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Dvorak is the weirdest thing

Jun 30, 2003 — So I switched over to the Dvorak keyboard the other day and it's seriously the weirdest thing in the world. Just typing this paragraph is taking way too long. I dare you guys to try it. As soon as I figure this thing out, I'm going to try out the pseudo-Dvorak keyboard that was designed for right-handed typing. God this is painful.

Wirehead says:

Why did you switch to Dvorak, anyway?

klisq says:

I was bored. Basically, that's all of it.

DataBind() says:

I've heard it's faster to type on a Dvorak once you get used to it.

edit: I think I'll give it a try. My favorite keyboard currently is the [link http://www.fingerworks.com/lp_product.html]TouchStream LP ZeroForce[/link].

I wonder if they make a Dvorak....

CoolGui says:

Hgoy lgyy ruu yd. t.fo abe mrk. yd.m aprgbevvv .. ack!

Just pull off the keys and move them around... :D

DataBind() says:

Alas, the touchstream doesn't have any keys to pull off. :D

they do make it in Dvorak, btw...I wonder how long it would take to retrain my nervous system to use a Dvorak? Months?

Dylia says:

I know this will make me look incredibly stupid, but what is a Dvorak keyboard?

Wirehead says:

That would be a keyboard where the letters are actually in alphabetical order as opposed to the standard "QWERTY" layout - the "QWERTY" was designed (by IBM? Anyone?) way back when to defeat a problem in mechanical typewriters, which was that the most commonly used keys would jam against each other when someone got to typing really fast. The "QWERTY" layout was designed specifically to place the most commonly used keys as far as possible from each other on they keyboard so that they would be physically farther from each other in the carriage of the typewriter, and thus much less likely to get caught on each other and jam. By the time someone figured out a non-jamming typewriter design (let alone electronic keyboards) everyone was so used to the "QWERTY" setup that we stuck with it, much to the dismay of logically inclined individuals everywhere.

Oh, well. VHS won, too.

DataBind() says:

Actually, Dvorak isn't in alphabetical order. That would be terribly inefficient.


[edit]Edited by DataBind(): Jul. 2, 2003 - 8:09:30 PM[/edit]

DataBind() says:

[link http://www.mit.edu:8001/people/jcb/Dvorak/]MIT article on Dvorak[/link]

DataBind() says:

Qwerty was designed in 1868 by Christopher Sholes, the inventor of the typewriter, btw. :)

[link http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/D/Dvorak_keyboard.html]another little piece about Dvorak.[/link]

rnewhouse says:

The actual frequency distribution of letters in English written language is: ETAOINSHRDLU.

If you type the above on a QWERTY keyboard, you'll notice that you use both hands about equally.

On a Dvorak keyboard, you would mostly be using the left hand, particularly for the first set of letters.

Seems to me it would be efficient to have these frequent letters pretty much in the middle of the keyboard so you'd use your index fingers most of the time.

DataBind() says:

I just remapped my keyboard in the control pannel...heh, I jave to admit that I agree with Klisq -- very weird. I think I will put stickers on and see how long it takes me to pick it up.

derekz says:

klisq did you just remap your keyboard or can you find one for sale? You probably think it's a stupid question but from the post I can't tell.

DataBind() says:

Man it's hard to retrain the body to use a different keyboard.

rnewhouse says:

It's easier if the whole language is different. I used to type on a Russian keyboard at about 40wpm while typing on a QWERTY keyboard the rest of the day at about 110. The Russian keyboard only took about a day for my fingers to memorize, but my fingers were speaking a different language than my head was.

Wirehead says:

I don't know what I was thinking - I read something about this just a couple weeks ago but I guess I was short on caffeine when I made that post or something. Now I feel like a dork.

Perhaps I was confusing the layouts of the first keyboards - I believe the first ever mechanical keyboards WERE in alphabetical order, right? Anyway, I'll check my facts more carefully in the future.

Dylan says:

The QWERTY keyboard was invented to actually slow typists down. There's no ergonomic reason for the layout. When typewriters were used (way back when the Earth's crust was still warm), the keys would jam if people typed too fast. Instead of fixing the problem, they just came out with a new keyboard with all the keys in odd places, thus making every user have to re-learn typing and basically start back at 5wpm.

Dylan says:

And then I read Wirehead's post and felt like a dork for posting almost word for word what he wrote.

DataBind() says:

In Wirehead's defense, they do make alphabetical keyboards, particularly for people new to the concept of a keyboard. I believe the first keyboard was a qwerty, though I could be wrong, because the qwerty keyboard was, after all, designed by the inventor of the typewriter.

