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Sunday, 21 March 2021


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I taught both of my kids several things that I thought were essential to know before going off to college - how to drive a shift car (both learned on one), how to do wash and how to cook a few simple, basic dishes. They were taught typing in school, but not very well. While my son was in college PC's started to appear and typewriters went away. He taught himself how to type by having to write long papers. My daughter also taught herself how to type at a fairly high rate. Although I was taught how to type in HS I was never good at it. In later life I got pretty good at typing with two/three fingers - not that fast, but very accurate. Once I rose to the job level where someone took dictation (remember that?)I never got any better at typing.

Having to use Acronym Finder to decipher obscure acronyms is a turn-off, id est too cute by half.

You do not need to get RSI 8-)

[Are you going to make me type it out? --Mike]

I wish you better luck with Dvorak than I had, Mike. I had more obstacles then, like having to use other peoples' keyboards often, and having already learned to touch-type pretty well on QWERTY, though it sounds like you're doing a pretty good job of creating similar obstacles for yourself ;)

Immersion would be necessary if I were to attempt it, but that's just me.

I wonder if there are people out there rolling their own keyboards? I imagine software and stickers would make that relatively easy these days. There must be layouts more suitable for hunting-and-pecking, for instance, though I wouldn't be surprised if the gains aren't worth the trouble or the downsides.

IDK. I'd probably stick with only the one keyboard.


The old keyboard may be 'qwer', but I think I'll stick to it.

Not, I take it, the Ministry Of Fish Wealth!

You seem to have pushed me down a keyboard rabbit hole against my will, Mike. But that plunge was fruitful, and may interest other of your readers as well:

- There is a very handy keyboard layout that I didn't know I'd been searching for, and it's called (in Windows, at least) "English US-International". It's a standard QWERTY keyboard with a few tricks that make typing letters from other Latin-alphabet languages, such as "á ë and ñ", quick and easy, and even touch-typeable.

Here's how it works (and I would add that Windows 10 lets you customize any layout to your liking and save it as a new layout):


- There are one-handed QWERTY touch-typing methods, as well as alternative Dvorak layouts for one-handed typists. The latter are even available in Windows OS (not sure about Mac). There are specialized physical keyboards meant for one handed use, but I assume that's common knowledge, and obviously they demand a different level of resources and commitment.

Thanks for the push, Mike! Climbing out now.

20 WPM is good progress. Keep at it and I'm sure you'll get to a point where you don't want to go back. Coincidentally, I'm trying to learn Morse Code. (I'm a licensed ham, AJ6CQ, but they dropped the code requirement for licensure years back.) Out of curiosity, I looked up speed records for Morse. There doesn't seem to be consensus on how to exactly to measure for a record, but speeds of over 60 WPM have been. 30 WPM is not unusual for experienced operators. And that's at multiple motions per character.

An column by Ezra Klein in today's NYTimes described the State of Oregon's movement toward allowing use of psilocybins (from 'magic mushrooms') for therapeutic uses. Maybe for old dogs learning new tricks? :-)

Dragon voice dictation has been revolutionary for me. Specifically, Version 13 home edition is cost effective and simple. Pick up a cheap USB headset and your typing woes are behind you.

Learning touch typing and a new keyboard layout at once seems like a lot.

I’m a firm believer in not biting off more than you can chew. Simple goals staged well will get you farther, faster.

Didn't have time to do much research on this, but as you know, I bought a Kinesis keyboard like yours. I decided to stick with qwerty because I have to go back and forth between an iMac and a MacBook Pro (for travel.) Now I've learned (or have read) that a MacBook can be changed to Dvorak. A Dvorak key set can be ordered from Kinesis and apparently the change is fairly simple even for a simpleton. Not so with the MacBook keys -- apparently you can damage the machine fairly easily -- but I've now read that key stickers are available from third-party vendors for the MacBook and I may look into that. That heat map of the Dvorak has me interested -- it seems to much less awkward than qwerty. (I've now misspelled qwerty twice in this comment, and had to go back to correct.) Another comment, about Dragon Voice, has renewed my interest in that technology -- my hands are beginning to suffer a bit from typing-induced arthritis. I don't know if I can create with Dragon Voice, though. Can you edit in Dragon Voice? More research is needed.

[The keycaps are very easy to change out. The new keycap set is expensive at $39 and you actually only need a few of them, because many are reused. So each new keycap costs about $3! But that's the only downside. --Mike]

Every day I thank whoever is responsible for me taking typing in high school. I think it might have been my older sister, or maybe my Dad, as he regretted that he couldn't type. This article reminded me that we typed to band music, starting out with a very slow beat, and gradually raising the speed. It forced us to gradually improve our speed.

Years ago, my partner decided to do some contracting work. To get on the agency books, she needed to be able to touch type at 60 wpm. At the time she didn't touch type at all. She taught herself to touch type over the weekend and passed the test on the Monday.

I have been an IT worker for 35 years. I can't touch type at all. I can manage to type 3 or 4 words without looking, sometimes. But not often. By looking at the keyboard, my fingers can manage to type in bursts. But I make so many mistakes and produce gibberish so often, my most used key is the backspace.

I have no idea what my consistent typing speed is, but I suspect it it more like 10 wpm than 60!

It would be very helpful to be able to touch type, I think, simply because constantly having to hit backspace not only interrupts the production of letters but also the thought process.

Not everyone has the same level of physical dexterity, sadly, so it is difficult for some.

Like me.

To the contrary re above advice: try learning Morse code and Dvorak at the same time. Find a program which will sound out the Morse with each keystroke. Then you can learn to type by ear. No interim translation from qwerty to Dvorak placement needed

World's Fastest Typist on Letterman, and the following controversy:


Challenge for its own sake can be taken too far. My current book describes a Microsoft exec who decided to learn to ride a bicycle in which the handlebars were somehow made to work in reverse, in order to demonstrate to his stuck-in-its-ways company the virtues of learning new things and forgetting the old. After great effort but little progress, he fell off, broke his hip, and was out of action for so long that instead of returning to his old job he returned to China and became the head of Google's competitor, Baidu.

I am curious to know if anyone is "bilingual" in QWERTY and Dvorak? The thing that held me back from checking out Dvorak was knowing that I would frequently have to type on QWERTY layouts.

What do people who switch to Dvorak Keyboards do about buying Laptops? Are all Laptops software configurable to Dvorak ? Are replacement keyboards available? Or do you use a keyboard with mis-matched keys? Carry a portable Dvorak keyboard?
I've never thought about it until now.

[Well, if you touch-type you're fine, because you can switch the layout in Settings, on both PCs (so I hear) and Macs. But if you need keycap labels to guide you visually, that could be a problem. Personally, I don't use a laptop, so it's not really an issue for me. --Mike]

I've always admired Dvorak keyboards from afar. But after writing professionally for 15+ years, I know all too well that the speed limit to my writing is in my mind, not my fingers.

Still, it must be a good exercise to keep the mind pliable and young. Best of luck.

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