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- Registered: 28-Feb-2008
- Posts: 25
Hi all! What a great forum! It's so neat to see a bunch of enthusiastic fans in one place like this. I was going to reply to some threads but I guess I'd better make my own first to introduce myself.
So, about me: I'm 38. I always messed around with typewriters when I was little, taught myself typing using a lesson book, and later took a typing class. At some point I got a book called speed drills or championship typing or something like that, and broke through 100 wpm.
I took a test just now that someone on here recommended and it says my Qwerty speed's 112. It's fun to type that fast. It lets me talk a lot :-)
So why switch? Because Qwerty's ugly! It just is! It's awkward and painful. What horrible movements one has to go through, jumping and leaping all over the place. It feels like doing a clown dance on a ladder while holding two cats. Just because I can do the clown dance very well doesn't mean I'm enjoying it.
It's hard not to hate something that was poorly designed, on principle if nothing else. Anything so poorly designed should be done away with. Qwerty might not even have been designed; the way I heard it (years ago) the Qwerty layout was a holdover from the way the letters were arranged in a typesetter's tray.
I don't remember where I first found out about Dvorak. It might have been when I got my Dana (http://alphasmart.com/Retail/) and noticed the Dvorak layout option on it, and googled about it. Dvorak makes SO much more sense than Qwerty.
When I was little I read Alvin's Secret Code and made up my own ciphers, so I remember what the most frequent letters were. Dvorak puts the most frequent letters in the home row, well, almost. At least a lot closer than Qwerty. I copied the Gigliwood text onto the Dana and learned that layout for fun while I was on vacation somewhere. What a relief from Qwerty! On Dvorak it feels like your fingers hardly move at all.
Problem, the shortcut keys, of course. And the purist annoyance of having one of the nine most frequently used letters, namely R, in the top row above the right-hand ring finger. Why get so close to perfection and then miss it? Not to mention the L. L's one of my favorite letters and what a stupid place to have it!
Got back home to my computer and really felt the effects of not being able to copy and paste and file and save with my left hand any more, couldn't handle that annoyance and it was back to Qwerty in a huff.
But I kept thinking about it. Dvorak's such poetry in motion. The sheer beauty and elegance of the movements as compared to Qwerty's were just so seductive. Having all the vowels on one hand makes it so easy to memorize. There are hardly any one-handed words that way. The cleverness of the "ght" movement just took my breath away. I loved the ch, wh, sh motions. I've played Chopin's Harp Etude before, with those lovely inward-rolling hand motions, and typing in Dvorak feels like that.
Recently I noticed my 13 yo was still hunting and pecking, so I installed Mavis Beacon 5 on the kids' computer so she could learn. That happens to be the last Mavis that has the Dvorak layout. That prompted me to think about Dvorak again. I woke up one morning and decided that one of the things about being an adult is that one is capable of making sacrifices for a greater good, and I decided to just adapt to losing the keyboard shortcuts in order that I could type on Dvorak. The more elegant and ergonomic motions would be worth the loss of the keyboard shortcuts. So I made myself a username on their Mavis and started learning Dvorak. And really it's not so bad, because it's not like you lose the keyboard shortcuts, you just have to use two hands for them. Take a hand off the mouse, right? Not the end of the world!
One week ago, on Feb 25, I had just completed re-learning the entire Dvorak layout and had switched my computer to Dvorak as the default and started seriously adapting. I was just at that point where it was frustrating to be back at 20 wpm and unable to chatter thoughtlessly on the keyboard as I was before, but possible to make do with some patience, and I felt I'd soon be able to push through and get my old typing speed back.
Then, while looking at Dvorak pages, I noticed an actual link to Colemak instead of just a reference to it...
I clicked the link. Read the FAQ. Looked at the pictures. Keyboard shortcuts in their proper places and ETAONRISH all on the home row?? That's it, clouds have parted, light breaks through, choirs of angels singing, this is the one, it's perfect, it's love at first sight.
I felt a little silly to switch again right after telling everybody "I'm staying with Dvorak this time" but oh well... I know a lady who took a trip back home to sell her house before she got married, and met Mr. Right one week before her wedding. Timing! Dvorak is out of here.
I'm back to Qwerty right now (obviously) but this is the plan:
I got Typefaster, which isn't as cool as Mavis but almost. It'll be cooler once I write my own Colemak lesson texts which I'm going to do.
The way I learned Dvorak was to do the lessons until I was totally confident of the new key locations before trying to switch over. There's two levels to this, intellectual level and finger level. The "learning" has to take place in the mind first. Later the fingers take over. In Qwerty I certainly don't think about where keys are, I just think about what I want to say and my amazing human body does the rest.
The fingers need those mindless jujjuj kikkik lollol drills. "Mindless" is the point. The fingers have to learn what they're supposed to do independent of the mind. Writing them some is my next step.
Then I'll do the Typefaster lessons for a while. I really think doing typing drills is just a fun thing, like learning a craft or a sport. It's harmless, amusing fun, all by itself.
Once I've intellectually "learned" the keys, then I'll switch over to Colemak by default to get my fingers into the habit and start building up the speed. It shouldn't be a problem. It was working with Dvorak. 20+ years of muscle memory is a powerful thing... but I had gotten as far in Dvorak as it already becoming habit, so that I'd sit down at a Qwerty keyboard and do it all wrong.
More to come :-)