Brendon Walsh
Keyboard Cowboy

Keyboard Cowboy


A while back you'll recall I made a post "The Dvorak Experiment". I assured you all at the end of that post that I would give you an update of my findings when I had spent some definitive time with the layout.

Last night I took a typing test. I can not recall ever taking a typing test before. I've never known how quickly I can type in relation to what others are capable of. Nevertheless, I do have some results.

Qwerty WPM

I've not really had much time in front of a Qwerty layout for some time now. Short of the moments at school when I must use a class computer, I don't ever type on Qwerty now. So it may be worth noting that as a result, whatever speeds I may have had before on Qwerty have now been significantly degraded in the last few months.

Without further adieu, my results on a 3 minute test were averaging at 40WPM.

Dvorak WPM

Dvorak results may not be as interesting as I would have hoped. There will not be a massively definitive graph showcasing the speed that Dvorak has over Qwerty even in the few short months I've been using it. This is probably due to the fact that there were no speed increases.

I was able to achieve no higher than 35WPM.


It is very important to note that during the last 3 months of use on Dvorak I have not used my computer to write essays or papers that so many of you would have. I am in a digital design program. My daily tasks on a computer largely revolve around Photoshop and the like with some minimal programming[1]. Perhaps if I was an English student, these results would be far more impressive.

I'd also like to make it clear once again that although I am focusing on the speed results since the switch to Dvorak, that is not at all why I decided to switch. You may recall that this was more of a philosophical experience in the way that we interface with our computers. I've been on this rant for a very long time. You can go back and read my post on "UI's in Media" as well to see that I am very serious about how the computer and the way we interact with the computer really need to change in order for us to advance.

So this switch was really more of an approach to prepare myself for what is to come. I want to become as ambiguous as I can when it comes to various forms of input.

Phase 2

Yes, there is, in fact a phase 2 to all this. I wouldn't say that my Dvorak experiment is finished. Not by a long shot. I don't ever intend to switch back to Qwerty. But you may recall that I modified my iPhone to have a Dvorak keyboard a while back as well. This was a big success in my eyes as it drew a lot of attention to my blog from outside sources that I am not generally exposed to. (Positive hits at least. :P)

But what of my Eee PC? It's still on Qwerty due to the very specific key sizes and their position on the keyboard. I came to the conclusion that even if I changed the labels of the keys to fit the Dvorak model, it would feel far too awkward to type on due to the misshapen keys.

Enter Colemak. This layout is very intriguing to me as it is the result of the most recent studies in the way that we use keyboards and was designed back in December 2005 and released to the public a month later.

What makes this layout perfect for the Eee is how well it conforms to the layout of Qwerty already and doesn't interfere with the punctuation keys that Dvorak does. The only change I needed to make to the layout was swapping the "O" key with the colon key.

It's too early to give any results on this layout in particular. And even when I do have results, it will be very specific to me as typing on the Eee is very different for each person.

Anyways, just thought I'd pass along a highly anticipated update from your very own keyboard cowboy, Brendon Walsh. Any switcher's yet?


1. Programming on Dvorak is fantastic. I know now why hackers love this keyboard for code. Everything is just so well laid out for brackets and parentheses. Virtually every non-alphanumeric key is positioned optimally for writing code.