Thoughts on Learning DVORAK (Part 2)

27 11 2011

Back in September I wrote a rather long post on my experiment in switching to the DVORAK keyboard layout. I almost gave it up a short time after, as my progress in increasing my speed was basically nada. However, I stuck with it and my speed has slowly increased. It’s now safe to say that my DVORAK typing speed has matched my old QWERTY speed, but not yet surpassed it by much (I’m still improving).

Overall progress for the first 70 days,


How long does it take to become proficient in DVORAK?

In my case: 3-4 months to get back to my old QWERTY level of 80-90WPM. I still hope to surpass 100WPM average, something I never did in QWERTY, but I’m not really concerned about it anymore or actively striving to reach it. In fact, keyboard layouts rarely cross my mind lately, the only reason I’m writing this post is because it’s had a half finished version in my drafts for a month. I’ve also been thinking about finishing up a typing program I hacked together, but that’ll be another post.

How did you get passed the 60 WPM barrier?

I’ve seen several posts on forums of people complaining of being stuck at 60WPM for weeks or moths (or in some cases, forever). I’m not sure what it is about that speed that causes such a learning barrier, but I was stuck there for quite a while as well. A lot of people say working on accuracy is the key, but I found that it didn’t make much difference and made typing more frustrating since I was always trying to monitor myself for making mistakes. If I had to make a guess about why this barrier exists, I would have to say that it’s because of weak keys messing up your typing rhyme. At this point there are no letters that slow down my typing, but back when I was stuck at 60WPM I remember some keys were always a lot slower to type. My advice if you’re stuck at 60WPM: focus on any keys that you hesitate on. Also, expect progress to slow down. When you start off learning you’ll be gaining 5 WPM in a day, but once you get passed the 60 WPM barrier it’s a slow logarithmic curve.

Do you still practice typing just for the sake of typing?

No. I spend a few minutes on and typeracer every few days in order to track my progress and because, for whatever reason, I actually find it sort of fun. It’s like a video game, you try and surpass your old high score with concentration and skill. But I haven’t actively practiced typing for long periods of time since September. Once practicing typing gets boring, in my opinion you should give it up and go type stuff instead. Chat with your friends on IM, chat with strangers, write a blog, write a story, write a book, write a program, write reviews on movies and restaurants, write a wiki entry about the t-shirts worn by your favorite character in the last episode of a TV show, write posts on forums. There’s plenty of stuff to write about; don’t waste too much time repeating gibberish from Mavis Beacon.

Can you still use QWERTY?

As proficiently as before? No. I can still surpass 60WPM on QWERTY, but I also have a habit of looking at the keyboard again. Unlike DVORAK, when you’re forced to use someone else’s computer, you can just glance down at the keys when you forget where the single quote or underline character is. This concerned me quite a bit when I wast first starting to learn, but after I got good at DVORAK I quit caring. 95% of your typing is going to be on a computer you either own or work at all day and have the ability to customize any way you want. I should probably have a QWERTY weekend once a month to ensure that I don’t completely forget the muscle memory, but I’m not really concerned about it. If you really need to use QWERTY a lot, you’ll be able to type fine in both layouts. It’s the human desktop cleanup wizard: you remember what’s important and forget what you don’t use or think about. It just depends on how important QWERTY is to you. Not switching to DVORAK because you’re afraid you’ll suck at QWERTY is like not wanting to switch to Linux or Mac because you’re afraid you’ll suck at Windows. You’ll be fine, and even if you do suck at Windows, take pride in the fact you’re skilled in something that’s a superior version.

Do you still use QWERTY?

Not when I don’t have to. Cases I still use QWERTY,

Shared computers at work that I’m not using for a long period of time (otherwise I’ll switch it to DVORAK and then back to QWERTY when logging out). Remote Desktop will automatically set the layout on the remote computer when you log in, but not if the computer is already logged in and you’re just switching back to the session.

Gaming. Still need the good old ASDW keys for control.

Phone keyboards. I could probably find a DVORAK setting for Android, but I prefer to just stick with the onscreen QWERTY.

Random Stuff

Here are some logs from,

9-15-11 to 10-02-11,

10-01-11 to 10-16-11,

10-23-11 to 11-26-11,

Also some videos of typing,





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