Input Devices

Video Mechanical 'Clicky' Keyboards Still Have Followers (Video) 147

For a good number of years, the sound of the old IBM or other mechanical keyboard clacking away was the sound of programmers (or writers) at work on their computers. Then, according to Edgar Matias, president and cofounder of the Matias Corporation, computer companies started using membrane switches and other cheaper ways to make keyboards, which made a lot of people mutter curse words under their breath as they beat their fingers against keys that had to go all the way to the bottom of their travel to work, unlike the good old mechanical keyboards we once knew and loved.

Enter Edgar Matias, who started out making the half keyboard, which is like a chorded keyboard except that you can use your QWERTY typing skills with little modification -- assuming you or your boss has $595 (!) to lay out on a keyboard. But after that Edgar started making QWERTY and Dvorak keyboards for semi-competitive prices. FYI: No Slashdot person got a free keyboard (or extra money) for making this video, but I have a Matias keyboard, and in my opinion it's far better than the cheapie it replaced. A lot of other people seem to want "real" keyboards, too, which they buy from Matias or from other companies such as Unicomp, which makes keyboards just like the classic, heavily-loved IBM Model M. Again, I've owned a Unicomp keyboard (that I bought; it was not a giveaway) and it was excellent. Both companies put out quality products that are far easier on your hands and wrists than the $10 or $20 keyboards sold by big box electronics retailers.
Input Devices

Finding an Optimal Keyboard Layout For Swype 140

New submitter Analog24 writes: The QWERTY keyboard was not designed with modern touchscreen usage in mind, especially when it comes to swype texting. A recent study attempted to optimize the standard keyboard layout to minimize the number of swype errors. The result was a new layout that reduces the rate of swipe interpretation mistakes by 50.1% compared to the QWERTY keyboard.
Input Devices

Video Type 225 Words per Minute with a Stenographic Keyboard (Video) 109

Joshua Lifton says you can learn to type at 225 words per minute with his Stenosaurus, an open source stenography keyboard that has a not-there-yet website with nothing but the words, "Stenography is about to evolve," on it as of this writing. If you've heard of Joshua it's probably because he's part of the team behind Crowd Supply, which claims, "Our projects raise an average of $43,600, over twice as much as Kickstarter." A brave boast, but there's plenty of brainpower behind the company. Joshua, himself. has a PhD from MIT, which according to his company bio means, "he's devoted a significant amount of his time learning how to make things that blink." But the steno machine is his own project, independent of Crowd Supply.

Stenotype machines are usually most visible when court reporters are using them. They've been around since the 1800s, when their output was holes in paper tape. Today's versions are essentially chorded keyboards that act as computer input devices. (Douglas Engelbart famously showed off a chorded keyboard during his 1968 Mother of All Demos.) Today you have The Open Steno Project, and Stenosaurus is a member. And while Joshua's project may not have an actual website quite yet, it has an active blog. And the 225 WPM claim? Totally possible. The world record for English language stenography is 360 WPM. And you thought the Dvorak Keyboard was fast. Hah! (Alternate Video Link)
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Keyboard Layout To Reduce Right Pinky/Ring Finger Usage? 165

Tooke writes "I've developed focal hand dystonia from playing clarinet. It affects my right pinky (and my ring finger, but to a lesser extent). My pinky isn't totally unusable when typing; however, it isn't nearly as agile as it used to be. When I must press a key with it, I tend to keep the whole finger rigid and move my entire hand instead. I also use my ring finger to press the P and semicolon keys (on QWERTY) which is a bit awkward but better than using the pinky. Thus my question: are there any keyboard layouts that are optimized to reduce right pinky/ring finger usage? I switched to Programmer Dvorak a few years ago, but Dvorak seems to make me use my right hand significantly more than my left. I'm considering mirroring the letter keys so my left hand would be used more. I also came across the Workman layout which looks interesting. I might try using that after switching the numbers and symbols around to be more like Programmer Dvorak. Has anyone been in a similar situation? What else could I do to make typing more comfortable? I've got a long career ahead of me as a programmer (I'm currently a high school senior) and I'd like to take care of my hands as much as possible."

