Learning to type with a Dvorak keyboard

Thu Feb 23, 2012


During the last year I didn’t share much on my blog, even I have a list of posts that I would like to write. For instance: how was it to switch from Mac to a GNU/Linux system, why didn’t I enjoy using OS X, what is Fun Programming, why did I move to Finland, how is it to live here, why did I refuse to work for almost two years… 

Much to tell, but for some reason it didn’t happen. I think writing in three different social networks takes time away from blogging. Another reason may be that I never received much feedback, and since I’m already subscribed to my own thoughts, I didn’t feel the need to digitize them. A third reason might be that I didn’t want to contribute to the info-pollution :)

But enough excuses. 

A few seconds ago I broke my own typing speed record using a Dvorak keyboard layout. It’s probably a strange hobby which can be put in the same category as speedcubing, or standing still on a bicycle.

I started three months ago typing on a text editor for a few minutes every day. After some weeks, I started a more serious training using a program called Klavaro, still investing 5 or 10 minutes per day. In January I began to feel I was stuck and not really improving, so I decided to dump the Qwerty layout altogether. Since that day, all typing was on Dvorak. No more switching back to Qwerty. In the image you can see that this has helped me double the speed in less than two months.

But what’s the point? The answer is that I like experiments, and this is one of them. I wanted to know how long it takes to replace a habit which I trained for almost 30 years. I’ve heard it’s good for the brain to do things in different ways, and I wanted to know if I could do it. I’m changing my profession, I changed the operating system I work with, why not my keyboard layout? :)

I’m not yet as fast as I used to be, but I’m not far behind. In the past I used mostly 6 fingers for typing. Now I use all of them. Another reason for switching is that one should be able to type code faster with this layout, since $&[{}(=*)+]!#@\ and - are all just one key press away, unlike with some European Qwerty layouts, which force you to do strange key combinations to get those same characters. I’ll tell you in a few months.

But for now, I can tell you that rewiring your brain is possible.

Categories: text Tags: learn challenge typing keyboard qwerty dvorak Places: unimportant

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