How to get away from Qwerty?

Comments specifically about typing on TS keyboards, and about key layouts.

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How to get away from Qwerty?

Postby TorbenGB » 23 Sep 2005, 11:53

Hi all, it's great to see how active this forum is. Now I'm having a question myself and I'm hoping you have some comments on this:
How do you combine "30-60 minutes daily Dvorak training" with a 10-hours-per-day typing lifestyle?
(This has been touched in this earlier post.)

There are obvious reasons for using Qwerty (mostly old habits; and being able to use keyboards on other machines), and there are several good reasons for using Dvorak instead, especially for the TS crowd (less reaching, more comfort and accuracy). My problem is that I want to switch to Dvorak because I type so much but at the same time it's so damn hard to switch because I'm solidly stuck in 20-year-old Qwerty habits (and my PDA has Qwerty...).

Unfortunately I'm not too good at disciplined Dvorak training (though the Ten Thumbs Typing Tutoris truly great!). I tried for a week to use only Dvorak, with the typing tutor a few times a day and pick-typing my way through the rest of the day, but the extremely slow typing speed is putting me off. I find that whenever I need to type any real amounts, I fall back to Qwerty -- and because my TS is still set to Dvorak, I'm actually typing this on a real keyboard (otherwise used by my fiancèe at this computer)! :oops:

So what I'm looking for is an effective method of abandoning Qwerty for good without losing my patience.
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Postby ken gray » 23 Sep 2005, 13:22

You can do what I did.....Burn your ships!

OS's have their own method of changing the keyboard layout so you can turn that Qrappy kbrd into Dvarak with a few mouse clicks so you won't be going back and forth.

Just think of your really slow typing during those long report writing sessions as a real world Typing Tudor. :wink:

It's worth it but you just have to stick the torch to 'em.
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Postby VaderPi » 23 Sep 2005, 15:28

I took a more balanced approach to the switch. I bought MasterKey and spent at least an hour or two with the typing tutor every evening. While at work, I would start my morning in Dvorak, and then switch back to Qwerty when I could not take it anymore. I tried to make it a little more each day.

While at home, I only used Dvorak. Eventually, I made it a full day at work on Dvorak, and I have been using it every day since. I am about as fast as I was before, but I keep getting faster.

The only trouble is, I cannot type very well on Qwerty anymore. I can get by, but I am pretty slow. I guess my brain is completely rewired now, and there is only room in head for one typing layout. :)

Best of luck. It was not easy, but if you stick with it you will succeed.
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Postby nomaded » 23 Sep 2005, 20:49

I would describe the situation that I'm currently in to be a "transitional period".

I started switching to Dvorak about 2 months ago now. I started by using the ABCD tutor, to help me memorize the Dvorak layout. A few weeks later I found DVzine.org as another reference. Learning the layout is easy; making my fingers go to the right place without thinking about it is harder, but I feel that I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

My Dvorak speed isn't great, but it is catching up to my Qwerty speed. My occupation is in IT, so I knew from the beginning that I would need to be proficient in both Dvorak and Qwerty eventually. But, the way I saw it, I would be typing primarily Dvorak on a TouchStream and Qwerty on a "regular" keyboard, so I should be "ok". The real problem comes in when I try to type on a "normal" keyboard that has been set to Dvorak - I'm usually quite confused for several minutes before my brain readjusts. I also want to be able to type Dvorak on a "normal" keyboard, which is why I try to keep my TouchStream customizations to a bare minimum.

As for day-to-day Dvorak problems, my hands have a tendancy to transpose right/left keys for some reason - such as, I want to hit 'o' but hit 'n' instead (both keys are ring finger home row keys). Also, my fingers still want to reach to their Qwerty positions, so I do tend to backspace a lot. It's not great for productivity, but it's no more painful than when I got my first TouchStream. It's just a matter of using the keyboard or layout until new muscle memories are formed. I hope and expect that my Dvorak typing will be much improved in 6 months time - I also expect to be proficient, though not necessarily to the same degree, with Qwerty typing.
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Postby Shawn_Milo » 23 Sep 2005, 21:23

Just go cold-turkey. It sucks at first, but it's the only thing that worked for me. If you're used to touch-typing in any layout, then learning any other layout is going to be painfully slow. If you do it for an hour then quit, then next time you go back to it you're going to be about where you were the last time, which is probably close to zero. It's going to be just as painful. Eventually you're just going to associate Dvorak with stress and frustration.