Dylan says:

They had a different layout before QWERTY. The QWERTY layout was created because people were so good already at the old layout.

Wirehead says:

Actually the linked article on the Dvorak specificaly denies the contention that the QWERTY layout was designed to slow typists down. The logic was to place the most commonly used keys farther mechanically from each other to avoid jamming keys, which did have the effect of slowing down typists, but that wasn't the actual POINT.

jpwain says:

DataBind: That zero-force keyboard. I can't tell from all the marketing gibbish on that website, but is it really TOUCH to press a key? Like they do in Star Trek?

God, that would speed up my typing amazingly. I could finally break that 100wpm barrier (60wpm typing + 40wpm backspacing).

DataBind() says:

Yeah, it's touch -- brushing it on accident won't fire it, but you don't have to press down or anything. There's no button. If you miss the right spot, it tries to intelligently decide which key you meant based on what you were typing -- which is interesting when you are writing perl code and miss a lot!

I don't know how they do it in StarTrek.

It's kind of hard to ket used to. The really cool thing is that it replaces your mouse too.

klisq says:

I just remapped my keyboard. I'll probably end up just putting smiley face stickers on the keys or something.

dcormier says:

Yesterday I was a bit bored so I wrote a perl script to check rnewhouse's comment about letter distribution in the English language.

I had it check one of the larger IRC logs I have on this machine (which is only a meg or two. My 60+ meg logs, about 2 years' worth, are on my other box). For kicks, I also included numerals. I added lowercase results to the uppercase results so that you could see how many times each letter was typed in total. Names and timestamps are not included in this count.

Here are the complete results:

E: 114714
T: 93346
O: 86385
A: 78587
I: 77013
N: 69130
S: 68900
R: 55136
H: 53287
L: 45326
D: 37884
C: 31827
U: 31765
M: 30623
P: 24133
Y: 23560
G: 23474
W: 22850
0: 21018
F: 18153
B: 17636
K: 16477
2: 12373
1: 10106
V: 9672
3: 8843
5: 5991
6: 5254
J: 4988
4: 4320
X: 3164
Q: 3138
8: 2659
9: 2628
7: 2625
Z: 1835

Total letters: 1118820;
Distribution: ETOAINSRHLDCUMPYGW0FBK21V356J4XQ897Z

For comparison without having to scroll half way up the page, rnewhouse posted:

ETAOINSHRDLU

Very similar. I wonder how much of a difference there would be if, say, the works of Shakespeare were checked in this way. (I'm sure those results are easy to find if I really cared enough to look.)

rnewhouse says:

FYI -- This little factoid was something I learned about 40 years ago as a bit of typesetting trivia. This was when typesetting was done either by hand or by what was then very high-tech -- molded hot metal characters assembled in lines on a [link http://www.woodsidepress.com/LINOTYPE.HTML]Linotype machine[/link].

On the Linotype keyboard, the most commonly used letters are arranged on the left-hand side of the [link http://www.rpi.edu/~nebusj/linotype.html]keyboard[/link].

Note the similarity between the letter distribution on the Linotype and the letter distribution displayed in dcormier's post:

ETAOINSHRDLUCMFWYPVBGKQJ

I imagine there have been some changes over time due to changes in frequency of word use in English.

dcormier says:

That's pretty neat.

I wonder how it's changed over the years. Say, 50-year increments starting from when Shakespeare finished his works.

I can upload the script to my server if anyone wants to run it against some file of theirs (or someone elses, for that matter).

It should be fairly easy to make work with whatever you want, even if you don't know perl. It's about 30 lines of code (optimized for legibility, not speed and efficiency).

vampirical says:

Place your perl in my hands.

I've got a load of material to run through it, mostly modern stuff but some from earlier in the century.

klisq says:

I think you should do a layout based on whatever you find.

rnewhouse says:

Would that layout distribute the keys so that all fingers get an equal workout? Or so that most of the common letters are typed with the first two fingers of each hand? Or with mostly the right hand? What about a left-handed keyboard?

How about a keyboard where most of the common keys are typed with the first three fingers of the left hand so the right hand can stay on the mouse? (My piano teacher used to tell me, btw, that the strongest finger is not the index, but the middle.)

