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Journal of No. 118


August 9th, 2005

Idea in the Shower @ 11:29 am

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I do some of my best (i.e. worst) thinking in the shower while waking up. Today, it occured to me that there's another solution to the ongoing problem of daylight savings time (clearly it's a problem since it's being debated in the halls of congress). Instead of everyone changing his or her clock in discontinuous jumps (which is both a big hassle and a metaphysical quandary) everyone could just be instructed to move 750 miles west for the summer. Unfortunately, I think the current old-fashioned system is too well-entrenched to be displaced by my superior solution. It's the QWERTY keyboard all over again.

Later today, I'm off for Old Blighty, so I will probably maintain radio silence 'til next week.
 
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From:oohbarracuda
Date:August 9th, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC)
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I wouldn't mind moving 1,801mi more to get to Hawaii!
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From:colleency
Date:August 9th, 2005 08:42 pm (UTC)
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I think I'd be slightly bummed to have to live on an oil derrik. Although I wouldn't mind live on a fancy cruise ship!

Is this why the very wealthy have summer homes?
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From:wheninbudapest
Date:August 10th, 2005 12:57 am (UTC)
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What happened with the QWERTY keyboard?
From:aaronjv
Date:August 13th, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC)
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I'm still using a QWERTY, but then again, I'm behind the digerati curve.

You're referring to keyboards that have the letters QWERTY in the upper left corner, right? As opposed to those "easier" keyboards with the letters in more logical locations for fingering?

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From:essentialsaltes
Date:August 15th, 2005 07:38 pm (UTC)

The story of qwerty

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The QWERTY keyboard was specifically designed for inefficiency:

QWERTY was devised by Christopher Sholes, who began his typewriter-building experiments in 1867. ... When he struck one key soon after another, the second key’s type bar jammed the first bar before the first could fall back, and the first letter was printed again. ...

To overcome the problem of invisible jamming, Sholes applied antiengineering principles with the goal of slowing down the typist and thus preventing the second bar from jamming the falling first bar. ...

Sholes began to redesign his keyboard by commissioning a study to determine the most common letters or letter combinations in English texts, then he scattered those common letters as widely as possible over the keyboard. ...

The QWERTY keyboard of 1874 was eventually joined by many competing keyboards, whose manufacturers often boasted of faster or less tiring typing. For instance, the Hammond and Blickensderfer “Ideal” keyboard used only three rows and sensibly put the most common letters in the bottom row for easy access, in the sequence dhiatensor. Why did QWERTY nevertheless prevail, even after improvements in typewriter technology (reducing the jamming problem) and the demand for fast typing had removed the original motivation for it?

For one thing, QWERTY enjoyed a head start, as the keyboard layout of the first commercially successful typewriter. That success, however, was due not so much to the layout as to the many other advantageous components that Sholes added, such as type bars, an inked ribbon, and a cylindrical paper carriage. Those inventions helped Remington remain one of the leading typewriter manufacturers, and the company continued to use QWERTY even as its typewriters evolved in other respects.


So, now we're stuck with it, even though there are possibly better solutions.
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From:wheninbudapest
Date:August 15th, 2005 08:30 pm (UTC)

Re: The story of qwerty

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OOOOooooohhhhh...I'm enlightened.

Journal of No. 118