If you just jump in and go 100% Dvorak and don't look back, you'll start seeing progress fairly quickly and very steadily.

Take it from me -- I tried switching back and forth and gave up Dvorak because it was "too hard." Three years later I went cold-turkey, and now it's been two years of Dvorak joy.
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Postby TorbenGB » 25 Sep 2005, 13:24

Perhaps it's more difficult to learn Dvorak on the TS compared to a normal keyboard. So far I've kept the keyboard on Qwerty and the TS on Dvorak so that I can easily practice Dvorak and quickly fall back to more normal typing speeds when I need it. (It would've helped me if the TS had Dvorak layout but that doesn't exist with Danish layout. Besides, I shouldn't be looking down anyway.)

I'll keep the TS on Dvorak of course. Should I also switch my keyboard to Dvorak (to make learning easier because of less finger drift) or keep the keyboard in Qwerty (so that I keep Qwerty and Dvorak synaptically separate)?
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Postby bradheintz » 26 Sep 2005, 14:56

I've got to agree with the cold-turkey approach. I started on a weekend, and just kept at it through all my usual tasks - coding, browsing, email, &c - and by the time the work week rolled around, I was limping along acceptably. Within a couple of weeks, it was no longer a chore and I was no longer peeking at the keyboard.
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Postby TorbenGB » 08 Oct 2005, 11:58

Let me update this topic with my progress... or lack of same. I feel I got the layout pretty much memorized; I rarely refer to a layout chart even though it's taped to my monitor. I am now trying to use Dvorak only, but when I have to write anything even of this size, I quickly give up and grab my normal keyboard after all -- I'm not even "limping along acceptably" on Dvorak. I wonder if it's really supposed to be that hard to switch.
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Postby gerb » 29 Oct 2005, 08:26

TorbenGB wrote:I am now trying to use Dvorak only, but when I have to write anything even of this size, I quickly give up and grab my normal keyboard after all -- I'm not even "limping along acceptably" on Dvorak. I wonder if it's really supposed to be that hard to switch.


Torben,

The "cold turkey" method worked very well for me. I made some printed layouts of the Dvorak key caps and took them everywhere with me - taped to each monitor, in my notebook when I went to meetings (at work), next to my bedside.

Unplug your normal keyboard, and resolve to use Dvorak for everything, even if you can only type one correct character per second. Learn the positions of the keys - start with the home row, and gradually get familiar with the placement of the vowels.

Above all, don't get frustrated with your progress (or the apparent lack thereof). After all, it probably took you longer to learn how to type in QWERTY, and it *is* a tough transition. But you can make it, so stick with it! It's worth the effort.
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Postby Shawn_Milo » 31 Oct 2005, 19:44

Torben,

As much as you're going to dislike this, put the TouchStream aside for a couple of weeks and learn Dvorak using a printed layout on the wall -- don't look at the keyboard.

Using a regular keyboard instead of the TS will let you learn Dvorak as easily as possible. The TS, between its non-existant feedback and non-staggered keys makes the learning much more difficult, if not impossible for someone not typing constantly.

But once you know Dvorak, and are comfortable typing on it and have maybe even (hopefully) lost your QWERTY ability, definitely go back to the TouchStream or the TypeMatrix EZ-Reach -- the non-staggered layout makes them far superior to normal keyboards.

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Postby TorbenGB » 14 Nov 2005, 10:06

I must shamefully admit that I've decided to let Dvorak go this time. I've been practising, but it's not coming naturally to me and the effort is too much when it's so easy to just keep typing Qwerty quickly instead.

Thanks for all the advice. Perhaps I will get around to it another time, or perhaps it will be much easier after all if I got myself a Dvorak board. Yes yes, you're not supposed to look down but you DO anyway, and then Qwerty print is mighty disrupting and tempting.
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Postby VaderPi » 14 Nov 2005, 16:33

I still look down from time to time, but I think that I have just made a subconscious conversion table in my mind. I guess that is how I handle finger drift. I just glance down and I know that M is in the same spot on both layouts and Qwerty('l') == Dvorak('s'), J == H is probably the one that I use the most.

