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Category Archives: Hardware

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

Is ASUS Sexist?

June 21, 2012

I randomly stumbled across this post the other day. ASUS was at Computex 2012 this year in Taiwan. There the company tweeted about it’s new transformer AIO. But they didn’t just tweet about their new gadget, they also tweeted about (what appears to me) a showgirl’s behind. This has apparently caused quite a stir, and ASUS has since deleted the tweet and issued an official apology.

I’m a little late on this but I’d like the opportunity to weigh in. First and foremost, I don’t think ASUS is sexist. I don’t think they intended to be malicious with their remark or to alienate any of their customers or anyone else for that matter.

What surprises me the most is the backlash. Some of the comments and reactions from people are ridiculous. You can peruse through them at your leisure from the link above, but some of the highlights include people making statements such as, “ASUS doesn’t think women want computers”, “what kind of company they are”, “ASUS just lost me as a customer”, and, “ASUS apparently doesn’t think women buy computers. Piggish in the extreme”. The last one is from Ed Bott, a writer over at ZDNET.

Are these people for real?

Do these people honestly believe what they’re saying and honestly believe that ASUS is a sexist company trying to… I don’t even know. Make it more difficult for women in tech? Lose customers? If people are so concerned about women in tech, then why are there showgirls at these events in the first place? These women clearly get all dolled up to be in front of thousands of people and cameras. Whether we want to admit it or not, their purpose there is to look good. I didn’t realize complimenting a woman’s posterior was now considered sexist.

ASUS’ comment wasn’t being malicious or harassing. It was just an off-comment with some light-hearted humour with no “endgame” or any other intent. These people need to get over themselves and stop making a mountain out of a mole hill. These people need to find something actually worthwhile to get upset over… like the massive human rights violations in China; I bet these same people will go home and browse the Internet on their iPads and other Apple products. And Apple isn’t alone in these violations; other tech companies have their gadgets manufactured in China.

But do we really think these people would be willing to “lose me as a customer” because of that? No. They rather race to Twitter and make an emotional comment about something they’ll literally forget about the next day.

Posted in Hardware, Miscellaneous

The Dvorak Keyboard – Part III

June 19, 2012

So it’s been nearly four full months using the Dvorak keyboard. Where do I stand? How do I feel about my progress? Well to be honest not as good is I envisioned, but that doesn’t mean I’m not making progress. I still make a lot of mistakes – way more than I am comfortable with, but I am also finding that I am able to type some words without even thinking where the keys are, which is really the endgame.

What I really need to do is do more exercises. I know where the keys are, I just don’t know them by muscle memory. I suppose that will come with time, but I notice myself “finding” the keys by hitting the wrong key and then correcting myself. Needless to say that’s not how it should be done.

For fun I jumped on Typeracer the other day just to see how I’d do it a competitive typing environment. I played two races before giving up. I actually won my first race (the only reason I stuck around for a second) with 34wpm. With a score like that, I know I didn’t win because I use a Dvorak keyboard; I won because obviously my competition wasn’t very good. I got owned in the second race and promptly closed the tab. It’s clear I simply don’t know the layout well enough yet. I just make way too many mistakes.

Let’s revisit some of the things I’ve talked about before: the M and W keys don’t give me as much trouble as they used to. I’m finding now actually to be having trouble with the W and V keys instead. I guess it’s fortunate that they’re uncommon letters. I have to make a conscious effort which one I am hitting but hopefully that goes away.

I still don’t like the placement of the O and A keys, but I have come to terms with them and have moved on. I still think the vowels (I hate typing that word, for reasons above) could be rearranged more intelligently, though.

I have recently written a script that analyzes text and does all sorts of calculations about the letters and letter frequency (this will be added to the projects section soon) among other cool stuff. I have found that M is far more common than previously thought and the letter F is far more scarce. So really I would swap these keys, though on second thought maybe I’d leave them as they are because I find it difficult to hit the F key.

The key that’s hardest for me is the X key by far. Thankfully I don’t have to use it very often. I find it’s much easier to hit the Z key than the X key, which is unfortunate because Z is the least common letter.

The Future

So where do I go from here? I’m not really sure. I guess practice makes perfect and I’ll learn all the muscle movements over time. There have been many frustrating moments but I do think I am getting better. Going back to the QWERTY keyboard is not an option at this point. My realistic outlook on when I’ll be just as good with the Dvorak layout as I was with the QWERTY layout is by end of this year. I think that’s a nice, conservative estimate. It gives me a lot of time to practice and to get the muscle movements down pat. I’ll probably check in with some more progress sometime in July.

Posted in Hardware

The Dvorak Keyboard – Part II

April 13, 2012

So it’s been nearly a month since I posted about using the Dvorak keyboard. I’m using it at work and have been for a couple of weeks, so now I’m basically using the Dvorak keyboard 100% of the time. My speed has certainly increased, but I am still quite dependent on looking at the keys; I haven’t developed the muscle memory yet but I can feel it starting to take hold.

