Ex Die in Diem



One of the things that I’m really keen to do is to learn how to do things the right way. That concept, of there being a right way to do things, carries a heavy connotation that any way that isn’t the right way must be the wrong way, but that’s never been how I feel about things. I just know that I constantly strive to do things better than I do them now.

One of the things that I am most aware that I have done badly for most of my life so far is typing. I type (moderately) quickly, and have done consistently for the past decade, but I did so in a very child-in-the-ninties way, through sheer effort of will and brute force. Where people had, for generations, trained to become proficient in the use of a keyboard, my generation simply dialled up to the internet using a 56k modem and, to our parents’ dismay, sit chatting on MSN messenger for hours on end.

While this conditioned our young fingers to relentlessly and accurately hit keys, my peers and I didn’t develop the art of the keyboardist. Whilst stenographers and secretaries the world over confidently typed away whilst staring beady eyed at their screens, we hunted and pecked, faster and faster, perhaps bringing into service a second, third or fourth finger from our dominant hand, but never more than that. After four years of blocking my parents’ phone line each evening, I was a four-finger typist when I left for the bright lights and independence of university.

Numerous assignments and essays did little to improve the form of my typing, for all that they helped hone my decisions regarding software and file formats. Eventually, years after graduating, I decided that something had to be done. I’d been reading about different layouts: arrangements of the keys on my keyboard that would result in less finger strain or improved typing speed over time. Having done my research, I came to the conclusion that Dvorak was by far the most widely supported choice, yet retained enough geek cred to satisfy my craving for individuality.

My Dvorak Keyboard

To help me learn, I butchered my existing apple wireless keyboard so that the keycaps were in the right place, and changed the keymapping in all of the devices it could connect to. The part of this that I wasn’t expecting was that by learning the layout from scratch, I’ve learnt it properly - I touch type on Dvorak, a feat I still can’t manage on qwerty.

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