The Dvorak Keyboard

I was reading up on a story the other day and I saw this comment or something like it: “I want to try the Dvorak Keyboard, but…”. I thought what the heck is the “Dvorak Keyboard?

For those that don’t know, the traditional keyboard layout that we use is called QWERTY. The whole idea of this layout had nothing to do with ease of use. It had to do with typewriters. Originally typewriters had hammers which were prone to jamming at the best of times. So the QWERTY layout was designed so that successive keystrokes had less of a chance of jamming by alternating from one side to the other. It has been suggested that the design was also used to slow typing speeds. So the damn thing is not designed for ease of use in any way (no kidding). With the dawn of the computer age the design became irrelevant.

The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard was patented in 1936 by Dr August Dvorak. He studied letter frequencies and physiology and came up with a set of design principles upon which the Dvorak layout is based. So basically he created a keyboard that is easier to use. In addition he also designed keyboards that are designed for use with one hand. They come in a right and left handed version.

Looking at it, I am not that sure just how much easier it would be to adapt to. Especially considering the length of time I have used a QWERTY. But if you were new to computers or blogging or were willing to stick at it, there might be the chance that it is better and easier to use.

For more Information:

The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard Layout

The Podcast Network v3.0

TPN V3.0 LogoThis is great news, although it did happen a few days ago now. But when it did we were in full swing getting the podcast ready and that means I have little time to blog anything. The Podcast Network announced the launch of  a brand new version of the homepage.

Complete with Ajax goodness and a completely different look. If you know nothing about podcasts there are links at the top to get you up to speed and listening to some great content. TPN is a the place to look for good regular podcasts. The right hand side menu gives you all the podcasts on The Podcast Network, separated into categories.

If you have not visited The Podcast Network before and want to know what it is all about, now is as good a time as ever. Nice work Cam and the development team. Next the show blogs! (That was a hint).

The Global Geek Podcast belongs to The Podcast Network. Hosted by Knightwise and myself weekly. Here is our latest show if you enjoy it, head over to our blog on TPN and subscribe. In addition to that I also post regularly there as well as here.

TPN V3.0 Screenshot

Font Inspiration: MyFonts

Boycott Image DemoI am not big on fancy fonts and such but I came across a website this week that had a great top 10 list of what they considered the best fonts of 2006.

It is not that I am against fonts or anything like that, I like a nice font. But fancy unique ones have their limitations. For instance if you have a font installed on your machine you can use it all you like, print a letter with it without any problems. But send a document to someone and they don’t have it on theirs and it will bork. They won’t see it. Same goes for a web page. It has to be resident on the machine for the user to see it.

One way around this is to create an image that uses the font. But that changes it as well, it is now an image and is treated as such. Creating a header or logo using a fancy font is not so bad because within the html you can edit the text to reflect the content on the page. This raw html of the page is what the web spiders crawl for indexing.

I heard a podcast this week where there were open questions and one podcaster was wondering why her content was not being indexed. It turned out that the whole page of text that she referred to was an image. She wanted the page to look nice and so that the visitors could see it she made the whole block of text an image. Google does not index the content of an image as far as content is concerned. In all honesty I am after content crap can still look good and some of the ugliest web sites have the best content.

I should also mention as a side point that having a massive number of fonts installed is notorious for slowing down your machine. So be picky with what you install and maybe review them once in a while and cull out the ones you don’t use any more. Saving them to disk is a great idea as you can always install them again if you ever have the need.

So now that I have trashed fonts… I found this nice collection of fonts this week. The Best Fonts of 2006. While I am not sure what the best is based on they are a nice collection. They are from a site called MyFonts and I would suggest that these are what they consider to be the best fonts as opposed to being judged or voted on. You can see the whole collection as an alphabet and you can purchase them if you wish. Must be hard to develop fonts because the ones I looked at range in price from $19.00 to $40.00. But they have some great specials as low as 10 bucks! Cool. What is the going rate for a font anyway? Still worth it if you are after something unique in my opinion.

Looks like a great site by the way lots of fonts and styles to suit anything that you would want to do, 52,454 at last count. I really liked the “more like this” feature that selects fonts based on the one you are looking at. These fonts definitely have a place for the designer and artist. But remember that they have a place and more importantly when and where you shouldn’t be using them.

