SUI GENERIS punk rock bike shop home-brew art/craft love

Dvorak: "Absolutely Perfect"?

I switched my keyboards at home and work to the Dvorak layout over three months ago, which means my status report is overdue for anyone who wonders about such things. As you may recall, I was hoping for increased typing speed and reduced strain on my fingers and tendons and stuff. Only time will tell if I'm warding off the Carpal Tunnel. I have become very confident with it, and my accuracy is decent. My main problem is finding keys too quickly with whatever hand I'm not using at the moment and actually getting ahead of myself. I haven't measured my speed in a long time, so I found a free online test and gave it a shot. My average words per minute with the default QWERTY layout generally hovered around 65-70 wpm. Here are my results on the first try with Dvorak:

Percentage Accuracy : 100%
Percentage Inaccuracy : 0%
Characters per minute : 326 cpm
Characters per second : 5 cps
Words per minute : 61 wpm
Words per second : 1 wps
Total Speed status : Good
Overall Accuracy : Absolutely Perfect

Which, although not quite up to the standard of my pre-Dvorak days, is a pretty respectable showing. I hoped to have surpassed my former speed by the three-month mark, but I'm pretty happy with this and hoping for continued improvement. Learning to type all over again was a fun experiment that seems to have paid out. The primary benefit is flummoxing friends and tech support people when they try to use your computer and realize that they are typing gibberish. Then you can step in and type with absolute smoove perfection while they stand, with gaping jaws, stricken by your keyboarding mastery. It was worth doing the switch for this reason alone.

UPDATE. chickenmagazine says: "I've never heard that the Dvorak keyboard is supposed to help with carpal tunnel. Are you guessing, or did you hear it somewhere?" I started typing a response in the comments, but it was running long.

Indeed it has been claimed that "Dvorak has alleviated some people's repetitive-stress injury (RSI) symptoms" but there is a better answer to that question here:

At this point in time, there aren't any authorities willing to say that any specific thing either definitely causes or prevents Carpal Tunnel Syndrome... There are plenty of personal accounts from people who have said that switching to Dvorak has made a difference.
Author Holly Lisle is one of those people. She writes, "I hoped [the Dvorak layout] might alleviate my wrist pain (it has so far put an end to it entirely.)"

Personally, I've never had much pain to complain about, so my switching to Dvorak was more prophylactic in this regard. I will say that it just plain feels better now that I'm used to it. Of course, this makes sense from an ergonomic point of view. The FAQ article continues:
Considering that Dvorak was made to make typing easier, and QWERTY designed to make typing harder, one can at least conclude that switching to Dvorak might be beneficial. It certainly won't make things worse!


CM said...

I don't get it. The typing test keeps telling me I have something like 87% inaccuracies. (And I type 95 wpm.) I made a couple of mistakes, but not nearly all mistakes.

I've never heard that the Dvorak keyboard is supposed to help with carpal tunnel. Are you guessing, or did you hear it somewhere?

sui generis said...

Hey chicky-mag, I amended the post in response to your question. As for the typing test, I dunno. Not using 2 spaces after sentences, maybe? It's obviously not the best thing out there, just the first one I found.

CM said...

Oh, maybe it's the 2 spaces. Anyway, thanks for the update -- maybe I'll try it too. Any tips on re-learning how to type?

sui generis said...

That's one's easy. Practice times three. Actually, I could easily write another post about that subject, but you basically just force yourself to do it.