DataBind() says:

After driving in Florida for two years, I can attest that the middle finger is indeed the strongest.

vampirical says:

Yes but the index is the most [link http://www.apartment42.com/fingergallery.htm]versatile[/link]!

dcormier, I'm anxious to get my grubby little hands on your code so get with the uploading either to your "site"(Rar ;)) or use the [link http://www.vampirical.com/?downloads.php]upload form[/link] on mine.

dcormier says:

The code is available [link http://tmn.dyndns.org/~dcormier/countletters.txt]here[/link]. Feel free to ask if you need a hand with it.

vampirical says:

Well I've evaluated a few books and such and here are the results:

ETAOINSHRDLUWCMGYFPBKVJXZQ1023876459

ETAOHNISRDLUMGWCPFYBKVJQXZ1062953478

ETAOINSHRDLUPMWCGYFBKVJXQZ1294038576

ETAOHINSDRLUGWYMCPFBKVJZXQ2184

I ended up making some minor changes to the script, my version [link http://www.vampirical.com/server/uploads/countletter.txt]here[/link]. I've started on a script to parse the log file and give a cumulative result based on all the past results...so far things aren't working to well, I've managed to get it to give me a top 10 tough I'm not too sure of how accurate it is: ETAOINHSRD
I'd post my code for my cumulative script but its pretty embarrassing still so I won't ;)

DataBind() says:

Which book did you parse and how did you parse it? (curious)

vampirical says:

Hmm....trying to remember what order they were in but I think it is:

Stainless Steel Rat 6 By Harrison
Book 8 of the same series
A Very Strange Trip By LRH and Wolverton
And that last short one is definely Popsy by Stephen King

Not sure what you mean by how I parsed it, I can only assume you mean why I have files of books on my computer. I have(its broken atm) an ebook reader called a [link http://www.hiebook.com/]Hiebook[/link] and so I had ebooks for it.

vampirical says:

Total letters: 871445
Distribution: ETAOINHSRDLUMWCGPFYBKVJXQZ1026345987

I got my cumulative results script working and now I'm off to feed in some more books...I'm not sure if my IRC logs should really be used since some of them have code in them.

Edit:
Total letters: 4088651
Distribution: ETAOINSHRDLUCMGWFPYBKVJXZQ1203459786

This is after feeding in about 9 Star Wars books by different authors.

[edit]Edited by mphase: Jul. 10, 2003 - 2:54:38 AM[/edit]

vampirical says:

Wow!

E: 1030992
T: 744421
A: 668652
O: 617550
I: 549520
N: 546467
H: 500753
S: 495081
R: 481000
D: 392871
L: 345077
U: 242240
C: 211038
W: 201401
M: 196022
G: 174849
F: 166455
Y: 165514
P: 149619
B: 131944
K: 96026
V: 72484
J: 17549
X: 13721
Z: 8533
Q: 7553
1: 1530
0: 1185
2: 782
4: 628
5: 577
9: 563
3: 543
8: 427
6: 417
7: 411

Total letters: 8234395
Distribution: ETAOINHSRDLUCWMGFYPBKVJXZQ1024593867

Grisham books really pump that letter count up. :D I'm enjoying this way to much.

Crichton books mix things up a bit(the binary code in Sphere gives 0 and 1 a pretty obvious boost).

E: 1478977
T: 1082064
A: 973154
O: 885915
I: 802946
N: 799579
S: 728421
H: 721177
R: 689415
D: 561839
L: 495100
U: 345456
C: 307963
W: 286069
M: 283723
G: 260267
Y: 239576
F: 232263
P: 212477
B: 188120
K: 135079
V: 104331
J: 24898
X: 20279
Z: 12219
Q: 10409
1: 4701
0: 4669
2: 3004
3: 2016
4: 1758
9: 1715
5: 1634
6: 1330
8: 1246
7: 1238

Total letters: 11905027
Distribution: ETAOINSHRDLUCWMGYFPBKVJXZQ1023495687

[edit]Edited by mphase: Jul. 10, 2003 - 3:49:00 AM[/edit]

vampirical says:

Well I think I've finished with the code end of this little project. [link http://www.vampirical.com/server/uploads/evaluate.txt]This[/link] is my newest all in one script. It's able to parse 1 given file, parse an entire directory of files(syntax is program.pl directory 1) or parse a given log file(program.pl logfile 2).

And maybe...just maybe...I'll actually do something useful with this....nah probably not.

btw:
Total letters: 23974128
Distribution: ETAOINSHRDLUMCWGFYPBKVJXZQ1029345678

[edit]Edited by mphase: Jul. 11, 2003 - 5:51:09 AM[/edit]

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