Sunday, June 05, 2005

Two Weeks Into Dvorak

It has been two weeks since I have switched to Dvorak and I really think it is something worth writing about.

The topic of Dvorak just came out of a lunch conversation. I was talking about the fact how sometimes we keep doing what used to useful without realizing that the circumstances have changed. A small example was how Java IDEs forget that maybe the traditional windows mapping doesnot apply anymore (who opens a file through file chooser, or print the code anymore). And IntelliJ's found of F keys making its useful features much less accessible, and that by some miracle Eclipse made the right choice of having all ctrl+alt+key reserved to refactoring related actions.

Then the topic switched to even the key board layout tha comes with every computer was not designed to make your typing fast and easy and how I heard of another kind of keyboard that is supposed to do just that. As it turned out, Adam knows exactly what it is because he has tried it before.

With Adam's reference, I was able to enable my laptop (window XP) with Dvorak keymap and find the related sites. After reading through it, I figure I'll give it a try.

I am a fast typer. I got my hands on a type writer and a typing training book when I was a kid. So I literally learned typing before I even knew all the words that I was typing. Then in graduate school for a year I got addicted to IRC and another year on text-based MUD game, both of which require intense typing in that the faster you type the more fun you can get out of it.

So you should believe when I tell you this: Dvorak is great!

I started with a online tutorial ( I do about three sessions per day, 15 - 30 minutes per session (when I am getting tired or bored and staring mixing keys). At work I still have to use the QWERTY because it would be too slow otherwise.

After a week, I felt that I can finish the lessons of the home row without problem, but my training on the other rows is not making good progress. I felt that it is because my old habbit and this half Dvorak is not working togethir. Since one major advantage of Dvorak is supposed to be the fact that your fingers stay on home row most of the time, I have decided to swithch to it full time, with my Fitnesse blog as the first target.

Well, that weekend was not too easy. It is as if I am learing to walk again. For a while I was even wondering if it is really worth the effort. Two-day is hardly a long enough period to give up, so I just lowered my target on how much I can write in a hour so that I won't be too frustrated. I also noticed that most of the time I am having trouble because I am too used to the old way that for key combination like "ing", "tion", or even "th" my figer will go without even my brain had a chance to process them in Dvorak context. So I concentrated on several key binding that is giving my trouble.

Now after two weeks, I would recommend anyone who wants to learn typing to try it out, AFTER you have read the pro's and con's on the websit and make your decision.
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