Michael Herrick's blog

August Dvorak

One of my heroes is August Dvorak. He saved my career.

About twenty years ago, I had a debilitating case of tendinitis in my hands, wrists and forearms. I couldn’t turn a key in a lock or pick up a cup with one hand. I went to physical therapy and wore a TENS Unit on my belt to deliver pain-killing electrical shocks to my damaged nerves.

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The World Wide Web is still 45 years behind the times

My friend Daniel wrote an article titled A rejection of the rejection of the 1970s where, among other things, he describes some remarkable artificial intelligence programs from the late ’60s with natural language powers far more sophisticated than that of certain trendy technologies people pay through the nose for today. How far we haven’t come! An even more depressing example is a technology that’s literally changed the world, but hasn’t come even close to its full potential—the World Wide Web.

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Fixing the keyboard

The image here is a picture of the keyboard I use every day which, combined with a Dvorak layout, enables me to achieve typing rates that sound like a dull buzz. So I’m all for improving the keyboard. And here’s a great article that makes some simple, common-sense proposals. A key for the em dash. How fantastic would that be?

Caps lock has to go, and other proposals for improving the computer keyboard

His ideas:

  • Get rid of caps lock
  • Dedicated em-dash key
  • Put the exclamation mark and question mark on the same, shiftable key, near the period and comma
  • A key for @. The shift should type .com (I’m less jazzed about that one)
  • Eliminate all the dumb ancient terminal options that were yanked from the Mac keyboard decades ago but still linger on PCs

There are all kinds of people who will say, “Oh, I’m so used to my keyboard, I could never change.” That attitude baffles me. My response is usually, “You’re right, you couldn’t.” But recent experiments with touch-screen keyboards prove that people change and adapt just fine. Time for Apple to start work on fixing the keyboard. They’re probably the only ones who can pull it off right now.

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