I'm mad as hell and not going to take it any more! (Well, not really, but I am more than a bit disturbed [ask anyone who knows me] :-)
In any case, I've kind of had it with computer hardware and software makers who don't promote better ways to do things and perpetuate the mediocre or inferior.
One obvious example of this is the present keyboard you are probably typing on (just as I am). It's antiquated and inferior in two very obvious ways:
- Firstly, the actual locale of the letters on the QWERTY keyboard layout, is a relatively slow method to type (created to slow typing down, so 18th century typewriters wouldn't jam). Because of this crappy letter layout, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is epidemic among those regularly using keyboards. Additionally, it's a slow way to type, compared to several more modern alternatives, particularly a fairly new one that takes advantage of prior Qwerty training, while minimizing re-training time compared to using a Dvorak keyboard.
- Secondly, the flat keyboard, with its offset letters, also contributes to RSI, to a higher error rate, and was something that was designed for the actual mechanics of a typewriter, never for the human being. That the computer makers chose to perpetuate this too when manufacturing computer keyboards, is even more unbelievable.
So, in relation to item #1 above, a Dvorak layout (which many of you may have heard about) is far superior to the standard Qwerty layout and results in superior speed (the world's fastest typist used a Dvorak layout), and less RSI. However, the problem is, is that almost every key (33 of them) is recast elsewhere on the board, with many also jumping between hands.
This results in a steep time-consuming learning curve, and many people give up because of this (as I did), even though you can easily reconfigure your keyboard through a software add-on (go to Microsoft, here, if interested). This is probably the reason that the Dvorak never caught on - the very steep learning curve.
No, based on this idea though, others have been at work to recast the keyboard letters, using the lessons of Dvorak, but minimizing extraneous key movement from the Qwerty standard, where gains are minimal. In the case of the Colemak layout (moves only 17 keys, and minimal moved to the "other" hand), this results in, reportedly, much smaller learning curve, with similar speed and ergonomic gains to Dvorak.
It is now the third-most popular English language layout, and is gaining converts every day. More information, including a downloadable program to convert your existing keyboard to this superior letter layout is located at Colemak.com. I hope to download and convert to this layout. I'll report out on this from time to time.
(Note: If you're on a blog aggregator, you can visit The Confused Capitalist here or here [http://confusedcapitalist.blogspot.com] for additional articles and exclusive content!)
Keyboard layout comparisons (click to enlarge any of the below):
QWERTY (The old-fashioned, crappy, standard)
DVORAK (A better keyboard, that never caught on, probably in part due to the learning curve - look how many keys not only shift position, but from one hand to the other).
So if you're looking to be a faster typist, to alleviate your own RSI, and just generally to make the world a better place, head on over the Colemak.com for a free download to covert your keyboard. OK, that's Rant #1 over. Let's move onto Rant #2.
In some cases, some of the programs are reported as superior, with the most notable complaints being for the Power Point equivalent "Impress" still not up to the Microsoft standard, while the spreadsheet program "Calc" isn't - for sophisticated users - as good as Excel. However, huge strides have reportedly been made over the prior release. According to my research, many users are reporting that they prefer the Open Office word processor. You can go to OpenOffice.org to download this FREE program. So, even if a couple of the programs aren't quite there yet, it's not hard to think they will be soon.
By the way, many of you might note the label "Global Warming" below, and wonder how this bloggering possibly ties in with that theme. It's simple really - any improvement in efficiency offers the possibility of turning off the computer sooner, and therefore reduces power consumption. Further, less RSI means fewer trips to the doctor. Ergo, less greenhouse gas emissions.
Secondly, using Open Office, an open source document, means that you don't - perhaps - have to work quite as much, since you don't need to pay for this particular type of product. Ergo, the potential exists for a couple of less trips to work every other year. Times millions of workers = less greenhouse gas emissions.
Perhaps not obvious connections, but ones which can, and I believe, do, exist.
Well, that's it for now - I have all of these links on the right hand side of my blog, under the title "Computer Stuff". I hope you are able to use this to improve your own life - to "raise the median".
The Confused Capitalist