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Back and Forth Between Qwerty and Dvorak?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the switch-typing dept.

Input Devices 624

jamesh asks: "I'm interested in switching over to an alternate keyboard layout, probably Dvorak, before I begin to suffer any effects of RSI. I'm almost 30 and have been typing since I was about 8, and these days spend most of my workday in front of a computer, typing away at a keyboard. I've searched the Internet and most people's comments are that within a few months they were up to or faster than their previous speed, with better accuracy. I'm mostly a programmer, but I do spend time at client sites and do need to spend time at various users computers to have a look at whatever hole they've dug themselves into, and so I will need to switch between QWERTY and Dvorak mode fairly frequently. What others have found when switching back and forth, as required? Can you mentally just flip back between them, or do you 'lose' your QWERTY skills and become 'hunt & peck' when faced with the old keyboard layout?"

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QWERTY not QWERY (4, Funny)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028676)

It can't be THAT hard to get the title right, can it?

Re:QWERTY not QWERY (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028704)

Perhaps the submitter is already losing his typing ability.


faccenda (446193) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028739)

he might be using a dvorak keyboard, right?

Re:QWERTY not QWERY (5, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028740)

The sad thing is that this stuff actually matters. If in a few months I want to search for this story then looking for titles containing the word 'QWERTY' is going to fail. By all means, let's tolerate bad spelling because geeks seem incapable of better, but not in titles that may ultimately end up in a thousand catalogs around the world.


hyperm0g (867446) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028806)

Heed this man's qwery.


Comatose51 (687974) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028854)

QWERY's the QWERTY's answer to Dvorak. By dropping one of the most common letters from the alphabet, they've claimed a speed increase of at least 15%!

Re:QWERTY not QWERY (1, Redundant)

chuckr343 (898746) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028878)

Does it really matter which layout you use? If you suffer or think you will suffer from RSI, by changing your layouts, all you are doing is prolonging the effects of RSI.

Cliff is a retarded nigger (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028678)

Its QWERTY not QWERY you stupid retarded nigger

Forget Dvorak (5, Informative)

Tet (2721) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028679)

I'm interested in switching over to an alternate keyboard layout, probably Dvorak, before I begin to suffer any effects of RSI.

If you're serious, then rather than Dvorak, choose one of the layouts specifically designed to help RSI. The leading contender is probably the Maltron [] layout. The sculpted keyboard helps, too, but they're also available in more traditional flat models [] as well.

For anyone suffering from RSI... (3, Insightful)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028764)

Take a break from typing for a while. Take the time off work if need be. (Could probably be sick days.)

...yes... (5, Informative)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028680)

Yes, you can switch back and forth, quite readily. Yes, you might make sme goofs on whichever keyboard you're not using full time.

Have you considered carrying a USB dvorak kbd with you to your client sites? ;)

Re:...yes... (2, Interesting)

Siniset (615925) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028785)

I agree, i'm a teacher, and the computer lab is all qwerty, and i'm able to type fairly quickly on them (but then again, i never learned to touch type with querty) while it only takes a couple of minutes to get back up to speed with dvorak after a while away from it.

Re:...yes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028912)

I hope you're not a spelling/grammar teacher.

Re:...yes... (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028805)

Um... It's more about setting the keyboard layout in software than about hardware, unless you have to see the keytops to type. More useful would be setting the clients system to Dvorak and then ignoring what's written there, but it would be fairly disastrous if he forgot to change it back...

Re:...yes... (1)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028872)

Well even though you missed my winky-face which should have clearly indicated that this was a joke I'm going to reply to you anyways: I have never plugged a dvorak usb keyboard into a system and had the system use it as qwerty by default....

Re:...yes... (2, Informative)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028860)

I use Dvorak exclusively, but I can still type on Qwerty with not too many problems. I make a lot of errors for the first 10 minutes, but after that my mind flips and I'm ready to go. Then if i switch back immediately it takes another 2-3 minutes for my mind to lock in. Now adays I really only use Qwerty when playing poker on my the PC, so I pretty much only use it to type taunts (yes, I'm "that guy"). I would highly recommend Dvorak though, it is much more comfortable for me at least and it really only takes 2-3 weeks to learn.

Queue the... (-1, Offtopic)

haystor (102186) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028682)

You should have googled first...

QWERTY sucks...

Dvorak is unamerican...

vi sucks...

Re:Queue the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028855)

Quit queuing! With qmail, you don't have queues, because it will figure out ways to (non-standardly) lose your mail!

P.S. If you want to lose mail standardly, there are many kludgy patches out there.
P.P.S. The only good thing about emacs is that it has vi compatibility mode.

QWERY? (0, Redundant)

JeiFuRi (888436) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028683)

You must be using a new keyboard layout lol...

Re:QWERY? (1)

Paperclip1 (876899) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028756)

Ha ha ha, very funny!

