1445: "Efficiency"

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Lenoxus
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1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Lenoxus » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:16 am UTC

Image

Title/alt text:
I need an extension for my research project because I spent all month trying to figure out whether learning Dvorak would help me type it faster.


(EDITED to put title text in quote rather than spoiler. Sorry to get to it so late.)

The fact that stategies A and B are equally worthwhile reminded me of Buridan's ass.

This is the first comic thread I've started, so let me know if I did anything wrong. For some reason, I felt like doing it in a hurry rather than taking a while to determine how to do it exactly right…
Last edited by Lenoxus on Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:56 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Editer » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:47 am UTC

Yes, it would.
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby aquagrunty » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:01 am UTC

I made an account just to come here and say: Yes, learn Dvorak. I do web development for a living and learning Dvorak is totally worth it. It takes a few months to get back up to Qwerty speed, but the speed improvements thereafter definitely make up for lost time. Your pinkies don't cramp up as much, and if you're a fan of Ruby it makes development so much faster since your fingers never really need to leave the home row keys. Parenthesis, braces, and brackets still require a bit of a reach - so Python gets a little bit better too, but not as much.

By far the most important thing that I did to learn Dvorak was to go on Amazon and spend a few bucks buying those stickers that you can stick to your keyboard. Learning by using a printout is nearly impossible. In Qwerty most typos happen because you hit the wrong key - in Dvorak the typos happen because you're typing so fast that sometimes you transpose letters. The other developers I work with think that I get work done really fast, but it's not because I work any faster or harder than they do. I just type a bit faster, and it makes all the difference.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby realbart » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:23 am UTC

You should always start with analyzing whether the time you spend on your analysis would be bigger than the expected maximum difference in time spent on strategy A or B.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby peregrine_crow » Mon Nov 10, 2014 8:20 am UTC

realbart wrote:You should always start with analyzing whether the time you spend on your analysis would be bigger than the expected maximum difference in time spent on strategy A or B.


Ah, but in order to know if that is worthwhile you first have to analyze whether the time spend on analyzing the difference between the time spend on your analysis and the expected maximum difference between A and B is greater than the expected gain from knowing whether analyzing the difference between A and B is better than just picking one at random.
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby chridd » Mon Nov 10, 2014 8:25 am UTC

Lenoxus wrote:The fact that stategies A and B are equally worthwhile reminded me of Buridan's ass.
They aren't equal. B takes very, very slightly longer than A.
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby sotanaht » Mon Nov 10, 2014 8:57 am UTC

chridd wrote:
Lenoxus wrote:The fact that stategies A and B are equally worthwhile reminded me of Buridan's ass.
They aren't equal. B takes very, very slightly longer than A.


Not slightly at all. I would estimate about a 20% difference, it's just hard to see because the time is so small in comparison to the third bar.

realbart wrote:You should always start with analyzing whether the time you spend on your analysis would be bigger than the expected maximum difference in time spent on strategy A or B.


Really if the difference isn't immediately apparent then you should already know that any time spent analyzing it in detail will be longer than the actual difference, The only time when such analysis is worthwhile is when you will be performing the task a great many times such that a small difference could add out. http://xkcd.com/1205/ related.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:48 am UTC

realbart wrote:You should always start with analyzing whether the time you spend on your analysis would be bigger than the expected maximum difference in time spent on strategy A or B.

But before you do that it would be wise to analyse if the analysis of whether the analysis is required isn't more time consuming than the analysis of which one is more efficient itself.
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby da Doctah » Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:36 am UTC

I'm going to come right out and call it "da Doctah's Law": the smaller the difference between alternatives A and B, the longer it takes to decide which alternative is better. Buridan's Ass is the extreme case where the difference is zero, which implies that the time to decide between them is infinite.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:26 am UTC

Buridan's Ass is also based on the incorrect assumption that both hunger and thirst rise with exactly the same speed. If they don't then the ass will either have more thirst than hunger at the beginning or after a few hours (or reversed).
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby peregrine_crow » Mon Nov 10, 2014 12:19 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:Buridan's Ass is also based on the incorrect assumption that both hunger and thirst rise with exactly the same speed. If they don't then the ass will either have more thirst than hunger at the beginning or after a few hours (or reversed).


