Two weeks with Dvorak.

posted in Tech on Sep 6, 2010

No, I’m not talking about this Dvorak and definitely not this Dvorak. I’m talking about THIS Dvorak. The keyboardy one. I have endured two full weeks of typing in this crazy style, and I am here with an update on how awesome (or not) it is.

For those unaware, the Dvorak style of typing comes from long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, where typewriters did not jam at the drop of a hat and necessitate a slower typing standard. In reality it was created in the first third of the 20th century as a speedier option to QWERTY, but it never really caught on. History lesson OVER.

The last two weeks have been fraught with turmoil as my brain has slowly turned to mush trying to convert decades old typing skills into something totally new. The experience has honestly been pretty interesting. It has been a while since I could feel my mind expending lots of effort due to massive amounts of concentration. My head occasionally gets physically tired from having to remember that ‘.’ is now where ‘e’ used to be or that ‘?’ is now ‘z.’ And mistakes still abound.

I took a couple of typing tests earlier in the day and I am sitting around a solid 30wpm with about 96% accuracy when reading and typing something off of the screen. For whatever reason, I feel like when I am writing my own words, like now, for instance, that I am going faster than that stated figure. But I really don’t know; that may very well be just a mechanism that my mind has created that says, “Hey, you’re doing great! Keep it up!”

The transition overall has been very smooth, surprisingly or not. I find myself actively enjoying learning this new and widely un-useful skill. I have these premonitions off a future typing exam at, say, a new job, and I totally blow it because all of their computers are set to QWERTY. And that brings me to the one big downside of it all. While the experiment feels like learning a whole new language, it has made me, as a result, become slowly and increasingly shittier at typing in that old standard. I have to switch back for things like Photoshop or Final Cut, and when I do I have a really hard time. Not because I am forgetting shortcuts (those are all muscle memory), but if I need to go into the browser and look up something from Wikipedia or grab a picture to put in the show, I’m all thumbs. I still will make it fine, but if I were to put it into words, it feels like I have two jugs. One was filled to the brim with a heaping helping of awesome-sauce, but it is being ever so gently poured into the other jug. Right now both jugs feel like they are about halfway full. I used to be able to type 72wpm QWERTY, but I am fairly certain as of right now I couldn’t do that to save my life.

Luckily, most mass murderers don’t administer typing exams as a wager for your life. That’s great news! I am really happy with my decision to try this out, even if I am not blazing any new trails in the speed department. What they say about this way of typing feeling better seems to be of the affirmative. It definitely makes more sense on the whole. Alternating between your hands alleviates a lot of the cramping and stress. I like it; I REALLY DO.

That’s about all I had planned for this most exciting typing update. It turns out the more you do things, the better you get. I am nowhere near the 212wpm world record for typing in the Dvorak style, but maybe one day!