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Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Dvorak Keyboard – Part IV

February 25, 2013

It’s been about a full year since I started using the Dvorak keyboard and it’s been quite the journey. This will likely be my last post about my Dvorak progress. I think a year is enough to gauge how well I have come along.¬†When I embarked on this journey I went into it with the mindset, “Can I do this?”

Did I? I think so. I struggled in the beginning like many people do, but I was able to pick up the new layout in due time. I should have done a lot more lessons and learned the keyboard instead of just diving in and forcing myself to type. I think by doing that I have picked up a couple bad habits but nothing that prevents me from typing at a reasonable speed. For example I find myself hitting the L key with my ring finger instead of my pinky.

One of the biggest questions about learning Dvorak is what are the benefits? Namely, did your typing speed/accuracy improve? Unfortunately I didn’t quite know what my speed was before on the QWERTY layout, though I know I have done tests where I managed to get in the mid-80wpm. But I don’t know my actual typing speed with it. I also feel like typing tests are not an accurate portrayal of one’s tying ability; reading and typing can be challenging for many whereas just typing what you’re thinking can yield quite different results.

But anyway, I jumped on Typeracer a few times throughout the year to see how I was doing as a way of gauging my progress. I remember when I first started with it I was hovering around the 30wpm mark. A little while later I was in the mid-50s. Recently in the months of December to January I was hitting the mid-70s, so it was evident that my speed and accuracy was improving. At least with Typeracer.

Do I feel better though? Was it worth it? I think so. It was a fun and challenging experience and I am now fully engulfed in the layout, completely abandoning the QWERTY layout except on my phone (where I can still type on it quite well). If I try to use the QWERTY layout on another computer I am met with some difficulty though I can usually do it no problem as long as I am able to look at the keyboard. I am quite fast on the phone still, though.

All in all I am quite happy with it, plus it’s a nice conversation starter, and even a little amusing when I visit someone’s house and have to use their computer and they see me struggling to type. I often get asked, “I thought you were a computer nerd, shouldn’t you be able to type quickly?” I then show them the keyboard layout I use and I’m met with some astonished reactions.

I have seen some other keyboard layouts that have caught my eye, such as Colemak, but for now I am going to stick with Dvorak. It was a great little journey and I am glad I was able to accomplish what I set out to do. That’s always a good feeling.

Posted in Hardware

A New Kind of Browser War?

February 22, 2013

Many people are familiar with the browser war of the 90s, where Microsoft and Netscape duked it out for Internet supremacy. Even more people know that Microsoft was the undisputed champion of that bout. Netscape continued to make browsers many years after, but its presence was never the same.

We are currently experiencing a browser war right now. Microsoft, Mozilla, and Google with Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome, respectively, are vying for top spot. For the first time in about two decades, Microsoft was not the top browser maker and instead, (relative) newcomers Google took the lead.

But there’s a hidden browser war going on that most people don’t even know exists: behind every browser there’s a rendering engine. The rendering engine is the main component of the browser that displays everything on the screen including the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It’s the heart of the browser.

There are currently five major browsers and four major rendering engines:

  • Internet Explorer uses Trident, a proprietary engine designed by Microsoft
  • Firefox uses Gecko, a free, open-source engine used in several other projects
  • Chrome and Safari both use Webkit, a free, open-source engine used in several other projects
  • Opera uses Presto, a proprietary engine designed by Opera

About a week ago Opera announced it would stop developing its proprietary rendering engine and instead use Webkit. Some thought this was a great move in standardizing the web while others thought it was in Opera’s best interests to continue developing its engine to help foster competition.

Personally, I’m not a fan of Webkit. I think Gecko is much better rendering engine (as you can tell from viewing this blog) and I think the way certain elements are rendered and the way fonts appear are much better in Gecko.

Webkit already holds approximately 40% of the browser rendering engine market share, with Trident and Gecko making up for the rest. I’m not sure how much Opera has, but considering its flagship browser only holds about 2% of the browser market share, I’m going to make the assumption that it’s a rather small piece of the pie.

So what does this mean for the future? Well, it’s considerably possible now that Webkit may become the favoured engine when developers, companies, corporations, and clients want web work done. That’s how business already operates now, doesn’t it? You cater to the largest market share (or at least, your largest market share). Despite Webkits 40%, things are pretty evenly split; there’s no obvious favouritism (that I can tell) but it’s possible that could change in a couple of years (much to my dismay).

What’s your take on this situation? Do you think things will start to tip in Webkit’s favour? Was Opera’s decision to abandon its proprietary rendering engine a good thing for the web or a bad thing?

Posted in Browsers