Similar scenario (5, Interesting)

Tarcastil (832141) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028685)

I tried the switch out last year when I was starting to get RSI. Despite what people say, you can mentally flip between Qwerty and Dvorak without much of a problem. I noticed my Qwerty speed slowed down some because I'd hit a wrong key occasionally, but nothing major. Just make sure you have a good two weeks when you don't need to type much else. I used this site [] to learn dvorak.

In the end, I really just stopped using Dvorak. I got over the beginning effects of RSI by not typing much and keeping my wrists straight when I did. Posture's important, too. But my typing speed in Dvorak never exceeded my Qwerty speed, so I just stopped using it. I can still type around 20 wpm with Dvorak, but I really don't have a use for it.

For linux users: "setxkbmap dvorak" and "setxkbmap en_US"

Query on Qwery.. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028686)

What is Qwery? And why no mention of Dork?

Re:Query on Qwery.. (1)

mcgroarty (633843) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028725)

If there were a drinking game for this sort of thing, we'd all be in trouble.

Uh, Cliff... (0, Redundant)

James A. D. Joyce (742507) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028695)

...seems you're having enough trouble just with QWERTY as it is.

After I learned to drive a car... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028700)

...I found I could no longer ride a bike without training wheels.

Oh yes... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028701)

Tell us about your "Qwery" skills again ?

Flipping back and forth is fine (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028706)

I have absolutely no trouble flipping back and forth. It becomes second nature, and so long as you frequently use both, you have no problems.

That said, Dvorak is a poor choice if you're doing any punctuation-heavy programming (perl, C, java, ...). The placement of the braces and continuance operators alone will drive you batty -- Dvorak was designed for a world where you were lucky to use either in a day, rather than several times per line.

i suspect (1)

Festering Leper (456849) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028708)

it comes back to you... kind of like switching between a telephone and a keyboard number pad and typing phone numbers. alternating keyboards is a lot like riding different bicycles... it's just much harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.

Qwery: new keyboard layout? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028709)

Methinks the editor has switched keyboard layouts recently, so ask him.

Go for it! (3, Interesting)

True Freak (57805) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028712)

I switched to dvorak about 5 years ago with a kenisis keyboard. I definately like it a lot better than querty...but I have no real problem switch between the long as you go back to querty once in a while you should not have a problem. I would say that my querty speed has only dropped by about 20% and my dvorak speed is about 50% faster than my original querty speed. Just make sure you get used to the means to switch the layouts if you plan on playing games...I have to use querty to play WoW.

Re:Go for it! (4, Insightful)

millette (56354) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028798)

QWERTY, you insensitive clod !

Re:Go for it! (1)

True Freak (57805) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028894)

Guess I have been using Dvorak too long...I can't just type the first 6 letters and automatically spell it me try..."PYF...nope...not quite.

Re:Go for it! Could you get your message across (1)

HungWeiWeiHai (896959) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028891)

faster with "telekenisis"?

Re:Go for it! (1)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028899)

Are they all typos or is querty actually a layout? I've often wondered myself why we don't rename the Dvorak layout to ',.pyf just so it's consistent with the names of all the other layouts.

Tip For Mac OS X users... (4, Informative)

MacDork (560499) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028714)

You can switch between QWERTY and DVORAK keyboard layouts in the international preferences pane.

Re:Tip For Mac OS X users... (1)

mcgroarty (633843) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028761)

And as a bonus, you get a cool little American flag in the corner if you also select "Show input menu in menu bar." (Local flag results may differ.) Hold option and click to drag the menulets around, stick the flag next to the pretty Spotlight icon or what have you.

Re:Tip For Mac OS X users... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028821)

Hmm, I get a swedish flag...

Oh wait. :P

Re:Tip For Mac OS X users... (3, Funny)

Kraeloc (869412) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028774)

I know, isn't it great? I do that to people all the time, and they rarely figure it out. Oh, did you mean for actual usage...?

Re:Tip For Mac OS X users... (4, Interesting)

oberondarksoul (723118) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028775)

Even more useful is the ability to use QWERTY keyboard shortcuts with a DVORAK layout. When typing normally without holding a modifier, the keyboard is pure DVORAK. With this option enabled, holding Command or Option will make it revert back to QWERTY until you let go again. This means you can use the familiar Command+Z/X/C/V shortcuts (for example) from their convenient position near the modifiers without having to stretch all over the place.

Re:Tip For Mac OS X users... (1)

Dr. Mojura (584120) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028861)

I just found out the other day that you can hit apple+space to quickly switch back and forth between the last two used keyboard layouts. It comes in pretty handy sometimes.

I agree about having the Dvorak layout with QWERTY keyboard shortcuts being extremely useful. Learning a new layout for typing wasn't too difficult, but for some reason I find it very hard to change my CMD+x,c&v keys. This leads me to a question: I've switched primarily to Dvorak at work as well on my Windows box, and I have yet to find an equivalent Dvorak+QWERTY CTRL for Windows. Does such a thing exist?

Re:Tip For Mac OS X users... (2, Interesting)

blowhole (155935) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028881)

Shameless plug [] for a Windows solution.

