Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dvorak experiment update

I haven't written much lately, because I've been learning a new keyboard layout since the last post. While that alone shouldn't forbid more blog posts, my hands are tired and out of shape. I believe it is mostly related to breaking old bad typing habits, such as not touch typing properly with all fingers.

According to this morning's drill, I have gotten up to 42wpm on a full keyboard drill. I seem to be speeding up about 5wpm per week, and i'm guessing that my speed will top out around 80-90wpm. Of course, that is mostly a function of what I am typing: while programming, speeds above 30-40wpm are only useful in languages that are painful to the hands to begin with (Java, i'm looking at you..). Furthermore, while hard to quantify, my actual typing speed is a bit lower than that in the drills. The reason for this is that only a limited number of common letter combinations are included in the particular typing program I use; it is fairly light on latinates which does not bode well for anyone in academia.

Overall I think the switch to Dvorak is going well, and a lot more certain now that I can use the whole keyboard fairly proficiently. The biggest sticking points so far are Japanese input and keyboard shortcuts. I have not yet found a way to make the mac Japanese IME use the alternate layout, but this is not too big of a problem right now because I do not type much Japanese text these days (no homework..). Keyboard shortcuts are a bit bigger of a problem. I use a modified dvorak layout that reverts to querty when using the command key for shortcuts, but not all applications seem to play along with this option.

Pretty soon, nobody will be able to tell i'm using a different layout, as long as I am speedboosted by coffee.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My latest learning project: it's all in the hands

So in the past few days, I have been spending much of my idle time researching the various opportunities at graduate schools. During this perusal of various blogs and talks, I realized that the path ahead of me will invariably include many hours banging away on a keyboard. Also, I remember how my hands would get very angry at me during my semester of freshman composition. I would often spend hours at the computer, painfully typing up some horrid essay.

Surely, there are more comfortable ways to type; over the years, countless nerds (myself included) have attempted and failed to successfully adopt to more ergonomic keyboard layouts such as Dvorak. However, in today's always-on hyperactive internet culture, it is ridiculously hard to switch to an alternate keyboard layout: not only is there the improbability that all of your QWERTY-based devices can change to alternate layouts, but more importantly the initial productivity drop associated with plunging to sub-30 wpm typing speeds.

Thankfully (?) here in Japan I have a much lower typing burden than back in the USA, so I've used this weekend to stop typing the old way and conduct this experiment. Judging from the fact that this blog entry was typed up in about 15-20 minutes, I may have a rough few weeks ahead of me.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Programming-related posts have moved

I have created a new blog for programming, design, and technical posts so as not to bore the target audience of this blog. Such posts can be accessed at the new blog address:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gay news for the straight public

Lots of gay stuff in the news lately. The New York Times almost looks like the Advocate these days.

In Iowa (of all places!) same-sex marriage was upheld by the Supreme Court.

In Vermont, the legislature (!) voted to override (!) the governor's veto of a law legalizing same-sex marriage.

And finally, the NYT ran a story about violence against gays in Iraq, concentrating on Sadr City. I think the saddest part in this reporting is the quote below:

“Our investigation has found that these incidents are being committed by relatives of the gays — not just because of the militias,” he said. “They are killing them because it is a shame on the family.”

He said families typically refused to cooperate with the investigation or even to claim the bodies. No arrests have been made in the killings.

Meanwhile at said families' mosques, sadist clerics preach about the evils of homosexuality, and how it is destroying the fabric of society, (and wocka wocka). I'm not sure whether to be amused or alarmed that Iraqi institutions of faith have "risen" to the same level of stupidity as many homophobic denominations in the United States.

I look forward to returning to the United States and arguing with those who oppose such marriages. Slowly, their lines of reasoning and mock outrage over "activist judges" seem to be less and less effective. Perhaps the United States can be a symbol of hope for those unfortunate gays in Iraq, or at least 4/50'ths of the United States can be.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Who says static typing has to be ceremonious?

I refer you to a blog post by Ikai Lan.

When you combine pattern matching, extractors, lazy file streams, and other sugar, things can get pretty silly pretty fast :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Types are to Python as animals are to ___

I'm thinking clouds in the sky in the above one. Which is why the following StackOverflow thread is infinitely ironic. What it really comes down to is, the type of an object in Python may or may not correspond to the method interface it implements.

When in Rome, do as the Romans. Thus, when in Python you should only care about method interfaces. If you need to know whether something is a duck and the quack isn't enough, you are doing something wrong (or expecting too much from the poor duck)!