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Being impulsive and skilled at procrastination as I am, I decided this morning1 to switch my keyboard layout over to Dvorak for left-handers. I was persuaded to do this by some vile, callous individual who had left a link to the Dvorak zine. If I recall correctly, they carelessly left this link lying around in a Dvorak advocacy thread on a forum. (I mean, really! How dare they?)

Foolishly I clicked this link and was bombarded with facts about how QWERTY was inefficient and likely to cause RSI, and how learning to type on Dvorak wouldn’t make me “forget” how to type on QWERTY. Hook, line and sinker! Realising that Windows made it obscenely easy for me to switch over to Dvorak2, and that it offered left-handed Dvorak (which had to be good for me considering my left-handedness, right?), I switched over right away. And moved all the keys around on my laptop. I have to say I was amazed by the levels of cat fur wedged under my keys. What does my cat do, use them to scratch her back?!

It was then I remembered all the actual typing I wanted to get done today. Oops. I decided to throw myself into the thick of it and try composing an email with these strangely-positioned keys. Where was “H”? Oh! Right where “H” has always been — it didn’t move! Now, where was “E”? As it turned out, right next to “H”. Convenience: my keyboard seemed to have it! Now, where’s “L”? …”L”? Seriously, “L”, where are you? “L”?? WHAT HAPPENED TO MY “L”??

Exasperated, I took a break. I had a drink of water and resumed my tireless search for “L”. Eventually, after a great deal of fist-waving, I found it — where my “7” used to be3.

And “7”, of course, is where my apostrophe used to be, so I keep typing ampersands where I want quotation marks. My dash (or hyphen, or whatever you want to call it) is where my A used to be, and since A was one of the few letters I could touch-type, I keep typing interesting “words” like “ch-r-cter”. Well, or “gh-r-gter”, since I could also touch-type “C” and now there’s a “G” there. What’s REALLY annoying is when I want to use a keyboard “shortcut” like Ctrl+C or Ctrl+Z. These letters used to congregate nicely in the bottom-left corner of my keyboard, but now they’re all the place. Hell, I can never even find “Z”! I’m sort of OK with where “L” is now, but whenever I realise I have to type a “Z” I groan and spend forever hunting down that stupid key. Every time. It’s such a relief that I’m not American.

Look, I could rant some more about how different this layout is. However, there are upsides too. All the letters I use really frequently are in one little cluster in the middle-right of my keyboard. The full stop — my most frequently-used symbol of punctuation, except when beaten by the comma — is right next to this cluster. This means that there are many, many words I can type without having to move my hand too far, like “the” and “with”. Once I get used to the letters actually being in these funky new positions, I can see why I might type faster than on QWERTY.

I guess I’ll have to keep you updated.

  1. Well, actually, since I woke up at 2pm today I am highly doubtful that it was the morning. However, that little fact is of no relevance to the rest of this story. Please continue reading.
  2. I’ve actually thought about switching in the past, but couldn’t work out how I was supposed to go about doing that with Fedora. My sister accidentally worked it out and switched her keyboard to Chinese, though. Then she couldn’t work out how to get her English keyboard back…
  3. However, this was after I’d given up and resorted to “hi”. I could find the “I” key, at least!


  1. Wow I don’t think I could ever switch my keyboard. Props to you! Let us know how it turns out!!

  2. I think cows will fly before I would change my keyboard around. Not because I like it so much, but because by changing it and therefore learning how to type in a different way, would get me in serious trouble at work. Because all I do there is type on a QWERTY keyboard and they are not about to change that around ;).

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