Re:Tip For Mac OS X users... (1)

rcamera (517595) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028833)

same for windows 2000/xp. it took me a few minutes to figure out how to enable dvorak [] . it even lets you define keyboard shortcuts to switch back and forth.

Re:Tip For Mac OS X users... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028932)

Why is it that simplistic Macintosh tips are always getting moderated up, but the equivilant Windows/Linux tips aren't even posted?

The only reasonable conclusion is that Mac users are significantly more luserish than the rest of the computing population at this site.

Example of how easy it is (5, Funny)

Monoman (8745) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028715)

Frg mgoy x. hrtcbiv Dr, dape jab cy x.Z S[) :-)

Re:Example of how easy it is (1)

insecuritiez (606865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028787)

> You must be joking. How hard can it be? :-)

It was actually pretty hard for me but I'm glad I switched.

Changing (1)

neovoxx (818095) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028717)

cjl mrj os xae

Surprisingly easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028728)

Switching back and forth is surprisingly easy.

What I find funny is that certain computers I use are usually Dvorak and others are usually Qwerty, and this causes no problems. But trying to type Qwerty on a usually-Dvorak keyboard is painful.

My Experience (1)

insecuritiez (606865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028730)

I switched about 3 years ago and it was a lot of work for me. I'm very glad I did and I wouldn't switch back. I struggle on QWERTY now though so if I'm going to do serious typing (long term, not just fixing a computer) I need to switch it over to Dvorak. Many of my friends I have gotten to switch were able to do so in 2 weeks and be up a full speed. They can also switch back to QWERTY without any effort and prefer the Dvorak layout. I'm very glad I switched and I definitely notice less strain but everyone's mileage is going to vary.

make the switch (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028734)

I used to type at about 60 wpm on qwerty, within 2 weeks (I went cold turkey, not allowing myself to type qwerty at all) I passed that on dvorak, settling in somewhere around 80-90 wpm. At that time, I could barely type qwerty anymore. But now, 2 years later, my qwerty skills have recovered to about 50wpm. I find it very hard to type qwerty on my computer, and it takes me a few minutes to get used to it if I am able to type dvorak on other people's machines. Somewhere in my brain my computers got connected with dvorak, and all others to qwerty.

I HIGHLY recommend the switch. I type faster, and can do so for longer.

Dvorak (5, Insightful)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028736)

Learning another typing layout doesn't make you lose your ability to type on a Qwerty keyboard anymore than learning German might make you forget how to speak English.

That said, you might not be quite as good a Qwerty typer as you were originally, just like how learning a new language occasionally introduces a little bit of confusion in your mind. For the most part you're just as proficient though and potentially better off because of what knowing something new (language or keyboard layout).

Re:Dvorak (1)

insecuritiez (606865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028830)

I'm sorry, your argument doesn't hold for everyone. I switched to Dvorak 3 years ago and now I'm pretty darn bad at QWERTY.

I think saying "you'll forget QWERTY" is a pretty ridiculous argument against Dvorak though. You're *never* FORCED to type in QWERTY. In 3 years I've never had to type more than a few sentences on QWERTY. I can switch every operating system Dvorak in about two seconds.

I'm very glad I switched and I have absolutely no use for QWERTY any longer so not being able to type it doesn't matter.

Kinesis keyboard (1)

ylikone (589264) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028743)

Get a Kinesis keyboard [] , they are damn expensive but keeps you from having to deal with dvorak.

Re:Kinesis keyboard (1)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028902)

One of these days I'm going to convince myself that I actually need a datahand [] . The big win for coders is that you no longer need to leave homerow in order to hit the symbols...

Kinesis and Dvorak (1)

Average (648) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028751)

I really learned Dvorak at the same time I got my first Kinesis Ergonomic (the fingerbowl) keyboard 5 years ago. I had played around with Dvorak on and off since the Apple IIc (which had a Dvorak switch!) days.

Now, I type effectively on Dvorak on the Kinesis. I still type pretty good QWERTY on a normal keyboard (and a common 'split' keyboard is normal after the Kinesis). I can get my fingers to do Dvorak on a flat keyboard with some effort (sometimes I put the laptop in Dvorak, sometimes not). But, I can not, for the life of me, type QWERTY on a Kinesis keyboard. Mind you, I like Dvorak enough that I haven't tried for days on end, but my fingers are programmed for the Dvorak when they feel the Kinesis.

I doubt that I'll ever lose QWERTY skill, no matter how long I use the Dvorak. After all, I could type at a reasonable clip as a four-year-old. (When I occasionally deal with children, I have to remember that my hyperlexic reading-at-two was the abnormal situation).

Qwery typo (1)

JeiFuRi (888436) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028762)

Maybe he made the typo on purpose, to emphasize the question? Kinda hard to miss a key if you go in a straight line, eh?

It's like a second language (4, Interesting)

toddestan (632714) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028765)

I have no problems flipping back and forth between the two layouts. It's a lot like 2 languages - I can say one sentence in English and the next sentence in Spanish without any problem, so why not keyboard layouts?