Ask Slashdot: Typing Advice For a Guinness World Record Attempt? 307

An anonymous reader writes "In fifth grade, I amazed my fellow classmates when I demonstrated what 132 words per minute looked like. Recently, an acquaintance of mine saw me typing out a word document for graduate school and was impressed by my typing abilities. He suggested that I seriously contemplate attempting a Guinness World Record with such abilities. At the moment, I can manage an average of about 155-160 words per minute, with bursts around 180-185 words per minute (in the typing world, five characters defines a word, in case you were wondering). That aside, I have a few questions to pose to Slashdot readers (whom I am sure have been typing much longer than I have): What are some tips to fully maximize one's ability to type at the fastest possible rate? Do you have any specific keyboard recommendations that will improve my speed? Has anybody here ever competed in a typing event or thought about going for the world record? Is it worth learning Dvorak for the sole purpose of attempting such a record? How difficult would it be to improve my typing abilities from where they are now to where they need to be to acquire such a record?"
Input Devices

Weak Typing — the Lost Art of the Keyboard 362

mikejuk writes "How do you type? Hunt and peck? Two thumbs? Touch type? Two thumbs touch type? For the first time since the computer was invented, the standard QWERTY keyboard is challenged by new ways of inputing text. And yet even the iPad virtual keyboard has two useless dimples on the F and J keys. Perhaps it isn't time to give up on the home keys just yet."

The Case For Mandatory Touch-Typing In High School 705

Hugh Pickens writes "With the perspective of forty-plus years since my graduation, I would say the single most useful course I took in high school was a business class in touch-typing that gave me a head start for writing and with computers that I have benefited from my entire life. So it was with particular interest that I read Gordon Rayner's essay in the Telegraph proposing that schools add a mandatory course in touch typing to the cornerstones of education: reading, writing and arithmetic. 'Regardless of the career a child takes up when they leave school, a high percentage of them will use a keyboard in their daily work, and all of them are likely to use a keyboard in their leisure time,' writes Rayner. 'Touch-typing would help every child throughout their lives — so why are our schools so blind to this?'"
Input Devices

Dvorak Layout Claimed Not Superior To QWERTY 663

Michael Pyne sends in an article published at Reason Online 13 years ago, dismantling the entrenched myth that the Dvorak keyboard layout is a superior technology to QWERTY. The odd thing is that this 13-year-old article recaps research (refereed and published in a respected economics journal) 19 years ago. While we have discussed Dvorak many times over the years, I don't believe we have dug into this convincing-sounding refutation of the Dvorak mythology. The article is in the context of arguing against the conventional wisdom of "first mover advantage" — that the first product to market gains a large entrenchment benefit, such as VHS vs. Beta, MS-DOS vs. anything, etc. It's very much a pro-markets piece.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Dvorak's gPhone Comments Mark Him As 'Out of Touch'?

An anonymous reader writes "You may recall Dvorak's recent, dire predictions of doom and gloom for the Google Phone. It's no surprise that a lot of people disagreed, but one reviewer has gone so far as to claim that the man's predictions are so out of touch and off base that they prove he is no longer fit for technology writing. From the article: 'John C. Dvorak, a long time main stay of technology magazines, has proven that he is so absolutely out of touch with modern technology and its uses that his future opinions are all now cast into doubt ... I'm really not sure where Dvorak is getting his ideas, but I think it is clear from his column that he has grown dangerously out of touch with modern technology.' The article goes on to highlight many of Google's successful features which have already debuted on all mobile phones (and which many people are still unaware of), for free, and how this is likely to fit into their plan for the future. There is also a good discussion on the future of the mobile phone industry, and how new technologies are likely to change the way we view the role of mobile communication devices."

Is DVORAK Gaining Traction Among Coders? 559

coderpath asks: "At a recent Seattle Ruby Brigade hack night someone asked how many people used the DVORAK keyboard layout. Out of 9 people, 7 used DVORAK and only 2 were using QWERTY. I personally made the switch last Christmas, after 25 years of typing with QWERTY. What do you use? Have you switched to DVORAK? Have you been wanting to make the switch? Has anyone else noticed an increase in adoption of DVORAK lately?"

Death of the Cell Phone Keypad As We Know It? 273

An anonymous reader writes, "According to a CNet article, two companies called Mobience and Nuance have created viable and possibly better alternatives to the standard cell phone keypad. 'Mobience, which is based in South Korea, has redesigned the ABC and Qwerty key layout, and come up with MobileQwerty. It's essentially the same three-letters-per-key system as the standard mobile keypad layout, but the letters have been rearranged in a Qwertyesque way to increase efficiency.' The other system developed by Nuance is a mobile speech platform that turns speech into text and replaces the keypad altogether. I was skeptical at first but the video of Nuance's software vs. Ben Cook, the ex world texting champion, is undeniably impressive."

