Colemak, or on the safe typing

06 Oct 2016 | opinion, personal

Here is an thought - what if sitting and typing can cause one of the most common workplace injuries in the current age? Apparently, RSI is a real thing once you’re old enough. Funny enough, I’m actually becoming old enough to consider the risks my future job will have, on my body. So far, I realized that whatever I do, I’ll include spending at least 5 hours a day behind the keyboard. For the next 40 years (or until we come up with better input sources). That’s not a promising start, even if I’m used to common strain injuries (wee “varsity” sports).

Now, I mostly enjoy programming - there is no need for me to find different career right? Cool, so how to avoid strain injuries? And, of course, make my life just a little bit harder.

Well, one thing is keyboard. And this is what this post will be about. However, not the physical keyboard (on which I have written on my old blog), but the actual layout. A lot of people, such as Matt Mullenweg, and one of my heroes, Nathan Myhrvold embraced Dvorak as a superior layout to the proven and tested QWERTY. I have tried it in the past which caused ridicule and hatered of my fellow roommates who never touched my computer again (and probably learned a couple of Croatian swearwords). It’s not to say I was bad at it. After about three-four weeks, I was around 60-65wpm which is close enough to my QWERTY speed, and certainly enough not to restrain me while programming (I figured typing speed was never my real issue - thinking is). The reason why I switched back to QWERTY though was mostly due to shortcuts. I tend to use a plethora of shortcuts throughout all of the apps, and Dvorak was just not suitable for that. It was actually noticably more comfortable to type, but every other aspect of using a computer was way inferior to QWERTY.

ROI for dvorak just wasn’t good enough. And I stuck with QWERTY for the last two years.

Until today that is. While innocently browsing the web, I found Colemak. It seems to solve most to all of my shortcut problems, while also promising better learning curve. It has also shown 2-3% improvement in efficiency over Dvorak, which itself was a significant improvement over QWERTY.

Colemak layout

So here is my challenge for this term:

Everyhing I type in my room shall be typed on colemak. When I come to 35wpm, I’ll switch completely..

Why? It’s fun to learn new things. Is it going to be a pain, sure. But if it’ll also help me with my future help, power to it.

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