With that said, if you totally switch over to Dvorak, your Qwerty skills will get rusty - just like if I don't speak a foriegn language for a while I'll start to forget parts of it. My solution is to have my main machines Dvorak, and let the lesser used machines, and machines that would be hard to switch (like laptops) stay Qwerty. That way, I get practice in both layouts on a daily basis, while still enjoying the benefits of Dvorak most of the time.

Re:It's like a second language (2, Interesting)

saigon_from_europe (741782) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028866)

I use basically 3 different layouts. Most of my time I spend using standard US English keyboard. It is, when I'm working, I'm either coding, or I'm writing something in English, so it requires me to use US-EN keyboard. (For some odd reason, even if I'm coding something where comments and identifier names are in Serbian, I still use US-EN keyboard.) When I write in Serbian, I use standard Serbian keyboard. Problem with it is swapped y-z keys, and a lot of interpunction marks misplaced. Plus, Serbian has letters sz. And finally, when I chat or when I write non-important emails, I type in Serbian on US-EN keyboard. And point of this story is that everything could be used almost simoultaniously without big effort. It is somewhat problematic in first day, but you get used to it after a while.

And it seems quite stupid that it is easier to me to change keyboard layouts on my keyboard and in my head instead to use right-alt-key to access [] and {} (all other English letters and keys are, naturally, accessible from Serbian keyboard; these four, |, \and @ require right alt key + respective key from the keyboard).

Shouldn't be a big deal!! (1)

malraid (592373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028766)

My car has a manual gearbox, my parents' car is automatic, and quite often I have a to drive a fork lift (which is a WHOLE new ball game). And I haven't run over anybody just yet. Just get on with it, simple as a that.

DVORAK's supperiority is a myth (2, Informative)

sanermind (512885) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028767)

There is a fascinating article in reason magazine [] debunking the myth of DVORAK's superiority, and it's common use as a poster child for so-called 'market failure'.

An Arguement for Dvorak (2, Insightful)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028768)

Here's an article and discussion on the topic: An Arguement for Dvorak []

I wonder if slashdot fans are as tender about linking to Kuro5hin as Kuro5hin fans are about linking to Slashdot. Let's find out.

Re:An Arguement for Dvorak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028934)

K5ers are sensitive about it because Slashdot is infested with drooling morons who can't spell (for example, you should learn to spell the title of the article you've linked to) and have collective orgasms over anime and kernel upgrades, whereas Kuro5hin users provide either intelligent discussion or clever (i.e. not 20721-style) trolling. Linking to /. only lowers the collective IQ of K5.

Dual user... (1)

drewcaster (517860) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028769)

I use both without really thinking about it now. The best reason to use Dvorak: Watching your friend's heads explode when they sit down to use your computer.

uh huh... (1)

dexomn (147950) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028770)

Someone needs to contact Penn and Teller and ask them to do a segment on the Dvorak layout. Why? Because they have a TV show on shotime called BULLSHIT that debunks thinks like the dvorak keyboard layout. If anyone cares to put this fairytale bullshit to the test PLEASE share your results. I've tried dvorak and it didn't do me a damn bit of good. It's kind of like trying to learn japanese by watchni dragon ball z, except there really is no benefit.

Re:uh huh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028813)

> I've tried dvorak and it didn't do me a damn bit of good.

"anecdotal evidence is the BEST kind of evidence!"

Hello? (1)

shobadobs (264600) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028773)

Do you even read Slashdot? Ever? This is an absurdly recurring discussion.

It's like deja vu all over again all over again.

Enough is enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028885)

It's like deja vu all over again all over again.

Stop saying that!

Not a problem (1)

keesh (202812) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028786)

I used to have to switch between French and British layouts on a regular basis. Now I have no problems with British and Dvorak. I have more difficulties with the physical positioning of keys between my laptop and Microsoft Natural keyboards...

Keep your wrists straight (5, Informative)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028791)

I'm fairly convinced that the layout doesn't matter as much as your wrist position. I'm 40, having been typing since I was 12 or so, and have never had RSI injuries. And I've noticed the one thing I differently from a lot of typists is that I hold my wrists straight, at about a 30 degree angle to the keyboard. A lot of typists bend their wrists so that their hands come in straight to the keys (the "home" position). My "home" position is is "q-s-d-v" on the left, and "n-k-o-p" on the right (or pretty close to that, my fingers actually sort of float above it).

The "natural" keyboards that split in the middle try and do that as well, but it's completely unnecessary to split the keyboard. It's just a matter of getting used to your hands at an angle to the keys.

I think tendon stress and inflammation comes from forcing the tendons to bend while using your fingers. Seriously -- the layout doesn't matter as much as your wrist position (think about it -- it's the pressing of the keys, not the moving of the fingers

Re:Keep your wrists straight (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028808)

Oops, that last sentence was meant to be deleted. :)

maybe Cliff uses dvorak.. (1)

jx100 (453615) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028792)

I just about never use qwerty, but when I do, it usually takes a few minutes for me to readjust. I have to look at the keyboard a bit, but after a while I start typing pretty fast with few mistakes. In fact, I started writing this post in dvorak, then finished it in qwerty.