I’m ironically writing this post on a QWERTY keyboard on my laptop at my parents’ house (I’m leaving for a cruise tomorrow) and I am having significant issues using this layout. My brain has been wired to use the Dvorak layout and now I’m definitely having problems. I thought I’d be able to “keep” the QWERTY layout in my head but that’s clearly not the case. I’m not useless but I am nothing what I was; I can no longer touch type on it, that’s for sure.

I am having some issues with the Dvorak layout though. First, I’m finding myself always messing up the M and W keys, despite the fact that the M key is in the same position (only two keys have the same position – M and A). I’m also having issues hitting the F key with my right index finger. For whatever reason it feels awkward using that hand and actually feels better using my left hand even thought I shouldn’t be.

My last two issues: I’m having trouble with the A and O keys, mainly their positions. I feel it would be better if they were reversed. I think it would be a more natural movement. Lastly, I’m having problems hitting the S key with my right pinky finger. I view the S key as a “strong” letter and my pinky finger as a “weak” finger. It doesn’t feel natural hitting that key with that finger (yet).

I’m sure in time I will overcome these pitfalls. I actually think I am learning it quicker than I thought I would. I think come June I’ll be just as good with the Dvorak layout as I am with the QWERTY, with a lot more muscle memory. I am a little concerned about losing the ability to use to QWERTY but I guess that’s part of progress, right?

Posted in Hardware

Netgear Nonsense

April 8, 2012

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a post. I’ve just been so busy lately that I don’t have the time. But right now I’d like to sneak one in. I must warn you though, it’s a little bit of a rant.

I was at my parents’ house on Saturday for Easter; it was spending some time with family and enjoying a nice meal. While I was mingling with everyone my dad told me about his new Netgear router he bought. Specifically a WNDR4000. Since he bought a new router and had to set a new wireless password, I would need the new password for my phone. I went downstairs to check out the router and see my dad’s computer (he also recently bought an SSD for the first time). He told me the password and I was able to connect a few moments later.

Then we started talking about networking and sharing files. Eventually the conversation moved to him needing to log into the router to see some information. He tried the typical 192.168.1.1 address but the browser would never seem to load the page; it would just sit there at a white screen, trying to load. We tried on a different computer and were met with the same result. I double-checked the address through ipconfig and it was indeed correct.

I thought this was ridiculous, but the “fun” was just beginning. I mean, he must have already been in the router if he had set up his wireless password, changed the SSID, etc. We consulted the manual which instructed us to navigate to routerlogin.com which would prompt us for credentials. Okay… I thought that was a little odd, and, to be honest, baffling. It doesn’t make any sense to have to connect to an external destination to access a local device.

But fine, we’ll go to the website to log in. Except the website wouldn’t load. It seemed to be down. They offered a second website, routerlogin.net, which did the same thing. We tried from a different computer and the same thing happened. I even entered both websites into www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com and both came back with a “It’s not just you!” response. I just checked the sites now and I’m getting the same result. Except now when I try to navigate to the websites they redirect to Netgear’s support page – no place to log in or enter credentials.

Okay so how the hell are you supposed to log into your router? Like are they serious? So if their websites go down or become inaccessible for some reason I’m effectively locked out of my router? How could no one recognize that this was a terrible idea?

So I decided to call technical support. I wanted to find out what their back up plan was (if they even have one) for this situation, and, admittedly, I wanted to rant a little bit to someone. Perhaps a manager or some other higher up would listen to the recorded call and see that this in an absolutely asinine idea, and then abandon it ASAP.

I was met by someone on the phone with a thick Indian accent – a sure sign of outsourcing to India. Please note I have nothing against India, Indians, or the Indian accent; however, as a Canadian customer it makes it even more difficult to convey my problem and to receive information. In any case, he proceeded to register the router, which took about ten minutes. He told me the case number for the call and said if we were to be cut off he would call back within 60 seconds.

Eventually we got to the point where I could tell him the issue, that we were unable to log into the router through the designated websites and if he could provide an alternative. Instead of giving me an answer or any kind of useful information he proceeded to ask me a bunch of useless questions. I informed him the Internet was working correctly and the router was functioning as expected. He ignored me and kept asking useless questions, such as am I using a desktop or a laptop, how many wireless devices do I own, or am I using XP Home or Pro.

I understand they need to know some information to troubleshoot, but this information is not going to help. After spending nearly 25 minutes on the phone I started to get frustrated, especially when he asked me what my ISP was, what my modem was, and what model it was. I mean come on, you’re asking every question except the ones that matter.

Anyway, after about 30 minutes on the phone we got cut off. Either that or he hung up on me. In any case we didn’t receive a phone call in the next 60 seconds or for the rest of the night. Later I went home and Googled the issue. Apparently I’m not the only person who’s had this issue (not surprised there). And I found out in some cases that the router redirects 192.168.1.1 to their websites. Absolutely unbelievable. I advised my dad to return the router if possible and to purchase another brand. I’m quite partial to D-LINK, but Linksys would be my second choice.

Posted in Hardware, Networking