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In response to olympe_maxime's comment about switching to… - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
In response to olympe_maxime's comment about switching to DVORAK, I went to find out what DVORAK was. New keyboard layout. I looked at pros and cons. The cheerleading site said it was good for all typists, though some QWERTY typists with really high speeds (over 60wpm was their definition of "fast") wouldn't get much use out of it and might slow down.

So I took a typing test.

The last time I tested, I was at 67wpm with 95% accuracy. Six more years online, and I'm up to 80wpm with 97% accuracy. I'm aiming for my grandmother's 100wpm speed. I think I'll stick with my current keyboard, thanks. ;) (My speed picked up immensely when I switched from hunt-and-peck to QWERTY, so I admit to having an emotional attachment to it and wouldn't change it anyway. I'm not entirely sure what the point is supposed to be. Either way requires learning to type, and one is in standard use.)
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Comments
straussmonster From: straussmonster Date: January 13th, 2006 01:12 am (UTC) (Link)
QWERTY was designed for typewriters, and as such was actually designed to slow you down (to keep you at a pace with the hammers). Dvorak is apparently more logical, which helps you go faster without as obsessive of practice. I have a friend who lurves it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 13th, 2006 01:20 am (UTC) (Link)
The layout didn't seem particularly more logical when I looked at it, honestly. Not less logical than QWERTY, just not something especially intuitive--the keys aren't in alphabetical order or anything, so it's still a question of memorizing where they are and teaching your fingers to go there.

I'd spend the whole time hunting and pecking again, I think! :shudder:
ratcreature From: ratcreature Date: January 13th, 2006 01:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Well alphabetically would be obviously a really bad choice for touch typing. From what I heard the more frequent letters are all at the baseline, so that you don't have to reach up and down so much like with qwerty (like for the e), but there are huge wanky pro and con controversies surrounding the issue of the optimal keyboard layout...
straussmonster From: straussmonster Date: January 13th, 2006 01:55 am (UTC) (Link)
It's more logical in that it puts more often used things underneath your fingers, eliminating much of the reaching and such of QWERTY. Reduction in movement of the hands=greater speed, much like the designs of key systems in wind instruments.
parallactic From: parallactic Date: January 13th, 2006 01:13 am (UTC) (Link)
The way I heard it, several years ago, was that QWERTY was used to slow down typewriter typists, because fast typists got the typewriter keys jammed. The DVORAK is supposed to be more ergonomic, and to have a more practical keyboard layout, since we don't have the typewriter jam problem. I have no idea if this is true or not.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 13th, 2006 01:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, the site said "slowing down" was a side effect--it was that the hammers of common letter combinations were too close together and got tangled.

QWERTY works quite well--why go to all the trouble of changing it? Seems impractical to me.
ratcreature From: ratcreature Date: January 13th, 2006 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
The proponents claim it reduces repetitive stress injuries to switch from qwerty to something more ergonomical. And I can see how changes would make a difference, like that the y is switched with the z on a German keyboard, and that the punctuation is moved to less convenient places to easily reach äöü make much sense when typing German, but constantly reaching with the little finger for the y and having to reach down for punctuation is bothersome when typing English a lot, so little changes can make a difference. I have never tried dvorak, though, so I can't say whether it's really that much better specifically, Personally, don't type extremely long chunks of text uninterrupted and with computers and using software I have to reach for control and formatting key combinations fairly often anyway, so I never bothered.
(Deleted comment)
ratcreature From: ratcreature Date: January 13th, 2006 08:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I couldn't say, as I never used an English keyboard for any length of time, it's just that online I have to type English a lot, and the
ratcreature From: ratcreature Date: January 13th, 2006 08:49 am (UTC) (Link)
(no idea why my comment was posted partially earlier, it was supposed to say:)

Well, I couldn't say, as I never used an English keyboard for any length of time, it's just that online I have to type English a lot, and the placement of the y for example on a Grman keyboard does put more stress on my hands when typing English texts.

tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: January 13th, 2006 09:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Equally, if I have a long passage of German to type, I always switch over to the German layout (although entering the umlaut characters is better on the mac than the PC anyway, as the shortcut is the easy to remember alt-u then the letter you want.