Sorry to hear that you have given up. Well, maybe it is best to just think of this as break. It might be easier if you try again in a few months or so.
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Postby Shawn_Milo » 15 Nov 2005, 21:28

Torben,

You'll be back. I quit the first time I tried, but a year or two later I went cold-turkey and haven't looked back.

:o)

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Postby TorbenGB » 15 Nov 2005, 23:39

Shawn_Milo wrote:You'll be back
I'm glad to hear you say that -- and I think so, too :)
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Postby Shawn_Milo » 16 Nov 2005, 22:37

And you'll be welcomed with open arms. Thanksgiving is coming up soon, which gives me an idea. I see you're not in the US, and therefore have different holidays. However, maybe you can put this idea to work.

Next time you have a holiday around which you will be taking a couple of vacation days, make the switch at home. Make sure you have at least four or five days off in a row, and make sure you do plenty of typing during that time, even if it's just e-mail to friends or IMs to me telling me how much you hate me for putting you through this. ;o)

Follow these simple guidelines:

1. Keep a printout of the layout near your monitor, easily in sight.
2. Do NOT look at your keyboard.
3. Use a keyboard you're very comfortable with in QWERTY. If you're having trouble touch-typing consistently on the TouchStream, use a normal keyboard. The learning will translate to the TouchStream -- don't worry.

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Postby TorbenGB » 18 Nov 2005, 11:20

Shawn_Milo wrote:If you're having trouble touch-typing consistently on the TouchStream, use a normal keyboard.
I don't think that finger drift is a big problem -- I actually think that the zero-force typing helps me to mentally separate the two layouts.
The thing is that I share my computer with my fiancèe and it's hard to mess with keyboards when it confuses other users. We'll move to a new place in February and there we will have room enough to set up two computers, and then I can have another go.
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Postby Shawn_Milo » 18 Nov 2005, 15:14

TorbenGB wrote:
Shawn_Milo wrote:If you're having trouble touch-typing consistently on the TouchStream, use a normal keyboard.
I don't think that finger drift is a big problem -- I actually think that the zero-force typing helps me to mentally separate the two layouts.
The thing is that I share my computer with my fiancèe and it's hard to mess with keyboards when it confuses other users. We'll move to a new place in February and there we will have room enough to set up two computers, and then I can have another go.


I still stand by my recommendation about using a normal keyboard for the switch. However, if your main concern is confusing someone else with whom you share the computer, there's a simple solution: keymaps.

If you're using Windows, just add Dvorak to the list of keymaps. You'll find it in the Control Panel under regional settings on XP, and under keyboards in older versions. Then, you can use the mouse to click a little thing on the taskbar to switch back and forth, or use a key combination to switch, like "left-shift +alt." Just make show your fiancèe where to click or which combo to press if she starts to type and funny letters show up. Then, train yourself to leave the computer ready for her as often as possible, like a toilet seat. :o)

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Postby TorbenGB » 18 Nov 2005, 15:30

I'm familiar with keymaps, and they work particularly bad on Windows. The Windows keymaps are per-application rather than per-session, so it's a mess to toggle it on or off. The chosen keymap never seems to stick reliably, and sooner or later you'll suddenly get the wrong layout. Lastly and sadly, Windows only knows one Dvorak keymap, and that's the American. I write a lot of Danish and German texts, so that just won't work for me. That's why the TS is so great; it doesn't require anything of Windows at all, plus I get to map my own keys inside it as well. Any normal keyboard relies on Windows, and that's a sad thing to have to rely on...
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Postby Shawn_Milo » 18 Nov 2005, 15:44

Yeah, you have several good points there. Fortunately, I use a Mac so I don't have those problem at home, and at work I don't have to share my PC.

In that case, there's an even easier solution, which I should have realized before. Simply use the gesture editor to make the QWERTY/Dvorak switch one of the gestures. I used to have mine set to the right palm, so if I pushed the palm upwards, it switched to Dvorak. Downwards, it became QWERTY. This was passive-agressive behavior (down with QWERTY).

I did this in case I wanted to connect my TS to a machine on which I could not change the mapping.

However, if your better half is also a TouchStream addict, you will find that certain gestures which send letters to the computer (such as cut & paste) will only work with one layout.

Obviously, the best solution is for you to both switch to Dvorak. =o)

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Postby ken gray » 12 Jul 2006, 13:45

"'E' is the most frequent letter in English"...that may be but "backspace" is my most fequent function 80)
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