The DVORAK Experience

October 26, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Posted in Hacking | Leave a comment
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A few months back I wrote about how I switched to DVORAK from QWERTY. Last week my logitech keyboard died and I searched for DVORAK keyboards and could not find anyone selling that online in INDIA. I guess INDIA is QWERTY, therefore I got myself a new DELL KB212-B wired USB2.0 keyboard. As per hardware quality, I will say for 440/- rupees it is damn good. DELL did a great job on manufacturing. I started typing on it and guess what, after using DVORAK for few months QWERTY arrangement felt so idiotic and dumb, not to mention painful, as if QWERTY was designed specially not for typing English words.  I was accidentally hitting DVORAK arrangement on QWERTY keyboard.  I have used QWERTY since the day I touched computer first time (10 years I guess) but subconciously my hands/fingers were never able to memorize more than half dozen key-positions but few months usage of DVORAK and now I can write 20 or more key-positions of DVORAK arrangement. Heck, I can draw full fledged DVORAK arrangement on paper just from my memory. With practice you can easily memorize any random key arrangement but mind you, I did not practice memorizing DVORAK. What I wean is: DVORAK matches human thought better than QWERTY.

I  did lot of search on QWERTY vs DVORAK vs XXXXXX and 99% of comparisons were based primarily relative to speed. Let me tell you again, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed and all comparisons were based on one criteria of speed. Everyone (especially the ones who are biased) have ignored the most basic requirement when it comes to typing: “comfort and ease of typing”.  I type almost whole day, I do programming and I write this blog and reply to my emails etc.  That is me. What about professional clerks and authors and fiction/non-fiction writers who have to type much-much longer hours.  Will you sacrifice your body (RSI and CTS) for just a keyboard habit ?  QWERTY does not give you more speed than DVORAK, it is the practice which does. All you have to do is change your habit to use DVORAK. Habit before Health or opposite ?

Well, I needed to chang the key arrangement. I noticed that keys were fixed, hence I could not change their places. Therefore, I decided to stick some handmade letters onto the keys and this is how keyboard looks like now. Trust me, I have not regretted a bit that my brand new keyboard looks like a children’s toy now. It is immense pleasure typing on DVORAK

Jpeg


Copyright © 2014 Arnuld Uttre, Village – Patti, P.O – Manakpur, Tehsil – Nangal, Distt. – Ropar, Punjab (INDIA)

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice, and the copyright notice, are preserved.

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The curse of QWERTY

August 6, 2014 at 6:37 pm | Posted in art, community | Leave a comment
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Two years back I started having pain in my hands, wrist joints, finger joints, neck and upper back. I searched about it and came to know lot of programmers face this and for some of them this pain turns into Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome . This was serious . The height of chair and monitor and keyboard were pretty right and I did not feel any problem with that. Then the biggest surprise came in the form of DVORAK keyboard. I came to know that QWERTY keyboard was actually designed to slow down typing. You should check out DVZINE at http://www.dvzine.org/ . That is just one website with few solid articles. The problems with QWERTY keyboard are mentioned at so many places on internet that it is impossible to read them all.  QWERTY is such a disgrace for humanity and I am amazed that with so much advancement in technology we still manufacture QWERTY keyboards. I came across so many different keyboard layouts: Colemak, Workman and Norman among the popular ones. I like to improve myself and the pain in hands, finger joints, neck and upper back was much of motivation to try something. I chose DVORAK above Colemak and Workman because latter two were based on QWERTY. I think one can not design a new and better model to solve a problem if its design is based on a faulty old model. Norman layout I could not find on Arch Linux. In India only QWERTY keyboards are available (as per hardware availability), so the only option was to change software and Linux has so many possibilities and options that it made me more happier. You do not need to change hardware, just some settings as per your distro. I have logitech wireless K260 motherboard and I decided to change the placement of keys on keyboard manually to DVORAK along with software settings. This is how it looks like:


As you can see every key was a fit for every other socket except these four: F, U, J and H. These four keys were fitting only in their original positions, I don’t know why. Hence I put handmade stickers on them and this is how my keyboard looks now:

Using this for 3 months now and pain in hands and finger joints is gone. Neck and upper back pain have reduced to a much larger degree but not totally gone. All these parts pain a lot if I sit for longer hours in front of computer (6-9 hours or more). I am not a doctor and you should consult a doctor if you are experiencing pains then please do not postpon a modical checkup. Here aro some points that may help:

  1. make sure monitor is at a height from ground where your neck is straight when you look at it
  2. make sure your chair has cushion and flexible back support. You can adjust the height of your chair to a comfortable level.
  3. Keyboard and mouse need to be at comfortable height and distance

The best option is to find a good computer table according to your height and build. It is very easy, you know your comfort level within few seconds of sitting on that chair and putting your hands on table. Please do not type (for Desktop Computer) while sitting on bed. It will cause lot of discomfort for many days.

There are many scientists/researchers/gvernment-organizations who after doing lots of research have concluded that all these alternatives like DVORAK, Colemak, Workman, Norman etc do not offer any advantages over QWERTY because human mind can adapt to any random pattern of keyboards, that a person can type as fast on QWERTY as on any other random pattern. Well that may be true and I can agree to that and I do not give much damn if my typing speed is 20 wpm or 50 wpm but what about RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ? I am using DVORAK from 3 months now and one day I just wanted to try QWERTY again to see how it feels. It was horrible experience to use QWERTY again. My hands were literally moving from one corner of keyboard to another (diaognally) causing mugh stress and pain in fingers. With DVORAK most of the words (of English language) exist on Home Row and hence there is not much diagonal movement of hands when you type. My mind did not forget the QWERTY layout though but that one hour was torture. I switched back to DVORAK and till date never tried that again. Though I face problems because keyboard is changed at Operating-System level(software level) than hardware level. So, when I have BIOS or a bootloader at my disposal then it behaves like QWERTY keyboard because this is what it is as per hardware construction. But this is a minor isssue compared to 99% of my time which I spent in OS than in BIOS/bootloader.


Copyright © 2014 Arnuld Uttre, Village – Patti, P.O – Manakpur, Tehsil – Nangal, Distt. – Ropar, Punjab (INDIA)

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice, and the copyright notice, are preserved.

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