I was so excited to finally have my own Dvorak keyboard. But it was definitely more trouble than it was worth.

First, I'm a broke college student, so I couldn't buy one. Instead I switched the keys from a regular one around into the Dvorak format. The problem with this is that the keys on the keyboard are different heights. Thus, it looked and felt really crooked.

Second, I use Windows and most of the shortcuts are made for QWERTY keyboards. For instance, to copy and paste on Windows it's easy Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V. C's only four keys away from Ctrl and V's right next to C. So it can all be done with one hand. However for Dvorak keys it takes two hands.

Third, I waited too long to do it. I quickly discovered how well I could already type on QWERTY. It was already built into my reflexes and coordination to go to certain places for certain keys

So my recommendations are: Buy and use a Dvorak keyboard when you're young (or buy one for your nephew or niece). Along with that, use an OS that has shortcuts which are easily remappable.
Allright, don't get me wrong. It's been two months and I still love my Dvorak, but in addition to AU's comment on the keyboard shortcuts here are a few other things you should know before making the big switch.
  • Beware the Catbox and ICQ, IRC or any other place you are used to quickly typing and posting, especially without the use of a spellcheck. You are going to look like a fool, just get used to it.
  • Watch those "M"s and "W's The letters "M" and "A" are the only two in the same place on both Dvorak and Querty boards. But "M" and "W" are direct neighbors, and for whatever reason I'm always transposing the two. This is one of the few typos that I continue to make even though I am now quite comfortable on Dvorak.
  • Fear DOS unless you have one of those keyboards hardwired for Dvorak. While Windows can easily be configured to use Dvorak, don't plan on that same ease at the C:\> prompt. That being said, I have no problems in the GUI or CLI on my Mandrake 8.0 box.
  • If you work on other machines you are going to have a tough time maintaining your superuser suave in front of the newbie you are assisting when you can't even type your password without hitting backspace. Switching between layouts is no big deal, but at first it takes a minute to get reaccquainted with Qwerty. If you switch systems often, you'll have no troubles.
  • It's maddening for the first few days. You've probably forgotten how tough learning to type was way back when. Dvorak will remind you. Your hands will ache from the constant strain of searching for the proper keys. Don't expect to be able to jump right in without a loss of productivity. But I found noding to be the perfect, low priority way to learn the new layout.
  • There you have it...the major hurdles of learning Dvorak. Don't underestimate that "M"/"W" thing!! But if you like logic, you'll like Dvorak. I expect that in another month or two I will be able to safely say that it has increased my speed and decreased my typos fairly significantly. Plus there is a serious coolness/geekiness factor that goes along with Dvorak...enjoy it.

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