Meh, that's easily fixed by placing it midway between two equally desirable sources of food.
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Klear » Mon Nov 10, 2014 12:27 pm UTC

So this is nothing but a rehash of 974 and 1205? I am disappoint.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Nov 10, 2014 12:39 pm UTC

Its an advice I need repeatedly and I can't imagine I am the only one.
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Whizbang » Mon Nov 10, 2014 12:48 pm UTC

Resear- Oh! Click!.png
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Dave Rogers » Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:09 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:
realbart wrote:You should always start with analyzing whether the time you spend on your analysis would be bigger than the expected maximum difference in time spent on strategy A or B.

But before you do that it would be wise to analyse if the analysis of whether the analysis is required isn't more time consuming than the analysis of which one is more efficient itself.


Which, insofar as I can fathom its content at all at all, appears to me to be the point made by the US Government Accountability Office report that won the 2012 IgNobel Prize for literature.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby cellocgw » Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:48 pm UTC

Lenoxus wrote:The fact that stategies A and B are equally worthwhile reminded me of Buridan's ass.


Which would appear to be the inspiration for one of the I, Robot stories.
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Farabor » Mon Nov 10, 2014 1:50 pm UTC

Lenoxus wrote:Image

Title Text:
Spoiler:
I need an extension for my research project because I spent all month trying to figure out whether learning Dvorak would help me type it faster.


The fact that stategies A and B are equally worthwhile reminded me of Buridan's ass.

This is the first comic thread I've started, so let me know if I did anything wrong. For some reason, I felt like doing it in a hurry rather than taking a while to determine how to do it exactly right…


Yes, it's best not to put the title text in a spoiler tag. The reason is that people often use the forums to read the text from a mobile device that has trouble with mouseover/spoilers/etc, and they just want the raw text in as easily accessible format as possible.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby randytayler » Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:59 pm UTC

aquagrunty wrote:I made an account just to come here and say: Yes, learn Dvorak. I do web development for a living and learning Dvorak is totally worth it.


Meh. I learned Dvorak 15 years ago, and while I love using it, I can't recommend it. There are tons of little headaches - "Is this machine configured to Dvorak or Qwerty on the login screen?" - so the payoff is minimized.

Maybe if you're under 25 years old, MAYBE it's worth it. I'd never make the switch again now, at 39. Too often I'm trying to take the helm on somebody else's computer (wife's computer, kids' computer, coworker's computer) for just a moment, and I'm completely stymied by the fact that the letters on the keyboard match the letters that appear on the screen. "Wait, wut? U is typing an U?? How do I make a G?"

I do type faster, though. I was up to 50wpm on Qwerty when I switched, and nowadays I'm up to 80 when I'm in full burn. But I code PHP -- it's not as Dvorak-friendly as Ruby, sounds like. It is nice when I'm trying to write a novel, though.

Anyway, it ain't all roses.

You may now continue discussing the comic, and not Dvorak.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Shamino » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:17 pm UTC

Reminds me of my job. Working for a bureaucratic mega-corp means, among other things, that you can't start developing any piece of software without first writing up an report that collects requirements, describes a proposed solution (with multiple possibilities, if possible), along with cost estimates for all of the choices.

It works great if you're developing a major feature that will require significant time and manpower. It's rather pointless when you want to just get something simple added. There have been a few cases where the cost of the study was substantially larger than that of the feature itself.

Oh the things we put up with for a good benefits package....

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby sfmans » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:28 pm UTC

Isn't the third column just what project managers do all day?

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Mikeski » Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:56 pm UTC

Farabor wrote:Yes, it's best not to put the title text in a spoiler tag. The reason is that people often use the forums to read the text from a mobile device that has trouble with mouseover/spoilers/etc, and they just want the raw text in as easily accessible format as possible.

That, and it's not a spoiler. (Nor is it any of the other things a spoiler tag's content-obscuring functionality is occasionally co-opted for... like margin-breaking pictures or ignorable walls of text.)

Efficiency...

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:44 pm UTC

Yet studying which strategy is more efficient seems way more attractive, procrastination and all that.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby senor_cardgage » Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:54 pm UTC

I would say that this same chart can also apply to cost, in addition to time.

