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I am a pretty fast typist.  I think that I can type between 60-70 wpm on average.  But I also suffer from a lot of pain in my shoulders and neck.  I think that this is due to the fact that being such a geek about 80% of my waking hours are spent in front of a computer.   So, despite my work being very kind and supplying me with a really nice Hermann Miller Aeron chair (of which features I take zero advantage of) and a footstool, I still find myself in an inordinate amount of pain.

I’ve always been interested in the dvorak keyboard layout as an alternative to QWERTY.  For those of you unfamiliar with this entire concept, here is a quick overview:

The Dvorak keyboard is an ergonomic alternative to the layout commonly found on typewriters and computers known as “Qwerty”. The Qwerty keyboard was designed in the 1870s to accommodate the slow mechanical movement of early typewriters. When it was designed, touch typing literally hadn’t even been thought of yet! It’s hardly an efficient design for today’s use. By contrast, the Dvorak (pronounced “duh-VOR-ack”, not like the Czech composer!) keyboard was designed with emphasis on typist comfort, high productivity and ease of learning — it’s much easier to learn!

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Basically it is a keyboard layout that is designed to be way more efficient than the standard QWERTY keyboard. This means, in theory, that it should allow you to type much faster and with less movement – thereby causing less strain on your fingers and wrists.

I’ve decided that I am going to teach myself dvorak after being sort of fascinated by it in a totally geeky way for years.  I found a company that makes clear overlays for your keyboard while you learn – http://www.kbcovers.com/servlet/Categories?category=Dvorak – and a few online tutorials.

It seems that dvorak is pretty much a lost universe, despite the fact that you can easily switch your keyboard layout to it.  Most of the websites that I looked at look pretty early 90s and haven’t been updated since.

I’m happy to re-ignite the revolution!  Or at least make my computer so difficult to use that no one will ever want to try to drive it.

Another amusing fact is that wikipedia lists Steve Wozniak as being a dvorak typist.  Nerd alert with Woz!

Some Dvorak resources – in all their blink tag glory:

I’d be really interested in hearing anyone else’s experience of switching to dvorak and will share my experience as I re-learn to type.

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