A bit irritating to have to switch back to get the £ sign, though.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 13th, 2006 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I would really not want to go through the trouble of learning a new keyboard at this point.

Exactly.

As far as the RSIs go, most of the typing RSIs come from wrist position, not finger position; that's not going to change from keyboard layout.

It's just a case of, jeez, it's not broke, why fix it? There's nothing wrong with qwerty. I'm sure that learning it isn't all that hard--typing only took one semester to master--but what on Earth is the point? I think in qwerty. And I also type a lot faster than I handwrite. And a lot more legibly.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: January 13th, 2006 12:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I typed 90 wpm in QWERTY before I switched, and now type even faster in Dvorak.

Of course, I'm a total freak who actually thinks of learning new keyboards as fun rather than a pain in the ass, so you may not want to pay attention to that.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 13th, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it's definitely not something I would consider fun, and I don't see any other special point to it.
bizarity From: bizarity Date: January 13th, 2006 03:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hiya. I found your journal through McTabby's latest friending frenzy and I just though I'd let you know I am friending you.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: January 13th, 2006 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
The point of DVORAK is to help reduce repetitive stress on the wrists that are unavoidable when typing for long hours on QWERTY. Carpal Tunnel syndrome and all. I work on keyboards all the time - i'm a programmer in my day-job, and then I come home and write, so it makes sense for me.

Apparently it doesn't take very long to get used to DVORAK: 2 hrs a day for a month should bring most people's speed up to 60 wpm, and it's only going to go up from there. I know, I know, it's a real pain and there have been many points in the last three days when I've just wanted to throw my keyboard across the room... but it's long term gains and all, and I'm already getting better.

I don't know what site you went to, but most studies agree that the fastest DVORAK typists' speeds are higher than the fastest QWERTY ones, etc etc. But all I'm worried about is getting back to my 80 wpm. :)
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: January 13th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Also, there's a more logical arrangement of letters on DVORAK even if it isn't alphabetical. The vowels are all on the left hand side, so that most of the time keystrokes are alternating between hands, making typing faster. Also, the most often used letters all fall in the home row - not so in QWERTY - so finger movements are considerably less for DVORAK.

Less finger movements mean less wrist-movement, and that's one of the main factors in reduction of repetitive stress on the wrists.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 13th, 2006 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Most of the wrist problems come from the angle you hold your wrist at, not the motions of the fingers. (And frankly, the mouse is a bigger culprit there.)

I looked at the layout--it doesn't seem particularly logical to me, largely because the vowels are all there on one side. I feel like I'd be using my left hand (my dumb hand) a lot more than I do at present.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: January 13th, 2006 11:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Words Typed Using:..........DVORAK..........QWERTY
left hand only..............231.............285
right hand only.............91..............635
(these stats apply to English, obviously)

And vowels all on one side means that keystrokes are typed with alternating hands most of the time. Alternating hands is good because when one hand is typing, the other hand gets ready for the next keystroke, and so typing speed increases. It's also better to have the vowels on the left, because the chances of two consecutive vowels occuring is far less than the chances of two consonants occuring consecutively. This furthur decreases load on the left hand.
toastedcheese From: toastedcheese Date: January 13th, 2006 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I use Dvorak out of concern for my hands, since it's more ergonomically friendly, and I'm probably going to be spending my adult life hacking away at keyboards for one reason or another. It wasn't a hard switch, and I type at least as fast in Dvorak as I used to in Qwerty (80-100 wpm.) But if Qwerty is working for you, it's definitely not a necessary switch.
rosefyre From: rosefyre Date: January 13th, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
So, where's this test you took? I want to know my typing speed, on QWERTY, before I even consider any sort of switching.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 13th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't remember, but I got it at either the first or second in the list when I googled "typing speed" and test.
rosefyre From: rosefyre Date: January 13th, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good to know.
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