Alternate keyboard layouts



  • Continuing the discussion from ‭TIL (plus email validation of people parts):

    @PJH said:

    I stick with 'normal' Dvorak.

    So how does that serve you? I assume it serves you well, since you stick to it.

    What made you switch? And does it confuse the crap out of you when you have to use switch to QWERTY and back?



  • And would you recommend it?



  • @Zecc said:

    I assume it serves you well, since you stick to it.

    That or his colleagues put superglue on his keyboard again ...


  • kills Dumbledore

    I tried using a friend's dvorak keyboard once. I was OK with the idea that typing was going to be hunt and peck unless I put the time in to use it, but what really got me was the muscle memory for keyboard shortcuts. Having to hunt for the C key to copy something was weird.



  • <nobr>Ctrl+C</nobr> seems like a chore. :O


  • Fake News

    I wonder though what @PJH's 'normal' Dvorak layout is (he put the quotes there, see OP). Since it was invented before computer keyboards were a thing, a few variants exist which move numbers and symbols around.

    Personally, I use Colemak because at least they tried to keep ZXCVB and other characters in the same spot (it has the advantage of hindsight, this layout was "invented" in 2006).

    The drawback of such a recent layout is that Microsoft won't bundle it with their OS; Linux and Mac OS on the other hand jumped on it and took the "Caps lock is backspace" variant which I don't regularly use.



  • @Zecc said:

    And does it confuse the crap out of you when you have to use switch to QWERTY and back?

    Yes, this has been the main thing preventing me from trying Dvorak. I'd definitely have to switch between the two layouts frequently.


  • Fake News

    One way around that is a dongle like the following:

    Depends on whether your guest PC allows foreign stuff to be plugged in though (the company making this thing builds keyloggers as well). Also, my favourite layout (see above) is not supported.


  • SockDev

    @JBert said:

    The drawback of such a recent layout is that Microsoft won't bundle it with their OS

    But they do provide a way to add it yourself ;)



  • @JBert said:

    One way around that is a dongle like the following:

    That looks okay, but then I'd have to carry a keyboard around to deal with people who only use a laptop keyboard. I'd also have to crawl under desks to get to the USB ports on most of the desktop PCs here. I don't think I'd be able to get away from using QWERTY from time to time.


  • Fake News

    @RaceProUK said:

    But they do provide a way to add it yourself ;)

    True, but it's a slight drag that you have to download an installer from the Colemak website for each machine. One point goes to Microsoft for making a GUI tool, in Linux and Mac OS you have to go and edit some arcane config files.

    In the end I put my machines in QWERTY and let my keyboard do the translation.
    That way I do lose the nice AltGr mappings for funny accents, but as a bonus I can put the arrow keys and other stuff on an Fn layer and hence stick even more to the homerow.



  • What about games? Do you switch to QWERTY or do you reconfigure key bindings?


  • Fake News

    I change keybindings to WARS, except for when I'm using dosbox. There it's easier to just switch to QWERTY and use WASD, which is essentially the same set of keys on the keyboard, it's just that the labels are now off. Those things are single-player though, so no need for typing.



  • @Zecc said:

    What made you switch?

    Shiney!

    New!

    Well it was, to me, at the time...

    @Zecc said:

    And does it confuse the crap out of you when you have to use switch to QWERTY and back?

    On a normal keyboard - no; I can still touch type QWERTY reasonably fast - takes a couple of seconds, if that, to 'make the switch' but once that's done it's back to muscle memory.

    On a mobile phone however, I'm as slow as hell compared to Dvorak.

    @Zecc said:

    And would you recommend it?

    If you can touch type fairly fast with QWERTY, I probably wouldn't - not for a programmer. If most of your typing is prose however, yes I would.

    @Zecc said:

    <nobr>Ctrl+C</nobr> seems like a chore. :O

    Not especially, left pinky, right middle, followed by right ring if pasting.

    @JBert said:

    I wonder though what @PJH's 'normal' Dvorak layout is (he put the quotes there, see OP).

    See @Zecc's post directly above yours - I meant one with the numbers in 1-0 order, not jumbled up as in the one I posted else-topic.

    @JBert said:

    , in Linux [...] you have to go and edit some arcane config files.

    Uh huh..



  • @PJH said:

    Not especially, left pinky, right middle, followed by right ring if pasting.

    Yes, I assumed you would to that with two hands on keyboard. I was thinking specifically of single hand use so you can keep the other hand on the mouse.

    Say you want to copy separate blocks of text into an email, or paste several instances of a textbox on a diagram you're making. You'll either a) jump from mouse to keyboard like crazy; b) abuse your keyboard for selection and placement; c) use the right-click context menu; or d) you know, stretch your hand. I think I'd choose the latter.


  • Fake News

    @PJH said:

    @JBert said:
    , in Linux [...] you have to go and edit some arcane config files.

    Uh huh..

    You are quoting me out of context, which was about making some totally custom layout using Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator. Configuring Colemak or Dvorak on Linux is just as easy as you show with your screenshot (Colemak is 2 items up), but making that same totally custom layout on Linux means dealing with xkb files.

