30 December, 2008

Dvorak Keyboard

I'm no efficiency master. There are tons of things I do that are inefficient. But I do try to minimize them as much as I can. My most recent random attempt at better efficiency was to change my laptop keyboard layout to the Dvorak layout. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, don't worry, I hadn't heard of the Dvorak layout either. Here's a summary:

When keyboards were being invented, the keys had a tendency to jam. This caused the inventor to change the placement of the keys so that the most commonly used keys were as far apart as possible to reduce jamming. While this successfully fixed the jamming issue, it also set up keyboards incredibly inefficiently. And for some reason, we have continued to use the same layout.
Somewhere around 1930, Dr. August Dvorak tested efficiency in the office and realized that the QWERTY (standard) keyboard layout was incredibly inefficient. After much research and after trying numerous layouts, he eventually came up with the Dvorak layout. Here's the basic premise: put the most common letters under the fastest fingers on the home row. Smart, huh? 
But because everyone was so used to the QWERTY layout, few people converted, and it (obviously) has not become an industry standard.
The good news is that even though keyboards do not tend to be set up in the Dvorak layout, it is incredibly easy to change most operating systems to use the Dvorak layout. Here is a website that shows you how.
So, now that I have rambled on and on, here is my story: I changed my keyboard! It was fun. And then I pulled off all of my keys and moved them around (see picture). It took me some time to get used to it, but now I'm comfortable with it again, and I'm hoping that it will allow me to reach previously unattainable typing speeds (the fastest typist in the world uses Dvorak).
I realize that it isn't for everyone (mostly because most people do not have time to re-learn to type), but wouldn't it be great if all of the kids who were learning to type learned on Dvorak keyboards? We'd have a whole new generation of mega-speedy typists!
ps. You can buy stick-on letters so that your keyboard reads correctly if you don't want to pull out the keys, like I did...


Dante said...

Interesting bit of history. My typing speed at work seems to be controlled more by the quality of the snow outside and how close to deadline I'm getting!
Send me a little bit of that warm weather when you get a chance-


Kat said...

macky you must have a lot of time on your hands to reset your computer to type more efficiently, especially cause I'm pretty quick with an old school qwerty. good luck with it.

tite said...

extremely interesting.. I'll pass it to my sweet heart, who is a software geek too.

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