Dvorak – Day 2

After my second full day of Dvorak, I can tell that my fingers are doing much less traveling around the keyboard. It almost makes the keys feel small and squished together while typing because my fingers leave their respective positions so infrequently. I have managed to commit a few commonly used home-row words to muscle memory already — the & has.

Taking the time to learn Dvorak has come with an interesting observation: I do not know which key represents what letter – I only know that moving my fingers in a certain way yields a positive (or negative) result.

If you sat me down and told me to draw a qwerty keyboard, I would have came to the same conclusion, but still it’s quite an epiphany – I use a keyboard for 10 hours a day, but can’t draw one without pretending to type on one.

It’s a reminder that typing was once something I didn’t do.

I’ve gotten a dvorak rhythm down, and while not a very fast one (about 15 wpm) I think focusing on accuracy now will help improve my speed later. I’m able to reliably touch type without looking at the keyboard, and can tell immediately when I’ve hit an incorrect key. I’m picking up some new typing habits though, which seem to be mostly positive:

  • Left thumbing the spacebar
  • Using the right shift key appropriately
  • Thinking before I type – This sounds weird, but I pick my words more carefully now that they take longer to type
  • Brevity – I can tell I’m using fewer crutch words, staying more focused on what I’m typing, and typing with the intent of maximizing the return of my efforts.
So far that’s the biggest take away for me: type with intentions.

8 thoughts on “Dvorak – Day 2

    • Yes, more-so on my desk while switching to my mouse and navigating through applications and NetBeans.

      I’ve started to left-thumb the command button and cherry pick the short-cut keys, and also right-thumb command + short-cut, but have yet to successfully work either into a consistent routine.

      The hardest words are the ones I type most frequently. It’s a test of will-power to slow down and use the new key locations, and navigating terminal windows is still slow going too. If anyone looks at the typos in my logs, they may think I’ve been drinking more than our recommended daily dosage of whiskey. :)

  1. Oh snap. Shortcuts. i completely forgot about that the last time we talked about Dvorak… I’m gonna go and find out where all my precious shortcuts are located on a Dvorak keyboard, before I attempt a switch, I guess. :)

  2. Good luck. I don’t see the point of changing when we spend so much time thinking about what we’re going to type as developers. It’s not as if it’s a speed competition or anything!

    Besides, Vim is a modal editor and relies completely on shortcuts. I’ve got 10 years+ of muscle memory built in and also the awful pain I experienced in my hands and arms (when I tried Dvorak) put me off.

    The intention of Dvorak is good, a better layout, but when qwerty works just fine I don’t see any point in changing. :)

    • I agree on all counts. I spend so much time thinking and rearranging blocks of code, that the learning process is still relatively slow. I would even go as far as saying that my hands and wrists ache more now than they did before, from having to relearn new muscle control and adjust to the new repetitive movements.

      All said, it’s ended up to be less about speed. I’ve gotten so good at navigating qwerty (about 95 wpm on a good day) that in recent years I’ve slowly taken it for granted. I’ve been careless with my words because they were so easy to put down. Now that the cost of typing has increased, I’m expressing my thoughts more mindfully, and slowing down to focus on each of them instead of rushing to get them out before they disappear.

      Hard to explain, but I’m confident this lesson alone has made it worth it for me.

      If my VIM-fu were as strong as yours, I’d most likely not want to relearn all those commands either! :)

  3. K says:

    Wow… hope your switch to Dvorak goes well. But out of curiosity — what happens to all your old + new muscle memory when you are handed a normal QWERTY keyboard laptop at a convention? Do you have any experience with this sort of frequent switching one should expect to encounter? This is one of the main things that is stopping me from trying out a Dvorak !

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