    Note that I wouldn't recommend creating your custom layout - I have read about a few people who did but that's too crazy even for me.



  • @Zecc said:

    a) jump from mouse to keyboard like crazy; b) abuse your keyboard for selection and placement; c) use the right-click context menu; or d) you know, stretch your hand. I think I'd choose the latter.

    e) left hand, thumb on right-ctrl, and use fingers on C and V.

    @JBert said:

    custom layout

    Ah - sorry; missed that bit.



  • @PJH said:

    e) left hand, thumb on right-ctrl, and use fingers on C and V.
    That's what I meant with option d, but somehow I wrote "stretch your hand" instead of "move your hand". Don't know why :confused:



  • I'm not PJH. I spent a couple months switching to and learning Dvorak. I didn't find it any more efficient or more useful, and it didn't help my tendency to get sore wrists from bad posture (at the time; I'm better now), and it certainly hurt my IT career when every computer I went over to borrow or whatever had the "wrong" keyboard. So I gave up and switched back.

    I think it's just people going against the status quo because they can.

    EDIT: that said, it's not like it costs any money or anything. If you wanna try it, just try it.



  • @Zecc said:

    Say you want to copy separate blocks of text into an email, or paste several instances of a textbox on a diagram you're making. You'll either a) jump from mouse to keyboard like crazy; b) abuse your keyboard for selection and placement; c) use the right-click context menu; or d) you know, stretch your hand. I think I'd choose the latter.

    One of the reasons Apple put most of the useful shortcuts where they are (on Qwerty) was so you could use the mouse with your right hand and still accelerate your actions with shortcuts in your left. Making common shortcuts take two hands completely ruins this paradigm.


  • kills Dumbledore

    There's actually a lot less evidence for Dvorak being faster than you might think. See http://reason.com/archives/1996/06/01/typing-errors/1

    The belief that the Dvorak keyboard is superior to QWERTY can be traced to a few key sources. A book published by Dvorak and several co-authors in 1936 presented Dvorak's own investigations, which might charitably be called less than objective



  • @PJH said:

    Shiney!

    New!

    Well it was at the time...

    How old are you?



  • @Keith said:

    How old are you?

    New to me at the time.



  • I keep trying to switch to Dvorak, but it slows me down so much because I'm not used to it that I always end with "Screw this, I have stuff that needs to be done so I'm going back to QWERTY."



  • Many common letter combinations require awkward finger motions.
    Many common letter combinations require a finger to jump over the home row.
    Many common letter combinations are typed with one hand. (e.g. was, were)

    This sounds like something that only really applies to english...from the 20th century.

    LOL



  • @delfinom said:

    Many common letter combinations require a finger to jump over the home row.

    Solution: single-row keyboard.

    Filed under: it works for piano players


  • kills Dumbledore

    Better solution: binary keyboards. Every letter is simply a series of 1 and 0 keypresses. You can type these easily with one hand and have the other one free for the mouse



  • Even better, a single button and a metronome!


  • SockDev

    @Jaloopa said:

    Better solution: binary keyboards. Every letter is simply a series of 1 and 0 keypresses. You can type these easily with one hand and have the other one free for the mouse

    if you implement that and manage to type more than 100WPM i will be extremely impressed and say:



  • @Zecc said:

    Filed under: it works for piano players

    So now we need pedals, too?


  • kills Dumbledore

    @Keith said:

    Even better, a single button and a metronome!

    For completely handsfree operation, do it by twitching your eye

    filed under: if it's good enough for Stephen Hawking...


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Keith said:

    Yes, this has been the main thing preventing me from trying Dvorak.

    I spent some time learning it years ago--I was already a fast touch-typer in Qwerty--and I found once I started to memorize the Dvorak layout, I could switch back and forth. It slows you down for a while, but your speed tends to go back up. I would imagine if you kept up long enough using both layouts you'd learn to suffer less speed loss on layout switches.

    @Keith said:

    I'd definitely have to switch between the two layouts frequently.

    If you have a small set of computers you used regularly, you could just set up multiple layouts on some of them and switch to your preferred layout on demand.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Jaloopa said:

    binary keyboards.

    Someone came up with a keyboard design in the 90s I got to try a demo of: it has ten wells, one for each finger, and five switches in each well. The layout was different for thumbs, but basically, for each finger, you could twitch it forwards, backwards, to either side, or push down a bit. Each switch roughly corresponded to a key on the regular keyboard, so you still sort of used the same movements (that is, the left middle finger well controlled 3, e, d, and c, and something else I can't remember.

    I have forgotten the name of the keyboard but there's pictures out there; there's plenty of keyboard hipsters out that that know of it.


  • SockDev

    i know the one you are talking about but my googlefu is failing me for now.... i'll get it eventually

    for now how about keyglove?

    no, that's what they thing is called....


  • BINNED

    The only kind of fancy I might care about is something like this:

    If you send me one like that I'll use it even if it's QWERTZ!


