Pushing Technology

Use Technology That Makes Sense
(By P
ushing Down your Throat)

The easy part ..

A few clicks, a few weeks ago and I had FireFox and its various great extensions ( Adbock, Gmail Notifier, etc) making browsing a totally new experience. FireFox is catching up on IE. (Currently just 4% of the marketshare but growing!). I have already become a zealous Firefox proselytizer. I have added a not-so-subtle graphic on the top-left of this blog and have been imploring people to switch. Not that I particularly hate MS or anything of that sort, but FireFox just makes so much more browsing sense. (See Ramanand for a more passionate plea of a rather sensible idea). Gmail makes so much more email sense, especially the 'label' idea (instead of dumb 'folders'), the PINE-style keyboard shortcuts, the Google Search, etc. More space isn't the real USP of Gmail. (I still have a few GMAIL invites left. Anyone?)
A few weeks ago, I switched the key bindings on MATLAB to the EMACS style. It was a painful learning process, especially the new keyboard shortcuts and I often yearn for the familiar CTRL+ X,C,V bindings. Yet, learning the EMACS shortcuts is going to payoff on the long run. It will integrate all editing that I need for disparate tasks such as Perl, TEX, writing blogs, doing diffs. Also managed to find a LISP mode for MATLAB in EMACS.
For no particular reason, I had continued to use IE even after seeing FireFox in action months ago. After having made the switch, I am wondering why did I not do it earlier? Perhaps most of us are reluctant to change, even if it is for the better. Adopting anything new has too many teething troubles. Yet somethings make so much more sense and are well-worth the investment of time and effort in learning them.

The painful part ...

Easily the most painful of all of these has been changing my keyboard layout to Dvorak. Learning something is painful enough. Worse still is having to unlearn something and then learn again. Despite the painful process, the Dvorak layout makes so much more typewriting sense (Why?). Every quizzer worth his salt knows that the popular QWERTY layout was made to slow typists down and to avoid the jamming of the keys. Definitely not a scientific or ergonomic choice. I had been assuming that the insane QWERTY layout was,
One of those 'things' in life that make no sense, but that's just the way they are.
This May, I was introduced to the Dvorak keyboard. I tried it out and I managed to learn the keyboard in an hour. Not that I am gifted or anything, but because the keyboard makes so more sense.
For instance,
All vowels and the most frequently used consonants D,H,T,N,S are on the home (middle row).
(Remember Holmes' ETAOINSHRLDU?)This facilitates the use of alternating hands and fingers for most words. You can actually make sensible words using just the home row. This reduces the fatiguing travel all over the place. Have a look and see if it makes sense. Not surprising that the world's fastest typists are DVORAK typists.

Though I have yet to reach my QWERTY speeds in Dvorak, I am getting there and much faster than I thought I would. This is one of the things that you have to really try and find out(Unlike Amway!). The whole story of Dvorak and its failure to be adopted despite making more sense has become a management Case Study classic. I leave you to decide.

It does not take any time to switch in Windows using Control Panel > Date, Time & Language Settings > Language & Regional Settings > Languages Tab > Details ..> Default Input Language
No program or tutor is as good as this one:Mastermind Tutor

O,cyjd yr Ekrpat br, w x.urp. cy-o yr nay.!

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