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From QWERTY, vi, and csh to Dvorak, Emacs, and Bash in 120 invigorating days! - Elf M. Sternberg
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From QWERTY, vi, and csh to Dvorak, Emacs, and Bash in 120 invigorating days!
JK Eldon has a rather familiar article entitled From QWERTY to Dvorak in 120 Somewhat Miserable Days in which she outlines her transition from QWERTY to Dvorak over a four month period. She outlines all the reasons for doing so, and for not doing so, then goes ahead and does it anyway. Her main reason, that she wanted to learn to touch type, is an excellent one.

I made the same transition myself, although I did so 18 years ago. At Spry (later: CompuServe, even later: WorldCom) I'd been a Solaris user working in vi and csh, which were the standard tools Sun had been foisting on us for a generation. After the massive swap deal with AOL and the Great RIF, I was left with a generous buyout and time to re-up my skills. So I did what any self-respecting nerd did in 1998: I bought a shiny new computer, installed Linux on it, and made myself use Bash, Emacs, and Dvorak instead. (The new desktop, by the way, was a Compaq. Compaq is dead, and you may thank God for it.)

The learning curve Eldon experienced was pretty much the same one I went through. I write code, non-fiction, and fiction. Emacs's key patterns aren't friendly to Dvorak users, but I learned. I did go from 10WPM in the first month to almost 80 by the fourth month. I did put stickers on my laptop keys.

I never went through the "I hate myself" stage, nor the "God, I wish I'd never started this" stage. It wasn't that I was committed; it was that I'd set Dvorak up at install and never taught myself how to go back, so going back would involve learning a whole different set of tools or worse, re-installing an OS I'd finally managed to stabilize. The inertia inherent in that choice kept me persevering, and eventually I was good enough at Dvoark that I realized the MS Natural Touch keyboard I had was doing more damage to my wrists; the position you hold you hands in for Dvorak are different from QWERTY, and the MSNT caused me to bend my wrists outward unnaturally.

Fortunately for me, by 1998 I'd mostly been done with MUDs and IRC, and real-time "business" chat services would have seem ludicrous back then.

They're still ludicrous today.

Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: Niko, It's a Bad Dream, One of Them

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