    Filed under: Yes, I know I keep ragging on about QWERTZ, but I really hate it that much


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    RIP Datamancer :cry:


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    The orbitouch is similar to what I'm talking about, except the possibly-oversimplified layout.

    last picture on this page is some kind of variant of what I was talking about, except it's so low-res you can't really see what it looks like well:

    the area above the palm rest. You can see pictures above showing the layout of each well and how you wiggle your finger to make each letter the well can do.



  • I use Dvorak and like it a lot -- but I'm also a terrible scientist and changed two variables at once.

    I learned it at a time that I was having wrist problems. I did not know how to touch type QWERTY though (still can't), and figured that I should learn to touch type; and rather than learn to touch type on QWERTY I just went with Dvorak. (I was doing some weird thing I call "advanced hunt and peck"; I had good muscle memory of where things were, but I mostly only used my first two fingers.)

    It's much more comfortable than what I was doing before, but how much is due to Dvorak and how much is due to touch typing is an open question. Subjectively it seems like a fair bit is due to Dvorak (based on the occasional stint on QWERTY trying to act more touch-typing), but who knows.

    Edit: I don't find switching a huge problem. I'll type with the wrong layout for a moment, realize it, and just have to retype what I said. The biggest problem is something like entering my password when I'm not sure what layout is active, since you can't actually see what you're typing. (I had much more difficulty with switching between computers where I had caps/ctrl switched. I don't do that any more even though I think switched is much better.)


  • SockDev

    google best guess for this image: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/pdfs/97-148.pdf

    well then.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Oh, found it! It's called the DataHand:



  • Me, I've always wanted to learn how to use one of these:



  • @Zecc said:

    Yes, I assumed you would to that with two hands on keyboard. I was thinking specifically of single hand use so you can keep the other hand on the mouse.

    I believe there are one-handed dvorak variants as well. The hand you use moves one position to the middle, and the numbers shift to the far side so you have 4 rows of letters.

    @Jaloopa said:

    Better solution: binary keyboards.

    Or chorded keyboards. Braille typing machines work like that.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Yamikuronue said:

    RIP Datamancer

    RIP? Their website is still up.

    This one's on my list of stuff to buy if I ever win the lottery:


  • I survived the hour long Uno hand

    My understanding is the original guy who went by Datamancer died some months ago, and his friend/business partner kept the business open under the same name.



  • @Jaloopa said:

    binary keyboards


    @EvanED said:

    The biggest problem is something like entering my password when I'm not sure what layout is active, since you can't actually see what you're typing.

    Restrict your passwords to A's, M's and spaces...?



  • @Jaloopa said:

    Better solution: binary keyboards.



  • @PJH said:

    Restrict your passwords to A's, M's and spaces...?
    Heh. Numerals, and symbols that appear on numerals, are also kosher of course, as are `~ and |\. :-)

    Actually, you could make a kinda half-decent password from those and it would only be a bit longer; that's an alphabet of 29 symbols compared to 94 with the whole main keyboard block. A random 16-character "Dvorak-safe" password has more than half the entropy of a random 12-character alpha/numeric/symbol one.



  • This post is deleted!


  • Dvorak user here.

    If you're thinking of Dvorak because you want to get a higher WPM, don't. It didn't improve my speed over QWERTY at all. Around 90 WPM on both.

    If you're thinking of Dvorak because of (wrist) comfort, that's probably a good reason to try it. (Just remember that your wrists will probably hurt until you've gotten the muscle memory down.)

    The downsides:

    1. You can't type with a single hand. The way the vowels are all placed on the left side will lead your fingers dancing all over the keyboard just to type a single word. (Yes, there are two one-hand Dvorak layouts. They're okay, but more learning.)

    2. National Dvorak variants don't really exist. There are few Dvorak layouts with 'foreign' letters such as é or ø included in the layout. The layout's effectively confined to the English-speaking world.

    One more positive thing about Dvorak is that some special oft-needed characters such as []{} aren't hidden behind AltGr as they are in many European layouts. Makes coding a bit easier.

    As for games, I find that many take input at such a low level that they don't care which keyboard layout you use. It's always US English QWERTY to them. So no real need to redo keybindings.



  • @FrostCat said:

    @Keith said:
    I'd definitely have to switch between the two layouts frequently.

    If you have a small set of computers you used regularly, you could just set up multiple layouts on some of them and switch to your preferred layout on demand.

    Also a dvorak typer here. Before I switched, I touch-typed QWERTY, before that AZERTY (because Belgium).

    I auto-switch keyboard layouts depending on the keyboard. The "feel" of my own keyboards trigger dvorak mode, the feel of a keyboard that I'm unaccustomed to triggers QWERTY (or AZERTY, depending on whether I'm at work or using for example my father's computer).

    It takes me about a minute to completely switch to the relevant keyboard layout muscle memory, but after that I type at near-fullspeed.

    It took me about 4 weeks to get to full speed on dvorak. While I was learning it, I didn't look at my keyboard (the keys were wrongly labeled anyway), but I printed out and put next to my keyboard something like

    Unrelated also: I use Ctrl+Ins, Shift+Ins and Shift+Del for copy, paste and cut, (or the mouse, which X windows makes easy with its select-is-copy and middle-click-is-paste functionality), so I've never had any of the hand-stretching problems mentioned above.


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