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 Post subject: Microsoft Ergonomic Natural Keyboard 4000
PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 12:03 pm 
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I finally got this after waiting a month for it to show up at my store (I work at Best Buy), and finally just gave up and went to Circuit City (they got it now, we dont).

This thing is probably the quietest keyboard I have ever used, and the most comfortable. I know most of you don't like Natural Keyboards, but for those of you that do, I highly recommend this. Has a great design, a wide assortment (but not too much) of shortcut keys, and the 7 degree reverse tilt attachment is awesome.

I would want to point out, however, that the space bar is a little irritating as it is not "raised" enough, meaning that the keycap should be a little taller, at least according to how i'm used to typing (I have been through two UltraXs). Also of note is that it is rather large.

PIcs:
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 5:25 pm 
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I'll probably buy one aswell (when they arrive to Spain). I currently use a previous incarnation of a Microsoft Natural keyboard and I want a volume key ;)

And I agree, the reverse tilt is great :)

btw, I can't visit your blog ;P (signature)


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 5:27 pm 
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Heh, yah. You can reprogram the Calculator button to launch your media player, like WinAmp, which is what I have mine set to, since I never use a calculator.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 5:35 pm 
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you're fast replying!
acaurora wrote:
Heh, yah. You can reprogram the Calculator button to launch your media player, like WinAmp, which is what I have mine set to, since I never use a calculator.

well, that wouldn't be a problem as my media player (foobar2000) is always running ;) sometimes on pause hehe

you can try foobar2000 maybe you like it.


the only downside I see for this keyboard is the useless zoom scroll above the spacebar (tell me it's configurable now ;) )


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 5:59 pm 
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I use BSPlayer, and you can't - you can only disable it.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 15, 2005 11:11 pm 
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hmmm...the Comfort Curve 2000 seems to have thinner keys IIRC.

Maybe that would be more quiet than this?

the non-detachable palm rest of the 4000 kinda turns me off :(

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 2:17 am 
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Techno Pride wrote:
the non-detachable palm rest of the 4000 kinda turns me off :(

Agreed, it's far too deep and pretty useless... and the latest research into avoiding RSI suggests that relying on a palm/wrist rest is actually pretty damaging to your tendons over an extended period of time.
Al


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 4:20 am 
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Al wrote:
Techno Pride wrote:
the non-detachable palm rest of the 4000 kinda turns me off :(

Agreed, it's far too deep and pretty useless... and the latest research into avoiding RSI suggests that relying on a palm/wrist rest is actually pretty damaging to your tendons over an extended period of time.
Al

the palm/wrist rest can be damaging (or pretty incomfortable) when you have to force your wrist, but you don't have to when using the reverse tilt.
Image
I always type as shown on the right image, do you think it can be damaging? I feels natural and ergonomic to me ;)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 4:35 am 
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Fair enough, never owned a keyboard with reverse tilt so I can't really argue! Just found some of the info I read though... it was CTS rather than RSI :oops:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke wrote:
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful progressive condition caused by compression of a key nerve in the wrist. It occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist.

I think the theory is that supporting the weight of your forearms/hands on your wrists (for example when using a computer wrist rest), although much more comfortable and "ergonomic", can in fact cause long-term problems.

Al


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 5:31 am 
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i have one of these split keyboards too and you never go back, i hate straight keyboards now :lol:

/begin{preach}
acaurora: now is the optimal time to learn dvorak (whilst you're getting used to the 'feel' of a new board).
do it. :D
/end{preach}


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 Post subject: Re: Microsoft Ergonomic Natural Keyboard 4000
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 5:59 am 
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acaurora wrote:
(I have been through two UltraXs)


"Been through" as in used them until they were falling aprt, or was there some other reason?

FWIW, I'm still on my original UltraX and it's going strong. Nothing but a few shiny key caps to show for all its use.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 6:05 am 
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I've been using the Optical Desktop Pro 2.0 keyboard for a while. It's the black wireless one with the translucent keys. I like it quiet a bit, it's pretty quiet compared to the original Natural Keyboard series.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 7:39 am 
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wim wrote:
i have one of these split keyboards too and you never go back, i hate straight keyboards now :lol:

/begin{preach}
acaurora: now is the optimal time to learn dvorak (whilst you're getting used to the 'feel' of a new board).
do it. :D
/end{preach}



dvorak? huh? o.0...