Option A: $100
Option B: $110
Cost to do all the studies and reports justifying choosing A over B: $200.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:08 pm UTC

sotanaht wrote:
chridd wrote:
Lenoxus wrote:The fact that stategies A and B are equally worthwhile reminded me of Buridan's ass.
They aren't equal. B takes very, very slightly longer than A.


Not slightly at all. I would estimate about a 20% difference,


20% of which one?

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Locoluis » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:32 pm UTC

Them: “ Then you need to apply common sense in order to find a reasonable solution. ”

Me: “ :?
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Whizbang » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:54 pm UTC

Locoluis wrote:Them: “ Then you need to apply common sense in order to find a reasonable solution. ”

Me: “ :?



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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Mokurai » Mon Nov 10, 2014 6:36 pm UTC

When Buridan proposed the problem of the ass between two equidistant piles of hay supposedly starving to death because it could not choose one over the other, he did not understand the concept of metastability, in which anything at all could disrupt the apparent equilibrium. Now we have elaborate physical and mathematical theories about this, such as chaos theory and catastrophe theory, so we know that the ass would make a choice, because of some butterfly flapping its wings half way around the world the year before.

Buridan also could not imagine what neurologists have found: brain circuits in humans and animals for making choices without sufficient information. We can choose when we don't know which alternative is better, and we can choose when they are clearly of equal value. Or we can choose something irrelevant. So now the butterfly is inside your head, and every salesman, PR pitchperson, and politician is trying to get its attention.

Which clearly explains why there is so much chaos and catastrophe in the world.

Also you should definitely learn one-handed Dvorak, so that you can mouse and type at the same time. Unless it is worth your time to learn to use a chord keyboard, which lets you type whole words and other common sequences of letters by pressing multiple keys at once in hundreds or thousands of combinations. Of course then you would have to work out the optimum set of combinations. Or maybe the most efficient approach is to get a research grant for text entry via biofeedback in order to make millions of other people more efficient.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Klear » Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:18 pm UTC

Buridan didn't propose the paradox. It was named after him to satirize his philosophy, but it's actually been known since antiquity.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby mathmannix » Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:24 pm UTC

aquagrunty wrote:I made an account just to come here and say: Yes, learn Dvorak. I do web development for a living and learning Dvorak is totally worth it. It takes a few months to get back up to Qwerty speed, but the speed improvements thereafter definitely make up for lost time. Your pinkies don't cramp up as much, and if you're a fan of Ruby it makes development so much faster since your fingers never really need to leave the home row keys. Parenthesis, braces, and brackets still require a bit of a reach - so Python gets a little bit better too, but not as much.

By far the most important thing that I did to learn Dvorak was to go on Amazon and spend a few bucks buying those stickers that you can stick to your keyboard. Learning by using a printout is nearly impossible. In Qwerty most typos happen because you hit the wrong key - in Dvorak the typos happen because you're typing so fast that sometimes you transpose letters. The other developers I work with think that I get work done really fast, but it's not because I work any faster or harder than they do. I just type a bit faster, and it makes all the difference.


I can type 80 wpm with QWERTY for typing-test purposes, including the time to backspace because of the frequent transposing errors I make at that speed. OK, so maybe if I learned Dvorak or some other typing strategies, I could get to 100+ wpm. However... maybe I'm in the minority on this forum for saying this, but I don't really need to type faster. When I am taking a typing test, or transcribing what someone is saying at 150-200 wpm, sure it would be nice to be able to go faster. But whether I am writing code (a large part of my job), writing a paper (a smaller but still significant part of my job), or writing a forum post (something I do when I'm not working, per se), I am not limited by my typing speed; I am limited by the speed it takes to come up with proper English sentences which convey my meaning in an articulate manner. (It just took me over a minute to compose and type the previous sentence, FYI.) I can't type as fast as I can talk conversationally, but I don't really need to, because my conversational English is not worth writing down, because nobody would really want to read it unless it were edited severely. Again, maybe I'm in the minority here... but I'd be a bit surprised if I were.

Also, it wouldn't surprise me at all if, as long as it took me to write this, the lot of you find grammatical errors in this post. Muphry's Law and all that.
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby BlitzGirl » Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:51 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Muphry's Law and all that.