Dvorak using VI (1)

ryanw (131814) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028794)

The main thing stopping me from trying dvorak is that I use VI all the time and have gron used to the 'hjkl' keys vs arrows. Is there any different adjustments for dvorak on VI?

losing qwerty skills (1)

aluser (771756) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028804)

I switched to dvorak a couple years ago and simply wasn't able to get both layouts in my head at once. I only learned dvorak after I quit qwerty, and then I forgot qwerty! Being on a college campus with lots of public computers, that kind of sucked. I'm now in the process of switching back, and I've got most of my old speed back.

dvorak was really nice and typing with qwerty seems really uncomfortable and strained now, but I wouldn't go dvorak again, at least not for a college student or anyone who uses other people's keyboards a lot.

Maybe others can learn dvorak while still typing qwerty a lot, idunno.

AZERTY (2, Interesting)

Inverted Pilot (879306) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028807)

I find that I can switch back and forth between QWERTY (for English) and AZERTY (for French) pretty easily.

SafeType (3, Interesting)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028815)

You may want to consider the SafeType keyboard [] .

It gives you ergonomic benefits that no "ergonomic" bump-in-the-middle keyboard comes close to.

Besides, does Dvorak make that much of a difference? Sure, the layout might be marginally better but you're still twisting your wrists 90 degrees to make your hands parallel with it (pronation [] ), you're then angling your elbows in 45 degrees and your hands back out 45 degrees to line up with it (deviation [] ), and you're still, likely, tilting it (extension [] )putting even more stress on.

A better arrangement of keys is only going to do so much for you. At the end of the day, you've still got extension, deviation and pronation going on - even if you're marginally reducing stress within those three.

The SafeType sorts all three out. Lower your arms by your sides. Now lift your forearms up so your elbows are at 90 degrees. Nothing else. That's it. You're done. Your arms are in a massively more neutral position, your carpal tunnel is now straight, letting the tendons run through without rubbing against it, all is good in your world. Wouldn't you prefer a keyboard like that to one that's just as bad as every other keyboard with a marginally better layout?

The other advantage of the SafeType is that, if you can already touch type, once you stop overthinking it, you can already use it. All the keys are still in the QWERTY position - they're just broken in to two vertical blocks. Most people I've watched are up and using it within ten minutes, typing naturally within an hour or so.

That advantage translates in to backwards compatability - you're still using QWERTY so you can transfer to a client site without ever having to make a mental switch.

I've tried a lot of ergonomic options and this one's by far the best. It's not cheap - at about $300. Then again, if you're worth anything as a developer, you likely earn that in a single day or less. Isn't one day's pay worth ensuring your career last another 20 years? One day's pay is a lot less than no more days' pay.

(Note: I reviewed the keyboard for one of the IEEE magazines. At the time I was impressed but had enough minor issues that I regarded it as only useful for those who had problems they needed to immediately address. After the review, I kept using it - and I'm completely willing to admit I was wrong. It's a great keyboard and, honestly, well worth the price for anyone who works with computers all day every day.)


kvarnelis (706564) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028818)

I've used DVORAK for 10 years after 15 years on QWERTY. With all due regard to Reason magazine, my RSI disappeared, my speed improved, and the number of typos I made went down significantly. Try typing "the cat is on the mat" or any sentence in DVORAK and QWERTY and you'll quickly conclude that the Reason article is thoroughly misguided. Keeping your fingers on home row makes a huge differenec. As far as switching back and forth, yes it can be done. The only weird thing is that since I learned DVORAK on a QWERTY keyboard, can't name the keys aloud or point to a given letter if I'm asked, I have to type the appropriate letter first. This is actually a good thing since it means I never look at my keys.

Dvorak for RSI? Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028824)

I have used Dvorak for a few weeks or months several times in the past. It takes me a about a week of daily practice or two weeks of practing an hour or so every other day to get back to touch-typing Dvorak above 50 wpm (I touch type Qwerty at 110 WPM with 3% error).

I have no trouble switching back and forth, although when I switch from one terminal to another I'll usually type a whole line of gibberish before I remember which layout I'm supposed to be using. It boils down to remembering several common 'chords' on both layouts (the, iou, tio, sh etc.) plus the locations of less frequently used individual letters. It helps that the numbers and associated shift characters are the same; for me, the biggest pain is the differnt '?' key which isn't really easy to hit on either layout.

However, I'm not sure I'd use Dvorak to alleviate RSI rather than getting a better chair/desk/keyboard - I do it to type faster with fewer errors. Plus, it's a lot of fun to watch other people try to use my machine (I don't usually switch the physical keys).