As with the other posts, I do like the palmrest with the reverse tilt attachment. Very comfortable, and quite plush.

Ralf Hutter wrote:
"Been through" as in used them until they were falling aprt, or was there some other reason?

FWIW, I'm still on my original UltraX and it's going strong. Nothing but a few shiny key caps to show for all its use.

Well, my first one got destroyed due to ants. I spilled soda on my ULtraX a few months ago, and surprisingly after rinsing it a few times with water and letting it dry, it worked just fine. Then later on ants started attacking it. I made a mistake when I said two UltraX - my 2nd one still works, barely a month old after I replaced my 1st from the ants. I just disconnected it from my computer for this baby ;P I don't really like the other keyboards Microsoft released, like the 2000. It may have shorter keycaps yes, but to have a flat curved keyboard is something I am not used to, nor like. Having used Natural keyboards for two years, then my ULtraX for one year, I'm used to either. Combining them just messes up my typing so much, lol.

One thing I noticed though, maybe its just me- my 2nd UltraX seemed noisier... for my 1st one there were a few shiny key caps, and the paint for the M and N letters was starting to come off. Another odd thing is that we have a Compaq desktop @ Best Buy that has a keyboard that looks STRIKINGLY similar to the UltraX, but instead of being silver/black, it's black/light gray. THe thing I REALLY like about it, though, is that it has a very "squishy" response. Instead of having the sharp response of the UltraX, I don't really know how to explain it - the best way to describe it is that it feels VERY much like the Apple keyboards. The Compaq keyboard has the same keycaps, heck even the same RUBBER FEET as the UltraX. Too bad I can't just buy the keyboard -.-... maybe when we have to sell the display model I can work a deal out with my manager ;P It's the Compaq model 5037 keyboard, not listed anywhere =[

Back to enjoying my 4000....

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 9:24 pm 
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acaurora wrote:
dvorak? huh? o.0...

never heard of it?! introducing the dvorak keyboard. i hope you decide to have a shot. you'll hate it for the first few months, but after you have the layout memorised you'll love it and never want to use qwerty again.. i guarantee it!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 11:05 pm 
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ants. attacking your keyboard.

that's freakin cool. i want that.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 11:16 pm 
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Read the DVORAK link you posted..

Very interesting.. The standard QWERTY board was designed (cant find mention on the article, but I skimmed) to actually slow typists down because in a mechanical typwriter design an overquick typist would lock the mechanism. Hence the most used keys are the furthest away locations to the rest points of the board.

I would like to try the Dvorak system, but at the moment I am doing field engineering so use 10 or more different keyboards a day. Is this going to cause me problems? The article suggested it would.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2005 11:33 pm 
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justblair wrote:
I would like to try the Dvorak system, but at the moment I am doing field engineering so use 10 or more different keyboards a day. Is this going to cause me problems? The article suggested it would.

Unfortunately it would, unless you can get Dvorak installed and selectable on the other computers, e.g. via EN button on login windows/system tray on Windows. However I learnt to touch-type the one-handed Dvorak for fun and don't have any problems switching back to Qwerty (10 years > 5 months ;))

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:28 pm 
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Bump for the Dvork recommendation. I often have to switch between Dvorak and Qwerty. Different lab machines that I work on are inevitably in Qwerty, but I rarely have to do any major typing on those machines. On the rare occasion that I DO have to do some typing, I carry around this program. It's standalone, and I don't believe you need admin-level rights to run it.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:30 am 
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I used to type by sight, needing to look at the keyboard to see what I was typing. I could type pretty fast, but when I got a programming job I found that moving my head up and down all the time was very tiresome.

I wanted to learn to touch type, but I always cheated by looking at the keyboard. To learn to touch type when you can already type pretty fast is very difficult. Also I hated how the left hand is overused in QWERTY. Think of typing the word 'reference', it is almost entirely on the left hand and the 'ce' combo is a killer. Most work around such things, like using the left index finger for 'c' and the right index for 'b'. I figured there had to be something better than QWERTY out there.