Best Fonts of 2006

Flash Creativity

I am not a huge fan of flash coding, in fact I hate it most of the time. It is flash by name and flashy by nature. It is in your face advertising and as loud and bold as you can imagine. Usually. But I would like to share with you a web site that is so far from this it would be classified as art anywhere else. It is so far removed from the stereotype of flash that I don’t even think it the same and yet it is.

The website does not have a name as such. It is a demonstration of the beauty that can be created using the flash code. From what I understand flash is difficult to code, if this is the case this web site is a stunning example of what is possible given the time and determination. I am sure this is some sort of on-line resume for a designer and creator of some sort as his name is in the title bar: Jonathan Yuen.

The website does not “do” much. It plays some relaxing music. It displays some rendered scenes. I sometimes just go there to look at the images that unfold as a “walk” through the created landscape. Believe it or not it is actually relaxing! It just flows as you discover about the page’s creator and what is important to him. Hover over the text to get the English version, hover for everything actually. I am reminded of a bonsai garden, very zen.  I just like it. You might think it pointless, but if you are a bit strung out take a visit. If nothing else appreciate the creativity and thought that has gone into the creation and design of this page, it is nice work.

Jonathan Yuen Screenshot

Nice Blog

Thomas Marban; who I can only assume is the author of POPURLS left a comment on my last entry. I went and checked out his blog, amazing.

Thanks Thomas for the comment, nice to know my ranting is being read by someone. I took a look at Thomas' site and it is very nice. Think minimal, 2.0 niceness. It is simple and yet functional. On first glace I thought "what the?", I actually thought that I had a bit of comment advertising. But I stayed and clicked a few of the headings, while obscure I found the blog easily enough and found it easy to read. The thing I like about the whole site is that it is unique and not your average blog. I would not expect it to be given he wrote POPURLS! He is also obviously heavily involved in web design. Perhaps the reason I thought it was a bit of corporate work is the fact that the world is not used to seeing a blog that is as polished as this one and perhaps I will not make assumptions in the future.

I urge you to go and have a look at what the future of Blogs might be like and have a poke around, I liked it but it might not be everyone's "cup of tea". Nice work Thomas. That's if you want the opinion of a small time blogger! I could only dream of a site that went anywhere near the quality!

POPURLS dot com: What a Great Site

POPURLS BannerI was cruising the RSS today and although I had heard of POPURLS in passing I had not visited it until today. I was pleasantly surprised.

This site is a sort of a aggregator for sites that are updated frequently or have RSS feeds associated with them, or some other kind of community contribution on a regular basis. POPURLS summarizes this data into a “all-in-a-view” style. I don’t think that it is everything that comes out of these sites but it is a nice summary. The site has a very nice single page design and you can swap the default white on black to black on white. You can also make the text larger for those of you who are blind. The other cool option is that you can expand the headings to include more feeds or data. Lastly you can hover over a title of an article you get a summary of the article, click on it and a new tab opens with the full text from the site, cool.

POPURLS covers a huge range of sites: digg.com, del.icio.us, furl.net, flickr, reddit.com, tailrank.com, fark.com, youtube.com, news.google.com, news.yahoo.com, newsvine.com, video.google.com, shoutwire.com, slashdot.org, wired.com, odeo.com, nowpuplic.com, metafilter.com.

You will notice that not all the “feeds” are text based. There are video feeds as well and that’s something that average newsreaders don’t do. I think that is a nice addition, so is the fact that there are Flickr photo’s as well. I am not sure what the relationship between POPURLS and the contributing sites is but it makes you wonder how others might get on the list. Just something to think about.

That aside I think this is a great idea and one that finally puts RSS feeds into the hands of “regular” users. While it does not unleash the true power of RSS and aggregation it is a taste and might spark some interest for some people, it also connects you with the information that may enable you to better utilize RSS fully. In addition to these points, even if you were a super geek; it is just a fun site and a great way to have a quick catch up with what is going on in cyberspace and beyond, a cool distraction from whatever it is you are meant to be doing. Have a look you will end up staying a while.