If you have RSI/carpal tunnel : get a chair that's the right height for your desk and practice holding your wrists an inch or two off your desk while you type, with the weight of your forarms naturally suspending below your shoulders - I learned this in grade school keyboarding class and have never had trouble with my hands due to typing, despite having arthritis all my life.

It's not too hard (1)

sahala (105682) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028827)

I learned dvorak in college under peer pressure from two roommates who wouldn't tell me how to switch their keyboard layouts to qwerty on their linux boxes. I haven't used qwerty as my primarily layout since about 1996.

I had one summer internship which didn't give me privs to switch keyboard layouts and I had to jump back and forth between my home and work computer. It's annoying for the first few minutes of going back to qwerty but it's a breeze from there, meaning that I was up to full speed but I missed the comfort of dvorak.

One thing that's annoying is using the command line. For some reason it takes me longer to adjust to back qwerty for command line use than in other applications.

Touch vs. hunt-and-peck (2, Insightful)

YoungHack (36385) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028829)

I've used Dvorak for about 9 years. My experience is that I touch-type Dvorak and hunt-and-peck in Qwerty (which I used to touch-type). I admit that I never tried to keep up my Qwerty.

It took a good month of practice to get my speed up, and probably a year before it really felt comfortable. I don't remember how long before my wrists felt better. They don't bother me now.

For a while, I think I felt physically a bit worse, because I carried slightly more tension when I was learning. I've had no reason to want to switch back.

Instead of Layout (5, Interesting)

jonfelder (669529) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028841)

Have you done other things to prevent RSI?

Things like making sure your desk and chair are the right height? Also it might make sense for you to not just change the layout, but change the keyboard. Either use a Microsoft Natural Keyboard or something like this: Maltron Keyboard []

Depends on how much you practice (1)

dowobeha (581813) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028848)

I use Dvorak, but occassionally use qwerty on my wife's computer. My qwerty skills really vary depending on how much I practice. If I use qwerty at least occasionally then I pick it up reasonably well after a bit of use.

Actually... (1)

JeiFuRi (888436) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028857)

Personally, I don't feel that the layout makes a significant difference in my accuracy. However, I do find that I can't type properly if I'm using another keyboard other than the one I have at home. It just feels different if I'm using a different keyboard - physically not layout wise - and it makes me have a lot of typos. Anyone else feel the same way?

you Faiel It? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028862)

posts. TheRef@ore crisco or lube.

A personal account (2, Interesting)

VE3MTM (635378) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028879)

I've used Dvorak as my primary keyboard layout for about a year and a half now (I'm typing in it now, in fact). Switching took a while -- about 2 weeks for my Dvorak speed to pass my QWERTY speed, but I'm never going back now.

However, I can't use it all the time. At work, I type in QWERTY about part the time. Switching back and forth for me is no problem. After a few keystrokes of thinking where each key is, I'm back up to my old QWERTY speed (which is slower than my Dvorak speed). Dvorak is more "natural" to me, and the QWERTY->Dvorak switch is much easier than the other way around.

I've noticed that if I think about which keys I'm typing, I tend to mess up the layouts, but if I don't think about it at all, I have no problem. I can't explain it any more than that.

The worst part about switching back and forth is the punctuation. A friend of mine that also made the switch commented to me on this, so it's obviously not just me. Maybe this is because punctuation is silent, and is learned a different way than other keys?

For most typing, this isn't a problem. The odd time I'll typo a period as a V or an E, but that's that's few and far between. Programming I can now only really do in Dvorak, because of how common punctuation is. However, I rarely do programming on any computer that I cannot switch to Dvorak, and so I just always use Dvorak for that.

I do recommend switching to Dvorak.

Switching back and forth. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028896)

I can assure you that using both systems is possible, though the learning curve can be tough. I've tried Dvorak several times, and have always preferred it, but it has only stuck since I started carrying around my (Dvorak-enabled) laptop. I use a primary computer, and then many other computers that I share with others, which, needless to say, are QWERTY-handicapped; now that I've shifted my workflow to primarily my own computer, Dvorak is here to stay. The key (pun intended) is to go all-Dvorak for however long it takes you to become natural with it. Then, QWERTY will be awkward at first--you'll have another learning curve--but will in short order settle out. It is sort of like having different passwords for different stations at work: at first, you need to think about it, but after a while it becomes automatic. Sometimes I find myself using the wrong keyset, but that's about as common as placing fingers on the wrong keys, which we all do at times anyhow.

It was not a problem for me (1)

gotr00t (563828) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028897)

A few years ago, I began training on the Dvorak keyboard layout, (I'm using it right now to type this post) and under 3 months of about 30 minutes of practice a day, I got my WPM on DV up to about 80-100. I'm sure that you'll be able to retrain on DV without any problem if you have the time and patience. At work, my workstation is set to DV, but no other machine is. I find that I can switch between the two without any problem at all, though my QWERTY typing skills have been adversely affected slighty because I don't use it as often.

As for the matter of whichever is faster, the question has had a history of controversy, with some studies showing that DV is much faster than QWERTY and some showing that the opposite is true, I think that in recent years there has been a compromise that DV offered a 4% (something really small) or so efficiency increase over the standard QWERTY.

