s been doing the same thing for some 50 years and is not so keen on learning something new. On the other hand I think my neurons appreciate the challenge. Or, so I tell myself… In any event it’s frustrating but I do hope that in the long run it will be worth it. If nothing else I can always tell myself that as I got older, I wasn’t afraid to make a change in something important.

I have also added a couple of other challenges in the form of computer programs. One of them is called Scrivener, a Macintosh program being rewritten for windows. It is a writing program, focusing on gathering and organizing materials for virtually any kind of writing. It’s fascinating, it’s challenging, and I’m actually working in a beta version, which is not something I would normally do. But I do like the program.

Another new (to me) program that I like, well enough to have paid for, is called ConnectedText. It is essentially a personal wiki located on your desktop computer (or a laptop). I like that it uses markdown language for formatting and I like that it is really very flexible, as well as offering another challenge to my brain to learn something new.

Of course there is another challenge in all of this, which is that I have to consider the possibility that all of this may simply be a way to delay doing anything particularly useful or constructive. I seem to spend a good part of my life preparing to do things but not actually doing very many things. These new challenges could simply be an expression of that pattern.

However, all is not lost! I am dictating this post using speech recognition software from Dragon, thus giving my finger tongues and brain neurons a bit of a rest, as well as giving myself a little thrill by cheating. (Hey, I’m sort of human…)

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