What Do You Think of the COLEMAK Keyboard? 148

dafuchs asks: "Colemak, a new keyboard layout claims to be better then QWERTY and Dvorak. While i'm not certain if I should switch, it looks neat. It is better for hacking then Dvorak, and best of all, the 'l' is not in the right top corner. What do you think? Is it worth a try?"

Stealing the Network: How to Own an Identity 99

Scott Pinzon writes "Writing sonnets, screenplays, or an epic poem in your third language is a breeze compared to the toughest of art forms, didactic fiction. That might explain why the various chapters of Stealing the Network: How to Own an Identity range from appalling to exciting. Whether you see the glass of STN: Identity as half empty or half full depends on whether this is your cup of poison -- but on a technical level, it rocks." Read on for the rest of Pinzon's review.
Input Devices

Back and Forth Between Qwerty and Dvorak? 624

jamesh asks: "I'm interested in switching over to an alternate keyboard layout, probably Dvorak, before I begin to suffer any effects of RSI. I'm almost 30 and have been typing since I was about 8, and these days spend most of my workday in front of a computer, typing away at a keyboard. I've searched the Internet and most people's comments are that within a few months they were up to or faster than their previous speed, with better accuracy. I'm mostly a programmer, but I do spend time at client sites and do need to spend time at various users computers to have a look at whatever hole they've dug themselves into, and so I will need to switch between QWERTY and Dvorak mode fairly frequently. What others have found when switching back and forth, as required? Can you mentally just flip back between them, or do you 'lose' your QWERTY skills and become 'hunt & peck' when faced with the old keyboard layout?"
Input Devices

Advocating Dvorak 732

zeroweb writes "A group of three faithful Dvorak promoters have launched new website at The big thing here is a Comic (available in print, pdf and html) describing the history of QWERTY and Dvorak, how and why one should make the switch, and real-life stories of the converted. If you are thinking about making the switch, this could push you over the edge. My favorite line: "It could be the difference between working in your garden at 70 or wearing wrist braces at 40." As someone who started wearing wrist braces at 23, I couldn't agree more - I read this comic, changed my keyboard layout and have been happier ever since."

New Standard Keyboard 973

An anonymous reader writes "There are two keyboard standards today - QWERTY and DVORAK. QWERTY, the one we usually have, was used on the first commercially produced typewriter in 1873. Ironically, QWERTY was actually designed to slow down the typist to prevent jamming the keys, and we've been stuck with that layout since. New Standard Keyboards offers new "alphabetical" keyboard. This keyboard has just 53-keys (instead of 101) and offers user-friendly benefits and quick data entry."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Pranks for April Fool's Day 2004? 169

Nighttime asks: "April the First will soon be upon us and I'm looking for some subtle pranks to play around the office. There's the usual taking a screenshot and setting as background, placing a piece of tape across the mouse ball (use opaque tape for optical mice), setting the keyboard layout to Dvorak, swapping the 'M' and 'N' keys etc. The office empties quite quickly at the end of the day which leaves plenty of time for preparation."

Why is Everyone Still Stuck in QWERTY? 255

theWrkncacnter asks: "I was recently giving some instructions over IRC to a long time QWERTY keyboard user who wanted to switch to the Dvorak layout, mostly because a good majority of the people in channel had made the switch and were all talking it up, myself included, about how our speeds had increased and how its much more comfortable. This made me think, why don't more people use the Dvorak layout? Searching around I found an older topic on the subject, but that didn't answer too many questions, as most people in the comment section seemed to think that Dvorak vs. QWERTY was a hardware issue, when it is really a matter simply changing the layout on your particular OS. I took the time to pry off and remap my powerbook keyboard's keys but I have no problem typing in Dvorak on a physically QWERTY mapped keyboard, and I know many others who don't have a problem doing so either. So given all of this, why don't more people switch? Is it that most people just can't be bothered to make the change, even when its more efficient and more comfortable?" Is it mostly due to the fact that most people learn to type first on QWERTY due to its popularity, and hence don't bother to learn anything else?

Slashback: Legislation, Samplification, Knaves 111

More information this evening (below) on Daniel Gomez-Ibanez' digital turntable, the Coble-Berman [T: not "Sherman," sorry] bill, moral-free domain registrars, Gator's un-requested link substitutions, and more. Enjoy!

Beyond Dvorak via Genetic Algorithm 389

ColonelPanic writes: "I switched my computer keyboard to the Dvorak layout about a year ago. But now I've gone and done something really outlandish. I tried to discover the most efficient layout possible with a genetic algorithm. It's weird-looking, but I am typing with it now. I put the gory details up on the Web."

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