Speed, however, is besides the point of why I like to use DV, as the real reason is comfort. I find that I can type for hours with absolutely no fatigue on DV, as my fingers rarely leave the home row (70% of the typing is done on the home row, opposed to the 30 or so percent on QWERTY), and my hands alternate keystrokes in a strumming pattern. (the vowels are on the left hand side, the common consonants are on the right hand side) I don't think there have been any studies confirming that DV decreases the risk of repetive movement injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, but it certainly can't be harmful, as there is much less movement associated with typing on Dvorak.

Give your hands a rest; learn the Dvorak simplified keyboard layout, and you'll wonder how you ever typed on Sholes' cheap hack known as QWERTY.

I'm back to hunt n peck in QWERTY (1)

ooloogi (313154) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028903)

I swapped to dvorak a few years ago, and it took a couple of weeks of not being able to type effecively. Once I learnt the Dvorak, I've never been able to touch type QWERTY again, but then I've never tried to maintain the skill either. I don't think that Dvorak is the cure to all RSI. It's more efficient, and you can pump more words out for a given amount of finger movement, but at the end of the day, the fingers are doing much the same types of movements.

I think the biggest improvement that the Dvorak switch gave to me was a consciousness of typing, and an opportunity to learn again properly. The fact that there are QWERTY caps on the board forces you to never look at the keys and that really builds the foundation of doing it right. I think the very fact that there were the "wrong" letters printed on the keys had the indirect effect of pushing me into a better posture and hand positioning.

So maybe the RSI benefits observed in going to Dvorak are partly indirect, and can be obtained just by better concentration on hand posture and sitting posture, without going to the new layout. If you are in a position of having to use QWERTY at times, that may offer the better compromise.

Also, don't discount the power of switching to a different make of keyboard, and also swapping which thumb you use to press the space bar - and if you use a mouse - which hand moves the mouse. Those things can also have a significant effect.

VI assumes Querty layout (1)

dafoxbat (562597) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028906)

I tried to make the switch to dvorak a while ago, and I found I got good pretty fast at typing text and word processing documents. By far the worst part though, were commands like ls -al which are very hard to relearn with a different layout. The show-stopper, however, was using VI. Vi assumes that you're using a querty layout, because the keys in command mode (like hjkl for left/up/down/right) aren't in logical positions when you're using a different keyboard. So until there's a widely available 'dvorak-mode' for Vi which reassigns the command mode keys to be whatever the old querty key in the same place would have been, I'm sticking with querty.

Totally possible, if you can do multiple apps. (1)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028907)

Watch out. There's plenty of evidence that Dvorak provides no/little benefits ergonomically and with typing speed. Some of it has been cited above.

Anyway, yeah, it's certainly possible for the brain to switch. If you switch between US and UK keyboards, or between Mac and PC keyboards, you need to be aware of a number of switched keys and key combos. I need to be aware of this even between programs! I sometimes use pico, where internal cut and paste are ctrl+k and ctrl+u.. yet most programs use cmd+x and cmd+v..

I just switched (1)

GreenPenInc (792018) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028908)

Around the time of the last slashdot article about Dvorak, I decided it was worth it to switch. Got my keyboard remapped on boot and took the plunge. It took about a week before I got up to a decent typing speed, and about 2 weeks before it stopped being frustrating to type Dvorak.

One thing I noticed was that even at the very beginning, when typing was maddeningly slow, it just... felt right. When my finger would hit a key, it just felt like that was where the key should be. Hard to explain, really, until you try it.

Of course I also found that QWERTY (man that's weird to type!) is a bit harder to get back into. I bet I'd have trouble typing it because the switch is still so new to me. But people seem to agree that after you start typing QWERTY for a few minutes it comes back to you. Frankly, after getting used to Dvorak, I've never saw the point of using QWERTY for even that long. :)

On your own computer, the best bet is to buy a vinyl CafePress sticker from DVZine [] . I printed out my own, and it looked awful and the glue melted. The CafePress stickers are a lot better.

I really don't know how well you'll be able to type QWERTY, but like I said I bet if you need to use it it'll come back after 10 minutes or so. That, or you could use a USB keyboard or something.

AlphaGrip & Datahand (1)

eyeb1 (522766) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028910)

although they are not expected to ship until august .. this looks like the most interesting alternative to a standard keyboard yet .. text input .. mouse .. trackball actually .. and highly programmable game controller all in one .. []

also with regards to RSI the Datahand is a very good .. although expensive alternative .. even with the new pricing .. []

Actually, it's not going to be a problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028916)

Switching between two keyboard layouts is akin to switching between two musical instruments with some similarities but significant contrasts.

For example, switching between the violin and the viola requires one to learn a new clef (alto clef, if going to the viola) as well as distinctly different finger spacings. There is still enough similarity between the two instruments to make this analogous to switching between dvorak and qwerty: both are typing layouts which require the use of both hands, and both instruments require the right hand to bow and the left hand to finger; most people can't tell the difference because they are otherwise almost identical instruments.