I see what you did there.
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby 12obin » Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:57 pm UTC

Klear wrote:So this is nothing but a rehash of 974 and 1205? I am disappoint.


My feeling exactly.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby The Moomin » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:17 am UTC

Some of our clients ask us to proceed with both Strategy A and Strategy B, making application with different authorities with either strategy and switching at the last minute in a move that they think is clever.

By this point there are so many different details flying around no-one actually knows what they are supposed to be working to, what has been approved, and they kick up an almighty fuss about being charged for taking both strategies to completion.

I don't have a clue what they hope to achieve, or who they think they are outsmarting.
I possibly don't pay enough attention to what's going on.
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:43 am UTC

The Moomin wrote:Some of our clients ask us to proceed with both Strategy A and Strategy B, making application with different authorities with either strategy and switching at the last minute in a move that they think is clever.

By this point there are so many different details flying around no-one actually knows what they are supposed to be working to, what has been approved, and they kick up an almighty fuss about being charged for taking both strategies to completion.

I don't have a clue what they hope to achieve, or who they think they are outsmarting.


Sometimes it's internal politics at the client's end...

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby ChronosDragon » Tue Nov 11, 2014 6:12 am UTC

mathmannix wrote:I can type 80 wpm with QWERTY for typing-test purposes, including the time to backspace because of the frequent transposing errors I make at that speed. OK, so maybe if I learned Dvorak or some other typing strategies, I could get to 100+ wpm. However... maybe I'm in the minority on this forum for saying this, but I don't really need to type faster. When I am taking a typing test, or transcribing what someone is saying at 150-200 wpm, sure it would be nice to be able to go faster. But whether I am writing code (a large part of my job), writing a paper (a smaller but still significant part of my job), or writing a forum post (something I do when I'm not working, per se), I am not limited by my typing speed; I am limited by the speed it takes to come up with proper English sentences which convey my meaning in an articulate manner. (It just took me over a minute to compose and type the previous sentence, FYI.) I can't type as fast as I can talk conversationally, but I don't really need to, because my conversational English is not worth writing down, because nobody would really want to read it unless it were edited severely. Again, maybe I'm in the minority here... but I'd be a bit surprised if I were.

Also, it wouldn't surprise me at all if, as long as it took me to write this, the lot of you find grammatical errors in this post. Muphry's Law and all that.


Just took a quick typing test and it looks like I can max out at around 110 or so WPM, with errors. I thought about learning Dvorak (and by "thought about," I mean "switched out all the keys on my keyboard, started doing practice, and decided it was bullshit") but honestly, I wouldn't really benefit for the same reasons you list. What I would benefit more from, though, is learning more keyboard shortcuts for common programs I use. I still do a lot of mouse manipulation, even when coding, which is a major speed bottleneck.

Also Dvorak moves curly braces further away, which is much worse for languages that make frequent use of them. That is, basically any C-derived language.
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby RSCPT » Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:12 pm UTC

Chiming in on the Dvorak thing. I made the switch to Dvorak 5 years ago over a summer. It really did take about a full 2-3 months to reach my old QWERTY speeds, but to SURPASS your old QWERTY speed, you need dedicated practice and you need to keep it up. Had I put all that time into speeding up my QWERTY typing, I would've reached the same speeds, no question. What I really think I gained from learning Dvorak is a bit of finger efficiency. I also never get the carpal tunnel pains I got from long-term QWERTY typing. Important to mention - I learned Dvorak without looking at the keys. This is pretty simple, just don't convert your keyboard. Or do what I did - blank keyboard. I don't know a single person who learned QWERTY without looking at the keys at all. You looked, unless you're blind, you looked when you were learning QWERTY. And that urge to look when you type, no matter how much you've suppressed it, is there somewhere unless you have specifically trained yourself not to (I'm sure many of you have), and that takes work. Skip that work, learn your new layout without looking. I don't look at my keyboard except for those f**king F keys.

As for programmers - you have ALWAYS had the option to EDIT the layout you use to suit your needs! You don't need to learn a completely new layout, and it doesn't have to be Dvorak - there are plenty of others. If you really want to make a big switch, do it - it's cool, unique, odd. You better love typing though, because you'll need to do it a lot if you want to regain your speed.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby aquagrunty » Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:14 am UTC

randytayler wrote:Meh. I learned Dvorak 15 years ago, and while I love using it, I can't recommend it. There are tons of little headaches - "Is this machine configured to Dvorak or Qwerty on the login screen?" - so the payoff is minimized.