Anyway, I looked up a few alternate layouts, but dvorak is present in windows so would mean that it would be easier to enable on work machines, etc. I didn't think installing a custom layout was the answer. Later I wrote a PHP proggy to analyse a block of English text, for letter, digraph and trigraph frequencies. I know it's nerdy, but I wanted to come up with my own layout, to see if it would be much better than dvorak.

I did that, and the layout I ended up with was almost exactly the same as the dvorak layout, except with the 'x' and 'z' swapped. My sample text had no 'ize' combinations, so the 'x' combinations like 'ex' got the better location.

Some layouts like 'arensito' claim to be better than dvorak because 'r' is more common than 'h', or because of the strange 'i' placement in dvorak, but I came to understand the reasons for placing them there, and I truly feel there is no better layout possible, except for possibly having two 'e' keys (like the maltron layout).

Anyway, when I chose dvorak it took me a long time to get used to it, primarily because I was using qwerty at work and dvorak at home. It took about 4 months before I was good enough to use it at work (programming under strict deadlines). If I had the opportunity to stop using qwerty entirely, it would have taken perhaps a month. If I had to do it over, I would, even if it was twice as difficult, even if it took a year, it would be worth changing.

Now I use it all the time, on IRC, on forums, in games, etc. I don't use qwerty at all. I found that my right index finger got sore when using it as the primary mouse button, because it got no rest. I have swapped the mouse buttons, so that my middle finger takes over the mousing duty. Needless to say, I can type the whole day, IRC in the evenings, etc, for the whole week which would never be possible with QWERTY. The only problem I have now is I forget to blink because I am looking at the screen, and my eyes get itchy.

Change to dvorak not because you want to be fast, but because you want typing to be easy (you will be fast though). QWERTY ignores the punctuation marks, but with dvorak all the punctuation marks are in good places. Layouts usually have problem words, but the only one I found to be annoying was the 'ea' in 'area' for instance.

So what I am saying is this: use dvorak.


Last edited by vertigo on Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:45 am 
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Quote:
The standard QWERTY board was designed (cant find mention on the article, but I skimmed) to actually slow typists down because in a mechanical typwriter design an overquick typist would lock the mechanism. Hence the most used keys are the furthest away locations to the rest points of the board.


That's not exactly true, because there are fast QWERTY typists. To avoid the typewriter jamming, some common letter combinations were split between the right and left hands. Look at 'the' on QWERTY. This had the strange coincidence of making QWERTY quite quick, unfortunately. It overuses the left hand and the home row is underused, but a skilled QWERTY typist can be fast. As I said, some work arounds are used, like the left index 'c' and right index 'b'.

Supposedly dvorak is only 10% faster than QWERTY (when used by professional typists), but the finger travel-distance of dvorak is 90% less than QWERTY. That means you can type for more hours, do more work, have less RSI, etc.

I still think it has great benefits, like putting the punctuation marks in convenient places. Dvorak typing is at a constant speed, regardless of punctuation, capitals, etc. It is actually quieter because your fingers move smaller distances and strike the keys more consistently. If you listen to a dvorak typist, then look at the screen, you will be amazed at how fast the letters appear for the low key-volume. A QWERTY typist thrashes the keyboard, which may be impressive, but isn't productive. It's kinda like comparing the guitar playing of Kurt Cobain and John Williams.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 9:14 am 
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Quote:
That's not exactly true, because there are fast QWERTY typists


http://www.mit.edu/~jcb/Dvorak/history.html

http://home.earthlink.net/~dcrehr/whyqwert.html

http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/story098.htm

All the histories I found, suggest the opposite, although its a minor point, but interesting.

It looks as though, according to some at least that the qwerty was designed to slow typists down, but humans being humans adapted to the arrangement and just memorised the layout. As they got faster, touch typing was developed. Perhaps it was coincidence the keys were layed out in a way that allowed this (as you point out correctly they do) and "natural selection" meant that this was the format that survived? Or perhaps touch typing would not have existed as a technique in the form we know it if the qwerty board had not been taken on as the standard?

I think about stuff too much!

