One of the greatest writing-related discoveries I’ve made in the last 15 years is the Dvorak keyboard layout.
The letters are arranged in such a way that the most common ones are on the middle row – including all the vowels – and you don’t need to stretch as far for a full-stop or a comma. You can read more about the improvements made in this BBC News article. The inventor designed his system decades before the personal computer revolution, yet it’s natively supported on both Windows and Mac.
The hardware is another story. While I do have a custom-made Dvorak keyboard, it’s not always practical to take it with me. Fortunately, I can touch-type and I’ve learnt where the letters are by sheer muscle memory. At one point I could even mentally switch between that and QWERTY, depending on whether I was at home or work. For the last 18 months, I’d been able to use exclusively Dvorak in both places.
That changed yesterday. I started a new job and was issued with a new laptop. It’s similar to my own and runs Windows, but the administrator has jammed it into QWERTY mode only. I’ve therefore spent the last 24 hours relearning the most popular layout in the Anglosphere.
In theory, this should be easy because the letter on the keyboard matches the letter you want to type. However, when I learnt touch-typing at school, it was drilled into me that you look at the screen, not your fingers, so I have to remember to look down from time to time. Today has produced better results than yesterday, but it’s going to take some time before I can once again switch flawlessly between QWERTY and Dvorak.