A new dohickey!

I finally was able to afford an adapter that allows me to plug a PS2 keyboard into my newest computer, which only has USB ports.  This has been a real hinderance for me, because I have become used to using the Dvorak keyboard layout, which I consider to be vastly superior to the QWERTY keyboard.  Now, through the wonders of modern technology, I can plug one of my old, converted keyboards into my hot new Dell computer, and type away happily.  (Once I figured out how to convince Vista that I really did want to change the keyboard layout.)

For those of you who are not familiar with the alternative to the QWERTY keyboard, it came about because the QWERTY keyboard was designed in the 1860’s by one of the pioneers of typewriter design.  He wanted to minimize the chances of the keys getting stuck together, so he laid out a keyboard where most words require the typist to work alternating sides of the keyboard.  Contrary to popular belief the QWERTY keyboard was not designed to slow the typist down, but it is laid out in such a way that very high typing speeds are difficult to achieve.

In the 1920’s, a scientist from the University of Washington began a study of typing, the English language, typists, the mechanics of pressing the various keys, the relative strength of the different fingers, etcetera.  He took the results of his study and laid out a new keyboard design, which now bears his name.  When the Dvorak keyboard was first introduced, typewriters had to be made specially to use the layout, because the keys were all different.  With the advent of computers, however, switching between keyboard layouts became a matter of few mouse clicks.  (Well, except for Vista.)

Personally, I much prefer the Dvorak keyboard, as I am a much faster typist on it.  I taught myself how to type, and have never taken any classes, or done any exercises.  Perhaps this made it easier for me to adapt to the Dvorak, but that is neither here nor there.  What is important is that I am consistantly faster on the Dvorak keyboard, and that I developed that speed in a matter of weeks after starting to use the Dvorak, without exercises, long practice sessions, or any of that.  I just started to write using the different keyboard, and very quickly I was touch typing.

I believe that all young people should have a chance to experiment with an alternative to the QWERTY keyboard, if simply for the sake that the alternative is the result of study and analysis, whereas the QWERTY keyboard was designed to prevent a problem that hasn’t really been a problem since the 1950’s.  Converting a keyboard is a simple matter, as long as the keys are all the same on the back side.  I have discovered that some keyboards have slightly different mounts for the two home keys, which prevents them from being put into any of the regular key locations.  Popping the ‘j’ key cap and any other key cap off and comparing them will tell you if the keyboard can be converted.  If the mounts are keyed in different ways, the keyboard can not be rearranged.

I often pick up old keyboards at second hand stores, just to convert them to Dvorak, so that I can give them away to people who have children, or who are interested in learning a different way to type.  I like to promote alternatives to some of the things that we accept and take for granted, like the 12 hour clock.  There are 24 hours in a day, and having some weird system where those 24 hours are split in half makes no sense to me.  Especially when the numbering system goes “10 AM, 11AM, 12 PM.  I find it much easier to calculate time duration when using a system where the numbers just keep going up, instead of starting all over again.  And it is the ’24 hour clock,’ not ‘military time.’  The military uses the 24 clock, but so do scientists, doctors, air traffic controllers, and many other professions where confusion is to be avoided at all costs.

Seeing as it is 2115, and I have been on the run all day, I am going to call it a night.


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