DEBRIS.COMgood for a laugh, or possibly an aneurysm

Tuesday, November 13th, 2001

hunting & pecking

OMIGOD it’s been weeks, how have you been?!

I have been within an acceptable range of comfort, but severely preoccupied learning how to type. You might think I already know how to type, and you’d be correct — I learned to type in 1981 from a 7-foot-tall man whose other job was coaching the school’s basketball team. Spending a disproportionate amount of the intervening 20 years at a keyboard has improved my typing speed, to about 8 characters per second as near as I can tell… not a record-setting rate, but fast enough that I realize a significant productivity benefit as compared to a casual user, especially considering just how much I type in a typical day.

I rarely even type letters any more; entire words and phrases leap onto my screen, the result of short hand-spasms and interstitial twitching. UNIX commands, SQL and PHP keywords are particularly deeply ingrained, both because those vocabularies are tiny and because I use them so frequently.

But I decided to throw it all away and learn the Dvorak keyboard layout instead. Why I would do this is a question I would probably ask myself frequently if I wasn’t so distracted remembering where all the letters on my keyboard have moved to.

One reason is that I’ve had several brushes with RSI, and an occupational therapist suggested that making changes before I do permanent damage might be a good thing. Another reason is that the qwerty arrangement is inefficient; the goals it was designed to meet did not include the reduction of motion for the user. (Example: on the qwerty layout, all the letters in the word ‘typewriter’ appear in the top row, to save typewriter salesmen of the 1800s the tedium of hunting and pecking during product demonstrations. [source: Grolier’s, via Dylan McNamee’s Dvorak page])

Compounding the challenge is a simultaneous switch to a bizzare new keyboard, one of the Kinesis contoured models.

So, until I regain some speed, updates to this site may be infrequent. The story ideas are stacking up, but it still takes me too long to write them.

posted to channel: Personal
updated: 2004-04-19 02:06:43

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