Any rate, looks like I have found myself a job, so when I finish this work experiance, I intend to give DVORAK a try. Thanks to Wim for bringing my attention to it. I had heard of the name before, but I was labouring under the misunderstanding that it was an alternative typing technique.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:11 pm 
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From here (a very interesting PDF from IBM, a good read):

Quote:
... the QWERTY layout (see Figure 1) designed by Christopher L. Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and Samuel W. Soule in 1868 is a poor choice for virtual keyboards. This is because the QWERTY keyboard was so arranged that many adjacent letter pairs (digraphs) appear on the opposite sides of the keyboard. The main purpose of this arrangement was to minimize mechanical jamming (Cooper, 1983; Yamada, 1980). Accidentally, this design also facilitates the frequent alternation of the left and right hand, which is a key premise to rapid touch typing with two hands that was discovered many years after the typewriter was invented. Partially because the QWERTY deign scores well in alternation frequency, various attempts to replace QWERTY with more efficient layouts, such as the Dvorak simplified keyboard (Dvorak, Merrick, Dealey, & Ford, 1936), have not prevailed. The performance gain with these newer designs (around 15%) has not been substantial enough to justify the cost of retraining the great number of QWERTY users (Cooper, 1983; Norman & Fisher, 1982; Yamada, 1980).


Wikipedia backs up this account, however it errs in saying that the evolved layout is better than Dvorak. It was thought to be better by its author, but this opinion was based on his synthetic metrics. When using actual key timing data Dvorak proved superior. It is my opinion it would prove superior to pretty much any 1-e layout.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:29 pm 
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Let me just make a correction, the Maltron layout is actually a 1-e layout, but it puts the 'e' under the left thumb. I don't think the left thumb would be up to taking over such an important and frequent letter.

The have been other even more strange ideas, like putting 'e' on a foot pedal or using a foot mouse (or even mousing with a foot joystick). I never did bother to investigate these, I feel confident one's feet are not up to the task.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 5:25 pm 
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I don't want to be a party pooper, but can we stop hijacking the thread and get back on topic about the keyboard -.-...

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2005 10:14 pm 
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sorry acaurora :oops: i didn't mean to stir up the hive (maybe a mod could move that digression into the big dvorak thread). it's to be expected there are more than a few keen dvorakkers amongst spc nerds :lol:

i can't think of anything else to say about your new keyboard, but i thought this was interesting:
vertigo wrote:
Dvorak typing ... is actually quieter because your fingers move smaller distances and strike the keys more consistently. If you listen to a dvorak typist, then look at the screen, you will be amazed at how fast the letters appear for the low key-volume.

now we're talking! that's where it's at.. 8)


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 12:24 pm 
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Getting back to the keyboard, the first split keyboard I used was an NMM (Natural Multimedia). One of the things which annoyed me about the NMM was how keys like ()-+ were very far to reach. This happens because of the split, your right hand ends up moving far. I used braces {} alot and they were awkward to reach (in dvorak).

This new keyboard has those keys closer, so it should be easier on one's right hand. Compare here, you can see what I mean. Notice that the conventional numpad/cursor keys area is back, not the big-delete NMM version. I must admit I like having a dedicated Insert button. This also should make it easier to get used to, or to move between, this and other keyboards.

Unfortunately, the price for that comfort is a wide keyboard, and one's right hand must move far to reach the mouse. This is a problem all keyboards suffer though (well, nearly all).

Reverse tilt is important and the NMM had reverse tilt, but I found the most comfortable way to use it was on my lap. A flat keyboard is more comfortable on a desk it seems. It's nice to see Microsoft are brave enough (or have the clout) to sell reverse tilt, which not many manufacturers do.

I think it looks like a very good keyboard. Of course, there is one little niggle that remains: it has that icky staggered key layout. Unfortunately, the only keyboards to not have a staggered layout are very expensive, and the selection is extremely limited. I was brave and bought this keyboard because of the vertical columns and hardware dvorak switching, but it is entirely flat, has no height adjustments at all and feels rather flimsy. It is very difficult to clean, and one has to do a major operation when dust gets under one of the membranes. It's not for the faint hearted. I most likely won't buy another one.

This new Natural Keyboard is definitely the staggered-key keyboard I'd choose to buy, and if I need a keyboard I will most likely buy one. The other keyboard I was considering for a time is a £200 Kinesis Contoured, but I won't waste my money on it.

