OT: keyboard layouts

Peter Hiscocks phiscock-g851W1bGYuGnS0EtXVNi6w at public.gmane.org
Sat Dec 13 04:41:26 UTC 2003

I've been using the Dvorak layout since the early 70's. I'd been trying to
learn to touch type using the Querty layout, without much success, and a
friend (the same one who recommended the 3-wheeled Messerschmitt car ;)
suggested Dvorak. The concept made sense to me, so I bought an SCM electric
typewriter with the Dvorak layout. Needless to say, it was hard-coded.

I was doing useful typing in a few hours. Once you learn the home row you
can do a fair bit, and that's encouraging. The Dvorak training manuals were
quite good. Then I got a Commodore PET computer and rewired the keyboard by
cutting traces and adding jumpers with #30AWG wire. Nowadays I would
reprogram the keyboard lookup table, but computers were still pretty
mysterious at that point.

For a number of years, I've been using a Keytronic keyboard which is
switchable between Querty and Dvorak. They don't make it any more,
apparently. These days, there is usually some sofware method of changing the
configuration. In X for example, there is xdvorak. 

Even windows has methods of changing keyboard configuration to Dvorak. So if
you're using a machine in an internet cafe you can still reconfigure the
keyboard. (This causes no end of confusion of the computer goes in for
service and the tech guy doesn't know about Dvorak. They figure the keyboard
is defective.)

My wife learned Dvorak at about the same time I did and she uses it without
complaint on her Windows machine. I gave my daughter the option and she
chose to learn Querty, figuring that she'd be using machines that could not
easily be configured. But it took my daughter much longer to learn to

Personally, it's my opinion that it's gotta be easier on the hands to have
the commonly used consonants and vowels in the home row. In Querty, the 'e'
is on the top row, where you have to reach for it. Apparently IBM used to
sponsor typing speed contests to promote their typewriters. One of Dvorak's
claims was that IBM did not want to have to produce two layouts, so they
opposed the Dvorak layout. When Dvorak typists began to clean up in the
contests, IBM dropped their sponsorship. It would be interesting to
have a modern-day speed contest between an expert Querty and Dvorak typist
and see if there really is a consistent speed difference.

As for RSI, I did have to deal with that at one point, and it's very scary
indeed. Eventually I got it sorted out and yes, wrist position and height
are very important. The key for me, were the upper back and shoulder
stretching exercises which a sports medicine doctor/chiropracter prescribed.
I have no idea why the upper back has such an effect on the wrists, but it
seems to be important.


On Fri, Dec 12, 2003 at 10:10:01PM -0500, Marcus Brubaker wrote:
> On Fri, 2003-12-12 at 16:15, Henry Spencer wrote:
> > On Fri, 12 Dec 2003, William Park wrote:
> > > > Placebo effect is powerful, and it's the reason why tests of things like
> > > > new drugs absolutely must be done as "double-blind" tests:  neither the
> > > > patients nor the experimenters know which patients are getting the real
> > > > pills and which are getting the dummies, until the experiment is over and
> > > > the sealed envelopes are opened. 
> > > 
> > > Those who died were given placebo, and those who got better were given
> > > real drug.  Or, was it the other way around... :-)
> > 
> > Well, at least the large-scale experiments typically also have third-party
> > monitors, who know which group is which and are watching for signs of
> > strong adverse effects (death certainly qualifies :-)).  This is why you
> > occasionally hear of a clinical trial being halted early -- it means that
> > the real-drug group was having a suspiciously large number of heart
> > attacks or whatever, and the monitors sounded the alarm. 
> Actually, on occasion, long term studies are halted early for the exact
> opposite reason.  In fact recently a 10 year study of a certain drug
> treatment on breast cancer was halted 6 years in so that those on the
> placebo could take the real treatment because the results were so
> positive.  I forget the details anymore though.
> -- 
> Marcus Brubaker <marcus.brubaker-H217xnMUJC0sA/PxXw9srA at public.gmane.org>
> --
> The Toronto Linux Users Group.      Meetings: http://tlug.ss.org
> TLUG requests: Linux topics, No HTML, wrap text below 80 columns
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Peter D. Hiscocks                         	   
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering    
Ryerson University,                    
350 Victoria Street,
Toronto, Ontario, M5B 2K3, Canada

Phone:   (416) 979-5000 Ext 6109
Fax:     (416) 979-5280
Email:   phiscock-g851W1bGYuGnS0EtXVNi6w at public.gmane.org
URL:     http://www.ee.ryerson.ca/~phiscock
The Toronto Linux Users Group.      Meetings: http://tlug.ss.org
TLUG requests: Linux topics, No HTML, wrap text below 80 columns
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