Dvorak layout pain
Ever since I learned to type twenty years ago, I was always fascinated by the idea of being faster on typing. Several years ago, I decided to learn Dvorak keyboard layout, which ended in a failure. About 20 months ago, I decided to pick up Dvorak again, with more dedication. I did it. And I loved it. I was a slow typist for a while, but I was back to normal in about a year. (Old age really sucks… I probably could switch faster if I were younger.) I haven’t gained any on speed. But it does feel easier to type with this layout.
Living with this typing habit does have its downside.
Downside #1 – most everyone else’s computers only have qwerty layout. When I learned Dvorak, I had to force myself to forget Qwerty layout. And when I have to work on any computer/keyboard with Qwerty layout, it’s a pain. I can no longer touch-type in Qwerty.
Downside #2 – Most mobile devices don’t have alternative keyboard layouts like Dvorak. This includes Blackberry and iPhone. There is a hack for iPhone, but I’m not ready to unlock my iPhone yet. I really hope that Apple will some day support Dvorak layout on iPhone/iPod Touch.
Downside #3 – Windows’ Input Method Editor (the language toolbar thing) doesn’t let me use Dvorak layout in Japanese input mode. This one really bugged the hell out of me when I was learning to type in Dvorak. There is a hack to get around this limitation, which I’ve used. But this still is a minor pain, that I have to apply this hack every time I reinstall windows.
Downside #4 – Some keyboard shortcuts feel weird, including the often used cut/copy/paste shortcuts. Now that I use the tiny Apple keyboard on Windows (which I love), I cannot do cut/copy/paste with one hand.
Downside #5 – My own name became harder to type. My first name can be typed all with right hand on qwerty. Now I have to use left hand to do the same task, with somewhat awkward key sequence. Ouch.
There are some more minor downsides, but these are what bothered me the most so far. But do I dare switch back to Qwerty? Not in any foreseeable future.
Since I’m writing this post to remind myself in the future how to apply the patches, here is some of the details – it’s actually quite simple. Open registry editor, find the location HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layouts\E0010411, and change the value for Layout File from Kbdjpn.dll to Kbddv.dll, then reboot. I heard that this key may not exist in Vista; in which case, you can just create the said key, and it should work – I haven’t tested this myself though.
And here’s a small extra – how did I teach myself Dvorak typing? Using ABCD Dvorak typing course (A Basic Course in Dvorak) and the flash version of it. This typing course made the learning process actually fun. Much more fun than the initial typing material I used for Qwerty.
update 8/25 – Added downside #5.