My conversion to the Dvorak keyboard layout

Until we get the William Gibson'ish wetwire implant, the human race is stuck using a keyboard as the optimal medium for digital communication and interaction. With this in mind I think people overlook how important a keyboard and a keyboard layout can be.

This page is mainly a set of notes I gathered in my search for a good typing solution. I have had a modest QWERTY semi-Ergonomic Chicony 'Smart105' keyboard from July 1996 up to August 2001. I had an average touch typing speed. I switched to a Chicony KB-9938 Ergonomic Keyboard, looking very much like the Microsoft Natural with it's 3D design. Finding a non-Microsoft (I'm told Keytronic make them) Ergonomic Keyboard was not easy in South Africa. Fining a DVORAK layout Ergonomic keyboard in ZA is near impossible...

At the time I switched to the Chicony 9938's I was keen to re-map my keyboard to a DVORAK layout and force myself to learn touch typing on DVORAK, but I had a deadline for a project coming up, so I had time to continue shopping hardware.

Then in January 2002 I made my switch to DVORAK one of my new years resolutions. Since Jan 2002 I've been typing using the DVORAK layout. This must be my one new years resolution that turned out to be a success. (: The first week was rather painful.

By the second day I knew where all they keys are, but I was still 'reflex typing' QWERTY. At some point I found myself avoiding my PC out of frustration. I found a little Dvorak typing tutor app in the Debian archive called 'Dvorak7Min' which was helpful for a while. Then in the second week I found that my brain was somehow learning to 'reflex type' some of the DVORAK keys. At this point I was typing very slow and making many mistakes, but I was becoming productive again. I chose to type more useful stuff, like emails and admin my photo collection than using the typing tutor.

In the third week I typed at a constant semi-productive but acceptable speed, although I did not notice an improved typing rate yet. At least all the keys seem to be a reflex action again and I did not find myself thinking about the location of the keys very often. I started to IRC again, something I avoided because of my typing speed. At the start of the forth week things were looking good. I can safely say that I made the switch and will not go back to QWERTY. All that remains is to work on my typing speed and minimise the errors I make.

I've never been a smoker, and never will be, but you frequently hear the stories of how hard it is to stop smoking. I guess this is the closest ill get to the challenge of giving up smoking. The next time I'm in a conversation about giving up smoking, I think I'll just say "you think giving up smoking is hard, you should try to switch to Dvorak" (:

dvorak layout

People I know who use DVORAK

General DVORAK Info

Keyboard Shops

Best option so far:
Classic Qwerty/Dvorak Switchable Contoured Keyboard

How to re-map your keyboard for XFree86

setxkbmap dvorak

How to re-map your console

Old Debian GNU/Linux:
Debian GNU/Linux:
Install the console-data package and run
install-keymap /usr/share/keymaps/i386/dvorak/ANSI-dvorak.kmap.gz
loadkeys dvorak

How to re-map your Caps Lock to be a Left Shift key

xmodmap -e "remove Lock = Caps_Lock"
xmodmap -e "remove Shift = Shift_L"
xmodmap -e "keysym Shift_L = Caps_Lock"
xmodmap -e "keysym Caps_Lock = Shift_L"
xmodmap -e "add Lock = Caps_Lock"
xmodmap -e "add Shift = Shift_L"	
$Date: 2009-03-24 11:09:24 +0200 (Tue, 24 Mar 2009) $ $Revision: 148 $

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