Maybe if you're under 25 years old, MAYBE it's worth it. I'd never make the switch again now, at 39. Too often I'm trying to take the helm on somebody else's computer (wife's computer, kids' computer, coworker's computer) for just a moment, and I'm completely stymied by the fact that the letters on the keyboard match the letters that appear on the screen. "Wait, wut? U is typing an U?? How do I make a G?"

I do type faster, though. I was up to 50wpm on Qwerty when I switched, and nowadays I'm up to 80 when I'm in full burn. But I code PHP -- it's not as Dvorak-friendly as Ruby, sounds like. It is nice when I'm trying to write a novel, though.

Anyway, it ain't all roses.

You may now continue discussing the comic, and not Dvorak.


I'm right at 25 years old, so yeah - worth it for me. But yes, login screens and running live USB linux distros are the most painful points of using Dvorak, since they all default to Qwerty. The discomfort that is experienced in these situations though is not a fault of Dvorak, it's that switching away from the default in these applications is cumbersome. Qwerty has been "the way" since typewriters. Qwerty is a very good representation of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" problem. Just because it's not broken doesn't mean it can't be made better.

If you could flip a switch in your computer to make it run 50% faster, would you do it? Probably only if you were willing to figure out how. Same with Dvorak.

ChronosDragon wrote:Just took a quick typing test and it looks like I can max out at around 110 or so WPM, with errors. I thought about learning Dvorak (and by "thought about," I mean "switched out all the keys on my keyboard, started doing practice, and decided it was bullshit") but honestly, I wouldn't really benefit for the same reasons you list. What I would benefit more from, though, is learning more keyboard shortcuts for common programs I use. I still do a lot of mouse manipulation, even when coding, which is a major speed bottleneck.

Also Dvorak moves curly braces further away, which is much worse for languages that make frequent use of them. That is, basically any C-derived language.


I do web development, so there is a lot of curly braces there (Javascript). I don't notice it being any more difficult than before, though I just noticed that in order to reach the () and {} I actually reach up using my two middle fingers for both. The 9 and 0 are right above K and L (T and N for me).

And the copy, cut, and paste did take me the longest to learn, but they aren't much of a problem anymore. I've honestly had a harder time switching to the Macbook's command/control/option layout than I have for program shortcut keys (I'm still having a hard time, actually - especially when you're in terminal).

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby peregrine_crow » Wed Nov 12, 2014 10:32 am UTC

aquagrunty wrote:I'm right at 25 years old, so yeah - worth it for me. But yes, login screens and running live USB linux distros are the most painful points of using Dvorak, since they all default to Qwerty. The discomfort that is experienced in these situations though is not a fault of Dvorak, it's that switching away from the default in these applications is cumbersome. Qwerty has been "the way" since typewriters.


It doesn't really matter whose 'fault' it is. Sure, if we could go back and set the initial standard to Dvorak it would almost certainly be worth it, but changing a default that is so commonly used is such a costly operation that it probably isn't going to happen no matter how many typing speed optimizers make the switch (that pool of people is just too small).

The same thing can be seen in a more extreme form in switching from base 10 to base 12 (or 16) for our default numbering system. The advantages for everyday math of the duodecimal system are huge and the disadvantages negligible, but the transition costs are too high, so we can't make the switch.
Ignorance killed the cat, curiosity was framed.

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Coyne
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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Coyne » Fri Nov 14, 2014 4:18 am UTC

I just revisited the comic by accident and had an immediate, off the wall evilthought...

What Randall needs to do is evaluate two strategies for evaluating strategies...
In all fairness...

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby 12obin » Fri Nov 14, 2014 6:01 am UTC

Maybe he evaluated how he makes comics and decided that the most efficient thing is to rehash old premises.

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Re: 1445: "Efficiency"

Postby Klear » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:12 am UTC

12obin wrote:Maybe he evaluated how he makes comics and decided that the most efficient thing is to rehash old premises.


Took him long enough to realize that.


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