I know of many masterful violinists who are also great violists. They have no trouble switching between the two.

If one takes time to learn qwerty and dvorak I don't think there should be an issue, unless you neglect one over the other for several weeks to a month or more.


Switching is easy (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028917)

I switch natively between Dvorak and Qwerty, and between "standard", Kinesis, and DataHand.

FWIW, the rule I adopted was to use Dvorak on the Kinesis, and Qwerty on regular keyboards.

Learning a new keyboard, you want to use ONLY that keyboard for at least a month. Past that, it's not too bad, and I can switch back and forth instantly.

Wow, what a difficult choice. (1)

suitepotato (863945) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028919)

I mean, what are the chances of getting either keyboard layout wherever you sit before a computer?

Sarcasm, but the idea is easy to get. I don't have a lot of choices, the choice is pretty much made for me by default. Do I get a choice of which side of the car I get my steering wheel? Not unless I move to another country or buy a surplus postal van.

The days of choosing between them are pretty much over and belong for me in the past with Mavis Beacon and Typing Attack and whatnot. QWERTY is the default.

Besides, I rather think /.ers should worry about other repetitive actions for RSI, of the one-handed surfing sort. Now there's a keyboard to create with a profit potential. The pr0n keyboard.

Easier way to combat RSI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028920)

*Stick with QWERTY.
Or Dvorak, if you're used to Dvorak. Or whatever, really.

*Keep your wrists up.
Don't put them down while typing. Ever. A wrist rest is a poor man's substitute, and using it, your wrists still still get slightly tired. Your wrists should be around the same level as your knuckles.

I've camped out in my computer lab in college, worked as a Software Dev, will play marathon sessions of rogue-like games , have never used the "ergonomic keyboards", and yet I've NEVER had a twinge on my wrists. Why? Because I'd taken over a decade of piano training during my childhood, so I had the habit of keeping my wrists up, when pushing piano keys, and computer keys were not much different. For years, I'd honestly thought that RSI was a "bullshit disease" until I saw someone with a sling around his wrist.

Huh? RSI? (1)

OmgTEHMATRICKS (836103) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028926)

Oh, you mean Residual Self Image, the mental projection of your digital self?

Switch as soon as you can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13028928)

I've been using Dvorak for about three years now. I used to do tech support for several computer labs at a major university and I would type all day long. Like yourself, even though I used proper posture, aids, and so forth, my hands would hurt from all the constant typing at the end of the day.

Once I switched over to Dvorak, I never had any pain again. I can type faster, longer, and more accurately now. For about a week during the transition, it sucked because my muscle memory was inbetween QWERTY and Dvorak, but once you get past that hurdle, you'll have no problems.

As part of my job, whenever I'm not on my machine, I have to type in QWERTY. That happens alot since, well, no one else but myself uses Dvorak. I've not lost any memory of QWERTY and I do not have to hunt and peck. You could say I'm bikeyboardal. It's just like knowing two languages. So long as you're speaking both, you're not going to forget either. Same with QWERTY and Dvorak.

Brooks' site is probably the best overall Dvorak site on the web: []

There's also a yahoo message board, altkeyboards, where Dvorak newbies and oldies discuss all manner of minutiae about that layout and others: []

If you're still skeptical of the benefits of Dvorak, use this QWERTY/Dvorak comparison applet and see for yourself. l []

No problems (1)

mrderm (685352) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028929)

I discovered dvorak a few years ago after a hand injury. I noticed that typing qwerty with an injured hand was very uncomfortable, but playing Quake 2 was not. The obvious (at the time) difference was that my Q2 keyboard layout was designed with all the useful keys grouped together, and the qwerty layout was the opposite.

More details at []

For the last two years Ive been very happy with the dvorak layout. I strongly recommend it to anyone who spends their day behind a keyboard and can be bothered to spend a few minutes daily for a few weeks learning a new skill. There is no doubt that all my previous pains have stopped, typing speeds do not seem any different, and there is no problem switching back to qwerty for occasional tasks.

Earlier this year I was curious about whether the reduction in wrist pain is a coincidence, and I was disappointed that I didnt have the opportunity to measure typing speed before and after the switch. So, in the interest of science, I decided to switch back.

I have been measuring typing speeds since the beginning of June, and on June 24 I switched I switched to qwerty exclusively and plan to stick with it for a whole month. So far there is no significant change to typing speed, and nothing has started hurting.

I am definitely looking forward to the end of this month. My only use of the dvorak layout since the switch has been for speed measurements, and for those brief moments it just feels so good.

I will definitely update [] when this experiment is complete.

I can do this (1)

Icepick_ (25751) | more than 9 years ago | (#13028933)

I switched a number of years ago to the Kenisis Ergo Dvorak keyboard.

It took a few years, but now I can swtich back and forth between it and a normal QWERTY with no problems.

It just takes time and practice.
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