Having a custom keyboard can be a problem because other keyboards you use won't be like it. This new Natural has a very conventional layout, and I think it would be easy to use it and other keyboards interchangably. These hoity-toity custom jobs look fancy but are not worth the money or the effort it takes to learn to use them. Hardware dvorak switching is nice, but are you really prepared to share that custom kb with anyone else? Suck it up and set the language in the OS rather.

I'll say it again. When you learn dvorak and become inspired to start turfing the mainstream in all sorts of novel ways (oh wait, you already do that, this is SPCR), accept that keys shall be staggered.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2005 12:52 am 
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crap, I was too busy to make an OT post before it was too late. sorry.

That "QWERTY is bad because it was made to not jam!" stuff is bullshit.
not jam != not fast
Yes, it was arranged like that to prevent jamming. No, having chars that are frequently used together on opposite sides of the keyboard is not really a bad thing. Yes, Dvorak is a little faster, no that's not why. :)
I'd still like to switch someday, but I don't really feel like relearning how to type, and at >120wpm I don't really need it, it's not like I can usually think that fast to begin with. :(

whoever mentioned learning to touch type - for a few years I had to look down at the keys while I was typing, even though I knew where all of them were and could type way faster than I could even look at the keys. It was weird, more like breaking a habit like nail biting than learning to type properly.

and whoever mentioned RSI stuff wrt wrist rests, yeah, resting your wrists or forearms on anything sharp/hard is really, really bad, try using a laptop for a while while resting your hands on it. Your fingers will go numb from pinky in, then your hand will start swelling etc. My mouse arm has been killing me for the last couple weeks because you pretty much have to put a bunch of weight on the corner of your wrist to use a mouse with your fingertips/wrist instead of wrist/forearm, not sure if I'm actually doing anything new or not. Just using one of those cute little cloth bags full of tiny beads for now until I remember to get a Smart Glove.

Putting more pressure than normal pretty much anywhere on your body is a bad thing, there was a really large study that just finished a few weeks ago that basically showed that all male bicycle riders had lower than average penile blood flow. noseless seats are the only way to avoid it, even padded/cutout seats are bad.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2005 2:19 am 
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Straker, as I said, don't switch to dvorak for speed, switch for comfort. I was typing 10+ hours per day, 6 days a week (not all at work obviously), and I could never have managed that with QWERTY.

Also realise that it puts the punctuation in much nicer places. It's not like with QWERTY when you cringe at seeing lots of punctuation or capital letters. Regardless of what you type, it just feels smooth.

Even using dvorak, my home row keys were very smooth after 6 months. At one point my right index finger had no fingerprint, it was worn down (my hands weren't too sore though). For productivity, switching to dvorak will always be worthwhile (in a personal context). I don't think an employer retraining typists is a solution, you need some dedication to pull it off.

Even if you can type 120WPM, there will be benefits to dvorak. It really depends on your situation whether you will still need to type on alot of QWERTY systems though. If you change, you must change. I can type a decent speed on QWERTY, but need to look at the keyboard. That typing speed hasn't decreased. I think a QWERTY touch-typist would find it more difficult to use both.

Another thing, and this is to everybody learning dvorak, don't rearrange your keys or stick new lables on or buy a dvorak-labled keyboard, being able to look at the keys will hamper you.

Print out the layout rather, you will only need it for a few weeks. Do some exercises like the ABCD ones for a while, then hit IRC, it works very well.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2005 5:32 am 
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Can you all read English? (if not, please use this) The OP asked you to get back on topic a few days ago. Please do that.

acaurora wrote:
I don't want to be a party pooper, but can we stop hijacking the thread and get back on topic about the keyboard -.-...


You can always start yet another "Dvorak Rules" thread in OT.

Thanks!

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2005 5:35 am 
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Location: Sweden
How the h3ll did you get ants in the keyboard? Sounds kinda stupid! :lol: You know there are better ways to do it.
But I must agree with ~El~Jefe~, cool! Is that how the everyday life is in Ca? Man vs. Ant?
I think I prefer the polar bears here in Sweden...

Anyway, my UltraX works fine. Never really tried a natural keyboard for a longer time. Maybe time to do so.


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